Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zorch

Zorch is one of the stranger NPCs in my current D&D 5th-edition campaign.

He began as a wand... 
Ash stepped out in front of the gates, presenting an easy ground-level target to the attacking force. At this enticement, the angered kobolds did launch a ground assault, untethering the giant boars from the wagons and driving the creatures charging towards the draw-bridge. Ash unleashed a lightning bolt of his own using a wand, severely injuring the ten huge beasts...
A truly beloved wand... 
The negotiations, if they could be called that, continued for a minute or two, until Ash noticed a bugbear creeping up the passage behind himself and the others. Two quick blasts of lightning from Ash’s wand ended both the conversation and the would-be bugbear ambusher.
That was used constantly...
They were ambushed by another bugbear while they sat in the main hall pondering over the magical rings, and another when they exited into the right-most side passage. Both were dispatched quickly through the liberal application of lightning bolts.
. . . 
As the kobolds stood deaf, dazed, and blind from the sudden detonation of a lightning bolt an otherwise pitch-dark, enclosed space (something the party had gotten used to by this point), the party rushed past them into the next corridor...
And I do mean, Constantly...
Ash once again did not hesitate to unleash a lightning bolt, which bounced wildly around the small room, searing filth and worm-beast alike, while somehow not touching the party.
. . . 
Ash was frozen from the waist down, barely able to breathe, and could feel the hypothermia setting in as the spider thing closed in, drawing a blade for the kill. With frost-bitten fingers, Ash weakly raised the point of his wand and, through chattering teeth said what he thought would be his last words…“Lightningbolt!”
-- The Third Party: Session 10

The elven wizard Ash used his wand of lightning again, and again, and again. He blew through all of its charges. Recharged it. Used them all again. Recharged. Used them all again. broke...and out came...

Zorch started his life as a Lightning Mephit, but soon found himself bound and trapped into a wand. When he was finally freed by the elven wizard Ash, he was VERY greatful. Following the wizard around as a familiar ever since.
Lightning mephits instantly regenerate all damage on contact with an electrical source, such as another mephit’s lightning bolt. This reinforces the mephit’s natural desire to congregate with others of its kind. A force of mephits that can recharge one another is unstoppable by anything short of a glass of water.
By virtue of his electrified nature and ability to regenerate, Zorch has served the party as a PMD. He is always the first to fly into any situation, counting on Ash's lightning bolt spells to restore him no matter how troublesome the traps or ambushes he triggers (short of a glass of water).
As soon as the brilliantly glowing mephit stuck its head aboveground, a squadron of gnolls who had been searching the ruins charged the hole Ash had opened, with nine of the creatures baring down on them, and one breaking off and running the other way (whether for reinforcements or because gnolls are notoriously unreliable is hard to say). Ash threw off the lid and dropped down the shaft. The party arrayed themselves in the many side-passages and waited.
. . . 
Mel dropped down the narrow shaft behind the mephit, finding nothing but a trace of ash smeared on the damp, bare-earthen walls of the tunnel. A discharge from her ring of shocking grasp was sufficient to revive the creature, however. As the light brightened from the reconstituting lightning mephit, Mel noticed a grim, gray, silent humanoid figure standing immediately behind where the mephit was manifesting.
Over time, Ash began sacrificing a portion of his experience to level up the Mephit, eventually allowing it to gain levels as...A BARD!
Zorch unleashed a string of vicious mockery at the blonde woman, but the magic contained in his words were similarly negated. There was a flash from the crowns and Kevorkian, Zorch, and Dame full felt the weight of Zorch's belittling statements, feeling suddenly very weak.
With her sisters still standing around looking very confused, the blonde woman then retaliated for the outrage, releasing a flare of brilliant white light. Everyone was scorched, Zorch so much that he discorporated again...

The immortal and instantly-regenerable nature of Zorch is such that he has come back even from being devoured entirely by various soul-sucking devices and monstrosities.
Of course the sarcophagus was not empty and the occupant, the petrified remains of a squat, wide man in ornate, petrified, leather armor and a large warmask. Ash sent Zorch to grab the thing, only to have Zorch sucked--soul, body, and all--into the thing's maw.
. . .
Ash sent Zorch to examine the stone urn on its pedestal, only to have the mephit sucked bodily into the thing when he touched it. Grimnir stepped up and cast identify on the urn, learning that it was a device that consumed souls to fuel a kind of perpetual prison for purpose of preserving the soul of whoever was last interred within the vessel, keeping the soul within the earthly realms and delaying their journey to whatever heavenly or infernal enternity awaits them. 
The Urn, it turned out, was almost Zorch's true undoing, especially when it was almost destroyed.
The guard did finally react when Ash tried to scoop up some of the water of the Pool using his soul-sucking urn. As soon as the urn crossed the line of the guards, a sword came up, impossibly fast, shattering the urn. Ash scooped the pieces, weeping for the possible loss of Zorch. Ash, not wanting to take any more chances with the receptacle that held Zorch's soul/body/form/whatever, considered blasting the Urn with lightning to see if he could resurrect Zorch again.
Not even the soul-trapping urn could really stop this physical embodiment of lightning.
Ash, meanwhile, sensing the tremendous power possessed by the Pool of Radiance, took his urn with him and dove in. There was a flash of light the blinded everyone as energy surged into Ash as the soul-devouring power of the urn mingled with the absolute law of the Pool. With supreme focus of will, Ash harnessed and shaped the inflow of power before it could destroy him.
The urn began to disintegrate. Ash cried out, focusing the last of the dissipating energies back into the urn and unleashing a bolt of lightning. Then the urn was gone. A moment later, as Ash climbed out of the Pool, he felt a jolt and a tap on the shoulder. He turned to find Zorch floating there.
Ash and Zorch had their tearful reunion...
Of course, not even Zorch could survive contact with the Pool of Radiance unscathed... This final resurrection brought Zorch back as a Radiance Mephit.
Zorch: Radiance Mephit, Bard 5th / Paladin 5th

Special thanks to +Paul King for taking this crazy character (and magic item) and running with them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for SPOON!

Yarash's Spoon

The handle of this old metal spoon has been worn to a sharpened point by being used to attempt to dig out of the granite walls of the maze beneath Sorcerer's Island. The spoon belonged to the magician, Yarash, once a powerful sorcerer himself, now driven mad, presumably by the isolation of the magical island. The spoon bears a strong aura of Transmutation magic, either deliberately related to Yarash's experiments in transforming lizardfolk into sludge-breathing monstrosities, or perhaps as an indirect by-product of those processes.

Yarash's Spoon functions as a wand. When pointed at a target, it can be commanded by simple act of will (requiring a DC 12 Intelligence check) to polymorph the victim. The target is allowed a Constitution save (DC 17) to avoid the effect. A target that fails its save is wracked by excruciating pain, losing its action for 1 round as its body writhes and reshapes itself. At the end of the target's next turn, it will have been completely transformed into it's new body. The change is permanent, unless removed by a dispel magic (requiring a DC 17 check) or similar effect. The reverse transformation is even more painful than the initial change, taking a full minute, during which the target can take no actions other than writhing on the ground and screaming. Each use of the spoon in this way consumes a single charge.
The wielder of the spoon has no control over the form taken by the target. Each time a creature is polymorphed in this way roll 1d100 and consult the table below to determine the new form assumed.
d100 roll
New form
1 – 4
5 – 8
9 – 12
13 – 16
17 – 20
21 – 24
25 – 28
29 – 32
33 – 36
37 – 40
41 – 44
45 – 48
49 – 60
61 – 64
65 – 68
Lizard Man
69 – 72
73 – 76
77 – 80
81 – 84
Ogre Mage
85 – 88
89 – 92
93 – 96
97 – 100
In addition, by stabbing the spoon into the heart of a recently deceased target (may have been dead no more than 24 hours). The spoon can simultaneously transform the body and restore it to life. This functions as a reincarnation spell, save that it reanimates and reorders the cells of the existing body, rather than creating a new one. The transformation takes 10 minutes, after which the character is restored to life, retaining all of its previous memories, background, and class levels. The race of the new body should be determined by rolling 1d100 on the table above and ability scores should be rerolled for the new body (using whatever means the DM and player agree upon). Using the spoon in this way consumes 3 charges.
When found, Yarash's Spoon has 9 charges. Whether or not it can be recharged is up to DM discretion (of course). 

Yarash's Bracers of the Deep Gods

These bracers, about a hand wide and made of clear glass, appear to be filled with the same black sludge which pollutes the Stojanow River. They were found on the body of the old, crazed wizard Yarash, in the maze beneath Sorcerer's Island. Anyone wearing the bracers find themselves able to communicate, both through quiet whispered speech and/or telepathy, with an unseen being. This being never reveals itself, or even that it is independent from the wearer's consciousness, but it seems to possess incredible insight and lore. 
Anyone wearing the bracers must make a Wisdom save (DC 12) any time they attempt to take a long or short rest, if they fail, they find themselves locked in conversation (apparently with themselves to any outside observer) for the duration of the rest--gaining no benefit from resting.
The wearer of the bracers is completely immune to all negative effects of contact or immersion with the black liquid corrupting the Stojanow River, and may breathe freely if submersed in the liquid, as if it were air. In addition, the voice whispers secrets to the wearer, allowing him to apply double his proficiency bonus on all History and Arcana skill checks, and checks made using Alchemical tools (even if he was not previously proficient).

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is Hijacked Reproduction?

Different people have different things that set them off. The same is true of gamers. If your desire is to disturb, frighten, or weird out your players you need to have a broad arsenal at your fingertips. Common things that can set players on edge include (but are certainly not limited to) scenes or implications of: torture, cannibalism, graphic violence, mutation or body dysmorphia, various forms of aberrant sexual behavior (incest, bestiality, necrophilia), or even just particularly creepy monsters (giant insects, things with tentacles). Some players though, are completely immune to all such attempts--maybe their culture does not have sexual hangups, maybe they think humans are just meat, or maybe they are inured to violence from playing D&D for years. In these cases you need something different...

My players largely fall into the later category. They are unflappable in the face of typical Raggian horror. All of our games feature normalized images of cannibalism and all manner of sexual interactions, my players embrace random mutation, I allow horrible tentacle-monsters as PCs, and violence and torture are standard practices for all murder-hobos. So what is a DM who wants to weird-out his players to do?

Well, all the other things aside, it turns out there is one trigger still left to my jaded, 30-something, male players: the biological imperative.

The what, you say?

The Biological Imperative, the need to survive and reproduce. Reproduction is often overlooked in high-fantasy adventure games, but, eventually, even your murder-hobo wizard is going to want to settle down and pass on his genes. If your players are all in the middle-aged, settling down and having babies phase, then this is something they (consciously or not) are pretty much always thinking about. So, if we run a game where characters can, and do, reproduce (even if it is only an implied thing and not something that actually happens to the PCs), how can we abuse that to make our weird-fantasy game weirder?


Xenogeneis is the process by which the offspring produced by a coupling are completely unlike either parent.

Similar to the implied terror of non-mutant parents in the X-men series, a world where xenogenesis can happen means that people may have children that are completely unlike them, and, therefore, completely unpredictable and perhaps even dangerous. Aside from the fear of what the children might be capable of (and the added troubles of the PCs perhaps having to do violence against children) you have the added level of knowing that your genes have not been passed on...your line has have no posterity.

My treatment of Halflings and Gnomes touch on this idea slightly. 

The former are children frozen in time, immortal and unable to age to maturity. Not only does this mean the end of a genetic line (no grandchildren for the halfling's parents), but it also means that you have hundred-year-old toddlers running around who have drastically outlived their parents and may be subject to all manner of social maladjustment that might be associated with immortality (watching you parents die without ever reaching the mental maturity to really process it). Ala Lord of the Flies, the PCs end up having to contend with violent tribes of children (likely young, adorable children).

The latter, Gnomes, freak everyone out because they hijack the reproduction of other creatures. Gnomes are more a disease than a race, unable to reproduce on their own, they infect others with their children. With just a glance, they can curse a woman of any race to only bear gnome offspring, without any sexual contact. Just the thought of this kind of violation can get under the skin of PCs...even if they never get around to reproducing, knowing that that gnome they ran into 5 levels ago has hijacked their future reproductive capability can get under their skin.
There has been at least one report of a human woman having a human, a gnome, and a halfling as children.
The free Lamentation of the Flame Princess adventure The Doom Cave of the Crystal Headed Children touches on this idea. It features cloned, hive-minded, mutant children that indirectly borrow genetic material from every woman in a town, and then alter the minds of those women to think of the children as their own. On its own this makes for an interesting gimmick for a one-shot adventure, but if you make sure to have a female PC be affected by it...then things get all kinds of interesting.

But of course you are asking, how can my PC do this to someone else (without being a gnome that is)?

Yarash's Curse of Xenogensis I
(Alteration, Enchantment)
Level: 3rd
Range: 10 yds
Components: V, S
Duration: permanent
Casting Time: 1
Area of Effect: 1 creature
Saving Throw: Negates.
This spell permanently and erratically alters a victim's genetic material. Any time the victim sires or gives birth to a child, the offspring will be a new creature, completely unlike the parent. When the child is born, roll for a random creature using the table for the Monster Summoning I spell (found in the Appendixes of the Monstrous Manual).
The victim is allowed a save vs. spells to negate the effect. If the save fails, the curse is permanent until removed by a remove curse or wish spell cast by a caster of higher level the the wizard who cursed the victim.
This spell has no immediately visible or noticeable effects (though a proper villain should taunt the victim about the end of his line and so forth). Because of the nature of this curse, it may take years or even decades to manifest, if at all, but the victim will feel an immediate sense of impending dread any time they engage in procreative activities.  

Higher level version of this spell exist, causing more and more gruesome offspring. Curse of Xenogensis II-VII are identical to the spell above, but cause any offspring to become creatures from the corresponding monster summoning table.

So yeah, after years of trying, your PC and their mate have just given birth to a purple worm...roll initiative.

W is for a Wand

The giant sighed, a deep, mournful noise, like cold wind through a graveyard. "Those are NOT your names," he said. "Very well, if that is how you're going to be." He pointed the finger with the tiny rod balanced on it at Princess. A beam of coruscating, rainbow colored light engulfed her and she vanished.
Princess reappeared sitting on her big, plush, four-poster bed, in her chambers in the palace of the Crown Duke of Threskel, a thousand miles to the south and east. "Noooooooooo!" Princess screamed, stabbing Handsome Prince into one of the pillows, just to make sure it was solid. The door opened and her father smiled, "I was wondering when you'd get home..."
-- The Amazons: Session 6 

The Wand of Cruel Banishment

Despite its minuscule size relative to its owner, this twelve-inch-long wand is the most prized possession of the frost giant wizard Sorrassar. The lovely wand is made of twisted iron overlaid with spiraling gold filigree. A stunning piece of rainbow quartz dominates one end, balanced by a cluster of Amethyst, Moonstone, and Hematite at the opposite end.

The wand of cruel banishment is a vicious device, designed to rid Sorrassar of his enemies. When pointed at a target and the command word spoken, the wand emits a beam of coruscating rainbow-coloured light. The target must succeed on a Dexterity save (DC 15) or be instantly teleported to the location they would least like to visit (a fire giant may be teleported to the arctic, a runaway may be teleported home, a pacifist may be teleported to an active battlefield, etc.), subject to the GM's interpretation. Once the target arrives at their destination, they must immediately make an Intelligence save (DC 15) or be unable to benefit from any other form of teleportation magic until the cured a remove curse or similar effect.

The wand has 11 charges. It regains 1 charge daily at dawn (to a maximum of 11). If the last charge is used, the wielder must make a Charisma save (DC 15) or the wand will teleport itself to a random location anywhere else in the world.

Monday, April 27, 2015

V is for Laughing Swords


Verittanattukkut is a large, impressive weapon of plain design. The blade is double-edged polished steel,  three fingers wide and nearly four feet in length, with a single blood-groove running down the center. The cross-guard is two solid-steel ovals the size of a man's palm, and the hilt is wrapped in black leather. Despite the solid design and large size, Verittanattukkut can be wielded as a normal longsword.

Reference to Verittanattukkut is made in Volume 6 of The Great Diaspora of Netheril, in which it is called "The Mad Blade". That tome dates the blade to just after the fall of Netheril and an accurate and detailed description of its powers, though no word is given of its origin or the manner of its ensorcelment. No other sources make mention of this enchanted weapon. Given the nature of its powers, particularly its occasional manifestation of speech and its ties to Wild Magic, sages have speculated that Verittanattukkut may, in fact, be possessed by some beast of chaos, such as an Eolian or Chaos Imp.

Verittanattukkut functions as a normal longsword, and counts as a magical weapon for determining what creatures can be harmed by it. Verittanattukkut enhances its wielders speed and ferocity in combat, granting him a +5 bonus to his initiative and allowing the wielder to make one extra attack per round as a bonus action whenever he uses Verittanattukkut to make an attack action. This extra attack must be made against a different target than the first attack.

Any time the wielder rolls a natural "1" or a natural "20" when attacking with Verittanattukkut, Verittanattukkut unleashes a peel of high-pitched, maniacal laughter and causes a Wild Magic Surge. Roll 1d100 on the table on pg 104 of the 5e Player's Handbook (or any other wild magic table of your choice), treating the wielder as the caster and the target of the attack as the spell target. Despite these occasional bouts of uncontrolled laughter, Verittanattukkut exhibits no other signs of sentience or the ability to speak.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

U is Useful Things

I'm amazed at how often I hear about players and DMs who decide to NOT use material components for their spellcasters. Worse still, recent editions of the D&D game have started treating this as a kosher activity, providing rules for "arcane focuses" (wands, orbs, whatever) to be used in place of components. The sad thing is, calls for no-components often seem to be coming from the same people who complain about old-school wizards not having anything to do once they cast their single spell for the day...

Clearly they missed the real point of having a spell component pouch and tracking what is in it...

Wizards have BRAINS!

Wizards are high-intelligence characters able to manipulate the fundamental forces of creation, so why can't they creatively use the random crap in their bags? Components are tools to be used, not just campaign-fluff in a bag.

Below is a list of the material components called out in the 2nd edition Players Handbook for 1st-level wizard spells, and some suggestions for why you should make sure you are keeping track of this shit...

Component Obvious Uses
a tiny bell and a piece of very fine silver wire Let’s use make an alarm without casting the spell…
a piece of finely cured leather patch for torn armor or backpack, pocket for a sling, you name it
a bit of wool or a small lump of wax tinder for a fire, earplugs, use wax for sealing missives
a pinch each of powder or sand that is colored red, yellow, and blue throw it in someone’s face…
a pinch of soot and a few grains of salt blacken you face to hide better, kill slugs
a bit of phosphorus or wychwood, or a glowworm elemental Phosphorus bursts into flame on contact with air…
a bit of earth from a grave plug holes, plant seeds, anything you might use dirt for...
a pinch of powdered iron Surely you played with iron filings as a kid…
chalk (or white flour), lampblack (or soot), and vermilion all of these are useful cosmetics
a bit of pork rind or butter grease doors, ladder rungs, or anything else that you would use the grease spell for
a pearl (of at least 100 gp value) and an owl feather steeped in wine pearls and wine? sounds like bribe-time
a grasshopper’s hind leg emergency source of protein if nothing else
a firefly or a piece of phosphorescent moss could make for an interesting distraction in an otherwise completely dark dungeon
two small magnets of any type compass, attract keys, use both to hold things closed
a short piece of copper wire build electronics, makeshift lockpick if heavy-enough gauge
a bit of hair from the type of animal to be conjured camel hair can be used to make clothing, no reason the “bit” has to be free-standing
a small square of silk handkerchief, clothing patch, cleaning rag, statically charge metal objects
a bit of fleece see silk
a circle of powdered iron finely divided iron oxidizes rapidly and produces heat (used in MREs, just add water to heat food)
a clear crystal or mineral prism mount in front of a bullseye lantern for a poor-man’s color spray
a pinch of fine sand, rose petals, or a live cricket volatile oils from rose petals have antiseptic properties
a drop of bitumen and a live spider bitumen is asphalt, and can be used for anything you might use tar or oil for
a slug chucking live bugs (spiders, slugs, crickets) at people is sure to startle them, probably enough to leave your friend an opening to stab them
a drop of mercury poisonous, and can be used to collect stray specks of precious metals
a piece of string and a bit of wood triplines, mark path through a maze, toothpicks, etc.
a parchment rolled up into a small cone rolling papers for a smoke, or just to write a message on
a pinch of split dried peas put in a pot with boiling water for emergency snacks
a pinch of diamond dust (about 100 gp worth) and a pigment diamond dust can be used to highly polish metal surfaces, or put in food to ruin someone’s digestive track

Obviously this is only 1st-level spells so this is just scratching the surface. Once you get to 3rd-level spells and start packing potassium nitrate (guano) and sulfur along with your phosphorous and finely ground iron, you have all the makings of pretty effective home-made bombs. Flint, oil, metal and glass rods, nitre, pine tar, small metal tubes, legumes... Who cares if you have run out of spells or lost your books? You are carrying all the tools of modern chemistry!

Remember WWMD...

What Would MacGyver Do?


The Third Party: Session 27 (GMs notes)

17 Eliasias, 1362 DR

After completing construction of the Mythal in Deckon Thar, the party (mostly Grimnir really) decided it was finally time to deal with the Council in Phlan. They hiked down the mountain from Sorrassar's cave and Mel flagged down a passing gypsy barge to give them a lift downriver.

21 Eliasias

As they neared the city, they found it in shambles. North of the river, the castle was gone. The ruins had devolved into true ruins, with narry a stone left standing and the formerly ordered markets of goblins and giants nowhere to be seen. South of the river, the new city was burning. The walls had been torn down, the docks abandoned, and mobs of slums-dwellers rioted in the streets.

The poled the boat up to the main docks uncontested and headed into town. They asked several passers by what was going on, but, other than the simple idea that their had been a revolution, most people they encountered seemed clueless. They did learn that a merchant from the slums, one Hasan  Abd-al-Bane, had taken command of the council chambers.

Between Traithe's very large sword, Kevorkian's petrifying gaze, and Ash's and Grimnir's general creepiness, they reached the Council Hall uncontested (give or take the wake of dead, petrified, frightened people behind them). A mass of spiked club and pointy-stick wielding malcontents had formed a human, three people deep, wall surrounding the entire Council Hall. Grimnir turned on his charm, er, crown, and the rabble layed down to make a path for him.

Forcing their way past yet more peasants and protesters filling the hallway, they eventually came to the council chambers, where a swarthy, slick-haired, goatee-sporting man in a fez had set up shop, using the pulled-from-their-hinges doors of the council chamber and some old boxes as a desk.

Hasan greeted the party cordially, explaining that the downtrodden residents of the Slums had finally risen up to assert their rights--with some help from the displaced priests of Xvim. Hasan explained that he and Mace, high-priest of Xvim, had previously had a friend on the council, Markos, who had helped push for democratic reforms--allowing women to hold positions of power and own property, allowing homosexuals to marry, etc.

The Council, Markos included, he said, had fled on a ship two days ago, taking most of the city's wealth (and wealthy) with them. He said he would have expected them to flee to Hillsfar, but, given the recent plagues and revolution their, that they probably diverted to Mulmaster or Sembia instead.

Grimnir quizzed Hasan about his intent, which boiled down to letting the people run out their frustration and energy with rioting and looting for a few more days, then slowly try to re-establish order and arrange for democratic election of leaders to start forming a new government for Phlan. Grimnir gave his approval, then the party headed across the square to the Temple of Tyr to look for the Bishop.

They found the temple covered in graffiti, obscene phrases in twenty languages scrawled on the walls in paint, chalk, tar, and blood. The gates had been thrown open, but were flanked by a pair of burly orcs in matte-black plate armor. Screams echoed from within.

Marching into the main sanctuary, they found four priests of Tyr and Sister Theymr, the old abbess, tied spread-eagle wagon wheels, with their arms threaded through the spokes. A mixed group of orc soldiers, human dregs, and Xvimlar acolytes stood around taking turns breaking the priests' limbs with clubs and hammers.

Grimnir enslaved the Xvimlar that appeared to be in charge and asked him to clear the room. Once the rioters were gone, he interrogated Sister Theymr, learning that the Bishop had fled with the council on their ship, most likely heading for the cathedral in Tantras for refuge. Further questioning revealed that the Tyrrans were, perhaps, amenable to his ideas of government, having a strict opposition to the idea of autocratic rule. The core of their philosophy being that laws could only be derived from the people, or their just representatives, and that Tyr was an embodiment of the laws of men, rather than a being with the right or power to pronounce laws himself.

While Grimnir and Ash questioned the prisoners, Traithe and Kevorkian headed downstairs, to look for others. First they headed down to the austere men's quarters, finding everything looted and mostly empty of people, aside from the cook who had been shoved in his own, still hot oven (long dead) and a trio of orcs in similar black armor to the ones above, who were relaxing in the quarters and explained that they were waiting for their shift to guard the doors. The orcs suggested that if they were looking for some fun, they should go over to the women's quarters, where the bulk of the force were 'questioning' some of the nuns.

They did just that, calling in Ash, Grimnir, and Dame for backup. Broken finery and the sounds of screaming greeted them as they headed down the women's hall. Kicking in the far door, they saw a great mass of orcs, nearly half a hundred, taking turns gang-raping five nude, bruised, and bloodied Tyrran priestesses.

Ash lit up the room with a lightning bolt and Traithe charged the orcs, only to find that the orcs were surprisingly tough (though not for orcs). Enraged by the interruption of their sport, the orcs rose up and charged en-masse, killing Traithe and incapacitating Kevorkian in their initial onslaught.

Zorch healed Kevorkian, who immediately hid himself with a sanctuary spell and dragged Traithe to safety. Ash then raised a wall of force between the orc horde and the door through which the party had entered the women's quarters. Dame enlarged, animated, and awakened a few potted plants in the room, setting them to entangling the orcs, while Grimnir opened an arcane gate and began extracting the priestesses through it.

Once everyone was relatively safe, Ash sent Zorch back into the room, where he flew around next to the ceiling, carpet-bombing the orcs with his Bell of Blasting and Bell of Treachery.

Once the army of orc rapists had been dealt with, Kevorkian raised Traithe and Grimnir ported the party and the ten Tyrran prisoners to the last battered ship in the docks, which they quickly commandeered to pursue the Council.

22 Eliasias

Ash used control water to guide the stolen ship.

Dame and Kevorkian healed the rescued priests, then Grimnir continued to question them on their theology and their view of the law, looking for which ones might be turned away from Tyr. They seemed surprisingly unfazed by their Bishop having left them behind to be tortured, raped, and killed, all except one who called himself Brother Rant.

While the questioning was going on, Kevorkian decided that the ship was not traveling fast enough. He called to Mog for a planar ally, conjuring a Rakshasa. In exchange for propelling the ship faster, the Rakshasa first demanded one of the priestesses. Kevorkian refused. Then the cat low-balled, asking for the youngest priestess to simply be tortured (tied to the mast and flayed slowly), even offering to let Kevorkian do it himself. Kevorkian refused and counter-offered, offering to allow himself to be tortured in any way the Rakshasa chose (save severing limbs or removing jewelry) for thirty minutes. They finally settled on 45 minutes of torture for Kevorkian and a bottle of fine cognac.

The sails swelled with the wind of Kevorkian's screams as the Rakshasa played with his entrails and the ship sped along at a breakneck pace. As they sailed, Grimnir projected horrific dreams into the mind of Markos Mondaviak, using the Rakshasa's games as inspiration. Despite the two day headstart, they overtook the Council's vessel just as it was docking in Mulmaster.

The party watched, from a safe distance, as the entire Council, sans-Bishop, including most of the Training Hall professors, the Clerk, and other dignitaries, disembarked. The ship remained outfitted for travel, and, after unloading its passengers, soon put back out to sea and turned south with the Bishop still aboard. Deciding they could come back for Markos (and unwilling to throw down with Markos's wife just yet), they turned their boat, ran up the jolly roger, and gave chase to the Bishop.

The Bishop had, wisely, laid a forbiddance over the ship to guard against extraplanar attacks, so they simply rammed the ship with their boat and boarded it. Kevorkian petrified three-quarters of the crew on the first glance, and the rest quickly went below to bring the Bishop out as ransom for their safety. Grimnir hexed and then enslaved the Bishop, forced the Bishop and Kevorkian to un-petrify the crew, then they took control of the much nicer ship and turned it back towards Mulmaster.

Under Grimnir's control, the Bishop went ashore, unloaded all of his worldly goods, and immeadiately began to liquidate all of it. Auctions were arranged to sell off all of his parochial holdings: every temple, every shrine, every monastery, every parish church in the woods, every house, farm, mine, or serfdom that had been acquired by the Moonsea Diocese under Braccio's reign as bishop.


The party worked for months, bankrupting the church of Tyr to raise a mercenary army to restore order to Phlan and buying up ships and stores to equip them and rebuild the city. Grimnir never strayed more than a few hundred yards from the enslaved Bishop, manipulating the fat old man like a puppet. At night, he continued to assault Markos Mondaviak with dreams, terrifying the young nobleman to the point of insomnia and exhaustion.

The party used some small portions of the massive funds being generated by the liquidation of the church to fund their own interests. Kevorkian bought a unicorn, named Banana Fluff, from a shady merchant, though the animal quickly teleported away once Kevorkian removed its collar and leash. Grimnir funded scholars to research how to imbue his staff with powers of darkness. Ash researched the nature and location of various elf-blades. Dame went shopping for knives. And Grimnir raised the bounty on the Amazons (delivered alive, blue, naked, and trussed to the steps of Kryptgarten) to fifty thousand gold crowns.

Finally, on the 29th of Eleint, it was announced throughout Mulmaster that Markos Mondaviak had died of fear and weariness. His young widow through a great state funeral for the fallen councilman, presided over by the same Bishop who was so determinedly spending every last cent of his fortune to reclaim the city that Markos held so dear.

On the night of Highharvestide, graverobbers (paid by Grimnir) exhumed the body of Markos Mondaviak and skinned it. Grimnir had the skin made into a lovely pair of gloves...

Markos' wife, immediately set out to settle the score against the man who would so desecrate her husband's grave.

Friday, April 24, 2015

T is for the Universal Tribesman

One of my goals when putting together my homebrew AD&D 2e game was to make kits more universally useful, while also eliminating duplicates. For instance, every 2nd edition class book included a "Noble" kit (noble warrior, noble priest, patrician wizard, highborn dwarf, etc.), these got collapsed into a single "Noble" kit which was made available to characters of all races and classes. Other broadly represented archetypes were similarly easy to universalize: Peasant, Savage, and Outlaw all had representative kits in pretty much every splat-book.

Of course, I was not just pulling from the "core" Complete series of books, so some kits were less easily adapted to this universal concept. One kit which I thought was interesting (especially given the campaign's emphasis on tribal relations between various humanoids) was the Tribal Defender kit from the Complete Book of Humanoids. This was originally presented as a warrior kit, but I saw no reason that a humanoid tribe (particularly for magically-inclined creatures like Ogre Magi or stealth-focused creatures like goblins) would not have magic users or rogues as their champions.

Luckily, looking more broadly afield, I found the Tribal Wizard kit (in the Dark Sun supplement Defilers and Preservers: The Wizards of Athas) and the Tribal Priest kit in Dragon Magazine #194. Which gave enough of a view into how similar concepts might work with non-warrior classes. 


Tribal Defender

Base Requirements
  • Races: Any
  • Sub-Classes: Any class
  • Ability Requirements: Con 13, Wis 14
  • Alignments: Non-Chaotic
  • Starting Cash: 2d8 x5gp
Weapon Proficiencies
  • Weapon Slots: By class
  • Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Required Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Allowed Weapons: See below
  • Allowed Armors: By class
Non-Weapon Proficiencies:
  • Non-weapon Slots: By class
  • Available Categories: By class
  • Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Heat Protection, Mediation, Survival, Water Finding
  • Required Proficiencies: Hunting or Agriculture
  • Recommended Proficiencies: Animal Lore, Animal Noise, Animal Training, Bargain, Blacksmithing, Bowyer/Fletcher, Brewing, Direction Sense, Endurance, Fire-Building, Fishing, Gaming, Healing, Herbalism, Information Gathering, Intimidation, Leatherworking, Local History, Mental Armor, Mining, Modern Languages (tribal neighbors), Natural Fighting, Observation, Set Snares, Spellweaving, Teaching, Tracking, Weaponsmithing, Weather Sense
  • Forbidden Proficiencies: Somatic Concealment, Wild Fighting
The struggle for survival is fierce and terrible. Thousands of tribes wander the wastes; each year hundreds of these are slaughtered, enslaved, or simply starve. Every humanoid tribe, settlement, clan, and family group must be protected from the dangers of the world, and these proud warriors are the backbone of every tribe’s defense. One of the most vital edges a tribe can possess over its competitors is access to the magic of a wizard or priest, whose spells can mean the difference between life and death for the tribesmen. Some humanoid races organize true armies or militias, but most simply place their safety in the hands of the strongest most able-bodied tribe members.
Nomadic human and humanoid tribes can be found throughout Faerun, but are especially common in the wastes of Anauroch, the Cold Lands, the Barbarian Kingdoms of the Savage North, The Ride, Rashamen, Impiltur, and the wilds beyond Tethyr and Calimshan. Player character tribal defenders have left their tribes for some reason (usually the character’s primary motivation). They take with them whatever skills they learned while protecting their tribes, but now they use these skills to ensure their own survival.
Tribal defenders dress in a manner appropriate to their tribe.
The tribal defender is a character with a heavy burden to bear-the survival of his family and friends. Within their communities, tribal defenders are both respected and feared. The well-being of the tribe or village is the most important thing to a tribal defender. Those who are in need go to the tribal defender for assistance or advice. Tribal defenders usually have some standing within the community, whether as war-leaders, advisers, or council members.
If the tribal defender is also a priest, or if there are no clerics within the community, he or she acts as a sort of medicine man to the group. In this capacity the tribal defender may give advice and counsel, oversee the training of children, act as a community healer, keep the tribe’s lore, cast needed spells to help the group, and perform any rituals the tribe may have evolved for daily and special ceremonies. They may participate in negotiations with traders, using their spells to gauge how far and how long haggling will be of use. They may arrange marriages and perform rites of birth, death, and fertility to benefit the community. Tribal defenders plan raids against caravans and use their spells to assist the raiders when they attack. In general, anything that requires Intelligence and Wisdom is within their sphere of interest.
All tribe members who are not restricted by sexual bias or relegated to other tasks (because of abilities or circumstances) are taught to fight for the tribe. Some tribal defenders are full-time soldiers who protect the tribe and territory. Others are part-time warriors who take up club and spear when danger threatens. The more organized the race, the better trained the defender is. A rare few develop heroic abilities after long years of warfare or constant training, as dictated by the character’s background history.
As an adventurer, the tribal defender travels to aid his tribe in some fashion, whether to obtain a needed ingredient to cure a tribal epidemic or to arrange a trade agreement for his community. Some tribal defenders adventure because they’ve lost their tribes to disease or raiders or some other calamity. These tribal defenders are usually somewhat distant and seem lost at first. It is usual for such tribal defenders to eventually adopt their adventuring party as their new tribe. Though they then travel with their new tribe, they often just go along with whatever adventure their fellows engage in simply to remain with them. After some time, however, they begin reasserting themselves, seeking to reclaim their old position of respect within the group. Tribal defenders who do not receive the respect of their traveling companions may attempt to intimidate their fellows with knowledge of their potential powers. If this fails to impress the group, the tribal defender usually leaves them as soon as he has the chance and seeks out more worthy companions.

Special Abilities:
  • After long years defending a particular territory, the character is intimately familiar with it. The player and his DM should determine where the character’s original territory is located, and any proficiency checks made in the area in regards to interacting with the area and its inhabitants receive a +2 bonus.
  • Tribal defenders can always find food, water, and assistance with their tribe, no matter what the circumstances. The tribal defender can also arrange for up to one guest per level to receive similar aid. Note that while a tribe can always accommodate the tribal defender himself, a large number of guests may severely strain the tribe’s resources, and the tribal defender should never bring more guests than the tribe can support.
  • Because the tribal defender is intimately concerned with the activities of the tribe members and expends much effort in keeping track of their thoughts and desires, he can cast the ESP spell once per day. This is an innate spell-like ability--the tribal defender doesn’t need to have the spell prepared, nor does he need to have it in his spell book or spell list. He must, however, have a material component for the spell which either belongs to the subject of the spell or which is associated with the subject. He thus keeps relics belonging to each tribe member for such purposes.
  • Tribal defenders are recognized throughout the wilderlands as important people. When dealing with any nomad, raider, tribe, or herdsman, the tribal defender gains a +3 on his reaction check. This can be a disadvantage, as an outside tribe desperately in need of a new tribal defender may be inclined to seize the PC tribal defender for their own if he impresses them too much.

Special Disadvantages:
  • Members of this kit must spend all of their initial weapon proficiency slots on weapons typically available to their race (see below). The tribal defender may become proficient with these weapons regardless of his class. After first level, the tribal defender may learn to use any weapon normally allowed by his class.
  • Suspicious of strangers, tribal defenders are originally stand-offish and difficult to get to know. They suffer a -2 penalty to reaction when meeting strangers. This penalty is reduced to a -1 if they are meeting strangers in some official capacity as a representative of their community.
  • The tribal defender is tied to his tribe. Although it is assumed that he can occasionally leave the tribe to go adventuring, there are times when he is needed by his people. There is a 30% chance that the tribal defender is required by his tribe anytime he considers undertaking an adventure that would take him away for a long time. The DM should enforce this rigidly for a character that tends to neglect his background, and be more generous with players who are role-playing their characters well.
  • Another hindrance lies in the fact that the tribe’s enemies are the character’s enemies as well. The character must select three distinct groups to become his tribe’s enemies. Whenever the character encounters these enemies, he suffers a -4 penalty on his reaction check with them, since his tribal markings and attitudes clearly mark him as a potential foe.

Tribal Weapons by Race
  • Human: Knife, Dagger, Shortbow, Spear, Quarterstaff, Sling
  • Dwarf: Two-handed Axe, Chain Flail, Knee Spike, Elbow Spike, Head Spike, Glove Nail, Warhammer
  • Elf: Bows group (any), Shortsword, Longsword
  • Gnome: Crossbows group (any), Dart, Knife, Picks group (any)
  • Half-Elf: As Human or Elf (pick one set)
  • Halfling: Dagger, Dart, Handaxe, Sling, Shortsword, Shortbow
  • Bugbear: Footman's Mace, Goblin Stick, Hand Axe, Morningstar, Great Club, Spear, Warhammer
  • Satyr: Dagger, Javelin, Longsword, Shortsword, Shortbow, Spear
  • Firbolg: Club, Halberd, Two-handed Sword
  • Gnoll: Club, Flindbar, Glaive, Longbow, Longsword
  • Goblin: Hand Axe, Footman's Pick, Morningstar, Sling, Shortsword, Spear
  • Hobgoblin: Composite Longbow, Morningstar, Scimitar, Spear, Whip
  • Kobold: Club, Spiked Club, Hand Axe, Javelin, Shortsword, Spear
  • Lizard Man: Battleaxe, Great Club, Barbed Dart, Javelin
  • Minotaur: Footman's Flail, Two-handed Axe, Great Club
  • Mongrelman: Broadsword, Club, Longsword, Shortsword, Morningstar, Quarterstaff, Blowgun
  • Half-Ogre: Club, Goblin Stick, Halberd, Spear, Two-handed Sword, Voulge
  • Ogre Mage: Composite Longbow, Katana, Naginata, Scimitar, Tetsubo, Wakizashi, Whip
  • Orc: Battleaxe, Heavy Crossbow, Light Crossbow, Footman's Flail, Hand Axe, Spear
  • Half-Orc: As Orc or Human (pick one set)
  • Tiefling: As Human
† The should feel free GM to add to this list to reflect the nature of specific tribes. For instance, the Eraka nomads of The Ride are known for their use of the broadsword.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

S is for Monks!

Continuing with the A-Z challenge.

A priest kit for use with the AD&D 2nd edition game.


The Silent Brother/Sister

Base Requirements

  • Races: Any
  • Classes: Any Priest class
  • Ability Requirements: none
  • Alignments: Non-Chaotic
  • Starting Cash: By class

Weapon Proficiencies

  • Weapon Slots: By class
  • Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Required Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Allowed Weapons: By class
  • Allowed Armors: By class

Non-Weapon Proficiencies:

  • Non-weapon Slots: By class
  • Available Categories: By class
  • Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Observation, Religion, Sign Language (any one), Sound Analysis
  • Required Proficiencies: None
  • Recommended Proficiencies: Alms, Awareness, Body Language, Calligraphy, Ceremony, Concentration, Detect Signing, Hiding, Philosophy, Psionic Mimicry, Reading Lips, Reading/Writing, Scribe, Sign Language, Signaling, Somatic Concealment, Time Sense.
  • Forbidden Proficiencies: Animal Noise, Battle Command, Chanting, Debate, Fast Talking, Haggling, Oratory, Quick Tongue, Singing, Voice Mimicry.

Priest Spheres: These replace the standard spheres for the priest’s class.

  • Major: Special (see below)
  • Minor: Special (see below)

Overview: Silent Brothers (or Sisters) are priests who have taken upon themselves a vow of silence. Some are priests who were forced to silence by circumstance--being born deaf or dumb (or both), having their tongues removed, or having no one to speak with from long years of solitary imprisonment. Others choose this path out of a sense of religious devotion. Regardless, Silent Brothers speak only very rarely, and then only in a whisper.

Silent Brothers may be from any priest class, though Monks, because of their asceticism, and Mystics, because of their isolationism, are the most likely to take up the kit. Likewise, members of any religion may choose to take a vow of silence, save those for whom noise is part of their devotions--such as priest of Oghma or Milil. Vows of silence are particularly common among the worshipers of Helm, Ilmater, and other strictly lawful deities, or those religions dedicated to stealth such as Mask or Shar.

Description: Silent Brothers tend to dress in the same manner as other priests of their faith, though some were some symbol of their vow: typically a black or white scarf around the neck, a veil worn over the face, or a gag over their mouths. Some orders (especially among worshipers of evil deities or Ilmaterites) go so far as to mutilate themselves as a sign of their vow--cutting out their own tongue, scarring their necks, or sewing their mouths shut.

Role-Playing: Silent Brothers are often quite different from other members of their faiths. They practice a unique magic which forgoes all verbal spell components and features an array of unusual and esoteric spells, many with significant combat applications. Because of their time spent in silence, they also excel at stealth, and thus many Silent Brothers act as spies or holy assassins for their religions.

Within a party, a Silent Brother is seen and never heard. As he refuses to speak, save the occasional whisper, he will not be found negotiating or giving advice as so many other priests do. Many view the Brother's silence as menacing or brooding, particularly those coming from the violent or stoic faiths, however, they are just as likely to be jovial, outgoing, and comical--greeting their friends with a quiet smile and communicating to their allies in exaggerated pantomime and animated sign language.

Special Abilities:

  • Regardless of class, Silent Brothers gain the thief abilities to Hear Noises and Move Silently. Both of these abilities start at a base value of 20% (adjusted for race, dexterity, and armor as normal), and increase by 5% for every level after 1st (to a maximum of 95%).
  • Silent Brothers gain a +4 bonus on saving throws or checks made to resist any effect that would force them to speak. Similarly, others suffer a -4 penalty on any checks made to force a Silent Brother to speak (such as Intimidation attempts).
  • Silent Brothers are so practiced at speechless communication that they gain a +2 on any proficiency check made to convey meaning without speaking (such as with the Sign Language or Signalling proficiencies). Similarly, other characters gain a +2 bonus on proficiency checks to understand a non-verbal message from a Silent Brother (such as the Detect Signing, Body Language, or Reading Lips proficiencies).
  • Silent Brothers, because of their special devotions, are allowed to cast any priest spell which lacks a verbal component, regardless of limitations for spheres, race, or religion. The following priest spells are allowed to all Silent Brothers (all spells can be found in the Priest's Spell Compendium):

    • 1st: Analyze Opponent, Calculate, Daydream, Divine Romantic Interest, Invisibility to Animals, Pressure Resistance, Protection from Silver, Snake Charm, Spittle, Truemetal, Wind Column
    • 2nd: Animal Spy, Bliss, Camouflage, Clues of Ash, Dark Fire, Dream Sight, Impart Knowledge, Vicissitude
    • 3rd: Blackhand, Bramblestaff, Corpse Whisper, Curse of Black Sands, Dispel Silence, Divine Purpose, Invisibility to Animals 10-ft. Radius, Resist Injury, Stealth of Brandobaris, Thunderclap
    • 4th: Animal Sight, Darkbolt, Endurance, Image of the Sorcerer Kings, Infestation, Magma Blade, Misfire, Plague, Sand Warrior, Stone of Sharpening, Stone Walk, Thorns of Binding
    • 5th: Dimensional Translocation, Gaseous Form, Kiss of Sharess, Misfortune
    • 6th: Enmesh, Mark of the Hunted, Sand Blade
    • 7th: Heart of Ice, Magma Tunnel
  • At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, a Silent Brother may add one spell of any spell-level he can cast to the above list of available spells. These spells must be chosen from the spheres available to other priests of his class and religion. The Silent Brother is able to cast the chosen spell with no verbal components.
  • From their time of quiet contemplation, Silent Brothers gain some aptitude for the psionic arts. Their chance of possessing Wild Talents is not halved (as it is for other priests), and any Silent Brother that gains a wild talent adds his level to the roll to determine what abilities he gains (increasing the chance of having multiple wild talents). A Silent Brother who possesses psionic abilities from any source (either as a wild talent or from the psionicist class) gains a +1 bonus to his power scores with any power from the Telepathic discipline.
Special Disadvantages:

  • Silent Brothers may only cast spells from the above list. They do not have access to any of the spheres normally allowed to priests of their class or religion.
  • Silent Brothers live by a vow of silence. They may not speak above a whisper, may not cast any spells with verbal components, may not use any proficiency which requires making significant noise (singing, oratory, whistling, etc.), and may not use any class or racial abilities which are dependent on making noise (such as a Bard's performance-related abilities).
  • Because they are unused to loud noises, Silent Brothers suffer a -2 penalty on saving throws against spells or attacks with auditory effects, such as the shout spell or a dragonne's roar.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

R is for Matched Magic Items

I've always been a sucker for magic items that increase in power over a series of adventures and for magic items that come in sets. The natural outgrowth of this is magic items that increase in power when used together. While I don't throw a whole lot of these into my adventures, I do always include a few for flavor. Here is one set of matched rings from a recent adventure, one is fairly common (though heavily modified from it's canonical statistics), the other has less flashy powers (and some significant drawbacks) alone, but significantly improves the first when they are used together.

PS. If you are looking for cool images as inspiration for magical rings, I highly recommend Macabregadgets -- all the skulled, horned, and tentacled rings you could possibly want.

Ring of the Ram

A ring of the ram is a darkened silver ring, one side expanding into the skull of a ram, with curling golden horns. These rings are popular among the worshippers of the demon lords Baphomet and Tittivilla, and their original creation is attributed to those beings, though many imitations have been created over the millenia. This particular ring, though it does not show its age, is one of the first and bears a faint aura of malevolence about it.
A ring of the ram has 3 charges and regains 1d3 expended charges daily at midnight. While wearing a ring of the ram you can expend one of its charges as an action to do one of the following:
  • When making an unarmed melee attack with your fist, you can expend a charge from the ring to deal an additional 2d10 force damage on a successful hit and push the target 1 foot away from you per point of damage dealt.
  • By touching the ring to any solid, unattended, inanimate object and expending a charge, you can attempt to break that object. The object must make a saving throw vs. crushing blow or be destroyed. This can affect up to one hundred cubic feet of material, larger objects (such as mountains or castle walls) will have a correspondingly sized section reduced to rubble.
  • By expending 3 charges and striking the ground, the wearer can summon a Bulezau (a goat demon). The demon remains for 1 minute before returning to its home plane. The goat-demon servers the wearer of the ring to the best of its abilities. However, the control granted by the ring is not strong enough to overcome the Bulezau’s temper. If the demon’s rage activates, all control is lost and the demon will fight until it is killed or the summoning magic runs its course, treating the wearer of the ring as just another enemy to be destroyed.

Ring of Baphomet

A brother to the Ring of the Ram, the Ring of Baphomet is a black iron ring with a ram’s skull and curling, forked, golden horns. This particular ring was worn by a Goristro demon in the service of the armies of Baphomet that attacked Valjevo Castle during its first appearance in Hell, as a mark of servitude, tracking device, and means of keeping the behemoth siege-demon in control.
Baphomet is instantly and constantly aware of anyone wearing the ring, knowing their precise location in the planes. This locating ability cannot be blocked by any magic short of a wish or direct divine intervention (even mind blank will not protect against this). In addition, the ring’s wearer suffers disadvantage on all Wisdom and Charisma saves against spells or attacks used by demons.
While worn, the Ring of Baphomet grants the user a +2 bonus to his Strength score (this can raise the user’s Strength above 20) and advantage on all Charisma (Intimidation) skill checks. In addition, if worn with a Ring of the Ram the Ring of Baphomet augments the abilities of that item in the following ways:
  • The ring of the ram always recovers the maximum of 3 charges per day (instead of 1d3).
  • If the ring of the ram is used to summon a Bulezau, the wearer retains control of the goat-demon even if it goes berserk.
  • The wearer can expend a charge from the ring of the ram to cast bestow curse (as a 3rd level spell).
The ring will resize to fit any wearer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Q is for Complicated Relationships

A little more reminiscence and real-life than actual gamables, but Q is a weird letter, so deal. Also, somehow this is funnier (to me at least) if I only refer to people by their relationships and describe all of the involved relationships, so...

Decades ago, when I was in high-school, I ran a regular D&D game for a party composed of: my girlfriend, my sister, my best friend, his little brother (who was dating my ex), and the brother of my ex. Decades later we all still make regular references to that game, which for lack of a better name, we call the Sir-Alanna-Corrin-Colin-Lembar (or SACCL) game, after five out of the seven main PCs.

Now, the simple thing to say was that I played D&D with my five closest friends, but this was high-school, and everything has to be complicated in high-school (including the version of D&D you play, which at the time was AD&D 2nd edition with every splat-book and all of the Player's Option rules). So let's make this more complicated:

My sister eventually married my best friend, after several years of on-again, off-again dating, but at the time had a crush on my ex's brother. There were rumors that I was in a relationship with my ex's brother, and I certainly shared my sister's crush. The girlfriend became my wife a decade later, after we both finished as much school as we were going to do. And my best friend's brother eventually married my ex, after which he never played D&D again, because she felt that I (or D&D) had been a bad influence on everyone involved (especially her brother).

But, of course, we were saying this was complex...

So, my girlfriend married my best friend after a tumultuous three-year relationship. My sister had an aggressive rivalry with the little brother. My ex's brother committed suicide. And somewhere along the line our narcoleptic friend got locked in a closet, put in temporal stasis, and had his heart cut out to be used in the creation of magical elixers.
. . .

Right, obviously everything in that last paragraph is what happened in the game (you might see why certain people thought I was being a bad influence)...Joking about bad influences aside, if you are looking for the key to lasting relationships, find people who you can game with, as, obviously, everyone in that party (except the narcoleptic friend) are now related.

When we were finally married, my wife's mother made a beautiful quilt for us, with squares contributed by our various friends and family members (you were starting to wonder how I'd get a Q in here weren't you....the other option would be to talk about the above as a love quadrangle or some such nonsense).

In commemoration of how both of our marriages found their source in a game, my sister and brother-in-law contributed this square, featuring their characters from that campaign, and one that is supposed to represent me:

As an added bonus, after years of exile in the land of MMOs (mostly WoW), my sister and brother-in-law have gotten back into proper gaming, including joining a new PBeM game which you should be seeing reports of on here shortly.


And now for something gameable...

I mentioned in passing earlier that the last member of that party, played by the narcolept (no offense to narcoleptics, that is just how we all still think of him), ended up locked in a closet for spare parts. One of the central characters of the party, Lembar, was a pugilistic, albino, halfling alchemist who desired, more than anything else, to make a lasting mark on the world's body of alchemical knowledge. To that end he spent a fortune in gold, years of time, and dozens of adventures to create a truly unique and masterful concoction: An Elixer of Permanence.

Lembar's Elixer of Permanence
Possibly the epitome of the alchemical arts, this powerful elixer has no effect when consumed on it's own. However, if the Elixer is consumed while the drinker is under the effects of any other potion (excluding those with instantaneous effects such as a potion of healing), the effects of the prior potion are rendered permanent. Nothing short of a limited wish, wish, or disjunction can end the effects of the potion once it has been affected by the Elixer of Permanence.
Consuming the Elixer of Permanence has no risk of adverse effects from potion miscibility with regard to the potion being made permanent. However, once a potion has been rendered permanent, the user must always check for miscibility (using the Potion Compatibility table in the DMG) with regards to any other potion he drinks after that point (ignoring any random result that would cause the permanent potion to be negated, though it may have its effects reduced).
Any number of potions can be rendered permanent in this manner, but miscibility must be checked ever time the character drinks a new potion and any strange side-effects of the mixed potions will also be rendered permanent by the Elixer.

Creating the Elixer:

Creating the first batch of the Elixer involved several (high) levels worth of adventures to collect the necessary components. To create the Elixer, the alchemist must collect the following ingredients:

  1. One tunne of elven feywine that has been blessed for sacremental use by a religion allied with the alchemist, which was then obtained by dishonest means.
  2. A handful of crushed petals from a blue lotus flower which has never come in contact with water.
  3. Ioun stones of four different colours, ground to a fine powder.
  4. The heart-gem of a metallic dragon that has never known goodness.
  5. The still-hot ashes from the heart of a forest that was completely destroyed by magical flame.
  6. Bile from the liver of the Tarrasque.
  7. A vial of each of the four humors collected from an invisible, still-living, Render.
  8. The heart of a Yugoloth (any variety).

So what about that guy locked in a closet? 

Well, of all the requirements, the last one was fairly open-ended: the heart of a yugoloth. It just so happened that one of the player characters was a tiefling of yugoloth descent. Rather than travel to Gehenna to hunt down a daemon, Lembar decided to knock out the tiefling, put a ring of regeneration on him and then cut out his heart. Interestingly, the experiment worked (properly collected it seemed that even the heart of a one-quarter yugoloth was sufficient to the task). So, to ensure a steady supply of one ingredient at least, the party (being very careful to not let the Paladin know): put the tiefling in temporal stasis, locked him in a closet, and then would bring him out of stasis and let the ring of regeneration do its job whenever they needed a new heart to harvest.

As for the other ingredients...good luck...

Friday, April 17, 2015

P is for Ball Gown!

The Platemail Dress

This beautiful item appears to be an ornate ballgown of solid, gleaming steel. When left alone, the gown is as rigid as steel plate, holds its shape, and can even stand up on its own. If handled the gown is as soft and flexible as fabric, allowing it to be as easily donned and worn as any gown (it still takes five to ten minutes to put it on and get everything fitted correctly). The dress's ties and cinches (and a bit of magic) allow it to be adjusted to fit any female humanoid between five and a half and six feet in height. Even with its suppleness, the dress is still heavy and stiff when worn. It weighs the same as a suit of full plate armor and offers identical protection (AC 18, no Dex bonus). The normal penalties apply if the wearer is not proficient with heavy armor.

While the functionality of this garment is miraculous enough, the real magic of the gown lies in the regal poise, bearing, and demeanor bestowed upon a proficient wearer. A wearer who is proficient in heavy armor gains a +1 bonus to her Charisma score (which stacks with other magical bonuses and can allow scores exceeding 20), is treated as being proficient in Etiquette, and has advantage on all Dexterity-based saves and ability checks made to avoid being knocked prone.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

O is for Warlock

The Oṣó (Warlock)
A wizard kit for use with AD&D 2nd Edition.
An Oṣó, sometimes called a warlock, is a sorcerer who uses dangerous magic without the aid of the gods'’ wisdom. Oṣó learn spells and are granted the power to cast them by the Tanar'ri, the chaotic denizens of the underworld (demons, in other words). Their magic is unpredictable and despised by their countrymen. Magic-users who take this kit are almost exclusively male (exceptions might be made, but they are few). 
Like their female counterparts, the Witch, warlocks are primarily concerned with the lore and appeasement of their aspect of the netherworld. They serve and appease the angry, hostile, aggressive, and destructive natures of the Tanar'ri. They will promote a war if that is what a spirit wants, or if the oṣó, for their own purposes, desire it and can convince their followers that it is the spirits’ will. Of course, such deception depends on the warlock's alignment.
Base Requirements

  • Races: Any (male only)
  • Allowed Classes: Wild Mage†
  • Ability Requirements: None
  • Alignments: Non-Lawful
  • Starting Cash: By class

† An Oṣó must be a specialist in the school of Wild Magic (see the Tome of Magic).

Weapon Proficiencies

  • Weapon Slots: By class
  • Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Required Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Allowed Weapons: Spear (any), Club (any), Mace (any), Dagger (any), Bow (any)
  • Allowed Armors: By class

Non-Weapon Proficiencies:

  • Non-weapon Slots: By class
  • Available Categories: By class, plus Warrior
  • Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Artistic Ability, Disguise, Spellcraft
  • Required Proficiencies: none
  • Recommended Proficiencies: Alertness, Astrology, Blind-Fighting, Bowyer/Fletcher, Cooking, Direction Sense, Endurance, Fire-building, Herbalism, Hunting, Intimidation, Netherworld Knowledge, Planes Lore, Psionic Mimicry, Set Snares, Singing, Somatic Concealment, Sorcerous Dueling, Tracking, Weaponsmithing
  • Forbidden Proficiencies: none

Oṣó go out of their way to disguise their nature, and dress in whatever fashion is appropriate to their current situation. However, all warlocks are afflicted with the curse of changing form. This curse causes the warlock to change his shape to that of another creature every night at midnight, the change lasting until the next night. No known magic, or even death, can prevent this change. Because these forms are often monstrous (trolls, ogres, or worse), the Oṣó usually keeps himself away from society in general.
The rare good-aligned warlock may serve the Tanar'ri unknowingly or unwillingly. They still do the will of the Tanar'ri simply by their existence, but attempt to subvert that will to do as little harm as possible, attempting to protect their communities from the predations of these evil spirits.
Warlocks are homeless wanderers, who study their art to gain power. Good or no, the warlock is hunted by his countrymen, not out of hatred of the warlock but because they fear the wrath of the gods, the elements, and all other spirits who desire the warlock's destruction. 
Special Abilities:

  • At 1st level, the warlock may select one weapon with which he is proficient as his "weapon of choice". He gains a permanent +1 bonus on all attack rolls with such weapons.
  • Warlocks may learn and cast priest spells from the Chaos and Necromantic spheres as wizard spells. They treat these spheres as bonus Paths (they do not count against the warlock's number of paths known). The warlock must abide by the normal restrictions regarding spells that belong to multiple spheres, race-specific spells, and religion-specific spells.
  • Warlocks treat all spells from the Chaos priest sphere as belonging to the school of Wild Magic for the purpose of their specialization bonuses. Thus they gain a bonus to their chance to learn spells from the Chaos sphere and can prepare Chaos sphere spells in their bonus specialist spell slots.
  • Warlocks are hardier than other wizards. They use six-sided dice for hit points instead of four-sided dice.
  • When a warlock reaches 4th level, he gains the power to summon massive magical energies that allow him to cast any one spell at maximum effect once per day. The spell must be at least one level lower than the highest spell level he can cast. The spell automatically has maximum range, duration, and effect.

Special Disadvantages:

  • If a warlock's true profession is known, the Oṣó suffer a -2 penalty on all NPC reaction rolls (even against other warlocks).
  • The Warlock must sacrifice the equivalent of one large domestic animal to the denizens of the underworld per level each time he increases a level. An Oṣó who fails to make the proper sacrifices does not gain the abilities of his new level until he does so.
  • The Tanar'ri, because of their chaotic nature, often place strange demands on a warlock. Each warlock must abide by certain taboos, though the taboos may seem trivial or even ridiculous to other characters, the warlock takes them quite seriously-violating a taboo causes the warlock to lose levels of ability, lose spells, become ill, or even die (the DM decides the exact penalty). A 1st-level a warlock has one taboo and gains an additional taboo every five levels thereafter. The player should develop his character's taboos in concert with the DM. Some suggestions might include:
    • Can't eat meat or animal products (including milk, eggs, and cheese).
    • Can't sleep within 20 yards of a member of the opposite sex.
    • Can't wear a certain color.
    • Can't carry gold (or other specific precious metal) on his person.
    • Can't bathe or must bathe frequently.
    • Can't cut his hair or fingernails.
    • Can't intentionally take the life of an insect.
    • Can't drink alcoholic beverages (or the reverse).
    • Can't sit facing the north (or other direction).
    • Can't speak after sunset (except to cast spells).
    • Or look at the suggestions for Witch Contracts.
  • The elements themselves abhor the art of the warlock. He cannot learn or cast any elemental spell-that is any spell that belongs to the Elemental Air, Elemental Earth, Elemental Fire, or Elemental Water schools of magic (see the Tome of Magic or consult your DM to see whether a spell is forbidden).
  • The Curse of Changing Form. Every day, the Oṣó must roll randomly to determine what form he takes that day. The table of available forms is different for each warlock, and it includes the warlock's true form plus random forms chosen from the reincarnation spell table in the Complete Book of Humanoids. A warlock has a number of forms equal to his level plus one (thus a 1st-level warlock has only two possible forms). Some distinguishing feature (eye colour, a particular scar or tattoo, etc. -- chosen by the player) is common to all forms. The warlock can speak and cast spells in all  forms. In other respects, this curse acts as a polymorph self spell.
    • For example, a 3rd-level warlock would have to roll 1d4 each day. On a roll of 1, he would maintain his true form, but rolls of 2 through 4 could correspond to gnoll, kobold, and troll forms respectively. He might have a white streak of hair in all forms.
  • The Curse of Refusal. Death has refused to allow the Oṣó entry to the realm of the dead, so all warlocks become undead upon their deaths. The exact form that an undead warlock assumes depends on the level that the warlock attained in life. Convert the character's level to hit dice and consult the Cleric's table for turning undead for the appropriate form. The warlock loses his spell-casting abilities upon death, unless the undead form taken is normally capable of casting spells.
    • For example, a 6th-level warlock would become a ghast or wraith when he dies. If the warlock is 11th level or higher when he dies comes back as a Lich and retains his spellcasting abilities.
    • Despite the character's new status, the Curse of Changing Form is still in effect. As a  result, the undead character may be a skeletal, zombie, or ghostly troll, orc, etc., on any given day. The character retains his undead abilities and immunities in any form. The DM is advised to make the undead character an NPC, if the warlock is not one already.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

N is for Nuns

Note: This is strictly campaign-background info, no mechanics this post.

If it has not become clear, I like mucking around with religions in my games. I also like mucking about with laws and politics. I also like messing with people's images of canonical elements of published campaigns.  I also play with a group that includes lawyers and seminary students, who, unsurprisingly like all of the same things. This post is about killing all three birds with one stone.


Tyr has long been a cornerstone of the Forgotten Realms pantheon, despite being a interloper from the Norse pantheon. Tyr holds the portfolio of Justice, and nothing else, which is unusual for a greater power. He is even more constrained in that he is typically depicted as a god of criminal justice, worshiped by those that enforce the laws of men, with an underlying code that cleaves pretty close to 'an eye for an eye' (appropriate for a deity with the moniker "The Maimed God"). While this version of Tyr justifies the existence of bad-ass, violent paladins, it is otherwise pretty limiting, both for a greater deity, and also his worshippers.

My ongoing Forgotten Realms, play-by-email game is set in a location where, according to cannon, Tyr's is the main religion on the block. With the expectation that Tyr's religion would play a central role in the campaign (and indeed, the PC party includes 3 priests of Tyr and has sheltered in his temple on multiple occasions), I felt I needed to broaden his scope, appeal, and interest. The first step was simple, that being to make him a god of Law (as a broader concept), rather than just Justice. The rest hinges on a single phrase, "Tyr is the Law, and the Law is Tyr." So, here is a discussion of what Tyr looks like in my campaigns, as seen through the lens of actual play.


Obviously there are plenty of appellations you could apply to priests of a god of law, but when his name is Tyr, nothing is more appropriate than Tyrants (though they of course would object to that). Our first interactions with Tyr's faithful come when a party that includes a priest of the god of thieves finds a Tyrran monk beaten unconscious in the worst part of town and decide to help him.
“What should we do about this fellow?” He gestures to the unconscious monk. “I’m not a big fan of Tyrants, but having a few grateful contacts in the law is always helpful…”
-- Gendry, Minotaur Priest of Mask
“A Tyrran huh? You’re better off just turning around and putting him right back where you found him.”
-- A random guard in Phlan's slums
“Um, thanks. Sorry for the screaming. I am in your debt, Master Gendry. I hope you weren’t too harsh in your reprisal against the orcs. They were infected with ontontis, orcish leprosy. I volunteer at the soup kitchen by the market and they recognized me. They asked me to cure them and became rather emotional when I explained that removing a disease such as theirs was beyond my abili…” He falls into a coughing fit and clutches at his side harder. “I recant my previous statement. If you killed them, justice was served, and they are likely glad to be free of their suffering.”
-- Brother Rant Harmell of Tyr
Needless to say, priests of Law are not popular in those areas where the law is poorly (or non-) enforced, nor by those who make their lives as habitual lawbreakers. The first interactions with the monk gives a fairly traditional view of the Lawful Good champion: working in soup kitchens, trying to cure the sick, and wanting mercy for those that harmed him. Things get more complicated when the two opposed priests start really talking to each other.
“Well, Brother Rant, I’ve heard much from you Tyrrans about honesty and repaying debts over the years, so I trust one of your order to fulfill a life-debt. I am Gendry FitzTeldar, son of Teldar the Pirate King, and under the watchful eye of the Lord of Intrigue, I expect to be repaid.”
“I’ve heard tell that a Maskaran can turn even the best of intentions to their advantage. I guess this is my second lesson for today. I would rather die than aid a criminal, but I am alive…thanks to a pirate. I will repay my debt, Mr. Gendry, but I will not violate my oath to do so. A life is worth a life, so I must protect yours, but I cannot vouchsafe your continued freedom.”
“I’m sure you aid criminals every day at that soup kitchen of yours, Brother Rant. The poor and destitute always turn to the Shadowlord. While you might offer a meal, we offer them a way to better their situation in life. By the Shadowlord’s grace, even the lowliest guttersnipe can live like a king.” Gendry snorts. “You don’t need to turn me in for anything, Brother. For now, at least, I am here to help this city of yours. A surprisingly enlightened city, I must say. The Council of Phlan has not only overlooked my appearance, but has given me amnesty for all of my past misdeeds. So, I have no intention of ‘corrupting’ you or making you break any of your vows, but my friends and I do need all the help we can get…and you should consider yourself drafted.”
"You are not at all what I would have expected, Mr. Gendry. You are correct, there is more to Tyr’s justice than just upholding the law, and for now justice demands that I repay my debt to you and your friends. As soon as I am able, if you wish it, I will accompany you on your adventures, or provide whatever other aid is appropriate.”
Then, of course, Gendry died, and we get to learn what the Religion skill is good for:
Brother Rant sits up and looks at Lyra. “I’m sorry, miss. There is nothing we can do. His spirit has passed on to be with his god. The Bishop might be able to call him back, but is unlikely to do so for a Maskarran, even if I intervened, assuming that his lord would release his spirit into the charge of our order, which is highly unlikely.” He looks back at the corpse and grimaces. “He would probably want to be interred in the manner of his faith, which, morbid as this may sound, means that you should loot his body of all his possessions, making sure to take every last scrap, and then bury him in a shallow, unmarked grave…”
“When you say loot everything, you mean … everything everything?”
“Ummm, yes. Maskarran morticians are more properly known as rag-pickers. The more devout ones will even shave the deceased hair to be sold as wigs and pluck out their teeth to be sold for…I don’t want to speculate what. I think that, as long as you get everything that you believe would be of value, then that will be sufficient. If it will make you feel less like a grave-robber, you might try to think of it as collecting mementos to remember him by.”

Summary Justice

Sometime the Judge, Jury, and Executioner part does come into play.

Hrud marches the orc out of the building and back to the wagon. Upon seeing Rant, he says, "A group of orcs were caught raping a girl." Laying the green broadsword on the wagon by Rant. "And they had these swords. I have to help them carry stuff." Hrud says, grabbing his captive’s wrist and pressing the orc’s hand to one of the posts on the wagon. The barbarian then grabs one of his arrows and slams it into the orc’s hand, pinning him firmly to the wagon. "Stay here."
Brother Rant looks up from where he has just finished popping the girl’s hip-joint back into place. Hearing Hrud’s account and seeing the sword, he glares daggers at the orc, asks Teldicia to watch the girl, and climbs out of the wagon. "The sword is the mark of Xvim and the Church of Darkness. I did not think Mace and his crew would act so openly." He pulls the mace off of his back, then speaks loudly, drawing the attention of the passers-by.
“Orc. You have been accused of the crime of rape, both forceful and statutory, and battery against this girl, and serving the dark will of Xvim, the Son of Cruelty. By the testimony of these witnesses and the evidence seen here, you are found guilt in the eyes of the Council, of Tyr, and of the Law. As Tyr’s judge, I sentence you to immediate death. As Tyr and the Law are one, let it be so.”
He grips his mace in both hands and brings it down full-force right onto the orc’s head with a sickening crunch. “Let all who bear witness know that Tyr’s law has been done.” He breaks the arrow off, allowing the orc’s body to fall to the street.
And sometimes a bit of misogyny...
Brother Rant climbs up in the wagon with the girls. “There is no telling what sort of emotional scarring she might have from an event like this. I don’t know of any proper Psychologues in the city, but we can at least get her someplace safe and find who she belongs to.”
Lyra was practically scowling. “Belongs to?
Brother Rant looks at Lyra confusedly, “Yes, Miss Lyra, while there are a lot of lost souls in this town, most people still have someone willing to take responsibility for them—a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or even fellow adventurers. She seems a bit young to fall in that last category, but then, so do you I guess.” He smiles, “Even if she has no family, she might belong to a group like your own. We are social creatures. Everyone belongs to someone, that is just the order of things.”
Her expression softens. “Shouldn’t it be ‘belongs with’ rather than ‘belongs to’?”

Hard-Drinking Nuns

Our next significant encounter with Tyr's priesthood occurs when Lyra and Rant visit the temple, and here is starts to get more interesting.
Rant gestures to a passage on the left, “the women’s wing is down this hall. I am not allowed beyond the arch, but if you take a left at the end of the hall and go down the stairs, you will find the dormitories, where the two of you should be able to rest safely."
You come down the stairs into a long, low-ceilinged, windowless room. The walls are lined with rows of single-beds with thick, soft-looking mattresses, satin sheets, and beautifully quilted, white, down comforters, twenty to a side. Running down the center of the room are two long trestle-tables of polished, white oak. The room is lit by a trio of large candelabras sitting on the tables. Three white-robed women sit at one of the tables, throwing dice, picking at a large tray of meat and cheeses, and swearing fit to make a sailor’s ears turn red. Each has a small pile of silver coins and a goblet of dark red wine sitting in front of them.
Lyra takes in the comfortable looking beds, the dice, the swearing Sisters, and the giant plate of food. This was going to be a much less boring wait than she had anticipated. 
In contrast to the traditional, clean-nosed, Justice-focused Brother Rant, the nuns at the temple of Tyr represent the letter of the Law. And, in Phlan at least, there are no laws against comfortable beds, drinking, gambling, or swearing. Thus the nuns are very much not what Lyra would have expected. Then, of course, there is Sister Winona, who knows more about Rant than he let on.
One of the ladies at the table, seeing Amara fall asleep, sets down her cup and walks over to Lyra. . . “Oh, and it’s no shame if you like Rant. He was quite the dashing fellow when he was younger…international spy and all that.” She pats Lyra not-so-reassuringly on the knee. “And never you mind about religious vows or any nonsense like that. It would be unjust to deny someone the opportunity to love.” She winks. “People get all sorts of crazy ideas about Lord Tyr, and I don’t know where from…”
"Sister Winona"
"What was that about Brother Rant being an international spy?”
“Rant? Oh, dearie, he’s one of Those who Harp. You know, a meddler, as most of the people up here call them. . .He apparently was working with the tribes north of the mountains, trying to train them to defend themselves against the Zhentarim extremists, and got converted to the worship of Lord Grimjaws—that’s what they call Tyr up there. Quite the guy Rant, tends to throw himself headfirst into everything. He gets a lot more autonomy than many of us here—some special arrangement between the Bishop and the meddlers.” . . . "We were playing Three Man, care to join in a round?”
Then we learn that she's into diabology, and not above summoning the occasional devil for "research".
“Devils dear, not demons. Baatezu to be precise. Judging from what I’m reading, I’m amazed that the author of these was able to summon even a lemure,” she emphasizes the long ‘you’ sound. “I’d like to peruse those in detail later if you’ll let me, Diabology is a particular interest of mine." The priestess continues reading through the book, then sits bolt upright. “Tyr Almighty! Who would even think of a spell like this, let alone write it down and leave it sitting out where people could get it!” She jumps to her feet, and runs after Lyra, the book tucked under her arm. “Wait! Miss…what do you intend to do with this?!"
“Well, it will be a matter of discussion with my companions once we arrive, but my inclination was to carefully rip out and burn the worst of it."
The priestess places a hand on Lyra’s elbow and guides her out of the room. “I don’t think tearing pages out is the right way to address this kind of information. Having a window into this kind of infernal research would be very useful for my order, assuming we can keep it out of the wrong hands.”
“Immolation does solve the ‘wrong hands’ issue nicely, though. The ability to pierce protections seems rather concerning, and might be pertinent to researching stronger wards, but what value is there in the rest of it?”
“Oh, I was thinking we could gate in a handful of lemures to train the troops. A practical primer on what weapons work against fiends and how to destroy infinitely regenerating enemies.”
“What if they get loose? What if the trainees aren’t prepared? What if the spell doesn’t even work properly?”
“You’ve found more signs of fiendish activity in the area in two days than I have in all the months I’ve been here, Lyra. Let me run to the armory and get my things, then Sister Rye and I are coming with you…” She turns to the short novice, “Ready Rye?” The halfling’s eyes widen and her face goes start white.
“Oh, Sister Winona,” the small woman squeaks, “Sister Theymr said to make sure I’m back within two weeks…”
Winona sighs, “Yes Sister. We mustn’t break the rules, musn’t we?” 
and later...
Donovan continues, “It seems to me, that, if our goal is to defend a village against a horde of kobolds. The tactical application of a few of the less common spells from the Book of Finnot—opening a gate for a number of lemures into the middle of their forces for instance—might provide us with a substantial advantage…”
Winona’s eyes light up, “Fiends from the Nine Hells are fundamentally lawful entities, despite their destructive nature. So long as you are very precise in the wording of your commands and take proper precautions, they, especially the lemures called by Finnot’s spell, could certainly be used in such a manner.” She begins expounding animatedly and at length on her own reading of Finnot’s Book, the nature lesser fiends, the nature of planar gates, laws regarding the enforcement of extra-planar contracts, the history and tactics of military uses of lemures, and various rituals for defending against extra-planar threats.
Rye looks utterly terrified by the direction of the conversation. She scurries to the front of the wagon and tries not to listen to her elder sister realistically discussing the summoning and binding of devils.
AND apparently she gambles with the locals...aggressively...
“Good morrow, Mr. Cockburn. We missed you at the Goblin last night. I was hoping to have the chance to win my money back. So how’s business?”
The man behind the counter gives a level, appraising look at the priestess, “I’m sorry, have we met?”
“Ian, it’s me, Winona. Remember, two nights ago at the Laughing Goblin you pulled those three aces and ran me and two of my sisters dry?” She smiles. “We want some Justice. Tonight at the Bitter Blade. Bring your cards and a fat purse.”
The grocer grins, “Justice, eh? Alright I’ll see you there.”
the next morning...
The face of the young man behind the counter goes white at the sight of the heavily armed and armored priestess. “Sisters!” he says with false cheerfulness, “What brings you in today?” He wipes his hands on his apron and starts to come around the counter, “Surely you’re not holding last night against me…”
Winona glares at him over the rim of her spectacles, “Don’t worry Ian, you won fair and square last night. We’re here to give you more money, not take it back.” 
Rye looks at him a little sideways. “I don’t know Sister Winona,” she squeaks, “I still don’t believe he just happened to pull that king…” She crosses her arms and furrows her brow, trying, quite unsuccessfully, to look intimidating instead of just cute. 

 AND doesn't respect personal boundaries much...
Winona and Rye sit down beside Lyra. Winona looks around at the various artworks, “Sunites have fine taste,” she says quietly, “but not much between the ears. Still, I bet we could get a nice glass of wine out of the deal if you asked politely and fluttered those eyelashes of yours.” She adjusts her glasses, looking her most prudish, then says in a conspiratorial whisper, “Actually, knowing Sunites, you could probably get half-again as much for those paintings if you were showing a little more leg and some cleavage…”
Sister Rye makes a sound that is half tsk and half giggle, “Sister Winona, you shouldn’t say such things.” She hops off the settee and looks around, “Everyone looks so pretty here, though. I wonder who makes their clothes?”
“Why? Are you looking to undercut the kilt market?”

AND is extremely literal when it comes to jurisdictions...
Winona rattles the flail across her back suggestively, “There are only three of them. If they cause any trouble I’m sure we can trouble them back.”
“Ummm, Sister,” Ryesha squeaks, “is getting in a fight with them really a good idea? There is a law against brawling in the streets…”
“That law ends at the gates behind us, Bunny..."
in a later encounter
Donovan raises his hand, “If it saves a village, and keeps us alive, who cares if it’s fair to the orcs.”
“I’m sorry,” Winona says, “you’re suggestion isn’t a bad one one from a practical standpoint, but, even though adventurers are given the right to meet out immediate justice in the defense of themselves and others, the law is quite clear that similar punishment be set aside for instances of false testimony. Tyr and the Council require an accurate accounting of violence that is meeted out in the service of the city.” She sighs, then adds, “And, so long as they are not actively engaged in violence against peaceful citizens of Phlan, the Xvimlar are still are provided equal protections under the law…though with a healthy dose of suspicion of prior malice.”
The old man, sitting on the lip of the pit, glares at all of you with a mixture of rage and incredulity. “What’re you all yammering on about?! There’s got t’ be at least sixty dead kobolds here. If you want to help, how ‘bout you take your murderous hobo selves and go kick the rest of ’em where they live so they’ll stop bothering my village once and for all?!”
Winona grins, “That sounds more like it. Let’s go smash some kobolds!” When Ryesha looks up at her sternly, she sputters a bit, “You know…cause they’re orchestrating raids on merchant caravans and are clearly criminals…”
Rye whispers something under her breath which sounds like, “and you’re supposed to be teaching me…”
and yet again...
Teldicia moves over and sits down by Donovan. “Rietta and I played around with ritual summoning once or twice. She was pretty into the stuff, but I could never really get past the sacrifice bit. We tried to go through a whole summoning once, but I ended up getting sick and having to bail pretty quickly when we got to the part where we had to scalp the subject and break all their limbs..."
Donovan looks at Winona, “So…How does Tyr feel about torture? I assume ritual execution for the purpose of casting spells is definitely off the table?”
Winona shrugs, “It really depends on the jurisdiction you’re in and what crime the offender committed. The Law is Tyr and Tyr is the Law, we say. The Code of New Phlan only allows for four possible modes punishment: a day in the stocks, for minor, non-violent offenses; exile by means of being thrown over the wall at night, unarmed, for most violent offenses; death by hanging for treason against the Council of Phlan; and execution, by whatever means are readily available, for violent acts committed by a monstrous native against a registered citizen of New Phlan. Hillsfar to the south has only a single mode of punishment, trial by combat in the arena, regardless of the crime. In addition, all performance of ‘Necromancy’ (which is so vaguely defined that many judges have interpreted it to mean all magic) in Hillsfar is punishable by such.”
“However…” she continues, in a fairly bored-sounding monotone, as if not particularly interested in the topic, “Melvaunt, in whose jurisdiction we are now or soon will be, allows for a wide range of punishments, including torture by means of a Catherine Wheel, as Teldicia described, as both a means of execution and post mortem punishment—both only in cases of aggravated murder, that is, murder committed while in the midst of another crime, or perpetrated against a family member of the accused. Firstly, the delinquent is to be placed belly down, on a cartwheel with their hands and feet bound, outstretched out along the spokes, and thus dragged by a horse to the place of execution. The wheel is then hammered onto a pole, which is then fastened upright in its other end in the ground and made to revolve slowly. A large hammer or an iron bar is then applied to the limb over the gap between the beams, breaking the bones. Twice times on each arm, one blow above the elbow, the other below. Then, each leg gets the same treatment, above and below the knees. The final ninth blow is given at the middle of the spine, so that it breaks. Then, the broken body of the accused is unbound and woven onto the wheel between the spokes. The criminal is then to be left dying ‘afloat’ on the wheel, and be left to rot. The broken man can last hours and even days, during which birds are invited peck at the helpless victim. Eventually, shock and dehydration cause death.”
She raises an eyebrow at Teldicia, “Melvaunt law does not make any specific prohibition on the use of magics of any kind, except when using in the committing of another crime. There is no reason, within the law, that the use of the condemned in the casting of such spells during the rightful execution of their sentence would not be permitted…” Ryesha and Rant both look at Winona with some distaste at the implication of her overly helpful and precise answer.
Donovan tentatively opens the scroll that Teldicia handed to him and reads it quietly to himself. “So…Winona…does Melvaunt have any laws for which the proper punishment would be having your eyes plucked out, then being hung upside down and bisected vertically while still alive?”
Winona shakes her head.
“Didn’t think so…”
So in sharp contrast to Brother Rant, Sister Winona leaps head-first into violence of all kinds, condones torture, summons devils, drinks heavily, gambles, curses, makes bawdy jokes...and yet worships the same god,

Because when Tyr is the Law, it's all about jurisdiction.

Not just the one...

All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify.  -- NOT something any Tyrran would ever say
Before you start thinking that Winona is an exception to the rule, perhaps you should look at what another party encountered when dealing with Tyr's priesthood.
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 priory of St. Conrath of the Woods, a Tyrran parochial holding near Melvaunt, wagered by 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.
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. 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).
Grimnir rises early and heads into town to attend the closed council session. Councilman Porphyrys puts forward the Bill of Attainder, which passes four to one, with only Chief Councilman Eberhard voting against. Markos immediately puts forward the homosexual agenda, and Grimnir rushes off to make sure Elissa is present to exercise her rights to vote. The latter bill comes to a tie vote—with Eberhard, Cadorna, and Bivant voting against—pushing Bishop Braccio to make the tie-braking vote…in favor.
later still...
Kevorkian slipped out after the Councilman and took off, following the Bishop. Bishop Braccio for his part, made his way directly to his chambers in the nearby Temple of Tyr’s Waiting, poured himself a glass of brandy and collapsed onto his bed. Kevorkian noted that the Bishop looked old and worn out, clearly tired just from hauling his bulk to the Council Hall and back. A boy acolyte helped the Bishop out of his shoes and started giving him a foot message, at which point Kevorkian backed out of the door and ran.


These many in-game examples just hint at the fundamental Tyrran theology in this setting. If "Tyr is the Law and the Law is Tyr", then the laws of the church and the laws of the state are the same. Church-law, then, is completely fluid, changing from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, state to state, and time to time. Any change made to the local laws must be reflected in the priesthood. If homosexuality is made legal, then someone in the church is bound to adopt that lifestyle. If drinking is prohibited, then no Tyrran will touch alcohol. If torture is legal, then the priests and paladins of Tyr will take full advantage of that tool when hunting down evil-doers.

In places where morality is legislated, priests of Tyr will behave in a moral manner ... and in places where morality is not legislated, the Paladins are just as flawed as everyone else.