Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cauldrons & Casseroles

Stellagama Publishing is proud to present:

Cauldrons & Casseroles

The gamers' cookbook!

82 recipes for hungry role-players - from snacks to drinks to pies to poultry and fish! All ready for eating by hand, while playing.

As role-playing games are becoming an increasingly popular pastime and hobby for many in our current culture for quite a while, a tradition of gaming food and drinks should evolve accordingly. Cocktail parties or sport events, for instance, have evolve their own food traditions. There is no reason role-playing games shouldn't either.

Cauldrons & Casseroles presents 82 recipes for varied foodstuffs perfect for the gaming table, from snacks to pies to poultry and fish.

The dishes themselves are practically suited to the game as an activity. By being typically food items of the hand-held variety, they do not require any utensils or any other fiddly equipment and therefore function as appropriate, casual snacks.

The recipes included in this book do not follow the order of courses within a meal nor are classified according to culinary genre or ingredients. Instead, they rather follow the course of a typical fantasy role-playing adventure, with the dishes being inspired by the plot and taking place as an integral part of it. The dishes themselves are also practically suited to the game as an activity. By being typically food items of the hand-held variety, they do not require any utensils or any other fiddly equipment and therefore function as appropriate, casual snacks.

Measurements are given both in the Imperial and the Metric systems.

We hope this book will inspire all of you to sharpen your kitchen wizardry skills and make some gastronomic magic happen!

Get it HERE!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dark Inheritance hex map

I have drawn up a hex map (in Hexographer) of the environs of Tideborn Village and Castle Tideborn from my Dark Inheritance mini-campaign idea. The big black hex is Tideborn's six-mile hex; each small hex on this map is a 1-mile hex. This shows the general regions and points of interest. Interacting with these hexes, investing gold in them, and clearing out monsters (and bandits!) will grant the players various resources, including increased domain revenue.

At the campaign's start, domain revenue is 4gp per peasant family - appropriate for a ruined backwater threatened by various monsters and beset by banditry. Unseating the bandits from the copper mine, clearing out and rebuilding the lighthouse, and uprooting the abominable fishmen from the reef - all will increase domain income and reduce threats.

Apart from the Tideborn village and Castle Tideborn described in earlier posts, this map has five regions, each of which will receive its own encounter tables: the Hills, the Woods, the Swamp, Farmlands and Road, and the Sea. The farmlands and road are relatively safe, at least at daytime - but even then suffer from banditry. The swamps are a war-zone between Neutral lizardmen and Chaotic toadmen and holds other unpleasant surprises, including bog zombies and giant toads. The hills are bandit country at day and haunt of wild beasts at night. The woods are the most dangerous land area here, haunted by undead and evil fey, not to mention giant spiders. The sea is cruel and home to all manner of pelagic nightmares.

The Abbey of St. Lena is haunted, but is the rumored resting place of the fabled Dagger of St. Lena; even the bandits avoid going there in fear of the horrors left therein. This is a shaded Sinkhole of Chaos - cleansing it may allow the establishment of a new Abbey, under Law - or even a re-consecrated Pinnacle of Law.

The Copper Mines are inactive, as their new residents and masters - the Broken Skull Gang bandits - abhor honest work such as mining. Unseating the bandits, whether by force or by "diplomacy" (that is, a more veiled show of force), will allow the PCs to reopen the mines. The renovation will cost some gold, but an operating mine will increase the domain income by 3gp per family per month.

The Lizard Village is Neutral, as it has always been. It predates the village and castle by eons of primitive existence. The Neutral lizardmen are at war with Chaotic toadmen. Siding with the lizardmen will allow the PCs to recruit two powerful lizardman henchmen - a Savage (warrior) and a Shaman.

The Toad Cult is the horror of the swamp - primitive toadmen and degenerate human cultists worshiping the Chaotic toad-god Tsathoggua. They are at war with the lizardmen, and try to convert them to Chaos - no easy task, but a few did join the cult and serve as its shock-troops.

The Lighthouse used to guide fishermen at night; now it is ruined, leading to caverns of various horrors of the sea beneath it. Cleaning the caves and investing gold in rebuilding the Lighthouse will increase domain income by 1gp per family per month.

Finally, the Reef is home to the worst of the fishmen and cephalopod cults, who raid the coast and wreck fishing boats. Cleansing it will greatly increase fishing yields, adding 1gp per family per month to domain income.

Note that Chaotic or even, in some cases, Neutral PCs might choose to ally themselves with the Toad Cult (against the lizardmen) or even the Bandits... Parlaying with them won't be easy, but players being players - who knows...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Swamp Lizardmen of the Elysian Empire


As it should be obvious from my blog's title, I love lizards! And other reptiles as well.

The lizardmen of the Elysian Empire are utterly primitive. They are also thoroughly Neutral. For the most part, they prefer to keep to themselves, eat fish, and mount sporadic raids on ill-defended human settlements and caravans. However, occasionally a particularly bright - in lizardman terms, that is - individual may sometimes seek greater glory and more impressive trophies than those available in the swamp. Enterprising players may recruit such individuals as henchmen. Alternatively, at the Judge's discretion, a player may play such savage beast.

As you probably know, my commercial product for ACKS, Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu, has a civilized lizardman race. However, in more typical ACKS settings, such as the Dark Inheritance mini-campaign, such civilization is far from the grasp of the savage reptilian swamp-dwellers. The following racial template applies to lizardman player characters and adventuring NPCs of standard ACKS worlds.

A lizardman looks like an upright, anthropomorphic Water Monitor, with a long, thick tail, a forked tongue, and a muscle mass befitting a large reptile. Lizardmen are warm-blooded and are technically omnivores but prefer eating fresh fish over vegetables or fruits.

Lizardmen are less active in the winter in cold climates. They retreat to their underground warrens - often with underwater entrances - and hide there. They still fiercely defend the warrens against attacks, but do not raid settlements and do not waylay travelers until the spring. They sleep for many hours a day and eat preserved (usually smoked or dried) food in the winter months. In warmer climates, they are active year-round. However, would-be conquerors who might see "hibernating" lizardmen as easy prey should beware: the shamans still have their spiritual "eyes" open, even when they hide underground and even when they sleep.

Lizardmen can reproduce both sexually and asexually, just like some real-life lizards (for example, certain Whiptail lizards; Komodo Dragons) can. A single female lizardman (lizardwoman?) can start an entire new tribe of her virgin-born daughters and their lineage of daughters. If they come across males, they can mate with them and have sexually-produced offsprings as well (and male offsprings in general). Lizasrdmen are egg-layers; parents guard their eggs until they hatch. The hatchling - a small lizardman - can take care of itself from the moment it hatches. Adults let the young dwell with them in the village, but the young feed themselves on carrion or by fishing in the swamp.

How is this race, and class, related to the 2+1 HD lizardmen from the ACKS monsters chapter, you ask? You see, the swamp lizardman is primordially Neutral. Most lizardmen in the Elysian Empire and around it are Neutral. A Neutral lizardman is typically only 1 HD. A few lizardmen, however, despite their primordial tendency towards neutrality, do come to the worship of the Chaotic deity Bokrug. Such cultists gain immense power from their dread god, in return to horrid sacrifices. This power finds its expression in the default 2+1 HD of "monstrous" core-book lizardmen.

Swamp lizardman Racial Template
Swamp lizardman character classes are created using the lizardman racial category and experience points. Requirements, class category values, hit points per level after 9th, and experience point progressions are modified as noted below.

Requirements:
All lizardman classes require a minimum Strength of 9 or better and may not have Intelligence above 9.

Class category Values:
  • Fighting: The build points allocated to the class’s Fighting Value may be increased by 1 or 2 points by the lizardman Value (see below). Use the effective values to find the class’s fighting abilities, up to a maximum of 4 points.
  • Arcane: lizardmen may not have any Arcane value.
Lizardman 0 (XP Cost 350): At lizardman 0, the class will have the following five custom powers:
  • Fangs and Claws: The character gains a claw/claw/bite attack routine. The claws deal 1d3-1 damage each, while the bite deals 1d6-1 damage.
  • Inhumanity: The character is a beastman. He suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of men. The character gets a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of lizardmen.
  • Scaly Hide: The character’s base unarmored AC is 3 instead of 0. The character has a base movement rate of only 60'.
  • Primordial Mind: lizardmen were lizardmen, and lived in the same simple way, for eons. Their primitive, antediluvian minds are difficult to sway by sophisticated sorcery. Thus, the lizardman gains a +4 bonus to saving throws vs. mind-affecting magic.
  • Swimming: The character gains a swimming movement rate of 120' per turn. The character may hold his breath for 1 turn.
Lizardman 1 (XP Cost 850): Lizardman 0 + Fighting 1

Lizardman 2 (XP Cost 1,350): Lizardman 0 + Fighting 1 + HP 1

Lizardman 3 (XP Cost 1,850): Lizardman 0 + Fighting 2 + HP 1

Lizardman 4 (XP Cost 2,350): Lizardman 0 + Fighting 2 + HP 2

A lizardman’s claw and/or bite damage will be modified by the character’s STR adjustment and damage bonus. However, lizardmen cannot use their fangs and claws while wielding weapons, using shields, or wearing Armour heavier than chain mail.

Experience Point Progression After 8th Level
Lizardmen increase the amount of experience required to gain each level after 8th by 45,000XP.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Doom that came to Tideborn Castle

I have chosen a name to the castle (and village) of my Dark Inheritance mini-campaign idea: Tideborn. Here I will detail its monstrous history, leading to the present-day horror shadowing this dilapidated fishing village.

---

Aeons ago, long before even the reptiles ruled the lands, a fish-thing swamp up from the primordial ocean and set its abode in an underwater cave on its rocky shore. This creature, which the oldest civilizations called - in hushed tones - an Aboleth, was old even then. It set its vast mind to study the occult - as his kind are inclined to do - and learn the many esoteric secrets of the universe.

Ages passed. The great reptilian beasts came and died; seas advanced and receded and mountains rose. When Man came to this land, a cliff towered over that sunken cave where the Aboleth dwelt; the sea, thankfully enough for that beast, did not leave these shored. Overlooking a protected harbor, the cliff was an ideal spot for men to set their stronghold at, giving a defensible vantage point over the nearby lands.

Thus, men came and settled the bay, building a fortress on the cliff. They were fishermen; their lords were warriors of the seas. It was then that the Aboleth first called them. Creeping into their dreams like a thief in the night, it sparked in them a thirst for uncanny knowledge and boundless power. Many resisted the call, clinging to their old Neutral gods for protection. Others made the fish-thing into their own god. Another cult, influenced by the first, started worshiping Dagon, the Chaotic lord of fish, to gain bountiful fish from the bay. Chaos festered on this cliff, now called Tideborn Rock. The Earls and aldermen of these folk dug tunnels deep into the rock to connect their dread fort with their god's submerged cavern. There, countless innocents perished in agony, sacrificial victims to the monstrosity and to Dagon.

Then came the Empire. With sword and torch, it unseated the chaotic Earl and laid waste to his horrid castle. Imperial sappers collapsed many of the old caverns. Legionnaires burned the Chaos cultists at the stake. Law now claim this land by steel and flame. On the ruins of the old fortress, the Empire built its own stronghold and installed a Tribune to enforce the Law and guard against Chaos.

It was in the late fourth century of the Empire that Chaos crept back from its smitten caves and sent its tendrils into the then-proud castle. By then, the Tribune became known as a Marquis; the ruler of the day was Marquessa Isabel of Tideborn. Intelligent but thirsty for power, she immersed herself in sorcerous lore. As age started to show its signs, she became obsessed with her waning youth. In her dreams and whispers - sent once again by the dormant Aboleth - she found answers to her fears. She made her excavate the old tunnels beneath her castle and expanded them. She revived the old cult. Her dreams told her the secret of youth: an occult ritual involving her immersion in a bath full of virgins' blood.

Thus, Marquessa Isabel of Tideborn sent out her loyal men - all cultists by that time - to abduct young maidens. First from the town of Tideborn, then from other villages in her shadowed domain. A procession of chained young women entered the castle, never to be seen again. Some prayed to the Conquering Sun for deliverance. For a time, none came. Then, in Imperial Year 409, the Marquessa sent her men to bring her a poor but pious maiden named Lena, daughter of the village's blacksmith. Lena knew her fate and made a vow to the Divine - a vow to give her life for a chance of avenging the thousands of young virgins sacrified by the Marquessa. She hid a dagger under her simple dress and prayed. The men-at-arms who took her were complacent; maidens always came without any struggle. They did not search her, but only led her to the castle.

At midnight, a blood-curling scream came from the castle and the land shook. Not long after, Lena appeared, covered in blood, dragging her broken body to the town's church. She was covered with lacerations and bite-marks and clutched her bloody dagger in her hand. She died of her wounds, in a pool of her own blood, in front of the church altar. Every townsman knew: the Marquessa was slain. Lena's father, enraged with grief, organized the townspeople. They stormed the castle with torches and pitchforks, butchering the remaining men-at-arms. They did not find the Marquessa's body. They did find the horrors of her bloody laboratory. They soon put the dark castle to the torch.

How did that girl, untrained in war, manage to slay the sorcerous Marquessa? The Churches - both Bright and Gray - were quick to proclaim this a miracle and canonize Lena into a Saint. They renovated the old Tideborn church, with painted glass telling Lena's story of martyrdom. The Gray Church established an abbey not far from the town, where they laid St. Lena to rest and trained young women in her spirit of defiant against Chaos and tyrants.

However, the Empire of these days was no longer the shiny beacon of Law it was in its early years. It was weak and decadent; it sent weak men to govern Tideborn March. These nobles renovated only a small part of the ruined Tideborn Castle to serve as their stronghold. Soon enough, bandits came to exploit this weakness and prey on Tideborn March. Beset by several famine years, the Plague, and brigandage, the Town of Tideborn dwindled to a small village still clinging to the shore, surrounded by abandoned dwellings. The bandits then moved, in Imperial Year 424, and took the castle, unseating the Imperial noble. A reign of terror began.

Ivar Ironhand was not a good man. He was a mercenary, living by his sword. His allegiance was to coin, not ideals or particular men. However, neither was he a villain. Sensing an opportunity to become a ruler, he quickly received the blessing of the Duke of Bluewater to take Castle Tideborn. Disorganized bandits were no match for Ironhand's mercenaries. In Imperial Year 431, he conquered the castle after a short siege and became Marquis of Tideborn.

He was a fair, if harsh, ruler. His sons and grandsons were not. As the Empire crumbled around them and the Plague came once more, they reveled and feasted while others died around them. They turned to Chaos for protection from the Plague, reviving the old cults. They were, however, lesser sorcerers than Marquessa Isabel of old. They were weak; a dying Empire tolerates no weakness. And so it came to pass that in Imperial Year 507, the last ruler of House Ironhand died in the hand of his own mercenaries, who, in turn, turned to brigandage and banditry, leaving Castle Tideborn without ruler.

It is now Imperial Year 517. The Empire is dead. You are distant heirs to House Ironhand. Your land calls to you.

Will you cleanse this land from the shadow of Chaos, or become new sorcerer kings?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Cauldrons & Casseroles gamers' cookbook preview - Aboleth Bites!

We at Stellagama Publishing are, as you may know, hard at work on a gamers' cookbook called Cauldrons & Casseroles. As a preview for that book, we present you with one recipe from the book: Aboleth Bites!

Aboleth bites (6 servings)

Kitchen sorcery level: 2


Another delicacy made from your enemy's dead body!

Ingredients:

1 kg/ 2 lb haddock, cod, whitebait, or any other white fish fillet meat
2 cups of breadcrumbs
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup of milk
1 litre/ 2 pints of vegetable oil, for deep frying

Preparation:

  1. Cut the fish fillets into 5*10 cm/ 2*4-inch pieces.
  2. Place the breadcrumbs, spices and salt in a bowl and mix well. In another bowl, mix the eggs and milk. Coat the fish pieces with the egg mixture, then roll in the breadcrumbs.
  3. Place the oil in a deep-frying pan, heat over a medium fire until the oil starts to bubble and fry the fish bites until golden brown. Remove the fish bites to a dish covered in kitchen paper and serve with the following dip.

Onion, honey and mustard dip

Kitchen sorcery level: 2


Ingredients:

1 onion or 4 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of milk
½ cup beer
1 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp salt

Preparation:

  1. Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat over a medium fire until it melts. Add the onion and fry while stirring until the onion is golden in colour.
  2. Add the flour and mix well. Then, very gradually add the milk while stirring constantly, to prevent lumps. Then, pour in the beer and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Add the honey, mustard and salt, lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the dip is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot or cold.

Mini-campaign idea: Dark Inheritance





I now am itching to run, at some point in the future, a "domain inheritance" game in ACKS. The PCs would be heirs to a haunted coastal castle and a dilapidated hamlet (Market VI, I'd say in ACKS terms). In its shadow there would be several lairs/mini-dungeons in the same 6-mile hex. There would be a "Kilodungeon" including the castle and several levels beneath it, probably culminating in a Lovecraftian monstrosity (Aboleth?) beneath sea level, not to mention nasty neighbors such as bandits. Could be a wonderful campaign. A mini-setting - so much to do in one hex and the neighboring hexes!

This will probably be an old Marquise's keep, now fallen to disrepair and haunted. PCs will end up with a potential high-value stronghold, which will need clearing of horrors - and expensive repairs.

To become full-scale lords, the players will need to conquer the castle from the eldritch horrors.
To gain the whole 6-mile hex the players will need to clear out several mini-dungeons.

My inclination is towards a combination of "Gothic" and Lovecraftian bestiary for that mini-campaign. No goblins, but possibly toad-men or fish-men, and a good amount of undead. And bandits, of course.

Potentially a vampire, but the problem with a vampire is that vampires are villains who tend to dominate a campaign, as in Ravenloft/Curse of Strahd, and I want to keep that role for the Aboleth (?).

My general idea is that in the distant past, the (now ruined) castle was home to a Chaos-worshiping Marquessa inspired by Elizabeth Báthory. After she was slain - by one of her intended victims, no less (now canonized as St. Lena of the Dagger) - her heirs continued the Chaotic tradition, albeit in other ways than bathing in the blood of virgins.

The PCs' ancestor conquered this keep, but eventually these ancestors also succumbed to Chaos worship, seeing the local Aboleth (?) as a "God".
Successful PCs will quickly get knighted by the local ruler who would be glad to have them deal with bandits (and worse) than requiring his limited military forces do so.
Of course, the Marquessa would have risen as a Ghast for the very least, it not a Vampire, in the crypts below. Now she has worshipers among the bandits and villagers, like the Aboleth has.

The idea is to make most permanent magic items unique in this adventure. Some are powerful - for example the Dagger of St. Lena which allows you to backstab undead (possibly even without having this as a class power).
What do you think?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cepheus Light preview: Chase Rules

As you may know, we at Stellagama Publishing are hard at work on our rules-light version of the Cepheus Engine. It's name - logically enough - is Cepheus Light. The current draft is about one half, in term of word count, of the Cepheus Engine SRD. We strive to provide players and referees with a lightweight, fast-play, yet nuanced and varied, sci-fi rule-set.

Today I will present a preview of one area of rules we are very proud of: the chase rules. They should work very well with the Cepheus Engine SRD as well. This also serves as the conceptual framework for our space combat rules.

Chases 

The tactical combat rules represent action in small, more limited areas. For vehicles, this means "knife-fighting" ranges and relatively slow speeds. A fast-moving vehicle will easily pass through the entire tactical combat map in less than one combat round. This is unsuitable for chases and dog-fighting. Use these rules instead. 

Chase turns are an abstraction in combat and vary in length depending on circumstances, from mere seconds in high-speed aircraft pursuits to hours in long drawn-out submarine duels. 

There is no initiative throw in chases. Instead, at the start of each turn both participants throw 2D + the relevant vehicle skill + the vehicle's Agility. The pursuer wins on ties. The winner has Advantage and may attack using the regular vehicle attack and damage rules, with the following modifiers based on the vehicle throw's effect: 

Effect 0-2: DM-2 to hit
Effect 3+: DM+0 to hit

The loser of the Advantage throw cannot attack in that turn, unless their vehicle has a turret-mounted weapon. Turret attacks made without Advantage suffer DM-4 to hit. 

It is possible to have multiple parties engaged in a chase. Simply record the different Advantage results in descending order. The vehicles higher on the “ladder” may attack any vehicle below them. This can be used to great effect in a dogfight, below. 

Chases last five turns. At the end of the fifth turn, if the prey has not been stopped, disabled, or destroyed, the prey escapes and the chase ends. 

Dogfighting 

In a dogfight, two or more highly maneuverable vehicles, usually aircraft, try to outmaneuver and fight each other. A dogfight has no time limit, barring certain fuel considerations. The dogfight will end ends either when one participant is disabled or destroyed, or if one participant disengages. To disengage from a dogfight, a participant must have Advantage and use their action that turn to throw Vehicle Skill 10+, DM +vehicle agility. 

Foot Chases 

Chases on foot use similar rules. Each turn, each side throws Athletics + DEX DM. The pursuer wins on ties. The winner of this opposed throw may attack in melee or ranged combat, at the Referee's discretion, while the loser cannot attack in that turn. Foot chases end in the same way that other chases end.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Elysian Empire - updated map

I've updated the map for my Elysian Empire setting for ACKS. This is still a work in progress, but it does cover the western part of the Empire with their final geography. This still requires cities, though, and names for some of the rivers and mountains.

Regarding the western provinces...

Tamascyra - temperate-warm province which was civilized longer than any other province in the western part of the Empire. Currently partly Civilized and partially Borderlands. (cultural/naming inspiration: Greek).

Rayanes - temperate bread-basket. Currently Civilized in its southern part and Borderlands in its northern half, due to beastman invasion from Muspelheim (cultural/naming inspiration: Celtic).

Camalynn - temperate land, once part of the ancient Dwarven empire and later a rich human kingdom and finally Imperial province. Currently in turmoil following a Chaotic invasion from Outer Kvenland, which the remaining Imperial garrison, led by Ivar "the Dragon" (a young general whose star, people say, is rising), somehow repelled. Borderlands at best; Wilderness in its northern part. Isenvale March is located in Camalynn's central mountains (cultural/naming inspiration: mostly English, some Slavicand Norse inspirations as well).

Inner Kvenland - temperate land, the part of Kvenland conquered by the Elysian Empire centuries ago. Now a burned-out battlefield following Chaotic invasion from Outer Kvenland. Wilderness (cultural/naming inspiration: Norse).

Outer Kvenland - harsh and cold land known for its excellent seamen and warriors. Once, the Kvennish High King also ruled what is now Inner Kvenland and northern Leoneis, but the Elysian Empire conquered these lands. Its people were once proud Neutral pagans. Now, the land is in the claws of the popular Chaotic cults of Hróðvitnir the Wolf Lord and Blóðughadda the bloody-haired Sea Queen. These cults invaded neighboring lands, and so far met serious resistance only in Camalynn, from which it was repulsed at a great price. "Borderlands" Chaotic area for the most part, with some Wilderness as well (cultural/naming inspiration: Norse).

Leoneis - temperate-warm province, rich with grain but also beset by swamps. Most of Leoneis, apart from the hill country to its north, is lowland. Currently, northern Leoneis is a battlefield, invaded by Kvennish Chaos cults, and the south has a barely functioning remnant-Imperial government (cultural/naming inspiration: French).

Muspelheim - cold and hard mountainous land. Once the heart of the old Dwarven Empire, which has collapsed many centuries ago. Now beset by beastmen; only a few heavily-fortified Dwarven Vaults remain as  Borderlands, the rest being Wilderness (cultural/naming inspiration: Germanic/Slavic).

Valukarask - frigid land of the north. Typified by taiga forests and cold marches in its north and some farming in its southern parts. Land of fey and witchcraft, never truly tamed by the Elysian Empire. Now considered Borderlands (cultural/naming inspiration: Slavic).

Korovod - independent High ("True") Elven kingdom. Land of dark taiga forests, home to fey and to Elves. Staunchly Neutral (pagan) in faith. Part civilized, part borderlands (cultural/naming inspiration: Slavic, with focus on Slavic/Norse fey).


A review of Alien Breeds by Zozer Games



Product's Name: Alien Breeds
Ruleset: Cepheus Engine/OGL 2d6 Sci-Fi

Author: Paul Eliott

Artist: Ian Stead

Size: 51 pages

Publisher: Zozer Games

Price: $5.00




Grade: 5 out of 5

A few months ago, I reviewed Zozer Games' HOSTILE setting for the Cepheus Engine. As I said back then, HOSTILE is the "real deal" - the perfect Alien(s)/Bladerunner RPG setting. Not an official setting, but one with the serial numbers partially filed off. It does its job magnificently, better, in my humble opinion, than the official offerings in this field.

HOSTILE begs for Xenomorphs, Alien(s)-style. Alien Breeds delivers. Aliens, as in the films. Serial numbers filed off just enough to prevent copyright issues. With full Cepheus Engine stats (and thus Mongoose Traveller 1E - mostly compatible with Classic Traveller and Mongoose Traveller 2E as well). Ready for the Referee to unleash on unsuspecting players...

Wait. Unsuspecting? Not so easily. I'd bet that virtually every sci-fi enthusiast playing Traveller has seen the films. Some have read the numerous novels and comics as well, and played the video games. The moment a Facehugger shows up, or any other part of the Xenomorph's life cycle for that matter, the players are bound to know exactly what they're up against. This is a recurrent problem with using well-known settings ("IPs" in 2010's terminology): the player already knows the Big Secrets, unlike a first-time watcher of the films, or any of the characters in them. This removes a large part of the horror associated with these creatures. Fear of the unknown, of the alien - that's the heart of Alien (1979). But the alien is no longer unknown. You could even say that it's no longer truly alien. Its a fixture of modern culture.

Alien Breeds tackles this question by presenting no less than 18 subspecies of the Xenomorph - each with unexpected abilities. I won't list them here, to avoid spoiling the fun to any prospective players. But you should know that their capacities and capabilities exceed, by far, those shown in the films. They can do things to the unsuspecting - truly unsuspecting - player character that Ripley never had to face. Players will see a Facehugger's husk, or a Xenomoph egg, and think they know what they're dealing with. They're in for a surprise. Potentially several surprises. A few breeds are quite predictable variants, but many are not what you'd expect from a Xenomorph.

Aside from the breeds and a very well-written description of Xenomorph biology (both ordinary and variant, the book contains two additional parts. The first is a short description of Leyland Okuda's ("not"-Weyland Yutani) science division, along with its ordinary roles and secret agendas. It also details the secretive "Project Red Midas", studying alien lifeforms for military usage. The second is an adventure called, quite as you'd expect, "Outbreak".

The adventure goes back to the original Alien film from 1979 for inspiration. This is not an action-packed Bug Hunt by Colonial Marines. Rather, it pits a commercial space crew against an insidious mystery on a remote mining colony. Don't expect Smartguns and Pulse Rifles, but rather several mining lasers and two shotguns. The colony, like the original Nostromo, is initially "alive and well", with an almost full number of workers, rather than the dead Hadley's Hope of Aliens fame. Something is very wrong, and very deceptive, in this mining colony. The PCs come to refuel and unload supplies, but refueling will most likely require solving this mystery and dealing with some... err... wildlife.

The booklet describes the colony in great details and clarity Even if you don't intend to pit your characters against Xenomorphs, this is still a highly useful space colony which could be easily dropped, with minimal modifications, virtually into any interstellar sci-fi setting. The big gem here is a set of highly detailed colony maps and floor-plans, drawn by the talented Ian Stead. Very useful!

In short - if you like Alien(s), or simply want a detailed space colony for your sci-fi game, this is an instant buy.

Monday, April 30, 2018

In the works: Cauldrons & Casseroles: a gamer's cookbook!

Art by Hannah Saunders
We at Stellagama Publishing are now hard a work on... A gamer's cookbook! The writer is the very talented Hannah Saunders, an RPGer and superb cook, who brings to the table a wealth of recipes ready for easy consumption while gaming. From pies to spring rolls, it aims to put home-made refreshments on the gaming table

From Hannah's introduction to the book:

"For quite a while, I have believed, as a Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast and a role-playing gamer in general, that our community deserves way better refreshment than the mere Mountain Dew or coke and cheese puffs while playing our beloved games.

Me myself being both an aficionada of role-playing games and a fantasy and science-fiction fan, I have decided to dedicate a whole book to recipes inspired by those universes (or, rather, multiverses): Cauldrons and Casseroles...

Aboleth Bites
The dishes themselves are also practically suited to the game as an activity, by being typically food items of the hand-held type and do not require any utensils or any other fiddly equipment, and therefore function as appropriate, casual snacks.

In addition, the dishes have been given highly-imaginative, playful and picturesque names in order to immerse the cook even more within the experience, and to complement the course of the adventure story taking place.

As role-playing games are becoming an increasingly popular pastime and hobby for many in our current culture for quite a while, I reckon that a tradition of gaming food and drinks should evolve accordingly. Since cocktail parties or sport events, for instance, have evolve their own food traditions, there is no reason role-playing games shouldn't either...

I hope this book will inspire all of you to sharpen your kitchen wizardry skills and make some gastronomic magic happen!"


Phoenix Breast Wraps
Stay tuned!


Monday, March 26, 2018

Uranium Fever

Stellagama Publishing is Proud to Present:

URANIUM FEVER


Mining is a time-honored practice, its roots going back to the Stone Age. When humanity reached space, it began mining the asteroid bodies and extraterrestrial planets in pursuit of metal and ice. The most desired and profitable of these minerals are rare earths and radioactives. With asteroid mining, the Belter was born – a profession, and then a culture, of space miners. The company miner, working for corporation or government, works long shifts on interplanetary rocks for a steady salary and employment benefits. The independent belter, on the other hand, strikes out into the belt, prospecting, and mining with his own ship. Usually, he scrapes by on base metals and the more abundant rare earths. However, what sustains the belter through hard work and the loneliness of space is the lust for hitting a "motherlode" – good radioactive ore worth a fortune. As the 20th century song goes, this Uranium Fever infects the miner's heart and propels them into the unknown.

This product explores the theme of interstellar mining. Its default setting is These Stars Are Ours! – Stellagama Publishing's space-opera setting. However, almost all material in this book will work perfectly well in any science fiction setting using the Cepheus Engine rules or any similar 2d6 OGL ruleset. The book begins with a discussion of belt mining in Terran space in the 23rd century, and then provides detailed rules for generating belter characters, generating asteroid belt characteristics in the Cepheus Engine, and mining asteroid belts. It also includes three belter spacecraft, and a collection of equipment serving in the interstellar mining industry.

So, fire up your fission reactor, calibrate your mining laser, and follow the calling of Uranium Fever to distant stars!

Get it HERE!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dark Nebula: Accelera, Research Unit #72, and origin of the Dark Nebula

How did the Dark Nebula Event come into being? The answer is in the waning years of the Rule of Man, when paradoxically, science developed in a feverish, accelerated pace. This was the Accelerando - a blossoming of a hundred strange flowers of weird science while interstellar society crumbled around them.

This had several reasons. Chief among them was lax - often non-existent - government ethical oversight. Any kind of research was possible, including the most bizarre and inhuman experiments. Another was the rampant corruption and inefficiency of the late Rule of Man. Local officials - often junior naval officers in their origin - had unchecked power and little experience in politics. The well-connected or manipulative scientist could often convince the official (or "Noble") in charge to dedicate vast sums to research which will "save the Imperium". Simpler graft and embezzlement were also common. With little or no regulation and easy access to ill-gotten funding, science could take roads never thought of in the past. Cybernetics, machine intelligence, human gengineering, trans-dimensional travel, psionics - all were on the table.

One such group was Research Unit #72. In the early 28th century, they set up shop on the extreme Spinward frontier, near a young colony named Maadin. They chose five stars within a nebula as their abode, far from the prying eyes of whatever remaining Imperial authorities. There, they tried to develop technologies which will - so they claimed - save the ailing Rule of Man from its inevitable collapse - artificial intelligence, cybernetics, genetic engineering, and, especially, new technologies for interstellar travel and, theoretically speaking, communications.

The latter technology reached a place that even the great scientists of the much later 3rd Imperium were unable to replicate, but at a price. On November 3rd, 2747 AD (-1771 Imperial), The Event occurred. Experimental stationary jump-transmission coils on the world known today as N3 fired as part of a planned experiment. But they caused an unexpected effect. In an instant, all five star-systems of the Dark Nebula were torn from their place in the Space-Time Continuum, and hurled, through space and time. For a whole year, local time, these systems were in limbo - disconnected from our universe. But then they burst back into Real Space - 145 years later in Real Space dates after their disappearance. For that time, the Nebula was a dead zone - an area of space where no solid bodies could be seen, and where anomalies in the Space-Time Continuum endangered any ship entering that space.

In August 2892 AD (-1626 Imperial), suddenly the N4 star of the Dark Nebula appeared on the horizons of Taida Na, re-lighting the old cloud. By 2900 AD, these stars appeared in the skies of Osa, Salia, and Kov as well. Soon enough, rumors have reached both Solomani and Aslan ears that the worlds of the Nebula, hinted upon in legend, are back. And now, their technological treasures are ripe to the plucking, though still ripe with Space-Time Continuum anomalies, mutated animals, crazed survivors and a mad, mad AI.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Dark Nebula: some musings and considerations

More musings and considerations of my variant-OTU Dark Nebula setting.

First, I would like to move the date two centuries back to 2900 AD (-1619 Imperial). This will make the Aslan Hierate even younger, as appropriate for a frontier setting. So this might have "30th Century Role-Playing" as a tag-line. In the Core - near Terra and Vland - this is still within the "twilight" years. However, at the high frontier such as the Dark Nebula, the Long Night has come earlier.

There is no direct contact with Terra for over a century. Contact was sporadic since the collapse of the 2740's (-1770's Imperial). It slowly declined; today, in the 2900's, it is rare for news to travel all the way from Terra to Maadin. Even when it does, it is indirect. The communications lines and trade routes are dead. Maadin and the other colonies had to fend for themselves for a century and a half. Even before that, distance from the Core forced them into partial autonomy.

The Aslan had a slow start. They were initially at TL9 in 2520 (-1999 Imperial). Since this setting has no empty-hex jumps, this means that they could only colonize the Aslan Main. This chain of stars extends to some distance to the Rimwars-Spinward from Ikona. Contact with the scattered Solomani colonies did not provide rapid technological advance due to their underdeveloped state; for years, the Aslan used native TL9-10 technology, supplemented by Jump-2 and Jump-3 ships purchased from Terrans. When they developed TL11 and large-scale native Jump-2 capabilities, they have already put their major colonial effort along the Aslan Main. Ihatei expeditions began raiding to the Trailing, but by that time the Solomani have developed to a degree which made such efforts difficult.

There were many border conflicts between Aslan and Solomani. Most were minor skirmishes between a band of ihatei and local Terran colonists. The exception was the Great Aslan War (Aslan call it the Solomani War) of 2771-2779. This gave birth to the (Maadin) Solomani Confederation as a mutual defense pact of the better-developed Terran worlds against the Aslan in the absence of help from the Core. The War ended in decisive, but bloody, Solomani victory. The result was the Mizah Accords. These forced the Aslan to withdraw from Enjiwa and Pasar and set the majority of both subsectors as a neutral zone. Definition of "neutral", however, was vague, especially as far as Aslan are concerned. So far, this seemed to hold as a "gentlemanly agreement", with both parties limiting the scale of military activity in the neutral zone to a reasonable level. There were two larger conflicts in 2813 and 2877, but these did not escalate into all-out war and things returned to normal afterwards.

Now the drums of war beat once more, this time with a new generation of aggressive ihatei maturing on Kuzu with thirst for conquest to the Trailing and an increasingly authoritarian and militarist Solomani government eager to meet this challenge with laser fire.

The 30th century Solomani Confederation is small - a mere 9 worlds - but united under a strong regime. The Aslan have many colonies to the Rimward-Spinward, but are split along clan lines and do not present a united force. The would-be belligerents are an ambitious Aslan clan (I'll choose or generate a name later) and its new generation of restless ihatei and the Solomani Confederation.

Maximum tech level is 12; military ships are capable of Jump-3. Most civilian Solomani ships have Jump-2 as the Solomani lack a Main going out of their space. Aslan civilian ships sometimes have Jump-1 and service the Aslan Main. Independent colonies tend to have lower TLs, but most of these are not very habitable and thus require some technology (often TL7) to survive.

There are Starport-A's only on three worlds: Maadin, Mizah, and Kuzu. There are a handful of Starport-B's as well. The rest is the high frontier.

As of the Dark Nebula itself, the stars within it disappeared 200 years ago, in 2686; then suddenly reappeared in 2898. They were colonized by a large research institute before the rest of the Maadin subsector, and are rumored to hold extremely high technology developed by that institute. However, there are far, far worse things there than renegade scientists...


Dark Nebula - Kuzu and Maadin subsectors - 2900 AD

Sunday, March 18, 2018

ACKS: Flagellant Redux

The Joy and Purity of Pain
Art by Hannah Saunders
(C) Stellagama Publishing, 2018
I have decided to re-design my Flagellant class to fit the Heroic Fantasy themes of my Elysian Empire campaign setting for ACKS. In this case, the actual priests would be the Monastic ones presented in the Heroic Fantasy Companion. The Flagellant becomes a non-spellcaster. A darker equivalent of the Paladin, a fervent opponent of Chaos, using pain to purify his soul and unleash divine wrath at his enemies.

---


The followers of the Flayed Lady - called St. Maraella by the Bright Church - see pain as the pathway to penitence and spiritual purity. They view martyrdom as the pinnacle of faith a believer can achieve, and wounding of the mortal flesh as a road to clearing one's soul of dark Chaos. Their most devout holy warrior, therefore, is the flagellant - marching through the corrupt mortal world to call the sinful to repent and flogging his own flesh to ward away the bestial call of the carnal body.

An iconoclast, an enemy of slavers, resentful of the haughty, the flagellant fights with zeal. He - or she as is often the case - may lack training in heavy armor or in a wide selection of weapons, but makes up to that in burning religious fervor. A simple robe or a leather armor to his skin, he carries his characteristic flails to rend the flesh of the Chaotic idolater and the mortal tyrant.

Flagellant
Requirement: None
Prime Requisite: CON and WIS

Class Build
(see the ACKS Player's Companion)
Hit Dice 2 (1,000XP): 1d8 hit dice.
Fighting 2 (1,000XP): as a fighter, but:

  • Weapon selection reduced to Narrow - bows/crossbows and flails/hammers/maces: 3 powers, 450XP.
  • Armor selection reduced from Unrestricted to Restricted - hide armor or lighter: 2 powers, 300XP.
XP for level 2: 2,750XP.
Attacks, Saving Throws, and Magic Item Use: as a Fighter.

Powers: 5, of then 4 at level 1 and an additional 1 traded for powers at levels 5 and 9.

Level 1:
  • Flagellation: the character can whip himself into a furious religious zeal. He suffers 1 point of damage per level of experience, but gains a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls and becomes immune to fear. The character may not retreat from combat while this lasts. Furthermore, the Judge may rule that he will have to attack, to the best of her lethal ability, the nearest enemy of his faith, even if the player thinks this is not a prudent choice. The zealous fury lasts until the combat ends (1 Power).

  • Stigmata (re-skinned Flesh-Runes): innumerable scars from years of self-flagellation and other forms of self-punishment blessed his wounded flesh with holy protection - an armor of faith. At 1st level, the flagellant gains a +2 bonus to AC and decrease the damage from any non-magical attacks by 1 point per die. At 7th level, this protection increases to +4 AC and 2 points per die. At 13th level, the protection increases to +6 AC and 3 points per die. The damage reduction is applied per die. Damage can be reduced to 0, but not less than 0, on each die. The AC bonus from flesh-runes stacks with potions of invulnerability, rings of protection, and similar effects, but does not stack with armor. Attacks from monsters of 5 HD or more are considered magical attacks due to the monster’s ferocity (3 Powers).


Level 5:
  • Martyrdom: upon reaching 0 hit points, the character may choose to remain in full fighting condition, functioning as if he has above-zero hit points, and applying any further damage as negative hit points. He may continue fighting until she reaches a negative number of hit points equal or exceeding his Constitution score, or stays conscious for a number of rounds equal to her level of experience - the sooner between them. Then he falls, unconscious mortally wounded. The price of his sacrifice is that he suffers a penalty of -1 per level of experience to both Mortal Wounds and Tampering with Mortality rolls related to that injury (1 Power).
Level 9:
  • Holy Fervor: Any hirelings of the same religion as the character gain a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever she is present (1 Power).

Dark Nebula Redux: the Long Night has Come!

Following a discussion online, I think I will go with the Dark Night for my Dark Nebula OTU variant, just as Andy Slack did. There are three reasons for this.

The first is that it appears that the Dark Nebula board game takes place during the Aslan Border Wars (-1118 to 380 Imperial, 3399 to 4898 AD) - or before them - most likely before the Imperial era, as it depicts a Solomani rather than an Imperial human faction. The small size of the Aslan(ic) Hierate on the Dark Nebula board game maps, near seemingly frontier neutral space, also hints at an early stage in Aslan interstellar colonization.

The second is to give me more freedom of play in this setting, most likely as a Solo game, by toning down the Space Nazi aspect of the Classic Era Solomani Confederation. The Classic Era Solomani make great villains, as in the Argon Gambit adventure of Classic Traveller fame, but a totalitarian or semi-totalitarian regime would yield itself to quite a specific type of game, while making other game-play styles more difficult to carry out. I can still have various elements of this regime present in my game, as I see aggressive authoritarianism - though not necessarily totalitarianism - as a thread going through Solomani history. Unlike the Vilani, who love a stable, placid state of affairs, Solomani value entrepreneurship - both private and governmental - in the economy and an aggressive push forward in the political sphere. The Interstellar Wars between the Terran Confederation and the Ziru Sirka accentuated these tendencies, as did the tragically heroic attempts to keep the ramshackle Second Imperium together. The Classic Era Confederation did not arise in vacuum.

The third is to allow a frontier. In the well-developed Classic Era, I'd expect thorough development of space within a few jumps from the Aslan homeworld of Kuzu, as given in the Dark Nebula. Even secondary and tertiary colonies will benefit from centuries of trade and development. This is especially true due to the trade routes between Aslan and Solomani. Trade brings prosperity, and prosperity tends to expand beyond the trade routes themselves. However, a century or three after the Aslan first reached to the stars, near collapsed Terran space, would present a frontier. The Aslan, hungry for land holdings, would eventually come into conflict with the less-collapsed Solomani worlds. Reverse-engineering Solomani technology, they will eventually rise to challenge the local Solomani pocket empire. Still, between the two pocket empires - the nascent Aslan Hierate and the resurgent Solomani Confederation (centered on Maadin) - a wide frontier will still exist, slowly developing as the two polities make their play.

So...

The Long Night has Come.

The Ziru Sirka, mighty empire of Mankind, ruled the stars for millennia. Suffocated by bureaucracy and drowned in a quagmire of bureaucracy, this magnificent culture was rotten at its heart. Its Terran conquerors, despite their heroic efforts, could not save it from its inevitable doom. Thus the Rule of Man - a bright light among the dark stars - fell into oblivion. Many worlds died in isolation. Others fell prey to raiders, pirates, and slavers. Chaos reigned.

These are the darkest years of Humanity.

The year is 3100 AD - later generations will call it -1419 Imperial. The 32nd Century has just begun.The Long Night reigns for 357 years. The Rule of Man is no more. But on the frontier, far from the worst parts of the collapse, a new candle flickers in the dark. A candle at Maadin, an old colony of the Second Imperium. With its rise from the ashes of the old empire, it built a confederation of nine worlds - the new Solomani Confederation, a name used by several successor states of the Second Imperium, and later to be used by the Classic Era Solomani state.

However, a new power arose to challenge the scattered human colonies of the Dark Nebula - a young alien species, proud Aslan. Entering the scene five centuries ago, the slowly rose from their homeworld to a union of several worlds - the Aslan Hierate. Its Trailing expansion, however, encountered human resistance from the various pocket empires of the day, and thus most of its colonial efforts are to the Spinward. Cold peace endures between humans and Aslan, distured by brief periods of warfare.

Now, once more, a war is brewing. The Solomani Confederation of Maadin thirsts for resources while the Aslan thirst for land; slow recovery from the initial collapse means that heavier military forces are once again available.

But as the two polities maneuver in preparation for war, the stars of the Dark Nebula, long absent, have reappeared. Now, they are the key for victory - or possibly the doom of both prospective belligerents. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Dark Nebula Redux


Four years ago, after purchasing the Classic Traveller and JTAS CD-ROMs from Far Future Enterprises, I encountered the Dark Nebula board game. This game depicted a proto-Traveller struggle for dominance between the Aslan and the Solomani. It showed an area of space similar to two adjacent Traveller subsectors. However, directions were reversed - the Solomani were to the Spinward of the Aslan - and the game used fixed jump routes instead of Traveller-style free jumps. Most stars on that map - except for the Aslan homeworld of Kuzu - did not appear in later Traveller publications.

The interesting thing is that Dark Nebula presents an interesting version of the Solomani-Aslan border region different from future depictions of the canon Dark Nebula Sector. Here was an opportunity - a proto-Traveller, quasi-canon setting ripe for the plucking. On one hand, this is the "Official" universe. This allows us to use the wealth of material presented by the Classic Traveller and JTAS CD-ROMs. On the other hand, it is non-canonical, so we need not be bound to the stifling limits of Traveller canon.

Andy Slack did design an excellent variant of this setting for Stars Without Number and Savage Worlds; I find his work inspiring, though I am probably taking a very different road than his in my version.

I toyed with this setting back then, in 2014. Now I got the urge to explore it once again.

My old map was cluttered; I added two unnecessary polities which made non-aligned space needlessly civilized. However, the basic conversion from board game maps to Classic Traveller maps still holds. Here we have two subsectors - Kuzu and Maadin - on the Aslan/Solomani border. Neutral systems abound as well, just as in the boardgame. There is probably some treaty in place between teh Solomani and Aslan, which created this frontier "buffer zone" between them. A treaty both intend to violate.

I wonder if Kuzu here, on the border, would be the actual Aslan homeworld, or will the real one - Kusyu - exist two or so subsectors to the Spinward?

This will mostly be Classic Traveller, with some Megatraveller seasoning. I do like the idea of a weak Imperium leading to resurgent Aslan and Solomani expansionism. Megatraveller's Civil War, when removing the New Era virus from it, serves this purpose well. Imperial events are very distant from this setting. However, both Solomani and Aslan seized the opportunity to invade Imperial space. With great success. With their Imperial rivals knocked out of the fight and recent conquests bolstering their confidence, both polities look for new places to satisfy their appetite for conquest.

War is inevitable.

But when will it break, and who will emerge victorious? This depends on many factors. Both sides now set their plans in motion in this deadly game of interstellar chess. Before launching an invasion, they first need to put their pieces in place and prepare well. In the meanwhile, "peace" reigns - the calm before the storm.

Both are eyeing the big prize: the Dark Nebula itself, its stars returned from beyond time and space, brimming with technological wonders - and untold horrors. Neither the Solomani nor the Aslan, however, dare send their fleets into the Nebula right away, as this will surely ignite all-out war - for which they are still preparing. Instead, they work by proxies, by mercenaries and "Stalkers" - (fool)hardy men and women who dare enter the Nebula in search of relic technology and dark secrets. Few return; but those who do bring back wealth and speak of wondrous phenomena and buried secrets.

Espionage, false-flag operations, Stalking the nebula, exploring the dangerous Neutral Zone frontier - the players have a sandbox brimming with opportunities to play in.

This is Proto-Traveller. Mostly Classic Traveller, Books 1-3/The Traveller Book, and anything I can cannibalize from other Classic Traveller adventures, supplements, and JTAS. The above-mentioned Megatraveller seasoning is relatively minor in scope - mainly as a background to the Solomani-Aslan border tensions.

Most ships are small; however, the Dark Nebula board game calls for heavy transports each capable of carrying an armored brigade or an infantry division, and capital ships capable of carrying an infantry division each. This is definitely smaller than High Guard ships - the larger of which could carry many more soldiers; probably this will use Expanded Book 2 with ships going as large as 12,000 tons, probably sufficient for carrying infantry divisions.

But most ships would be small - the capital ships and heavy military transports are the exceptions, not the norm. Only huge corporate freighters plying the few core routes can sometimes reach such sizes. Most systems without Naval bases usually see ships at 1,000 tons or below.

Here is my new work-in-progress Dark Nebula map. I'll generate the starports and most bases later.





A Note on Canonicity

Dark Nebula is not canon. I repeat: it is not canon in any way. It is vaguely set in the OTU, but in a variant OTU. Specifically, I use Classic Traveller - and some Megatraveller - material in a way suiting this particular variant. I sometimes use it in significantly different ways than in canon. I also place some adventures and other material set in Foreven, the Solomani Rim and the Spinward Marches in the Dark Nebula


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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Barrowmaze Play Report: Hidden Shrine of the Green Man



Revised Barrowmaze Map
Yet another excursion into Barrowmaze, this time exploring deeper into the tombs, including the central one... And discovering that un-nature, like nature, abhors a vacuum.
 
The Lucky Dwarves and their Companions
  • Boulderson the Lucky - Level 2 Dwarven Craft Priest - Eliran
  • + Nobus Handus B. the Magnificent - Level 1 Nobiran Wonderworker, Boulderson's henchman
  • Rufus Chickenfoot - Level 2 Dwarven Delver - Itai
  • + Angus the Cleaver - Level 2 Dwarven Fury - Rufus' henchman
  • And dogs, Lots of dogs.
Yet again, the Dwarves delved deeper into Barrowmaze, returning to the old central mound after an uneventful trip from Helix. They expected their initial travel through the chambers they have "cleared" to be uneventful as well. However, un-nature, just like nature, is ever-moving and ever-developing.

They heard horrid laughter from a chamber they once cleared. Investigating it, they encountered no less than four Hecuvas, horrid undead remains of long-dead priests animated by Nergal's waning chthonic influence. The Dwarves, however, once again were uncanningly lucky - this time with their Ancestors' providence. Boulderson called upon his fathers of old, and three of the undead cowered and fled from their bright spirits deeper into the maze. The fourth stood no chance against the aggressive Dwarves.

And deeper they went into the haunted halls. They ended up in a dark room with four pillars, and found four gloves bearer demons' faces. After Rufus checked for traps, and found none, they spent a long time investigating the pillars, until they found secret compartments with levers on their tops; it took them some more time to figure out that they should pull the levers while wearing the gloves. This opened a secret door to a narrow corridor.

There, beyond another secret door their keen Dwarven senses found, they found the long-dead remains of a priest of the Green Man - an old Neutral pagan god - called Hildras; he was interred in the tomb upon his dead many years ago. He was buried alongside his cloak (permanent Resist Cold effect) and holy mace (+1), which the adventurers took. Now Boulderson was armed with a magical weapon! Undead beware!!!

Finally, behind the final secret door in this area. they found a shrine to the above-mentioned Green Man. Boulderson, while far from a cleric of the Green Man, still paid respect to that god and performed a ceremony in his honor; the Green Man bestowed a minor blessing upon the Dwarves.

Thus, once again, they returned victorious to the Village of Helix.