Thursday, July 30, 2015

All in the Family

The monstrous crone that was once a pirate queen broods beneath the decks of her decaying flagship, Doom's Wake. Her many descendants, mutated by demonic taint, carry on their grandam's murderous trade:

Art by David Lewis Johnson
Daring and cunning, she would also be beautiful if not for her green-scaled skin and the barbels drooping from the edges of her upper lip. Stats: As Bandit (Pirate) Captain, with the  +1 AC in light armor and swimming and climbing rates of the Mariner Fighting Style.

His broad nose, gray skin, and finned head recall a shark--but no more so than his wide mouth full of serrated, triangular teeth. He is vicious, but is not as smart as Perdita and knows it. Stats: As a Sahaugin, but without shark telepathy or claws. Besides his bite, he wields a cutlass as a weapon.

"Handsome" Blut
Scarred, pale, hulking brute in a featureless wood mask, beneath the mask his mouth is a lamprey-like sucker with a circular array of teeth. Stats: As Berserker but with a bite attack like a Vampire Spawn, but necrotic damage and drain like a Wight's life drain attack.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Escape from Apelantis

"Escape from Apelantis"
Weirdworld #2 (September 2015), Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Michael Del Mondo

Synopsis: Arkon, Lord of Warlords, has been captured by sea-dwelling ape-men and imprisoned in their underwater city of Apelantis. They've taken his dragon and his map. Arkon vows to escape, but it isn't clear how he's going to accomplish that.

Then, he finds there's another prisoner in the adjoining cave. The other prisoner knows a way to get out, but he can't do it alone. Arkon is in. The other prisoner introduces himself by breaking down the wal between the cells:

The two manage to bust out of the underwater city, but lose Arkon's map in the process. Warbow tells him not to worry. He's got a map. If Arkon helps him free his Prince he will give it to him.

Meanwhile, the dragon Arkon was riding has been delivered to Baroness Morgan le Fay is her castle. She plans to break the beast to saddle:

It's going to be a challenge.

When she flies out, Warbow and Arkon sneak into the castle by crossing a lava moat. They make it into the treasure room, where they discover Warbow's Prince Crystar.

Arkon realizes Warbow is completely insane. And then, they're surrounded by magma men.

The presence of Warbow is an unexpected surprise. He was one of the characters in Marvel's short-lived  1983 comic tied in with a Remco toyline, The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior. Unlike most Marvel tie-in comics, this series was created and owned by Marvel.

The Crystar link connects the magma men here with that world as well, rather than Marvel's pre-existing lava men.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Legend of the Pirate Queen

Art by Jez Gordon
Across the towns and villages of the Snarr Marsh they celebrate the death of the Pirate Queen Ylantha. From Grymchurch-On-Sea to Hobbsend, they commemorate the day when the folk of Old Raedel ended her reign of terror. They tried the dread pirate and burnt her at the stake for her crimes as she, unrepentant, spat curses at them. They left what charred remains their were of her for crabs to fight over on Perdition Reef. Never again would any pirate be so brazen nor as daring she.

There are other stories, not much repeated in Snarr Marsh, which tell a somewhat different version. They say that Ylantha only fell into the hands of the Raedel-folk through treachery. She was betrayed by the very town which had once fenced her plunder and grown prosperous, thereby. These stories say the pirate queen called out to ever dark god she could name for vengeance as she died, and one ancient sea demon was roused by her call.

The ancient goddess pulled the burned and mutilate body of the pirate queen down to the Demon Sea, where she lovingly remade her. And when she was done, she sent the pirate queen back into the world to again menace the seas with demonic powers at her command. That is the other tale. The one you will seldom hear in Snarr Marsh and never in the new town of Raedel that grew up after the ocean claimed the Old.

A little set up for the piratical adventure I'm running this weekend for a group that's never played 5e and wanted to give it a try.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Aquatic Elves for 5e

One of the player's in my opcoming 5e oneshot high seas based game requested to play an aquatic elf. Here's my version of them. These traits are in addition to the base elf traits in the Player's Handbook.

Aquatic Elf Traits
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score by 1.
Amphibious. You can breath both air and water.
At Home in the Sea. You can swim at your full movement rate and rough waters only cost you 1 extra foot for each foot of movement.
Moisture Dependent. You require twice as much water as most races. However, submerging most of their body in water for 30 minutes or more daily reduces their requirement to standard levels.
Aquatic Elf Weapon Training. You have proficiency with the short sword, trident, light crossbow, heavy crossbow, and net.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dungeon of Solitude

I've suggested turning Krypton into a locale for a weird hexcrawl. In that vein, it seems only natural to utilize that little bit of Krypton on Earth, Superman's Fortress of Solitude as the site of a dungeon. It's a bit high tech, true, so it would work best in post-apocalyptic or science fantasy games. Here are the floor plans.


Level 1 (note the "save or die" disintegration pit):

Level 2:

Level 3's exact floorplan is unrevealed. You'll have to work that one out yourself.

The image at the top of the post is a conceptualization of the Fortress from a later era, but it gives some nice imagery for various rooms or areas.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Vampire Under Glass

Our 5e Land of Azurth game continued this past Sunday with the wizard turned manticore, Mortzengersturm, giving the party a tour of his palace—really a series of caverns carved into the crystalline Geegaw Mountain. What Mortzengersturm has devoted his energies to is impressive, if a bit disturbing. He’s made a lot of hippogriffs (an “impossible animal” he keeps telling the PCs, since griffins like to eat horses) and other stuff like a horsefly (exactly what you think) and an ant-lion (that too). He’s also managed to “civilize” a goblinic slime pit to make proper goblin servants (blue, as a consequence).

Some of the party are a bit angered by slavery, even of goblins, but they’ve got a job to do. They need to capture some of the light from his wild magic crystal (“The Whim-Wham Stone,” he calls it) to repair the laterna magica they found a week or so ago.

Mortzengersturm without his cigarettes and magic hands
With the tour over, Mortzengersturm agrees to help, but instead springs a trapdoor. Nimble and suspicious Shae the Ranger evades it, but the rest are caught. She fights the manticore alone while the party tries to find a way out of a sheer, crystal-walled pit. It seems being a manticore has given the former wizard a powerful hunger for human flesh, and he wants the party on the menu. Then he throws a cloudkill at them! A well placed arrow spoils his concentration and ends the spell, but takes several tries before anyone gets out of the pit.

Ultimately, Mortzengersturm is taken down by force of numbers—about the time some of his loyal hippogriffs show up. Wounded and low on spells, the party retreats to a handy, hard to notice passage, too small for a hippogriff or Mortzengersturm. They’re too glad to be out of danger to question that.

After a little bit of healing, they decide to explore the rest of the tunnel. They find it leads out to an opening in the cliff face on the side of the mountain, about 40 ft. below the plateau where their flying swan boats (and only means of escape) are. They backtrack in the tunnel and take a passage to the left. There they find a velvet curtain and hear odd sounds beyond. A peek inside reveals a woman that they soon discover is a vampire when she drains Kairon the Warlock to unconsciousness.

Driving her back with lucky rolls and a bardic ability (shocking!), they manage to retreat into the sunlight. Climbing looks like a better option, now. Erkose climbs up and sneaks past the hippogriffs to retrieve one boat. Not wanting to press their luck, they all cram into that one and take off for Rivertown. Luckly, Waylon the Frogling had snagged the Whim-Wham Stone in their escape, so mission accomplished but no extra treasure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Comics: Cursed Pirate Girl

Cursed Pirate Girl written and illustrated by Jeremy Bastian starts in Port Elizabeth, Jamaica, in 1728 but quickly moves to the Omerta Sea, which is something like a marine Wonderland, where all manner of fantastical and eccentric people and creatures are encountered. The heroine apparent heroine is the titular Cursed Pirate Girl, who appears to be a plucky orphan living in a beachside shanty, but is actually (or additionally) the lost daughter of an infamous pirate captain. The only problem is figuring out which one. And so, the quest begins.

Bastain's whimsical and sometimes grotesque art is old school illustration in style and reminiscent of 18th century political cartoons, complete with period appropriate and hand-lettered word balloons. He often decorates the borders with banners and all sort of business.

Like Alice, Cursed Pirate Girl never seems particularly in peril, but there's a lot of fun in seeing the cheeky attitude with which she faces (and overcomes) all sorts of strange threats.