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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Monsters of Magic The Gathering: Hellion

Worms and snakes are weird to us. They are nothing like us in shape, they lack senses we take for granted (snakes can't hear like we do, after all) and they wiggle around with their noodle-shaped bodies. No wonder that many people fear them. Now I like snakes, I think they are adorable. But worms? Worms are freaky. Now imagine, if you will, a giant worm with an armor plated almost stone-like body. And it's really big. And really, really angry. And most likely on fire.

Cinder Hellion by Jason Kang.

That is an Hellion, a monster in Magic: The Gathering. Connected to red mana (and to a lesser extent, green), it is no surprise that Hellion are the raging, living engines of unbridled destruction that they are. Now one could make the case that inserting these beasts into a D&D-style game would simply make them distant relatives of Purple Worms and/or Remorhaz and there is a good case for that but I think Hellion bring some more thematic abilities and ideas into play:

In this article, it said, about Hellions:

"The Hellion is the beating heart of the volcano, the surging force of nature's bloody wrath."

It also states:

"Maybe you've thought of a Hellion design of your own. Here's a quick quiz—is it red? Hellions are about as red-aligned as creatures come. If your design doesn't have red mana in the cost, it's probably not a proper Hellion, and you're probably a terrible person! I mean designer! The fact that Hellions lack flying helps distinguish them from some of red's other iconic creatures, such as Dragons, rocs, and Phoenixes."

The bolding is mine. Hellions aren't just beasts, they are a type of magical creature if not some sort of more material plane-connected elemental. They represent violence, anger, fury and lashing out. They are not dragons or worm-shaped dragon stand-in. A Hellion is more like The Incredible Hulk: a force of anger, rage and brutality made flesh. Red, in Magic: The Gathering, is the color of strong emotions. Hellions are all that but without any veneer of civilization or even possibly intelligence. They are big, dumb and impossibly angry.

An encounter with a Hellion should stress the beast's savage fury: other large burrowing snake-monsters may very well make use of other advantages, such as the environment. Not so much a Hellion. It will burst out, as quickly and as violently as possible and lash out until it's dead or has been driven back. It will not pause or give any quarter. The fight will be a whirlwind of pure violence and destruction.

Like a mosh pit. Only it's a giant, flaming worm. That is angry.

Stats: Like a big centipede to a purple worm, only with fire immunity, more morale and maybe a red dragon's fire breath.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Transformers-Inspired Monster: The Horrorcons (Basic Fantasy)

We return to the realm of Transformers-turned-into-RPG-monsters with a two-pack, the brutish and monstrous triple-changing Horrorcons, known as Snapdragon and Apeface, re-imagined as sword & sorcery/dark fantasy shape shifting monsters from a world far away.
Sadly, these guys were far too cool to get a modern toy, at least
from Hasbro/Takara.

Called forth from the void, from the dark landscape of Dread Nebulos, the creatures known as Horrorcon are savage shape shifting brutes, able to alternate between three forms: a land animal form, a flying form and a humanoid form. Each is unique but combine a mixture of deadly characteristics, with the two described specimen being Apeface and Snapdragon.

Snapdragon is a creature of comfort and deceptive placidity, who enjoy a good time such as bathing in fetid pool or geothermal lakes. This love of relaxation is easily mistaken for being far less dangerous than he actually is, for Snapdragon has a vicious temper which, when ignited, will lead to widespread destruction. Those who summon Snapdragon must be aware that he truly lives up to his mythical namesake: hard to rouse from his lair but a bringer of doom when awakened and enraged. His animal form is described as a pale, spiky wingless dragon or over sized lizard with a powerful jaw. This form unravels into a triangular kite of flesh and bone, able to move at great speed. His humanoid form appears akin to a giant warrior fused with his armor of white scale and bones.

Profoundly obnoxious and foul-smelling, the brutish Apeface relish in his thuggish and lowbrow nature which mask his shockingly cruel and cunning temper. Much like Snapdragon, he is a force to be reckoned with when provoked. He is a creature which like attention and to rile up others, often to the point of madness. In spite of his brutish nature he excel at sabotaging the work of others. His animal form is that of a purple, hairy and fanged ape covered in grey and red bony plates and he takes flight as a large unnameable thing with crimson wings. His humanoid form retains several traits of both forms and wears a blood-red mantle and tower over all ordinary men.

Armor Class:
17 (14 Beast and Flight Form)
Hit Dice:
No. Of Attacks:
1 Giant Weapon or Other*
30', (120' Flight)
No. Appearing:
1d2 (Apeface & Snapdragon or 2 random Horrorcon)
Save As:
Fighter 13
Treasure Type:
E+5d6x10 gp
When in their humanoid form, the Horrorcon fight with whatever giant weapon they have which is a mace for Apeface and a sword for Snapdragon. These always count as magical weapons but they disappear when the Horrorcon dies or drop the weapon. A new weapon can be summoned at will.

They can can throw large stones up to 300' for 3d6 damage much like how a giant does.

A Horrorcon can transform at will once per turn, either into it's beast form or it's flight form: in the former it replace it's 1 Giant Weapon attack with either a 1 Bite (4d4+2) or 2 Fists (2d4+1) with the former for Snapdragon and the latter for Apeface. In flight form they cannot attack but gain their flight speed. Their AC value is adjusted in either of these forms.

Status of the Amateur Dungeoneers, April 23rd

It's been some time since the first post on this blog so it seems like it's time to asses what work and doesn't work, as well as what need improvement.

OUT WITH: Random Monster Tables

These were something initially done to stretch my creative muscles and which goes back to the first post on this blog which, might I add, was terribly formatted. However as it is, these are for the most part the posts which have attracted the least traffic. Not only that but I'm not currently running any 'generic' fantasy so these are of little to use to me right now.

IN WITH: Setting and Game-Specific Material

However the Godbound and Exalted stuff has fared a lot better and is currently much more useful to my game-related endeavors than whatever random generic monster table. These are simply the material which work better and is more worthwhile, not to mention it has a bit more variety, ranging from monster material that isn't bland and generic as well as useful and reusable sandbox tools such as names.

NEED WORKS: More Unique Setting Material

Originally the blog was going to be home to a setting called Iza-Zual but it never took off, mainly due to a struggle with making the setting 'work' as well as an inability to properly define the setting, it's main themes it's core ideas and in general establishing a strong setting identity and pitch. It may return when I manage this or I might scrap this setting entirely if it fail to achieve a proper identity.

NEED WORKS: More Contributors or Scrapping Contributors?

This blog wasn't originally intended to be a one-man project but life has gotten in the way of things. I'll have to reconsider if I even want/need extra contributors to the blog or if we'll still be working on any project together. If not, it mean this blog will entirely fall upon my shoulders.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Random Eoten (Troll, Giant, Ettin...)

Fantasy role-playing has taken several creatures which were, originally, functionally the same. Things such as Giants, Ettin, Trolls and even 'Ent' (which became Treant) were once all synonymous with one another in Germanic Anglo-Saxon language. So, today, something a bit different: a table which generate a random earthly giant with a mixture of features and traits we'd associate to different monsters.

Stone Troll concept.

Grotesque. Oversized. Brutish. Unkillable monsters with endlessly regrowing flesh, additional limbs and heads or stony hides which deflect ordinary weapons. Sometimes they are more like stones, sometimes more like trees and malignant undergrowth. Sometimes the touch of sunlight will petrify them. Who knows what this one will be like?

Trolls (Scandinavian Character design)

What is its base form like?

d10Basic Form
1-2It is a large brute, mostly devoid of supernatural powers. Use Ogre stats as a base.
3-4The creature towers over men. Use Hill Giant stats as a base.
5-6The Eoten is a true giant. Use Stone Giant stats as a base.
7-8A feral force of elemental fury. Use Ogre stats but with Troll regeneration as a base.
9This giant can regenerate from dire wounds. Use Hill Giant stats but with Troll regeneration OR Troll stats with +2 HD as a base.
10Towering, ancient and unstoppable elemental forces. Use Stone Giant stats but with Troll regeneration OR Troll stats with +3 HD as a base.

What does it look like?

1-2It has the form of a brutish humanoid, with a large torso, a small head and walks on two legs. Roll on the Monstrous Troll table.
3Its long forelimbs allow for bipedal and quadrupedal movement alike. It can move at twice its normal speed when walking on all four. Roll on the Monstrous Troll table.
Its form is strangely human-like. While it isn't necessarily handsome/beautiful by any means, it lacks many disfiguring features and appear more like a giant and feral-looking human. It hide some spell casting tricks up its sleeves, however. Roll on the Odd Features table and 1d2 times on the Spell table.

d6Monstrous Troll
1Hairy Beast: The Eoten is covered in hairy, oily fur which catches all manner of detritus. It reeks like it hasn't taken a bath in centuries. No animal will willingly approach the creature. Roll 1d4 times on Odd Features table.
2Toad-Like: With its gooey skin and bulging eyes, it looks more like a bipedal toad-man than a 'troll' and can breathe under water. Roll 1d4 times on Odd Features table.
3Stony Hide: The creature's hide is like stone. Improve its AC by 2 but lose 20' of movement. Roll 1d2 times on Odd Features table.
4Plant-Like: The creature has a greenish skin with moss on it or, perhaps, skin like bark. It gain +2 HP/per Hit Dice but is deathly afraid of fire. Roll 1d2 times on Odd Features table.
5Scabby Hide: Its hide is scabby and dry, almost scale-like. Improve its AC by 1. Roll 1d4 times on Odd Features table.
6Bony Spurs: Jagged bone spikes and/or torns erupt from its skin. Improve its natural weapon damage by one category. Roll 1d4 times on Odd Features table.

d12Odd Features
1Wart-Covered: The creature’s flesh is covered in hideous warts.
2Asymmetrical: The Eoten has body parts shape or proportionned differently with no regard to symmetry.
3Large Fangs: Large, jagged teeth erupt from its mouth.
4Tusks: A large pair of tusks dominate its face.
5Bestial Snout: Its face elongate into an animal snout.
6The Schnoz: It has an enormous, goofy nose. Don't laugh.
7Horns: The Eoten has horns or antlers. Alternatively, if plant or stone-based it will grow horns or spikes of the appropriate material.
8Green: The creature has a greenish tinge. Moss or grass grows on it. It may even replace hair.
9Double-Jointed: This creature has double-jointed limbs and it can walk on walls much like a spider in spite of it’s size.
10Plant Symbiosis: The creature has an unnatural control over plants, be they ordinary plants or any plant which grows on its body. It can cast Web by forcing plants to entangle its foes.
11Stone Bones: The creature’s bones are as hard as mountains. It takes half damage from everything except bludgeoning weapons, magic or fire.
12Extra Head: The Eoten has an extra head. It can make an additional attack per round.

1Passwall: The creature can traverse walls.
2Wall of Stone: The Eoten can create a wall of rock.
3Move Earth: The Eoten can control the earth.
4Invisibility: One of the best trolling tool. Pun entirely intended.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Exalted Godbound: Cobbled-Together From Stuff and the Appendix N of Exalted

The last few posts have made it clear that what I've worked on these last few weeks is a game of Godbound using the sadly-misused RPG known as Exalted. As with all White Wolf (now Onyx Path) games, it is one game where there is a very complicated love/hate relationship. I absolutely adore the basic ideas behind Exalted but always loathed the execution and it left me with the impression of a setting which poorly tapped into it's excellent core elements. A recent chance to finally read more of the older stories of the fantasy genre has only reinforced this impression. Exalted should have been Conan, Elric, Mythology and Wuxia put in a blender with a good dose of drugs for good measures. As the Yoon-Suin post pointed out, Exalted failed. But it's okay, I can salvage it and run it in a style none of it's creators ever really considered.

Games Resources

My 'sandbox tools' and resources for the Godbound Exalted game are nothing short of simply cobbling together tables from pre-existing games. A recycling of already existing resources or perhaps a re purposing.
  • Flying Swordsmen: Wuxia+OSR, is it any surprise this one is on the list?
  • Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names: Names, names name. Did I mention mentions are important but hard to get right in a pinch. If I recall correctly this wasn't remotely written by Gygax.
  • Godbound: Obviously, since I'm using the system. Just about every table in there is of some use to me.
  • GURPS China and similar books: Good historical reference. Odds are if an ancient culture existed, there is probably a GURPS book for it.
  • GURPS Conan: A good reference whenever I'm in the mood to inject more Conan-like elements to Creation.
  • Legends of the Wulin: This book maybe an incomprehensible mess of a storygame at times but it has a lot of good information on the Wuxia genre, one of the core inspirations for Exalted. At least when the writers remember it.
  • Spears of the Dawn: Has some good references for Africa and since parts of the south of Exalted's world are based loosely off Africa, these tools will come in handy. In particular, the 'Quick Culture Generator' is perfect to quickly generate any tribal and semi-tribal society found all across Creation.
  • Scarlet Heroes and Red Tide: More general purpose resources and names.
  • Yoon-Suin The Purple Land: Many general purpose resources too (and inspired by the former), but the tea and opium generator as well as the details on generating local cults dedicated to specific gods are perfect material to help flesh out the flavor of Creation.

The Totally Serious Exalted Appendix N

I mean, everyone love to read a biased and possibly pretentious 'Appendix N' list, right? And it's not like Exalted doesn't already have an equivalent in each goddamn book, right? Well, truth be told I've never quite found these lists to be quite as accurate or useful not to mention many are painfully out of date due to how old First and Second editions are. This is in addition to those things listed in previous editions:

Japanese Animation (And Manga)

  • Berserk: Not only is it an amazing manga on it's own, but Guts and Griffith truly show the best (and worst) of heroic mortals (and later Exalted for Griffith). One could also argue that Guts' superhuman level of skill and ferocity makes him more than a mere mortal.
  • Devilman: The original manga is still good, but there's a chance you may have heard of it through it's most recent (and equally good) Netflix adaptation called Devilman Crybaby. If you plan to use rebellious Infernals in your game, then Devilman is the way to go.
  • Fate/Zero: In an oddball case, this Light Novel-turned-anime prequel to the Visual Novel Fate/Stay Night turns out to be much better than what it's a prequel to. The impossibly overpowered and smug Gilgamesh is the perfect example of a First Age Solar and the charisma they'd nonetheless command even when they're assholes.
  • Fist of the North Star: The granddaddy of modern Shonen, before Dragon Ball came along anyway. Kenshiro is a perfect example of a wandering Solar martial artist who wield impossibly deadly Celestial Martial Arts.
  • Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Don't let the annoying newbie-infested fanbase ruin an excellent manga. Trying to describe it in any shape or form would take whole pages. Some of the crazier Stand powers are the kind of things you could base Sidereal Martial Arts off.
  • Kill La Kill: It's a lot less serious than many shows on this list, but it's a Studio Trigger show, so it's obviously going to make the list based on the action alone.
  • Souten Kourou: Romance of the Three Kingdoms from Cao Cao's point of view, painting him as a more sympathetic character.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: The people at Studio Gainax who made this show would later go on to work on Kill La Kill, which is a very similar show in tone and structure. Both shows are over the top, insanity-fueled, action-driven pile of glorious nonsense and insane escalation.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms: I've only just started this one as of this post but I can already see a wealth of correlation with it and Exalted. It's a shame the 'sent-in-another-world-shows' have become such utter trite these days. This is one show which seem like it went under people's radar.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: Multi-demographic appeal was a thing in the '90, and this show combine elements of shoujou, shonen and mecha anime. It's a 'trapped-in-another-world' kind of story but it was made decades before the genre got annoyingly stale.
  • Thunderbolt Fantasy: Technically this is puppet animation, but this high action fantasy wuxia tale by Gen Urobuchi is the kind of over the top stuff Exalted breathe. Swordsmen with superhuman skills, undead, demons and all that good stuff.
  • Yona: The Girl Standing in the Blush of Dawn: A pretty good Shoujou manga partially adapted to anime. A princess' carefree life is shattered and her kingdom usurped, so she goes on a quest to assemble the Four Dragon Warriors. The setting's has a lot of elements similar to Exalted.

Live Action Television

  • Ancient Aliens: Complete and utter bullocks about 'ancient alien' theories. It's on the list because there is plenty of nonsense that could be true in Exalted in some form or another.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Okay so it's not exactly good let alone serious by modern standards, but it's still thematically relevant to Exalted.
  • Ice Fantasy: A rather cheesy Chinese fantasy television series but one worth the watch for (some) of the visuals.
  • The Legend of Zu: I'm sure there are countless other Chinese television series which involve hilariously dated (but colorful!) CGI, that are apparently based off Wuxia novels and that last for seriously way too many episodes. I'll put the only one I started watching on the list for simplicity's sake.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: The (somewhat more famous) spin off to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Oh come on, you knew this was coming. While a kid's show, it also is very much the closest we'd ever see to an Exalted saturday morning cartoon if you think about it. Just ignore the sequel.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002): The sadly short-lived He-Man reboot manage to blend the campy, colorful scifi and fantasy blend of Eternia in a much more serious package than the original.