Sunday, 26 July 2015

Magic Jar, IOUN stones, Auxillary Brains

"By means of this device the Magic-User houses his life force in some inanimate object (even a rock) and attempts to possess the body of any other creature within 12" of his Magic Jar. The container for his life force must be within 3" of his body at the time the spell is pronounced. Possession of another body takes place when the creature in question fails to make its saving throw against magic. If the possessed body is destroyed, the spirit of the Magic-User returns to the Magic Jar, and from thence it may attempt another possession or return to the Magic-Users body. The spirit of the Magic-User can return to the Magic Jar at any time he so desires. Note that if the body of the Magic-User is destroyed the life force must remain in a possessed body or the Magic Jar. If the Magic-Jar is destroyed the Magic-User is totally annihilated." 

-Men & Magic, p. 28,29

The main problem associated with this spell is that persons possessed by the magic-user will not, unless they too are a magic-user, have the proper cerebral cavities and cephalic distortions necessary to memorize spells. The possessing magic-user would have to start out with no spell ability in a new brain and bend his mind back into proper shape by leveling up.

Obviously the immortal magic-user prefers not to deal with this hassle if at all possible. Therefore, some method of permanent additional brain capacity in which to imprint spells is highly desirable. The following are two such items.

Affixable Ancillary Brains: Stacks of brains harvested from 11th level magic-users and alien psionic creatures are riveted together in a framework of bone. The magic user interfaces his neural strings to those of the additional brains, granting him one additional space for storing spells, enough additional hardware to employ several sets of new sensory organs should he choose to affix these to his person (sensory organs not included), and the capacity to learn one additional language.

IOUN stones: IOUN stones function as additional brain cavities, and are considered by many magic-users a far more elegant and aesthetic solution than appending additional brains to their own. Such a device allows a magic user to imprint spells within, whereupon they will hang suspended around the magic user’s head until the spell is cast. An unimprinted IOUN stone will absorb the first spell cast at its possessor, and then finishes its total gravitational implosion, permanently destroying the spell. If you use spell levels, each IOUN stone has a different color corresponding to the spell level they work for. If you don't use spell levels, each IOUN stone is a translucent white until imbued with spells whereupon they change color corresponding to spell stored within.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Manse of Grumbleyot the Dimensicate

The Doorman: Grumbleyot's foyer is a small chamber posessing nine doors, the most dignified of which quickly steps forward and addresses visitors in courteous greeting, introducing himself as the Doorman. He apologizes for the absence of the Footman, who normally attends visitors, explaining he is currently away at the cobbler being fitted for new apparel. The Doorman welcomes visitors to the workshop of Grumbleyot the Dimensicate, a magician of great power and universal esteem. He then politely mentions it is customary to tip the Doorman for his most arduous and indispensable services to the players. The Doorman then returns to his post as portal to Grumbleyot’s chamber - the Aquarium. 

Door 1, The Purple Room: Covered on all sides with several layers of purple velvet save the ceiling. The underlying stone is luminescent purple.  A small desk sits at the center of the room, facing the doorway. Inside is a thin book bound in purple velvet, and locked and trapped with a poison needle. The writing runs right to left in mirror script, double cyphered, and in the tongue of red dragons. A magic-user can comprehend the text after a fortnight of arduous study. It contains a spell, which a read-magic will reveal to be Phandaal’s Gyrator (A boastful and arrogant spell who will not stop pestering the magic-user who has it memorized by regaling him with dubiously true stories of its use in daring endeavors), a dissertation on the analgesic and paralytic properties of quinine, and a promissory ledger holding two sandestins - a quasit and an efriit- to 1d6 indenture points each, at pain of punishment by a powerful elemental if they should fail to comply with their duties.

Door 2, Power Generator. The power generator is an apparatus consisting of two 1000p gem stones acting as electrodes in a massive chemical battery. The battery is charged intermittently by means of a power line connected to the pod-tube electric rail on level 3. Two lackadaisical henchmen trolls, sit here playing checkers. One isn’t a very bright bulb and keeps losing. They will gladly gossip about dungeon activities for a small fee (perhaps a tasty hireling or a magic trinket). They know about the leaders of various cults, and which merchants are less scrupulous in the goblin market. They also know a secret passage to the third level by which they are tasked to go summon the pod-car when the battery's EMF begins to wane. 

Door 3, Painting Room. A dining hall with 100p of bizarrely shaped dining utensils on a long ornate mahogany table, and a large painting at its head. Depicts fat red demon dining merily at a table with skeletons. If touched, the transgressor is transported within, where the demon makes polite conversation as he kindly instructs the character to lay down on a silver platter and cut himself into bite sized potions. [Zulqcrewster: Efriit AL C; HD 8; HTK 22; D 2d6]. Attacks directed at any person within the painting from without do normal damage, and spells take normal effect. The character may only exit the painting by being cut from the canvas, but he will remain duo-dimensional until some sort of appropriate magical restoration is employed. A door leads west to the Kitchen.

Kitchen. Three orcs busily prepare a giant boar, directed by a dwarfish chef who merrily sings out commands in a high tenor. Squalfarton will warn players not to delay dinner preparations, and attack if bothered further; [Orcs “Ralph, Phil, Simon”:  1 HD; HTK 3,3,3; M 9”; AC 9 aprons; D 1d6 cleavers], [Dwarf “Squalfarton”; 1 HD; HTK 5; M 12”; AC 9 apron; D 1d6 flaming hot sauté pan]. Squalfarton carries a ring that allows its wearer to speak with plants (who generally have nothing remotely intelligent to say, taking great interest in such items as frequency of their watering and complaining of the overly-sulfurous quality of their soil). In stock are an aquarium of 13 phosphorescent lobsters, 1lb of saffron, 6lbs salt, 1lb of cinnamon, a 3lb jar of figs, and a two dozen ancient goat heads aging in pickle jars.

Door 4, Astronomical room. Glass ceiling, with stars projected across. Pedestal with adjustable dial rotates stars through phases of past 17 years. 4 laser pointers affixed to the podium target points on the ceiling, and a brief ledger lists parallax angles and calculations determining parsec distances to various stars. A large clepsydra tracks the rotations of the Acturian suns Branchspell and Alppain. A green marble globe, labelled mercury, has topographical features inscribed and labeled on its surface. Doors to Ape Room and Space Junker lead north and south.

Ape Room. The door to the room is a strange reddish metal. The door is worth 5000p and a suit of +1 armor or three +1 weapons might be fashioned from it. 3 White Apes [HD 4; M 12”; HTK 11, 11, 18; AC 7 hide; D 2DTH] live here. A fountain at the central section of the room provides sustenance in the form of liquefied kitchen refuse. The apes guard a gilded sarcophagus worth 2000p and requiring 2 men to carry. Inside is the mummified shell of a beetle-like-man, a brittle translucent crystalline structure worth 10,000p to a magic-user of 8th level or higher. Wound in cloth, and covered in useless stone runes of protection are a rod of material animation (5 charges), and Lacodel’s Rune which grants its bearer the protection afforded by a spell of omnipotent sphere against any spell if a save vs spell is made as a 11th level magic-user, absorbing 7 spells before it runs dry of charge, and two potions - True Sight, and Invulnerability.

Space Junker. The heavy iron door to this room swings in and is opened by a vault wheel. It opens on a sector of deep interstellar space. The torn hull of an enormous ship looms a few hundred yards out, ripe for plunder. Luckily this part of space is soupy and filled with foggy vapors which are easily swimmable, (and thus there is not enough of a vacuum to suck characters out the door). Characters will still require an oxygen source if they intend to spend more than a breath-length traversing space.

Door 5, Pleasure Garden. 17 giant boars (2HD each) roam the garden. Grumbleyot has personally formulated the necessary soils to sustain each plant - all will die if removed from the garden.
A: Furry carnivorous plant that bear fruits of red meat.
B: Tin tree with copper leaves and 17 crystal flowers worth 10p each.
C: A row of Lotus flowers - blue, black, green, jale, purple, and white.
D: Flowers slowly changing hue and revolving, refolding, collapsing and reforming.
E: A whole patch of poison ivy.
F: A shelf of whistling fungus. The white apes in the Ape Room may be appeased by this music (50% chance).
G: A mischievous magic pool of watery green liquid, full of tranquilly drifting lily-pads, who casually mentions to players that one of the roaming boars ate Grumbleyot’s magical ruby eye last Tuesday, a stone ancient beyond reckoning and worth more than a duchy. There, of course, is no such stone. If spoken with by some means, the boars will deny the existence of any such stone, but the plants will not be particularly useful in discerning anything other than that the pool is a rascal. If the boars are attacked, they will attempt to kill all non-boars present in the room, fighting till their deaths or until the transgressors depart the garden. Drinking from the pool ages persons by 1 year, as the pool actually drinks from you.
H: A plant made of several large spheres stacked upon each other, with long algae-like appendages flowing upwards into the air.
I: A burlap sack of 14 boar-bulbs, which will grow into full sized wild boars in a fortnight.

Door 6, Surveying Room: A lounge with luxurious couches overlooking a pit with a semi-minisculated archveultz (now only only 6" tall) [Fooqualmialtz: AL C; MV 12"; MU 6; HTK 12; AC 9 robe; D 1d6 claws; SP all spells exhausted] running through a tiny glass-stoned stone labyrinth, chased by a purple worm larva [AL N; M 12; HD 6; HTK 21; AC 7 hide; D 2DTH bite] who has eaten Fooqualmialtz's wristwatch. Like all archveultz, he is a potent magician, resembling a tall blue lizard with magnificent black feather plumage. If saved from his fate, Fooqualmialtz will restore himself to normal size using the minasculator in the Workshop, kill the worm to retrieve his watch, then thank rescuers by answering one question each to the best of his ability before departing for his native planet by means of a button on his wristwatch opening a labyrinthine geometric tunnel through the planes. A door to the north leads to the Workshop.

Workshop: Filled with mechanical apparati: an adjustable minasculator with a jar of 183 resentful 1mm tall minuscules; a tube of blue projectile (17 charges, 2d6 damage per shot); a 12-passenger majestic whirl-away with enough gasoline to travel 100 miles at a mile a minute; a cosmonautical suit that has been re-purposed as a diving suit; 20 lbs of scrap mechanical parts and a half-empty bottle of WD-40.

Door 7, Frankenstein room. Several articulated spinal trusses are suspended from the ceiling on block and tackle devices. 50’ spools of tantalum wire and muscle fiber, and 60 sq yards of scaly fish skins are kept in a cabinet. A second cabinet holds three-eyed skulls and sensorium organs in pickle jars. A gigantic blond man of dashing features with three slots in the top of his head lays strapped to a table. A lever attached to several electrical cables sits at the table’s side. Inserting 3 IOUN stones and pulling the level will cause him to animate as the Hero Squidhalter [AL L; F 4; HTK 18 ; MV 12”; AC 9 naked; D 2DTH massive fists], who promptly sets off on a determined quest to slay all witches. If the lever is puller prematurely, the sensorium organs burst out with long spindly neural chords attempting to strangle everyone as a 2HD monster and the limbs in the parts store room animate and crawl or roll into this room, fighting as skeletons. Door to the Parts Store Room and Vats of Life lead north and west.

Parts Store Room. 26 assorted limbs and heads hang from walls. In a mahogany display case lined with maroon velvet is a bottle of nutrient solution containing a reptilian arm that will graft itself to anyone that holds it to their body and establish the proper neurosystem pathways to function as a third appendage under the control of whoever it is attached too. The arm possesses reptilian regenerative powers so that unless severed at the base, it will regrow completely in a length of time proportional to damage sustained, taking at longest 4 weeks to reform in its entirety. It may be severed from one host and adjoined to another. Drinking from the nutrient fluid grants a permanent additional hit die to its imbiber.

Vats of life. 6 vats filled with abhorrent blue monstrosities only vaguely resembling women, grown in nutrient fluid. Drinking from the nutrient fluid grants a permanent additional hit die to its imbiber.

Door 8, Chemistry room. Long tables constructed of plastic-like substance; 120’ bendable glass tubing; 6 liters of iodine in various jars; a wall-spigot holding 1L of liquid concrete that hardens instantly upon contact with animal flesh. Doors to the Deep Freeze and Furnace Room lead north and south.

Deep Freeze. Jellied squid beak, purple worm’s blood, hydra tongue, a potion of quicksilver (mercury), dehydrated goblins (12 of them, just add water), and a horn of explosive powder (10’ radius, 2d6 damage). A potion labelled with a skull causes the imbiber’s eyeballs to protrude 3’ from the front of his head on long eyestalks; eyeless or blinded beings will grow a new pair of eyes and the necessary corporeal optical equipment for their proper function.

Furnace Room. Asbestos Gloves, 30 lbs of lead bars, potion of acid, 1 ounce of gold at bottom of furnace.

Door 9, The Aquarium: The Doorman is tasked to stop any from entering the Aquarium room. If anyone should forcibly attempt entry, the Doorman will commence combat, fighting as a djinn. He may, however, be persuaded to find a loophole in his orders which permits him to leave or allow entry. The room behind the doorman contains a large aquarium. Grumbleyot sleeps within, under the effects of The Charm of Untiring Nourishment.  He has no eyelids, so when Grumbleyot must leave his tank he affixes a pair of automatic ocular spritzers to keep his eyes properly moistened. Grumbleyot has magic jarred himself inside a ring on his finger, of a tungsten alloy that is immune to fires under 6000 degrees F and magnetically induced to keep any metal that might crush or cut it at a 1" distance. If antagonized, he will attempt to possess high-level magic-users, using the spells they have imprinted against them and their companions. The blue lotus extract solution in the aquarium suspends Grumbleyot's body's natural aging process to one hour per year. Grumbleyot cannot inter spells within the minds of most bodies he possesses as they are not magic users, so he greatly desires IOUN stones to store spells when he inhabits other bodies. Grumbleyot holds a single IOUN at present.

PDF: The Magnificent Manse of Grumbleyot the Dimensicate

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


On his House Rules & Campaigns Forum, The Perilous Dreamer asked "What is a House Rule?". 

The easy answer is "Any rules you decide to change", but this really doesn't place a limit on how far one might choose to distort the original rules. If you start with OD&D as written and end up with poker or ice hockey, did you still make a house rule? Of course not, the notion is ridiculous as there are limits on how much you can alter something and still be able to call it the same game.

So the question becomes "how much" instead of  "how little" can be changed and still considered a house rule. So what core rules cannot be changed without a game no longer being recognizable as OD&D?

At its heart, OD&D is a game about exploring the underworld and uncharted wilderness. The essential rules of the game involve how characters move through a dungeon or outdoor map. Classes, equipment, magic, monsters, treasure, traps, and tricks can all be changed without changing the game. Pre-1974 wargames and post-TSR era D&D incorporate all those elements listed, but are each fundamentally different games than the D&D I play. However, a game of Candyland might very well be made into OD&D as long the pieces explore their board according to the procedures prescribed in The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures.