Category Archives: Contests

2017 200 Word RPG Challenge

I took the plunge and entered the 2017 200 Word RPG Challenge.

You can also follow along with the 200 Word RPG Challenge G+ Community.

There is a formal submission process with judges and prizes.

My entry is Cat Wrangling.

Cat Wranglers earn experience gathering cats into their herd.

Start with 2d6 cats and one method. Each turn there will be 1d6 new cats in your neighborhood, and 2d6 cats attempting to escape.

Both ancient methods and new methods are used.

Ancient methods include fresh fish, canned fish, caged canaries, and catnip. Cats may be strays, or those stuck in trees. Each method attracts 1d6 cats.

New methods must be researched to maximize one's herd. Possible new methods are: cat yodeling, cat calling, breeding Andalusian catherd dogs, etc.

Developing new methods are adjudicated by the judge with a difficulty level. Any creative and entertaining method is permitted.

Enticements for cats to leave the herd must be negated. Threats include: big mama cat or old Tom on the prowl and frisky, mice on the periphery of the herd, song birds in the forest too near the ground, children with a laser pointer, stray dogs running wild, etc.

The health of your heard must be maintained by cleaning the litter boxes and feeding the herd.

Tick marks keep track of cats, food, and litter. Starting methods on index cards are assigned randomly.

Each dozen cats attracts a helper and gains a level.

CC-BY-4.0 License

EDIT: My submission on the official site. All 2017 submissions on the official site.

White Box Omnibus – A Review

I won a copy of White Box Omnibus, by +James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games on the Happy Jacks Podcast for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

Things have kept me busy since then. After White Star came out and I reviewed it, I figured I better hurry up and read through the Omnibus and do my promised review.

James’ own introduction to the text explains it well:

White Box Omnibus is a compilation of six previously published
products: White Box Companion, White Box Bestiary, White Box TreasuresWhite Box Adventures: The Wererat’s Well, White Box Adventures: The Wizard’s Tower and White Box Adventures: The Dragon’s Hoard. But a few extras have been added. In addition to cleaning things up a bit, there are a few new things you’ll find.

The Monk has been added as a player character class. It is written in the spirit of Arneson’s Supplement II, but streamlined to fit WhiteBox. You’ll find simple, easy to implement rules for introducing powerful magical artifacts into your campaign along with new monsters in the bestiary.

The three adventures featured in White Box Omnibus have now been augmented by an appendix – The Willow Valley Gazetteer. It’s a mini-campaign setting which can be used to tie the three adventures together, or even continue having adventures in that region.

Section 1 – Class options  Contains variations on standard classes that give bonuses in one area, but limitations in another. Such as the “sub-class” of cleric, the healer, who can use a healing touch once per day but has a -1 on to hit rolls.

Bard Class – This is a simple class designed to work within Swords & Wizardry and other D&D clones, instead of the kludge of AD&D.

Druid Class – A version of a cleric with a Forestry ability that allows tracking, passing without trace, or dealing with wild animals.

Monk Class – Similar to the class in AD&D, with house rules suggestions to make it more like the AD&D monk.

Paladin Class – With the exception of leaving out the warhorse, this is the paladin we recognize.

Ranger Class – With the Forestry ability, like the Druid.

Thief Class – Single skill called Thievery using a 1d6 mechanic based on level. This covers all the thief skills in a big separate table in AD&D. There is a house rule for climbing that add a bonus to the roll.

Section 2 Magic Items – A list of very interesting armor and shields.
potions, scrolls, rings, staves, wands, weapons, and three pages dedicated to miscellaneous magic items. The miscellaneous items has a house rule about “purposed magic items”, i.e. Artifacts.

Section 3 – Bestiary – This includes many creatures that are well-known from other versions of OD&D & AD&D.

For example, Brain Lord – Squid headed humanoids p. 39-40.

Section 4 – Adventure – Wererat’s Well 15 pages including the introductory illustration and map by Matt Jackson.

Section 5 – Adventure – The Wizard’s Tower – 20 pages including the introductory illustration and map by Dyson Logos.

Section 6 – Adventure – The Dragon’s Hoard – 18 pages including the introductory illustration and map by Matt Jackson.

Appendix – The Willow Valley Gazetteer – 22 pages including the village map by Matt Jackson, and an area map done in Hexographer. There is a d20 rumor table for the village and a couple of pages on communities of halflings, dwarves, and elves. This mini-campaign setting has a detailed village, and the area map ties it all together into the three adventures and several of the new creatures and items.

I am a big fan of AD&D. Mostly because it is what I knew and played for so long. I am growing to be a major fan of simple. Less rules and less “fiddly bits” that get in the way.

This large collection of material that supplements Swords & Wizardry White Box to give it many of the things I like about AD&D, or supplemental material from the later LBB’s. It also streamlines them and makes them easy to use, like the bard. In AD&D, the bard class is a mess. I don’t know anyone who started as a fighter, changed to a thief prior to getting the benefits of a 9th level fighter, etc.

The simple bard class presented here, plus the simplified single skill abilities for druids, rangers, and thieves make it easy to avoid paper shuffling and digging through the manual.

The magic items are new and interesting. They have given me many ideas.

I also like how James separates out ideas for house rules in grey highlighted text.

The simplicity of what is presented here is also modular, so that one can pick and choose what you want to use, and easily house rule things that you feel are missing or “not your way of doing things.”

I only skimmed the three adventures. They are clearly presented and to the point. There is enough detail to help out the DM and enough openness to easily supplement the material or drop it in to an existing campaign.

The gazetteer is a village with a map of the village and an area map that ties the three adventures together with the setting. This could easily be the start of one’s own sandbox campaign, or be dropped in as a new area to explore. It is a good model of one way to build a sandbox.

The layout is well done and the whole thing is easy on the eyes and easy to read on a screen.

Just as with the recent White Star, I recommend the White Box Omnibus!

One Page Dungeon Contest – 2015

Last year about this time, I wrote about the 2014 One Page Dungeon Contest, and thought about an entry, but none of my ideas would gel.

I am thinking about the 2015 OPDC with just over two months until the deadline. It is a single page, what’s the big deal, right?

Well a single page requires the most bang for the buck so to speak. One needs a density of information without a density of facts. A hook that evokes ideas, and a map that gives what words cannot. I have a small degree of artistic talent, but it is not a honed or practiced talent, so my efforts are hit and miss.

A one page dungeon also screams for brevity with a conciseness that cuts to the point immediately. As is evident from many of my blog posts, I am skilled at the WALL OF TEXT. It takes effort for me to distill things to the bare essentials.

I could make a submission that is merely an entry, but I want to make a memorable entry that is a contender. Heck, who am I kidding? I want to win!

So I know I need an idea that is just novel enough and easy to convey/explain in a single page. I have some faint wisps of ideas that if I can bring them to fruition and execute them as well as I imagine them, then I have a shot.

Between now and then are my goals of the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge and a daily article on this blog between now and April 1st, and other game activities. Plus the Tenkar’s Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting is now ramping up to work on the actual town of Tenkar’s Landing. I need to do my part with an idea or two.

Whither the OSR Superstar Contest?

I had this article scheduled to post on March 6th, but Erik beat me to it and announced the resolution here.

Not what any of us wanted, but a conclusion nonetheless.

Below is what I wrote.

In 2014, Erik Tenkar, over at Tenkar’s Tavern, held a contest for the OSR Superstar. It got down to the finalists in July and there were some delays on the final judging. Up until Erik re-organized his page, there was a largish graphic about the contest.

I posted a comment to the OSR Superstar page asking about it a few months back, and I have seen others ask about it in other forums.

It is understandable if judges dropped out, or something else beyond Erik’s control. Did the finalists not submit? He is a NYPD officer, so his job comes with stresses most of us will never encounter.

Erik usually keeps all the Tavern’s readers in the loop. If he has mentioned it, I have not encountered the explanation.

If it’s resolution is dead or will eventually be resolved, I would like to know. I had a submission, I did not win. The submissions that did well were very cool, and I am curious to see what the finalists come up with for the final challenge.

I know that Erik is looking forward to retirement soon, sometime in the next year, I believe. I would ask that he wrap up a soon to be year old contest before then, so he can focus on the good content he regularly provides.

One Page Dungeon Contest – 2014

I had thought about doing an entry this year. I had several ideas, but just could not get it to come together to match the high quality so many others will have.

I also found it frustrating that others were posting what they did. I ignored what they had, so it wouldn’t cloud my own efforts.

It’s now after midnight, so I missed it.

I’m not upset. I did the A to Z challenge this year, I play in a regular weekly online D&D game that just had it’s seventh session. I have maintained my other activities and interests and going to work everyday.

Life is good. I also have to start fitting in lawn mowing and gardening into my schedule now that my part of Michigan is warming and greening. If it doesn’t rain, I need to mow tomorrow.

I am looking forward to warmer weather so I can get back out in my kayak.

I can probably make my one page dungeon entry at any time before next April, so that I have it. I could even do more than one.

I like looking at all the entries, and all the maps, and ideas. I just wish that I had time to use them all. Now THAT would be fun!

OSR Superstar Contest – What would have been my New Creature Entry

Had I had one of my magic item submissions selected, here is the new creature I developed. As with my magic items, I wrote it with AD&D in mind. Then when I discovered that S&W does not have the Find Familiar Spell I had to hack at it to make it work. I will first present the AD&D version and below that the S&W version. This is the creature mentioned in my Wizard’s Bookstand item.

AD&D version:

Unfamiliar

If a wizard and his/her familiar encounter this creature, it will feed off the bond between them and if not killed, incapacitated or evaded (out of 50 foot range for ten or more consecutive rounds), in ten rounds it will “consume” the wizard/familiar bond.

If the bond is consumed, the familiar will flee, never to be seen or heard from again and the wizard will be unable to summon another familiar for one year.

The creature appears as a cute and fluffy, big-eyed ball of cuteness like a puppy or kitten. The familiar will be friendly towards it, even if an evil or not generally tame sort. The wizard will be reminded of a childhood pet, or will have false memories of a childhood pet.

If there are multiple wizards and familiars in a group, they will sit in a circle and let the creature jump and play in their laps and lick their faces and wag its behind in excitement.

The wizard and familiar will have a 10% chance per round to notice an odd feeling of doom. The wizard must make a saving throw versus charm person to be able to attack the creature. The wizard can attempt to flee, but casts spells to assist fleeing at a penalty. Save vs. wand/staff/rod to successfully cast a spell such as levitate, fly, dimension door, teleport, etc.

The Unfamiliar will stay close to the wizard and his/her familiar so that other with the wizard will have a disadvantage in trying to attack or hit it without hurting the wizard of the familiar.

For wizards without familiars it will attempt to eat the bond or break the spell of “helper” spells like unseen servant, aerial servant, floating disc, etc. Summoned and charmed creatures such as monsters, elementals, demons, etc. will avoid the creature and will not attack it unless the wizard has overcome his charm and the summoned or charmed creature makes it saving throw. If the bond of the summoned/charmed creature is broken, it will immediately attack the wizard.

If there are no wizards in a group the Unfamiliar will hide and avoid them. If there is a wizard in a group or by himself and the wizard has no familiar or summoned/charmed creatures or helper spells in effect, the Unfamiliar will avoid contact and move silently. It will follow in shadows and move silently as a 6th level thief and if a helper spell is cast or a creature charmed or summoned, it will allow itself to be found. The Unfamiliar can sense if an encountered wizard has the ability at the time of first encounter to cast a helper spell or charm or summon monsters. If there are no such capabilities, the Unfamiliar will avoid as if there was no wizard. NOTE: If the wizard or a member of the party has an item that can charm or summon monsters, whether the party knows they have it or not, the Unfamiliar will follow the person(s) with such a device until they use it.

These rare creatures have been known in ancient lore to wreak havoc in schools of magic and even lone wizards with a single apprentice.

If encountered in its lair, usually a cave or abandoned building, dungeon, or ruin, it will have the treasure of charmed and summoned creatures that defeated the wizard whose controlling spell was consumed. The DM will determine if it has affected multiple wizards or not. 50% chance the creature beat the wizard, roll for treasure if the creature is not interested in the wizard’s belongings. 50% chance the wizard beat the creature. Determine if the environment, i.e. neighboring monsters killed the wizard and if they were interested in his possessions.

Treasure Table
Defeated Monsters:
– Charmed monster determine type of creature by the type of creatures that can be charmed. This would usually be fairly low level wizards.
– Summoned monster. determine what level of monster summoning was used and roll for the monster. This can be wizards of a variety of levels.
– Summoned elementals. Determine the type of elemental 1d4 1= air, 2= water, 3= earth, 4= fire. This would be wizards of at least high enough level to summon an elemental.
– summoned demon or extra planar creature.

Defeated Wizards:
Determine the number and levels of wizards defeated. The treasure would include the wizard’s spell book(s), scrolls, potions, rings, wands, staves, etc. Make the amount of treasure and magic fit your style of campaign to avoid overbalancing the players.
You could roll 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, or 1d20 for a random level of wizard and determine the stuff left behind.
Of course, if a player wizard is defeated, all their stuff would be there if the were alone or their accompanying party fled or was defeated.

These creatures have a strange affinity for the Wizard Lock spell. There is something about this more or less permanent spell that allows the creature to feed and ignore other types of feeding. If a creature encounters anyone with a Wizard Locked item, they will make themselves the best friend of the person with that item and will perch on the item or stay within 50 feet of it. Since a wizard lock requires something that can be locked, like a door, chest, or lock, one cannot just cast Wizard Lock to sate this pernicious beast.

There is a 30% chance that when a Wizard’s Bookstand is encountered there will be an Unfamiliar in or on it, or in close proximity. The Unfamiliar will make friends and cozy up to the wizard who claims a found bookstand. Because the magics of Wizards Locks and Wizard’s Bookstands can sate the Unfamiliar, there is a 30% chance that an unfriendly person or creature can open the wizard Locked item or remove a book from the bookstand as if it were not locked or secured by magic. Casting multiple Wizard Locks on the same item will not alter this chance.

Should one attempt to move an Unfamiliar from the 50 foot radius of the Wizard Lock or Wizard’s Bookstand, it will whimper and cry loudly to the point that any guards, even if sleeping or slept, stunned, held or charmed will come to investigate.

Some theorize that the creature’s affinity for wizard locks indicates it true origins as a wizard going after a rival, and in the absence of wizard locks to sate its appetite, the creature looks for other magical bonds upon which to feed. As this is an ancient magical creature known in the oldest manuscripts, it true origins are lost to the mists of time.
Frequency: RARE
Size: Small.

AC:
HD: 4 HP
ATTACKS: Special – Consume wizard/familiar bond.
ST:
Special: Eats spell books.
Move:
Challenge Level:
XP:

*********************************************************

S&W Version [The name alone shows an entirely different tone and took things in a different direction than I planned.]

Bond Breaker

The creature appears as a cute and fluffy, big-eyed ball of cuteness like a puppy or kitten. A magic user will be reminded of a childhood pet, or will have false memories of a childhood pet.

The Bond Breaker will attempt to eat the bond or break the spell of “helper” spells like unseen servant, aerial servant, floating disc, etc. Summoned and charmed creatures such as monsters, elementals, demons, etc. will avoid the creature and will not attack it unless the wizard and the summoned or charmed creature makes a saving throw. If the bond of the summoned/charmed creature is broken, it will immediately attack the wizard. If the charm or summons expires before the Bond Breaker can consume the bond, it will start shrieking loudly and attract the attention of any creatures within 100 feet, or further in a cave or canyon with an echo. This shrieking will continue as long as the party remains within sight of the creature. Such shrieking prevents spell casters from casting spells from memory.

If there are no wizards in a group the Bond Breaker will hide and avoid the group. If there is a wizard in a group or by himself and the wizard has no summoned/charmed creatures or helper spells in effect, the Bond Breaker will avoid contact. It will follow in shadows and move silently as a 6th level thief and if a helper spell is cast or a creature charmed or summoned, it will allow itself to be found. The Bond Breaker can sense if an encountered wizard has the ability at the time of first encounter to cast a helper spell or charm or summon monsters. If there are no such capabilities, the Bond Breaker will avoid as if there was no wizard. NOTE: If the wizard or a member of the party has an item that can charm or summon monsters, whether the party knows they have it or not, the Bond Breaker will follow the person(s) with such a device until they use it.

These rare creatures have been known in ancient lore to wreak havoc in schools of magic and even in remote towers of lone wizards with a single apprentice.

If encountered in its lair, usually a cave or abandoned building, dungeon, or ruin, it will have the treasure of charmed and summoned creatures that were defeated by the wizard whose controlling spell was consumed, or the treasure of wizards defeated by their charmed or summoned creatures. The GM will determine if it has affected multiple wizards or not. 50% chance the creature beat the wizard, roll for treasure if the creature is not interested in the wizard’s belongings. 50% chance the wizard beat the creature. Determine if the environment, i.e. neighboring monsters killed the wizard and if they were interested in his possessions or not.

Treasure Table
Defeated Monsters: d8
1-2 – Charmed monster determine type of creature by the type of creatures that can be charmed. This would usually be fairly low level wizards.
3-4 – Summoned monster. determine what level of monster summoning was used and roll for the monster. This can be wizards of a variety of levels.
5-6 – Summoned elementals. Determine the type of elemental 1d4 1= air, 2= water, 3= earth, 4= fire. This would be wizards of at least high enough level to summon an elemental.
7-8 – Summoned demon or extra planar creature.

Defeated Wizards:
Determine the number and levels of wizards defeated. The treasure would include the wizard’s spell book(s), scrolls, potions, rings, wands, staves, etc. Make the amount of treasure and magic fit your style of campaign to avoid overbalancing the players.
You could roll 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, or 1d20 for a random level of wizard and determine the stuff left behind.
Of course, if a player wizard is defeated, all their stuff would be there if he or she were alone or their accompanying party fled or was defeated.

These creatures have a strange affinity for the Wizard Lock spell. There is something about this permanent spell that allows the creature to feed and ignore feeding on the bonds of charmed or summoned creatures. If a creature encounters anyone with a Wizard Locked item, they will make themselves the best friend of the person with that item and will perch on the item or stay within 50 feet of it. Since a wizard lock requires something that can be locked, like a door, chest, or lock, one cannot just cast Wizard Lock to sate this pernicious beast.

There is a 30% chance that when a Wizard’s Bookstand is encountered there will be Bond Breaker in or on it, or in close proximity. The creature will make friends and cozy up to the wizard who claims a found bookstand. Because the magics of Wizard Locks and Wizard’s Bookstands can sate the Unfamiliar, there is a 30% chance that an unfriendly person or creature can open the wizard Locked item or remove a book from the bookstand as if it were not locked or secured by magic. Casting multiple Wizard Locks on the same item will not alter this chance.

In addition, there is a 10% chance that a Bond Breaker in the presence of a book stand with a spell book on it, will not have fed recently because it grew careless on the abundance of sustaining magics, and will protest attempts to remove the spell book, unless it is shown that there is another familiar to take its place. This occurs even if there is a Wizard Locked item nearby. Even if there is another book to take the place of the book to be removed, there is a 5% chance that the Bond Breaker will be petulant and refuse to cooperate for 1d8 hours. Attempts to remove the book in spite of the protest of the bond breaker in the absence of a book to take the place of the desired book will result in 1d8 hours of shrieking that prevents re-learning of spells for all types of spell casters, magic users, clerics, druids, shaman, witch doctors, etc. in a 100 foot radius of the creature. The distraught creature will stay within close proximity of the one who removed the familiar during this time to show its displeasure.

Should one attempt to move the Bond Breaker from the 50 foot radius of the Wizard Lock or Wizard’s Bookstand, it will whimper and cry loudly to the point that any guards, even if sleeping or slept, stunned, held or charmed will come to investigate.

Some theorize that the creature’s affinity for wizard locks indicates its true origins as a wizard going after a rival, and in the absence of wizard locks to sate its appetite, the creature looks for other magical bonds upon which to feed. As this is an ancient magical creature known in the oldest manuscripts, its true origins are lost to the mists of time.
Frequency: RARE
Size: Small.

AC:
HD: 4 HP
ATTACKS: Shrieking prevents re-learning and casting of memorized spells and attracts other creatures, and counters sleep, hold person/monster within 100 feet. See Special.
ST:
Special: Consumes bonds of charmed and summoned creatures or helper spells.
Move:
Challenge Level:
XP:

OSR Superstar Contest – Thoughts on Why I Didn’t Win

I think primarily that in a contest of this nature, especially one in which there are so many other entries there are a few keys to getting on one of the judges’ lists.

  • Brevity. Explain your item and what it does in a couple of paragraphs. Walls of text with complex entries are a sure way to turn off the judges to looking at your entries.
  • Uniqueness. Have an entry that is unique and can be described simply and is easy to drop into the rules.
  • Catchy. It needs a catchy name or description. Something that helps explain what it is without needing to read it.
  • Rules. Write it with the designated rules in mind. Writing it for a close but not quite rule set can show and can make it clunky.

I know that two of my entries were walls of text and all of them did not get written with the target rule set from the start. I did read through all of the various S&W rules before I converted to that rule set, but it greatly hampered the effectiveness of my presentation.

The wall of text is an issue I often have in my blog posts. I get to writing and the ideas related to it just keep flowing. I have the blessing/curse of being able to see connections most others don’t, and it takes a lot of text to explain the connections.

The good news is that I cam up with some unique items that I can use in my game. Whether players find them is another thing.

OSR Superstar Contest – All three Magic Items with S&W Rules

I wrote these up with AD&D in mind, not realizing that parts were vastly different than S&W Rules.

Magic Item 1 – S&W

1.) Magic Battle Standard

Court Wizards, and most wizards in general, are reluctant to risk their lives on the battlefield. Even for those so inclined or “convinced” to serve their liege or powerful neighbor in battle prefer to maximize their effectiveness while avoiding the line of battle. Thus, magic items that increase the effectiveness of troops is a general way of helping and can spare the need for the wizard to actually step foot on the field of battle, or at least stay as far from the fighting as possible.

There are 4 types of standards. Normal unit/army insignias, Lesser Standards, Holy/Unholy Standards, and Greater Standards. Conscripts/peasants will usually not have magic standards unless the lord/leader has been particularly unlucky in battle yet managed to retain his standards. Level 5 standards are usually the standards of the overall leader of a force, or really big armies, as in huge kingdoms or empires may have such standards for leading generals.

Non-magic standards have an effect on battle. They signify the unit and it is a great honor to be the standard bearer. A unit specific banner with words or symbols specific to the unit add +1 to morale and reaction rolls. Should a standard fall, the unit must make a morale/reaction roll without the bonus. If the standard is recovered, it restores the bonus, but for each additional time it falls in the same battle, it reduces the roll by 1%. (See page 87 of the Complete Swords & Wizardry Rules for Morale Checks.) If a larger unit has standard for its sub-units, the sub-unit standard falling only affects the morale modifier of that sub-unit. If the larger unit banner falls, it affects all of the sub-units. For example, an army lead by a king that has unit banners and the kings banner is with the King. If the King’s banner falls, the entire army must make a morale check.

NOTE: The abilities of the magic battle standards listed below are defensive in nature. It is possible, at the GM’s discretion that there be one or more offensive spell of the appropriate spell level for a standard. For a warlike culture that relies on magic instead of just force of arms, it will be very likely that they have offensive spell capabilities. Since the forces of chaos want to expand, the very often will have attack capabilities.

Lesser Standards are basic magic items that give the bonuses to their troops, in addition to the bonuses of non-magic standards. The unit will have the unit symbol on their shields, helmets, or tabards.
The magic in the standards is generally to allow the bearer to maintain the honor of the unit by keeping the standard upright.
A level 1 standard enables the standard bearer to cast Protection from Evil and Shield once per day/battle, as 1st level magic user spells.
A level 2 standard has the abilities of a level 1 standard plus Detect Evil, Detect Invisibility, Mirror Image, and Strength once per day/battle, as 2nd level magic user spells.
A level 3 standard has the abilities of level 1 and 2 standards plus Protection from Evil, 10-foot Radius, and Protection from Normal Missiles, as 3rd level magic user spells.
A Level 4 standard has the abilities of level 1, 2 and 3 standards plus Confusion, and Fear, as 4th level magic user spells.
A Level 5 standard has the abilities of level 1, 2,3 and 4 standards plus Hold Monster, as 5th level magic user spells.

Holy/Unholy Standards will have the symbol of the religion/deity/cult with some differentiation for the unit. (Unholy standards can cast spells to benefit the bearer or against those attacking the bearer or his unit.) The unit will have the unit symbol on their shields, helmets, or tabards.
A level 1 Holy standard enables the standard bearer to cast Cure Light Wounds and Protection from Evil once per day/battle as 1st level cleric spells.
A level 2 Holy standard has the abilities of a level 1 standard plus Bless and Hold Person once per day/battle as 2nd level cleric spells.
A level 3 Holy standard has the abilities of level 1 and 2 standards plus Cure Disease and Prayer as 3rd level cleric spells.
A level 4 Holy standard has the abilities of levels 1, 2, and 3 standards plus Create Water, Cure Serious Wounds, Neutralize Poison, Protection from Evil, 10-foot Radius as 4th level cleric spells.
A level 5 Holy standard has the abilities of levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 standards plus Create Food, Dispel Evil, and Detect Magic as 5th level cleric spells.
Greater Standards are more powerful magic items that gain power as their units are successful in battle. The unit will have the unit symbol on their shields, helmets, or tabards.
These standards require the cooperation of wizards and clerics in their creation.
Level 1 Greater Standard has the abilities of a level 1 standard and a level 1 holy/unholy standard.
Level 2 Greater Standard has the abilities of a level 2 standard and a level 2 holy/unholy standard.
Level 3 Greater Standard has the abilities of a level 3 standard and a level 3 holy/unholy standard.
Level 4 Greater Standard has the abilities of a level 4 standard and a level 4 holy/unholy standard.
Level 5 Greater Standard has the abilities of a level 5 standard and a level 5 holy/unholy standard.

In addition to the above, greater standards allow the bearer to turn/control undead as a cleric of the same level as the standard.

By the very nature of the combined magics of a greater standard, these devices gain in power the more successful their units are in battle. A new standard must win ten battles for a 10% chance to add a miscellaneous ability. A new standard whose unit loses its first battle must win 15 battles for the 10% chance of a new ability.
Skirmishes and small actions where the unit easily wins are not as beneficial as an actual battle that requires effort and coordination for the unit. Five such skirmishes/easy wins are equal to one battle.

Miscellaneous Ability Table 3d6
3 – Intelligence. Battle standard becomes intelligent as per rules for intelligent swords and is able to advise the bearer and help hinder/influence the battle.
4 – Random additional magic user defensive spell of same level as the standard.
5 – Random additional magic user offensive spell of same level as the standard.
6 – Random additional magic user offensive and defensive spell of same level as the standard.
7 – Random additional cleric defensive spell of same level as the standard.
8 – Random additional cleric user offensive spell of same level as the standard.
9 – Random additional cleric offensive and defensive spell of same level as the standard.
10 – Random additional cleric and magic user defensive spell of same level as the standard.
11 – Random additional cleric and magic user offensive spell of same level as the standard.
12 – Random spell of any level useable once per day.
13 – Holy standards permanent protection of evil 15′ radius. Unholy standard, protection from good.
14 – Permanent detect magic 10′ radius.
15 – Roll on benign effects table.
16 – Roll on adverse effects table.
17 – Roll on benign and adverse effects table.
18 – Increase to next level of standard. For standards at level 5 roll again on this table, ignoring this result.
Benign Effects Table 1d10, or [d100 with 10% range for each.]
1 [01-10] – Unit fights as one level higher.
2 [11-20] – Entire unit is healed of 1d6 hp once per battle.
3 [21-30] – Entire unit is hasted 1d10 rounds into a battle. Re-roll at the beginning of each battle.
4 [31-40] – Enemy unit facing the unit with standard is held as per hold person.
5 [41-50] – Enemy unit facing the unit with the standard is slept as per sleep.
6 [51-60] – Unit can fight 1d10 rounds past the point they would normally face exhaustion. Re-roll for each battle.
7 [61-70] – Standard randomly summons a unit mascot. Something fitting the units reputation or insignia. Once there is a unit mascot roll again if this comes up until the mascot retires dues to age or infirmity or is killed in battle. If the mascot is killed in battle, there is a 10% change that a new mascot will be summoned and appear in 1d6 rounds. The mascot will stay near the banner and fight to protect the banner and the beater. Birds and smaller flying mascots will perch on the cross piece of the banner, other mascots will stay within 30 feet of the banner.
8 [71-80] – Opposing unit(s) must roll save vs. fear as the spell.
9 [81-90] – Units troops roll at +1 on 1d6th saving throw needed in a battle. Re-roll for each battle.
10 [91-100] – Unit is not surprised/caught unawares by flanking attacks and ambushes.
Adverse Effects Table 1d8
1 – Random enemy unit is healed of 1-4 HP for each member.
2 – Units troops are slowed if attacked by specific humanoid type (kobolds, goblins, orcs, bugbears, etc.)
3 – Units troops are held as per hold person for one round 1d10 rounds into a battle.
4 – Units troops are confused 1 round as per spell confusion.
5 – Standard randomly summons a monster as per monster summoning.
6 – Standard attracts the attention of the most powerful single foe in the opposing force.
7 – Standard attracts the attention of the most renowned unit in the opposing force.
8 – Units troops roll at -1 on 1d6th saving throw needed in a battle. Re-roll for each battle.
Planting the standard:
When a unit with a greater standard is in dire straights, they can “plant the standard” and stand and fight to the last man. Merely planting the standard is not enough, the unit commander, or highest ranking/senior member present, must rally the unit around the standard. A successful morale/reaction roll will enable this action. This will negate their need to roll for morale for the remainder of the battle, and they will get a second wind and will each be healed 1d4 hit points. Should the unit somehow prevail or the cavalry arrives and the danger is at an end, the members of the unit will fall exhausted and unable to march for 1d8 hours. NOTE: Troops that do not have a warrior ethic or unit cohesion or a lawful alignment cannot do this easily, with a few exceptions. Orcs can do this when fighting elves, goblins when fighting dwarves, etc. But if the troops are conscripts, slaves, unruly, chaotic, or not a warrior culture, they can attempt this, but with a penalty.

Aura and Renown:
Successful and famous units will be known by their standard. This can cause others to refuse to face them in the line of battle and cause weak minded bullies to back down when encountering someone wearing the unit’s insignia. NOTE: Counterfeit insignia only works for so long, the bearer must be able to back up the symbol he wears.

Unsuccessful and infamous units will also be known by their standard and will attract derision and insults and possibly thrown rotten vegetables or even stones. A player who dons such a unit’s insignia is in for a big surprise at the first settlement where the unit is known.

Finding Battle Standards.
Battle standards will be common in barracks, forts, castles, and the homes of nobles and kings. Magic Standards will only be as common as the prevalence of magic in a campaign. For low magic settings, such items will be ancient and their manufacture will be lost to the mists of time, or only found in rare and hard to locate manuscripts.

It is possible that a standard might be found on an ancient battlefield. Evil/chaotic standards would be destroyed by good/lawful forces and vice versa. However, intelligent greater standards can fight back, and might be buried and warded to keep out of the hands of like aligned forces. It is also possible that a greater standard has been used as part of the wardings to contain a powerful creature. A holy standard could be part of the containment of an ancient evil, or an unholy standard is used to help trap a long lost hero of renown, for example.

Magic standards found in a dungeon/ruin/abandoned castle setting will have the appropriate amount of dust, but will not show signs of wear and tear. Good creatures and especially paladins and clerics will avoid unholy standards, even if they are not magic. Intelligent unholy standards will attempt to attack paladins and good/lawful clerics, or vice versa Holy standards versus anti-paladins and evil/chaotic clerics.

For unintelligent magic battle standards, the players will have to find a sage or cast appropriate informational spells or find ancient manuscripts to explain their workings in low magic campaigns. In high magic campaigns the characters might have general knowledge that they exist, but will not know how to operate them, etc.

A small party or single adventurer using a standard can potentially gain some benefits. If the party does not have the same insignia as the banner, only the bearer will benefit unless the effect is an area of effect spell. As with rods, staves, and wands, they can be activated merely by touching an appropriate rune, or by the correct command, or by both command and touching a rune. Holy/Unholy Standards will usually require the battle cry of the deity/religion or shouting the name of the deity to activate.

Fun twist: Druidic Banners.
An army of nature worshipers, led by druids, could have nature banners and go after any forces of law or chaos that are using their forest for their war machines. Such banners could be bundles of oak leaves, or an oak brank, bundles of mistletoe, a branch of holly, etc. These banners would be similar to Holy/Unholy Banners, and because outside forces so threaten them, they will have offensive spell capabilities. It would be extremely rare for a druidic group to cooperate with a wizard to make a more traditional Greater Magic Banner. However, druidic forces that are aligned toward law or chaos would not have the same reservations. Greater druidic banners are possible by the nature force of the spirit of the forest/jungle/spring/cave/etc. that is the center of druidic worship.

Size and Shape:
Standards come in all sizes and shape and length of poles. They need to be big enough to communicate where a unit is on the field of battle, but not too big or unwieldly for the bearer to easily navigate the field of battle. The pole can be from six to ten feet in length. They could come with a chest strap to help carry them like you see flag bearers use in parades, or a spike to plant it in the ground. Some banners could be on lances or spears, but this would depend on the culture/warrior code of the unit/army. These would also require smaller cloth/material dimension, like a pennant instead of a banner.

Dyson’s Dodecahedron has some handy tables for generating the appearance of Battle Standards NOTE: The last table has his take on magic standards. January 13, 2011 on Dyson’s blog. On my blog I mentioned them on August, 2009 about my first hearing of them in the late 70’s early 80’s. This is my attempt to create them.

http://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/random-thursday-banners-and-standards/

 

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Magic Item 2 S&W

Wizard’s Bookstand

This item appears to be a normal, yet high quality bookstand or lectern. Some have a delicate appearance like a music stand, others appear to be sturdy and heavy like a lectern. Others are small angled items designed to sit on a desk or table to allow the user to stand an read as at a lectern. The lectern has a cabinet below with a latching door than can hold three spell books or ten scrolls. The table top form can hold one spell book or three scrolls.

It is carved of the most exquisite wood with fine inlays and mystical runes. They can also be crafted of metal, such as, fine steel, adamantite, or mithril.

The bookstand protects the wizard’s spell book(s). It gives a +2 on all saves that the spell book may need to make.

It can hold the book shut and secure to the bookstand as a wizard lock at 11th level.

It conveys protection of the book versus fire and electrical magic, and bookworms and other pest that feast on spell books.

The wizard can summon the bookstand and it will walk to the caster bearing the book and can open the book to the desired page or turn the page of an open book to the desired page.

Use of the bookstand while learning spells allows the wizard to memorize spells in 3/4 the time.

The wizard can cast one spell from the book per day as a scroll, but the spell is preserved. However, if the wizard is interrupted in his casting, there is a 20% chance the spell will fade from his book and a 1% change per level of the spell that the spell before it and after it in the book will be lost. Roll separately for the preceding and following spell. If the spells immediately preceding and following are destroyed, there is a 10% chance that this is a catastrophic failure and every spell in the book is lost.

Some bookstands grant their owner additional spells per day while in their tower/residence or within 30 feet of the bookstand if the wizard is out and about with his bookstand. In both cases, this is only true while their spell book is on the bookstand.

When in a wizard’s tower/cast;e/residence, the bookstand will act to protect the book and if a stand with a compartment, its contents. It can turn itself invisible once per day and stay invisible until the wizard returns and calls it. If there are protective circles and such in the wizard’s tower it will seek to enter those areas. It will move away from anyone attempting to enter the wizard’s residence. If a party’s wizard is killed, the remaining party will have a great challenge trying to get the bookstand to cooperate with them. If there is not book or contents in the bookstand, it will appear to be a normal set of furniture.

A “lost” bookstand, i.e. one whose owner is deceased, encountered by an adventure party with a spell book on or in it, or with scrolls in it, will act as above.

There are two variations on the Wizard’s Bookstand.

1.) Jealous Bookstand. This Wizard’s bookstand is semi-intelligent and will not relinquish a book to the owner unless another spell book is immediately available to take its place. There is a 1% chance on any given day that the bookstand will refuse to give up the book. There is nothing to do short of a wish or limited wish, to get the book away from the bookstand without destroying both the bookstand and the book. It is simplest to wait for the next day and hope for the best.

2.) Cursed Bookstand. This appears to be a normal bookstand until the wizard places his or her book on it. There is only a 1% chance for the wizard to notice anything odd. The nature of the Cursed Bookstand is to alter the spells in the book so that they have limited, ineffectual, inaccurate, or opposite effect. Roll separately for each spell in the spell book.

Spell Results Table: 1d6
1 – Limited Range. 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. 1/8, 1/16 range. 1d6 for range effect.
2 – Limited Damage 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. 1/8, 1/16 damage. 1d6 for damage effect.
3 – Limited Range and Damage. 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. 1/8, 1/16 range. 1d6 for range and damage effect. Roll once for each.
4 – Ineffectual. Spell has all the appearance and sound, but no damage. A fireball looks impressive but does not burn. A magic missile looks right but no damage. Illusions have no visual or auditory effect. Informational spells either give static, partial, inaccurate, or outright wrong results. Protection spells have a 50% chance to be limited and a 50% chance to have the opposite effect. Opposite effect can be weakness instead of strength on an ally, or protection from normal missiles on a foe instead of an ally.
4 – Opposite effects, see Ineffectual above.
6 – Roll twice, ignoring this result on further rolls.

There is a 30% chance that an encountered Bookstand will have Bond Breaker in or on it, or in close proximity.

The above bookstands are AC:4 [15], with 10 HP, ST of 14, and a movement rate of 9.

Bookstand Mimic:
There is a rare creature that some sages and wizards have theorized resulted from some wizard’s experiment that combined a jealous and cursed bookstand resulting in a magical creature. This creature is alive and seeks to devour magic items. It prefers spell books. In the first week of use, it will function as a normal Wizard’s Bookstand, thereafter there is a 10% chance increasing each week, so that the second week it is 20%, third week 30%, etc. until the tenth week after the first, i.e. the 11th week that the bookstand will eat the wizards’s spell book. Starting the second week, the Bookstand Mimic will act as a Jealous Bookstand that refuses to give up its book. If the wizard is unable to free the book before the Bookstand Mimic can devour it, the book is lost. A wizard will only know about this if he or she encounters the information from a sage, fellow wizard, or his or her own research BEFORE placing his spell book on the stand.
If it has a compartment for holding additional spell books or scrolls, it will attempt to devour them as above, but the Bookstand Mimic can only devour one item at a time.
NOTE: If a normal book is placed on the Bookstand Mimic, the Mimic will not react.

AC: 4 [15]
HD: 2
ATTACKS: Special. Only the spell book placed on it or the spell books and scrolls placed in it.
ST: 14
Special: Eats spell books & scrolls.
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

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Magic Item 3 S&W

Ring of Preparedness

The wearer is never surprised and when enemies are plotting something, for ex. a thief planning to break in in the night, the thief will meet the ring bearer outside the point of entry or just inside. However, the wearer could also reinforce the weak points with additional bars, traps, or magic defenses and only intervene if the thief makes it past those.

A thief planning to pick pockets will be noticed prior to making their attempt. The bearer will “know” what is involved and can confront the thief in a manner of their choosing, or ignore it. A stubborn or foolish thief may persist until confronted.

Multiple assailants from multiple directions will be known, but the wearer can only be in one place at a time and will have to choose to focus on the closest assailant, the most powerful, or the one about to hurt friends, or loved ones. Circumstances will determine if the wearer can choose which of multiple assailants to confront.

There is a 10% chance that the ring is an Advanced Ring of Preparedness. The wearer knows with enough sense of urgency to get out of the weather, like a downpour or blizzard. They will find the nearest comfortable shelter and prepare a fire and a meal before the storm hits, even to the derision of party members. If there is an impending earthquake the bearer will feel the need to go outside or dine a sturdy doorway. If social unrest, like a riot is coming, the wearer will seek to get out of town, or find secure lodging. In a dungeon setting, the bearer will know if the creature on the other side of a door is intent on causing harm. This only works on intelligent monsters. Slimes, molds, and cubes give no such aura of malevolence, they are just seeking food.

Cursed Ring of Preparedness. The wearer of this ring is always surprised and after a month the wearer must roll once per week to make a saving throw or become paranoid. Prior to the wearer becoming paranoid, the ring can be removed with remove curse. Once the wearer falls victim to paranoia an elaborate process to cure the paranoia must be completed, then a remove curse can remove the ring. If the ring is not removed after paranoia is cured, after a month the chance of paranoia returns. Subsequent procedures to cure the paranoia will require an additional exotic ingredient. However, wishes can solve the problem….

At the GM’s discretion the cursed ring can have an aura that affects rolls for surprise and initiative for the party if the wearer is in a party or group.

Ring of Preparedness – Entry #3 into OSR Superstar Contest

Entry #3. Actually, this is the version for AD&D. I will post all three items with the S&W Rules versions all together in one post.

Ring of Preparedness

The wearer is never surprised and when enemies are plotting something, for ex. a thief planning to break in in the night, the thief will meet the ring bearer outside the point of entry or just inside. However, the wearer could also reinforce the weak points with additional bars, traps, or magic defenses and only intervene if the thief makes it past those.

A thief planning to pick pockets will be noticed prior to making their attempt. The bearer will “know” what is involved and can confront the thief in a manner of their choosing, or ignore it. A stubborn or foolish thief may persist until confronted.

Multiple assailants from multiple directions will be known, but the wearer can only be in one place at a time and will have to choose to focus on the closest assailant, the most powerful, or the one about to hurt friends, or loved ones. Circumstances will determine if the wearer can choose which of multiple assailants to confront.

There is a 10% chance that the ring is an Advanced Ring of Preparedness. The wearer knows with enough sense of urgency to get out of the weather, like a downpour or blizzard. They will find the nearest comfortable shelter and prepare a fire and a meal before the storm hits, even to the derision of party members. If there is an impending earthquake the bearer will feel the need to go outside or dine a sturdy doorway. If social unrest, like a riot is coming, the wearer will seek to get out of town, or find secure lodging. In a dungeon setting, the bearer will know if the creature on the other side of a door is intent on causing harm. This only works on intelligent monsters. Slimes, molds, and cubes give no such aura of malevolence, they are just seeking food.

Cursed Ring of Preparedness. The wearer of this ring is always surprised and after a month the wearer must roll once per week to save vs. magic or become paranoid. Prior to the wearer becoming paranoid, the ring can be removed with remove curse. Once the wearer falls victim to paranoia an elaborate process to cure the paranoia must be completed, then a remove curse can remove the ring. If the ring is not removed after paranoia is cured, after a month the chance of paranoia returns. Subsequent procedures to cure the paranoia will require an additional exotic ingredient. However, wishes can solve the problem….

At the GM’s discretion the cursed ring can have an aura that affects rolls for surprise and initiative for the party if the wearer is in a party or group.

Magic Bookstand – Entry #2 into OSR Superstar Contest

Here is entry #2. Actually, this is the version for AD&D. I will post all three items with the S&W Rules versions all together in one post.

I got this idea from my brother Robert’s campaign. My character, Griswald, owed a favor to a powerful wizard, Moran Redbeard. It turned out that all the high level players in the game owed him a favor or were willing to help him. I don’t know how Robert stated this, this is my interpretation.

Wizard’s Bookstand

This item appears to be a normal, yet high quality bookstand or lectern. Some have a delicate appearance like a music stand, others appear to be sturdy and heavy like a lectern. Others are small angled items designed to sit on a desk or table to allow the user to stand an read as at a lectern. The lectern has a cabinet below with a latching door than can hold three spell books or ten scrolls. The table top form can hold one spell book or three scrolls.

It is carved of the most exquisite wood with fine inlays and mystical runes. They can also be crafted of metal, such as, fine steel, adamantite, or mithril.

The bookstand protects the wizard’s spell book(s). It gives a +2 on all saves that the familiar may need to make.

It can hold the book shut and secure to the bookstand as a wizard lock at 11th level.

It conveys protection of the book versus fire and electrical magic, and bookworms and other pest that feast on spell books.

The wizard can summon the bookstand and it will walk to the caster bearing the book and can open the book to the desired page or turn the page of an open book to the desired page.

Use of the bookstand while learning spells allows the wizard to memorize spells in 3/4 the time.

The wizard can cast one spell from the book per day as a scroll, but the spell is preserved. However, if the wizard is interrupted in his casting, there is a 20% chance the spell will fade from his book and a 1% change per level of the spell that the spell before it and after it in the book will be lost. Roll separately for the preceding and following spell. If the spells immediately preceding and following are destroyed, there is a 10% chance that this is a catastrophic failure and every spell in the book is lost.

Some bookstands grant their owner additional spells per day while in their tower/residence or within 30 feet of the bookstand if the wizard is out and about with his bookstand. In both cases, this is only true while their familiar is on the bookstand.

There are two variations on the Wizard’s Bookstand.

1.) Jealous Bookstand. This bookstand is semi-intelligent and will not relinquish a book to the owner unless another familiar is immediately available to take its place. There is a 1% chance on any given day that the bookstand will refuse to give up the book. There is nothing to do short of a wish or limited wish, to get the book away from the bookstand without destroying both the bookstand and the book.

2.) Cursed Bookstand. This appears to be a normal bookstand until the wizard places his or her book on it. There is only a 1% chance for the wizard to notice anything odd. The nature of the Cursed Bookstand is to alter the spells in the book so that they have limited, ineffectual, inaccurate, or opposite effect. Roll separately for each spell in the familiar.

Spell Results Table: 1d6
1 – Limited Range. 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. 1/8, 1/16 range. 1d6 for range effect.
2 – Limited Damage 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. 1/8, 1/16 damage. 1d6 for damage effect.
3 – Limited Range and Damage. 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. 1/8, 1/16 range. 1d6 for range and damage effect. Roll once for each.
4 – Ineffectual. Spell has all the appearance and sound, but no damage. A fireball looks impressive but does not burn. A magic missile looks right but no damage. Illusions have no visual or auditory effect. Informational spells either give static, partial, inaccurate, or outright wrong results. Protection spells have a 50% chance to be limited and a 50% chance to have the opposite effect. Opposite effect can be weakness instead of strength on an ally, or protection from normal missiles on a foe instead of an ally.
4 – Opposite effects, see Ineffectual above.
6 – Roll twice, ignoring this result on further rolls.

There is a 30% chance that an encountered Bookstand will have an Unfamiliar in or on it, or in close proximity.

Bookstand Mimic:
There is a rare creature that some sages and wizards have theorized resulted from some wizard’s experiment that combined a jealous and cursed bookstand resulting in a magical creature. This creature is alive and seeks to devour magic items. It prefers spell books. In the first week of use, it will function as a normal Wizard’s Bookstand, thereafter there is a 10% chance increasing each week, so that the second week it is 20%, third week 30%, etc. until the tenth week after the first, i.e. the 11th week that the bookstand will eat the wizards’s familiar. Starting the second week, the Bookstand Mimic will act as a Jealous Bookstand that refuses to give up its book. If the wizard is unable to free the book before the Bookstand Mimic can devour it, the book is lost. A wizard will only know about this if he or she encounters the information from a sage, fellow wizard, or research BEFORE placing his familiar on the stand.

NOTE: If a normal book is placed on the Bookstand Mimic, the Mimic will not react.

AC: 4
HD: 6 HP
ATTACKS: Special. Only the spell book placed on it.
ST:
Special: Eats spell books.
Move:
Challenge Level:
XP: