Tuesday, May 27, 2014

1d30 Random Finds From The Outer Darkness For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System

File:Roman - Head of a Satyr - Walters 23129.jpg
Like the surface of the sea was the mirror of Tuzun Thune; hard as the sea in the sun's slanting beams, in the darkness of the stars, where no eye can pierce her deeps; vast and mystic as the sea when the sun smites her in such way that the watcher's breath is caught at the glimpse of tremendous abysses. So was the mirror in which Kull gazed.
Robert Howard 
Across the edges of Hyperborea near the very beaches where the abysses of the Outer Darkness wash against reality. There are fools and morons who comb the ruins for treasures beyond compare. Below are a list of some of these priceless items and for some the price is far worse.

1d30 Random Finds From The Outer Darkness table 
  1. A fragment of black foul sorcery whose reflected surface is the crystallized souls of the nameless damned of some lost world. Picking this thing up causes the owner to be plagued by 1d20 spectres who will tear him apart. Yet necromancers will pay 200 gold pieces for these rare items. 
  2. A noble woman's mother of pearl comb, it shines in the moonlight and holds the reflections and memories of its owner. Those who use it may experience alien vistas of places that once were when Hyperborea was young. 
  3. A solid stone piece of ivory carved from the tooth of an unknown god. This inlaid treasure stores 1d8 stories of forbidden sorcery and foul deeds. The thing will whisper its secrets to its owner in the night allowing him to cast 4th level necromancer spells. The owner's alignment will shift toward's lawful evil as the thing's influence continues. 
  4. A copper plate containing a treasure map to another world, there is a 30% chance a demon will know when this item has been found and will seek out the owner to rend him limb from limb. The thing is cursed. 
  5. A statue of a god made from crystallized demon dung and hung with a wire cord. The thing will slowly change position on the cord. There is a 10% chance that the thing will whisper one invaluable secret of a dead sorcerer to the owner. Every new moon the thing will open yawning vistas of the Outer Darkness to the owner in their dreams. 
  6. A glazing glass made of meteor metal and polished by the skin of the damned under red horror filled skies. The thing will show visions of unknown hells. It is worth 70 gold pieces to certain cults of demon worshiping cults but they may try to kill the owner. 
  7. A staff made from the solid thigh bone of a demon of greater chance. The thing will allow the owner to see in the darkness of the night and move among the shadows of worlds. There is a 70% chance of the owner getting stuck. The thing is worth 400 gold to the right sorcerers in certain cities of the damned. 
  8. A Rod of the Jackal god - This is a well known item in certain ancient lands of Hyperborea, it allows one to speak with the dead at the stroke of mid night. The thing is prized by certain wizard ghouls who will kill the owner to get this relic. Worth 200 gold pieces to the right collector. 
  9. A Crooked Metal Book of  The Old Priests - This book contains secret spells of the damned wrought under dead stars that allow a sorcerer to know mind of certain cursed gods. There are five sixth level spells and there is always a summon demon spell worked into the book. This allows one to summon a demon without any preparation. The demon will be very angry however and may try to drag the magician off to some nameless hell. Worth 200 gold pieces to the write sorcerer. 
  10. Box of the Soul - The many hybrid box contains 1d30 souls of the damned who will serve the sorcerer for one year and a day. After which he must join them in the box. The box is worth 50 gold pieces and is a cursed item. 
  11. A worked onyx statue of a broken god - A statue from the sacking of the Hyperborean capital that has a bit of the ancient god's essence still within it. The thing allows one to re roll one missed roll per game but there is a price. The user's charisma begins to suffer as the destruction wrought on the statue happens to the user as well. -2 Charisma points each time the statue is used. Worth 100 gold pieces 
  12. A single ivory statue of a lost and forgotten family god, this small figure allows one to commune with the ghosts of lost and ancient peoples. They will show the user visions of the afterworlds and near by treasures. The user must pray to this item's god however for these favors to continue. Every new moon the user must fulfill one small adventure in the name of this lost god. Worth 60 gold pieces. 
  13. A single copper plate that contains a special map of the gateways to other places and times. There is a 60% chance of the user being ripped apart by ancient ghouls who guard such places. Those so rendered down by these horrors are taken as trophies and placed on ancient altars. There are sorcerers who pay 50 gold pieces and up for such items. 
  14. A large piece of Jade made into a sounding stone for the depths between the worlds. This thing when used will show a path between the places of the Outer Darkness and our world. There is a 40% chance of attracting a demon's attention that lurks at the corners of reality. This piece of purest jade is worth 200 gold pieces but certain cults will kill to possess it. 
  15. A small child like stone head corroded beyond anything has been created in exacting detail. The head will come to life if held for more then 1d4 rounds and recite ancient prophecies and litanies. There is a 20% chance that these words of forbidden ancient wisdom will have direct relevance to the PC.  These stones are collected by modern religious cults who pay 300 gold pieces each. They are believed to be the souls of saints cursed into stone in ancient times. 
  16. A piece of demon metal that flows in the user's hands from ancient times. This thing will turn into a +2 sword of slaying but there is a 20% chance that the item is cursed and will seek the blood of its owner. Many think these items are not worth the risk as they will devour the souls of their owners. Worth 100 gold pieces and they are a cursed item. 
  17. A chest of the mirrored ones, this chest is covered in ancient Hyperborean glyph like writing and contains the soul of ancient demon from beyond the edge of the world. The thing will seek the true love of the owner to suck upon their life and essence. In exchange it will teach the owner the secrets of necromancy. These cursed items were used by certain necromancy cults to teach their children.  They are worth 200 gold pieces each and can teach the first three levels of necromancy. 
  18. A blood stained glass - This item of red cut crystal glass has been bathed in the ichor of demons and planar monsters it allows one to breach the gulf of worlds and teleport to such places with easy. The thing will want three pints of blood per journey and it must be the owner's. The thing is easily worth 200 gold pieces but a malevolent intelligence known as the tempter controls these glasses. 
  19. A scroll of the cursed names of the devils of the dead worlds, this item allows one to summon the ghosts and souls of  the small demons. They will answer three small  questions per day, there is a 10% chance that they will lie as well. And a 2% chance of making a curse of mischief on the owner as well. Worth 60 gold pieces these items were once common. 
  20. A small scion of Cthulhu - This small statue allows one to call the dreams of the drowned and mad of Cthulhu to allow one to have the insight of the insane. This allows one to add +2 intelligence each time this thing is put by the bed of the user. There is a 20% chance per use of attracting the dreaming aspect of the Great Old One as well who will devour the mind of the user leaving only a drooling husk behind. Worth 100 gold to the right buyer. 
  21.  The Ichor of Lesser Strangler - This small vial of Outer God blood allows one to send a spell of choking at their victims. The target must make a save vs wands or wrapped in energy black tendrils of the foulest type which do 1d8 points of damage. Worth 40 gold piece and these items are quite common among certain groups of sorcerers. 
  22. Black Onyx Knuckle Dusters - These items are carved from the rib cages of certain races of low ranking demons. They allow one to strike undead and monsters that can not be normally harmed. There is a 30% chance per use that they may shatter. If used more then three times in a two week period. These times will merge with the flesh of the user. Worth 60 gold pieces to certain mad sects of magicians. 
  23.  A Cursed Flute Of The Deadly God - This flute is made from the arm bone of a damned wizard and has been carved by the talons of a demon. The flute will kill any being who hears its tune of the damned when the music stops. The soul of the target is forfeit to the Deadly God. The target must save vs. death or have their soul eaten after the song ends within one hour. The song will act as a charm spell upon the target. 
  24. The Iron Key - This iron key has been made from the iron of the weapons of angels and forged in the heat of the burning hells upon an extinct sun. The key allows on to find the artifacts of ancient Hyperborean royalty when used as a pendulum. The key will pull toward such treasures, user should beware that many such treasures were guarded by terrible monsters and some minor gods. The key allows one past the complex locks the Hyperboreans. These keys are very rare and worth 200 gold pieces. 
  25. The Folding Maps Of Nibbous - This is a series of maps made on the ancient papyrus of the magician Nibbous, These maps are doorways to the domains of Nimbous, mini planes where the sorcerers hid many ancient and dangerous artifacts. These things were often guarded by demons from the Outer Darkness. These maps would open doors and doorways to such places. They are often found in special metal scroll tubes. They are easily worth 200 gold pieces to the right wizard or mage. 
  26. The An 'Guru Demon's Hand - These clawed hands often contain rare and valuable treasures within their palms. They are easily worth 200 gold or more but they are often cursed with wishes as each finger opens to reveal the rare treasures. Worth 600 gold piece if found. 
  27. Mask of The White Warriors - These masks are often found near other treasures and then only rarely. They have been made from the carved skulls of demons and each one allows one to use infravision, see the invisible, and gaze into the souls of mortal men once per day. They are worth 100 gold pieces each. These items are sought by the Cult of the White Warriors who will bargain for their return to the cult. These masks often have a telepathy ability as well. 
  28. Crown of the Yellow King - These weirdly wrought crowns of wire, piping, and ancient bone allows one to hear the thoughts and dreams of certain ancient dead kings. The crown will also allow one to cast a charm spell once per day. The user must be a man committed to the Outer God's cause. Failing to surrender your soil to the King In Yellow causes a major curse of damnation to invoke on the user. 
  29. The user may once per day call upon the wisdom of these ancient wizards and kings to cast 3 second level spells per day. The crowns are priceless to some cults. 
  30. The Ring Of Hyperborea - This ring of iron allows one to rip the soul from the body of a target who must save vs death. The user will absorb the soul of such a creature and extend their lives by 1d100 years per soul. The user's alignment changes to chaotic evil should this item be used and he is now a servant of the Outer Darkness. 

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Review of Mad Monks of Kwantoom From Kabuki Kaiser For Your Old School Campaigns

Grab It Right Over 

I received this product in email about two days ago and I've been toying with it ever since. This is an old school product steeped in the mystery and downright weirdness of Oreintalism. Right off the bat this product is packed! Seriously it clocks in at two hundred and twenty pages of useful material. 
The Drive thru rpg description : 
Some say the gods expelled the grotesque and the weak from their ranks at the beginning of time, denying them entrance to the lofty heavens. Demons all of them, they fled to remote places where they had palaces built in which they could dwell and prosper in the glittering shadows, and that among these places, the 1001 Pagodas of Doom of the Yellow Springs Island are supreme, sheltering countless horrors and ghosts.
Are you looking for an Oriental Adventures Companion? A Chinese-style monster manual with a twist? A tome collecting a hundred brand new mundane magic items? An Asian-themed urban setting? A game aid to help you fill in the gaps when improvising? An endless campaign that you can play solo or with your family and friends without a DM? Good, because you'll find all this gathered together in one nifty package right here.
In a nutshell, Mad Monks of Kwantoom features a wondrous Asian setting with new character races and classes, crazy unique creatures inspired by matchbox pictures coming straight from ancient China, alternative petty magic items, tables for random dungeon generation and simple house rules for all of this to run smoothly. In addition, you'll find campaign rules to help you flesh your characters out and embed them in the setting, which they can change and mold according to their whims as they proceed to glory, prosperity and — who knows? — immortality.
Ninjas, tengu player characters, the revised monk character class, the City of Innocent Deaths, the Lucky Charm of Many Ghastly Friends, the Style of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, Pa'kua kobolds, the Monkey King himself, a game that your partner can play and enjoy with you — and you alone, the 1001 pagodas of doom and actual rules for becoming the Noble Jade Empress or the head of the Shrine of the Purple Lady of the Latrines if that's your thing.
This book is officially compatible with Labyrinth Lord and the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion. Since these systems emulate the Basic and Advanced editions of the original Old School rules, you can play it with them or with any Old School Renaissance gaming system instead.
Cracking open Mad Monks of Kwantoom was like finding some weird used old school book or game box in a book store. This pdf is a throwback to a time that never was. I say this because this is the sort of book or box set that I wish I had when I was DMing Oriental style adventures. Reading through this material I kept wishing that this wasn't a pdf but a box set.
 The book's sections are divided into some very nice chapters each outlining a different and very detailed take on the . This is a real shopping list of material for the Orientalism DM. The authors did a fantastic job fleshing this material out  The material has a real pulp feel to it and it could be in point of fact be put into a pulp old school campaign.  

Breaking Down Mad Monks of Kwantoom
Mad Monks of Kwantoom is oriented for both the players and dungeon masters with a highlight on the following : classes, revised NPC stats, 
Ninjas, Tengu player characters, the revised monk character class, all work with about ninety percent of the retroclones on the market.
  •  A MONSTER MANUAL-  The monsters and creatures though drawn from the mythologies of China,Japan, and all of Asia. But these monsters are twisted and turned into original creations that will simulate your adventures.
  • A TOME OF WONDROUS MAGIC- The magic actually fits the book and isn't simply a bunch of old school spells. 
  • AN ASIAN-THEMED CITY - The City of Innocent Deaths is great setting that DM will want to return an adventurers to again and again 
  • A SOLO CAMPAIGN AND A DM'S AID - This book could be used by a DM for solo play while getting to know the monsters, items, magic, and the rest of the book. The solo play is perfect for randomly generating old school adventures.
Mad Monks of Kwantoom For
 Your  Old School Swords and Sorcery

Mad Monks of Kwantoom has a very Nineteen Seventies sword and sorcery comic book as well as Marvel martial arts feel to it. It's as if you had a time machine and went back in time to your favorite hobby shop and this book was sitting on a shelf.
 Most of this book can easily transported into your existing campaign.
A game system like Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea is tailor made for a game supplement like this. The only issue here is dove tailing what you want into a retroclone of your choice.
Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC have many optional products on the market already but this one is a really nice addition. If your going use this book do yourself a favor and reread some of the original pulp Oriental sword and sorcery stories that this book draws from.
All in all this is one of the best books to come out for a retroclone in quite a while.
Four out of five stars for this book 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Revisiting The Free OSR Resource '&' Magazine Issue #5 For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System

& Magazine #5 Cover
Down Load It Right Over
The blurb On Issue #5 According To The Website:
Weapon of Change

The Use of Apprentices and Assistants
Catching the Magic
The Druid’s Club
Thief Rings by Lenard Lakofka
Mini-Adventure I: The Shrine of Hecate
Mini-Adventure II: Wengreth’s Hoard
 Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea is a very tricky mix of relics from a lost age, items from hoards, and the secrets of magic seem to growing harder to divine. This issue of '&' magazine is stuffed to the gills with magic and magic items, it seems an unlikely issue to use. But this is exactly what makes it useful. 

Scattered throughout this issue are fifteen swords and items that make perfect fodder for items created before the Green Death ravaged Hyperborea. Scatter these items throughout adventures sparingly however. While they are in the OSRIC or AD&D First edition mold it should be a snap to convert these items over to AS&SH.

The article Weapon of Change by Bryan Fazekas was another article that might work well with AS&SH given the sword and sorcery tone of the game.  Items & treasure  which are unique to PC's and grow with them as they increase in level isn't a novel approach but it can add a very distinctive flare to a DM's NPC's and PC's. This approach individualizes the PC's even more. The ideas of the article might have to be tweaked quite a bit given the back systems of AS&SH. 
The Use of Apprentices and Assistants by Andrew Hamiliton has very interesting points and the theories about apprentices. I'm reminded of some of the pulp sword and sorcery stories where apprentices were key to solving wizardly issues and problems. A good article for devising something extra for an AS&SH adventure.
The article 'Catching The Magic' by Nicole Massey address a very interesting issue that might have come up during Hyperborea's age of sorcery. 
Here's the gist of the article: 

One of the things missing in the AD&D game is the
nearly ubiquitous wizard's staff or dagger used to
cast spells. Along with that are questions about how
some magic items, like the bardic instruments, came
about. This article attempts to address some of this
in an effort to return some of the flavor from classic
fantasy fiction back to the game.

The article could be used as a back history for AS&SH magic items. Since those items haven't seen the light of day in hundreds of years. There is  a strong possibility  that some of the issues raised in this issue might come into possible play as part of an item's history.

The Thief Rings by Lenard Lakofka are one of the highlights of this issue for me. But using these magic items might get you killed in certain parts of Hyperborea. These items remind me of some of the magic items that cropped up in Newhon and it's environs. 

The Druid's Club by Nicole Massey is a great overview of one of my favorite weapons of a Druid.This article give some great insights into back history and background for an iconic weapon of the Keltic protectors and tenders of nature. Use this material with caution however. 
Creature Feature II: Ecology of the Bereaver 
by Bryan Fazekas, this is a nasty piece of work and it fits the tone,ideas, and pulptastic ideas of AS&SH. These horrors might be guarding a wizard's tower or other Hyperborean ruin. 
Friend or Foe: Quaven Renquist 
by Andrew Hamilton- An NPC patron with the perfect urbane flavor of some of the more cosmopolitan of Hyperborea. He's going to get a work out in an upcoming campaign. 
Friend or Foe: Quinn's Bookbindery 
by Andrew Hamilton- A book binding service and enterprise to go along with the NPC. Yes please given the amount of lost treatises, items from fallen times and so forth in AS&SH. This is a must in my opinion but your mileage may vary. 
The Toybox I: New Weapons II, Primitive Weaponry 
by Nicole Massey An article on primitive weaponry is always welcome but these might have to be converted to AS&SH.
The Toybox II: Lots of Toys for Adventurers - A myriad of treasures for AS&SH but use these very, very, sparingly. Some of these are very dangerous to a DM's tricks and traps in the game. 
The Toybox III: Ulan Dhor's Magical Swords for Thieves by Ian Slater- Another neat set of toys that is perfect for thieves but these blades have some very interesting powers and properties. They fit the pulptastic nature of the game but some of these blades need some solid Hyperborean history behind by Lee Connor & Nicole Massey- These have more use as adventure background then as actual PC spells.
Spellcaster's Paradise II: Ditties – Cantrips for by Nicole Massey- Bards have a very sinister air to them in AS&SH. And these might do if your style tends towards that aspect of  your bards in AS&SH. These I've found pretty useful. 
Domiciles & Emporia: The Enchantress Korda Frostfire Magical Items Made To Order
by Nicole Massey- This might make an excellent treasure trove from before the Green Death rather then as a working business in AS&SH. 
Mini-Adventure I
The Shrine of Hecate  by M.W. Poort aka Fingolwyn- This adventure could work out very nicely for AS&SH with a bit of tweaking. The tone is perfect for an Astonishing Swordsmen adventure and I loved the maps. 
Mini-Adventure II: Wengreth's Hoard
by Andrew Hamilton - This is the second adventure that really fits the tone of AS&SH very nicely.  All in all this ninety one pages of very useful free AS&SH resource and you can't beat it with a stick.