Sunday, February 11, 2018

OSR Necromancer. Based partially on Necroscope

Like most every tinker-DM out there I've done various Necromancer classes of my own and used others found online. I decided to redo another. This one is partially based on  Brian Lumley's Necroscope. The primary feature of this Necromancer is the corpse interrogation ability; he is a torturer of the dead, tearing secrets from corpses in a gory ritual of desecration. 

In addition he casts spells as any other magic user and can attempt to take control of undead encountered. To balance this out he is prone to afflictions of the body, mind, and soul which will make social interactions difficult, probably heading towards the old torch and pitchfork end of the spectrum. Here we go.....

Prime Requ: Int
Exp: As Magic User
HD: 1d4
Save: As Magic User
Attack: As Magic User
Armor: None
Weapons: Dagger, Dart, Sickle, Sling, Staff, Whip
Alignment: Any non-Good

Class Abilities
As basic Magic User. Can use Ritual Magic and Infernal Options.

Control Undead
The Necromancer has a chance to control undead creatures encountered. The maximum  HD of undead controlled by the Necromancer is equal to twice his HD. Individual undead can only be controlled if the undead creature's HD is equal to  half of the Necromancer's or less.
Example: An sixth level Necromancer can control up to twelve HD worth of undead, but none of the undead under his control can be more than three HD creatures. Therefore he could control skeletons, zombies, ghouls, or wights (all three HD or less) but not wraiths (4HD.)

When attempting to control an encountered undead the Necromancer rolls a Turn Undead check as if a Cleric of equal level. If a successful roll is made or an automatic turn (T) is gained he can control a number of undead as described  above. The duration of the control is the same as a Charm Monster spell. While controlled the undead will obey any command given short of self destruction. If the result is destroyed (D) the the undead will obey any command including suicidal ones.

Corpse Interrogation
With a body at his disposal a Necromancer can gain information much like the Cleric's spell Speak with Dead. This is a mystical ability allowing the Necromancer to pull information from the souls of the dead through their remains. The process is not a communication as no questions are asked of the corpse. Instead it is a torture of the linked soul as the corpse is brutally violated layer by layer as the Necromancer uses his teeth and hands to rip open organs, crack bones, etc. Tasting fluids, marrow, fat, and flesh hidden information is pulled into the body  from the tortured soul and absorbed by the Necromancer from the sifting of the mortal remains.

The Necromancer must have an idea of the information he is seeking. If successful he will learn the identity of the corpse, basic knowledge of their life when alive, and any pertinent information related to what knowledge he is seeking. Other knowledge is not absorbed, the vast amount of memory and information would be too much for the Necromancer to process. Only information is gained; no class abilities, spells known by the corpse in life, etc can be gained from a corpse.

A corpse interrogation takes 1d4 +2 turns. If the process is interrupted the Necromancer must start over. Once the interrogation is over (and the success role made or failed) the Necromancer cannot attempt another corpse interrogation without eight hours of rest.

Necromancers are feared and hated by the dead. If the soul of a previously interrogated corpse is encountered as an incorporeal undead (as a ghost, wraith, etc) it cannot be controlled by the Necromancer. The soul must make a Saving Throw or flee the Necromancer's presence. If it makes its Saving Throw it will attack the Necromancer in a fury gaining a +4 bonus to attacks.

The chance for a successful Corpse Interrogation is 30 percent plus five per level. If the Interrogation is successful the Necromancer learns the information he was seeking if the corpse knew the answers in life.  If the Necromancer fails his success roll the corpse is useless to him; he has failed and cannot gain any information from that corpse. He may try again when he gains a level of Necromancer and the DM decides enough of the corpse is left to work with.

The age and condition of the corpse being interrogated can affect the chance for success.
Dead 1 hour, +15%
Dead 6 hours, +10%
Dead 1 week, base roll
Dead 1 month, -10%
Dead 1 year, -15%
Corpse is mummified, -5%

The Necromancer deals with powerful forces outside what mortal man was meant to play with. This will often corrupt the Necromancer physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is more likely to occur the greater the Necromancer's powers develop and he continually exposes himself to the dead and undead.

Each level of Necromancer gained calls for an affliction roll. The chance is a cumulative 20% plus 5% per level. Thus a first level Necromancer has a 25% chance at character creation. A character gaining fourth level has a 40% chance. And so on.

Afflictions are not normal medical problems or diseases. They are a supernatural decay of the body, mind, and soul. They cannot be cured with mortal magics short of a wish spell and even this has a 50% chance of failure.

When an Affliction is gained the DM or the Player (if the DM allows) may either randomly roll or choose one. There are many different lists for these types of things available out there including Ravenloft setting, The Complete Book of Necromancer's, various OSR blogsites, etc. Here's a few ideas cobbled from sources and a few of my own:

Physical 1-2
Mental 3-4
Spiritual 5-6

Physical afflictions most directly affect Charisma and, obviously, reaction checks involving the Necromancer. As he progresses in the black art he is more likely to appear less than human, tainted and cursed. Once these afflictions are discovered a populace is unlikely to tolerate a Necromancer's presence among them for very long. The negative Charisma modifier is only in play if a character knows or it or it is visible. Necromancer's quickly learn to cover up or disguise their deformities if they can be. Some are easy to cover, others are not.

1  Hair/Skin (Charisma -2 for each)
Hair (1-3):
1. All falls out, no hair anywhere
2. Cob-webbed as spiders nest in scalp
3. Grows over body in bestial patches
4. Metallic, fine hair thin wire
5. Turns white
6. Twitches and moves of its own accord
Skin (4-6):
1. Absent and showing raw muscle in places
2. Boils over large areas
3. Corpse-like, pale clammy and cold
4. Metallic or odd color
5. Mold over large areas
6. Rot over large areas
7. Scabs over large areas
8. Scaly over large areas
9. Scars raised as pictograms
10. Worm riddled, writhing and poking out of holes

2  Blood/Sweat (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Bugs
2. Ichor
3. Ink
4. Mercury
5. Grave stench mud
6. Stinking slimy worms

3  Eyes (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Empty sockets
2. Filled with worms
3. Glowing orbs
4. Metallic or stone orbs
5. Never blinks
6. Odd color

4  Teeth (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Twice as many, baby-like and tiny
2. Fused together
3. Glass
4. Glowing witchfire
5. Metallic
6. Rotted
7. Stone
8. Tentacles for teeth

5  Tongue/Voice (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Black and rotted tongue
2. Demonic voice
3. Face or teeth on tip of tongue
4. Serpent tongue
5. Hyena-like laugh
6. Insect parasite has replaced tongue
7. Slug-like in color and textured tongue
8. Long raspy cat-like tongue

6  Hand (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Bestial hairy hand (1d4 claw damage)
2. Fleshless bones
3. Fused fingers
4. Metallic, stone, or glass nails
5. Suckers on palm and fingers
6. Tentacle fingers

7  Leg (Charisma -2 for each, half move but does not stack for more than one)
1. Fleshless bone from knee down
2. Bird or lizard foot and shin
3. Hoof foot and shin
4. Metal foot and shin
5. Stone foot and shin
6. Twisted leg

8  Extra Bits/Other  (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Extra mouth somewhere
2. Eyes, small and in wrong places
3. Gills, nonfunctional
4. Grave stench
5. Horns (1d3 damage)
6. Hunchback
7. Massive goiters
8. Tail
9. Tentacles, small
10. Vestigial arm or leg

Madness affects the Necromancer's behavior in ways that are disturbing to the normal person. Eccentricities and odd behavior mark the Necromancer as weird, abnormal, or srange and can be difficult to cover up. Specific madness's can penalize the Necromancer's actions, cause Cha loss, lose spells, or even cause hp damage.

1. Addict: You crave alcohol or drugs. To get through the day you must have at least a bottle of drink or a hit of drugs to keep yourself going. If you do not have your daily fix all actions are at -4/20% until you get your drink or drug.
2. Compulsion: You must do certain things each day. Deliberate and sometimes weird things. Compulsions can include such things as having to wash your hands when near water, turn in a circle five times and clap when talking to strangers, etc. The DM can call for these randomly (at least one per play  session) and you must make a Saving Throw to avoid doing your little ritual. If you must do it immediately or take a -2 penalty to actions until the ritual is completed. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are so distracted by your compulsion you take a -4 to actions until the ritual is fulfilled.
3. Dark Personality: When under stress (DM's call) you must make a Saving Throw or a darker piece of your psyche emerges. You are more aggressive and every time you are irritated or challenged you become violent towards the object of your irritation. This lasts for 2d6+4 rounds. Once it ends you come to your senses, even if still in a fight. You will not manifest this again for 1d6 hours. You gain a +1 bonus to melee/unarmed damage while in this state.
4. Insane Quirk: You have personality quirks. Severe ones. It can get so bad people become agitated by your presence. You may be paranoid, talk to yourself, wildly laugh inappropriately, constantly fidget, mimic those around you, or other socially inappropriate behaviors. You may be afflicted with tics, stutters, strange gesturing, tremors, etc. You receive a -2 to Charisma for your quirk. You must make a Saving Throw each morning. If you fail your particular quirk is particularly bad today increasing your Charisma penalty to -4 for the day.
5. Mask of Sanity: When under stress (DM's call)  you must make a Saving Throw or Charisma drops by half as your instability shows throw and makes those around you uncomfortable. Those who see this will be shaken by this glimpse of madness and remember and the Charisma penalty will always be in effect when dealing with them.
6. Mutilator: You cut, beat, or burn yourself. When you are stressed you must make a Saving Throw or be overwhelmed. To calm yourself you damage yourself doing superficial damage. However if you fail the save by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you go overboard and do 1d4 points of damage.
7. Night Terrors: There is no rest when you dream. You have vivid nightmares and wake up sweating and screaming. Each night make a Saving Throw. If you fail you are at -1 actions for the rest of the day. If you fail the save by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) they were exceptionally bad and, along with the -1 penalty no spell slots are regained.
8. Phobia: You have an irrational fear of an object or situation. The DM will choose an appropriate one. When faced with the source of your fear you must make a Saving Throw . If you fail you take a -2 penalty to actions while in the presence of the fear. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are paralyzed, unable to act until the source of fear is removed. Such things could be salt, holy items, doctors, etc.
9. Twitchy: Your are a nervous wreck. Your nerves are shot and your defenses against Fear and Madness are low. You take a -4 penalty to Saving Throws involving fear or madness spells or situations as judged by the DM. You also receive a + 1 bonus to initiative from being so high strung,
10. Voices: You hear voices telling you things, arguing with you, taunting, or just giving bad advice. You suffer a -2 to Charisma. You must make a Saving Throw each morning. If you fail they are exceptionally loud and annoying today and you can't help but talk back to them, increasing your Charisma penalty to -4 for the day. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are constantly distracted by them and take a -2 penalty to actions.

The rotting of the Necromancer's very soul. The Necromancer is cursed to inhuman behavior, conditions,  and appetites. When seen these are very obviously supernatural and usually immediately marks the Necromancer for a good burning at the stake.

1. Animal panic: Horses, dogs, and other normal animals shun the Necromancer. When coming within ten feet of natural animals, the animals must make a Saving Throw or panic and attempt to flee, coming no closer than 30' to the Necromancer.
2. Impure: If the Necromancer comes in contact with salt or is submerged in running water he takes 1d4 damage per round of contact or immersion.
3. Infernal Appetite: Must ingest one of the following daily: blood or human flesh (1d4 hp); bones, grave-dirt, rotted flesh, rust (1 pound), etc. If the condition is not met the Necromancer cannot regain spells, control the undead, or use corpse interrogation.
4. Name of the Beast: if the true name of the Necromancer is known to his enemies and used in a spell the allowed Saving Throw for these spells is at a -5 penalty. This applies to charms, damaging spells, anything with a Saving Throw.
5. Nocturnal: Sunlight bothers the Necromancer; all actions while the sun is up, even if the Necromancer is under cover or even underground, are at  a -4/20% penalty.
6. Rejection of Nature: Withers vegetation and the very soil when casting spells or using Necromancer abilities (1' radius per level of Necromancer.) The vegetation rots and the soil turns to fine decayed dust.
7. Repulsion: if presented with a holy item or mirror the Necromancer must make a Saving Throw to approach within 10' of the object.
8. Rest of the Dead: The Necromancer must sleep in direct contact with a corpse to regain spells or control undead.
9. Unholy: Direct touch of a holy item or cold iron on bare skin does 1d4 damage to the Necromancer.
10. Vow: Once giving their word with a bargain, contract, or a vow the Necromancer has difficulty breaking it. To do so he must make a Saving Throw with a four penalty to break it.

Art by Mia-Mann

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Another update/slight tweak of my OSR Spaghetti/Traditional Western rules.
Check it out if you haven't here.

Clarifications on a few things such as multi classing, tweaking and adding in a few equipment modifiers for fast draw initiative (why medium pistols, .45's, can mechanically compete with the more powerful .44-40 cartridge), and added in short rests to help hp recovery in low magic settings.

I'll be applying these changes to my Victorian, Mythos and Mayhem, and other OSR rule sets I run.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Sleazy Dandy Class. OSR

The Sleazy Dandy  
"To live and die before a mirror"

Historically a dandy is a man who takes great  care with his appearance and mannerisms, often dressed in flamboyant clothing and affecting cultured or aristocratic mannerisms, hobbies, and language.  Dandy's are not Fops. Fops are a French court craze and can be identified by their white face makeup and wigs and carefree behavior . Dandy's are serious and demand respect; Fops are irreverent and demand attention

The Sleazy Dandy takes the style and sensibilities of a Dandy and puts them to use making a profit from gambling, favors, and good old fashioned conning and thievery. Beautiful on the outside, ugly on the inside.

Sleazy Dandy
Prime Requ: Charisma
Exp: As Thief
HD: 1d6
Save: As Thief
Attack: As Thief
Armor: Leather. No shield.
Weapons: Cane, dagger/knife, light crossbow, pistol, rapier, razor, razor edged cards, sap, shortsword/sword-cane, throwing knife, whip.

Class Abilities

  • Hear noise, open locks, pick pockets, and backstab as a Thief of equivalent level.
  • Gambler: adds +1 to gambling checks (1d6, high roll wins) at first level, an extra +1 at levels 3, 6, 12, and 20.
  • Contacts: With a successful Charisma check the Sleazy Dandy may ask one favor of a contact for things such as information, access to restricted information or areas, etc. The favor will be things not generally available to the average citizen. The contact will not endanger himself or his employment and may negotiate a payment or favor in return if the request by the Dandy is difficult or unpleasant. The Sleazy Dandy adds a bonus of +1 to the check at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20. The Sleazy Dandy can use this ability once per adventure at level one and an extra time at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20.
  • Schmooze: Equivalent to a Charm Person spell once per day and one extra time at levels 4, 9, and 16.

The Sleazy Dandy has a reputation of being fashionable, well groomed, and obsessive over his appearance and mannerisms. To maintain this he must spend at least 50 gp per level per month on clothing, fine cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, etc to maintain his lifestyle. If he fails to do so his Charisma and bonuses for his Contact rolls are halved and those he tries to Schmooze receive a bonus of +4 to their Saving Throws. 

If his clothing is damaged or his appearance dirty or disheveled the above penalties apply until he gets himself cleaned up and in fresh fashionable clothes.  

To maintain his appearance his equipment must cost at least twice the normal prices due to fine tooling, gold inlay, etc. Of the rack is not an option for the Sleazy Dandy.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Power Metalist: A not so serious OSR class

Prime Requ: Chs
Exp: As Cleric
HD: 1d6, +1 after ninth level
Save: As Cleric
Attack: As Cleric
Weapons: Any one-handed melee, ranged weapons.
Armor: Studded leather or lighter, shield.

This is not a subtle class. It is a garish spectacle of shock, awe, and rock. The Power Metalist must be able to sing and usually loudly to use his abilities.  If silenced he is just another mortal man. His voice is his life and his salvation.

Power Metalists travel seeking gold, glory, and babes. They relish the spotlight a hero receives and their ultimate goal is to enter Metal Valhalla upon death to rock with Metal Legends of the Past but can only do so if they die famous, rich, and epic. The measure of what is 'epic' is left up to the Metal Gods, and they can be fickle. 

The Power Metalist lives to sing. The louder and more brutal the song the better. A part of the cult of Metal (known as Metalheads) he has achieved a state of metalosity above the average singer and wordsmith with his craft and can physically effect the world and those around him with his voice. 

Power Metalists prefer black leathers adorned with spikes, chains, mail, and an assortment of bracers and grieves often with skull motifs. At first glance they are often mistaken for Necromancers. They can use any one-handed weapon and any ranged weapon. They often combine their holy guitars with axes to create a versatile instrument/holy item/weapon. These Holy Metal Axes have the stats of battle axes with the cost times five.  They will also seek out legendary musical weapons, even across time and space if necessary, such as the fabled Metal Axe rumored to be lost in Universe ASE2_3.

Power Metalist Special Abilities
Voice of Doom
The Power Metalist can focus his voice to damage a target. He can do nothing else in the round except for normal combat movement; the Voice of Doom takes all of his focus. The attack is a straight line with a maximum range of 30'.
The Metalist must roll a ranged attack to hit the foe; cover bonuses do apply. If succssful the damage is 1d6. 

Metal Wind
The Power Metalist can use his voice to create a wind strong enough  extinguish torches, disperse gases, and move object smaller than one pound. The Metal Wind is a cone effect as shown below.

Metal Storm
Increasing the power of his voice the Power Metalist can create winds strong enough to move objects up to one pound per level of the Metalist and batter enemies caught in the path of the Storm. Those caught in the Storm must make a Saving Throw or take 1d4 damage per two Metalist levels (round up) for each round they are battered by the voice and flying objects. Those caught in the Storm attempting to attack the Power Metalist suffer a penalty of -1 to melee attacks and -2 to missile attacks. 

The Power Metalist can do nothing else in the round except for normal combat movement. He can only maintain this effect for up to 1d6 rounds + 1 round per every three levels of the Metalist; he can end the Storm at any time prior to this. The Metal Storm is projected as a cone just like the Metal Wind.

He must rest his voice for 1 round for every two the Metal Storm was used. He cannot talk nor use voice abilities until this rest is taken.  If is so stressful on the Metalist's voice that he can only use the ability once per day at first level and once again at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20.

Metal Wind/Storm Cone
Level       Feet
1-3 10x15
4-6 15x20
7-9 20x25
10-12 25x30
13+ 30x30

Power Metalist Powers (Identical to spells)
Level One: Pick three powers. Usable 1/day.
At Level Two, Four, Six etc pick a new Power or increase a current one by one use per day (up to a maximum of 3/day.)
There are four Power Levels. Each is available at certain Character Levels.

The Powers are not true spells but are spell-like abilities and are treated as spells in every way except for duration.
The Power only lasts as long as the Metalist is singing at the target. If he stops singing, for any reason (Silence spells, gagged, etc), the Power immediately ends. He can have multiple Powers enabled at once, but they all end the moment he cannot sing. If hit with a disruptive attack such as a tackle, breath weapon, etc the DM may call for a Saving Throw to see if the Metalist can maintain his song.

Character Level: Available Power Level
1-5: PL I
6-10: PLII
11-15: PL III
16-20: PL IV

Power Level I
Charm Person
Hold Portal
Protection from Evil

Power Level II
Charm Monster
Hold Person
Protection from Evil 10'

Power Level III
Feeblemind (Affects all classes. Duration is 1 hour + 10 minutes per Mentalist Level.)
Hold Monster
Power Word, Stun

Power Lever IV
Mass Charm
Power Word, Blind
Power Word, Kill
Time Stop

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

OA OSR First Adventure Basics: For Jerry :D

Jerry Williams: here's the first one. I'll get to the second soon.

OA OSR Outline: Black Temple of the White Mountain
PC's: Level 8. Two ronin (a Duelist and Archer by class) and a peasant hunter (Scout.)
They are well known as mercenaries, adventurers, and treasure seekers hiring out to local lords for special missions too difficult or too distasteful for their clan honor.

It is Fall in a year of the early Edo period. The  PC's are wandering through Aki Province when they are summoned to the small manor house of a poor fief manage and his sons. The small Sonoki clan has a problem: a village near the fabled White Mountain is being raided. Men killed, women and children kidnapped, rice that would be used for taxes stolen.

The clan is already poor and understaffed: the majority of samurai from the clan has been summoned by the Daiymo of Aki to fight in a skirmish to the east. If these raids continue or spread further word might reach the Daiymo and the Sonoki's could be dissolved and their meager lands confiscated.
The rice must be recovered to add to the fief's taxes to the Daiymo.
As many people as possible must be recovered to work the fields for future crops and taxes.

The PC's are given this information and accept and offer of 150 ryo (gold) each for their services and their silence once the job is completed. They accept. The Sonoki's are honorable: if the PC's live and keep silent in the affair they will not betray their contract.

Thus the PC's head off towards the village of Kiko near the base of the White Mountain, 12 miles from the fief manor.

The PC's arrive a few hours later at the village. The 78 population village is surrounded by rice paddies and vegetable fields on the south, east, and west. To the north is rolling hills turning to forest and then the mountain looming above everything.

The village headman Isu and a popular farmer Hosimo meet the PC's in the town sqare next to the village shrine and stone Buddha. They are quickly invited into the headman's home for food and drink when they reveal why they have come. They also leave coins at the shrine seeking the Buddha's favor.

  • Favor of the Buddha: if an offering is given sincerely the PC rolls a 1d6. If a 1 is rolled the PC receives one of the following: Gain a +1 to attack/attribute/ability rolls for one hour OR reroll one roll including attack, damage, etc. The PC must choose which is gained. 

They gain the following info from Usi and Hosimo:

  • Raiders came down from the north trail from the Mountain. With the raiders were Sohei (guardian priests) in black armor and a large half-oni. They have attacked twice in the last week.
  • The villagers managed to kill a Sohei and have the body pickled in a barrel. The PC's examine the body, weapons and arms. They discover the Sohei's arms are covered with strange glyphs and strip the skin. They give it to an old woman who handles the dead to tan the skin so they can take it with them.
  • When asked about the Black Temple Old Man Isu tells of a villager who crept up the mountain decades ago. The villager described a strange black stone temple at the mountain top and of fighting horrors to escape. They produce a white scalp that they claim the villager took from an oni on the mountain.
  •  Rumors have swirled over the years from various sources such as priests and wisemen: the Temple is home to a terribe Sorcerer known only as The Wickedest Man in the World and he used his dark powers to raise the temple stones from the heart of the cursed mountain, etc...

It is near dark and there are screams across the village: the Raiders have returned.
Waiting for them in the center of town the Duelist prepares his dotanuki (warsword) for combat. The Archer climbs atop a storehouse for a sniping position, and the scout hides in the alley between the store houses to backstab anyone he can.

Over twenty raiders sweep into the village square. Among them are:
Raider Chieftain Mitseru (Raider-5)
Sub-Chieftain Garuto (Martial Artist-6)
The half-Oni mercenary Bo'San (1/2 Oni Warrior-6)
Two Sohei
Five horsemen
Over a dozen footmen

Mitseru leaps from his horse in front of the Duellist and the two throw down a number of verbal threats before Mitseru attacks and a massive battle begins.

The fight is brutal.
During the course of the fight the Duelist kills Mitseru, Garuto, several footmen, and two horsemen all near the Stone Buddha shrine (which is broken by Garuto in a missed drop kick attack.)

On the roof of the storehouse the Archer fires methodically cutting down or wounding a number of foes across the town square. He aso smashes a cask of oil on  a horseman and his mount then lights them on fire with a paper lantern igniting both and causing the horse to bolt through the town with the flaming corpse on its burning back. (Between this and Mitseru's death many of the footmen flee from a bad morale check.) The two Sohei manage to make it to a ladder to the side of the storehouse and try to climb up. The Archer rolls a barrel of rain water onto the first Sohei who falls onto the second Sohei smashing both to the ground. The first is killed and the second is badly hurt. The Archer pins him to the ground with a war arrow killing him as  well.

The Scout backstabs Bo'San and goes one-on-one with his great axe versus the half-oni and his vicious tetsubo. The Scout is in bad shape before Bo'San realizes the others are dead or fled and he attempts to flee taking a parting arrow from the Archer in his calf. The Duelist and Scout  chase him down to the edge of the village, to the path in the hills north of the village, while the Archer recovers non-broken arrows. The Duelist and Scout cut the beast down in a bloody three way duel.

The PC's bind their wounds and accept medicinal healing from the Old Woman. They are given Isu's house to rest for the night as several days food (almost the last of the villagers supplies) are prepared for their journey. Cold weather clothing, blankets, ropes, hooks, etc are also prepared.

Night falls.
The PC's are sleeping soundly when the Scout is awoken to the noise of the house door sliding open. He awakens the others as two ninja enter the house. The Duelist waits for then to slide the bedroom door open before slicing through the rice paper killing both.

Outside ninja light the roof on fire as others break through the windows, the roof and the floor panels. The fight is bloody as the Duelist engages the ninja leader, dodging blinding powder and following him outside and almost onto caltrops and taking a poisoned shuriken to the arm. The two engage in a short but epic sword battle as a hidden ninja begins to pepper the Duelist with shuriken.

Inside the house the Archer and Scout kill the attacking ninja and flee out a window as the flaming roof collapses. The Scout heads round the house as the Archer runs into another ninja. The two begin to wrestle but the Archer prevails flinging the ninja through the flaming winow into the house inferno.

Meanwhile the Scout knocks out the last hidden ninja (the shuriken thrower) as the Duelist finishes off the leader, revealing him to be Hosimo, the highly regarded farmer who greeted them with the Headman.

Friday, December 8, 2017

OSR Oriental Adventures: Mystical Classes

Magician, Mahotsuki, Onmyoji
Ability Requirements: Int 13, must be of Lawful alignments.
Exp: As Magic User
HD:  1d4
Save:  As Magic User
Attack:  As Magic User
Armor:  None
Weapons:  Bo, jo, tanto, pipe, fan, sling.

The Magician casts spells as a Magic User with the following changes...

The Magician can only cast spells via rituals.

The Magician receives a extra spell slot per spell level at each level of Magician. For Example: In Swords & Wizardry a  third level Magic User would have three 1st level spell slots and two 2nd level slots available. The  fourth level Magician has four 1st and three 2nd.

The Magician may cast both Magic User and Cleric spells. If a spell is listed in both the Cleric and Magic User lists the Magician uses the Magic User version.

The Magician have a chance to cast spells of a higher level than he has spell slots for. The spell must be found via tome, scroll, teacher, or other source to obtain it. Study time is one week per spell level. At the end of this study time the Magician makes a roll of 10 + 1/2  level + Int bonus - the spells level, on a 1d20. If successful the spell is learned and can be cast as a ritual once daily. If failed the Magician must continue studying the spell for another week.
Only one spell at a time can be studied.

The Magician has the option of practicing Infernal Witchcraft.

Potions, Salves, and Charms
A Magician may work any spell known into a potion, salve, or charm.
Potions must be drunk, salves applied to skin, and charms hidden on or in the house of the target of the spell.

Spells which compel the target to obey the caster, such as Charm, work as if the person who gave the potion/salve/charm to the target were the caster to be obeyed.

Creation time is the same as for rituals and costs the daily spell slot of the spell used. The Magician can make a number of items equal to his level, and each has a shelf life equal to the Magician's level in days.

Bonus Languages
The Magician must master many languages both modern and archaic in his studies.
He receives twice the number of beginning languages and can save the extra language slots for use after character creation. With a proper guide or teacher he can learn a new language well enough in four weeks time to speak, read, and use it for studying. This can help save a spell slot which might otherwise be used for Read Magic.

Sorcerer, Wu Jen, Witch
Ability Requirements: Int 13, must be of non-Good alignments.
Exp: As Magic User
HD:  1d4
Save:  As Magic User
Attack:  As Magic User
Armor:  None
Weapons:  Bo, jo, tanto, pipe, fan, sword, short sword, short bow, shuriken, sling.

As a standard Magic User with the following additions:

Unlike the Magician the Sorcerer can cast spells normally.  He can also cast both Magic User and Cleric spells. If a spell is listed in both the Cleric and Magic User lists the Sorcerer uses the Magic User version.

The Sorcerer can cast ritual magic and can use the Folkloric and Infernal options.
The Sorcerer can attempt to cast spells of a higher level. The Sorcerer may add half his level rounded up to the casting roll. 

Given an hour of brew time, and the proper ingredients herbs such as human or animal parts, the Sorcerer can create virulent poisons. The poison can be ingested, contact, or injected as the Sorcerer desires. At first level the Sorcerer's poison does 1d6 hp damage and an extra 1d6 at levels 3, 9, 12, 15, and 18. The poison is insidious and slow; starting one hour after exposure it does 1d6 damage per hour until the available d6's of poison are used or the victim is dead. A Saving Throw is allowed during the initial 1d6 hp loss and if successful, all damage done is for half damage as the poison runs its course.

The Sorcerer can also make an antidote for the poison. When given it stops all damage.

Both poison and antidote have a shelf life of a number of days equal to the Sorcerer's  level.

Control the Dead
The Sorcerer can Speak with Dead as per the spell once per day at first level and one extra time daily at every fourth level.

The Sorcerer can Animate Dead as per the spell once per day at first level and one extra time daily at every fifth level.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Kolchak Files OSR: The Zombie

The Nightstalker was a great resource for horror detective gaming. Fun, not overly complicated, and always moving forward. The plots did not sit idle, a lot was needed to be done in the 50 minutes of each episode, just like a good game. Lots of clues, lots of clue sources, research, a few minor encounters before the main monster brawl. Perfect game rhythm. 

In the second episode of The Kolchak: the Nightstalker series (1974) Kolchak encounters a zombie, an undead automaton raised by voodoo magic to avenge its own death.

"Popular folklore would have us believe that there exists in the underworld ruthless men who fear nothing. This story should debunk that myth."

The story opens at night, August 14 at 2 a.m. in a seeding part of town.  Inside of a shipping container is a secret counting house of the Benjamin Sposato crime family. The doors are barred from the inside with a stout wooden board as Al Berg, Sposato's incompetent brother in law, is leading a group of mobsters counting and preparing money from their rackets. Among them is Willie Pike, former boxer. A loud pounding on the door begins, shaking the container and cracking the door bar. The mobsters run around in a panic collecting money and shredding documents as the door flies open and a shadowy figure climbs in. The mobsters open fire but the figures fling them aside, grabbing Pike above its and breaking his back. Berg escapes in the confusion. Thus begins the terror of the Zombie.

Kolchak is at the INS office as his boss, Tony, begins to butter him up for an assignment. Kolchak resists until Tony mentions his resources tell him it's am exclusive: a raid on a syndicate (mob) burial ground, a full raid involving tactical units. Kolchak takes the bait and Tony throws in the catch: Monique Marmelstein, niece of NY INS exec Abe "the Smiling Cobra" Marmelstein. The plump Monique is young, inexperience, brusque, and way to eager. Kolchak finally gives in and she goes with him in his yellow '66 Ford Mustang.

"Captain Leo Winwood and I had a relationship that was long and bloody, like the Crusades, only without the chivalry."

The duo arrive at the raid site, Apple Farms and Cider Works a front run by mobsters James and Perry Russo. They arrive in the midst of firefight as the police Captain Leo Winwood, a serious not fan of Kolchak's, has given the order to attack when fired up by the Russos. Monique puts herself in danger trying to take pics prompting Kolchak to trick her into and locking the car trunk. He then exchanges a few barbs with Winwood as the shooting subsides. The mobsters have been killed. Entering the bullet riddled farmhouse Captain Winwood comes out and bars reporters from entering to take pictures. Seeking more information Kolchak goes to visit a contact at the morgue.

Gordy "the Goul" Spangler runs a death lottery from the morgue, forcing Kolchak to buy. Kolchak then pays for info on the Russo's bodies.. Gordy acknowledges that they are here and mentions WIllie Pike from two nights prior, showing Kolchak x-rays that refute the official police report of death by 'severe blows'. He also reveals (after trying to get more cash out of the broke Kolchak) that a third body, a large black man was at the Russo scene as well. Gordy reveals the body was there last week, dead of six .44 mag  slugs, and there was chicken blood in the ears this time. They are interrupted as Tony calls a distracted Kolchak to apologize to Monique but Kolchak is busy listening to Gordy and hangs up as soon as Gordy promises to get info on who the black man was and where he was buried. He then runs off to an official police briefing.

Kolchak and Captain Winwood verbally duel as Kolchak demands to know about broken backs and about the third body at the Russo farm. Winwood deflects the questions only answering basic questions about the third corpse and abruptly ends the briefing as Kolchak brushes off the attempts of other reporters for info.

A phone call from Gordy leads Kolchak to the black man's second burial at St. Lucie's cemetery as city expense. This is confirmed by an older cemetary worker who thinks they are burying bodies on atop the other. Captain WInwood shows up to watch the burial and encounters Kolchak who throws more questions at Winwood who not so subtlety threatens to break his arms if he doesn't get lost.

A trip back to Gordy's (and another unwanted death lottery ticket) reveals the black man was one Francois Edmonds, a young bookie apparently hit by the Syndicate. Gordy theorizes that Edmond's was almost caught as a bookie and swallowed bookie receipts and the Russo's dug him up for 'exploratory surgery.' Kolchak immediately dismisses this as Gordy reveals there's been problems between the black numbers operators on the south side and the syndicate.

Kolchak tries to place a bet and get info on the south side but none of the bookies will do it. He poses as a former customer of Francois Edmonds and he is told to get a 'lucky' number at a voodoo shop, Le Bocor. There he meets the aged Uncle Filemon who will give him a lucky number for eleven dollars. He pours out a bowl of bones and other items and asks Kolchak about his dreams to find his lucky number. Kolchak tells him he dreamt about Francois Edmonds and Uncle FIlemon states that it must have been a bad dream. Kolchak is them spooked by a chicken in back of the shop as Sweetstick Weldon and his men enter the shop. He is a major black numbers boss and remembers Kolchak as writing a piece on him referring to him as ' an all around civic headache' and Kolchak denies this (that was my brother Marshal!) Kolchak's snooping has alerted Sweetstick and Kolchak doesn't seem to take the hint too shut up about Francois Edmonds as Sweetstick's right hand man Poppy gut punches him and throws him into the street. Later that night Al Berg is killed in an alleyway, back broken in the air. This prompts a meeting between the syndicate head and the numbers operators.

Kolchak hits up another of his contacts, the Monk, and gets the location of the meeting, a midtown garage owned by Benjamin Sposato. At 8.21 p.m. Sweetstick arrives with his men in a purple pimp cadilac to meet with Sposato and his men. Insults and threats are exchanged as Kolchak tapes the exchange in secret. The meeting ends unresolved and Kolchak fumbles with his recording, causing to to make noise as it rewinds. He is caught and brought to Sposato's limo. Sposato remembers Kolchak as the one who crashed his daughter's Barabar's wedding (no no that was my brother Sydney!) Sposato remembers Kolchak's 'two dollar hat' and is going to have Kolchak hurt badly or killed by Carl saves himself by telling them he knows that Francois Edmonds is killing his men. They know he's buried in St. Lucie's but Kolchak swears he's not there now.

Sposato and his men, including his right hand man Victor Friese, drag Kolchak to the grave and make him dig it up. It is empty and they mobsters begin to panic and argue as Friese did the killing of Edmonds but Sposato denies giving the order as they begin to believe Kolchak's assertion that anyone connected with Edmonds' death is being killed. Loud footsteps are heard and the zombie enters the scene. Sposato's men try to shoot the zombie but he batters then aside and ignores their bullets. Friese tries to run but trips over the grave dirt. The zombie picks him up, breaks his back, and leaves. The police arrive soon. The Sposato's have fled, leaving Friese's corpse, and Carl is still sitting in the grave, waiting on the cops.

"I saw Victor Friese get his back snapped! I heard it crunch!! ...and the man who did it was dead - dead - and had been dead for over two weeks!"

Kolchak is being held in Captain Winwood's office as a disheveled Tony Vincenzo arrives to bail him out wanting to know what Carl has done this time. Winwood lists:  grave desecration, suspected theft of corpse,  various health law violations, and setting next to a fresh body. When allowed to speak (he had been threated with a year in jail if he said anything) Kolchak raves about seeing Edmonds' walking corpse , the spine breaking murder, voodoo, chickenblood, and corn kernels. Kolchak is booted out into Vincenzo's custody.

Another trip to the monk reveals the name and location of Edmonds grandmother: Mamalois Edmonds, an old colorful Haitian lady.  Kolchak shows up at her door and she calls him in by name before he can knock. He questions her about where Francois' body is ( she claimed it was burned as a family custom), why she's called mamalois as he's heard of a papalois, a voodoo magician (she claims it's because she can cure little sicknesses with potions, etc). She asks Kolchak if he has any aches and he reveals a back problem. She mixes up a 'little medicine' of rum but Kolchak refuses to drink and flees the house to her taunt of 'you're crazy sonny!' Feeling slightly ill he spies a dead chicken in her trash and investigates. Doing this he sees her come outside with what looks like a mini-coffin, grab a chicken from a roost, and go into her garage, painted with a voodoo sign and a dead chicken hanging at the door. The garage is filled with voodoo paraphernalia including dead chickens, skulls, black candles, a cross with a tooth necklace, etc. On the alter are several mini-coffins with names painted on them in blood. Mamalois turns on a record of voodoo drums and starts with a ritual. Kolchak sneaks into the loft of the garage and, through a gap in the ceiling, begins taking pictures. He is horrified to see his name being painted on the new coffin, next to one with Captain Winwood's name. He heads back to the INS office to do some serious voodoo book research and write a zombie article.

"You oughta commit this to memory. You oughta really bone up on this, Captain. Especially the part on how to kill a zombie. What's the matter? You can't read? Well, I'll tell you how. You instruct all of your men that go out looking for this zombie to look in places of the dead- in graveyards, in cemeteries, in mortuaries or whatever. Each one of them has to be equipped with the following items- white candles, matches, salt and needle and thread. Now, after you catch the zombie, you pour the salt into his mouth. Then with the needle and thread, you sew the lips very tightly together." 

 "What do you do with it then, Kolchak? Cook the guy? Baste him with butter?" 

"No, you light the candles around him. So far, this zombie has only killed people who were connected to his murder. That's why its so important, Captain, for you to find out how to kill him. "

"And what's that crack supposed to mean?" 

"You see that little knickknack there, Captain? That is your coffin. And spelled in blood, chicken blood, on the top of it, is your name, Winwood. W- I-N-W-O-O-D. What it really spells, Captain, is not only are you a crooked cop, you're also a murderous one. How long have you been on Sposato's payroll, huh?"

Captain Winwood barges into INS to shut Kolchak down for good even threatening Tony with a number of fire hazard violations. Kolchak is not intimidated and tells the Captain how to find a zombie by looking in places of the dead and how to kill a zombie with the ritual of pouring salt in its mouth while resting, sewing its lips very tightly together, and then lighting white candles around the corpse while showing to Tony and Winwood the items he is raving about.
He then shows the pair the pictures with the voodoo coffins and names and outright accuses Winwood of being on Sposato's payroll and participating in Edmonds murder. Furious Winwood storms off with Kolchak badgering him to the stairway. Kolchak then tries to ditch Monique and heads out to Zachary's a nightclub where Sposato's girlfriend is singing in hopes the zombie will show up. It does killing a number of Sposato's men and breaking his back like the others. Carl shows up and begins snapping pictures soon followed by Monique who goes into complete shock from the carnage. Carl gently puts her in a cab bound for Brooklyn.

He then looks across the street and sees the zombie get on a city bus (yes you read that correctly.)   Kolchak gets his paper bag of zombie slaying gear and jumps on the back of the bus. The zombie soon gets off at an old wrecking yard: Moore Auto Graveyard.

Following it in Kolchak makes his way into the scrap yard amid stacks of rusting junk car, tripping over hubcaps and making a lot of noise at one point. Soon he finds it lying in the back of a wrecked hearse in a pile of cars. He onto the pile and warily takes a few pictures through the broken windows before climbing into the tight space in the back of the hearse and over the body to do the ritual to de-animate the corpse. He prepares by lighting a few candles, laying the sewing kit on zombie's chest, and begins to pour salt into the corpses mouth. He begins to shake and sweat as his nerves slowly begin cracking (one of the creepiest scenes IMHO in tv history) as he takes the needs and prepares to sew the mouth. As he's doing this Mamalois is working a ritual for the zombie to find and kill Kolchak. As he is about to pierce the lip with needle the zombie opens its eyes and looks about.
Carl's nerve shatters as Kolchak freaks out and runs. The zombie slides out of the hearse and swiftly pursues Kolchak over the car piles,  almost catching him. Kolchak manages to get the zombie to run into a looped cable from a crane, hanging itself in the air as he prepares three lit white candles on a hubcap beneath it. The corpse de-animates as the candles shake and blow out one by one. Carl's camera was smashed in the pursuit and he loses any evidence he might have had. Again.

"Item- Mamalois Edmonds was deported to her native country only one day after the events of the junkyard. Item- Captain Leo Winwood was relieved of duty for "reasons of health. '" Item- Francois Edmonds, the deceased, was buried a third time at public expense. A third time. However, this time rock salt was poured in his mouth, and his lips were sewn shut. City officials will deny this, but you can see it for yourself, if- if-you'd care to venture out to St. Lucy's Cemetery and exhume the corpse. Be my guest. If you've got the nerve."

Revenge Zombie
Hd: 3
Hp: 19
Ac: 12
Hit: +3
Save: 15
A corpse raised by a bokor or practitioner of voodoo magic for the purpose of taking violent revenge for some wrong, usually revenge for murder. The corpse is raised up with a ritual of awakening by the bokor and sent to kill those targeted, one victim at a time.

The revenge zombie is of course undead and has the standard zombie undead traits such as immunity to sleep and charm spells, etc. This type of zombie is as fast as a normal human being and moves at the standard human movement rate; they roll initiative normally. The revenge zombie takes half damage from piercing and blunt damage.

The revenge zombie's primary attack is to pummel with its fists for 1d6 damage. If the attack roll hits by 5 or more points the revenge zombie grabs its victim over its head instead of doing pummeling damage and begins to break the victim's back for an automatic 1d8 damage each round. The victim can try to escape the grip in the next round by making a Saving Throw with a -4 penalty due to the zombie's strength.

It must reast in a place of the dead such as mortuaries, graveyards, cemetaries, etc. The revenge zombie will go dormant until revived by the bokor controlling it. While dormant any hp damage done will be 'healed' after eight hours. Even if a revenge zombie is burned, dismembered, or even blown apart it can 'heal' if the remains are placed in a place of the dead. If the corpse is missing parts they can be replaced, stitched on the corpse from another corpse by the bokor. It continues to slowly rot as time passes. This will not affect its statistics, it only makes it look more horrific as it becomes mottled and bloated.

Once the ritual of awakening is started the zombie is animated and unerringly makes its way to the person it is aimed at. It will attack until it is destroyed or its target is dead. Once the target is killed it returns to its resting place to lie dormant and await the next ritual call.

But how did it get on the bus and how did no one on the bus notice?
That's always been a bit of fun fan speculation over the years. Were the seedier folks of Chicago that oblivious in 1974? Did they mind their own business that much?

My own theory is that Mamalois was watching over the zombie as it was animated. When Kolchak destroys it she was seen intensely concentrating and crying out in pain when it de-animated. Perhaps she must upkeep the ritual during the entire animation and she can cast other rituals through this contact such as a glamour to make it appear alive except by those she wished to see it, namely its victims and their allies. Perhaps she could slightly control the zombie's actions? Perhaps she had money in its pockets for bus fare? Ultimately it doesn't matter, just make something up. The unusual and absurd are normal in the Kolchak life.