Monday, May 31, 2010

One Little Chart That Says So Much...

While looking up the info on the Empire of the Petal Throne reprints, I stumbled across this table for generating the nature of Tekumel underworld complexes by "dungeon level."
I'm definitely going to have to put it in my collection of useful DM tables, and I think I may have to order "The Pettigrew Selections" for the Underworlds article alone!

An Algol Legend of the Inchoate Aeons

After the Great Old Ones had been driven out of the universe the Lords of Light began making order out of the inchoate matter and energy that swirled in the aftermath of that great battle.

Eventually Metazon devised the varied elements of the universe and set the Lords of Light to crafts his great work. First the stars and suns; than the worlds; than oceans and skies; than slimes, molds, algae and protozoa; than plants; than beasts; and finally Man.

When devising Man Metazon had planned out his body and soul, but desired a means to instruct and command Man and thus invented Language. The Lords of Light were tired from building the stars, worlds, oceans, slimes, plants, beasts, and the body and soul of Man, and thus Metazon was merciful and instructed some of the beasts to assemble Language.

He commanded the Monkeybats to craft words, for they were clever and had mouth-parts like that of Man.

He commanded the Flying Lizards to gather the wind to power the words for they were the most masterful of the winds among beasts.

Finally he commanded the Chitinous Fliers to assemble the components and program Language, for they were industrious and precise in their works.

However, one of the Chitinous Fliers, some say a fly; some say a winged myriapod; some say a disguised Mi-Go; and some say a demon named Baelzebub, worked a curse into Language while assembling it. This curse subverted Language and allowed Man to Lie.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Arch-Hierophants of Metazon

The diverse sects dedicated to Metazon scattered across Algol are usually lead by one of these nigh-immortal cyborgs, comprised of a towering, athletic body with two heads and pairs sets of arms, the lower of which is usually far less muscular.

These beings are manufactured by grafting the head and arms of a high-ranking Hierophant of Metazon that is a powerful mind wizard, sage or sorcerer, onto the body of a mighty warrior, usually volunteers from the ranks of the Zealot of Metazon, although exceptions are made for exceptional available specimens. Such warriors that are unwilling or that become troublesome are usually lobotomized and conditioned to serve to the Hierphant-head's will.

Rumors speak that these Arch-Hierophants are further conditioned via the implanting of fragments of the divine essense of Metazon itself into both brains.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Disciples of Nothingness

Usually lumped in with the followers of the Lords of Change by those that sort and catalogue cults, The Disciples of Nothingness pay homage to Iajuxxa "The Great Unmaker - The Ever Sucking Maw" as the aperture of a feeding filament of an extradimensional entity of infinite hunger that they worship as the penultimate power of, and eventual devourer of, all universes, planes and dimensions; utterly consuming all reality(ies).

As part of their complicated theology, the Disciples of Nothingness also worship disintegration; death; suicide; extreme gravitation; and the absence of and/or negation all all light, with some especially devout cultists blinding themselves. They preach the worthlessness and futility of all existance; the inexorable nature of entropy and dissolution; and the eventual fate of all to be devoured by Iajuxxa. They pay heed to the Gluttonous Prophets, eyeless obese psychics who constantly gorge themselves to maintain an ecstasis in which their pineal gland receives emanations from Iajuxxa in it's distant orbit from the three suns.

Some sects have discovered Ancient disintegration facilities where they attempt to negate as much matter as possible, offering sentients as especial offerings to The Ever-Sucking Maw. Rumors whisper of Disciples of scientific bent who seek out ancient particle accelerators in order to create micro black holes with the aim of destroying the planet while creating another mouth for The Great Unmaker.
Some legends speak of Iajuxxa's Exarch upon Algol, Hunger "The Witch With Mouths For Eyes," and her warlock-sons Starvation and Gluttony.

Friday, May 28, 2010

[NSFW] An Erotically Charged Scene From The Algol Adventures...

Another awesome R. Ruddock masterwork, this one illustrating a scene from The Planet Algol Playtest Campaign, Chapter 14, Part II. (I'm not letting JamesLOTFP be the only one posting boob artwork this week!)

"...As Buzz is sneaking through passages of red stone, cunningly avoiding the guards, he spots Radar and beckons the youth to join him. They come to a door of red metal and after listening at it and hearing nothing but a gentle burbling of water they cautiously open it.

Inside is a luxurious bath-chamber with several pools of different kinds of perfumed and heated water as well as a rack of expensive liquors. The two Earth Men hoot and holler in joy before stripping down and plunging into the baths. Buzz jumps into a tub of hot, swirling water while Radar dives into a pool of scented bubbles.

As the two begin vigourously scrubbing the adventuring filth off of their bodies they hear a husky female voice exclaim "Who is this in my bathing chamber?..."

"They look up and see a tall, stunning female, completely nude and Scarlet everywhere aside for her black pupils, standing in a doorway. Radar blushes and begins trying to sneak to his clothing while Buzz saunters up and says "Do not worry my lady, I am no threat...unless you'd like it that way"

Dripping soapy suds, Radar the Earth Boy grabs his clothing and dashes out the door he entered. As the embarrassed, naive youth dressed himself he hears moans of passion emanating from the bath chamber while he feels a strange stirring in his heart. He realizes that in the brief seconds he saw her that he has fallen in love with the Scarlet Lady..."

Please check out R. Ruddock's artwork blog "Fantasy Obscure" and let him know what you think about his excellent artwork!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Jagged Gut Slicer Gin House & The Future of Agog City

Located in "The Rough Side" neighborhood of Adomaz, The Jagged Gut Slicer is a low-class gin house frequented by cheap thugs, mercenaries, bravos and the like. The low-ceiling common room is dimly illuminated by garish purple and green indirect lighting, concealing the signs of intoxicant abuse on the sullen, emaciated, nude dancing slaves that cheap entertainment in curtained, stained alcoves. The clientele and staff will mock non-fighter patrons, but will respect any fighting-men or equivalent who seem capable. The Jagged Gut Slicer only serves gin, usually a vile concoction with a metallic aftertaste but high quality stock is provided to respected customers. The staff will direct those seeking stronger fare to the Den of Utmost Repose in the alley behind the premises.

Vexid, a personable and garrulous Zermish Man sellsword currently in the employ of the Baron of Adomaz as a bodyguard for the noble houses' children, frequents the Jagged Gut Slicer when he is on leave. Vexid enjoys discussing rumors with soldiers and adventurers, as well as providing unsolicited, well-meaning advice.

The owner of The Jagged Gut Slicer is Zho-Mug the Face-Eater, a retired champion pit fighter famous for holding his opponents in a bear hug and than eating his foe's face. Zho-Mug is a tall, muscular, leathery Gresh Man in late middle age who dresses in a shiny black synthsilk half-cape and shiny black plasteel plate armor. He wears bright red Woman's' Paint smeared about his lips and his teeth have been filed to points. Despite his appearance, Zho-Mug acts in a jovial, good-natured fashion, but will progressively become more incoherent, inappropriate and somewhat creepy as conversation progresses, possibly a consequence of year of both intoxicants abuse and the use of physique-enhancing chemicals and hormones.


Also, courtesy of an investigative report by Geordie Racer, Agog City...OF THE FUTURE!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A traditional song of the Nomads and Freemen of the Western Badlands

Kharvil Vrayn is the name, and I rode on the Verdant Plain
Til all the war machines came and ruined all the grain
In the year of Widows' Cries, we were hungry, we were barely alive
I took the road to Yexyd that fell
It was a time I remember, oh so well

The night they burnt Free Yexed down
And the cinders were stingin'
The night they burnt Free Yexed down
And the refugees were singing'
They wept "Za, Za, Za..."

Back with my Woman in High Skree and one day she called to me
"Kharvil, quick, come see, there goes Warlord Arzhee"
Now I don't mind, I'm huntin Vrood
And I don't care if the silvers no good
Just take what you need and leave the rest
But they never should have taken the very best

The night they burnt Free Yexed down
And the cinders were stingin'
The night they burnt Free Yexed down
And the refugees were singing'
They wept "Za, Za, Za..."

Like my father before me, I will roam the land
And like my brother above me, who took a Freeman stand
He was eighteen, proud and brave, but the Autarch put him on a stake
I swear by the blood below my feet
You can't raise a Vrayn back up when he's in defeat

The night they burnt Free Yexed down
And the cinders were stingin'
The night they burnt Free Yexed down
And the refugees were singing'
They wept "Za, Za, Za..."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

R. Ruddock's Art Blog & A Boat-Load of Algol Artwork

Presented below are several illustrations by the talented R. Ruddock for the forthcoming Planet Algol booklet; please check out his blog Fantasy Obscure for higher resolution versions as well as more artwork. As an aside, I'm very pleased to be close to finalizing an arrangement with another very talented and appropriate artist for Planet Algol 1.

The Planet Algol playtest team approaches The Fane of St. Toad

A Khoolvi Fighting-Woman with her quident.

A Mhoght Fighting-Man.

Fighting-Woman wearing a Destier.

Agogi Man couple, perhaps a husband-and-wife adventuring team?

A Vlesh Man couple. They definitely would not be down with punk rock.

The albino bird-things of the Bornite Mountains. I particularly dig the old-tymey vibe of this illo!

Musing About Religion Without Clerics

In my Planet Algol campaign there are no clerics. There are Hierophants, Priests, High Priests, Priest-Kings, Shamans, and the like. But no "Divine" casters....I haven't been down with The Cleric archetype in Swords & Sorcery for a while (Too much of a Moses crossed with a medieval Templar thing going on). And having no "Divine" magic helps keeps the nature of Algol's universe and metaphysics mysterious, ambiguous, weird.

However, while thinking about the cults and religious organizations of The Lords of Light and The Lords of Change of Algol, I started musing about the advantages of belonging to such an organization.

And a solution struck me...oldschool (1st ed?) Runequest. Initiates, Lay Members, "Rune Priests," "Rune Lords," Cult Magic, POW (experience point?) sacrifices. (Coincidentally, for a while now I've been musing about how Runequest presents an opportunity for a plug-in skill system for OD&D...)

Hm, from what I've read of the Fomalhaut campaign reports, it's possible that Gabor Lux may have incorporated similar mechanics in his campaign? I'm certainly inspired by his “Wow, these guys are a bunch of assholes.'” approach to deities.

More on this later, I've got some Runequest to read and some cult write-ups to mash out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Awesome Sci-Fi OD&D Supplement - Terminal Space!

The Polish gentleman necro_cyber dropped me a line to let me know that his science fiction/science fantasy supplement for OD&D, Terminal Space, was available for download (the sidebar-widget pdf thing on the right-hand side).

Just a quick first-impression review. It unabashedly proclaims itself a "...supplement for Dungeons & Dragon Original Edition."; it contains lots of genuinely cool/good original art (Spaceman vs. Beholders!); it was originally in Polish, the translation is charmingly clunky but completely clear; it has a d% Deep Space Encounter Table!; solar system, Moon! and planet generation tables; spacecraft rules; pilot, technician and scientist character class; tables for the pilot%, repair% and science% skills for OD&D classes!; a tech level Ability Score!; and a bunch of other wacky, sci-fi OD&D goodness.

I will definitely be printing this out in digest-format and using it in my campaign, and I strongly recommend this to those of like (weird/sci-fi/sci-fantasy) interests!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Accursed Temple-City of Klovoyga

"...A titanic walled complex of rotting monolithic mottled gray stone wreathed in reeking yellow vapours, dating back to the time of The Elder Races. The Temple-City of Klovoyga is said to be a nest of blasphemous alien Sorcerers and their hideous inhuman servitors..."

Illustration by Fat Cotton., also check out his vaguely Planet Algol-related Temple of Set work-in-progress.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From the Slime Lands to the Pit - a Gladiator's tale

By Lester/B. Portly

Sleestakuras often thinks back to days when life was simple, to a time when I lived in the Slime Lands and my only concern was hunting a meal. Though my Lizardoid tribe was friendly to the Mutants, we were equally distrustful of True Men. The venal and greedy Limb Pirates were a blight on our land. They hunted for that which they could sell to the Flesh Sculptors or the Vat Guild.

Once, the Limb Pirates made a daring raid on the nearby Mutant village. The only survivor was a mere boy whose limbs were so horribly twisted that he was deemed useless for harvest. This pathetic boy, named Mookla had a keen glint of intellect in his eyes. He was also very trusting, and asked to  join our tribe. What could I do but take the poor orphan into my care. Mookla was fascinated with the stories of the Ancients. Over time it became evident he was adept at fixing the simple artifacts that my Lizardoid tribe had salvaged.

I had heard tales of a great store of artifacts east of the Slime Lands and I made up my mind that the boy could decipher them, and protect our tribe from future raids. No sooner than I was out of the swamp than a group of True Men descended on me with nets and clubs. I feared I was in the clutches of the the Limb Pirates, but my fate was much worse.

I was put into a caged cart drawn by zorses and taken beyond my lands to the city of Kharhem where I was placed on sale at the thriving slave market. My owner trained me to fight with a trident as a gladiator. "Win a fight and live another day" was the mantra of gladiators. Though I do not relish my victories, I did live. I became a popular gladiator among the disenfranchised rabble of Kharhem. I suppose because in some way I was a freak, just like them. Soon the name Sleestakarus reached Adomaz to the north. As the Baron Of Adomaz was fond of pit fighting and I was sent there as the champion of Kharhem.

In the fighting pits of Adomaz my master prospered. In the pit, where men fight naked only with daggers, my scales gave me a an advantage, and soon my name was known there too. My master was wise and knew I could not fight for my life indefinitely. He offered me my freedom if I became champion. I relished my freedom. I dubbed myself "the people's champion" in solidarity with the downtrodden. The crowds for my fights grew large and I vanquished all foes and thus I was set free. My master let me keep the tools of my trade and so I set south back to the Slime Lands.

No sooner than I was a few miles from Karhem did I see a huge exodus of people. I learned a preternatural acid storm had assailed the city so I made camp in an ancient cracked dome a few miles away. I was there but a day when I spied what looked like a band of brigands enter the ruins. The crew of toughs looked mean, so I kept my distance. Two approached my camp. Imagine my surprise when one of the two was Mookla, full grown, with tales of his own! Our reunion was short lived. Mookla, through his naive trust,  was carried off that night by a sorcerer that infiltrated our camp.

And so I joined this band of petty thieves and accursed Earth Men. Let them not forget that a shark swims in their midst! Be wary of the Lizardoid who was once the people's champion!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chapter 2.12 - "Beneath the Toad-Temple"

Part I Here, Part II Here.

The party stands panting outside the black basalt toad-sphinx, facing the double doors with blades and lasers raised, slowly backing away to a point several hundred yards distant from the toad-fane.

They wait with weapons clutched in sweaty, quivering fists. And wait. After several turns the adventurers have calmed down and reassessed their situation. They cautiously reenter the dank toad-temple.

They are pleasantly surprised to find no shambling horrors lurking in ambush and resume their exploration, descending a staircase behind a door of moldy, rotting wood.

They find a complex or corridors and doorways, and slowly explore this second level. Behind one door they find a small chamber holding several rotting wardrobes; a shelf bearing books, boxes and sundry objects; and another door with an unfamiliar glyph of glowing energy inscribed upon it's surface.

The door is avoided as the party searches for loot. Kalervo the Cactoid picks up one of the mouldering pamplets, and begins reading a tale of a "Hierophant Toad" and the toad cult. Rodan rudely shuts him up and harangues the party about how "Nobody is to ever read out loud anything they find in a dungeon!"

The boxes contain cones of black incense, which smell of exotic swamp blossoms. Baron Rodan grabs these, imagining they would provide an erotic atmosphere for sport with his Hyperborean Slave-Woman.

There are several whistles and flutes, of some organic brown matter; a covered bowl holding repellent moldy wafers; and a small green vial. All of these are ignored, as well as the mottled, blotchy gray robes in the three wardrobes.

The companions continue their explorations. One door seems to emit a disgusting, vaguely sexual miasma, and is ignored. From behind a pair of large, verdigris encrusted, locked valves a faint multitudinous croaking is heard. The party turns away and continues.

A barred door is found, in a room decorated with a motif of toad-beings mummifying and entombing their own kind. Steestakarus boldy removes the bar and opens the door. Kalervos beam lamp shows flashes of a small, bare room of clay bricks and panels, decorated, of course, in a gruesome toad motif.

Kalervo, Sleestakarus, and Baron Rodan cautiously enter the chamber, while the holder of the chemical torch, Frelix, freezes and pauses on the threshold of the intermittently illuminated empty chamber.

With a loud crashing and banging two of the clay wall-panels erupt into fragments and out of the dust shambles two withered, brown toad-things. Rodan snatches out the small silver disc, looted from beneath the ruined serpent man complex, and begins incanting the charm inscribed upon it.

A melee erupts between the toad-mummies and the three experienced adventurers while the Piebald Man Ferlix stays back, holding forth the chemical torch.

Rodan and Kalervo spar with one of the things, who seems unable to strike either of them, while Sleestakarus swings his flame-shaped magic longsword, "Hateful Vengeance," at the other. Ferlix overcomes his misgivings and rushes to the Lizardoids aid with his battleaxe, swinging wildly and wide. Sleestakrus is injured by one of the iron-hard blows of the toad-thing.

The first mummy grows frustrated with the supernaturally protected Rodan and Kalervo and attacks Ferlix before Baron Rodan cuts its in half with the glowing red energy blade of his Phasic Sword. Ferlix is bludgeoned unconscious by toad-mummy fists and is dragged away by Sleestakarus while Kalervo and Rodan finish off the remaining undead horror.

The room contains no treasure, and after Ferlix is brought back to his feet, the party begins the long, hot, exhausting journey back to the blue tower, running out of water half-ways through. Baron Rodan remembers that he didn't need to be drinking any of the water stores, as his advanced ancient suit armor recycles his body moisture for personal consumption.

Inspiring New Abscess Album Cover!

When I showed my better half the cover for the new Abscess album "The Dawn of Inhumanity," she replied with "That looks like something from your D&D game!" I've been thinking about eyeballs and Agol a lot lately, the above artwork doesn't help!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chapter 2.11 - "Worms of the Wastes and the Stones of the Toad"

Part I Here, Part III Here.

The party spends a long, hot day trudging across the rust flake dunes, circumnavigating the relatively short yet miles-wide and deep canyon that stands between them and their goal.

By the time exhaustion sets in they look to be a half-days journey from the black toad-sphinx, and suggestions of unwholesome details become apparent. The next day the companions take stock of their dwindling water supply and beat the hoof to the toad-sphinx.

Hours later it stands a mile distant, the suggestions of wing-like organs, multiple eyes, and facial feelers become more distant among it's crumbling facade. As they continue their approach a man-height of length and foot-wide dun colored worm comes bursting from the rust ground next to the party, followed by four more of it's fellows. The heavy, club-like ends of the worms bludgeon at the party as they flee, and both Ferlix and Rodan are injured by the worm gauntlet.

At a brisk pace the party closes the distance to the toad-sphinx. The vague suggestions of a legion of arthropod and amphibian fossils mark the grey cliff-face below the companions as they cautiously approach the front of the sphinx, following the crumbling remnants of a trail of hexagonal ceramic tiles decorated with flies.

Standing before a large double door leading into the ancient basalt monument, Sleestakarus shows initiative and swings one of the bronze valves open, revealing a long dim hall and engulfing the party in a cloud of humid, fetid air. The lizardoid is refreshed by the moist air, as it is far more suited to its constitution than the dry desert climate.

The party cautiously, methodically, explore the interior, finding what seems to be an odd shrine of moderate size to toads and strange, sinister toad-idols. They find a sculpture of green metal depicting an open-mouthed toad, with a keyhole on its back and the gleam of precious metals inside its mouth.

Sleestakarus cautiously prods the inside of the toad's mouth with the butt of his trident and it snaps shut, severing the shaft-end.

Exploring further they find a large, presumably deep pit emitting the swampy, humid air and beyond it stands a massive toad idol, resembling the toad-sphinx itself, with four small mottled green-brown gems for eyes. Rodan and Sleestakarus cautiously proceed, hugging the wall and pensively avoiding the vicinity of the pit. Baron Rodan gives the lizardoid a boost up onto the plinth that supports the huge toad idol and Sleestakarus tries prying out one of the gem-eyes with the tines of his trident.

The gem flies out of its socket and lands clattering on the damp stone floor. Suddenly the party collectively holds their breath and gazes about anticipating something but nothing occurs. Without incident Sleestakarus pries out the next two gems, Rodan snatching them up when they land on the floor. However, when removing the final fourth gem it flies out with greater force and arches up tumbling before plunging into the sinister pit.

A faint plop is heard before the party panics and runs out of the toad-sphinx...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chapter 2.1 - "Treasure Of The Bloated, Obscene Toad-Sphinx"

 May 10, 2010. The Adventurers:

Ferlix - Lhoyg Man Amnesiac Fighting-Man with Tales of Treasure

Kalervo - Folksy, Sand-Wise Cactoid

Baron Rodan the Scrounger - Zermish Man Vassal of Darath Ymph

Sleestakarus - Semi-Famous Lizardoid Pit Fighter and Former Gladiatoral Slave

Part II Here, Part III Here.

A Piebald Man stumbles through the red dunes, caked with fine scarlet grit and bearing a bloody, ragged bandage about his hairless head. Clad in brigantine and with a crossbow and axe hanging from his harness, he clutches his reeling head as he stumbles through the clouds of ruddy dust.

The party returns to their blue tower and order their slave and skeletroopers to unload their baggage from the expedition to the Deodand-haunted ruined city. Rodan the scrounger has a bloody wad of rags pressed against a bleeding of his eyeballs was slit and ruined in their recent confrontation with Deodands, the near-featureless faceplate of the helmet of his new suit of ulfire-alloy adavanced ancient articulated plate armor bears a vertical rend from the Deodand's eye-removing talon-slash.

The skeletrooper sentries shout and point bony fingers at the stumbling Lhoyg fighting-man that emerges from the dust flurries. Baron Rodan shouts an order to hold fire, and with two of his companions, Kalervo and Sleestakarus, he walks towards the stranger while the rest of the party disperses to recover from their adventures.

The Lhoyg Man bears an almost healed head injury and is suffering from amnesia, remembering his name, Ferlix, his trade, Fighter, and the location of a looming, obscene, black basalt toad-sphinx along with rumors of great wealth within.

The three greedy adventurers ear's are intrigued by this tale and they resolve to join Ferlix in an expedition to the black toad-sphinx, located on the edge of the Iridium Plateau escarpment miles above and even more mile to the northwest.

After resting and preparing the party strikes out south and than west on Ornith-back in order to avoid confrontation to the hammer-staff bearing Shark Men troopers of the slaver The Shark Who Devours Human Lives. Arriving at the base of the towering, steely-gray escarpment, the travel northwards along it's toes until they arrive at the five-mile wide mouth of a titanic box canyon extending fifteen miles into the plateau. Northwards they can see the hunched black form of their destination, perched on the edge of the cliff-top on the northeastern edge of the canyon miles away.

The party casts their keen and seasoned eyes across the surrounding terrain, looking for some trail or path ascending the gargantuan cliffs looming above. Kalervo, with his highly honed desert-craft, finds a small tunnel hidden behind some red boulders. A narrow, cramped tunnel with a low ceiling ascending through the grey stone of the cliff at a steep angle with crude, irregular steps.

They begin ascending, with Baron Rodan at the lead, Kalvervo behind using a beam lamp to illuminate the steps through Rodan's legs. The newcomer, Ferlix, takes up the rear with a sputtering green chemical torch-flare.

After what seems like hours of laborious toil up the tortuous cramped stair Ferlix hear the sound of muffled voices from the tunnel ahead. The party halts and Sleestakarus slithers up the stairs sans light source or companions.

The Lizardoid Gladiator crawls up a small distance before hhe sees dim gray illumination ahead; he cautiously proceeds and sees the liht intensify where the small tunnel appears to emerge into a large chamber. He listens but hears no sound and returns to the party with his intelligence.

The party cautiously continues and when Rodan sticks his head into the chamber he sees a crowd of two or three score diversely malformed mutants clutching spears and clubs. The largest, holding a large stone-headed cudgel, orders him to put away his daggers soon the entire party is standing, surrounded by armed, vigilant mutants in a titanic oblong cavern, lit by cracks in one side admitting sunslight, filled with scattered crude stacked-stone huts.

Although the humans are treated with disdain and hostility, the mutant leader takes a liking to the Lizardoid and Cactoid and parleys with them. An arrangement is made for the party to swear a blood oath to not reveal the existence of or location of the mutant tribe, and a small tribute is made for allowing the humans to pass through the tribe's cavern to the surface above.

Sleestakarus and Kalervo question the mutant leader regarding the toad-sphinx and are informed that it is "A desolate place haunted by unclean spirits! A gate to a terrible hell-world lurks in it's depths! Our people have nothing to do with it, it is taboo!"

The party again ascends through a cramped, steep tunnel and after hours of leg-torment they arrive at the exit, leading to a narrow ledge on the face of the Iridium Escarpment with a steep knife-edge trail leading up to the Rust Desert above.

Staggering over the cliff-edge into the caked rust flakes of the Rust Desert, the party is exhausted as they make a rough camp while occasionally peering at the bloated basalt eidolon waiting for them across the canyon.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Urdchatkil Men (Headless Men) & Sphigix PCs

Urdchatkil Men are dark blue or purple skinned, have a stout torso, and lack a neck or head. Instead they possess two widely spaced large black eyes in their chest above their nipples, a broad flattened nose on the sternum, and a wide mouth on their stomach above the navel. Their ears are two small holes located on the right and left side of their chest.

Due to the placement of the sensory organs Urdchatkil Men are surprised on a 1-3 on a d6. They are immune to decapitation and strangulation, and attacks involving burrowing into, consuming or extracting that brain take twice as long due to it's placement in the center of the body mass.

Ability Score Requirements: strength 9, dexterity 9, constitution 9, maximum charisma 9
Allowed Classes: Assassin (up to 12th level) or Fighter (up to 12th level)
Special Abilities: can can attempt a bite attack for 1-4 points of damage in lieu of other attacks

The Krigh

Inspired by the Kreeg of Gene Roddenberry's Planet Earth.

Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 4-24, 10-80 in lairs
Armor Class: 7 or by armor
Move: 12"
Hit Dice: 1
% In Lair: 10%
Attacks: By weapon or 1-6
Special: Adept with military and simple technology
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Neutral evil
Size: Medium

The Krigh are a race of mutant semi-human, presumed by some sages as being the descendants of the Militarists, that are militaristic, aggressive, violent, and possess an instinctive ability with simple and military technology. They are nomadic, but set up camps, and their society operates as bands of military units. They appear Man-like, aside from their tough, putty-colored, hairless, scarred hide and head crest of small flattened bumps. They dress in dark colored, shabby military tunics and uniforms, and steel helmets. They sometimes possess simple rifles and vehicles and will wear armor that does not inhibit their mobility. Krigh speak Algol Common.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Steelies - Robot Race/Class

Again I must credit the Long Sun series by Gene Wolfe as well as The Living Statue race/class presented on The Mule Abides.

STEELIE (Steel Soldier)
Armor: unable to wear any, but Steelies have a natural armor class of 2 before adjustments, if any, due to dexterity
Shield: any
Weapons: any and Steelies automatically know how to operate and maintain firearms, ranged energy weapons, artillery and explosive devices made by Humans or Human-like beings.
Starting Gold: 3d6x10 gold pieces
Weapon Proficiencies: 4, gains a new weapon proficiency every level, and are automatically proficient with firearms, ranged energy weapons, artillery and explosive devices made by Humans or Human-like beings.
Attack Matrix: Fighting-man
Ability Score Requirements: strength 15, constitution 13
Prime Requisite: none
Hit Dice: d8, 1st-level Steelies always have 8 hit points plus any bonus due to constitution
Movement Rate: 9"/90'(30')
Languages: Common and Computer as well as any bonus languages due to intelligence
Restrictions: Must be of Lawful alignment; can only advance to 8th level; unable to use potions; unable to swim and will rapidly sink in water.

Special abilities: Steelies are robots powered by internal fusion cores that provide 100 years of activity (Steelies can go into a shutdown state to conserve energy), as such they do not need to eat, drink, breath, rest or sleep. They are immune to sleep, paralyzation, poison, disease, blood drain and nausea. Steelies has infravision with a range of 3"/30'.

Saving Throws:




108 hpTrooper81091312

Steelies are a variety of ancient Soldier Android presumably manufactured by the Militarists, occasionally both individual and units of them are unearthed from ruins and reactivated. Their bodies look like suits of advanced hardened and articulated bluish-steely plate armor, with the individual's rank glyph in green on both shoulders, and heads that resemble an articulated steel sculpture of a hairless, square jawed, strong-featured, and usually handsome, male Human. They stand 6'6" to 7' tall. Steelies are free-willed, but as their positronics have military programming, they always talk and act like Soldiers, engaging in behavior such as: saluting; adhering to a chain of command; using rank titles; marching; and the like. They are imbued with repair nanites that allow them to heal at the same rate as Humans, although they often need to snack on metals and replenish hydraulics when repairing.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Petitheon (...and disease!)

Despite the hetrodox nature of Algol Man religion, the legends of and the worship of both the Lords of Light (primarily among civilized peoples) and The Lords of Change (generally venerated by raiders, outcasts, criminals, the insane, sorcerers and so forth) are widespread across the majority of the inhabited regions of Algol.

Details may differs, but the Hierarchs of Metazon maintain Idiot Oracles Facilities in both the western and the eastern hemispheres of the Planet. The major domo of a concubine may carry a tiny image of Eishar for good luck while their equivalent on the opposite side of the globe would likely do the same. Children all over Algol are told stories about Iashar to keep them from wandering off into the wilderness.

But some gods are not widely worshiped; are not widely known. Categorized as "The Petitheon" by sages are the localized and obscure deities: the god of a mountain, a pit, a grove. The spirit-patron of a tribe of nomads. The god-tyrant of a remote settlement. Among the members of The Petitheon are:

- The Lake Guardian of Sangkallah in the southern Jungles of Venom

- The God of The Endless Tower in the Klesh Highlands

- The Oracle Idol of The Plain of Burning Stones

- The Inscrutable Steel Thorn that inhabits the Cyclopean Necropolis in the Western Badlands

- The Scarlet Lady of The Iridium Plateau

- The Father God of The Flying City

- The Sea Goddess worshiped by the stunted aborigines of The Sour Coast of The Southern Gash

- The Inexorable Overmaster of the Steel Legions of The Glass Deathlands

- The Prime Council of The Collectivist Horde

Also A Disease courtesy of Bite The Bulette.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Metazon...Father of the Universe

I just finished the Long Sun series, and I can't stop ripping off being inspired by the mystical future depicted by Gene Wolfe.

Among the worshipers of the Lords of Light, despite the Heterodoxy of Algol Man religion, one deity is widely regarded as "The Father of the Universe, The Father of the Gods of Law, and the Maker of Man," Metazon. Metazon is usually depicted as a tall, muscular man with two heads or faces, one handsome, intelligent and arrogant looking; the other either possessing the blank gaze and facial characteristics of a imbecile or cadaverous and dead. An alternate depiction of Metazon possesses a long, knotted scaly tail; hooves; a pair of wings covered with flaming eyes; and two long-necked, hairy, horned, animalistic heads resembling that of an Earth goat. Often one of the goat heads will be rotting and even lifeless. Lawful theology claims that Metazon is the master of the creation of the universe, time, the great cycle and the destiny of Man. He is often worshiped or invoked by aristocrats (especially monarchs), mystics, sages, and sorcerers, as well as the poor and weak who grovel for his mercy. Those who revere Metazon often refer to the future as "The Great Work of Metazon," with implications that all has been predetermined by him.

An Absolutely Beautiful Panoply of Raw, Enthusiastic, DIY Creativity

I don't like New-Metal. I don't like slick, polished production. I don't like fancy clutter. I don't like all-over print hoodies covered with rhinestones and gold crowns silkscreens. I'll take the artwork and presentation of the AD&D Fiend Folio over any contemporary lush rpg book presentation. I dig raw, noisy hardcore/metal seven-inches with black and white photocopied sleeves and home-recording quality. I still buy digest-sized metal zines with atrocious grade-school style artwork

So when I saw This Post on Cyclopeatron (further linking to this) I was fucking stoked! In my youth I owned some of the pictured indie-press digest sized booklets, and I found the contents far more compelling and inspirational that a lot of "big deal" modern rpg publications. Those shoddy little digest booklets with the amateurish, raw artwork intrigue me...I want to know what's inside...I've got a feeling that a lot of the content would be right up my alley.

To each their own, and I'm well aware that my tastes and aesthetics are way out of step with what most folks dig, but holy shit do I ever want to dive into those pictured piles of booklets, smell the old paper, and pour through the old, clunky, amateurish, inspiring, creative content!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yilum "The Pariah Race"

When a child is stillborn the parents whisper about their curses. When an tank of nutritive algae or yeasts go bad they are accused of sabotaging the vat works. When raiders and mutants come howling out of the wastelands they are accused of being spies.

The Yilum, "The Pariah Race," are a human-like people of especially unsettling aspect. Hairless, the Yilum are practically identical in appearance to humanity, aside from the six fingers and toes; double pupils; two rows of teeth; and gelatinous, transparent skin that reveals leprous silvery, gray and purple muscles; a dirty yellow-gray skeleton; the circulatory system; and blotchy, throbbing internal organs. In moist conditions their skin exudes a greasy mucous; in arid conditions this mucous dries into translucent waxy gray filmy scabs that shred and hang off their skin. Some Yilum have a third eye, set vertically in the center of their forehead; many three-eyed Yilum also have three pupils instead of two.

Although tolerated by most civilized settlements, the Yilum and despised outcasts who often perform degrading and hazardous tasks that True Men feel to be beneath them; and when ill fortune strikes the Yilum are often scapegoated as poisoners, spies or warlocks. Certainly no True Man would allow a Yilum to touch him or enter his abode.

Some folk tales say that the Yilum are simply mutant Men, other say that they were created by the Great Old Ones at the dawn of time when the Lords of Light formed Man. Another legend says that they are the descendants of an Ancient Baron who betrayed his Autarch and had his progeny cursed as a result.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Sphygyx

The Sphygyx, a man-like yet unrelated race, have human-like bodies with soft, short tawny fur and heads resembling a scaled smilodon. Their eyes are amber or golden orbs with no visible pupil; their scales continue in a strip down their spine, and are reticulated like a serpent in greens and browns. Both genders have breasts and nurse their young. Sphygyx society is based upon clans of matriarchal mercenary-nomads, and strongly values tradition, bravery, honor, and hierarchies. The Sphygyx despise cowardice, and many Sphygyx who wander Algol outside of the clans have been driven out by the open scorn heaped upon them for incident of fear upon the battlefield. They prefer battling in chariots, armed with bow, lance, axe and shotel. The Sphygyx worship their own small pantheon of Lawful deities, all depicted as female Sphygyx, and keep collections of small idols of these gods to set up shrines in their campsites or dwellings. Sphygyx do not understand affection or humor, and do not form strong interpersonal bonds; they have a reputation for being emotionless, aloof, abrupt, condescending, and rude among other races.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shrine of the Lavender Cocoon and the Crystalline Citadel

These two dungeons are of the "lair" variety as opposed to the complex, multi-level "proper" dungeon. The sort of dungeon that you can clear out in a single expedition. Stylistically and method-wise I was inspired the The Year Of The Dungeon, I like using different techniques when making maps and I also dig the contrast between the cold, strict architechtural regularity of graph-paper based maps the the more freeform, organic "Call of Cthulhu/Year of the Dungeon" style grid-less maps. My usual procedure for such grid-less maps is to either sketch them out on the reverse side of a sheet of graph paper or scan them and put a grid in them in AutoRealm.

Currently I'm aiming to put several dungeons, both the lair/microdungeon variety and the classic multi-level sprawling complexes, in the Planet Algol booklet. One of the goals with this project is to provide as usable as possible "straight out of the box" sandbox setting, which makes including a variety of sufficiently detailed  adventure locales an inexorable priority.

This significantly increases the workload as opposed to simply writing "Hex 6745: The Emerald Labyrinth: A simple stone shrine contains stairs leading to a sprawling underground complex of glowing translucent green stone, inhabited by tribes of malformed human/alien hybrid beings." There's nothing wrong with that, I love that sort of detailing and find it a great springboard for creativity, but I can't think of many sandboxes that include maps and keys for many of the described locales, and such keyed maps make this DMs job faster and easier, and hopefully provide a deeper adventuring experience.

Saturday Scrawl - "Black Smoke Razor Labyrinth"

SPOILER WARNING: Of course I trust the players in my game to not examine the below maps...

These are the preliminary maps for one of the "dungeons" I'm working on for the Planet Algol booklet, showcasing my appalling scrawl and attempts at complex interconnections between levels.