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."