Wednesday, October 22, 2014


From Lynn Carter's The Warrior of World's End

"His sizzling tubular  blade flew past her ward to strike at her head.  Even in the last extremity of effort she glided to one side, avoiding the full force of the stroke.  But the energy sword left her a glancing blow on the temple.
     The numbing electric shock wrung the strength from her. Stunned and reeling, she let her longsword fall from nerveless fingers.  She crumpled to her knees, fighting against the impalpable darkness that surged up to drown her consciousness.  Then a sword point struck her unguarded brow.  The shock of it drove splinters of incandescence through her brain and she fell to one side and knew no more."

The electro-sword has a tubular 'blade' with a conventionally shaped ceramic hilt.  Despite having two blunt points or prongs on the tip, it is a bludgeoning weapon that does 1d4-1 damage on a hit.  It's power lies in the disabling electrical shock it delivers with each successful attack.  If you're system has a Hit Location mechanic use it, or use the following chart to determine hit location and effect,

Roll d20LocationEffect
19-20HeadSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 18 or fall unconscious for 2d6 minutes and staggered for an additional 4d6 minutes
16-18Left ArmSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or arm becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Anything in the hand is dropped.  A shield on the left arm only protect against attacks from the left.
13-15Right ArmSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or arm becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Anything in the hand is dropped.  A shield on the right arm only protect against attacks from the right.
11-12ChestSave vs Blast  /Fortitude DC 14 or Die as ventricular fibrillation sets in.  Add four to your die roll when saving vs Blast.
9-10AbdomenSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or your diaphragm convulses forcing the air out of your lungs.Lose all attack actions for the next 3d4 rounds.  Plus you are flatfooted for the first three rounds as you gasp for air.
5-8Left LegSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or your leg becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Make a balance check DC 16 or fall.  No combat maneuvers or tumbling may be done while your leg is numb.   Lose half your Dexterity adjustment to AC and -1 to melee damage as you concentrate on staying upright.
1-4Right LegSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or your leg becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Make a balance check DC 16 or fall.  No combat maneuvers or tumbling may be done while your leg is numb.   Lose half your Dexterity adjustment to AC and -1 to melee damage as you concentrate on staying upright.

Critical Hit - save as for a Chest hit.  If the origial hit was to the Chest, save again.

These weapons are especially sensitive to sundering.  A successful Sunder will cause 3d6 damage to everyone within 5 feet.

Metal armor makes it easier to receive a shock, for every two points of protection provided to the defender by metal armor, attacks with the electro-sword receive a +1 attack bonus. No modification to damage.  For example in ACKS, Plate Armor is AC 6, Electro-swords attacking someone wearing Plate Armor receive a +3 Attack Bonus.

Electro-swords hold up to twenty charges.  Recharging them is the stuff of legend, some say they can only be recharged by slaying a blue dragon, others say they require new 'batteries' a strange power device from across time and space, another says they need to be planted in the sunlight like flowers and Petocles the Mad claims you just rub them with cats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oddest Places

I was searching for information on Zverts - my search term was 'monster zvert' - and Mr Google threw up this a link to this document.

What's odd about it is that it's from USAF SAMSO TR 78-57 on GPS Navigation Algorithms from May of 1977.   I don't remember seeing the Navy including footnoted myths in technical documentation, but then I was a ship driver, not a wing wiper.

Book Report - The Warrior of World's End

Lin Carter was the last of the great? pulp sci-fi/fantasy writers.  At least the last one I read with any consistency.I started picking up odd volumes of his when I was in high school, these aren't great literature, but they are (usually) fun reads.

This is the first volume of his World's End series, following the career of one Ganelon Silvermane.  Despite it being a series, the books are essentially standalone volumes. I picked up the third or fourth book in the series first and didn't find any of the others until sometime in the last five years.

Ganelon isn't a human, rather he is a construct of the mysterious Time Lords (no I don't know if Carter had been to England and caught the first Doctor on the telly, but the timeline would be right).  Released from his vault fully grown but with the mind of a new born, he is found and adopted by Phelsco the Godmaker and his wife during the Eon of the Falling Moon.

In quick order (the book is only 151 pages) he almost singlehandedly defeats a horde of 60,000 rampaging Indigons, is apprenticed to the Illusionist of Nerelon to escape being sent to serve the The Queen of Red Magic, is captured sold in slavery, escapes while rescuing the nubile Sirix Xarda, girl-knight of Jemmerdy and saves the Tigermen from the Airmasters of Sky Island and their Death Machine (all capitalized terms from the book).  It's a quick romp through a gonzo future and Ganelon's adventures are just starting.

I give it three skulls for the writing and the fourth because it consciously and conspicuously  lacks all seriousness.

Let the Players Tell the Story

Gnome Stew has a post Don't Describe Combat that somewhat tangentially makes this point.  Encourage the player to describe the final blow, it immerses them into your narrative and develops the character.  Obviously, the first time you ask some players may look at you funny and say "I stick it with my sword/Blast it with my ray gun", a follow on question about macabre details should prompt them to be more creative the next time.  It's really good advice to add more places where the players can add to the narrative and I'm hoping to remember this piece for my next session.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Alternative Means of Interring Vampires

Here's a brief survey of some folk remedies for keeping the dead quiet.

Bulgaria - iron stake through the left side of the chest PLUS removal of the lower left leg.  Apparently it makes them tip over when they try to hop after you.

Bulgaria - bind the hands of the dead

Romania - remove the heart of the corpse

Italy - put a brick in the corpse's mouth so they can't feed

Poland  - cut off the head and bury it between the legs.

Colonial America - bury the head in skull & crossbones position (not sure how you do that without complete dismemberment)

The source of these is a Daily Beast article, which is fitting as we're talking fantasy.  [Trigger warning: Do not read the article if you are easily offended by incoherent grammar, fifth grade level factual mistakes (Thracian is the name for the historical inhabitants of Bulgaria, not the name of a city) and/or use of the word ancestors to describe descendants of people previously alive.]

Another Take on Stymphalian Birds

Follow Me and Die has posted his version of Stymphalian Birds for Ad&D.  I really like the shooting bronze feathers as arrows.  But I thought they were encountered in mountains rather than swamps and forests.  Well, variety is the spice of life.  My take on the little beasties is here.  You can find all of Hercules labors on Tuft's Perseus site

Monday, October 13, 2014

Soloplay CotMA III - Of Ghosts and Vision

Myrphines - scion of the Heraclidae
Midymnoios Moncheri - Paladin of Athena, called One Hand after losing his left to a carnivorous fly
Thekitor - dwarven delver
Segestes - Barbarian warrior of the Harii.  Came south along the Amber Road.

The Egyptian - Landlord of the 'Old Fish', cheapest lodgings in Scodra

They remained in the noisome inn while the paladin recovered from his maiming and while they considered their options.  Myrphines decided to sell the ring they had discovered in the dungeon in order to finance a move to more salubrious quarters and to purchase a weapon Midmymnoios could wield one handed.  Afterwards they would enter the dungeon following Myrphine's map.

Chaos 5.  Rolled a 1 Altered scene - the party goes to sell the ring and re-equip as originally planned but they encounter a pickpocket along the way.  the first level thief rolled an 18 on the pickpocket check and the target was randomly determined to be Segestes the barbarian.  He never felt it as the Silver Wrist band was slipped from his arm.

 Thekitor took them to a jeweler in Fire Beetle Lane, who he said his cousin had recommended.  Selling the ring put 67 gold in Myrphine's purse (Thekitor lost his Bargain roll resulting in a 10% loss in value).  Then they went to the smithies by Bridgegate to purchase a spear and shield for the paladin.  When they returned Segestes gave an oath - one of the silver bracelets he had won on his journey had been stolen from his arm.  Perhaps it had been the Epriot barmaid while they were listening to the Scordisci tell the tale of the Grand Druid in Gaul whose daughter is a tree, or man who had tripped and bumped into him outside the jewelers.