Monday, July 11, 2016

Kickstarter: Mutant Crawl Classics

Just in case you have been laying low in your fallout bunker, I wanted to boost the signal for Mutant Crawl Classics (MCC RPG). The latest Kickstarter from Goodman Games offers a post-apocalyptic version of their core game. Developed by Jim Wampler, MCC RPG should be making old Gamma World fans bask in the sun of irradiated beaches. I personally pledged the Kickstarter as soon as it went live and the offerings are fantastic. For more flavor on MCC RPG here is the project background:

Triumph & Technology Won by Mutants & Magic

You’re no zero. You’re a wasteland wanderer: a mutant, a seeker, a robot-killer, a stoic shaman guarding forgotten ancient sciences. You seek triumph and technology, winning it with mutations and magic, soaked in the radiation and quantum fields of the mutated, the savage, the semi-sentient, and the artificially intelligent. There are treasures to be won in the taboo lands and ruins, and you shall have them.

Return to the glory days of science fiction gaming with the Mutant Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. Adventure like it’s 1978 again, with modern rules grounded in the origins of post-apocalyptic role playing. Fast play, a mysterious future, and 100% compatibility with the DCC RPG system await you — just activate your artifact... 

Mutant Crawl Classics (MCC RPG) is a stand-alone setting that applies the DCC RPG rules to a post-apocalyptic setting. You'll love MCC if you like Gamma World, Metamorphosis Alpha, or DCC RPG. You don't need to own DCC to play MCC.

Still not convinced? Here are additional resources to marinate on while you sip on that Mutant Cola:

•    A 29-page preview of the complete game, originally published in the Goodman Games 2015 Gen Con Program Guide. Includes information on the setting, character creation, character classes, mutations, artifacts, patron A.I.'s, and more!

•    A complete 13-page level 0 adventure, The Museum At the End of Time, originally published in the 2016 Free RPG Day module.

Here is actual play of the adventure, The Museum At the End of Time:

Still not sure if this game is for you? Maybe you don’t think you have the time to play it, or you are unsure of the genre, or perhaps you have never played DCC RPG. I would not let any of that dissuade you as this is a great opportunity to get in on the ground level. I consider myself a very careful Kickstarter backer as the stories are endless of failed or undelivered campaigns. MCC RPG comes from a respected company that is quite frankly just wonderful to the fans. This is one of those Kickstarters that I think people will regret not participating in if able. There are 8 days left for the Kickstarter and all the stretch goals are attainable!

Just for fun I decided to create a few things a wasteland wanderer may find in MCC RPG:

Oddities of the Wasteland (1d3)

1. You find a strange metallic device with a row of pointy prongs similar to teeth. Upon touch it begins to beep and feels slightly warm. This is a Power Comb which was created by the ancients. Unfortunately, its prior owner was a mutant who was diseased with Rad Lice. Anyone using the comb must make a DC15 Fortitude save or contract Rad Lice. These irradiated little beasties cause the inflicted to lose or gain mutations when making a Radburn check on a roll of 1-2 or 19-20. The Rad Lice have a life cycle of 1d16 days. Tech Level: 4 Complexity Level: 3

2. There is an small statue of a child in this room. As you get closer it appears to be an ancient doll in remarkable condition. Upon close examination you see its torso has a working power source. If the chest is depressed this old Laughter Bot is activated and it cackles immediately. Between shrieking laughter it says, “mama mama”  with outstretched hands. Unbeknownst to the PCs, the laughter bot’s hideous voice causes Croachlings to go berserk. The high frequency will summon all Croachlings in a 200’ radius, and they will attack any living creatures. Tech Level: 4 Complexity Level: 2

3. Digging through the sand you locate a bizarre sphere of pitted metal. Palm sized, it also appears to have an area which may be depressed similar to a button. No other markings or indications of its purpose are available. This five-pound device is a Viscid Grenade which was once used to control crowds. It contains enough material to be used three times before becoming useless. Once activated it will beep and cook-off for 1d3 rounds. Then sticky strands of material will fire in every direction from the device in a 20-foot radius. Anyone in the target area must make a DC15 Reflex save or become stuck in the strands for 1d3 rounds. A DC 20 Strength check is required to break free before the duration end. Tech Level: 4 Complexity Level: 3

MCC RPG Links:

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: RPG Coasters

One thing common at every gaming table are a variety of beverages. Coasters keep the surface of the table safe from drips and condensation. If you are a gamer then you need cool coasters, right? Well look no further then! RPG Coasters are designed by Alexander Ingram and first started as a Kickstarter in 2015. I learned about these awesome coasters just after the Kickstarter had ended. I reached out to Alex and asked him to contact me when they became available for general sale.

Last week my set arrived and I spent a few days putting them through some tests. To say the coasters are beautiful table accessories would be an understatement. They are crafted using hard maple, black walnut and cherry wood.  My coasters arrived all individually packaged and ready for instant use in the Game Tavern. I was immediately impressed with the intricate design and craftsmanship. I requested a mixture of the three wood types for this review, although Cherry I thought was the standout. Black walnut remains my least favorite, as the darker color makes the design work a tad harder to see.

Each coaster is padded on the bottom with a ring of felt material to ensure your table is not scratched. This first set focuses on RPG character classes although custom orders are available. I decided to create a few custom pieces such as Game Tavern, Grand DM, and my wife’s favorite character Anjelica the Red. Alex has informed me the next coaster themed Kickstarter will probably be for horror, sci-fi and maybe modern games themed!

Available to order with your coasters is a very useful stand. These coaster stands hold the coasters upright so you can see and display the icons. The stand is sized for how many coasters you purchase. You also get to pick from the three wood types which is a nice added touch. The standard sizes in North America for beer coasters are 3.5 inch and 4 inch. RPG Coasters measure about 3.75 inches and therefore will accommodate most drinks. To provide you with a more a visual guide, I decided to test them with some of the drink ware in the Game Tavern.
The tools of the trade!

Standard Mead Horn

Standard Wine Goblet

Standard Whiskey Glass (sorry whiskey not included)

Standard Beer Bottle

Ceramic Beer Tankard

Pint Tankard (oops...where did the coaster go?)

I also used an RPG coaster most of the week to see how they held up to condensation. They are treated with a clear finish and definitely water resistant. I can report that these coasters have a high Armor Class, as no rings were left behind and they did not stick to my glass. Not only are these thematic coasters, but they are really nice pieces of furniture. Aside from their functionality, RPG Coasters are a wonderful conversation piece to add to your gaming area or home bar.

If you need a gift for that gamer that has everything your quest may be over! RPG Coasters would even be a great gift for the regular players of a gaming group. Who would not love to have a coaster customized with their favorite character’s name? Or maybe you want to get that awesome Dungeon Master in your life something epic for their game room?

Well now is the time to consider it. If you use the code ULTANYA at checkout you will receive 15% off your entire order until 7/20/16.

Level up your gaming table with some RPG Coasters!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Unhallowed Garrison, a Weird Civil War scenario.

This past weekend my family and I spent the day at a Civil War reenactment. Many years ago I was involved in Civil War living history in Gettysburg during the summer. I personally love the time period and hope to get back into the hobby now that my children are getting older. Of course while at the reenactment my mind kept wandering to potential gaming scenarios. As a big fan of Black Powder, Black Magic I decided to create one. With the announcement of volume #3 and several articles addressing black powder, I thought it appropriate to post this home-brew scenario I whipped up.

Unhallowed Garrison

This short 0-level funnel for DCC RPG is set during the mid-point of the American Civil War in the year 1863. The players will assume the role of men and women traveling to a remote recruiting garrison. Some are going to volunteer for service and others are delivering supplies. Unfortunately for the PCs all the soldiers in the garrison are now undead. Constructed on top of a vein of demon ore, something was released into the garrison causing this supernatural calamity.

The garrison can be placed anywhere in the States or Dark Territories. For purposes of this adventure the garrison soldiers do not know they are undead. They still perform their daily soldiering duties but with decayed minds. The commander of the garrison is Captain Simon Buckner. The captain is duty bound and was known in life for shooting deserters, something that continues in undeath.

When the PCs arrive at the garrison it will be in the middle of the night. A terrible stench of decay will permeate the area. Although nauseating, odors like this are not uncommon during this time frame. The garrison is small and consists of a palisade surrounding a few buildings. A large sign with an arrow points to the recruiting station. The garrison will appear to be deserted but a flickering light can be seen emanating from the shuttered windows of the recruiting station.

Recruiting Station

Inside the PCs will find Captain Simon Buckner, his back to them, seated at a desk. The reek of death is almost palpable here and flies buzz around the entire room. Once he is addressed the Captain will turn around revealing his emaciated and rotted countenance. The Captain has absorbed the bulk of whatever foul essence was inside the demon ore.  He is now considered a patron level creature, known by his men as The Old Soldier. As such the Captain is immune to mundane attacks, and any attempts by the PCs will be fruitless.

The Captain will demand the PCs sign their recruitment forms and prepare for the company surgeon to perform a medical inspection. At this point the characters should be terrified and running for their lives. When they spill out into the garrison more soldiers in various state of decay will start to appear. The Captain will follow screaming the PCs are deserters and commanding his men to kill them.

On The Run

If the PCs stay and fight it should be a slaughter. The garrison has thirty undead Union soldiers and of course Captain Buckner himself. One takeaway of this adventure is to expose PCs to The Old Soldier so he can be used as a recurring villain in a future games. As most BPBM sessions occur in 1880, legends of The Old Soldier could have been passed down to the next generation. Below please find several encounters to use as the PCs try to escape the garrison soldiers.

1. Undead Infantry Attack. Several of the rotting soldiers pursue the PCs. Although they shamble some and can be outran, their Springfield rifles have a long reach. The undead never tire and will track the PCs all night, able to smell the warm blood coursing through their veins. They will march is close formation; fire volleys when possible, and fix bayonets if melee occurs.

Undead Union Soldier (10). Init -1; Atk Bayonet +1 melee (1d6) or rifle +1 missile (1d12); AC 10; HD 1d6; MV 20’, Act 1d20, SP un-dead; SV Fort +4, Ref -1, Will +2; AL C. Each soldier is armed with a Springfield Model 1861 and 10 minié bullets.

2. Undead Artillery Battery.  This unit is setup on a low ridge with a clear view of the valley leaving the garrison. It will fire the cannon on the PCs if they are being pursued by any infantry from their company. They are using shrapnel rounds with a bursting charge which consists of 75 iron balls. The cannon has a range of 400 yards and will be fired to explode some 15’ overhead of the PCs. Each time the cannon is fired the PCs must make a DC12 Reflex save to avoid the bursting rounds. Those which fail take 1d30 damage. If the PCs cross the valley and charge the artillery position, the crew will defend the cannon. Anyone with the appropriate background (Artilleryman, Gunsmith, etc.) may be able to operate the cannon with some help.

Undead Union Cannoneer (4). Init -1; Atk knife +0 melee (1d4) or light pistol +1 missile (1d8); AC 10; HD 1d6; MV 20’, Act 1d20, SP un-dead; SV Fort +4, Ref -1, Will +2; AL C. Each cannoneer is armed with a knife, Colt Model 1860 Army, and 12 bullets.

3. Sacred Cabin. A storm will enter the valley causing a down pour of rain and lightning strikes. The weather will hamper the PCs greatly and also risk potential death. Every round the PCs stay traveling in the storm there is a cumulative 5% chance of a lightning strike which causes 4d6 damage. Those looking for shelter will notice some nearby ruins. One of the buildings appears to be an old wooden cabin with a serviceable roof. The inside of the cabin is Spartan with a filthy old mattress, broken desk, and ash filled fireplace. Unfortunately, it was built atop a sacred burial site of a local Indian tribe. The combination of the storm and undead activity in the area has awoken a violent spirit. When the storm passes the PCs will find the remnants of a haunted bivouac site outside.

Angry Ghost. Init +1; Atk lifedrain +2 melee (1d6); AC 12; HD 2d12; MV 30’ fly; Act 1d20; SP un-dead, life drain; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +4; AL C. Life drain: This attack withers the target and replenishes the Angry Ghost’s HP total.

4. Powder Mill. Perched nearby a river is the old Croxton Powder Mill. Several accidental explosions in 1861 closed the mill permanently. The orders for powder far exceeded what the little mill could handle and greed cast safety aside. With the garrison soldiers still in hot pursuit, this large building is a perfect place for the PCs to make their last stand. All walls are constructed from stone and still sturdy. The inside is mostly devoid of anything but enterprising PCs will find barrels of powdered charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter.

Anyone with the appropriate background could lead the group into making some makeshift powder kegs. Since this is the final encounter let the player’s use their lobby GM roll liberally. Allow the PCs to create 2d30+28 damage points of powder kegs before the garrison soldiers siege the powder mill. They can divide the points up into different increments per keg, with a minimum of 10 points. When they explode anyone in a 30’ radius takes the damage, DC12 Reflex save for half.

Undead Union Soldier (10). Init -1; Atk Bayonet +1 melee (1d6) or rifle +1 missile (1d12); AC 10; HD 1d6; MV 20’, Act 1d20, SP un-dead; SV Fort +4, Ref -1, Will +2; AL C. Each soldier is armed with a Springfield Model 1861 and 10 minié bullets.

Undead Union Cavalryman (6). Init -1; Atk Sabre +1 melee (1d6) or light pistol +1 missile (1d8); AC 10; HD 1d6; MV 20’, Act 1d20, SP un-dead; SV Fort +4, Ref -1, Will +2; AL C. Each cavalryman is armed with a sabre, Colt Model 1860 Army, and 12 bullets. These undead are mounted on skeletal horses which have a MV of 40’. The latter will collapse into a pile of bones if its rider is destroyed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Road Trip: The Frazetta Art Museum

This past weekend I completed a quest long in the making with two good friends. For many years the three of wanted to visit the Frazetta Art Museum in East Stroudsburg, PA. Being Pennsylvania residents this seemed like a no-brainer. However, busy family life often has a way of placing road trips like this on the back burner. Fortunately, we were finally able to coordinate our trip and it was well worth the wait. But before I discuss our visit to the museum it may be best to talk about its namesake.

Frank Frazetta (1928 - 2010) is a legend. I can think of no other fantasy artist in recent history that is more iconic and influential. Anyone who is a fantasy paperback reader from the 1960s on should instantly recognize his amazing work. My favorite piece, Princess of Mars from the Edgar rice Burroughs novel, hangs proudly in my office. My buddy Ike tells a great story of how he found two Conan novels in his Easter basket as a child (coolest Mom ever award?). It was that unique imagery that instantly hooked him to the genre.

Frazetta’s work had its own vibe of fantastical beasts, diabolic sorcerers, curvaceous women, savage warriors, and vivid colors. Interestingly Frazetta, both handsome and muscular, almost appeared to be one of his characters. His amazing illustrations would go on to both grace and influence music and cinema projects. When it comes to role-playing games, more often than not, my mind’s eye definitely was influenced by Frazetta. Especially when you are not using a pseudo medieval backdrop for you campaign world. When looking for inspiration for a brutal realm of sword and sorcery, I can think of no better place then Frazetta.

It was for all these reasons my friends and I wanted to visit the Frazetta Art Museum. The museum resides on the original 67 acres of Mr. Frazetta's private estate, in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Inside is a wonderful gallery of original works and several item collections from Frazetta’s personal life.

My friends and I left early since we had a little less than two hours of driving to get there. The weather was beautiful, we had some old school metal playing, and the trek felt like a teenage road trip of yore. Just finding the museum however was part of the quest, as there were no signs or indicators once we got close. Our GPS ended in the middle of a tree line, so we found a place to turn around and alas, it was actually the driveway entrance to the property! A narrow, winding path lead us under canopy of trees whose tops were lost above us. Then suddenly a red capped building, complete with iron gates and statues came into view. We had arrived at the Frazetta museum!

We were a tad early and needed to stretch our legs so we decided to walk the property a bit. A large pond extended away from the museum, complete with a small dock. All around majestic trees almost seemed to wall the property in. It was obvious that Frank Frazetta was in part a private man, and the estate around us reflected it. Soon someone appeared in the distance and waved us toward the museum. We would later learn this was Frank Frazetta Jr. after he greeted all three of us inside.

I’ll be honest, I was not sure what to expect when I passed through the iron gates and double wooden doors. I originally envisioned a much more cavernous space. That being said, I would categorize the interior as large, and you need a good hour to take it all in. We perused some of the art for a bit and then Lori Frazetta arrived and gave us a fantastic tour of the collection. Not only was she incredibly personable, but Lori really was a wellspring of information. Learning the history of the various pieces displayed really added to the enjoyment factor of our visit.

Below are some pictures that were taken with permission of Frank Frazetta Jr. and Lori Frazetta. I explained to them I was a blogger and wanted to help the museum get more exposure. You will notice all my shots were taken with a wide view. I did this intentionally since I don’t want to ruin the experience of visiting for anyone. Besides, a close up photo of any of the pieces would do them no justice. You really need to visit the museum and see the wonderful work of Frank Frazetta for yourself.

Frank Jr. and Lori Frazetta were gracious hosts and very passionate about the museum. I could definitely sense their joy in telling stories about the life of Frank Frazetta and sharing his fantastic work. They have several plans to hopefully expand the museum in the future which I would love to see come to fruition.

If I could pick one thing to improve it would be the inclusion of description plaques. It would be nice to see the name of the painting and when it was created.  During our visit there were several pieces I had never seen before. While this was exciting, I instantly wanted to know more about them without having to keep asking questions. Obviously this is a minor point, but one that may also help when there are several visitors at once.

If you live in the Tri-state area, or happen to be visiting, I encourage you to explore the Frazetta Art Museum. In terms of bucket list items this should be one any fantasy art fan should include. Places like this are magical and the continued support of fans is very important. Please re-share this post so other Frazetta fans potentially unaware of the museum can learn about it. For additional information about The Frazetta Art Museum please use the following links:

Frazetta Art Museum

Frazetta Art Museum Facebook

Frazetta Fans Facebook

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Remembering Dave Hargrave

In memoriam, I wanted to talk a bit about Dave Hargrave aka The Dream Weaver. Today would have been his birthday as he was born May 25, 1946. Most grognards know him as the author of the The Arduin Trilogy. They are, in order, The Arduin Grimoire, Welcome to Skull Tower, and The Runes Of Doom. For the uninitiated, Dave was way before his time in terms of contributions to role-playing games. Sure, modern game designers and players alike often criticize what seems like a bunch of house rules cobbled together. But what is important to remember is this was 1977, just a few years after the release of Dungeons & Dragons. This is the same year that Star Wars exploded onto the big screen! Dave was not only writing, but publishing arguably the first gonzo RPG material.

Arduin was the off the hook, kitchen sink of campaign worlds! Between the brutal critical/fumble charts, super-science, and unique fantasy elements, these little books were something special. At the time high fantasy similar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle earth dominated the RPG scene. Hargrave took that foundation and turned it upside down…and then kicked it a few times. The take away from Arduin has and always will be, that mixing genres and being imaginative is a good thing.

Hargrave’s Arduin was the original 0-level funnel where characters would often perish in some gore-laden way. Dave, a Vietnam veteran, actually commented on Arduin mortality in Different Worlds Magazine #31 (1983):

I think that war is the ultimate stupidity, and that the one real drawback to most fantasy role-playing games, and wargames, is that the consequences of combat are never fully understood by the players. To swing a sword or fire an arrow is going to result in blood-letting, pain, and even death-it is all a game to be sure, but the intent of the players is still the same. Thus I have always tried (with my Critical Hit Chart and such) to forcefully bring home to the players that battle and battle results are always ugly and terrible.

Dave also commented in Different Worlds Magazine #2 (1979) that over 700 player characters had perished in his campaign. At first glance that may seem like hyperbole, but make that assumption AFTER you read through the Arduin material!

I first saw the wacky little digest booklets sometime in the mid to late 1980s. One of the older players in our gaming group had them on his book shelf. I remember very distinctly being enamored with them, as the lower production quality had an ancient tome vibe. As a teenage boy artwork like Shardra the Castrator (Google it) was the subject of endless laughing and jokes. It would not be until many years later that I acquired my own set of the trilogy. In terms of gonzo material it remains a wonderful source to mine ideas from.

Just like the Mountain Dew we consumed during all night game sessions, Arduin was the nitrous oxide of early role-playing games. Those of us who enjoy gonzo RPG material owe a big thank you to Dave Hargrave. Furthermore, self-publishers and fans of DIY material should really appreciate Dave’s work. Creating something with an electric typewriter and whiteout is just about as old school as it gets. So later today take out your percentile dice or Zocchihedron and roll a few critical hits for Dave!

Dave Hargrave's 1977 Critical Hit Table

For those interested in adding Arduin to their own collection, Emperor’s Choice has all the volumes compiled in a modern product line. If you are a fan of Arduin or interested in more information here is the link to the Google+ group.

"The ARDUIN TRILOGY contains the most innovative and challenging Adventure Gaming system on the market. The Trilogy is several hundred pages and handsomely illustrated. Each volume is crammed with new spells, monsters, treasures and character types; plus a definitive system of rules to satisfy the most demanding FRP enthusiast. Arduin is an "anything goes" system, whose only limits are the player's imagination!

The Arduin Trilogy is recommended only for those players with some experience in Adventure Gaming and looking for even more challenge and enjoyment. For novice players, we recommend the "Arduin Adventure" to learn the true path to fame, glory and adventure."

Copyright 1977 - David A. Hargrave - Grimoire Games

Monday, May 23, 2016

Curse of Strahd: Old Bone Grinder

Warning: Curse of Strahd Spoilers Ahead!

This past weekend the players in my Curse of Strahd campaign found their way to the Old Bone Grinder. Once a grain mill, it is now the abode of a coven of vicious hags. The hags are trapped in Barovia but are making the most of it with their baking hobby. The dream pastries they create allow Barovians to enter a near euphoric state of happiness when consumed. Practically addictive, when a family can no longer afford them the hags are willing to trade. The item used for these barter sessions are the Barovians’ children, which just happen to be the key ingredient in the dream pastries. The hags use the windmill's grindstone to pulverize their little bones into powder. For background people with souls are rare in Barovia. This causes the hags to prick children with a needle; if the child howls in pain, that’s a key indication that the child as a soul.

This terrible form of corruption is indeed horrid to contemplate. Adults are basically consuming their own children for a chance to escape the dread land for a short time. When the players piece all this information together they will likely be outraged and want to act. The problem with this approach is a coven of hags is not to be trifled with, especially for lower level characters. Our game session had one character death and nearly ended in a nasty TPK. Two of the hags are believed to be defeated and one is known to have escaped the area. Since my players will most likely be reading this post I will not definitively share what that outcome will be.

Hags and crones have been used for ages in stories to scare children, Hansel and Gretel being a tale most are familiar with. I love the inclusion of Morgantha and her wretched daughters, Bella Sunbane and Offalia Wormwiggle in the Curse of Strahd. In our session my friend Ike’s character had the windmill deed found in the Death House adventure. After ousting the hags from the windmill his arcane trickster attempted to use the deed to claim ownership of the Old Bone Grinder. A few arcana checks and makeshift ritual later, I decided it worked thus preventing the coven from entering the windmill for one year. I’m sure the hags will be perfectly fine with this change and won’t mind it at all!

This got me thinking more about the coven and their macabre baking sessions. Night hags enjoy tormenting dreams and sowing sorrow throughout the land. Surely the dream pastries cannot be the extent of their confectionery skills. Therefore please find below a few new delicacies to add to your own Curse of Strahd campaign.

Spiteful Strudels (1d6)

1. These pastries are filled with a rich sweet cheese which will satisfy the most demanding connoisseur. Unfortunately, the cheese is crafted using the powdered fingernails of a ghoul. A creature that eats one in its entirety must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or become paralyzed. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

2. This doughy pastry is filled with minced tree-ripened apples and has a tart flavor. Each apple was carefully chewed by a Night Hag and infected by their saliva. A creature that eats one in its entirety must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or fall unconscious. It wakes up if it takes any damage or if another creature uses its action to shake the sleeper awake.

3. These flaky and savory puffs are filled with spinach and broccoli. The vegetables are grown using compost created with the rotting flesh of zombies. A creature that eats one in its entirety must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or develop Flesh Taut disease. One day after infection, the creature’s flesh starts to become chilled and rigid. The creature takes a −1 penalty to checks that rely on dexterity. At the end of each long rest after the symptoms appear, the penalty worsens by 1. When it reaches −5, the victim has developed acute Rigor mortis and has their movement halved. This can only be cured with magic such as lesser restoration or heal.

4. These flavorful delights have a deep appetizing red color. Made with a blend of cherries, their tartness is carefully balanced with a sweet glaze. Unbeknownst to everyone the latter is created with the bones of hapless Vistani travelers. A creature that eats one in its entirety must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or believe they are Vistana. They will dress in bright clothes; laugh often, and drink heartily. This behavior will gain the attention of the true Vistani, and the pastry eater gains disadvantage against their Evil Eye for 1d4 months.

5. These pretzel twists are covered in cinnamon sugar and are a favorite of Barovian children. The hags also sprinkle something far more sinister on top. Small diseased rodents are captured, dried out, and powdered. A creature consuming a pretzel twist in its entirety must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or it can’t regain hit points except by magical means. Additionally their hit point maximum decreases by 3 (1d6) every 24 hours. If the hit point maximum drops to 0 as a result of this sickness, they die. This can only be cured with magic such as lesser restoration or heal.

6. These meat pies are lovingly cooked with delicious gravy and mouthwatering bits of venison. Semi-sweet sugar is sprinkled on top of the pies to balance the strong meat flavor. Unfortunately, the meat is not all venison, as the hags also include corpse flesh of those they murdered. A creature that eats one in its entirety must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for one minute. For the duration they can see the memories of the dead they have consumed. Every round, before the effect ends, the target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or take 4d10 psychic damage. On a successful save, this condition ends.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Curse of Strahd: Reliquary Relics

Warning: Death House Spoilers Ahead!

In the reliquary of the Death House adventure the PCs find a collection of unpleasant items. The cult was using these “relics” during their rituals. In the published adventure all the items are worthless and stored in thirteen niches along the walls. I decided that maybe that was true at the time, but the power of the Death House has altered them. The presence of the undead has a unique way of seeping into things. So below please find these "relics" presented as unique magic items of varying power level.

Reliquary Relics

01. A small, mummified, yellow hand with sharp claws (a goblin’s hand) on a loop of rope. Once on each of your turns as a bonus action, you can mentally command the hand to crawl up to 15 feet and interact with an object. The hand can perform simple tasks, such as fetching or grasping things. It has AC 15, 7 HP, and Strength of 8, and it can’t attack.

02. A knife carved from a human bone. Crafted from the thigh bone of a murderous Barovian, this vile tool now works as a compass. As an action, lay the knife on a flat surface and it will point to any undead within 30 feet of you. If there is multiple undead in different locations the knife will simply spin.

03. A dagger with a rat’s skull set into the pommel.
This weapon is considered magical but offers no bonus to hit or damage. Once per day the wielder may summon a Rat Swarm into service for one round. While this occurs the rat skull chatters and grinds its teeth constantly.

04. An 8-inch-diameter varnished orb made from a nothic’s eye. As an action target one creature within 15-feet. The target must contest its Charisma (Deception) check against your Wisdom (Insight) check. If you win, the eye allows you to magically learn one fact or secret about the target. The target automatically wins if it is immune to being charmed. There is a 10% cumulative chance per use of this weird insight that the orb crumbles to dust.

05. An aspergillum carved from bone. Any liquid placed inside the aspergillum immediately becomes a shadowy tonic. The living will notice a strange antiseptic smell, while the undead sense sweetness. Any undead within a 20-foot radius will be mildly attracted to liquid sprinkled from the aspergillum. They will casually seek out the euphoric odor so long as they do not see the living or have anything harmful occur.

06. A folded cloak made from stitched ghoul skin. This unholy garment is cold to touch and causes revulsion in those that see it. The wearer of this cloak gains advantage on saving throws against the paralyzing claws of a ghoul. In addition ghouls will regard the wearer with indifference but they must be extremely cautious.

07. A desiccated frog lashed to a stick (could be mistaken for a wand of polymorph).
This bizarre wand can be used a spell focus which has a unique ability. Once per day the wielder may command the desiccated frog to animate and a deliver a melee combat spell. The frog can dash 60-feet per round and uses the wielder’s attack rolls. If the frog takes any damage it’s immediately destroyed and reappears the next day on the wand.

08. A bag full of bat guano. This calcified excrement is magically imbued to explode in a cloud of yellow, nauseating gas when thrown. The bag contains 1d4 congealed balls of bat guano which work as the 3rd level conjuration, Stinking Cloud when striking an object.

09. A hag’s severed finger. This shriveled green digit is warm to touch and covered in perpetual slime and algae. Once per day the finger can change the owner’s appearance for up to one hour. They will appear as a bent old woman with sinewy arms and rotted green teeth. Their charisma will also be halved but they will gain the ability to breathe under water normally.

10. A 6-inch-tall wooden figurine of a mummy, its arms crossed over its chest.
This forbidden item was purchased in a faraway land and brought to Barovia. The owner of this figurine becomes cursed with bad luck and cannot part ways with the figurine. The owner of the figurine cannot gain advantage from any source. A Remove Curse (or DM created quest) is required to remove the bad luck and abandon the figurine.

11. An iron pendant adorned with a devil’s face. Inscribed on the back of this strange pendant is the name Acererak. The devil face has a large gaping mouth inside of which swirls a strange black energy. Anyone sticking their finger inside the mouth will immediately be surrounded by nothingness. The pendant is able to cast Darkness when used this way. There is a cumulative 10% chance per use that the pendant crumbles to dust.

12. The shrunken, shriveled head of a Halfling. This morbid fetish has eyes which dart to and fro when the living are nearby. As a bonus action once per day, the owner of the head can command it to sing songs about heroes of old. This causes all allies within an earshot to gain advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

13. A small wooden coffer containing a dire wolf’s withered tongue. This tongue tapers to a thin tip which is curved into a ladle-like form. When picked up a lapping sound can be heard and the tongue will pull the wielder toward anyone who is wounded. If permitted, the tongue will magically lick away wounds involving blood (DM adjudication required). This ability may be used once per day to heal 5d4 + 4 damage. The amount rolled may be split among multiple targets.

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The Mists are perfect this time of year. Enjoy your stay!