Monday, October 4, 2010

BoL: an NPC for every game III

You walk into a bar, right...
Aluyu gave the tavern door a shove, letting it swing open with a loud creak. Almost instantly the music and hubbub of voices stopped.
Stepping forward he drank in the room - a dozen faces stared back, each set of eye, each weathered cheek told a different story.
Unslinging his baldric he tossed his short sword to the wretch cowering by the door and mounted the creaky steps to the bar.
"Ale," he barked to the greasy tub of lard working behind the bar.
First the bard started wailing on his oddly shaped pipe. then the talk resumed.
When the drink had come and the sellsword had parted with two copper bits, he turned to take in the other patrons.

So, back by popular demand are more ready made NPCs for Barbarians of Lemuria

The Duelist
Noble houses are known to frequently feud and when they do, it is better to send hirelings to do the dirty work.
Once a mere vagabond the duelist has made a name for himself as the fastest blade in town.
When a noble wants a rival removed or an opponent humiliated, they call the duelist.
For a simple pouch of gold that rival will suddenly find himself facing off with this dark caped swordsman in a back alley.
St: 1 Ag: 1 Md: Ap:
Bwl: Mle: 2 Msl: Dfc:

Mercenary 1
Thief 1
Longsword, short sword, dark clothes

Gentleman adventurer
Some men are content to sit at home, grow fat off their coins and die content. Others like this gentleman find they have a thirst for something much more.
Once a rich noble this character sold off all his possessions in order to quest into dary crypts, deep jungles and across unending seas.
Generally found bloodied and bruises or covered in grime the gentleman adventurer spends coins as fast as he receives them on financing his next great adventure.
St: -1 Ag: 1 Md: 1 Ap: 1
Bwl: Mle: 1 Msl: Dfc: 1

Noble 1
Soldier 1
Heavy armour decorated with silver links and studded with gems, expertly painted shield, ridiculously plumed helmet, short sword

Big Game Hunter
With feline grace a beauty one would expect to find this lass on a sheik's pleasure barge. Instead this wild woman lives for one thing: the hunt.
An expert tracker she is proficient with a range of hunting weapons and has been known to go weeks without sleep or rest while on the hunt.
Little is known about her, but is reputed to be the last of a tribe of savages who lived high in the mountains. A tribe where women ruled by their might and men were mere pretty playthings.
St: Ag: 1 Md: -1 Ap: 2
Bwl: Mle: 1 Msl: 1 Dfc:
Hunter 2
Brace of spears, knife, slings. Leather and fur garments (acts as very light armour)

Withered seeress
The seeress can see into the future. And, it is reputed, into the very hearts of men.
But to gave upon her is to risk madness and only the bravest will seek her counsel.
Over the years she has been in the employee of great lords, ladies, kings and empresses but only for a short period.
Her mere appearance is enough to make her employees sick of her. Despite her wealth, the seeress wears tattered dark robes and the few who have seen past her ratty veils say she is horrid to look upon.
But folk still seek her visions.
St: Ag: Md: 3 Ap: -1
Bwl: Mle: Msl: 1 Dfc: 1
Sorceress 1
Scribe 1
Tattered robes, occult trinkets, fetishes and objects.

The haunted highwayman
Once this bandit had a life, a wife and a babe on the hip. He was never rich but he had a farm and some land.
All this changed when bandits came - his wife was raped and then sold to the slavers and his child thrown into the fire.
He was given the chance - join or die. A coward he chose to side with the band and has spent the last years raiding and pillaging with the group.
But his thirst for vengeance has been carefully fed each day he spends with the brigands.
One day he will have his revenge.
St: 2 Ag: Md: Ap:
Bwl: 1 Mle: 1 Msl: Dfc:
Bandit 1
Farmer 1
Short sword, light armour

The Stout soldier
A fighter, fighting man, man-at-arms, serviceman, swad, warrior. He is all of these things.
The professional soldier is a fighter sworn to his lord's service - in return for protection and agreeing to fight when and wherever he receives food, lodging and gold.
His body is criss-crossed with the scars of his trade but life is good for this one.
St: 2 Ag: Md: Ap:
Bwl: 1 Mle: 2 Msl: -1 Dfc:
Soldier 2
Short sword, spear, shield

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BoL spells: Form of the Animal

Melk-a-Spa watched the peddler trundle down the cracked marble steps, half tripping as he stepped heavily onto the weed-choked ground.
With a backwards glance the man, his grimy travelling rags slick with sweat, ran into the distance.
Letting out a low chuckle Melk hurled the silver goblet over his shoulder. It landed in the middle of the ruined temple's floor with clang.
The sorcerer's piercing green eyes took in the ruined temple with one a quick glance - pillars had crumbled and fallen, collapsing much of the roof and green weeds and flowers had sprouted out of much of the cracked floors which had once hosted divine commune with Knothakon, god of knowledge.
Now it was but a shadow of its former glory - and temporary home to Melk-a-Spa, powerful magi and wizard.
In the past month he had spent pouring over the remains of the temple's ancient library seeking the knowledge he sought but that meddling peddler had interrupted his work.
"You're right, of course. He can;t be allowed to talk," he said.
"The little cretin cannot interrupt my work."
The object of his discourse made a high pitch but unrecognisable mumble. It was hard to form real words when you were gagged.
The lithe slave girl let out a muffled scream and pulled again her shackles. She was hanging upside down, suspended above the great obsidian block that had once formed the temple's altar.
It now held a collection of the objects that were Melk's craft: a human skull, painted with swirling runes and signals, a great bronze dagger, a shallow clay bowl, a handful of bright red feathers and an ancient papyrus scroll held tight with a lock of dark hair.
The girl futily jigged the chains once more as Melk approached - her lithe, long body and ebony skin was slick with sweat and her brown eyes had enlarged to ridiculous size in fear as he stepped forward.
With a casual flick of his wrists he unhooked the heavy cloak, letting it pool on the floor. Next the heavy gold head dress and amulets were discarded and finally the animal pelt kilt.
All the while the wizard chanted, his rich, deep voice naming names not said in eons and calling on his master to help. He could feel the first trickle of power and then the slow build as dark powers surged around him.
"I'm afraid this is goodbye, my dear,"
With a quick movement, he slashed the bronze knife across her gorgeous throat - not enough to kill instantly - but deep enough to let the blood flow into the bowl.
Instantly, Melk could feel his limbs surge with power, his dark visage twisting and turning.

Huffing and puffing the peddler surged through the jungle- he had left his wares at the foot of the old ruined temple when he fled for his life. The man had only caught a glimpse of the goings-ons inside the old building but it was enough to send him packing.
The old temple had been wrecked for more than a century and was a common stopping spot for peddlers, merchants and vagabonds - but obviously something else had taken up residence there.
Cuffing strands of grey hair back out of his face the peddler drew to a stop. Surely he was safe no.
Suddenly there was a flick of movement to his left - spinning to face it, the little man drew a small blade from the depths of his robes.
"Forgive me - I saw nothing!" he screamed in terror.
"Let me go and I'll forget the whole thing!"
There was a scuffle of plants - and the merchant turned expecting to see the giant, darked skinned mad he had glimpsed at work in the temple. Instead - a giant, black jungle cat stepped lightly from the brush.
"Get! Get going! Go cat!" the peddler yelled, kicking up a surge of dust at the animal.
Instead the creature looked up at him with strange, green eyes.
The peddler screamed.

BoL spell:

A spell of the second magnitude, changing shape is a difficult operation even for the most powerful of wizards. The caster must ensure that he or she is not carried into the soul of the best too much.
Many are the sorcerers who have changed shape for a lark or some errand and found themselves enamoured of their newfound senses and unable to change back.

As per standard BoL rules: this spell cost 10 Arcane Power. For every casting requirement after the first that the magician can comply with or chooses, you can reduce the cost by 1 point, down to a minimum of 6 Arcane Power.

When a wizard changes shape they are usually required to offer human sacrifice in order to appease nature and compensate for the sheer audacity of changing form. (Counts as a -1 casting requirement)

The spell usually wears off in 2d6 +2 hours. Casters are left extremely fatigued afterwards and cannot undertake strenuous activity.

Lord Hegil-ag Kuol, a magister of some repute advised bedding down with two slave girls following the return to human form. After several hours of sleep, in which the girls kept him warm he was reportedly ready for more strenuous activity.

Casters can usually take on the form of any animal they are reasonably familiar with

In addition to sacrifice many masters of the arcane art make use of special items as a focus: Crystals from the Shii-An desert are common as fare magical ropes tied from the hair of drowning victims. (these are especially helpful when attempting to take the form of a marine creature)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Long time between posts and - a new shirt

Sorry guys, between real life and such I've really been neglecting this blog.

But something happened last week that made me remember why a) I started up this little venture and b) why I enjoy gaming so much.

As many of you may have seen, I enjoy a pretty good relationship with the old salt at - if you've not checked it out - DO SO.

Pao has lots to say and only 50 per cent of it is the mad mutterings of a loony Texan.

Some time back I decided I was going to do my semi-regular newspaper column on childhood haunts- those special places that stick in our heads.

It's that pizza place or that deli that you often found yourself in - for me it was a place called Danny's, a tiny little diner that looked like it had staggered out of Happy Days.

Sadly the owners weren't trying to emulate the Fonz's haunt - it just hadn't seen a new coat of paint or a good repair job since 1959...

But it was a refuge for my friends and I after school, a place you could forget about school, girls and parents and have some fun.

In response to this Pao ended up telling me all about one of his childhood haunts - Texas' Conan's Pizza - my column ended up being one of the few times our paper has written about pizza, role playing games, the art of Frank Frazetta and callipygian curved lasses.

Yep, you heard me...

In response, ther very kind and oh so generous Pao sent me this shirt - and I thank him very much.

Sadly my wife recoils in horrors every time I wear the bloody thing...

Now, this might read like a bit of a nothing post, but I think my real point is that gaming (or blogging about gaming) brings people together.

Generally strange people, strange people with long, unwashed hair and a bad taste in shirts... but people none the less.

So - thanks to everyone out there gaming.

And I really just wanted to show off this shirt on the interwebs.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Roll up a backstory - BoL style

Keroki captain of the inner palace guards slowly let out along breath as he knocked his bow and sighted on the target down range.The crowd was still as he drew back the cord and then in one smooth moment left loose. The shaft sped forward and smashed directly into the centre of the target.Around him the crowd - courtiers and commoners alike burst into applause.Grinning maniacally the brawny soldiers began to saunter up the stairs to where the king or Urceb and his inner council awaited.Keroki had served as captain of the inner guards for three years now, just as his father had done before him. An unpopular figure at court, despite his family connection, he knew the courtiers mocked him as a comic, uncultured figure.He knew they called him ‘‘the butcher boy’’.But nothing mattered today, he mused, as he strutted forward - barely noticing Tor the Axonian, the newly appointed captain of the middle guard, taking his place on the shooting platform.The brawny soldier hawked and spat in contempt for the barbarian who had appeared suddenly and wormed his way into the palace guards’ ranks.Still intent on walking towards the royal box where he would be acclaimed champion of the New Year Archery Competition Keroki was oblivious to the commotion as Tor aimed and shot – knocking his own arrow out of the way.As the crowd laughed at chanted he turned bright red and watched in horror as the barbarian mounted the steps to take the winner’s chalice.Everyone knew the barbarian could swing a sword, shoot a bow and throw a javelin better than any of the other guards - but to reward him like this was too much.

So how do you kick off a BoL campaign? It’s far too convenient to have your pcs meet over drinks at the local tavern and decide to go a-adventuring.But Howard rarely started his Conan stories with the Cimmerian looking for adventure. No, Conan normally started as captain of the palace guard, a mercenary working the supply routes or a new in town thief looking for extra coin.I’ve knocked up a quick and dirty ‘‘starting occupation’’ table.You’ve decided to start a nice little campaign in Parsool - but what are the pcs doing in Parsool and how do they get involved in the quest to find the ancient relics, save the beautiful priestess from sacrifice at the hands of crazed cultists and broker a treat between warring clans?Simple - roll up a nice little starting occupation. The idea is not to replace the careers but I figure it’s a good idea for getting started. If the pcs roll up a couple of soldiers and then a no good sort, it’s pretty easy to decide that say the two guards captured the thief breaking into the palace but the trio decided to work together, etc.1) the pc is new in town and makes for the nearest tavern to hear the latest gossip and wet his whistle2) the pc has entered the area with a trade caravan - either as a caravan guard, a merchant, a general all rounder or a teamster3) the pc is involved in the local fleshtrade. Either as a prostitute - high class or common street walker - or a pimp operating a stable of girls (or boys). Maybe the pc in fact stands guard for the brothel or works as a stand over man4) the pc is a cop with city watch or town guard - walking the beat and keeping the peace5) the pc is employed by a wizard or sorceress or alchemist. But in what capacity? Apprentice? General Dog’s Body or test subject?6) the pc is a sellsword looking for work - with sword in hand the pc has arrived in the region looking for work and spends his or her day hanging around the market, the hiring halls and soldiers’ flophouses and taverns looking for employment7) the pc is an enlisted man with the local army or a common sailor in the fleet. You’re a grunt, perhaps drafted or maybe a volunteer in the irregular company8) the pc is living off the land - maybe they own a farm or they are working as a farm hand, cutting wood and clearing brush for their keep9) the pc is employed in an honest trade - blacksmith, metalworker, tanner, etc10) the pc is an officer - maybe the first mate of a ship or captain of the palace guard11) the pc wakes up in a cell - have they been thrown in the palace dungeon caught inciting a riot? Involved in a drunken brawl? Mistaken for a master criminal? Or maybe you’ve woken up deep in the bowels of the thieves’ guildhouse? Or a cult’s secret lair?12) the pc has somehow ended up as a noble of the kingdom? How? You decide...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

BoL foe: Zolique

Zolique raised his goblet in a mocking salute and then drank deeply from the silver chalice.
"May Ka, the Master Maker shine bright on your endeavours Lord Prince," he said once he had swallowed.
Reclining on the opposite pillow Prince Likia ah-Hakk grimaced at the ironic toast but also drank. The wizard had demonstrated now that none of the food or drink was poisoned and he felt slightly more at rest.
Around them more than two hundred courtiers, merchants, and nobles rested on great silken pillows arrayed around the long tables that took up the centre of the gilded hall.
The prince had received the elegant invite the week before - a long papyrus scroll, sealed with black silk and wax and written in a fine hand.
Curious to be invited to a feast by his one his primary rivals he had accepted and now found himself in the great hall of the wizard Zolique.
"I am glad you came Lord Prince, I feared that some of my... indiscretions had caused a great gulf between our houses," the wizard said, gesturing with one hand for more wine while using the other to stroke his wispy grey beard.
The city's ruler almost barked in laughter. The dammed wizard had appeared less than a year ago and in that time he had erected this great, slab-sided, pyramid near the centre of the city without permission and then turned the entire kingdom on its head.
First he had drawn half of the women in the city to his bed - never to be seen again and then he had incited the bloody peasants into open revolt by declaring that taxes were a sin. That, that had cost the prince dearly in soldiers and gold.
The sorcerer flouted the rules of the city at every step.
"On the contrary my friend. You must forgive our provincial ways here in Ulldulla, it is far too rare that sorcerers of your calibre live among us," the prince said oily.
Never let it be say that I cannot honey my words like the best of them, you snake headed bag of shit, he thought inwardly.
Drinking from his goblet once more Zolique craned his head, looking over the lord's shoulder.
"Ahah! at last, the entertainment begin," he said as a sudden wave of drum and flute music flooded from a corridor.
"You will have to forgive me, Lord Prince - until recently I was very much unaccustomed to the pleasures of high society."
Likia knew this from the rumours he had sourced: the wizard had been a mere beggar child in some far-flung city before being discovered by a magician who had taken him in.
The wizard suddenly clapped like a child, as dozens of beautiful women swirled into the feasting hall to the tune of flutes, drums and bells. Each woman - some dusty skinned others pale and flaxen haired was clad only in the briefest of silk girdles and jewellery. And all of them had glazed over, totally empty eyes.
With a start the prince recognised several former ladies of the court - the ones who had disappeared into the wizard's lair months ago. Most he didn't know but he guessed they shared a similar fate.
Hours passed in a blur of good food, strong wine and the swirling, twisting flesh until finally Zolique stood, raising both gaunt arms to the domed roof as he did.
The music stopped and the drunken diners finished with a clatter.
"My friends - it has come time to tell you all why I have gathered you here!"
Around the table there was nervous muttering, which dissolved into laughter at the drunken belch of a fat silk trader at the far end of the table.
"Enough!" the wizard shouted. Letting the room sink once more into silence.
"More than 40 years ago I was nothing more than a beggar child on the streets on this very city, a nothing living in the gutter,"
Likia's eyes widened at this revelation - he had not known the wizard was born here.
"For years he scratched out a living, and not once did any of your ilk bother to notice me- none of you.
"Tonight we have gathered the riches traders and merchants, nobles who live in opulent villas and the great men of the city - including our lord prince."
As he spoke the wizard gestured wildly at the gathered host. His dark eyes bored into the soul of each one - a brawny soldier rewarded with a title, a fat wine merchant and his young wife who had drunkenly pulled down her gown to reveal great, pale breasts and finally the hawk nosed Prince.
"Tonight you die"
Suddenly with a collective feral growl, the dancing girls leapt at the guests - their mouths warped into hateful grimaces and their fine fingers suddenly hooked like sharp talons.
Gore flew as the screams rang out - all the while Zolique cackled with glee.
Watching as his subjects became red puddles Likia spun, kicking aside his pillow as he fled - only to be confronted by the wizard who had moved with blinding speed.
"I think not, Lord Prince," he smiled mockingly.
Turning, Likia saw he was the only one left - the others were crumpled, bloody messes, and the girls had now gathered around him.

Ag: 1
Mn: 3

Bwl: 2
Rng: 1
Dfc: 1

Lifeblood: 10

Beggar: 1
Thief: 0
Scribe: 2
Wizard: 4

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BoL foe: Gren Ilyria the Crimson Lady

Lord Ulfrix pushed aside the crimson velvet curtains and stomped into the stone basement, 20 of his best spearmen behind him - each of them clad in the purple cloaks, bronze breastplates, greaves and helmets of his Tigers of Lix.
The scene that the warlord was confronted with made him gasp with horror.
The formerly bare stone room had been decked out and draped with velvet and pelts and at least 30 naked forms writhed in the midst of passion.
In font of him his personal batman was pumped enthusiasticallywhile a young slave girl screamed with pleasure, further away a woman crouched dog-like while two men -
"What manner of filth is this?!" Ulfrix yelled. With one swift motion he drew his sword, bringing the blade about he struck it loudly against the steel rim of his shield.
The rumours were true, it seemed. The warlord beat his sword against the shield even harder.
Oblivious the couples continued their carnal act.
And then from the rear of the hall she stood. A tall, beautiful form rose from the mass of naked flesh.
His young wife Gren stood - naked save for the red cloak thrown over her shoulders and the giant horns that rested on her head.
It had been four years since the warlord had left his home to campaign, four years that he hadn't seen his new wife and now she walked in public almost as naked as the day she was born.
Ulfrix started to stutter a reply but the woman held out one hand - and suddenly the head dress she wore began to hum. She wore a thick leather headband that had two great black horns affixed to it.
"What matter of evil is this?" he growly - only to be confronted by two of his men who stepped forward.
Luhj, one of his toughest fighters, let his spear clatter to the ground and clasped Ruk, a devoted family man when not on the battlefield, by the shoulders.
The pair began to paw at each other, their mouths meeting.
His protest died on his lips as Ulfrix's men began to grasp each other or run into the orgy presented before them.
"Fall on your knees, man and realise the power of Gren Illyria - The Crimson Lady"

Gren Ilyria the Crimson Lady
St: -1
Ap: 4

Mle: 1
Rng: 2
Dfc: 1

Lifeblood: 9

Wizard: 2
Scribe: 0
Dancer: 1
Priest: 1

Boons: Attractive, Magic of the Sorcerer-Kings
Flaws: Addiction

Dagger, spellbooks and components, The Horns of Lust

Gren Illria, sometimes known as the Crimson Lady is a seductress and enchanter of the highest form.
It is whispered that she started life as one of the Temple Virgins of Knothakon, God of Wisdom but soon tired of the duty after learning all that she could.
What is know is that this beautiful woman, who looks hardly a day of 20 is actually well into her second century.
Somewhere along the way she made a pact with a dark god who bestowed a frightening head dress upon her in exchange for horrible sacrifice. The horned head dress feeds on lust, giving the wearer extreme power and negating the effects of aging.
Over the years Gren has appeared everywhere - as the young wife of rulers, the court sorcerer, owner of a high class brothel, a wandering rogue - and every where she has gone lust, chaos and destruction follow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

BoL foe: Morgur-Zeel Alis

The necromancer bent low over the body of the noblewoman, his dark eyes drinking in every detail with fervor.
A light, gauzy, cloth had been thrown over her and even with only the dim light of his flickering torch he could see every tantalising inch of her: from her glossy raven-coloured hair, her cool alabaster skin and the rosy tips.
And soon all of her would be his.
"Master- are you ready?" there was a bestial rumble from behind him and the sorcerer stood abruptly, angers at the interruption.
"Yes, yes - you have prepeared the rites as I ordered? good, good - let us begin then."'
Morgur-Zeel Alis, the necromancer raised both gloved hands to the silver mask that encased his entire face and carefully undid the laces that bound it over his face.
Months ago he had spied this beauty: Alita el-buderia, eldest daughter of the visiting ambassador of far off, Tyr-Sog, she and her father were newly arrived in the city and he had spotted her across the room at some reception.
The tall wizard let out a long breath as he thought back to that night. She had looked radiant, clad in light, flowing silks of the eastern kingdoms, her hair artfully pinned back in a web of jewels.
But his advances had been rebuffed - her mind poisoned by the honeyed words dripped into her ears by those fawning dogs - those popinjays and lizard eyed peacocks.
It had been a simple matter to enter her room in a shadowy form and administer the potion into her winecup.
Now, looking at her still lovely form he was overjoyed that death had not marred her beauty.
"Master! We must hurry - the temple guards could be here any moment," his assistant quipped.
The pair had drawn the circle and dabbed the mixture of blood and crushed root to the corner of the dead woman's mouth. It was time to begin.
With quick movements, Alis removed his mask and passed the face covering of beaten silver to his assistant.
The mask had been hammered into the leering visage of a jackal and inlaid with tiny diamonds and the torchlight reflected off it.
Alis pretended not to notice his apprentice's slight wince when he glimpsed his master's visage.
"ah -ana-al-anak-al ut -DRAK!" the necromancer spoke the words of power and could instantly feel the temperature in the chamber drop.
The flickering torches suddenly dimmed. He quickly tugged off his left glove, holding out his hand he waited patiently as the assistant drew the dagger across his palm, allowing several drops of blood to fall onto the corpse.
"ah-ana- al-anak-al ut- FEELIOR!" he barked - instantly there was the prickly of energy... and then nothing.
"Morgur-Zeel - you pox faced bastard! Stop right there!"
The necromancer whirled around to find Lord el-buderia and half a dozen of his retainers - all clad in leather breastplates and armed with swords - blocking the portal to the tomb.
"What are you doing with my daughter?" the lord snarled, drawing his short sword.
The necromancer held up a warding hand - that was instantly encased in swirling, eldric green light.
Behind him Alita moaned softly and sat bolt upright on the slab.

Morgur-Zeel Alis
Ag: 1
Ap: -1

Mle: 2
Rng: 1
Dfc: 1

Lifeblood: 10

Wizard (necromancer): 3
Priest: 1
Noble: 1
Alchemist: 1

Fearsome Looks, Magic of the Sorcerer-Kings, Learned
Flaws: Unsettling, Arrogant

Equipment: Silver mask, staff, dagger, spells books and other instruments.

Morgur-Zeel Alis is a powerful necromancer who has gained much power in his study of the dark arts. Originally from a small town in the Kothian Confederation he was born to a minor noble house.
All that is known is that there was an incident when he was about 16 and Alis was banished by his family - stories told in taverns told of a dead sister and a horrible accident that left him horribly mutilated. But no one knows for sure.
But more than a decade later Alis returned to the Kothian lands a powerful sorcery with the ability to bend minds, warp wood and steel and - it is whispered - raise the dead from their rest.
His time in exile had left him a bitter, twisted man and in a fit of rage he struck his father, vowing to never ever step foot in the same house.
The next morning everyone who bore the Alis name was discovered dead in their beds without a mark on them.
He is a tall, thin man, who mostly gets around draped in dark but richly worked robes and always his mask.
Few have seen his face and of those that have... they prefer not to talk of it. The mask of beaten silver has been cunningly worked into the visage of a jackal - a scavenger dog-thing of the east and crusted with small diamonds near the eyes.
Simple slits have been cut for eye, mouth and nose holes.
Alis has a tower in Oxy but is known to travel the lands, accompanied by loyal retainers and assistants - all that is known is that he has an insatiable appetite for new subjects for his experiments.
He has been known to appear at the gates of a city or a lord's standing and demand whatever he wants: wine, women, gold. And it is a wise person that gives him what he wants.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent

So I got the module Charnel Crypt of the Sightless Serpent module from the great ASTONISHING SWORDSMEN & SORCERERS of HYPERBOREA website this morning.
I only had time for a quick flick through before work but it looks great.
'A millennium has passed since the Green Death swept across Hyperborea. In that bygone age of pestilence, a noble family fled the City-State of Khromarium. Far beyond the walls of the city, they entombed themselves in order to elude the inescapable plague. Their necromancer placed them in a deep slumber from which they never wakened. Also he summoned a mythical serpent to guard the vault, a beast reputed to shed gems for tears from eyeless sockets. Tales speak of this beast as the Sightless Serpent. Now, a knave of Khromarium claims to have witnessed the legendary beast. For a pittance he will lead your party to its trail…'
More importantly, it looks pretty easy to convert into a great little BoL scenario - I'm already thinking of how I can get my pcs involved.
But perhaps the best bit was the mail itself: the module came with a hand written note thanking me for my purchase - how bloody good is that? The days of old fashioned service are not dead.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BoL: random career paths

I've thrown around a few ideas for a few random career generation tables.
While it's all kinds of fun to pick four careers and spend four points as you see fit, I was interested in making some random.

The process is simply - roll 1d6 four times to determine what chart you roll on.
The roll a d6 for each chart, giving you four ready made careers. I threw in a few "your pick" and re-rolls to spice things up a bit.

1 minstrel
2 barbarian
3 alchemist
4 thief
5 mariner
6 your pick

1 blacksmith
2 dancer
3 magician
4 soldier
5 pirate
6 pick two

1 hunter
2 gladiator
3 torturer
4 merchant
5 scribe
6 roll on next table

1 wench
2 mercenary
3 priest
4 slave
5 assassin
6 roll again

1 physician
2 sky pilot
3 noble
4 worker
5 beggar
6 farmer

5 - pick a chart

Example: I roll 4d6 and got a "3, 4, 3, 5"
Deciding on the "5" first, I roll a d6 and get a 3 - giving me a noble.
Rolling on the third chart I got a 1 and a 2 - giving me a hunter and a gladiator and finally I rolled a 4 on the fourth chart, lumping me with slave.
So: noble, gladiator, slave, hunter - an interesting mix and perhaps not one I would have picked by myself.
After a couple seconds of thought I knocked up the following:

Jarzal the bloody-handed
St: 2 Ag: 1 Md: Ap: 1
Bwl: 2 Mle: 2 Msl: 1 Dfc: -1
Hunter: 1
Gladiator: 2
Noble: 1
Keen Eyesight

Jarzal started life out as a tribesman growing up on the edge of the jungles of Qush, where he was taught from a young age to hunt the creatures that roamed the jungle.
But at age 13 a party of slavers came and raided his village - all of the men were killed while the women and a few of then children were taken to the slave markets of Shamballah.
Several of the slaves, including the young Jarzal were sold to a rich merchant from Satarla who dealt in dyes and exotic woods imported from Qush.
In Satarla Jarzal was put to work in the trader's house and quickly rose into his master's confidence. When the winter chills killed the old man, Jarzal found he had been granted his freedom.
He found occasional work hunting for pelts and furs and occasionally working on the dock, eventually falling in love Leali, a slave belonging to his master's son. No where near as forgiving as his father, the young merchant refused to release Leali, even when she fell pregnant with Jarzal's baby.
Facing a cold winter and with little work Jarzal entered the arena as a freeman and soon impressed the crowd with flashy moves, a willingness to take and shrug off wounds, and his ability with the spear and net.
He soon had enough gold to buy Leali and the young family lived happily until Leali and the child were struck down with a fever.
Returning to the arena once more to afford the doctor bills, Jarzal became famous as a killer of beasts and men: no one could escape his hard, black hands or his flashing blades.
In honour of his victories he was eventually rewarded with a minor patent of nobility - running home one evening, now a minor noble and with more than enough cash to pay the physician he found his wife and child dead in their house.
Jarzal now owns a huge sprawling villa, galleys in the port and has interests in spices, grain, slaves and precious silk. But he cares not, as all he can think of is his lost love.
He's now considering a return to the arena.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BoL monster: deep dwellers

"It's too quiet, I say," Maal growled, squinting at the far off fort that crouched dark and brooding on the far hill.
Half obscured by the driving rain the fort looked dark and deserted even from where the group of hard men stood.
"I don't care - Ragil's dead... and Salvaris will be joining him," one of his companions said, indicating at the pile of caravan guards who sat or lay sprawled around the them.
Two days earlier the caravan had been attacked by marauding Phutt plainsmen - arrows and spears striking from among the trees. Most of the traders and their retainers had been cut down in the first clash of combat and many of the others had died of their wounds shortly afterwards.
Maal, had taken over when Ulli had died with an arrow through his throat and led the group free.
With most of his men too hurt to walk Maal had left them nearby and pushed onto the the old Arnian fort with the others - promising to come back with help.
But something was wrong...

Almost and hour later the six of them entered the fort's main gate only to be confronted with a scene from hell itself.
"By the 19 gods - they've been... chewed on!" someone hissed.
Maal could hear one of battle hardened warriors whimpering like a child behind him - his spirit broken by the carnage.
Everywhere around them lay the bloody bodies of the garrison - most hacked at and chopped but all of them had one unifying feature.
"They've taken the heads - it's the deep dwellers - come for us all!" panic quickly set in as the men turned to flee, many of them dropping their weapons until only Maal was left, his short sword clutched tightly in his grip.
After the mens' shouts had faded he heard the first rasp of leather on stone.
Clinging to the shadows they came - first two, then four, six, 10, 15.
He only caught brief glimpses of them - hunched humanoids, none taller than his waist, with gnarled, twisted features and feral eyes.
Bringing his blade up Maal readied himself - only to be suddenly clubbed down from behind.
A horrid little creature leap onto his chest a rock clutched in both of its stubby hands.
All of a sudden dozens of them were upon him, pulling and tearing at his clothes, their claws ripping his flesh and their fangs biting.
And then nothing...

Deep Dwellers:
These horrid little things live deep beneath the earth in caves and caverns and are occasionally encountered in underground tombs and sunken temples.
Stories often tell of isolated outposts that are overrun by the dwellers who tunnel their way up into the pantries and cellars and kill the inhabitants.
Making things worse are the awful tales of the barbaric rites inflicted on those attacked - the Deep Dwellers tend to eat the bodies but take the heads which they use in dark and twisted services dedicated to their gods.
It's not unknown to come across the bodies of a party of travellers who stopped near a cave - their bodies bitten and chewed but their heads missing.

Only about waist height with, pinched features and stubby, flabby limbs the Dwellers are believed to be creations of the Sorcerer Kings - used as miners and subterranean guards and workers - and look like horribly feral and twisted human dwarfs.
Little is known about the Deep Dweller society - only that they're clan-like and live a nomadic lifestyle deep under the earth.
They do however hate the sunlight and will spend as little time above ground as they can.
The few people who have survived encounters with the creatures claim they use only stone headed tools and weapons and generally go about wearing rags or naked.
Immensely strong, they're slow moving and tend to lope around, monkey-like.
Deep Dwellers emit a high pitched chittering sound that could be some sort of language - no one know for sure. What is know however is that if you encounter one, very soon many, many more will come, summoned by that damned chittering.

Strength: 3
Agility: -1
Mind: 1

Combat abilities:
Bite: 1d4 (watch those sharp teeth!)
Stone headed club or axe (1d6 -1)
Life blood: 13

Deep Dwellers are always found in large groups - some tomb robbers have told of encountering two or four - but it's more likely you'll come across dozens.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BoL: an NPC for every game II

As I've said before - I love a back story. And back by popular demand.... here's some more BoL NPCs.

The tired pit fighter
This gladiator has been fighting on the sands, before the cheering (and jeering) crowds of Arn for far too long.
He's killed close companions and watched others died during the 10 long years he's been enslaved and slowly he's coming apart at the seems.
And now he wants out.
St: Ag: 1 Md: -1 Ap: 2
Bwl: Mle: 2 Msl: -1 Dfc: 1
Gladiator: 2
Paired short swords (d6 each), spiked gauntlets, helm.

The hired slayer
This beauty does her best work under the cover of darkness - no, not that work. Rather this lady of shadows is a skilled and cunning assassin who plies her trade for the various nobles and factions that vie for supremacy in the Arnian League.
It is whispered that she was once the daughter of a noble house herself, or a royal concubine who broke free from her restrictive life and found a taste for danger.
St: Ag: 1 Md: Ap: 1
Bwl: Mle: Msl: 1 Dfc: 1
Assassin: 1 Dancer: 1
Brace of daggers, garote , poisons, lock picks

The robber knight
Second sons are useless. At least that's what this lad's father told him from day one. Born the second son of a minor Arnian house he left his father's holdings aged 17 with little more than a trained war kroark, his weapons, his armour and his squire.
Since then he's made his living by his sword, fighting as a mercenary for and against the various feuding princelings that make up borderlands.
Even years of constant battle have not dulled his sense of honour and fairness however/
St: 2 Ag: Md: Ap:
Bwl: Mle: 1 Msl: 1 Dfc:
Mercenary: 1 Noble: 1
Heavy armour (d6) and helm, Sword, lance, crossbow.

The willful witch
It is said adventurers crossing the barren hill lands to the north of the city of Arn might run into this woman. Coldly beautiful with a voice like amber wine and dancing eyes, this woman is reputed to be a worker of magic and old power - despite his residence in a run down hut in the wastelands.
Few know anything about her, save that she will give out simple magic trinkets, directions to ancient and lost ruins or advice on tackling mighty foes. But there is a price, regardless of sex or age, you'll be drawn into her bed for the night.
St: -1 Ag: Md: 1 Ap: 2
Bwl: Mle: Msl: Dfc: 2
Sorceress: 1 Alchemist: 1
Robes, staff

The penant pilgrim
Sentenced to seek a far off, long forgotten shrine to the godsmith, Yrzlak, for a crime he hardly remembers, this pilgrim has been travelling for a long time.
Along the way he's heard many tales and knows all manner of lore and news.
St: 1 Ag: -1 Md: 1 Ap: 1
Bwl: 1 Mle: Msl: Dfc: 1
Farmer: 1 Bard: 1
Short bow, travelling cloack

The cloistered scribbler
Obviously a scribe - from the ink stained fingers, the constant squint and the sallow skin - he's made name as one of the better scribblers in Arn. Considering some 85 per cent of the League can't read or write, this might not be saying all that much though...
Born the son of a simple trader he was given to the Great Library aged five, when it became obvious he was smarted than he seemed.
For the past 25 years he has hardly ventured out of the cloistered library.
St: - Ag: -1 Md: 3 Ap:
Bwl: Mle: Msl: Dfc: 2
Scribe: 1 Merchant: 1
Robes, inks and writing materials.

The rural healer
This priestess of Afyra has served the lady of healing for longer than most people live. Wise in the ways of healing she has travelled from township to township and household to household, caring for the sick, assisting in births and preaching that men do good to one another.
For the most part she lives on the charity of those that she helps.
She avoids the Arnian cities, fearing the rough justice of the Council because she has long been a voice against their Draconian rules and abuse of power and knows full well that they slay anyone who speaks against them - even old women.
St: -1 Ag: -1 Md: 2 Ap: 1
Bwl: Mle: Msl: 1 Dfc: 1
Priest: 1
Healer: 1
Staff, short bow, travelling gear and various potions.

The cunning soldier
A stout soldier of fortune, a curiouser and fighter with the best of them: he just as likely to be seen buying ale for others as he is in the shield wall.
In reality this mercenary is in fact an operative for the rival kingdom of Tyr-Sog. The Sark, Osric has spent almost a decade training up his intelligence services and this man is one of them.
Once an officer with the Tyr Household infantry he was picked for "special duty" early and now roams enemy lands in the guise as a simple sell sword, all the while reporting back to his masters.
St: 1 Ag: Md: 1 Ap:
Bwl: 2 Mle: Msl: Dfc:
Soldier: 1
Thief: 1
Long sword, shield, helm, light armour

The dutiful daughter:
Once this lass was the eldest daughter of a large and industrious merchant family. Her father had his eyes on marrying into the upper crust of Arnian society and quickly married her off to the first struggling noble he could find.
The clammy-handed slug in question just happened to the main tax collector and was well connected, meaning no one cared that he beat his young wife or regularly amused himself with young slave boys.
Unable to take it any more, she fled - leaving a dagger buried in her husband's eye socket, and joined the first band of robbers, bandits and footpads she found.
First she was a simply fighter, then the bandit leader's lover and finally the leader herself.
St: 1 Ag: 1 Md: Ap:
Bwl: 1 Mle: 1 Msl: Dfc:
Noble: 1 Mercenary 1
Sword, dagger, very light armour

The ambitious prizefighter
This fighter started his life as a tribesman on the Plains of Phut until the slavers came - his new wife and son were killed and he was dragged to Arn in chains and put to work in the salt mines until he killed one of the overseers in a fist fight.
Rather than a quick death he was taken to Arn and put in the sand circle, fighting barehanded - while not as glorious as the great arena, the fights always sold out.
A solid string of wins won him his freedom and now he hopes he can continue to advance in polite society until he finds the man responsible for his enslavement.
St: 2 Ag: 1 Md: Ap: -1
Bwl: 2 Mle: Msl: Dfc:
Slave: 1 Gladiator: 1
Silver studded Cestus fighting gloves. Villa and slaves.

The reluctant executioner
The Arnian League is governed by a council of 12, over an assembly of 120 who appointed two Epur - or generals. The Leaguers like to pretend they live by a democracy where everyone is free. In reality they don't even have the trappings of democracy and the council is made up old men who hold their positions for life and the assembly does what it's told.
The two Euprs however are required to run the army and keep the peace and can't get aspirations beyond their station.
Which is what happened in this case - the former brilliant general has been appointed Lord High Executioner and meets out the council's judgement as a "reward" for speaking out against his superiors.
St: 1 Ag: Md: Ap: 1
Bwl: Mle:2 Msl: Dfc:
Soldier: 1 Executioner: 1
Great sword, black robes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

BoL: play report II

So we last left our heroes ready to get the hell out of dodge wizard Manatha Albarn and her sidekick Gerun quickly decided to saddle some sandrunners and ride out Oxy's main gate - after a bit of tooing and froing with the gate guards they rode into the desert, keen to escape the clutches of the Temple and to avoid whatever the hell kinda creature they had unleashed.
I quickly described the terrain as sandy with several rocky hills nearby but not much else and got them to roll three times on my random encounter chart for the region.
They had a general idea that there were more cities to the north but didn't ask any real questions about the desert, the length of time to cross it or the socio-political situation. Ohhh well.

The three encounters they rolled were: ruins, death worm and desert nomads. (I'd like give another big shout out to Pao over at Strange Stones for his Borloi Death Worms that I've adapted for my saga.

As the pcs trotted along the terrain gradually turned from arid highlands to full on desert, complete with howling winds, sand, grit and all the other nasties. Manatha decided the pair should seek shelter and soon, so I mentioned that in the distance they could see what looked like a rocky berm.
As the wind picked up and the pair struggled on (I just kept on making the situation worse) they noticed the smell of ozone or something like it - kind of like the first smell of rain.
Their decision was to make a flat out gallop for the berm before it "rained" and get some shelter.
Little did they realise the smell actually signalled the prescense of one of the Oxy Desert's main pests - the Borloi Death Worm.
"There's a crackle of white electricity and something red and horrid explodes out of the sand - more than 15 foot long the worm's great red coils swing around, spraying sand everywhere. As its giant, dripping maw plunges out of the ground there's a flash of electricity."
The worm hooked in with a burst of electrical charge - killing Manatha's mount and badly wounding her. Gerun managed to critically hit the animal with a well aimed crossbow bolt (Sam rolled a 17 - burnt a hero point and added her two points of "Hunter") and it retreaded half into the sand as the warrior ran to help his badly hurt mistress.
As the pair tried to fall back the worm attacked once more- throwing itself at Gerun who beat at it with his crossbow. Manatha was madly trying to come up with a quick and dirty spell when the worm's mate struck - much smaller and less deadly the creature was still more than a match for the wounded sorceress.
It delivered a savage shock to her, knocking her under the 0 lifeblood line and out cold.
Not panicked that his mistress was dead, her henchman came out swinging - hacking at the female worm and driving it back with his short sword.
Still very pissed he turned on the other, bigger, worm when it retreated.
Now, badly hurt and with only one sandrunner the pair made a run for the berm - only to find it was in fact the ruins of an ancient cottage, left vacant many years ago.

As night fell Gerun frantically worked to save his mistress and keep warm.
Now, most GMs would give their pcs a break at this point - but I decided to keep things rolling along as the random generator had rolled.

As dawn broke Gerun sat poking at the guttering fire while his mistress slept. But far off in the distance he noticed a mounted figure.
Another popped up on the horizon shortly afterwards. Wisely assuming these folks were not dropping in for some tea, he packed up the camp, forced the lady onto the sandrunner and got moving.
As the day moved on the figures gained ground and seemed to increase in number. The pair, despite the sorceress' condition, to turn and face the riders and ran to take cover in a rocky hill.
Just before reaching the hillock there came the high pitched battle yell: "I-hiiiiiiii-Eee!" and arrows spat past.
One took Gerun in the shoulder and another failed to punch through his light leather breastplate.
Turning, sword in hand, he saw the men for the first time.
All wore long, flowing robes, many with full face coverings and wound head scarves. The seven that had surrounded them all rode the feathered sand runners and either carried short bows or spears.
All of the spearmen carried big round shields that had been painted in a tacky red substance that seemed to be flaking off.
The pair realised with a start that their shields had been painted in blood.
The raiders moved in - another arrow knocking Gerun down - when Manatha declared she was going to let rip a magical burst of lights and flashes to scare the raiders' animals.
I decided it was a cantrip and would be easily performed.
So just as the raiders moved in - a sudden series of explosions tore across the sand - sending high flashes of sparks and smoke. Easily panicked, many of the mounts bucked their riders and the charged turned into chaos.
Clearly afraid the dusky-skinned raiders pulled back, chattering in their own language until one rode off and returned a minute or two later with a tall, darker man.
Dismounting the man, obviously some sort of leader, walked towards the pair - his sword still in its sheath and his blood painted shield slung.
"You are a magic maker?" he asks in a thick accent.
When he receives an answer in the affirmative, he smiles.
"Good, good - we have waited some time for you. Quickly, my men will tend your wounds and get you some food.
"But then we must be crossing the sands to see Jazal."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

BoL: play report

So our group finally got together for a game of BoL. I was joined by Chris, a Canadian bloke, and Sam, another Aussie. None of us knew each other (we met via a Australian RPG forum). Another mate of mine was due to play but couldn't get here for various reasons.
And you know what? We had a lot of fun.

Massive shout out to Pao over at www.strangestones.wordpress for coming up with the original "getting together... BoL style" idea.
Chris decided he would roll uo Manatha Albarn (wizard/alchemist/blacksmith/healer) a sorceress who operates a small alchemy/apothecary shop in the temple controlled city of Oxy (see previous posts to read about my saga's setting. Sam decided she was going to be mistress Manatha' general dogsbody - a farm boy who came to the big city, got mixed up on the wrong side of the law and ended up working for her ladyship in a fixer/scout/bodyguard capacity. (farmer/hunter/thief/assassin).
The pair were looking through the equipment and weapons section when I dropped this little bomb shell on them:

"You're not sure if it's the fetid stench, the grating feeling of the shackles about your wrists or the sheer smell of unwashed bodies, filth and human waste that wakes you. Groggily you come to, realising you're chained to the scummy walls of a dank, dark cell across from each other.
Suddenly there is a series of metallic clangs and a hatch above you flies open and a body falls into the pool of greasy water in the middle of the room.
"Sleep well, we hang you tomorrow, traitor," a rough voices booms.
Meanwhile the figure in the middle of the room lets out a low groan..."

I'd like to point out here that about half an hour before kick off, I realised that I'd left all my material at work and had nothing to go on, so I just winged the whole thing - and the beauty of this system is that you can. I mean, I had a basic idea of what I wanted: pcs wake up in the dungeon and try and escape but nothing else.

The (very!) drunk figure in the middle of the room turned out to be Tarl, a swordsman. He had little memory of the night before but seemed to think there was a city-wide crack down: the temple was worried about a brewing war between two of the city's noble houses and was locking up anyone for anything.
Manatha used her magic to replicate acid on her companion's shackles at the Gerun, the young rogue managed to open his mistress'. Tarl decided to tag along - I spun a nice little story about a whore, a lack of payment and the killing of one of the temple guardsmen during the ensuing brawl, complete with drunken, slurred speech. (It wasn't acting, I think I was still on a high from the night before)
Our trio eventually encountered a lone, drunken guard. And the idea was for the pcs to get a quick kill by overpowering the drunk, take his weapons and have a real chance to fight their way free.
I've never seen anyone roll so many "2s". Within a couple of rounds, the sorceress was trying to fight off the drunk with a now unlit torch, Gerun was badly injured and three other guards had joined the fray.
In an amazing feat, the pcs decided to douse all the lights and leg it back the way they came - eventually tracking down and ambushing the guards who decided to go back and call for help.
Things went down hill from here as the party (now armed) found signs that something horrible was eating the other prisoners.
They eventually stumbled into an old tomb complex and found the horrid Phestas that was to blame.
Instead of fighting the thing - they actually used its acid spitting ability to collapse a section of roof in an effort to escape.
I had mentioned that much of the roof looked aged and cracked - they decided to stab the thing from both side with spears and hoist it into the worse section of roof - needless to say, the acid spitting thing burned its way through the roof and into.... the temple above.
However, for every round spent in the now collapsing room I made them roll to dodge falling bits of ceiling. One roll - save. Second roll - save. I rolled for the highly amusing NPC, Tarl: natural 2...
Everyone was very sad that the poor drunken SOB copped a giant hunk of stone right in the head and was reduced to a bloody mess.

Our heroes, low lacking poor Tarl, followed the Phestas' trail of destruction - by appropriating temple robes and keeping well back.
Our saga ended as they decided to check out their shop (I decided it had been ransacked by the Temple guards who arrested them) before heading for the city gates to get the fuck out of Dodge.
All of this was totally on the fly - I casually mentioned that the roof looked weak and they decided to use the poor monster to bust free. On a whim I thought "why not have them now bust into the bath chamber of the female adepts of the temple..." and it went from there.
Everywhere, half naked temple girls were running and screaming while the gibbering, slug-like thing charged about and our pcs tried to look innocent.
The Phestas was eventually named "Slappy the seal" because of the very camp waddle I gave it.

It was a fun. Lots of fun: between them deciding to burn through the bloody roof using a spear-hoisted monster, to the poor drunk being killed by bits of falling roof, to the bizarre run through the temple, complete with screaming women and howling monster. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BoL monster: Phestas

These hideous monsters generally dwell in dark, damp caves, catacombs and dungeons and will pick off the unwary who wander near its lair.
Always solitary they attempt to eat anything they find – usually by striking from ambush.
Using their sticky, suction like underbelly they’ll often cling to the roof or walls and drop onto unsuspecting passers-by, simultaneously spitting a corrosive acid they can ferment in their gut.
They resemble sickly green jellyfish but with two long blubbery ‘‘arms’’ that protrude from their midsection that they can use to grapple and hold an opponent down.
Once they’ve killed something, they’ll generally cover it with their body and continue to inject acid until the food is soft enough to digest.
Dark tales tell of tomb robbers pinned down by the Phestas and slowly killed by its acid over a period of days or even weeks.

enveloping it.
Signs that one is living in the area usually entails finding blobs of green goop and acid melted bones.
St: 2
Ag: -1
Mnd: -1
Protection: 0 (that blubbery hide is helping no one)
Lifeblood: 30
Combat quality: Attacks: 2 - mouth attack (1 bite or acid spit) and claws (1 claw attack)
Bite: d6, claws: d4 each.
Acid spit: The Phestas make a foul and corrosive acid deep in their guts which they can spit at the beginning of combat dealing 2d6 - 3.
Every second round after that they can spit a slightly watered down version of the acid, dealing 1d4.
Heroes hit by the acid spit will take two points of damage per round unless they Tricky task roll using strength. (ie: -1 to roll).

The acid will eventually eat through steel, leather, flesh and bone and this foul creature will use it to soften up food before eating.

Monday, April 19, 2010

There are plenty of roleplayers in foxholes

There certainly are roleplayers in foxholes.
On Sunday I'll kick off my brand spanking new Barbarians of Lemuria campaign for two guys and a girl.
I intend to roll some dice, drink some beer, tell some tales and generally have an all around good time.
Sunday, April 25 is also Anzac Day here in Australia as well as New Zealand, a day that many outside of these two nations really know about.
Here it's a national day of remembrance to commemorate and honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli, in Turkey in WWI.
Now it also is reserved as a day to honour the fallen in all wars - from the bloody fields of WWI, to WWII, Korea, Vietnam and modern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the numerous peace keeping operations Australian troops are involved in around the world.
I served with the Australian Army Reserve and while I'll attend the dawn service, dig out my one solitary medal and raise a glass to former and serving members of the Australian Defence Force, I'm also planning to commemorate the day by DMing this game.

I know a lot of former and still serving members of the defence force who are war gamers and roleplayers.
I had a regular group of guys from my section who gamed together, taking it in turns to GM. As a teen I regularly wargamed and even roleplayed with my father a Vietnam vet and still serving soldier.
Thankfully when I think of these blokes this weekend, none of them have been killed or seriously injured.

Lest we forget.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BoL: an NPC for every game

I love a back story. From every character I create to the NPCs that inhabit my worlds, I like everyone to have a bit of a motivation and a life outside of the 20 seconds they're "on screen".
Of course the trick is to make sure you don't become too attached to your NPCs - what happens if they die, the pcs never eve speak to them, etc?
At the same time, it can shit the pcs to tears if every blacksmith they run into is a retired fighter and every inn keeper has an ancient family curse and a kidnapped daughter.
So, a fine balance is needed.
But just for funzies: I've thrown together a list of quick and dirty BoL NPCs.

The gimpy merc
This experienced sell sword has seen it all. At some point during his career he suffered a horrible leg injury and is now reduced to a hobble. Now he mainly takes the low rent jobs: caravan work, body guarding, etc, and has been forced to become canny and wily to survive.
St: 2 Ag: -1 Mn: 1 Ap: 0
Bwl: 0 Mle: 2 Msl: 0 Dfc: 0
Mercenary: 2
Protection: d6 (medium armour & shield)
Sword (d6+2)
LB: 10

Desert raider
A member of one of the nomadic clans that prowl the desert outside Oxy. He and his small band have been forced to raiding caravans and travellers to survive.
St: 0 Ag: 2 Mn: 0 Ap: 0
Bwl: 0 Mle: 1 Msl: 1 Dfc: 0
Barbarian: 1 Hunter: 1
Protection: none
Sword, d6, bow, dagger
LB: 9

Adept of the death god
Sworn to the Grand Temple of Nemmereth in Oxy, this young Adapt is in her first few years of training. Children are given over to the temple at a young age or taken from the orphanages by the priests to serve and will spend many years learning the secret rituals and rites.
St: 0 Ag: Mn: 2 Ap: 0
Bwl: 1 Mle:0 Msl: 0 Dfc: 1
Priest: 1
Scribe: 1
Protection: none
Black robes, holy symbol, staff
LB: 8

Temple Guard
The priesthood rules the city through fear but enforces its rules and regulation through the thousand strong Temple Guard. These "Swordsmen of the Long Sleep" are experts at using the great, two handed swords of their order and wear long dark robes under their iron breastplates and helms.
They might not care for Nemmereth but they are totally devoted to their mistress, the High Priestess.
St: 2 Ag: 1 (0) Mn: -1 Ap: 0
Bwl: 0 Mle: 1 Msl: 0 Dfc: 1
Soldier: 1
Priest: 1
Protection: Heavy armour (d6) and helm.
Two handed sword, (d6+3) short sword.
LB: 10

Free trader
This greasy tub of lard serves no master and knows full well that all laws are only there to be broken. He trades with the city of Oxy, the desert nomads and even the far-off Plainsmen, buying, selling and trading gems, fine ivory, wooden furniture, spices and silver hilted swords cunningly made by dark skinned smiths in the shadow of the Fire Mountains.
St: 0 Ag: 0 Mn: 1 Ap: 1
Bwl: 1 Mle: 0 Msl: 0 Dfc: 1
Merchant: 2
Protection: Fur-lined robes and cape. (1)
Sling, club.
LB: 8

Street thief
She's just a wee lass that should still be at home helping her ma, but she's already carved out an excellent reputation as a pickpocket and pilferer.
Raised on the streets and hardened by the tough life she's found there, this thief is an expert at her trade.
St: -1 Ag: 3 Mn: 0 Ap: 0
Bwl: 0 Mle: 0 Msl: 1 Dfc: 1
Thief: 2
Beggar: 0
Dagger, rags.
LB: 6

Tomb raider
Oxy is built on the ruins of a far older city which is rife for plundering. Every year, thousands of tomb raiders descend into the catacombs seeking riches and fame. Few return.
St: 1 Ag: 1 Mn: 1 Ap: -1
Bwl: 1 Mle: 0 Msl: Dfc: 1
Thief: 1
Mercenary: 1
Proection: d6-2 (light armour)
Short sword (d6+1), crossbow, climbing gear, thieves tools.
Lifeblood: 9

Temple prostitute
While the temple of death holds supreme, other gods are still worshiped in Oxy. Temples ofLilandra "the Seductress, Goddess of Love" tend of resemble high-class whorehouses.
They regularly host services that revolve around getting your gear off. 13 temple prostitutes, all beautiful women aged between 16 and 32, are always on hand.
St: -1 Ag: 1 Mn: 0 Ap: 2
Bwl: 1 Mle: 0 Msl: Dfc: 1
Dancer: 1
Prostitute: 1
Jewellery. They don't wear anything else...
Lifeblood: 5

This huntsman from one of the small communities outside Oxy ranges through the arid lands with his bow.
An expert at surviving the rocky barrens he feels very out of place on the few occasions he finds himself inside the city walls.
St: 2 Ag: 1 Mn: 0 Ap: -1
Bwl: 1 Mle: 0 Msl: 1 Dfc: 0
Hunter: 2
Bow, knife, woodsman's' axe.
LB 10

With great power comes great responsibility. Or so they say. This young sorcerer is only just out of his apprentice robes but reckons he knows it all.
From a noble house he was packed off to study with a wizard when his talent became apparent.
Now he's out to prove his worth.
St: -1 Ag: Mn: 2 Ap: 1
Bwl:0 Mle:0 Msl:0 Dfc: 2
Sorcer: 1
Scribe: 1
Robes, staff.
LB: 8

Tavern keeper
When you order an ale - you ask this lady very nicely. A former sellsword she settled down to run a local tavern. She keeps the place ship shape and is more than happy to spill the latest gossip or just bore you with tales of her day soldiering.
St: 1 Ag: 0 Mn:0 Ap: 1
Bwl: 1 Mle: 1 Msl:0 Dfc:0
Soldier: 1 Merchant: 1
Tavern. Sword (kept under the bar)'
LB: 7

Noble scion
This strutting peacock is the heir to a vast fortune and lives in the lap of luxury in the Tower quarter.
He doesn't mind occasionally slumming it by touring the lower class dives to see how the other half lives, but spends most of his time enjoying himself.
St: 0 Ag: 0 Mn:0 Ap: 2
Bwl: 0 Mle: 1 Msl:0 Dfc:1
Noble: 2
d6-2 (light armour), duelling sword.
LB: 6

Sunday, April 11, 2010

BoL NPC: Nerreus the Bonerattler

Marr ran a hand through his ragged beard absently hunting a louse. He used his other hand to balance his spear over his right shoulder.
The bandit was sick of this patrolling, who did Mulo think would be hunting their band up here in the high woods, anyway?
Glancing back to where his four companions walked behind him he bestowed a gap-toothed grin.
"Not long now me lads," he said.
"Back to the camp in an hour or two and we can get back to the real business, eh?"
Coarse laughter from the other bandits greeted his jest.
With idle thoughts about the captive girl he'd had the night before, the brigand continued to stride on.
They'd raided a small village the week before, putting the men to the sword and taking most of the women and children.
The poor wretches were bound for the slave market in Arn but they'd be sorely used by the band of bandits before they got there.
"But I want that fat one, this time," one of his men called out.
The laughter began a new. But something was ahead made Marr raise his free hand to call a halt.
Something was wrong.
"Felaz? Grom? Where are you bastards?" he called to the two scouts ahead.
When there was no answer he unslung his spear. Like most of the men under his command Marr was clad in a mix-mash of armour: leather breastplate, bronze greaves and other off casts he'd stolen or found over the years.
His short sword hung at his side, clad in the pricey leather scabard he'd taken from a caravan trader two winters ago.
Suddenly there was a high pitched TWANG and a scream from behind him. Spinning around Marr could see one of his men had sprouted an arrow from his right eye.
The bandit sunk to the ground, while his hands twitched impotently.
Before Marr could yell for his men to scatter the twang of the bowstring rang out again and his brother Lemi clutching an the missile that had penetrated his upper chest.
Charging towards the tree line where the arrows had come from Marr let out a blood curdling howl. He'd spent six years as a spearman with the Tyr-Sogian army before an incident involving a dead whore and a scheming pimp had forced him into banditry and he knew the only way to survive this encounter was to attack.
Behind him his men had finally been forced into action and were following suit.
A gaunt man stepped from the treeline, arrow knocked and string drawn back to his shoulder.
A third bandit died and the mysterious man stepped forward to meet them.
He was dressed in good quality but dirt hunters' garb and tall, much taller than Marr but gaunt almost to the point of being skeletal.
But what captured the bandit's eye was the enormous sword the man was drawing from a sheath over his shoulder.
Unlike his own short and those used by most soldier - double edged, straight and usually less than 50 centimetres - this blade was huge.
It was much longer than any blade he'd heard of - except maybe those in the far north, and only had a single cutting edge.
The mere sight of the blade and the evil grin on the swordsman's face made the experienced fighter start to draw up, letting his spear point drop.
His companion had no such problems and continued to charge forward, his own short pulled back for a low thrust and his wooden shield held high.
The man stepped forward, that huge blade moving almost too quickly to see as it looped down and then suddenly up.
There was a sudden fountain of blood and the bandit was looking down at the red, spurting stump where his sword hand once was. Before he could even react the sword flicked back around almost effortlessly cleaving through hair, skin, skull and brain.
Almost totally detached Marr noticed how the warrior was able to wield the large sword both single and double handed.
He turned that blade on Marr then. Still smiling that chilling grin, the tall warrior slashed, catching him across the arm.
The bandit pulled back, thrusting his spear at his opponent only to have it knocked effortlessly aside.
He saw the mocking grin as the sword hilt swung around and smashed into his temple, drowning him in darkness.
Later he awoke with a horrible ringing in his head and a fierce, red pain along his shoulder. He was laying on the grass, a heavy hempen rope binding his hands and feet together.
"Ah, good. You're awake," a voice said with a heavy accent.
The grinning swordsman stepped into his view, the long sword once more sheathed over his back. Now he gripped a long, thin rod of blackened metal.
A fire lay, crackling behind him. Further back Marr could see the piled corpses of his men.
Squatting down beside the fire the man thrust the rod deep into the flames and left it there.
"My name is Nerreus. You may know me as the Bonerattler," he said in that funny accent.
Nerreus? Marr knew that name - what bandit or rogue didn't. Nerreus the hunter - the Bonerattler.
He let out a low whimper. It would have been better to die with a sword or spear in hand than the way he was going to go.
"You're going to tell me exactly where the rest of you are," the Bonerattler said pulling the object from the fire.
"I've got a whole list of questions."
The rod was glowing white hot.
Marr screamed.

Nerreus the Bonerattler
Strength 3
Agility 1
Mind 1
Appeal -1

Brawl 1
Melee 2
Ranged 1

Soldier 2
Blacksmith 0
Hunter (of men) 1
Torturer 1

Lifeblood: 13
Hero Points: 5

Medium armour (d6-1), -1 to agility. (Boiled leather cuirass, helm)
Long bow, dagger and Bonerattler* (Bastard sword), torture tools
Languages: Lemurian

Hard to kill


Nerreus, called the Bonerattler, started life as the son of a simple village blacksmith in a quiet corner of the kingdom of Tyr-Sog. From a young age he desired to be a soldier and when he reached the appropriate age his father took him to the nearest garrison town to apprentice him.
For more than a decade he served in various border clashes, eventually leading a company of spearmen.
After his stand at the Kibal pass, where he led a bitter rear guard action against overwhelming odds, Nerreus was granted a small plot of land near Tyr-Sog and released from service with honour.
Now a relatively wealthy freeman he settled down, took a local wife and decided to pursue his father's trade as a blacksmith.
With the rents from his land Nerreus did not need to work and the smithy was not much more than a hobby and his skills never really advanced much further than basic work.
His wife bore him two sons and a daughter and the family prospered until a band of masterless men, bandits and rogues came across their estate.
Nerreus had taken some of his wares to market earlier in the day and did not realise the danger until he saw dark smoke in the distance.
His wife, Lucrenza had been raped and killed, his children murdered along with most of his slaves.
No more the gentleman freeholder Nerreus went after the band. Within the month all 19 of them were dead and Nerreus had dedicated himself to hunting and finding such men.
Over the years he learnt the skills of tracking men and how to hurt them with fire, iron and water, to make them talk. He turned his arts at the forge towards creating instruments for interrogation and other objects of pain.
Several years after gaining his vengeance he took a contract on a disgraced warrior who had killed the son of an eastern noble in a drunken fight. The noble paid Nerreus with the bastard sword he now carries.
Made by smiths in hot, far off eastern lands the sword is long and curved and unlike the short swords of the northern kingdoms.
Over the years men began to call Nerreus the Bonerattler - maybe because he makes even a stout swordsman's bones rattle in fear or because of the things he can do to you with hot irons that will make them rattle in fear.
The hunter has also taken that name for his unusual sword.
His constant hunt for evil doers has left him a bitter man with no taste for pity or compassion. Once a happy, care free young man he has turned into a cruel, uncaring man in his 40s.
A lifetime of killing and hunting has turned his grim face into a hatchwork of scars and old wounds over leather-like skin.

* The Bonerattler is a bastard sword that can be either used two handed or one handed if the wielder has the right training. It's very well made and legend has it that the blade was dipped in a red haired slave's urine (or blood, depending on the story) on a full moon.
Therefore it always deals +1 damage on top of whatever damaged rolled.
Strange, wispy runes adore its hilt and pommel and the scabbard is made of black, lacquered wood.
It resembles a Japanese Katana

Life happens

So life, much like shit, happens. Put it on a bumper sticker.
I had teed up our first Barbarians of Lemuria adventure for Sunday, through email and RPG forums I'd managed to contact a Canadian guy who had recently moved here and a local girl who were both keen to give BoL a go.
I'd also managed to con an old friend of mine to get involved.
All of them had some roleplaying experience with the Canadian guy being the most experienced.
But I stuffed up.
My wife got sick on the Friday and instead of telling the players they all spent the weekend sitting by their email waiting for the message telling them a time and place.
Obviously my thoughts were not on roleplaying.

Anyway, hopefully this hasn't put the kybosh on getting these guys together another time. They seem like a good bunch and I'm very keen to get playing a BoL saga with them.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BoL Friday Saga challenge

After coming across this topic on the Barbarians of Lemuria forum:

I thought I'd throw the floodgates open.

What BoL adventurers have you got in mind?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

BoL v D&D starting characters

Dol the rogue peered into the gloom, his flickering torch only illuminating a tiny portion of the ancient crypt the and his three stout companions had discovered high up in the Wolfkill Mountains.
Behind him Alana the righteous warriors of Pelor , her retainer Jorge and the wizard Heloas waited patiently.
"C'mon theif, pick the bloody lock and let's get this show on the road," Jorge growled, absently scratching his bushy beard.
"That red headed lass at the inn said she'd wait for me if we got back early."
There was a muffled chuckle from the wizard.
"As long as you bring gold back from this wretched place is what she said."
Ignoring his companions' banter Dol carefully jiggled the door lock, sliding one of his long, slim picks into it.
A slight turn to the left, another half twist and just a little...
The door gave a sudden loud click.
Grinning the thief turned to the party.
He was still grinning when the floor fell out from beneath him. The wiry rogue has just enough time to let out a yelp before sharp blades slid up, slicing through him heart and head.
The three remaining adventurers turned on each out, gaping.
Suddenly from behind they heard the clank of metal and creak of leather.
Six heavy set orcs stepped into the chamber, all six were clad in heavy coats of mail and carried a medley of weapons - wicked curved swords, barbed spears and heavy axes.
"Six? Six of 'em? We're done for, lads," gasped the fighter.
"We only started doing this crap a month ago!"
In front of him, his mistress drew her bastard sword and started her death chant to her god.

It's a pretty familiar occurrence - a party of 1st level heroes blunder into a dungeon and within a couple of rounds one has been hacked to bits of by Gnolls another has been impaled by a spike trap and the wizard was turned into a testicle after drinking that potion of amber liquid.
Total Party Death.
Now, I've got no problems with this: I've lost many a 1st level character and it's always fun.

But what happens when I roll up a 1st level character with a back story. The general premise of most D&D characters is that they grew up in a small rural community and then suddenly decide they want a little bit of action and adventure in their lives.
What about if I want to roll up a first level fighter who happens to be a vet of the Goblin Wars or a mage who has spent some time travelling around learning the arcane ropes?
The level of experience and stats you're faced with generally means you can't reflect this.

Now, when it comes to Barbarians of Lemuria* the four careers mean you have to roll up a new character that's been around the traps.
Getting four points to spend on various careers is an interesting concept because, straight off the bat, you're playing with a slightly matured hero.
It also means you're probably more likely to survive your first trip down into the dungeon.

Example: I decide I want to roll up a barbarian warrior as a new character. We'll call him Korvald.
Knowing I toss three points at strength and one at agility to make him a strong and fast bruiser.
Next I decide to throw one point in brawl, two in melee and one in ranged. Korvald is a big bruiser who knows all about infighting but is also a decent hand with a bow.
Now - careers is where's it all at.
As said before, Korvald is a barbarian of the frozen north so has to take a Barbarian career.
What now? Well, how about our young blade decides he wants to get out of the icy wastes and goes to his father, demanding a share of his inheritance. (Ungrateful little turd!)
Using this one fifth of his father's gold and property he raises a small mercenary company and heads south to the civilised lands.
So we'll give him a second point in Mercenary. Actually, how about we give him two to represent several years as a captain of sell swords.
Still with two points to go I throw a point down on thief.
After several years as a wandering warrior Korvald settles down in the city of Tyr-Sog with his fortune. But he quickly finds he simply can't cut it as a man about town and has blown most of his dough.
So he takes to house breaking and this eventually leads him on the road as a travelling thief, willing and ready to break into ancient crypts and temples.
We've got one more point to spare so I decide to spend it on Noble, bringing us to four career points.
Noble? Well, during his travels Korvald, now a relatively experienced adventurer, breaks into an temple dedicated to a dark god and bloody rites in the city of Koth.
After nicking off with the golden chastity belt of the head priest and some nice silver candlesticks he discovers the princess Lela chained to the main altar, ready for sacrifice in some dark ceremony.
After much sword slashing, leaping and jumping Korvald flees the temple with the princess and the gold.
As a reward the old king Oswald of Tyr-Sog marries the young lass off to our warrior.

Now Korvald is ready for adventure once more: eventually he'll get tired of living the live in a gilded palace and hit the road again.
He's perfect as a starting character - a little bit seasoned, plenty of backstory and plenty of reasons to head back adventuring. Will Lela be captured or murdered by an evil warlord, maybe the cultists come back, maybe the king orders Korvald to re-assemble his old warband and race to the border, etc.

But possibly the best bit is the story - I'm all about the back story and the motivations: I've just spent the last 10 minutes crafting a pretty compelling back story and history for what is just a 1st level character.
Pretty neat, eh?

Barbarian 1
Mercenary 2
Thief 1
Noble 0

* I'd like to point out I don't actually work for Cubicle 7 or anyone selling BoL - I just like it...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

BoL Hero Vasha the huntress

Vasha nocked her arrow, slowly allow the wooden shaft to rest crosswise along the belly of her bow.

Ahead of her in the glade the shaggy Bouphon raised its head from the stream and looked around.

The huntress knew she needed to act fast before the horned creature realised she was crouched in the nearby treeline.

Taking a deep breath she cuffed an errant lock of her copper hair from her brow and drew back her bowstring.

Suddenly the shaggy creature in front of her let out a wild growl and spun around - but it was not looking in her direction, instead the creature was starting toward a man clad in rough homespun who stood stunned, mouth open and rooted to the spot.

The dumb farmer had blundered into the clearing and disturbed Vasha's hunt.

With a bellow the Bouphon charged, it's head lowered and it's huge horns before it.

The farmer was still standing rooted to the spot when Vasha released her arrow.

The shaft sped straight ahead, taking the creature low in the gut.

She'd had a clean shot lined up until the beast moved and now the thing ploughed into the ground with thud and a pitiful cry of pain.

The farmer began to blubber thanks as the huntress left her position amongst the trees and approached the thrashing beast.

Ignoring him she placed her bow on the ground and drew a long hunting dagger from her belt.

The Bouphon looked up at her, pain had wracked its large, heavy features but there was still fight in it yet.

Quickly and cleanly she ended its suffering.

"Be still my brother, forgive me."

Vasha the huntress

Strength 1

Agility 2


Appeal 1

Brawl 1


Ranged 3


Barbarian 1

Hunter 2

Soldier 1


Lifeblood: 1 Hero Points: 5

Protection: 1 - Vasha wears enough leather and pelts to stop a sword slash or a weak spear thrust.

Long bow, dagger

Languages: Lemurian, Valkarian


Keen Scent, Tracker

Flaws: Taciturn

Vasha the huntress was born into a minor clan in the Valkarian wastes.

She was the 12th child born to her father, the clan's chief hunter and from a young age she was taught to hunt with the bow and the spear to earn her keep.

Life is hard in the Valkarian lands and everyone, regardless of gender, must earn their way in the clan.

She showed great skill as a hunter, especially with the bow and she brought down great snow bears and the Volf - the six legged wolves of the icy wastes - for her clan.

At 16 while hunting a rogue snow ape that had been attacking people she was caught up in a blizzard and found herself far from home.

Lost and all alone she kept heading south, hoping to eventually find the lands of the friendly Nuash clan, she figured she'd eventually find the nomadic people and they could feed her before sending her back on her way.

Much to her dismay the land became warmer and more hilly until she found herself on the edge of the Arnian League.

Totally naive in the ways of civilisation but still intrigued by it all she wandered into the small border castle town of Nicol. This strange, busy land was alien to her but she quickly found a place as a archer in the lord's company.

The League is forever eyeing the surrounding lands with greed and her first years in their employee she saw frequent action against the troops of Tyr-Sog.

Sick of being constantly outflanked by Tyr-Sogian troops who knew the ground better the lord of Nicol commissioned several of his more promising officers as scouts and deep raiders.

Vasha was picked to serve in the 1st Arnian Irregular company, who spent much of their time behind enemy lines, scouting, raiding and headhunting the enemy leadership.

Many of her comrades were folks who had worked the slightly shadier side of the law in their civilian days and Vasha became adapt at moving quietly, theft and cutting down the enemy from behind.

Finally the league and the Tyr-Sogian empire settled once more into a bitter, sullen truce and the irregulars were no longer required.

Now in her 20th winter Vasha roams the lands, bow in hand.