Why Thundarr The Barbarian is Epic and Epitomizes How Minimalist/Rules-Lites are Fun and Viable

I just returned from a kick ass get together in Richmond, VA, dubbed WAYNECON!, with some truly awesome peeps!  I got to meet fellow games (and friends) in real life who I’ve been talking to for several years.  It was truly a kick ass experience.

Here’s some pictures

(Thanks to Bryan M for taking these pics (well Noah took the gangbang selfie)

 

Anyways during the festivities someone put Thundarr the Barbarian on the projector screen.  I haven’t seen this cartoon since I was a wee child, so for me it was like watching it for the first time.
I loved it.  It’s epic awesomeness and the adventures are amazing and totally fits with the type of games I like to run.

As I was watching Thundarr it really hit me how this show really hits the low mechanics/crunchy bits mantra for me.  The way I see it is each character has one ability (maybe two or three if you want a few) and that’s it.  It really puts the importance of the action of the story (or campaign) and the decisions you make that define your character and not the homogenous list of feats and spells.

This is why The Black Hack and Into the Odd resonate so well with me.  If I want crunchier I’ll go DCC or White Box.  I just like that simplicity and the freedom it gives.

thund09

Here’s the way I would break it down (and I’m gonna use Black Hack since that’s what I’m currently running/really enjoying).

Thundarr

Fighter: d8 HP/lvl

1 attack per level

Once per combat can deflect an attack, turning it into a failure.  If the weapon is a laser attack, roll a die and call even or odd- if you called the right result the shot is deflected back at the attacker for full damage.

Has Advantage on tests against Poisons and Diseaeses

Ookla

Man-cat-bear-thing (race as class): 1d12 HP/lvl- claws d8 damage- can see in the dark (Nearby radius)

Super strong: Has Advantage on feats of strength for lifting stuff, breaking things, flexing muscles, etc (not attack rolls).

Once per hour can do impossible feats of strength and be awesome (IE. lift a huge pillar of cement/vehicle/rock/etc.) and throw it, push it, or whatever.  No roll needed.

Once per combat can ignore damage from a physical attack.

Princess Ariel

Sorcereress: d4 HP/lvl

Has Advantage on tests against magic and charm-like effects.

Can cast spells- keep it low magic (only up to 4th level, anything else is a ritual).

Then boom- you play and the adventures develop your character instead of “how many feats do I need to take before my character is a swashbuckler?”  Oh and I would add the thief class since people really enjoy that archetype.  I prefer this method of play.  I am not knocking those who enjoy Pathfinder, 5e, etc.  I just wanted to discuss how the simplicity of Thundarr, to me, highlights how a rule-light system is totally viable and can be exciting.

I mean in one episode of Thundarr they battled Amphibious Amazonians, a mutated giant spider, disarmed a nuclear weapon, battled a humanoid-shark lady sorcereress, and a kraken that fired ink lasers out of its tentacles… Not once was it about the long list of abilities that the characters can perform, but their actions and decisions in the situations they were dealt.

I would be remiss to not mention Chuck Thorin’s World of Durth that he is working on currently that is inspired by He-Man and all that kinda stuff!

 


Level Zero Funnel Rules for The Black Hack

I love the funnel process of Dungeon Crawl Classics!  It’s fun to see squishy meat bags die fun and messy deaths in an attempt to gain riches and reach their potential!  However sometimes I prefer lighter rules- hence why I hacked DCC’s rules for The Black Hack.

Just click the link: The Black Hack Level Zero Funnel Rules

I also want to give a shout out to Adam M over at Kickassistan for the cool idea of generating stats as you use them.


The Black Hack: Cyber-Hacked! On Drivethru RPG

My bad for not doing a post about this launching on Drivethru/RPGnow!

the-black-hack--cyber-hacked-f

Art by Alex Mayo

Recently I released The Black Hack: Cyber-Hacked! on Drivethru.  I used the awesome light-weight Black Hack rules by David Black to create a gritty cyberpunk setting.  I thought it would be great to use to run low level Blade Runner/Cyberpunk 202o style games or even low level Shadowrun.  Too often I feel that cyberpunk games get lost in the minutia of the tech and it ends up becoming cumbersome and crunchy.  I created a die drop chart for hacking to make it more of a quick mini-game/exciting thing rather than just a few rolls.  People seem to be really digging it, with which I’m thrilled!

Vircades Project did a cool review of TBH:CH and what’s inside.

Also here are some reviews from Drivethru RPG:

Cyberhacked! is an awesome reskinning of the Black Hack. Mike Evans has really done a good job here, devising a simple mini-system for hacking that works quickly and feels exciting. He also gives you all the tables for cyber enhancements, weapons, vehicles, living expenses, and just the kind of stuff that always holds me back from just diving into a new homebrew game (now I have to create another list???). He’s done it for you. I definitely recommend this. (And the Black Hack if you haven’t checked it out.)

and

If you like cyberpunk at all, then you will love Cyber-Hacked! Mike Evans outdoes himself yet again! There should be grants given to individuals with such creativity. At $2, it is the deal of the century!

Feel free to check it out!  I do plan on writing up a full Cyberpunk setting in the near future, but gotta get Hubris and Land of the Spirits out the door first!

Aside: I got the final proofs back for POD of The Starrunner Kit– so once the last changes have been accepted at the printer, that’ll go live as well!


Hubris Cometh (SOON!) and the Klind March Across the Landscape of the Blighted Sands (some tasty art from Jeremy Duncan and Angie)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an update on Hubris on the blog (mostly been doing posts to KS backers).

Hubris is coming along nicely!  Alex turned in a first draft of the layout to me a few weeks ago and I have been tearing through it looking for typos and errors and we are working on the final bits of art placement and what needs to be done!

The book looks fantastic and the art is amazing!  Seriously a big thanks to David Lewis Johnson, Jeremy Duncan, Alex Mayo, Jason Sholtis, Wayne Snyder, and Angie (my wife) for their amazing efforts and enthusiasm on this project.  I really scored big working with this crew!  Honestly- if you are doing a RPG book and need art (or layout- looking at Alex)- HIRE THEM.  These are solid folks who do amazing work!

We are hoping to have a version of the PDF out to backers very soon (within the next couple of weeks) and we’ll make some final additions during that time and then I’ll put it on Drivethru RPG while we get ready for POD!

Also I need to give a big thanks to Donn Stroud, Adam Muszkiewicz, Trey Causey, James Raggi, Chuck Thorin, Reece Carter, and Kelvin Green for all their interest, support, and feedback about the project!  It’s been invaluable, awesome, and I appreciate it!

I thought I would also put up some new art from Jeremy Duncan and Angie!

Here are the Klind!

The Klind (from the Blighted Sands)

KlindClassesfinal (1)

From left to right: Sex Prophet, Desert Striker, Priest, Flesh Weaver, and Venomous Red Scale

The Klind Empire; the invaders, the slavers, the deviants, the worshippers of the serpentine god, Set, have made their home in this horrid land.  They roam the lands of Hubris in their bio-organic suits using the knowledge of their flesh weavers to create abominations and gather more slaves and sacrifices to be offerings to their dark god.

Set

Set trapped in his prison in the Void.

Sex Prophet: Init +0; Atk +0 as weapon, claws +0 melee (1d3 damage plus Luck Drain), AC 12; HD 2d4+1; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Luck Drain, Lust, Portend; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2; AL L.

Oracle, goddesses of the flesh, and temptress are all names given to these beautiful and dangerous beings.  All Sex Prophets are female and are held in high esteem, being blessed with rare abilities by Set himself.  Sex Prophets are the only Klind that do not don the culture’s bizarre bio-organic armored suits, instead wearing alluring and revealing outfits that entice others to enjoy the ways of the flesh.  In combat a target struck by a Sex Prophet’s claws must make a Luck check, failure results in1d3 Luck being lanced away from them (these can be regained at a rate of 1 per day).  Once per day a Sex Prophet can release a wave of maddening passion and lust in a 60’ radius. All in the affected area must succeed a DC 18 Will Save or collapse and writhe on the ground in a fit of passion and carnal pleasure until their next successful save.  Those that critically fail are driven mad, losing 1d3 Personality permanently and writhe on the ground for 1 hour.  The Sex Prophet feeds on the lust of her victims, allowing her to see prophecies of the future and replenishing her strength.  For every target that fails she regains 1d4 HP.  If the Sex Prophet is fully healed all additional 1d4 rolls are converted into 1 point of temporary HP.  Sex Prophets constantly see glimpses of the future as well as possible outcomes.  When a target lands a successful attack against a Sex Prophet they must also make a Luck roll- failure means that the Sex Prophet had foreseen the attack and was able to dodge out of harm’s way.  Critical successes always hit, the Sex Prophet cannot foresee everything…

 

Desert Striker: Init +3; Atk +3 Scimitar melee (1d8+2), +3 short bow ranged (1d6), AC 15; HD 2d10+2; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Bio-organic Armor Type III; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +1; AL L.

 

Desert Strikers are the foot soldiers and trackers of the Klind Empire.  They are dedicated to the teachings of Set and to their High Priest.  Desert Strikers prefer to set up ambushes and strike targets unaware, often flanking their foes and pelting them with arrows (there is a 15% that a Desert Strikers has 1d4 arrows laced with Asp venom (DCC, pg 446).  Desert Strikers all wear Bio-Organic Armor Type III (see description below).

 

For every 20 Desert Strikers treat the leader as a level 2 warrior.

 

Klind Flesh Weaver: Init +1; Atk as weapon +2 melee, Serpent Staff +3 melee (1d6 and poison- DC 12 Fort Save or paralyzed for 1d4 rounds), AC 13; HD 2d6+1; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Flesh Weaving, Bio-Organic Armor Type I; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +3; AL L.

 

The Klind Flesh Weavers are responsible for forming and growing the strange bio-organic armor that most of the Klind wear.  Aside from their armor looking slightly more ornate than most other Klind, it is their serpent staff that shows the Flesh Weaver’s station.  While not as skilled in combat as a Desert Striker or the elite Venomous Red Scales, a Flesh Weaver is able to hold their own by warping the flesh of their foes.  While growing the bio-organic armor takes extreme concentration and patience, the Flesh Weaver is able to use their abilities in combat.  If a Flesh Weaver concentrates on a target for 3 rounds, that target must succeed a DC 14 Fort Save or have some part of their flesh warped.  Roll 1d14 for effect: 1) Legs are fused together; 2) Eye lids are sealed; 3) Lips disappear; 4) Arms fuse together; 5) Arm fuses to abdomen; 6) Leg atrophies; 7) Arm atrophies; 8) Skin takes on melted appearance; 9) Skin melts away on arm, exposing muscles; 10) Lips are fused together; 11) Face becomes stretched; 12) Fingers become fused together; 13) Toes become fused together; 14) Skin melts away on face, exposing muscles.

 

The best of the Flesh Weavers are elevated to the station of Grand Weaver.  Grand weavers are treated as level 4 alchemists, are extremely rare, and held in high esteem among the Klind.  The Fort DC for their flesh weaving is increased to 20.

 

Klind Priest: Init +1; Atk bite +1 melee (1d3+1), as weapon +1 melee/ranged, AC 14; HD 2d6+1; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Invoke the Name (+5 check), Bio-Organic Armor Type II; SV Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +3; AL L.

 

Klind Priests bring forth the message of Set unto the masses.  They cast dark rituals and offer sacrifices to their deviant god.  Through the dark pact with Set, priests take on a serpentine appearance.  Their eyes become that of a snake, their nostrils mere slits, and their mouths thin and stretched with small fangs.  Priests are able to Invoke the Name of Set as a cleric would, receiving +5 to their roll.

 

For every 10 priests there is one level 1 cleric that resides over the den.  For every 50 members of the den there is a level 3 cleric.

 

Venomous Red Scales: Init +4; Atk as weapon +4 melee/ranged, Red Scimitar +5 melee (2d4+3), AC 16; HD 3d12; MV 30’; Act 2d20 plus bite 1d16; SP Poisonous bite, Bio-Organic Venomous Red Scale Armor; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3; AL L.

 

These elite Klind warriors are a terrifying sight with their armor of red reptilian-like scales that is covered in small barbs and hooks; their helmet resembles the head of a red asp of the Slithering Peaks.  Very few see what is beneath the helmet, and even fewer have lived to describe it.

 

To become a member of the Venomous Red Scales the initiate must travel to the Slithering Peaks and survive a bite from a Red Asp and then and take part in the Ritual of the Serpent, transforming them into a half man-half snake hybrid.

 

A Venomous Red Scale is able to deliver a bite attack that deals 1d6 damage.  Those struck by the bite must succeed a DC 18 Fort save or die.  If the target succeeds they suffer 2d6 Stamina damage and develop a high fever until healed naturally.

 

A troop of 20 Venomous Red Scales is led by the Serpent Head, a level 5 warrior.

 

Bio Organic Armor Info

 

Bio-Organic Armor Type I- Ignores 1 point of all damage, regenerates 1 HP per turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 8 hours, grants low-light and infravision 30’, can breathe in a sandstorm up to 1 hour.  AC +3, Check Penalty -0, Fumble die d8.

Bio-Organic Armor Type II- Ignores 2 points of all damage, regenerates 2 HP per turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 8 hours, grants low-light and infravision 60’, can breathe in a sandstorm up to 4 hours, can grow claws (1d4 damage).  AC +4, Check Penalty -1, Fumble die d8.

Bio-Organic Armor Type III- Ignores 3 points of all damage, regenerates 3 HP per turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 12 hours, grants low-light and infravision 90’, can breathe in a sandstorm up to 4 hours, can grow claws (1d4 damage).  AC +5, Check Penalty -3, Fumble die d10.

Bio Organic Venomous Red Scale Armor– Covered in barbs that do d4 damage to any target in a struggle with wearer.  Ignores 3 points of all damage, regenerates 4 HP every turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 24 hours, grants low-light and infravision 90’, can breathe in a sandstorm indefinitely, can grow claws (1d6 damage). AC +6, Check Penalty -4, Fumble die d12.


Land of the Spirits Group 2 Session 1 Recap- Saving the Princess of the Moon

Yesterday I kicked off a second campaign of Land of the Spirits playtest which uses the awesome Black Hack rules.  I was very excited because this group and I hadn’t gotten to play together in nearly a year due to time constraints, schedules, etc.

Group 1 session one recap and session 2 recap.

Players

Omar- Human Shielded Warrior

Fletch- Clan of Tusk Shaman

Nate- Clan of Fang Hexer

John- Barnlig Twilight Blade

A well-rounded group!

Recently strange happenings have been going on in the land of Náttúraheim (Home of the Spirits); water turned to blood, people were weepy and mopey, food spoiled, animals were found on the roofs of houses, etc.  The races all believed it the work of mischievous Spirits… However on the night before the campaign started, the moon disappeared.  Something was amiss.

The group awoke in a strange and horrific looking room.  Sulfuric steam issued from vents while a thick milky-white mucous dripped from the walls.

original

The walls of the Glemt ruin

Crouching on a dais above them was a Spirit with the appearance of a goatman.  When the group came to and got their barrings, the goat man spoke.  He introduced himself as Baetram and that he was the guardian of the Princess of the Moon.  He then started sobbing saying that he only dozed off for a moment!  Just a moment, but when he came to the Princess was being dragged by something into these ruins!  When he entered he knew he was in a Glemt ruin!  He knows they hunger for Spirits, so he dare not go any further.

The name Glemt stirred a memory for Omar and John.  Omar recognized them as campfire stories that Spirits have told him while in Ny Berjastad (the human capital).  John recognized them as horror stories based, largely, on fact.  Thousands of years ago the Glemt came and began killing Spirits and absorbing their energy.  He didn’t know how or why they left, but they did.

Baetram pleaded with the group to go rescue the princess!  They asked how they got here and he said he used his magics to bring slumbering heroes to his aid and it worked!  Then the group asked what it was in for them- Baetram shook his head and bleated, “Can you imagine the world with no moon!?  Do you want that!  The moon is sad and will not come back without his wife!”  That was good enough for the group.

Thus the dungeon dive began

Glemt Ruin

Here is the dungeon I created for this

Highlights

Black OozeFighting the black oozes was a good opener.  It allowed the players to get the feel of combat, take some damage, lose some armor points, and really see the simplicity of the Black Hack (also getting to try out some of their class/race abilities).

 

When they got to the Glemt Abomination- this freaked them out (yay) and they took a couple of good hits before Omar critically succeeded and dropped her!

Glemt

The Glemt boss fight was fun!  It emerged from the shadows and threw a vial of green choking smoke.  It took two rounds for them to emerge from the fog to get to the Glemt.  The Glemt got two attacks a round and could cast terrify each round on a single target (I changed it from once per day, it just felt right to me).  The group took quite a bit of damage from the Glemt and Omar and Fletch spent time running away from the creature after failing their WIS test against the terrify effect.  Omar canceled it by channeling his spirit animal (the bull)- immediately canceling a fear effect 1x/day.

Finally Omar landed the killing blow on the Glemt.  The group had four pathways to explore- they decided to rest and inspect a shelf with several potions on it.

The group got vials of the following: choking gas, 2 healing potions, invisibility, and gaseous form.

After getting some sleep the group ventured down path three and found a pit with a flute in it.  John rescued it and it played a soft wavering note when in his hand.  He bagged it for later.

Then they went down path two and found… the Princess of the Moon!

Princess

She thanked them for rescuing her and begged to be taken from this place.  She whispered she never expected to see an actual Glemt!

They decided to venture down path 1 to investigate.  They didn’t detect any traps on the door and John opened it.  He failed is CON save and in a flash of light was reduced to ash.  The group sat there stunned by the sudden death of their new comrade.

Aside: The group succeeded in not finding traps, but this was a magical trap and I had noted earlier that only Detect Magic would find it…  So it sucked from the group- but it also highlights that the world is not built around the group.  I also had a note that the door could be safely deactivated with the touch of the hand of the Glemt… So John rolled a new character.  He stuck with Barnlig and is now a Spirit Master.  

The group made it outside the dungeon after that.  The princess thanked them for rescuing her and gave them her scepter, the Orb of the Moon.  When held it gave off a glow like a torch and protected the wielder from creatures and Spirits made up of shadow and darkness (gives Advantage on abilities of those creature types).

The Princess thanked them and then faded away.

Baetram apologized again for involving the group in his blunders and offered them a bag of 10 acorn-sized seeds.  He explained that that when thrown on the ground roots and vines will shoot up and hinder an enemy (movement slowed, and characters gain advantage on attacks. Lasts for 2d3 rounds before drying up). Baetram told the group that it is about 3 days travel from Nobbrelberg, the capital of the Spirits.  They should make their way there and see if there is a quicker way to get home to Ny Berjastad.  When they get to the capital they should seek out his friend, Jurfen- he’s a Spirit that owns a tavern and bathhouse called Steam of the Wyrm in the Dream District.  He may have some work or information.

With that he also faded away.

The group decided to make camp for the night and rest up.  As the group set up camp a light appeared in the night sky; looking up they saw the moon was back.  The trees of the Twilight Forest parted, allowing the group to see the beautiful full moon.  The Man in the Moon appeared, offered the group a smile and a wink and faded away.

Moon

We leveled up (the group liked how simple this was as well) and we left off.

It was a great session and everyone loved the simplicity of The Black Hack!  This is two groups that have really enjoyed this system!


Land of the Spirits Session Recap 2 and Switching to Black Hack

Yesterday the group continued their adventures in The Land of the Spirits.  Last session we ended with the group listening to Chieftainness Vynn explain how her son has been switched out for a Changeling and taken by a dark man for nefarious purposes.  She commands all in Ny Berjastad to aid in finding her child.  The only clues they have is that the dark man was taking her child into the Twilight Forest.

We started this session by my handing out new character sheets.  I had converted their characters to The Black Hack.  I had decided that while I was enjoying the rules I was creating (a mix of White Box and 5e), David Black basically did just that and it wasn’t as wordy as mine.

The Black Hack really fits what I was going after rules-wise.  Also it fits well with my players styles.  They don’t want to get bogged down by rules, or have to remember a crap ton of modifiers, or read lengthy spell descriptions, or track experience.  They want to come over, drink some beer, and play.  So I handed them their character sheets and their class Black Hack’d.  The other thing I did was switch the races to Race as Class (I’ll post those later), giving them three options each.

The Party

Angie- Clan of Fang Assassin

Emma- Clan of Fang Hunter

Nate- Human Fighter (Ranger)

Amelia- Barnlig Spirit Master

Tyler- Clan of Tusk The Wall

The session started with the group leaving the safety of Ny Berjastad and traveling from the Riverlands into the Twilight Forest.

Fantasy Forest

Day 1

The group came across a human-looking woman sitting by a tree.  When they got closer they realized that she was a spirit with skin made of bark and leaves for hair.  The spirit stood up, looking apprehensive.  She backed towards a tree and started melding with it.

Dryad

 

“What are you doing in the forest?  Your kinds don’t come here often.

Angie replied that they are looking for a lost human child.  Amelia’s character started towards the Spirit and made some lewd, brash comment.  The Spirit looked taken aback and looked at Angie, “Beware the Blood Moon Fern- if you sleep near them, they will steal your life from you.” and then melded into the tree.

Tyler hit the tree with his axe to see what would happen… The forest around them seemed to rumble and moan, but nothing else occurred.

The group made camp and slept far away from any Blood Moon Ferns.

Day 2

Nate got the group turned and lost the tracks of their prey.  They came across three hulking figures assaulting a slender looking female, whom they had pushed on the ground and were poking with large fingers.

The group hatched a plan to have Emma lead the monster towards the rest of the group who would be lying in wait.  Emma took a pot shot at the monsters and ran into the forest.  With a roar, all set after her.

The plan worked.  Angie, being an assassin, got bonus damage for attacking from behind, and Nate and Tyler followed suit and dropped one of the beasts before they were aware of what was happening.

 

Bugbear

Combat was quick and the players enjoyed rolling to attack and dodge (in The Black Hack monsters don’t roll to attack- players roll under their STR or DEX to dodge- if they fail they take damage).  Everyone rolled really well and only Amelia and Emma were struck, their armor absorbing most of the damage.

The other two monsters were dropped after another two rounds of combat.

The group went back to check on the girl.  She was thin, with pale skin, and an ethereal appearance.  Amelia asked if she was ok.  The girl opened her mouth and musical notes, like a flute, issued from her mouth.  Tyler and Emma recognized the language as Elven, but none could speak it.  The girl smiled and vanished into a fog, leaving behind a small crystalline vial filled with a clear liquid.

The group slept that night to regain their strength.

Amelia took first watch- she heard a cough next to her.  Sitting against the tree was an odd looking Spirit.

Spirit

 

“What brings your kind into the forest?  Rarely I see fleshsy ones.”

Amelia- “I don’t have time for your Spirity stuff!  Leave me alone.”

The creature vanished.

Nates badger Animal Companion took third watch and enjoyed a couple hours of being pet by the Spirit.

During the final watch Angie was visited by the Spirit as well.

They conversed for a few moments, and as the sun began to rise the Spirit said, “Keep traveling- two days to the west and you will come across Meoghl’s lair.  Be wary, for it is a place of evil and great power.”

Day 3

The group came across an area of the forest that was dead or dying.  Strange tubes covered in a milky-white film stretch across the ground, coming in and out of the earth.  The group followed the trail until they came to a burial mound down into the earth, two black iron-wrought doors and the tubing going into the walls beside them.  The area stank with rot and death- the group decided to come back to this location later.

Out of the trees a hideous creature burst from the underbrush

Snake Monster

This fight really fucked with the group- it was tough (a 5HD creature), making it really hard to hit with the Powerful Foes rules, but Angie got in a few back attacks and I rolled low on its HP (only 22), so the enemy was dropped.

Glemt Abomination: 5 HD: 3 attacks 2d3, can spit poison at target Nearby- CON test or paralyzed for 1 hour.

The group licked their wounds and rested for the night.

Day 4

The group walked on, the air becoming thicker with malice and magical energy.  Faces appeared on rocks and tree whispering warnings, “Beware…  Bad…  Evil…  Leave.”

Eventually the group came to a clearing and froze at the sight that greeted them.  Bursting from the ground, extending over 100′ in the air was the petrified remains of a great Purple Worm.   Stairs and ladders leading up to the top of the creature.

Purple Worm Dungeon.jpg

I’ve been wanting to use this dungeon for a LONG time!!

To be Continued

We left it here.  We had a great time and got a bunch done in 2 1/2 hours of play (we started late and I had to talk about Black Hack at the beginning).  I decided to let the group level up after this session rather than waiting until after they beat the dungeon (they’ll level up then too).  I wanted to see how they felt about it.

The group loved the simplicity of leveling up in The Black Hack and were excited about seeing their stats increase.

We’ll be playing again in about another 2-3 weeks.

I’ll also be stating to run TBH Land of the Spirits for another group starting on Sunday!


The Riverlands- A Land of the Spirits Territory

Lately I have been posting information on one of the next book projects I have been working on, Land of Spirits (Black Hack’d classes; Fighter Class; Magic User Class; Session One Recap).  I’m really glad people have been digging it and are supportive of the work.

Land of the Spirits is inspired by: Norse fairy tales, vikings, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Over the Garden Wall, Child of Light VG, Chrono Trigger VG, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoken, Skyrim VG, etc.

I have been asked a couple times how I will be doing the book.  I plan on doing a map much like Hubris that will have several location and then charts and tables to generate encounters, features, etc.  However I’m not going as heavy as Hubris (smaller tables, not d100).

I figured I’d showcase the Riverlands.

Here is the Hexographer map of Náttúraheim- this is not the finished product.  I will commission art for this.

Land of the Spirits map

 

Land of the Spirits

An OSR-style Fantasy Setting

Written by Mike Evans

diy-rpg-logo

Land of the Spirits A DIY RPG Productions©, 2016

 Here’s the PDF of this: The Riverlands Territory from Land of the Spirits

The Riverlands (a territory of Náttúraheim)

A land of numerous snaking and twisting rivers stretch as far as the eye can see, merging and weaving together with the Twilight Forest.  The marshy ground squishes under foot, muffling the footsteps of approaching enemies and predators.  The strange ruins of the Glemt (the Forgotten), an ancient and bizarre civilization, dot the landscape, even into the Twilight Forest and the throughout the Lower and Upper Tundra; even the Spirits fear to tread into these structures.  When I was younger I ventured into one, looking for glory and riches, and what befell my comrades and the things I saw still haunt me.

 

Abandoned human settlements can be found on the Riverlands; sad wooden carcasses to remind us of our failed attempts to colonize this land.  The burial mounds of humans and Spirits alike are holy ground and can be found throughout this region.

 

The human city of Ny Berjastad (New Fighting Place) rests at the southern peninsula where the river spills into the ocean.  In the distance the haunted mist-shrouded Island of Tears can be seen; few choose to venture there by choice.

 

The Riverlands are dangerous, yet the safest place for humans- and is full of opportunities for those brave enough to seek riches and glory.

 

Locations

Ny Berjastad

A hundred years ago a large fleet full of those seeking freedom, new riches, and lands in the northern sea set forth from Hilmirstad (Place of the King). After crossing the dangerous, turbulent seas of the Great Divide, the expedition sailed into the uncharted waters of Náttúraheim (Home of the Spirits).  Over a month they sailed, encountering many extraordinary Spirits, but were losing hope of finding land.

 

Eventually the fleet crashed on the shores of the Island of Tears; many people drowned and many more were driven mad and killed by the malicious beings that call the isle home.  Only a few ships made birth in this new land and the survivors set to building the foundation of this now great capital from the remains of the broken fleet.

 

Years passed and many more died, either at the hands of the Spirits, the frigid winters, or the constant raids by the Clan of Fang or the Clan of Tusk. However, we are cut from the axe and bred for battle and fought back and survived.

 

Over the decades the head of the clans came together and formed the Council of the Wyrm and the most proven warrior was anointed High Chief; as time has passed an uneasy truce has been forged with the Clan of Fang and Clan of Tusk. Through the leadership of the High Chiefs, Ny Berjastad has prospered.

 

We had not seen any ships from our homeland in ninety five years; the expedition was deemed a costly failure and was forgotten about until a prophet of King Wulfgard had visions of Ny Berjastad. In the past five years several landings have been made, bringing goods, merchants, news, free-peoples, slaves… and soldiers. King Wulfgard, ruler of Hilmirstad (Place of the King), resents our own council and is covetous of our ruler, Chieftainess Vyn’s, power, calling her a false ruler.  Hostilities are building between the nations of the Old World and New as King Wulfgard demands fealty from us, and his men stir up troubles with the Spirits and clans.  Those loyal to the king have established a small hold in the entrance of the bay, Wall of Wulfgard.

 

Ny Berjastad sits at the mouth of the Riverlands, with boat district, Wharfhiem, closest to sea.  Longhouses stretch out towards the center of the city to the Mudflats, home of the market & warrior pit, and Vaskr Keep (Bravery Keep), home to the High Queen and meeting place of the Council of the Wyrm.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. The son of Chieftainess Vynn has been switched out by a Changeling. They must find the child and return him to his bed to his bed in a week or the child will be transformed into a Spirit forever.
  2. It is whispered that assassins lurk the streets of Ny Berjastad, sent by King Wulfgard to dispatch Chieftainess Vynn and the Council of the Wyrm.
  3. Nearly every night for a fortnight the body of a human has been found, mangled and mutilated. Citizens believe a malignant Spirit wanders Ny Berjastad at night, hunting them.
  4. The Festival of the Sun is about to commence and Spirits, Clan of Tusk, Clan of Fang, and Barnligs begin appearing to partake in the celebrations. There is a sense of excitement in the air, but tensions with the humans at the Wall of Wulfgard are high and problems may arise.
  5. A strange black obelisk with ten carved faces appeared in the Mudflats three days ago. As the sun rose this morning the faces awoke and began to sing of the approaching Everfrost.

 

Island of Tears

This island nearly destroyed all on the expedition from Hilmirstad (Place of the King); constantly shrouded in mist with the wails of the dead and malicious spirits hanging on the air. I have not set foot on the isle’s fetid soil, and few have, for it is a cursed place. I have heard tales told by Spirits that the Glemt practiced dark magics and experiments on the isle. Twisted trees, a single mountain peak, and a decrepit keep are all that have been glimpsed by human eyes.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. Ominous clouds hang over the Island of Tears as thunder, lightning, and hail pelt the island. The wails of undead and malignant Spirits travel over the water.
  2. An expedition of warriors from Ny Berjastad left to finally discover the secrets of the island. It has been three weeks and there has been no word.  Many want to send another group to find their brethren and bring them home.

 

Isle of Tears Encounters
Roll 1d10 Result
1 2d6 Zombies/skeletons (these undead are the unfortunate men and women who died in the original expedition crash on the island)
2 1d3 plague rats
3 1 wraith (20% chance that the wraith is guarding an entrance to a Glemt ruin)
4 1d3 gargoyles (within 50’ of these gargoyles there is a roll 1d3: 1) treasure; 2) entrance to a ruin; 3) ancient book with an insidious ritual)
5 2d3 carnivorous snails
6 1d3 giant centipede
7 1d4 giant bats
8 1 banshee (this woman was a Seiðr who died in the original expedition crash, her bitterness at dying has transformed her into a spiteful undead creature)
9 1d4 ghouls (there is a 15% chance that one of the characters will recognize one of the ghouls as a friend from Ny Berjastad who went missing over 3 months ago).
10 1 mummy (the mummy wears a necklace that is a powerful magical artifact).

 

Croak Village

Humans are not welcome in this village filled with frogmen and toadmen.  These amphibious heathens practice strange and cruel rituals and have used more than one human or Spirit as ingredients for these dark rites.  Oftentimes Crocs, humanoid crocodiles, serve as thugs and guards to the Grand Croak, an obese and sinister frogman.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. Drums and chanting can be heard issuing from Croak Village. There seems to be more Crocs, and frogmen and toadmen milling about the area than usual.
  2. The waters boil and churn in the bay by Croak Village. After days of the sea thrashing and large swells, a gargantuan toad, the size of a dragon, emerges from the waters.

 

Gurden

Gurden is a small community that has transformed the marsh into farmland and lies a few days upriver from Ny Berjastad. Gurden was founded by those seeking a different life than that in the capital; these men and women are not warriors, and many have not once stained their axe in battle.  Gurden offers trade with Ny Berjastad and with the Clan of the Tusk.

 

Many in Ny Berjastad believe a powerful Seiðr protects Gurden from attack and interlopers.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. The townsfolk of Gurden have all been put into a deep enchanted sleep by a Spirit. Now the town is being occupied by strange spirits that are comprised of a smoke-like body and a strange porcelain-like mask that changes based on their emotions.
  2. A giant spectral wolf was seen racing across the night sky. It caught the moon and ran away with it, into the distance of the horizon in the Twilight Forest.  The sky over Gurden has been in perpetual darkness since.

 

Friðrhiem (Home of Peace)

Friðrhiem is the Barnlig capital and a haven for spirits that rests on the edge of the Riverlands and Twilight Forest.  I have had little experience with Barnligs and little patience for their sweet and understanding manner.  That said, even I am in awe of their connection with the Spirit World.  Many of the structures in this town are made from vegetables that have been magically enhanced to be enormous or from massive tree trunks that have been hollowed out, or berms into the earth.  Friðrhiem is ruled by a council of Barnlig elders and overseen by “The Great Wise One”, who is said to be a Barnlig who has merged with a Spirit.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. A circus/festival of Spirts has gathered in Friðrhiem. Entertainment, enchantments, and celebrations abound.  Barnlig are hoping to create a stronger bond between the various Spirit clans, the Clan of Tusk, Clan of Fang, and humans.  While delegations are arriving from all over Náttúraheim, there are rumors and fear of something dark and sinister brewing beneath the surface.
  2. The Great Wise One has become ill, his mind slipping. In his dementia, the Great Wise One cast a spell that opened a rift to the Shadowed Realm, allowing malignant Spirits to spill forth into Friðrhiem.

 

The Honored Home

This burial home is the resting place of all bodies that were recovered of those who perished in the original expedition to this strange new world. I myself have walked the halls paying honor to my ancestors.  The halls are delved from the earth and reinforced with wood and iron. Priests guard the mound, keeping robbers out and the spirits at rest.  High Priest Sygfurd is highly respected, even for an Ergi, keeps home here with a small shrine built to honor the ancestors and the spirit world.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. The wall in part of the burial chambers collapsed, revealing a Glemt burial ruin. Several undead spill out of the ruin, awakening the dead of the Honored Home, and are moving towards the surface.
  2. High Priest Sygfurd wishes to conduct a Spirit ritual that will allow him to speak with the great ancestors. He hopes to discover deeper meaning for the destiny of the humans of Ny Berjastad.  However, the Spirits are agitated about a human casting this sacred ritual.

 

Place of Bones

These Glemt ruins are made of jagged pitted metal and are the color of bones that have been bleached by the sun.  Stinking, yellowish clouds of smoke still billow out of Place of Bones, causing the air to become a thick, choking miasma.  Several adventures and warriors, including my brother, have delved into Place of Bones seeking treasures and glory; none have returned.

 

Hooks/Rumors

  1. There are Glemt are still active in these ruins, they have become deranged due to isolation and turning to other sources of energy other than spirit. Several groups of human warriors that have ventured into the ruins; all that have ventured inside have emerged transformed into a hideous monstrosities.
  2. Monstrosities begin spilling out of the Place of Bones, capturing Spirits, animals, and humans alike, dragging them back to the ruins. Increased amounts of thick gouts of smoke billow from the ruins.

 

Portal of Gurm

These strange relics of an ancient age of spirits should be approached warily, at best.  Often these portals will transport you into a new place of existence, or simply transform you into another creature!  The Portal of Gurm connects to the Portal of Ferm in the Twilight Forest.  These linked portals allow quicker travel to the capital of the Spirits, Nobbrolberg; the Ivory City between existences, instead of taking the lengthy (and often brutal) travel between the capital and Ny Berjastad.  Each of these portals have specific conditions that must be met to be accessed.  The Portal of Gurm and Ferm can only be accessed on the night of the full moon after a feast has been offered to the Guardian Spirit of Dreams.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. The Guardian Spirit of Dreams is found dead and drained of energy in front of the portal. A Spirit Naga has entwined itself around the portal, siphoning the energy out of it.
  2. An odd thing happens during the feast being offered for travel through the portal. No one is sure what it is, however it has caused another portal to be opened into the underground realm of Náttúraheim.

 

Wall of Wulfgard

The Wall of Wulfgard is a fortress built over the last couple of years to house the soldiers, sages, and merchants that arrive from the Old World, Hilmirstad.  Tensions are extremely high between those who live in Ny Berjastad and the Wall of Wulfgard.  The legion commander, Grugen Wolfcall has little patience or acceptance of Ny Berjastad’s rejection of King Wulfgard’s decree that we should fall into his reign.

 

Rumors/Hooks

  1. Several more ships have arrived from Hilmirstad over recent months, carrying troops, weapons, and materials. Workers are expanding the Wall of Wulfgard at a rapid pace.
  2. The sounds of celebration can be heard over the bay. It is rumored that King Wulfgard himself has arrived in Náttúraheim to claim this land under his rule and to declare war on Ny Berjastad and the Spirits.

 

The Riverlands Charts and Tables

 

Interesting Feature
Roll 1d12 Result
1 Glemt ruin constructed out of pitted stone; resembles massive hunched over Glemt.  No Glemt remain, but a clan of humans too refuge here and have been turned feral and savage.  There are several pieces of Glemt technology within the halls of this ruin.
2 Four small streams converge in a swirling pattern to create a powerful vortex.
3 Small farming community with 5+2d12 humans and 1d4 Barnlig(s).  They grow (roll 1d6): 1) wheat; 2) mushrooms; 3) potatoes; 4) corn; 5) whatever they can to make alcohol; 6) corn.
4 Burial mound of spirts from over a thousand years ago.  Restless undead spirits roam the burial mound, attacking those foolish enough to enter.  The burial mound has a massive center chamber and 2d4+1 rooms and houses a powerful magic item.
5 Burial mound of humans of expedition to explore Riverlands.  The survivors built the burial mound before returning to Ny Berjastad.  The burial mound has a small center chamber with 1d6 rooms.  Much of the top of the chamber has collapsed and the rooms have become filled with ankle to knee deep cold, fetid water.  The finely crafted battle axe of a brave warrior rests here.  As does (roll 1d6): 1) a rune of a 2nd level spell; 2) jewelry worth 50 gold bits; 3) a saber made of silver; 4) a staff that can store 4 mana points; 5) a tapestry of the history of a long forgotten clan; 6) a magic item.
6 Abandoned human settlement- there are some useful mundane items to be found here as well as a strange fragment of black rock that throbs and hums when held.
7 An outcropping of mushrooms, in the center is a Fungoid Watcher (pg XX).  He is watching over the small grouping of mushrooms.
8 A group of stones, roughly 8ft high and 4ft wide, form a circle.  Within the stone circle marble table surrounded by fairy ring of mushrooms; on the table is a silver knife etched in runes.  This is a sacred meeting place for spirits.
9 A small village of Clan of the Tusk.  The village is (roll 1d6): 1) contaminated by a strange curse- at night the inhabitants turn into crazed, mindless boar-beasts; 2) exiles that challenged the last clan leader; 3) secret worshippers of the Glemt- a hidden ruin is nearby; 4) peaceful farmers; 5) guardians of a secret treasure; 6) an expansion colony sent by the chief to establish more land in the Riverlands- they will be cold/hostile to humans.
10 An ancient meeting place for spirits.  The ruin is filled with traps, beautiful art, and 1d3 powerful artifacts.  The place is now home to a Spirit Naga and her thralls.
11 An ancient forgotten burial mound over two thousand years old.  It is filled with thousands of human bodies.  How can this be?
12 A Glemt ruin filled strange technology and spirits that have been transformed into bizarre horrors.  There are Glemt that have remained asleep for all this time; they will awaken should anyone begin interfering with the operation of the ruin.

 

Riverlands Complications
Roll 1d8 Result
1 Soggy ground hinders movement, reducing it by half.
2 Raging river must be crossed. Slows travel by 1 day.
3 Terrible weather for season (I.E. snow, blistering heat, torrential downpour, etc.) forces group to seek shelter for 1d6 days.
4 Ground in area has flooded, halting movement forward for 1d3 days.
5 Soggy ground hinders movement, reducing it by one quarter.
6 Thick vegetation hinders movement, reducing it by half.
7 Rock outcroppings cause tumbles, scrapes, and cuts. Movement reduced three quarters and Saving Throw or suffer 1d6+1 damage.
8 Bizarre twister forces group to seek shelter. Slows travel by 1 day.

 

Encounters
Roll 1d20 Result
1 3d4+1 Goblins (for every five goblins, one is riding a worg or a dire chicken)
2 2d2 Zombies/skeletons (15% chance caster that summoned them is present)
3 1d6 Bugbears (if there are 4 or more rolled there is a 4HD caster present)
4 2d3 Giant Spiders
5 2d4 Gnolls (25% chance one is a caster)
6 2d3 Harpies (10% chance guarding something in their nest)
7 1d4+1 Hobgoblins (20% chance they have caught a creature to eat, torture, force into slavery, etc.)
8 3d4+1 Kobolds
9 4d4 Giant Rats
10 1d4 Worg (if 4 are present, they are led by a White Wolf)
11 White Wolf (10% chance an evil Druid caster is aligned with the creature, level 1d4)
12 1 Wraith (5% chance opening to plane of the Spirits is nearby).
13 1 Shambling Mound (may not be hostile towards characters unless they are defiling nature or have fire)
14 Will-o-wisp (Lyktgubbar) (this spirit will make the sounds of a female in peril in the distance.  Will attempt to lure characters into a bog to attack)
15 Water Weird
16 3d4 Stirges
17 1d4 Giant Bats
18 2d3 Carnivorous Snails
19 1d3 Giant Centipedes
20 1 Spirit (generate Spirit, pg XX)

 

Specific Encounters
Roll 2d8 Result
2 Feurgal, a human trader, is returning from NAME HERE in the Twilight Forest.  Accompanied by 1d3 warriors. Has several goods for sale. There is a 15% chance that Feurgal has a magical item.

 

While in the Twilight Forest Feurgal saw- roll 1d4: 1) elves dancing around a large living tree; 2) a Clan of the Tusk hunting party is searching for a member of their village that has become corrupted; 3) a massive shadowy creature consuming the energy of spirits; 4) a small Fungoid village.

3 A hunting party of Clan of the Fang. They were attacked by a ferocious creature they had never before encountered (a living Glemt); most of the party is dead. Several are severely injured.
4 A lone Spirit sitting on a rock in the middle of a pond, humming. It knows the location of an ancient Spirit burial mound, but will only give up the location if it is given 2d4 new rocks to sing to.
5 A small camp of 3d8 humans. These men have exiled themselves and are building a community. All have are cursed werewolves and have removed themselves from Ny Berjastad. There is a 20% chance a character knows one of these exiles.
6 The head of a giant rock Spirt is patiently waiting for its body to return. One day its body got bored of sitting around and went for a walk.
7 The group has attracted the attention of Nattmara. (pg XX) 1d3 of these Spirits are stalking the group.
8 A Myling (pg XX), is found weeping by a riverbed. She begs for help from one of the characters. The Myling will leap on the back of the first person who shows her compassion.
9 A Spirit wandering the Riverlands. The spirit is a junk collector and has many strange and valuable oddities for sale. Will barter for other strange objects. In his collection he has- roll 1d4: 1) a talking thousand year old caterpillar; 2) a ruby that glows when a person is lying; 3) a bronzed skull (can cast Speak with Dead once per day); 4) a Glemt artifact that transforms into a 1 HD automaton.
10 An ancient, withered Spirit that desires one more adventure into the Ruins of Sleeping Dreams before they disappear forever.
11 Pesta (pg XX), a vile Spirit from Hilmirstad, can be seen in the distance, a trail of spectral bodies float along behind her.  She is heading in the direction of Ny Berjastad- is she carrying a broom or a rake?
12 A gigantic humanoid skeleton that walks on all fours like a dog is marching through the Riverlands.  Its flesh is comprised of emaciated humans and spirts that are conjoined together- some drop off like sloughing skin, to drop on the ground and charge the character.
13 A rumbling dark cloud hovers over the horizon, lightning flashes and thunder booms; red eyes can be seen within the cloud.  A massive humanoid shape can be seen in the cloud when the lightning flashes.
14 A Linnorm has made its lair in a bog.  The air stinks with rot and decay, bones litter the ground and poisonous serpents permeate the area.
15 1d3 Glemt have left their hideout and are actively attacking and collecting spirits for their energy and experiments.
16 A Stone Giant is building a home near a fork in the river, several of the rocks he is building with have a shimmering, shiny metal.

 

 


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