Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Another lulu sale (they are busy this year)
I encourage all right-thinking (and left-thinking) individuals to go and spend shitloads* of money at my lulu store.
It's a reasonable request, right? :)
*In the absence of availability of an entire shitload of cash: fractional-shitloads and even metric pittances are also welcomed.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Black Monastery Censored!
I don't have any problem with Paizo's license provisions; I can definitely see why they'd want to have a clear rule to prevent anything like the d20 Book of Erotic Fantasy being published with their trademark on it. Fortunately the books hadn't actually been printed yet, so the only loss was suffered by the statue.
Black Monastery information/purchase page.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Black Monastery Released
Bill has a description of the history of the Black Monastery on the Frog God site HERE. Note that part of the description is written for younger gamers who may not be familiar with what they're going to find in there. Old schoolers can get by with: "it works a lot like Tegel Manor does."
It's a stitched hardback, and I think it has one or more poster maps, but I can't remember exactly. I don't remember if it's a fold-out map, or separate, or what. The price tag is $34.99 for the book + pdf, or $15.99 for the pdf alone.
But the point being, this is basically a piece of lost D&D from the hidden cabinet of the past. Pretty cool stuff.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Invisible Author
(1) I'm working on lots of projects: the OSRIC Monster Book text, Knockspell #7, monster illustrations, levels for Rappan Athuk, and editing Dennis Sustare's latest module, Tourist Traps.
(2) I am in a hypo-manic condition, which means not much sleep and obsessing on the projects; going to sleep dreaming about cross-hatching and shading, waking up thinking, "Here's a new idea, I've got to get it on paper nownownow!" It also means I keep thinking of new projects to work on, and having to smack those ideas away so that I can keep working away at the existing ones.
(3) All those projects are very long-term toward completion. I have a mix of illustrations from myself and other artists totaling maybe 30-35, and I need to have at least 80-100 in the book because the OSRIC book threatens to have 220 monsters in it. They are all new monsters, which means that illustrations are pretty key. I won't go into why I think illustrations are so key to a monster book, and several people would disagree with me, but from my perspective I want as many illustrations as possible.
(4) Which all told means that I'm barely posting on message boards, and have been neglecting the blog while all this is going on.
That's annoying, since the artist/author's garret is bustling with frenetic and often exhausting activity, but I know that I'm presenting an outer appearance of ... nothingness.
Fortunately I'm used to this, since hypomania is recurrent for me, and hopefully it's not actually damaging Swords & Wizardry, Mythmere Games, Frog God, or any of the other projects that require communication and face-time.
Soon enough. Or at least, as soon as possible. Hopefully some projects will start going into layout in late January, and appearing in March, maybe? Jeez.
Better get back to work...
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
New Monster Books - How to Organize Them?
Yep, drawing monsters. And not just for Swords & Wizardry; I'm planning on doing an OSRIC book as well. However, I've discovered that I need to think through how to organize what I'm doing in terms of what goes where.
It all starts with the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book, and the fact that I wanted to fix a flaw in it -- there simply isn't enough art. It's an awesome book in terms of its written content, but in terms of its artistic appeal and the added "oomph" that monsters get by being illustrated, the book is lacking. A monster book needs a certain quantity of illustration, and the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book just doesn't reach that level now that I look at it with the mental distance of more than a year.
So I began with a very simple project: get more illustrations, put them into the original book with whatever edits to typos might be necessary, and voila -- here's an improved version of it for them that wants.
However, as I started on this, something else started nagging at me. It's something that has nagged at a very low level ever since the publication of the SWMB (Swords & Wizardry Monster Book). It has always been fairly clear that there's a large group of people who do not cross over from one set of game rules to another in search of resources like monsters. That's completely understandable -- after all, the entire out-of-print gaming community sticks with our games because we like those rules. The entire retro-clone concept is rooted in the fact that we want publications for OUR GAMES. So even though there's a large community of people who are omnivorous in terms of resources, picking here, choosing there, adapting as necessary ... there's also a large contingent of people who don't cross different rules even within the old-school systems.
Which means, to make a long story short, that a bunch of AD&D/OSRIC players aren't interested in looking at the SWMB, even though it contains tons of completely new monsters. And that problem is exacerbated by the fact that the SWMB, because it's a supplement essentially for OD&D, contains lots of AD&D monsters that are utterly repetitious from the OSRIC/AD&D standpoint.
And thus was born a Plan B. What if I filled out the SWMB with illustrations of the new monsters, and then used those same illustrations to make an OSRIC book that contained only the NEW monsters from SWMB that hadn't ever been done for OSRIC? It would be a nice, solid resource for OSRIC/AD&D since it would have the stats done correctly for OSRIC and it wouldn't contain repeat versions of AD&D monsters. The effort on the illustrations would serve double duty, which is nice since illustrating takes lots and lots and lots of time.
And yet, this left something of a problem since this plan would create a real mishmash of resources. Nothing in the two books would be new, for one thing, and both books would have total overlap with each other. And yet ... the other side of the coin ... if there was a lot of new material it would (sort of) force people who already own SWMB to buy an entire new book if it had new monsters, but still pay for the full page count. It's one thing to revise a book's appearance with some nicer art, but it's something else to do a version that contains interesting new monsters that didn't appear in the first printing. It has been long enough since the book's original release that this isn't a problem of screwing over the early adopters, but it's still a lesser version of that same problem.
Which leads to a possible Plan C, that I was thinking about last night, which would involve even more splitting. I could conceivably do (1) a "basic SWMB" containing those old AD&D monsters and sell it basically at cost, (2) a S&W book that would include the old-new monsters (not-cloned new monsters that already appeared in SWMB) in addition to some new ones, and (3) an OSRIC version of #2.
This way, people who already own SWMB could simply ignore book #1 -- they already have all of those monsters -- and people who were coming new to S&W would at least have cheap (free in the case of the pdf) access to those AD&D monsters that have been retrofitted to OD&D/S&W.
OSRIC players who don't have the SWMB get new monsters without any AD&D retreads.
People who already own SWMB could then evaluate the value of a book that contains new-old monsters that they've seen, plus some new monsters.
The final possibility would be to illustrate the existing SWMB and add no new-new monsters anywhere -- not to the SWMB, not to the OSRIC version. The OSRIC version would have only the old-new monsters. This is probably the best commercial option, since no one gets pissed, but it really offends my hobbyist psyche to come out with books that contain absolutely nothing new, even if the OSRIC version is completely new to OSRIC players who haven't looked at SWMB because it's not specifically for OSRIC.
Anyway, those are the thoughts kicking around in my head at the moment while I'm not working on Rappan Athuk. I haven't reached any decision yet...
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Another Excellent Review of Demonspore!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
First Review of Demonspore
Link to the Review
Lulu extends big sale
One benefit is that these codes can only be used once, so if you left something out of the shopping cart, this is a new code to use.
Now is the time to buy that copy of Demonspore and whatever copies of Knockspell Magazine you need (or player-copies of the Swords & Wizardry rules, or whatever).
The coupon expires after the 30th.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Now is the time to buy that copy of Demonspore and whatever copies of Knockspell Magazine you need (or player-copies of the Swords & Wizardry rules, or whatever).
The coupon expires after the 28th -- oddly it doesn't seem to exclude pdfs like most of their deals do. I don't know if that's an oversight or not.
Corrected - I said 35% but that's for a bulk order and uses a different code.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
New Module Released: DEMONSPORE
... They are growing themselves a new god.
A module for Swords & Wizardry and other retro RPGs, Demonspore is designed for characters of level 3-6. Fairly large numbers of them.
Link to the pdf purchase page!
Link to the print on demand softcover (perfect bound)
If you haven't decided which you want, the whole store is here
Two modules in one large book (84 pages), Demonspore includes Throne of the Toad King and Stone Cyst of the Shroom Priests. With a vast, bizarre lair, 15 new monsters, and a typically weird and complicated plan, the sinister Shrooms are ready for battle. Are you?
*This is still not listed at RPGnow because the upload keeps failing. I'm going to wait a while and try again on the assumption that it's just their server. There's another possible error (they bounced the cover but didn't let me re-try), and if it's that, then it appears more work would be required to make their interface accept the product. I hate RPGnow's interfaces.
Friday, November 25, 2011
New Module Coming Soon!
With all the art now in hand, I've been engaged in a marathon layout session for the last eleven hours (since 4AM). It's just about finished, but it's also at the point where I'm a little too zoned out to keep trusting myself with getting detail work correct, so it's unfortunately time to let it rest until tomorrow. Otherwise a mistake will get made somewhere.
I'm not sure I've ever mentioned that the second module is another insidious plot of the Shrooms, but if not, consider the announcement made. Their bizarre lair is going to knock your socks off!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Victory! Wild Hare Ultra Marathon
Holy ... was I wrong. This beast is done on a moto-cross course, and I literally don't know how someone would survive it on a bike. Plunges into ravines, rocky trails laced with tree roots, more ravines, and everything with rocks. Lesson learned in the first five minutes: you use muscles running cross-country that you don't use in a street run. It was wild.
The ultra-runners are very different from the average marathoners -- very, very cool people (not that marathoners aren't, but there's a difference).
We started running at dawn, and dark had just fallen when we crossed the finish line 11 or so hours later; we went slightly further than running from "dawn to dusk," dusk not having held out for the five minutes that would have been required for a truly poetic description. This distance would only have taken us maybe 8 hours or even less on a street run, but I'm astonished that we got though it in 11 hours through that terrain. Some people ran 50 miles through it in that time, and that's just ... name level in the class.
We ran the 50K = 31 miles, 120 yards.
ps - didn't have the energy to photograph my real medal, which has a black ribbon but is otherwise the same.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Review of Tome of Adventure Design
The link to the review is here at rpggeek
Link to get the book is here at Frog God Games.
Now I'm going to quote the review in full, for those who don't want to click through on the link. Everything below here is quotation of the review:
For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, the RPG hobby has a long and nearly sacred tradition of random tables. Perhaps it is because we must improvise during games, or perhaps it is because such tables link the disparate source material together, or perhaps it is simply because Gary Gygax used them with abandon in the early D&D products.
But Matthew Finch, creator of the Swords and Wizardry retroclone of OD&D and author of the Tome of Adventure Design (henceforth ToAD), believes they serve a much higher purpose: inspiration. And not just in the ordinary list-of-interesting-words sense, but as creative fuel for subconscious connections that generate great stories.
The ToAD is Finch’s collection of tables for adventure, villain, dungeon, and monster design, collected over the years into a volume meant to inspire others. Does it succeed at this lofty goal?
ToAD is currently available in pdf; the hardcover is available by preorder. The pdf is 308 pages long and is divided into four “books.” The material was originally intended to be presented in four separate products (the Mythmere's Adventure Design Deskbook series, the first volume of which was Volume 1: Principals and Starting Points), but the ToAD consolidates all of the tables into one book. The division into separate “books” within the product does help to keep things organized, and it doesn’t appear to have much
The editing is solid though there are a few minor typos – nothing to interfere with your reading of the book, at least so far as I have detected. There’s occasional black and white art, and the tables are nicely laid out so as to be easy reading.
The pdf is bookmarked but not hyperlinked (which would be very helpful in a reference document like this). There are multiple indices, however, so navigating the hardcopy should be fairly easy.
The book’s cover bills this as ”A comprehensive adventure-creation sourcebook for Swords & Wizardry and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game” but that’s just marketing – really this will work for any fantasy game, with the proviso that it is built to tell classic D&D stories, so you’ll get the most use out of it if you head that direction.
The ToAD contains 409 distinct tables by my count (I wouldn’t bet my life on that number…though I would probably bet The Crab’s ). That’s quite a few, of course, but it’s fewer than half as many as Ultimate Toolbox. On the other hand, many of these tables are much bigger – most use a d100 and some even a d1000 (though most actually have only 10-20 options), and many have multiple parts (such as the four separate columns to the “Locations” table that lets you define a structure and its name – each column gets its own die roll).
More importantly, nearly all of these tables take a “big picture” approach to the game. You won’t find any lists of names or many lists of details here. You won’t even find a generic list of interesting villains to grab in the midst of a session. In fact, Finch warns in the introduction that “most of [the tables] are too long, and contain too many unusual or contradictory entries, for use on the spot at the gaming table.” Instead ToAD contains “high-level” tables meant for use in “deep design” during the preparation of a game.
Most interestingly, some of the tables are not really lists but processes: their separate parts, taken in sequence, provide a method to construct your own solutions. A good example is the three-part table for generating magical symbols: begin with a real-world source (such as a letter), then execute two operations upon it (from the second and third columns) to produce a plausible-looking runic symbol.
Finch subscribes to a very particular style of creative thought, which builds off of two crucial premises. First:
That is, good design will spring from the strange and turbulent whirring of your subconscious. Finch further believes that the essential process in the subconscious is “the manipulation and recombination of concepts” – usually, strange and contradictory concepts juxtaposed together. The tables aim to provide that juxtaposition by drawing forth a host of ideas that are interesting on their own but produce tension when combined. It is that tension that Finch believes will produce a great adventure – but the role of the tables is simply to provide the tension, not to offer a solution to relieve it. In fact, Finch clearly does not advocate slavish devotion to the tables’ results.
The clearest explanation of these tables’ role in the creative process comes in a section on dungeon design (in part three of the book). Finch identifies four stages to building an adventure: creative overload, where the tables bombard you with contradictory information; synthesis, where the stewing of the subconscious creates a powerful image or connection from those ingredients; sculpting, where many of those early ideas are pruned back or eliminated based on the imagery created during synthesis; and finally building, where genuinely new ideas flow into the adventure to complement the high concept. The tables are nominally designed with the initial step in mind.
Of course, there is a secondary purpose to these tables – inspiration of a more conventional variety, producing large lists of story hooks, monster parts, dungeon elements, and villains when a designer is stuck on a particular topic. This is certainly the easier way to use the book, and though it lacks the depth of the , it is probably the way most will end up using this book. Even during the building process, those of us with relatively little experience in adventure design will find the extended lists of motivations, types of countdown clocks, and dungeon connections useful in the building process.
Fortunately, the tables hold up well to this kind of use as well: although using lots of tables will almost certainly generate the sort of contradictory creative tension Finch desires, they also function as near-comprehensive lists of villain motivations, enticement to peril, etc. Moreover, there are a number of straightforward tables that help do a lot of the scutwork of adventure design – lists of monster attacks, dungeon corridors, tactical features, etc. I expect many will find these very useful in generating secondary aspects of adventures,
The four “books” inside ToAD focus on different elements of the fantasy game. The first, Principles and Starting Points offers a set of tables designed to jump start adventure design from the initial phases and to construct the overarching plot of a scenario. It contains tables to generate evocative if odd names like “The Dank Hut of the Feral Titan,” lists of patrons and ways to involve PCs in adventures, and a long series of tables detailing the insidious plans of the master villain, from subversion to food-gathering.
The second book, Monsters, contains a long section with tables focusing on different types of monsters – from beasts to fey to undead. Each of these gets several tables that highlight key abilities, attributes, or flavor – unusual breath weapons for dragons (sorry, no streams of bears), various contracts for fey creatures, etc. A set of more generic tables – focusing on attack methods – follows those.
The third book, Dungeon Design, focuses on this iconic adventure environment. This part is my favorite – we get a set of tables to inspire decisions about the major adventure elements, tables about generating backstory, generarting an interesting map, extensive list of “tricks,” and lots of compilations of dungeon dressing. The miscellaneous tables are similar to those found in other books, but the dungeon design section is excellent.
Finally, the fourth book, Non-Dungeon Adventure Design is basically the leftovers. The largest sections include tables for cities and the wilderness, but it also discusses aerial, planar, and water-based adventures. The tables in this chapter feel most similar to those in other books, perhaps because most of the topics receive just a cursory treatment.
Given the tone of the tables – not to mention the title - it will likely come as no surprise that ToAD contains a fair amount of advice sprinkled throughout – advice that goes beyond simply “How to Use These Tables.” Some of the tables do contain commentary on their elements (what do all those gemstones look like, after all?).
But there is also fairly extensive advice on the creative process as applied to adventure design. Finch identifies the crucial components of a good adventure from two angles – the “story” elements and the mechanical ones – and explains how best to use them. Both are illuminating. There is also advice on how to think about a dungeon map, how to incorporate traps and puzzles into a game, how to evoke the “classic” feel of monsters, how to engineer a unique villain, and much more.
The advice mostly has an “old school” feel to it – adventures are pulled out of the GM’s mind, not constructed by the mutual interactions of the entire group. “Megadungeons” are just fine, though they do deserve special treatment. The tricks and puzzles are meant to challenge the players, not their characters. There’s not a single discussion of game balance, at least that I noticed. While the tables make an excellent resource for any kind of game, the advice centers on a more traditional approach.
In my experience, there are two kinds of advice you can hope to get from RPG supplements. The first is to articulate clearly those things you already “know” in your gut but that never rose to a clear expression in your consciousness. These kinds of things will usually happen in your games – because they feel right – but may not be perfectly rendered and may sometimes miss out by accident. On many practical points, the ToAD does an excellent job of articulating these kinds of things.
The second is to approach a design problem or concept from an entirely new perspective that opens your eyes to something new in (or out of) the hobby. For me, the ToAD did this as well – especially with regard to the beginning stages of adventure design. It is a rare book that succeeds on both levels!
The Bottom Line
The ToAD is the best and most interesting book of RPG tables I’ve seen. That is largely because it is much more than just a collection of lists - a genre nearly mastered by Ultimate Toolbox. Some of this may be the way I experience RPG products these days – as only an occasional GM, I’m less interested in tables meant to be used “on the fly.” But there are several distinct advantages of this book:
Books of tables tend to be just that – lists of lists, with minimal advice for using them under the assumption that they will primarily be used to answer specific questions. As the name implies, the ToAD is much more than that, and it does an exceptional job of integrating solid advice about designing and structuring adventures, encounters, tricks and monsters into the long lists of charts. The advice along makes this one of the more compelling RPG books I’ve read recently.
The tables themselves are pretty impressive, too. Many are “high-level” tables that address big-picture questions rather than fill in details, but they manage to focus themselves on those questions very well.
The ToAD also has a good number of “process” tables, which present a method for solving a problem rather than a simple list of solutions. Usually the method is broken into steps, with each step receiving its own sub-table. These are clever little minigames that let the GM use their own creativity and offer nearly unlimited solutions.
The book is a much more interesting read than one would expect from a book of tables! Finch has clearly thought deeply about adventure design, and his writing is compelling and thought-provoking (see especially the analysis of Lewis’ Carroll’s Jabberwocky). It’s rare for an RPG book to step outside of both the fantasy world and its rules in order to examine the hobby or its process from a larger vantage point, but this one succeeds in its discussion of the creative process.
Why might you be wary of this product? Although it will be useful for any fantasy game, it is heavily dependent on that genre. The recommended design methods may not match your taste, and if you’ve already got your own successful method you may not get as much enjoyment from the tables as otherwise. The editing is also not perfect (though it’s very good by RPG product standards). The design philosophy also leans more toward the old-school than most products these days – with an emphasis on traditional dungeons, high magic, and challenging the players rather than their characters.
In the end, this is a great product that I recommend strongly to any fantasy GM or budding adventure writer/designer, as the pairing of advice and inspiring tables is unmatched in any other product I’ve seen.
Note: This is my twenty-third entry in the Iron Reviewer series.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Ready to Run Some Marathons
And I'm not in very good training after the taekwondo injury took me out for a couple of months, so this is going to be a real challenge. The ultra-marathon course is not flat street running, it's done on a motocross course. Lots of up and down climbing in addition to the distance running itself. On the plus side, since we're only running the 50 kilometer instead of the 100 kilometer race, we'll have a ton of time to finish. The only way I'll fail is if my legs actually stop functioning during the race. That's a possibility, especially given that it's only 6 days after a normal marathon. Probably six days will be enough time to recover from muscle strains, but tendon strains or deep blisters could still be causing slowdowns after only six days to heal up.
We shall see. If I finish the ultra marathon I am totally going to be posting pictures of the medal all over the net, because this one's going to be a serious challenge.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
RA Design Log 6: Making Iconic Monsters 2
In the comments to that post, there were some extremely interesting observations, things I hadn't thought about at all, so before moving on to any further discussion in a later post, I'd like to develop some of those ideas further.
DuBeers and Drow
First of all is duBeer's specific point about drow: they are just "dark elves." In my original post I had been thinking specifically about beholders and mind flayers, a little bit about displacer beasts, and not at all about drow. So, for a while, I couldn't quite realize why duBeers was making that point, but Rappan Athuk does indeed include drow. So I was having a dumb moment when I missed his point, and he's absolutely right. Also -- and part of the reason I spaced on his comment -- I'm already planning on doing almost exactly what he said. In the case of the drow, I don't plan on arguing for a replacement icon, I plan for the S&W version to just say "dark elves" and leave it at that. When I was talking about working toward a new iconic monster, I didn't mean for the drow, it was other monsters I had in mind. This despite the fact that in the post I specifically mentioned drow. Oy, veh.
Atom Kid and Questioning the Entire Premise
Atom Kid wrote:
I think what makes a monster iconic is how much face time said monster gets on the cover of modules and in miniature and what not. I think it's foisted on the gaming public rather than being a fan favorite.My viewpoint might be skewed on this because as it happens I loved beholders, mind flayers, and drow (back in the day on drow, I think they got overused). Loved them before they became "iconic." So in my case the commercial focus on these monsters seemed to reflect my own fan favoritism. But this might just be about good monsters, not about that iconic status. Beholders started getting air time in the 1e Forgotten Realms, Drow started getting it just be virtue of being a central monster in a big, popular series of modules, and mind flayers seem to have gotten some popularity in that same series, but kept growing and growing up to the point where they were superstars in the 2e Spelljammer materials. Beholders kept growing, as the name feature on a computer game, and then in 2e they also seemed to gain that rock star status.
So it may be that the best name for the task we're undertaking isn't really to develop an iconic monster, it's to develop monsters of equivalent quality. To create the "garage band" monsters that are as good as the "rock stars." Because I do think that the rock star monsters are also the awesome monsters in terms of quality. Whether or not they were *also* commercialized, foisted, etc., they were also the pick of the crop in terms of monsters. These aren't mutually exclusive, but I think Atom Kid pointed out something important to keep in mind -- there were also commercial elements involved with these monsters, and what we want to track isn't the commercial element, it's the quality element.
One commercial element is that these are the monsters developed for D&D, not drawn from folklore. That's because if you're a company, you want to push the intellectual property that you control. You want to build your franchise, and for TSR (especially in the 2e period) that meant working with a particular group of monsters, the new ones.
This observation -- at least for me -- doesn't change any of the design parameters I'm working with because the quality considerations alone, without reference to commercial ones, really calls for new monsters to place into the intellectual property gaps. It does, however, establish a benchmark that both Atom Kid and DuBeers have indirectly pointed to. The benchmark they've identified is this:
If you're creating a new monster, it's not just a matter of comparing it to the iconic ones (which was my main measuring tool). You also have to compare it to the non-iconic monsters, the ones from folklore. In other words, or for example, if you're taking out a beholder and putting in a new monster, you have to ask yourself first if your cool new monster is actually better than a dragon. Or a bunch of manticores. Or a sparkly unicorn with rainbows (okay, this one's a no-brainer). Or even orcs. Orcs aren't seen as iconic D&D monsters, but they see a hell of a lot more actual use than any of the other monsters I mentioned. You can't just do the quality evaluation, if you're serious about quality, by only looking at the monsters that are commercial successes. You have to look at the non-flashy old standbys as well.
In general, there's a bit of disagreement about how to handle newness in a commercial product where you better be giving good value for the dollar. Rob Kuntz made an interesting point (I think it was on his Lord of the Green Dragons blog, and I'll have to find the link) that in his modules he believes that the purchaser ought to get all new stuff. Put in old monsters, and you're cutting corners. I don't agree that this is all the way true -- I think that including some old monsters is a good idea in many modules because they provide an anchor for the players' appreciation of the new material -- but I absolutely agree with Rob on the general premise, that people who pay for a module have the right to expect lots and lots of brand new ideas (or else why pay for it in the first place).
So those "replacement" monsters are still going to be new, but they are going to be judged for quality against the old standbys as well as the rock stars. If the new monster doesn't work in a particular situation better than a dragon would, then it's back to the drawing board.
So kudos to DuBeers and Atom Kid, your comments touched on something that I really hadn't considered in terms of evaluating how the new monsters ought to be design-tested.
Monday, November 7, 2011
RA Design Log 5: Making Iconic Monsters
We all pretty much know them: the rust monster, the mind flayer, the beholder, the drow, and other monsters that are incredibly popular. And a couple of them represent a design challenge in Rappan Athuk. Reason: Necromancer Games had a special contract with WotC allowing them to include beholders,mind flayers, and displacer beasts in the 3e version of Rappan Athuk, and that deal isn't available for Pathfinder or Swords & Wizardry.
A Sinister Opportunity
So, in the gatherings around the Watercooler of Many Things, down in the deep levels of the Frog God lair, we've taken the approach that -- from a design perspective -- this is actually a tremendous opportunity forced upon us by circumstances. Really, the presence of these iconic monsters in Rappan Athuk's 3e version was part of the "old school feel." And there's no denying that running like hell from a beholder is as old school as it gets. But on the other hand, the truly masterpiece modules from the TSR glory days were those that INTRODUCED iconic monsters either in context like the D series where mind flayers were seen in their natural environment, or where they appeared as entirely new monsters (the drow).
The Fiendish Plot
We're aiming for a masterpiece with Rappan Athuk, a real pinnacle event. And that means we need to push beyond the boundaries in the same way that TSR pushed the envelope with the classic modules.
Which means the introduction of a couple of iconic monsters. They're on the drawing board at this time. Simply as a matter of not fixing what ain't broke, they're going to be swapped into pretty much the same areas as the original iconic monsters appeared, or there would be too much tinkering around. They may also appear in some of the new areas.
What Makes a Monster "Iconic?"
The interesting question, though, that I've run into while designing these new monsters, is the fundamental question of what makes a monster one of these iconic types. Clearly, the baseline requirement is that it's new,not something from regular folklore (the drow skate closest to folklore, but they have a wealth of non-folkloric detail in the D series). In addition to novelty, though, I think there's more to it. For one thing, at least in the case of the beholder, mind-flayer, and drow, they have to be intelligent enough to be behind a variety of different nefarious schemes. I think this is true even if in the module itself, they are only involved in one particular plot. The reason being that in order for the monster to capture the imagination, the DM has to get a glimmer in the mind's eye of other possibilities, wider ideas, other adventures that could stem from the monster. A good monster works well in the module where it appears, but an ICONIC monster has to grab the imagination INDEPENDENTLY of the adventure in which it appears.
I might have more to say about this later, but so far this has struck me as the key factor involved with creating a truly iconic monster.
Any other thoughts about what constitutes an iconic monster are definitely welcome, and will be discussed at the Watercooler of Many Things.
First Design Note
Second Design Note
Third Design Note
Fourth Design Note
Friday, November 4, 2011
Displacing a Trademark Monster
The displacer beast is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, so any phase-shifting or location-defying feline monsters should in future be referred to by a name that has no trademark connotations.
Call them "Tele-Tabbies."
(image is from this artist on Deviant Art)
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Rappan Athuk Design Log 4
Swords & Wizardry is a retro-clone of 0E. That's original D&D, the version(s) of D&D that actually preceded what's usually referred to as First Edition, or "1e." A retro-clone is a rewritten version of the underlying rules of the earlier game*. If you want to play the original version of the game, Swords & Wizardry is a very, very close facsimile -- there are some minor distinctions where there was a content-gap in terms of what could legally be included, but even these are pretty close.
The Core Rules of Swords & Wizardry are available as a free download, and so is the "WhiteBox" version which covers only the rules of the boxed set (none of the supplements). There is also a not-free but inexpensive "Complete" Rulebook that's published by Frog God Games and which is based on all the 0e supplements. I realize that three versions of a game is terrible brand-management, but I'm a much better gaming-geek than brand-manager, so that's how it is.
Quite a few small publishers sell modules for Swords & Wizardry, although the two big sources of material are Frog God Games and Mythmere Games. The game has a weird and tangled history, but that's perhaps a tale for another time.
In any case, when I talk about the Swords & Wizardry version of Rappan Athuk, that's what I mean: the Original 0e rules of the game, circa 1974-1978 depending on which version of it you use.
*Retro-clones generally use the Open Game License to access copyrighted material that is also OGC, and additionally draws upon the specific rules of the earlier game that aren't subject to copyright. There's a LOT more to it than that in terms of the legalities, so don't try this at home without learning a lot more: every big retro-clone I know of has brought lawyers into the design process to make sure it's being done properly.
Quick note: Whenever I mention any comparison between Swords & Wizardry and "D&D," I should mention that S&W is obviously NOT compatible with the currently trademarked "D&D." Don't take anything I say to mean that there's trademark compatibility under the terms of the Open Game License -- Swords & Wizardry is NOT compatible with the existing WotC trademarked game.
First Design Note
Second Design Note
Third Design Note
Fourth Design Note
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Rappan Athuk Design Log 3
[What follows might be considered a spoiler if you want to read the new stuff in the dungeon without any prior knowledge about what you're going to find. On the other hand, if you want to have a bit of input into the process and don't mind knowing structurally what's going on, then read on]
Possible Spoiler Discussion:
I am working on getting agreement from the rest of the team about an idea I had yesterday or the day before, which is to flesh out a very small piece of the wilderness map into a base + mini-wilderness, and include in there a small dungeon (3 levels) that no one has realized is connected, at the bottom level, to the rest of Rappan Athuk. This dungeon, being away from the central, deadly levels, is not quite as lethal in terms of monsters, and would work as the gateway for a party of first-level adventurers. This is particularly important, of course, for the OD&D/AD&D/Swords & Wizardry version, since it would provide a source for those much-needed experience points. It could be viewed as a kiddie pool, but that's not exactly what I have in mind for it, it's just an undiscovered gateway area that contains the structure for "starting" things directly at Rappan Athuk instead of having to build up to it in earlier adventures. This applies directly to the Pathfinder game too, because regardless of what system you're using, it is currently not feasible to begin a first level campaign at Rappan Athuk.
And that should be the case with the center levels of Rappan Athuk -- it's a badge of pride to even get into the damn place alive, much less get out again. But there is room for an area that's enough of an outlying wing to not spoil the major league status of the central dungeons, but since it's still part of the dungeons, it also doesn't serve as a lame "intro kiddie-pool area that we tagged on for commercial reasons." It makes tactical sense (it's a sally port, effectively), and the tactical parameters of a good sally port (narrow connection to vital areas, ability to cut far behind enemy lines) actually correspond in my mind to the things that would create a less-dangerous dungeon area.
I have already located my "tiny fortified settlement where you can buy iron spikes and rations" on the wilderness map, sketched out roughly what the surrounding keyed wilderness would look like, and done a rough map of the first level of the three dungeon levels that lead to the (miles-long) tunnel into the central area.
One reason why I want to set this area apart in terms of distance is that (a) it's not part of the immediate surroundings of the main dungeon, we already know that, and it would be a cheap trick to "replace" the existing iconic stuff -- like re-doing Star Wars using CGI. (b) the entire structure required for a true low-level area is very different from the "isolated area" that feels right for higher level adventuring. Low level parties need a place to buy their rations. They are getting stronger in much faster increments, but from a much weaker baseline than what happens with a higher level party. "Yay, we can afford plate mail for the fighter!" is a banner moment, but you have to be able to go and buy the plate mail. The majestic and desolate isolation of the central Rappan Athuk area wouldn't assimilate "Abdul's Plate Mail and Torches Emporium" at the front gates. To create an area that accommodates the needed physical elements that support a low level starting point, that low-level starting point requires some physical, geographical separation from the existing higher-level starting point.
Comments are welcome -- this isn't a done deal (not even in terms of whether it should be in there), and I have more thoughts about this low-level transition area around the sally port that I haven't had space to discuss yet, but I would appreciate any input that people can provide. What are the important elements of such an area? What "feel" for it would match up well with Rappan Athuk? Any other topics for discussion that you feel are important for this area -- bring them up in the comments.
First Design Note
Second Design Note
Third Design Note
Friday, October 28, 2011
A humbling realization :)
I just discovered it's because the post includes the words "scrambled eggs." I'm not sure how it works, but googling "scrambled eggs" can lead you to my post. That's where the traffic comes from. My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look upon my scrambled eggs, ye mighty, and despair.
Rappan Athuk Design Log 2
In the first design note in the series, I covered two essential facts about the upcoming Rappan Athuk release:
First, that in order to keep the dungeon's original feel, the new levels are being written in the original rule sets, and then for the PFRPG they are being converted -- the same method that was used for the originally published 3e version. That underlying patina from the old school rules is one of the key features of Rappan Athuk.
Second, that my particular new levels are being concentrated toward the upper portion of the dungeons, in order to provide enough challenges to allow a party using the old school rules to accumulate the required experience for survival in the lower levels.
In this design note, I'm going to start covering a few of the underlying concepts of a megadungeon: what makes a so-called "megadungeon" distinct from a "lair," or a "module," or a "mission," or any of the other various terms that might be applied to adventure scenarios. Obviously, Necromancer Games considered there to be some structural distinction between what was being done with Rappan Athuk as opposed to what was being done with other 3e products that were getting released at the same time. What was this distinction? Most of the old-schoolers who read this blog probably already have a good idea of the points I'm going to make, since this is a topic that has been discussed a fair amount in the blogs and message boards frequented by people who play 0e and 1e.
Megadungeons: the Defining Characteristic
I think the most salient characteristic of a megadungeon is that it's created for use in repeated adventures. It's more in the nature of a mini-campaign than it is in the nature of an adventure that has a conclusion of some kind. Although the grandfather of all megadungeons, Greyhawk Castle, contained a conclusion-like encounter at the very lowest level (like Rappan Athuk also has), failing to reach that encounter doesn't represent failure. Indeed, merely reaching that encounter/situation is an unexpected achievement.
Corollary of Repetition: Size
As with most mini-campaigns, a megadungeon contains the potential for the players to ignore any plot hooks or missions, and simply to define their own missions ... or just wander around to see what they might find. It is equally possible that they might have such opportunities available to them, because the megadungeon is large enough to support "ongoing events" or time-sensitive goals which the characters might be hired to pursue. It's a very flexible environment.
One corollary immediately emerges from this. The dungeon has to be really big in order to support that kind of freedom of action. It needs long corridors and many rooms. This is the antithesis of a module or scenario that's designed to allow the characters to follow one specific mission, because if there is a specific succeed/fail situation then the geographical terrain has to allow the characters to find the objective in a reasonable time frame. Usually when the characters have a mission inside a megadungeon, it is necessary for them to be directed toward a specific area, be given a partial map, or be working in an area of the dungeon that they have already mapped out. For most mission-based adventures it is crucial not to have a situation where the size of the terrain is so big that the mission becomes a random chance of finding the right pathway out of a multitude of possibilities.
Distinction: Missions need Pathways
Although there are several other corollaries to the definition of a megadungeon as an underground mini-campaign, I'll wait for later posts to develop those other corollaries. For the time being, it's worth just looking at the particular design principles that shape a megadungeon's large space as opposed to a mission-based adventure's necessarily smaller or more directed pathways to the mission. Again, this isn't to say that a mission isn't possible in a megadungeon, simply that when the players are following some mission that they didn't invent for themselves in a megadungeon, some kind of geographical direction is probably required to make a mission-adventure feasible. This is not a weakness of the megadungeon format, it is a contrast to an adventure that's designed solely for a mission, a one-shot task, in which most likely it makes no sense to bother with wider-ranging geography beyond that which is required for the particular mission.
How it Applies to Rappan Athuk
Rappan Athuk, from the perspective of post-2000 rules, is already quite immense. However, as mentioned in my past post, it's pretty small from the perspective of the older rules. This is partly also because mapping/exploration tends to have a larger role in old-school gaming than under newer rules -- this is partly a nudge from the rules, but I think it's also just a generational difference from the types of fiction my generation read as opposed to the current brand of fantasy. I'll get to that in a later post, but if exploration is a heavier component of the dungeon, you obviously need room to explore. Rappan Athuk has built toward this from the first printings in which there was limited page space up to Rappan Athuk Reloaded, which included more levels, up to the printing now in development, which is not only going to include even more levels, but in which at least the Swords & Wizardry version will be based on old-school design rather than just "First Edition Feel." For those who play the PFRPG version of the dungeon, there will be some parts of the dungeon that have even a stronger old-school vibe than the existing levels that were published for 3e.
That's enough for now. Again, if anyone is interested in getting some background glimpses into the thinking and the methodology that's coming into play, I recommend grabbing a copy of the Tome of Adventure Design, which is being used by both myself and Bill in our level design, and may also to a large degree come into the way in which the Pathfinder conversions are being done.
Even the Pathfinder conversion is going to be more balls-out old school in nature than the 3e versions, and the Tome of Adventure Design is a partial introduction to why and how. Admittedly that's a bit of an advertisement, but it's true nonetheless. For Rappan Athuk scholars and super-fans, that book will be part of the invisible backbone of the "Big" Rappan Athuk book.
Hope you enjoyed the post!
First Design Note
Second Design Note
Third Design Note
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Rappan Athuk Design Log 1
I'm doing two main tasks that are linked to each other. The first of these is simply writing several new levels (9-10). As a matter of keeping the feel of Rappan Athuk, it makes sense to retain the dungeon's original method of writing for the original rules, and then for the newer edition version, adapting the original-rules feel into the parameters of the newer system. All of the underlying design of Rappan Athuk has been done using 1e rules and design principles, and having parts of it that are designed using newer rule sets could conceivably create some areas that simply don't feel like Rappan Athuk. That isn't to say that for the Pathfinder version the dungeon won't be designed to work with the Pathfinder rules and design principles, but it means that, like the old 3e versions of Rappan Athuk, there will be the underlying dynamics of a true old-school dungeon.
For this initial design note -- and I don't know how often or how regularly I will have the time to dash these out -- I'll focus on one quick issue that has already been raised on one or two old-school message boards, and that is, essentially, square footage.
There is a radically different level progression speed in Original/First Edition D&D than there is in the post-2000 versions of the game. In order to create a megadungeon in which the characters can assault the lower levels, they need to have the potential to gain levels that will let them do so. As it stands right now, the upper levels of Rappan Athuk don't contain enough monsters or treasure (once treasure is scaled to the older systems) to allow that advancement.
Therefore, my focus is on the uppermost 8 levels of the dungeon, which is really (approximately) only 4-6 normal "dungeon levels" as meant in the 0e/1e sense of how difficult a particular depth is, and these correspond to roughly dungeons levels 3 up to about 8, depending on which part you're looking at. I'll write more about the structure of Rappan Athuk's levels, interconnections, and varying difficulties in later notes, but for now my point is simply that I'm focusing on the upper levels in order to provide enough stuff for level advancement to work properly in the megadungeon sense.
The Pathfinder converters are already dealing with the converse issue, which is that apparently a party could accumulate enough xp to become too high level for the lower areas of the dungeon. I don't know how they're going to work with that, but my job is to make it work for old-school rules, and this is the first job -- more square footage in the uppermost levels.
That's enough for now, since ... I actually have to go work on this relatively herculean task rather than blabbering about how I'm going to do it. Probably I will have another post about the overall structure of Rappan Athuk's "cross-section" map fairly soon. So if you're interested, click to follow the blog. I might also from time to time grab some comments or design notes from some of the other folks who are involved in the process.
Final note -- the Tome of Adventure Design is out for preorders, should be delivered before Christmas, and the pdf is delivered immediately when you order it. Since it has some of my general thoughts on old school megadungeon design in it, if this topic is interesting to you, it also gives something of a window onto what's going on behind the scenes of the Rappan Athuk project. And if you're an inveterate dungeon designer yourself, I think it's a great resource -- it's what I use whenever I draw a creative blank.
Stay tuned -- same bat channel and all that!
First Design Note
Second Design Note
Third Design Note
Monday, October 24, 2011
October 24 2011
FGG-The Big Announcement
The background of the big announcement goes all the way back to1978, when I read a small book by Gary Gygax detailing the use of outdoor and wilderness adventures in D&D. This book, along with what has affectionately been termed the “Skull Dungeon” of John Holmes fame, formed the basis of my thinking when I began to write my own vast dungeon that I called Rappan Athuk.
A decade ago, I released the first few levels of Rappan Athuk as a book, which wasfollowed by a series of releases of different parts and pieces (29 levels in the first 3 books, andanother 7 or so later in Rappan Athuk Reloaded).
To my surprise, even though I expected it to be a success,Rappan Athuk turned out to be one of the major hits of the Third Edition decade. Even though it’s not the largest dungeon that was ever published (it might be this time!), it quickly picked up a reputation for being one of the deadliest, and if you haven’t heard, “Don’t go down the Well” or “Beware of Purple Worms,” you probably weren’t attending gaming conventions or reading the RPG internet during the Third Edition years.
Rappan Athuk Reloaded,which contained a lot more of the original dungeon, became an immediate collector’s item. With only 1000 copies ofRappan Athuk’s expanded version in existence, many players unfortunately could never get a copy. This was probably fortunate for a lot of player characters, but it means that many people who wanted to see the dungeon’s broader scope never got to see what they were missing.
Well, it’s been almost 10 years since I wrote the last few chapters of Rappan Athuk Reloaded. As you would expect, I haven’t been idle during that time. In fact, over the last few hundred gaming sessions I’ve run, I have continued to write up my notes from levels that were never published, and add new levels as adventurers continued to explore
.Many of the mid-level areas have been fleshed out (the ultimate adversaries, of course, remained the same), and several new upper levels have been added as adventurers avoided “The Well” and “The Mausoleum” in attempts to delve deeper into Rappan Athuk’s depths. I have been mulling over what to do to get this monster out to all of you. So here goes…
Weighing in with over 50 dungeon levels and dozens of wilderness areas, Rappan Athuk will be released next summer as a hardbound, library-stitched book in both Pathfinder and Swords and Wizardry formats. The book contains 18 more levels even thanRappan Athuk Reloaded, as well as the outdoor adventures supporting them. I am also working on a leather cover (or faux leather) for thebinding.
This thing is truly the granddaddy of all dungeons. It represents years of play testing, years of adventure, and hundreds of player character deaths. Many parts of my campaign that have transpired over the years are included in its pagesfrom the dead remains of fallen heroes, to marks left on walls, to cryptic scribblings left by lost or dying adventurers.
Just like the dungeons of the early 1970s played by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson,Rappan Athukis like a living being, big enough to be used for thousands of hours of play. From the Goblin city of Greznek to the Hall of the Titan Cyclops, from the Well of Zelkor to the Mithril gates, and from the Well of Agamemnon to the Abyssal pocket-plain and to the throne of Orcus himself—this terrifying place will create memorable experiences for all players and Game Masters.
This Tome represents the completed manuscript, including the wilderness surrounding the dungeon, three villages nearby, and the dreaded Temple of Tsathogga, where the sinister, evil priests of the frog-demon seek dark secrets and dark powers lost when the army of light destroyed the temple of Orcus at the site.
This book will be available for pre-order in March or April 2012. Retail price and page count are still to be determined (though it will probably be about $125 and 1000 pages or so). The pre-ordered copies will contain bonus material as a pdf enhancement that were cut from the final manuscript and will not be available after the pre-order period ends.
So once again, in this new decade of gaming, we will have the chance to say, “Don’t go down the Well.”
Tome of Horrors Stat Blocks (C)
The Tome of Horrors is still for sale at Frog God Games HERE. (make sure to hit the right button for the S&W version)
Also strongly recommended as a really awesome resource for adventure Designing, the Tome of Adventure Design, which is HERE.
And now, the stat blocks:
Cadaver: HD 2; AC 6 ; Atk 2 claws (1d4 + disease) and bite (1d6 + disease); Move 6; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Disease, reanimation
Cadaver from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Cadaver Lord: HD 5; AC 3 ; Atk 2 claws (1d4 + disease) and bite (1d6 + disease); Move 9; Save 12; AL C; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Disease, reanimation, create spawn, command undead, magical abilities, spell resistance (20%), +1 magic weapons to hit
Cadaver Lord from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Carbuncle: HD 1; AC 1 ; Atk Bite (1d2); Move 9; Save 17; AL N; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Discord, foresight, telepathy 100 ft.
Carbuncle from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Albie Fiore.
Carrion Moth: HD 5; AC 3 ; Atk 4 tentacles (paralysis) and bite (1d6); Move 12/24 (flying); Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Drone, paralysis, stench
Carrion Moth from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Casey Christofferson and Scott Greene.
Caryatid Column: HD 5; AC 5 ; Atk Longsword (1d8+1); Move 9; Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Immune to magic, half damage from normal weapons, shatter weapons
Caryatid Column from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Jean Wells.
Caterprism: HD 6; AC 3 ; Atk 4 legs (1d8) and bite (1d6); Move 9; Save 11; AL N; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Crystal silk, crystalline mandibles
Caterprism from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Erica Balsley.
Caterwaul: HD 5; AC 3 ; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (1d6); Move 21/9 (climbing); Save 12; AL C; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Screech
Caterwaul from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Albie Fiore.
Cave Cricket: HD 1; AC 3 ; Atk 2 kicks (1d4); Move 12; Save 17; AL N; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Chirp
Cave Cricket from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
Cave Fisher: HD 3; AC 3 ; Atk Filament (see text) and 2 claws (1d6); Move 6; Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Filaments
Cave Fisher from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Lrence Schick.
Cave Leech: HD 5; AC 9 ; Atk 8 tentacles (1d4 blood drain) or bite (1d6); Move 3; Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Blood drain
Cave Leech from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Cave Moray: HD 4; AC 1 ; Atk Bite (1d6); Move 6; Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Recoil attack, surprise on 1-3 on 1d6
Cave Moray from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Scott Greene and Clark Peterson, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
Cerberus: HD 20 (120 hp); AC 0 ; Atk 3 bites (3d6); Move 24; Save 3; AL C; CL/XP 29/6100; Special: Breath weapon, howl, petrifying gaze, poisonous bite, +1 or better weapon to hit, regenerate 1d6 hit points per round, magic resistance (20%)
Cerberus from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Cerebral Stalker: HD 9; AC 7 ; Atk 2 claws (1d6+2) or bite (1d8+2); Move 6/3 (burrow); Save 6; AL C; CL/XP 11/1,700; Special: Consume brain, create zombie, fear gaze, web
Cerebral Stalker from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Chain Worm: HD 12; AC 1 ; Atk 1 bite (2d6) and tail sting (2d6 + poison); Move 9/6 (climb); Save 3; AL N; CL/XP 12/2,000; Special: Poison, trilling
Chain Worm from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Cherum: HD 24; AC -3 ; Atk 2 claws (2d8 + 1d6 fire) and bite (4d6 + 1d6 fire); Move 6; Save 3; AL N; CL/XP 27/6,500; Special: Fiery aura, swallow whole, regenerate 5 hp/round, immune to fire and poison, vulnerable to cold, spell resistance (30%)
Cherum from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Chrystone: HD 5; AC 4 ; Atk Longsword (1d8); Move 9; Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Breath weapon, spells, immune to magic, resistance to non-magical weapons (50%), shatter weapons
Chrystone from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Patrick Linger.
Chupacabra: HD 3; AC 5 ; Atk 2 claws (1d3) and bite (1d4); Move 9; Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Drain blood
Chupacabra from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Erica Balsley.
Church Grim: HD 5; AC 7 ; Atk Bite (1d6); Move 15; Save 12; AL L; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Howl, +1 or better weapons to hit, soul defender
Church Grim from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Erica Balsley.
Churr: HD 6; AC 4 ; Atk 2 claws (1d6) and bite (1d6); Move 9/6 (climb); Save 11; AL N; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Constrict, howl
Churr from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Clam, Giant: HD 4; AC 5 ; Atk Bite (swallow); Move 3; Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Acid, surprise on 1-3 on 1d6
Giant Clam from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
Clamor: HD 4; AC 3 ; Atk sonic ray (2d6); Move 24 (flying); Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Sonic burst, mimic, +2 magic weapons to hit, invisibility
Clamor from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Erica Balsley.
Clockwork Brain Gear: HD 5; AC 2 ; Atk None; Move 0; Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Control clockworks, dream
Clockwork Brain Gear from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Overseer: HD 2; AC 2 ; Atk Slam (1d6); Move 15; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None
Clockwork Overseer from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Drone: HD 1d6; AC 2 ; Atk Slam (1d3); Move 9/24 (flying); Save 18; AL N; CL/XP B/10; Special: None
Clockwork Drone from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Scout: HD 1; AC 2 ; Atk Slam (1d4); Move 15; Save 17; AL N; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None
Clockwork Scout from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Parasite: HD 4; AC 4 ; Atk Bite (1d4); Move 9; Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Control host, self-repair
Clockwork Parasite from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Swarm: HD 4; AC 2 ; Atk Swarm (1d6); Move 15; Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Distraction, minimum damage from slashing and piercing weapons, self-repair
Clockwork Swarm from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Titan: HD 7; AC 0 ; Atk Slam (2d8); Move 12; Save 9; AL N; CL/XP 8/800; Special: None
Clockwork Titan from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Warrior: HD 3; AC 2 ; Atk Slam (1d8); Move 9; Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Self-repair
Clockwork Warrior from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Mike Mearls and Scott Greene.
Clockwork Bronze Giant: HD 14; AC 0 ; Atk 1 Weapon (4d6 plus poison) or 1 fist (2d8); Move 12; Save 3; AL N; CL/XP 16/3,200; Special: magic resistance (25%), +1 magic weapon needed to hit, throw rocks (2d8), lightning heals, immune to most spells
Clockwork Bronze Giant from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Clubnek: HD 2; AC 6 ; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and beak (1d6); Move 15; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Burst of speed
Clubnek from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by M. English.
Cobra Flower: HD 6; AC 5 ; Atk Bite (1d8 + 1d6 acid); Move 3; Save 11; AL N; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Squeeze
Cobra Flower from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Coffer Corpse: HD 2; AC 5 ; Atk Slam (1d6); Move 9; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Death grip, weapon resistance, deceiving death, cause fear
Coffer Corpse from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Simon Eaton.
Colossus, Jade: HD 30; AC -6 ; Atk 2 slams (4d8); Move 12; Save 3; AL N; CL/XP 36/9,200; Special: Breath weapon, +3 weapons to hit, immune to fire, immune to magic
Jade Colossus from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene and Casey Christofferson.
Cooshee: HD 3; AC 4 ; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (1d8); Move 15; Save 14 (12 vs. charm); AL N (L tendencies); CL/XP 4/120; Special: Sprint, trip, surprise on 1-3 on 1d6
Cooshee from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
Corpse Candle: HD 6; AC 8 ; Atk Incorporeal touch (1d6); Move 6/18 (flying); Save 11; AL C; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Hypnotic lights
Corpse Candle from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Corpse Orgy: HD 14; AC 2 ; Atk 4 slams (2d6); Move 6; Save 3; AL C; CL/XP 16/3,200; Special: Absorb body, pain shriek, half damage from blunt weapons
Corpse Orgy from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Corpse Rook: HD 6; AC 6 ; Atk 2 claws (1d6) and 3 bites (1d8); Move 6/24 (flying); Save 11; AL C; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Rend
Corpse Rook from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Corpsespinner: HD 12; AC 3 ; Atk 1 bite (2d8 + poison); Move 9/6 (climb); Save 3; AL N; CL/XP 13/2,300; Special: Create corpsespun zombie, poison, web
Corpsespinner from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Crab, Monstrous: HD 3; AC 3 ; Atk 2 claws (1d4); Move 12/9 (swimming); Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None
Monstrous Crab from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
Crabman: HD 3; AC 3 ; Atk 2 claws (1d6); Move 12/9 (swimming); Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None
Crabman from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Scott Greene and Erica Balsley, based on original material by Ian Livingstone
Crag Man: HD 6; AC 4 ; Atk 2 piercing slams (1d8+2); Move 6; Save 11; AL C; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Pierce, piercer hellstorm, passwall
Crag Man from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Crayfish, Monstrous: HD 4; AC 4 ; Atk 2 claws (1d6); Move 9/15 (swimming); Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Surprise on 1-2 on 1d6
Monstrous Crayfish from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Gary Gygax.
Crucifixion Spirit: HD 12; AC 4 ; Atk Incorporeal touch (1d8 + paralysis) or crucify soul; Move 9/18 (flying); Save 3; AL C; CL/XP 15/2,900; Special: Crucify soul, paralysis
Crucifixion Spirit from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Crypt Thing: HD 6; AC 2 ; Atk 2 claws (1d6); Move 12; Save 11; AL N; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Teleport other, +1 or better weapons to hit, turn as 10 HD monster
Crypt Thing from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Roger Musson.
Crystalline Horror: HD 7; AC 0 ; Atk Shard spray (3d6) or cL (1d6); Move 12; Save 9; AL C; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Shard spray, bend light, +1 or better weapons to hit, resistance to cold (50%)
Crystalline Horror from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.
Crystallis: HD 14; AC 2 ; Atk 2 claws (2d6+3); Move 6/6 (burrow); Save 3; AL N; CL/XP 17/3,500; Special: Crystalline claws, wounding, petrification breath
Crystallis from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Author Scott Greene.