FIRST FORT An old school bastion in a new school world

Hastur! Hastur! Hastur!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Three Aspects of the Dead God for Your Old School Games

He Who Is Not To Be Named

Also Known As: The Unspeakable One, Magnum Innominandum
Alignment: Lawful
Portfolio: Mountains, Duty, Obedience, Punishment
Worshipers: Monks, Shepherds, Mountain-Dwelling Cultures

This aspect of Hastur is the sole occupant of a remote and ancient monastery on the Plateau of Leng.  The plateau is a cold and arid place that only exists in the Dreamlands, while the monestary itself is a confusing tangle of lightless corridors covered with detailed and disturbing frescoes.  Deep in its bowels, inside a frightening domed room, The Unspeakable One sits on a throne of gold atop a stone dias in pitch-black darkness.

The Magnum Innominandum usually appears as a figure robed in yellow silk and wearing a yellow silken mask, or sometimes (to his followers) as a beautiful maiden seemingly bathed in a bright light that chases away all shadows.

He is the patron of shepherds and the spirit of the mountains where they tend their flocks.  He demands strict adherence to duty, and rewards obedience with happyness.  And while he may answer the prayers of the faithful, he will not hessitate to punish those that stray.

The Tattered King

Also Known As: The King in Yellow, The Yellow Sign
Alignment: Neutral
Portfolio: Inspiration, Entropy, Madness
Worshipers: Bards, Artists, Entertainers

In this form, Hastur is both a thin, floating man clad in tattered, yellow rags, and the symbol of a yellow triskelion resembling a tentacled creature (the Yellow Sign).  Both are believed to originate from the shores of Lake Hali – an allegory for the mysterious Hyades cluster of stars.

The King in Yellow wears a smooth, featureless “palid mask” when he visits sensitive individuals, and either inspires them to greatness or drives them into madness.  So impressive are the works wrought by his disciples that they can incite rebellions, overthrow empires, or even destroy entire nations.

The Yellow Sign can appear on any work of art, and just gazing upon it can leave the viewer susceptable to Hastur’s influence.  This belief is so wide-spread that the term “Seeing the Yellow Sign” is attributed to anyone suffering from mental illness, regardless of the cause.

The Feaster From Afar

Also Known As: The Dweller on Aldebaran, The Demon of Carcosa
Alignment: Chaotic
Portfolio: Death, Despair, Futility
Worshipers: Assassins, Aberrations, Evil Humanoids (especially Ghouls)

Hastur’s final aspect is a black, shriveled, manta-shaped flying monstrosity with razor-sharp talons.  It liquefies and consumes its victim’s brains, draining them through its feelers and merging their consciousness with itself.

As a Demon Lord, Hastur rules an icy layer of the Abyss known as Aldebaran.  The lunar landscape’s only feature is a frightful, red-litten city named Carcosa by its corpse-eating inhabitants.

In this form he is the embodiment of paranoia, despair, futility, unreason, and Chaos.  Legend has it that speaking Hastur’s name three times will summon the Feaster From Afar, with grusome consequences.

The Awful Truth

In truth, Hastur is a scaled, alien being, with an elongated, tentacle-covered body, a lizard’s head and maw, and taloned lizard claws.  He has been imprisoned on the Astral Plane, and can only partially manifest on the Prime Material Plane – which limits his ability to influence the world.  Should Hastur gain enough worshipers to provide him with the power to free himself, the result would be catastrophic to say the least.

Bonus Pathfinder/Realms of Crawling Chaos Mash-Up!

Moon Radish Poultice

Level: 1
Duration: Permament
Creation Time: 1 day
Area of Effect: 1 wound
Range: See below
Saving Throw: None

Moon radish poultice is a sticky, pale white paste that may be applied to wounds.  It will return a dying creature to 1 hit point, or heal a wounded creature 1d4 hit points of damage.

If a creature receives more than one dose per day, or one dose on consecutive days, it may develop an addiction to the substance at the Labyrinth Lord’s discresion.  The poultice may also unintentionally regrow body parts, producing deformed and unusable pseudopod-like apendages.

The creation time for the poultice is for one dose, and each dose may only be stored for three days before it loses its effectiveness.  The formula requires moon radishes grown in soil saturated with blood, vinegar, and minced night lizards or limbless skinks.

This post was inspired by Ash, one of my players at last Sunday’s public Labyrinth Lord game, and compiled from: Labyrinth Lord Revised Edition, Advanced Edition Companion, Realms of Crawling Chaos, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Deities & Demigods, Trail of Cthulhu, CthulhuTech, and Wikipedia

Posted by kibosh at 11:08 PM and filed under Uncategorized

Dyson’s Goblin Gully

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This weekend I am running a public Labyrinth Lord game using Dyson’s most excellent Goblin Gully one-page dungeon.  This will only be my second public game of LL as a DM (my first was a special one-shot version of X1 The Isle of Dread for GottaCon 2011), and I am a little nervous.

I have a million ideas to make the game fun and exciting for my players, but only so much time to prepare.  Apart from the usual tasks of drawing maps and creating appropriate pre-gens, two of the other things I am working on are

  1. a way to differentiate the fighter-type characters from each other (which I will cover below)
  2. and a way to implement some kind of Organized Play program for returning players (which I hope to detail in a later blog post)

While a human Fighter is already very different from an Elf or a Dwarf or a Halfling, I still want to try to give each of them something else to set them apart.  Ability scores can help the distinction (as in this is the strong guy, this is the fast guy, this is the tough guy), but I think another good place to look for warrior-types is in their armament.

I have already decided that the Halfling is going to use a sling.  She is going to be a skirmisher rather than a front-liner, so I will probably dress her in something like leather or studded leather armor.  But for the others, I want something that the players will feel makes their character unique while still being a recognizable archetype.  So I have decided that the Fighter will use a two-handed weapon, the Dwarf will sword-n-board, and the Elf will fight with two weapons (when he’s not shooting his bow).

But since I am not using variable weapon damage, any smart player will immediately ditch a two-handed or off-hand weapon for any shield they find.  The solution is to add incentive for the other weapon options.

Now I don’t know if I have read some or all of this on another blog and am just regurgitating it from my subconscious, but I think it is a simple solution that can be used by all characters and not just the fighters.

  • Two-handed weapons do +1 damage
  • Shields add +1 AC (as they currently do)
  • Off-hand weapons add +1 to hit

I considered putting other restrictions on the options such as two-handed weapons only add the bonus to damage if the character has a Strength of 13+ and off-hand weapons only add the bonus to hit if the character has a Dexterity of 13+, but felt it over-complicated things.  And in fact I like the idea of a weak character using a two-handed weapon to compensate for a low Strength.

So that is what I am going to try this weekend.  I think it will help to make my pre-gens into seven ‘iconics’ that I can always have on hand for new players, regardless of the level of the adventure.  They already all have names (that were randomly generated along with their level 5 versions using the fantastic Labyrinth Lord Character Generator), and a few other details like the Magic-User uses more combat-oriented spells such as Magic Missile and Shield, whereas the Elf uses enchantment spells like Charm Person and Sleep.

Hopefully I can introduce them all in a future post :)

Posted by kibosh at 8:20 PM and filed under Uncategorized

Super Caves of Chaos Explore

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recently I have been champing at the bit to both play Super Dungeon Explore and run a group through B2 The Keep on the Borderlands.  And then the other day it hit me: why not do both at the same time?

I would need to figure out ahead of time where the generators went in each cave and what ratio of the appropriate monster type each of them spawned.  I would also have to make cave-specific treasure decks.  I think I would start by trying to convert the seven basic classes in B/X D&D to their SDE equivalents though.

My only real concern is that by using dungeon tiles or a battlemat and D&D minis, the game may lose a lot of the ambiance that makes SDE what it is.  Will the mechanics alone be enough to retain its charm?  Or will it just create a watered-down and farcical version of Basic D&D?

If I can do it right though, maybe it will be a very entertaining way to experience the Caves of Chaos…

Posted by kibosh at 9:12 PM and filed under Uncategorized
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