.. just to let people know: The oft-mentioned move is happening. This is why there haven’t been any updates for a while (well, that and GenCon) and probably won’t be until after I move, which will be late August. Assuming all goes well and I get an Internet connection (and where I’m moving, this is not guaranteed), regular postings will resume.
I started working on this (as one of many skilled contributors) a long, long, time ago… it’s gone through a lot of changes (as is fitting, I suppose), and it’s finally here!
Walking Through The Arduin Triology (And Maybe The Others)
Or, Why Didn’t I Think Of This Before?
Because I’m Extremely Dim, That’s Why!
So, I’ve raved on and on about the Arduin books, how much they meant to me in my formative years (just as your first porn exposure will probably influence your YouPorn searches for the rest of your life, Or So I’ve Heard), and while I’ve done extensive writing on the heavily Arduin-influenced Booty And The Beasts and the Necromican, I haven’t actually taken the path more traveled and looked at the actual books!
So, here you go.
As with most of my stuff, this is a mix of humor, personal commentary, analysis, and random ephemera, mixed with extemporanea and just a hint of nutmeg. Those looking to discern a hidden agenda in it (see the IMPORTANT WARNING in the Necromican article linked to above) are morons. Those looking to discern a distinctive and coherent point of view in it are holding me in far too much esteem. To quote myself:
(Some people might note I make snide comments about how supplements like Booty And The Beasts veered heavily into a “screw the players”, highly adversarial mode of play, and then note I make snide comments about how 4e goes out of its way to avoid those types of mechanics, and wonder what side I’m on. It’s easy. I’m on the side of “Lizard wants to make snide comments.”.)
So, bear that in mind.
I’ve started three paragraphs with “so”. Weird.
I first encountered hints of these works in the “Best Of The Dragon” that came out around 1979, in an advertisement. In those days, there was no Internet, and gaming news had to spread slowly, through messages pounded into the pulp of dead trees, and sometimes, we had to just carve them in the bark, instead. The ad showed lizard-people and insect people and others, all far more exotic and interesting that the relatively tame Tolkien-inspired characters of D&D, and the ad copy hinted at untold wonders and strangeness beyond words.
But I didn’t actually find the books until a year or so later, at the Compleat (sic) Strategist in New Jersey, back when there was one in New Jersey. And, yes, unlike most things in life, from the covers of lurid paperbacks to the description of the job you’re applying for, the actual thing did not disappoint. The three little books were so densely packed with ideas, reality warped around them. If I have to pick “The books that influenced my life”, it would be these. Well, and Lee/Kirby FF. Oh, and the LSH where they fight Computo. But mostly, Arduin.
And so, we journey now into strange new worlds.. but first…
A Tale Of Two Covers
I had managed to borrow a copy of the Arduin Grimoire for a day or two, several months before I got my hands on it. For a long time after that, I thought I might be suffering from mixed, false, memories, as there were things I recalled from my first reading that I never saw again. However, the truth has since come to light: There was a first printing, with a different cover and interior art. The first printing had art by “a talented young man named Erol Otus”. You, ahem, may have heard of him. The subsequent editions… did not, and his name was excised from the forward, as if sliced out with a mu-meson sword (yes, that’s in there somewhere, Book 3, I think… we’ll get to it.) I am sure there is a story there, but as Dave Hargrave is long dead, we probably won’t get to hear it, and besides, I don’t really want to know the grungy details of mid-70s internecine geek warfare.
Now, without any disrespect for Mr. Otus, whom I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time praising, I still sort of prefer the one on the right. The exotic weapons and armor, the fine detail, the diversity of the PCs, the glowering demon over the door… words like “evocative” and “inspiring” come to mind. I want to create worlds, and write books, that give others the same feeling that picture gives me.OK, enough of the early stuff. Let’s turn the page…Later. Time to take my wife to the fabric store. But I wanted to post up something, since it’s been almost six weeks, which is long, even for me.
Playing with themes and options to give the site some polish. Nothing permanent as of yet. Generally, I’m unhappy with how white-space-crazy so many themes are, and how focused they are on pictures rather than content.
FWIW, I’ve got four partially-completed articles in my draft folder. Maybe I’ll get to them when I’m done fotzing around like this.
Does anyone know if there’s a free theme or package that will let me insert custom CSS in posts? I want to design a stylesheet to mimic the AD&D 1e format for some things I’m working on, but it’s a damn nightmare so far. I can’t tell if I’m setting the CSS wrong, or editing in the wrong place.
Review for “The Book Of eight Restful Retreats”, my first product published through Christina Stiles Presents: http://www.rpgnow.com/product_reviews.php?products_id=131265
From the linked article:
“Players fight the most fearsome monster of all time in an exciting multi-platform gaming experience”
This isn’t the most compelling ad copy I’ve seen. It’s a very generic, bland, statement that seems to have come out of the BuzzWordOMatic 5000. Can you imagine someone trying to describe their last game of D&D this way? “Man, we fought the most fearsome monster of all time in an exciting multi-platform gaming experience! And then, Fred proactively leveraged his synergies to increase cross-market upsell with positive feedback redundancies and integrated vertical applications focused on dynamic buy-in transitions for high monetization over short term projections! And he rolled a 20!”
Four entries in one month! Continuing the Blog Carnival theme of Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot, I now look at Traits which might be useful to conniving backstabbers of various sorts. I like Traits. I introduced a concept I called “Lesser Feats” for a D20 book which sadly didn’t go to press due to the D20 implosion. Traits are pretty much the same thing. They address what I consider one of the worst aspects of feats, the one-size-fits-all mentality, when it’s patently obvious that feats vary considerably in utility. Many are nifty concepts that add unique flavor to characters, but they can’t “compete” with those that provide general benefits that affect play many times per session.
Anyway, with the focus on being sneaky, underhanded, and duplicitous, here’s an assortment of additional Traits. I am designing these with the idea that Traits need not be selected only at 1st level, as there’s a feat which allows you to pick 2 Traits later on. Thus, some of these Traits might be more useful to higher level characters, or reflect training/knowledge/etc. gained in adventuring life.
You did all you could, but you just couldn’t save him…
When you make a Heal check to stabilize someone, you may instead choose to take full-round action and perform a coup de grace, doing 1d3 damage, +1 per rank in Heal. Make a Bluff check, opposed by the Heal (not Perception) checks of any witnesses, to avoid being noticed. You must have at least 1 rank in Heal, or your actions will be too obvious.
Some GMs may feel this is simply a creative trick anyone with the right skills could try. If so, this Trait instead gives you a +4 Trait bonus on the Bluff check, and increases the base damage to 2d4.
When you take them down, they don’t get back up.
Whenever your melee attacks reduce someone to fewer than 0 hit points, but do not kill them outright, they have a -3 modifier to all checks to stabilize. This applies to any Heal checks made to help them stabilize, as well.
You have gained a resistance to certain poisons.
Pick a number of poisons equal to 1+your Constitution modifier. You have a +2 Trait bonus on all saving throws vs. those poisons, and if you fail your save, any ability damage is reduced by 1. You may take this Trait up to three times, picking additional poisons each time. If your Constitution modifier changes, adjust the number of poisons appropriately. (The GM may rule some poisons are not permitted, or that your character would not have had access to them.)
The rusty, dull, dagger you carry is a souvenir of an ancient battle, and useless as a weapon.
You gain a +4 Trait bonus to Bluff or Disguise checks (as appropriate to the situation) to make a weapon seem as if it has the broken condition, or is otherwise harmless — for example, appearing to be securely peacebound when it is not, or has a razor edge covered with a thin strip of metal to make it appear dull.
You leave behind little trace of any spells you may have cast.
Magic cast by you leaves a weaker aura behind. When checking for how long an effect lingers, reduce the die roll by half your Intelligence bonus (minimum 1). If this results in a value of 0, treat it as a roll of 1, but of the next lowest strength level (so moderate becomes faint).
Once you know something about someone, you can shape your magic to suit their nature.
If you have spent at least a few minutes talking to someone, your Enchantment (Charm) and Illusion (Phantasm) spells are more effective against them. They suffer a -1 penalty to saving throws against such spells. If you know them well (At least several days acquaintance, at the GM’s discretion), this increases to -2.
You always know when someone’s watching.
You may add your Intelligence bonus to any Perception checks to notice if someone is using magical divination against you. Any spells you cast which are intended to counter or fool divination spells (such as obscure object or nondetection) are cast at +1 caster level.
You have an instinctive grasp of the nature of creatures from other realms.
When dealing with Outsiders, you gain a +2 Trait bonus to Diplomacy or Sense Motive checks. This increases to +3 if they share your alignment.
Those who gamble with you might think you have the devil’s own luck, but you are leaving nothing to chance.
You have a +4 trait bonus to Sleight of Hand checks when cheating at games of chance. This applies to any game where you can physically manipulate the components — dice, cards, playing pieces (even chessmen). It doesn’t apply to situations where you can’t do this (such as betting on a horserace). The GM will judge if you’re able to apply this trait in a given set of circumstances.
It always helps to salt a lie with a little truth.
Choose a Knowledge skill. If you have four or more ranks in that skill, you gain a +2 Trait bonus on any Bluff or Disguise check that relies at least in part on that area of learning. For example, four or more ranks in Knowledge (Nobility) can give you a +2 Trait bonus on lies involving local lords, or when disguised as a member of a royal household. You can take this trait multiple times. It applies to a new area of learning each time.
Flaws In The Tale
You quickly spot inconsistencies in someone’s story.
You may use your Intelligence bonus, rather than your Wisdom bonus, when making Sense Motive checks to counter a Bluff check. This does not apply to feint attempts, but only to conversations or other situations where a keen intellect might come into play.
Since a comment on an old article may be missed by both my fans, here’s a link to awesome Not Star Wars Really They’re Not Honest Mr. Lucas Don’t Sue Us minis for Star Rovers!
A massive agricultural firm, eager to drive up beef production, mixes the DNA of their cattle with that of the fastest growing animal known to man. Then, a terrifying accident unleashes their unholy abominations on a small Texas town. Who can survive…. SHARKPEDE! “40 Thousand Crashing Hooves! 4 Million Gnashing Teeth!” SHARKPEDE! “The lucky ones are just trampled! The Ground quakes with their thundering fury! The air is torn by their victims screams!” SHARKPEDE! “They want a YOU burger!” SHARKPEDE!
Not dead. I actually have several ideas for blog posts, but then I stop, because I think there’s paid work I need to do, and then, I don’t do the paid work, either. So I might as well get back to blogging.