Daily Musing – Call of Cthulhu 7th edition

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So although I own the old 5th and 6th edition core books, and many, many, many of the adventures and supplements, the only actual Call of Cthulhu I’ve run is the d20 version by Monte Cook.  And I loved it. In fact, THAT book got me to buy all of the Chaosium products, and maybe that was their intention from the start.  Anyway, I enjoyed it and had fun with it, particularly our Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign that took a year and a half to finish.

But now a new version of the Chaosium classic horror rpg is out and I picked up the pdf versions, and so far I’m pretty impressed. They’re full color for the first time and it’s a big visual upgrade, not that there was anything wrong with the black and white presentation of the prior editions. This is not a review or anything, just a general musing.  The game WANTS me to run it again, and I didn’t really have any plans to play CoC because I’m having fun now with D&D 5th edition, but it does remind me of how much fun Cthulhu is.

I’ll probably add more to this as time permits, but I just wanted to get those thoughts down on, um, digital paper.

13th Age Monster powers for 5th Edition D&D

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13th Age – 5e monster powers REVISED

In the interest of adding more complexity to D&D monsters, I looked at the 13th Age Core Rules and sampled their monster powers, which are based on D&D 4th edition design where all the critters have a shtick. While I find 5e D&D to be excellent, many of the monsters are too bland for my tastes and generally come down to being an AC, an attack and a sack of hit points.  To add more complexity for those that want it, I decided to create this entirely optional and supplemental list of monster powers for “Plug and Play” use where they can be layered seamlessly over a creature by the DM.  All particular monster names were stripped out and replaced by generic “monster” or “creature” so the DM can use an ability where it seems thematically appropriate.  Typically, only one ability will be needed for a monster, but feel free to add as many as desired, but be aware of the added difficulty.

Lastly, feel free to modify these as much as you wish.  They’re DM tools, and as such, designed to be tinkered and played with to suit your own play style and campaign. Any feedback, suggestions or comments are welcome, and if it seems like it is a good idea I’m more than happy to make modifications.  These rules are not playtested with 5th edition and therefore potentially unbalanced, so use with discretion. The final decision on how and when and where they are implemented is solely up to the DM.

Effects of a Critical

When monster criticals a character, I make the character “pick their poison”  instead of doing double damage.   An article on that can be found HERE. One of the options I use is a staus effect instead of extra damage.   I use the following list as a guideline if I (or one of the players) can’t think of anything more appropriate.  As a general rule, the bigger the monster, the worse the effect. If the monster is smaller than PC: Name: Popped Ear Drum Save: CON save  or DEAFENED until next short rest- Example: Halfling sling bullet to the head   Name: Unbalanced Save: DEX save or next turns attacks at DISADVANTAGE- Example: Quasit quickly circle a PC’s head   Name: Whoops! Save: DEX save or knocked prone Example: Snake constricting (or biting) and ankle   Name: Wait, What? Save: INT save or BEWILDERED (no reactions and only an ACTION or BONUS ACTION next turn, not both) Example: The Pixie’s arrow releases some dust  that surrounds the character Monster same size as PC:   Name: What is THAT? Save:  WIS save or Frightened for one round- Example: Ghoul’s jaw unhinges Name: Gotcha! Save:  STR save or grappled Example: The Bugbear drives it’s sword through your foot Name: Seeing stars Save:  CON save or incapacitated for one round- Example: The orc clocks you in the head   Name:  Wow! You’re awesome….. Save:   CHA save or charmed for one round Example:  The nymph gazes into the PC’s eyes as she releases the nocked arrow   Monster larger than PC   Name: Pinned Save:  STR save or prone and restrained until the PC  wins a ATH check Example: The Animated Table pins the PC to the ground   Name:  Clobbered Save:  STR save or pushed 15’ and knocked prone Example: The Ogre delivers a huge hit that drives the PC  back   Name: Square on the noggin! Save:  CON save or Blinded (save ends) Example: Troll claws your face   Name: Lost in the moment- Save:  INT save or stunned for one round- Example: The sphinx roars as it attacks

Return to White Plume Mountain – AD&D

Return to White Plume Mountain by Bruce Cordell
Return to White Plume Mountain by Bruce Cordell

I’m thinking of taking my current Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign and seguing into Return to White Plume Mountain from 2nd edition AD&D.  I’ve never actually SEEN the adventure, but the original is quite famous, and I’m a big fan of Bruce Cordell’s Return to the Tomb of Horrors.  I know this is a Greyhawk setting, but it would be just as easy to plop it in some remote area of the Realms where we’re at now, the Savage North is very close by and it would be a cinch.  I think the module is for 7th-10th level AD&D characters, and our guys are 5th now, so it should be a fairly easy adaptation.

Any suggestions?  I’ve never run the original at all.

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New Monster – Widowyrm

Widowyrm                                                                 
XP 2,900 (CR 7)
Chaotic Evil Large dragon
Initiative +1
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DEFENSE
AC 17 (natural armor) See below: Partially incorporeal
hp: 114 (12d10 + 48) Immunity: Paralysis, Poison, Necrotic
Vulnerability: Radiant / Holy
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OFFENSE
Speed: 30 ft., fly 60 ft.

Multiattack: A widowyrm bites once and attacks once with claws, or it uses its breath weapon.

Melee Attack—Bite: +8 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one creature). Hit: 2d8 + 5 piercing damage and the target must make a successful DC 11 Con saving throw or become poisoned (see Paralytic Poison, below)

Area Attack—Fear Breath (recharge 5, 6): automatic hit (range 30 ft. cone; creatures in range). Hit: 4d8 necrotic damage, or half damage with a successful DC 16 Con saving throw. A second DC 16 Wis saving throw must be made or the target is Frightened for 1 minute, but a new saving throw can be made at the end of every round. Repeated exposure to the Fear Breath requires a new save.

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STATISTICS
Str 21 (+5), Dex 12 (+1), Con 19 (+4),
Int 6 (–2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 13 (+1)
Languages: Draconic, Common
Skills: Perception +4, Stealth +6 Senses: Darkvision 120 ft. ______________________________________________________________________

TRAITS
Partially Incorporeal:
A widowyrm exists partially in a shadow world. If it is in light other than bright light, it has resistance to all damage, mundane or magical.  Exposure to bright light negates this ability for as long as it lasts.  Widowyrms try to avoid such light if at all possible, often attacking the source to destroy it.

Paralytic Poison: The poisoned creature has tactical disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks. At the end of each of its turns, the poisoned creature must attempt a Con saving throw. On a result of 16 or higher, the poisoned condition ends and the character becomes immune to this widowyrn’s poison. On a result of 11–15, the poisoned condition continues. On a result of 10 or lower, the creature becomes paralyzed and no more saving throws are needed. Paralysis lasts for 1 hour or until the poison is neutralized.

Spell-like Abilities: A widowyrm can use the following spell-like abilities, using Charisma as its casting ability

(DC 10). The widowyrm doesn’t need material components to use these abilities.
3/day each: fear, darkness
2/day: dimension door (in shadows only)

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New Magic Item – Ladder of Command

Ladder of Command
Wondrous item, rare
When first found, this ladder does not look like a normal ladder, rather just two poles 1’ high with two wooden rungs between them. The command word is “Grow!” and the ladder expands to a height of 10-30 feet (user’s choice) and can support up to 500 lbs of weight.  It remains in this state until the command word “Shrink!” is uttered and it returns to its original size. The ladder can be used three times per day to expand and retract.

History: The last time this ladder was seen, the halfling Paldo Quickfoot and his dwarf companions Grig and Galdo were desperately trying to escape from a rock drake. They’d reached a chasm too large to cross, but thinking quickly, Paldo commanded his enchanted ladder to “Grow!”  Paldo reached the other side just as the rock drake descended on Galdo. Grig was only halfway across the horizontal ladder when both dwarf and ladder were tumbled into the chasm by the drake. Paldo escaped with his life, but his enchanted ladder was lost at the bottom of the rift.

New Magic Item – Dart of Detonation

Dart of Detonation
Weapon (dart), uncommon
These thin, jet black darts are carved from volcanic rock. They can be thrown with a range increment of 30/60 and explode in a small but violent burst for 2d6+3 fire damage against a single target. Exposing them to intense heat, such as within a fireball spell, can cause the darts to spontaneously explode at the DM’s discretion.  Satchels contain 1d10 +2 darts when first found.

History:  Carbuncle the Old was known to make these darts with the assistance of a small forge and a salamander’s advice, channeling heat from the bowels of a volcano as he teetered precariously on the caldera, risking life and limb for the sake of his craft.

New Magic Item – Belt of Battle

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Belt of Battle
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
Wearing this belt bestows 2 points of Strength, to a maximum of 20.  Once per day, for one minute, it can also grant the wearer resistance to all non-magical attacks. On the downside, the belt compels its wearer to fight maniacally during that time. A DC 12 Wisdom saving throw must be made at the beginning of each round or you will attack the next closest creature, whether friend or foe.

HistoryKord Strongarm donned a belt of battle during the War of the Winter Pass. Wielding a behemoth battleaxe,  he mowed down orcs with bloody aplomb, seeming to feel no pain as he hacked his enemies to pieces.  The orc’s morale broke and they finally fled, leaving Kord  breathless and victorious…until his gaze turned upon his comrades. Kord was a strong man, but not a very wise one.

Review – Fifth Edition Foes (Necromancer Games)

Fifth-Edition-Foes-Cover(Rating – 17/20) I’ve been a big fan of Necromancer Games ever since 3rd edition.  They put out some really high quality material, most notably the Tome of Horrors monster book series, and Fifth Edition Foes is pretty much an update of that for the new edition of the game.  Due to an old licensing agreement with Wizards of the Coast they are able to put out a book like this before the official OGL is released (which I believe is summer 2015).

Anyway, Fifth Edition Foes is a 259 page book that takes many of the older 1st edition monsters from the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II and updates them to 5th edition. Also included are many original monsters from Tome of Horrors.

It’s a smorgasbord of beasts and nasties that manages to evoke the same sense of weirdness that The Fiend Folio was renown for back in the day.  I’m writing this review based on the PDF copy before the hardback actually arrives in April, and I couldn’t be happier.  The book utilizes a large number of new monster mechanics that break from the norm established in the core Monster Manual, and this keeps the text engaging and very fun to read.

This is going to be a very, very short review, as I can easily sum it up as  “Just go get it!”  But in case you’re teetering one way or another, here’s a few previews that might sway you over.

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