Yes, I know I didn’t get any blog posts done last week and I was hardly around on social media. Things were busy but I wasn’t idle on the gaming front. I almost have Back Alleys done for Dark Streets and Darker Secrets, I did some more brainstorming on YARC, and the whole reason for this post more mulling on The Blight.
Right now, I mostly messing around with the gods and Gods of Castorhage and thinking of how to make the various game systems. So I figured what the heck, throw out to masses and see what happens. Of all the games I have at my disposal I’ve narrowed it down to these (in no particular order). 1. Swords & Wizardry: It’s easy to do NPC’s. It’s flexible. It’s readily available in PDF form and the players can buy the book if they want. And there’s already a ready made version of it by Frog God Games. 2. Fifth Edition: It’s the elephant in the room. The players are already familiar with it and they already have their own books. It’d be a little tougher to run improved NPC’s off the cuff. The PC’s do have a lot more umph than in the other systems so make it a little grittier will take some house ruling. 3. Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar: Why? Well, DCC is cool and I should have my physical copies from the Kickstarter soon. The players are already familiar with it. The Blight is a city-based campaign so in my mind’s eye, it would make a good fit using the DCC: Lankhmar rules. Yes, I know no clerics and I would have house rule the partrons. So more prep type work on the DM’s part. I’m also aware of how crazy the magic can get. The players are already familiar with DCC and some have the books already. 4. Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Well, you can go weird and gritty without thinking about LOTFP. The players should be able to pick it up quickly. The art-free version is still available. It won’t take much to convert the Swords & Wizardry version over to LOTFP. 5. Something else? Oh. There’s plenty of other games out there. But the above are really my main choices.
So here’s a poll. Leave a comment. Let me know what you think.
Last month Frog God Games ran a contest for fan reviews. I did a couple and did garner some Frog Bucks to spend. I’m still shopping. The Blight was on my list of things review and I just didn’t have the time fully delve into it. But as luck would have it, I just did have some time and dove right in and wish I had done so earlier. Now, if you’ve follow me around social media I’ve mentioned the idea of mixing The Midderlands, Tegel Manor (which I backed), and The Blight. That idea still stands. One more disclosure for this rant. This is based on the 5E version of The Blight and I’ll only be talking about the Campaign Guide. I had grabbed it and a bunch of other really cool stuff from a 5E Humble Bundle.
Let’s start of with a general overview. So what is The Blight. It’s grim/dark, horror, gritty urban campaign location, namely the City-State of Castorhage. It’s mean and cruel place and it’s big. The campaign guide places the population at about 3.8 million. That’s roughly the size of Los Angeles. Not only is the city big so is the book. It clocks in at 890 pages or so. No easy feat reading this thing in PDF form. Castorhage is physically and morally corrupt. Countless alchemical experiments and a lot of sewage have polluted the the main river. The royal family is decadent and insane. To add to this already warped setting, there’s the Between. A nightmarish dimension that can sometimes be accessed through mirrors or other reflective surfaces. And to keep with horror theme sometimes the Between just pops up in those places.
Let’s do a little run down of the book itself. Like I said, it’s huge. It starts off with the usual overview. This can be most easily summed up with the Seven Prayers of Castorhage and the Seven Unspoken Prayers of Castorhage. Basically, the rules and philosophy of the city. One for the low born and one for the powerful. For Example: Only the wise know how to use the dangerous curse of magic, and only a fool would tamper with it./M agic is power, and power in the wrong hands is folly. Only those of high caste know how to use it wisely; the lowborn who dabble with it must be taught a lesson and cleansed as an example to others.
Next up are people. Some of the more important NPC’s as well as options for player characters plus quirks, and new equipment. Then we have a GM’s section with advice and suggestions on how to run the Blight. And there’s even more material about places and people. One of the interesting things about Castorhage is that there gods and Gods. Let me explain. The gods aren’t really gods. They walk around and inhabit the city. They don’t have real religions but they do have cults. They way the are presented in the book I’d call them urban legends to place blame or find cause for any mysterious or horrible thing that might happen. For the 5E version, they really missed the boat on this one. I feel that the gods would make great warlock patrons but alas nothing was written up so GM’s would be on their own.
Then there’s a whole section on the Between. Like I mentioned a nightmare dimension that personally reminds me a bit of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. But that just maybe me. I don’t want to say too much on this part since I feel it’s a good venue for GM’s to throw in some mystery and exploration in an otherwise urban based campaign. But it is detailed as basically it’s own world. Oh yeah and the Between can corrupt characters and so on. Nasty stuff.
Then come a huge bestiary. I’m seeing why this book is so long. All sorts of new and interesting monsters as well as some of the major NPC’s. Oddly enough, enterprising GM’s will find a few other player character options like the Undying. You’re only sort of undead.
Then there’s a very small section of inspirational random tables and then the books goes into another more detail breakdown of each of the districts of the city. There’s a ton of information and detail about these districts. It’s not as crazy as City-State of the Invincible Overlord but still there’s a lot. Almost too much for your average GM to digest and remember.
Finally, there’s an adventure path, The Levee. I don’t want to put any spoilers but looks pretty good and if you want a sneak peak of what it’s like then stop by and listen to Swords & Misery, an actual play podcast.
So what do I think? Overall, pretty god but it doesn’t mean there a few problems. First there’s a few editing errors that make the 5E conversion seem almost like an after thought. There’s a few places where the explanation of crunchy is worded more akin to the Pathfinder rules rather than 5E. Like I said before, there’s lots of information and I fell it wasn’t always presented in the most efficient fashion leading to page flipping and head scratching till find another bit of information to tie it all together. Also, some of the NPC’s have powers or abilities that are mentioned in the fluff text but not even mentioned in the stat blocks. For example, one powerful NPC “borrows” the skin of an underling when needed. Yeah. Nasty stuff. And I suppose I should mention that if you aren’t ready for a decadent, horror-filled setting then just walk away. Also, going through the setting if you are the type to doesn’t like the Cantina Scene type set up then you may just house rule the extra races and racial options out. However, I would say this, it all seems to fit without seeming forced or “let’s just make sure that any player can play whatever they want”. There may be prices and/or consequences based on the character’s race or class.
Do I still want to run it. Hell yeah. But I’ve got some thoughts on that. 5E: While the version I have of the Blight is for 5E. I just don’t feel the game as written doesn’t play well as for a horror/grim dark setting. There would have to be some house rules. Sure all the races are ready made but there’s nothing about Tieflings which fit well and would have their unique problems in the city IMHO. Swords & Wizardry/White Box/Old School Essentials/OSR: This could be done with little or no conversion and only some minor tweaking. I know there’s a Swords & Wizardry version available but it’s so easy to convert into Swords & Wizardry. There’d me minimal house rules plus there’s is much good old school stuff out there it would be easy to find other tools that would fit. Now, I can’t mention the old school games without thinking about Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The vibe fits almost perfectly but there’d still be some tweaking. The real gem in LOTFP is the spell list which could be easily substituted for the original or vanilla lists. Dungeon Crawl Classics: Lankhmar This already give a set up for running urban adventures with a more Sword and Sorcery flair. Conversion would be a little more difficult and then there’s the fact the magic can get really swingy. So that would be a consideration. Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells: It’s no secret that I love this game. It’s rules light and very easy to convert into. It would work great. If you want to add non-human races then that might take a little work. Zweihander: I admit that I haven’t played this yet but I do have the PDF. And it would work danged perfectly. It’s fits great with the tone and atmosphere of the setting. There are a couple of problems. First, it would be a pain in the butt to convert all the monsters and NPC’s. I’d also be faced with teaching the group a whole new game system.
I’ve rambled long enough on this. I haven’t brought it up the gaming group yet so we’ll see what they say. We’ll see what happens.
I ranted about elves before way back when but I still wanted a little extra something to make them more alien and just a bit different. Nor your tree hugging wild elf or that mysterious high/gray elf or whatever you want to call them. Somewhere in the bowels of the internet someone made the comparison of old D&D elves to Elric. I like that. Then this little idea popped into my brain that focuses on the standard fighter/magic-user type elf.
In ancient times, the elves make a pact with an ancient being whose name has been long lost. They wanted the power magic and immortality. The elves were granted both but not at the same time. The elves learned the power of magic and would each live for 1,000 years. They had magic but using would cost them years off their lives. The elves created an empire and rules the world for millennia but due to their arrogance and decadence their empire has crumbled. Many elves venture out into the mortal world out of boredom.
The Game Mechanics:
When the elf casts an arcane spell, roll 1d20. If the result is less than or equal to the spell’s level then elf permanently losses HP equal to the spell’s level.
And since I’m on a Dungeon Crawl Classics kick, there’s a little variation for those rules. Elves do not suffer from Corruption. Instead, any time a Corruption effect occurs, the elf loses permanently HP as above plus suffers the effects as if the character had Spellburned a number of points equal to the spell’s level (but doesn’t gain any bonus to the spell check). Additionally, Elves may voluntarily “Spellburn” HP at rate of 2/1 (1 HP=+2 bonus to the spell check). These HP are permanently lost.
Really, I can’t even pronounce that. Let me just call it Chandler’s Book of Stuff That Will Give You Nightmares.
Lusus Naturae is a bestiary of monsters designed for Lamentations of the Flame Princess but it’s pretty easy to convert it to whatever OSR game you want. This isn’t your run of the mill collection of demons, forgotten horrors, or orcs and goblins who have an additional odious habit. These are wild, weird, eat your face, swallow your soul, ruin the rest of your day type monsters. Like I said, it’s designed for Lamentations of the Flame Princess so if you’re experienced with any of those adventures (like Death Love Doom (AL)) then this is right up your alley.
There’s lots of cool stuff in there. There’s actually a connection between many of the monsters. Some created others. Some like or hate others. It all just depends. Also there’s a neat little thing that some of them have. “Killing Blow” He who kills the monster gets something. Maybe something good. Maybe something bad. But this is for Lamentations so take that as you may. And you get away without having a cool crazy monster generator.
I think my two favorites (so far) have to be Doctor Volt and the Gelatinous Hypercube. Yes, Doctor Volt. A supervillian teleported to a fantasy world. Hehe. And the Gelatinous Hypercube. Well. I think the name pretty much says it all.
I can’t not mention the art. I usually don’t bother mentioning art but in this cast I will make an exception. Gennifer Bone did a great job making bring these these nightmarish creatures to life. The art is cool and disturbing as it should be for this book.
So this gets a big thumbs up from this guy. Now I’ve got about a half dozen ideas bouncing around inside my head.
You can grab Lusus Naturae at Drivethrurpg. (AL)
Hey, there isn’t a Raise Dead spell for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. There’s no reason there shouldn’t be but it’s still got to have that special something that makes it Flame Princess worthy. So here’s my modest attempt.
First, here’s a couple of my thoughts this spell. Death is natural (cause of death might not be). Death is one of the laws of the universe and everything dies eventually. Cheating death unbalances the universe and is a Chaotic act. So in this case the spell is a Magic-User spell rather than a Cleric spell. Also, returning the dead to live should be time consuming, expensive, and dangerous. So here you go.
Magic-User Level 5
The Magic-user attempts to defy the laws of the universe and return a fallen being to life.
Fist, the dead body must be as whole as possible. Missing limbs and organs are not replaced. The caster must acquire rare oils and spell components with a value of 1,000 SP per Level/Hit Die of the target. Additionally, the caster must perform a long and precise ritual lasting 1 hour per Level/Hit Die of the target. As part of this ritual, the caster must attempt to bring some sort of balance to the universe by sacrificing a number of sentient beings of the same race as the target. The total Levels/Hit Dice of the sacrifices must at least equal the Level/Hit Dice of the target.
Once the ritual is completed, both the caster and the target attempt a Saving Throw versus Magic. If both succeed then the spell was successful and the target returns to life with 1 Hit Point.
If either of them fail so does the spell. Roll 1d20 on the following chart. If both fail then roll 1d10+10 on the following chart. The spell may not be attempted again.
A cleric will not witness or partake in this ritual. Also, a cleric cannot be the target of the spell.
1: The body is consumed in a divine fire leaving nothing but ash.
2: The body shows all the signs of life but no soul has entered it. It will expire from dehydration in a matter of days.
3: The target’s soul reenters the body but the transition was too much. The target has total amnesia and is now a Level-0 character.
4: The target’s body explodes with necromatic energy causing Level/Hit Dice D6 of damage to every thing in a 30 foot radius. Save versus Breath Weapon for half damage.
5: The caster accidentally summons the spirit of wrong person. This can be any dead person from history as determined by the GM. But chances are that it will be some historically insignificant person.
6: The soul of the target ends up in the nearest animal no smaller than a rat.
7: The caster’s and the target’s souls switch bodies.
8: The target’s soul ends up in a random item. That item is now magical and has powers based on the class and level of the target and GM’s discretion.
9: It looks like the spell worked. The target will live for 1d100 days (GM rolls secretly) then target drops dead, his corpse rotting away to nothing in seconds.
10: The target’s soul does not enter his body but is turned into a vengeful ghost which attacks and haunts the party.
11: The caster accidentally summons some otherworldly entity that now possesses the body of the target.
12: The ritual fails but summons forth 2d6 angry ghosts which immediately attack any present.
13: The target’s body explodes in a shower of flesh eating maggots. Save versus Breath Weapon or take 1d6 damage each round until the character makes a successful Save versus Disease.
14: The spell mostly fails. The target’s soul reanimates the body but as a form of free-willed, intelligent undead.
15: The caster loses a number of levels equal to the Level/Hit Die of the target. If this drains the caster to 0-Level then the caster is killed.
16: The spell weakens the veil between the mortal world and the Underworld. The area will be haunted by ghosts and become prime habitat for undead creatures.
17: The spell loosens the connection between body and soul. Each being within a 30 foot radius must Save versus Magic. Those who fail their Saving Throws have their souls switched to another random body. If only one character fails the saving throw then his soul is ripped from this body.
18: An Angel of Divine Retribution descends on the area killing every sentient being in a radius of the target’s Level/Hit Die x miles. Save versus Death or die.
19: Every dead creature in an area in radius equal to the target’s Level/Hit Die x 100 miles is re-animated as zombie.
20: An area in radius equal to the target’s Level/Hit Die x 100 miles is drained of life. All creatures 4 HD or less are instantly killed. Those with more than 4 HD are allowed a Saving throw versus Death or die. This effect lasts in the area for one year. For one 100 years, no plant life will grow in this area and animals will avoid it.