Random Troll Generator

Trolls call me moon of the dwelling-Rungnir, giant’s wealthsucker,
storm-sun’s bale, seeress’s friendly companion,
guardian of corpse-fjord, swallower of heaven wheel;
what is a troll other than that?
(Snorri Sturluson)

The Nature of Trolls

According to existing literature, trolls were originally “creatures of nature”, i.e. creatures that one could encounter in nature. And specifically, they were present in the Scandinavian landscapes, before the industrial period, before they began to travel the world and be found in the soup.

But Scandinavian languages are complex, and the origins and meaning of ‘troll’ is lost in time. For example, the prefix troll- means ‘magic’ in Swedish, as in Mozart’s Zauberflöte (‘Magic Flute’), or Trollflöjtan. At the same time, troll- means ‘giant’ in Icelandic.

Basically, trolls are bad news. Either magical or gigantic beings, they are not good. And, like the troll woman from Snorri’s poem, a troll can be, ultimately, anything.

Making Trolls

1. Size

Trolls come in various sizes, some are smaller than a human being while others are as big as a sequoia (or, perhaps, even bigger).

Roll 1d10 to find out the size of the troll, then roll the die in parentheses to get the troll’s HD; you will also find out the movement rate (MOV) of each variety; remember that humans have a MOV of 120′.

1d10 / Size

  1. Small (1d2 HD), MOV 90′
  2. Small (1d2 HD), MOV 90′
  3. Human-size (1d6 HD), MOV 120′
  4. Human-size (1d6 HD), MOV 120′
  5. Human-size (1d6 HD), MOV 120′
  6. Large (2d4+1 HD), MOV 120′
  7. Large (2d4+1 HD), MOV 120′
  8. Huge (3d4 HD), MOV 180′
  9. Huge (3d4 HD), MOV 180′
  10. Colossal (3d6+1d4 HD), MOV 240′

Note: Small and human-sized trolls are social beings and are found in groups of at least 1d6+2. The others are solitary and are usually found alone, only rarely found in very small groups.

Morale: Referees have every right to assign any morale value (ML) to their creations, but if they wish to leave it to chance, it is easy to do so: To find out their current ML value, small trolls, roll 2d6; human-sized trolls roll 1d6+6; large, huge and colossal trolls, roll 1d4+8.

2. Armor Class

Not all trolls have the same type of skin, some are as fragile as a human being, others may be as tough as a rhinoceros or even invulnerable to physical attacks.

To find out the natural armor of a troll, roll 1d6 and compare the result.

1d6 / AC

  1. AC 12
  2. AC 12
  3. AC 14
  4. AC 16
  5. AC 18
  6. AC 20

Note: AC 12 is equivalent to an unarmored human; AC 14 is equivalente to leather armor; 16 is chainmail and 18 is full plate. AC 20 is beyond full plate; it can be harder than stone or an almost immaterial substance.

3. Attacks

Trolls are aggressive creatures, intelligent enough to use weapons, but malicious enough to prefer the use of claws and teeth to tear apart the bodies of their victims.

Roll 1d8 twice to know the troll’s attack(s).

1d8 / Attack

  1. 2 claws (damage: 1d4+1d4 small; 1d6+1d6 human-size, large; 1d8+1d8 huge, 1d12+1d12 colossal)
  2. 2 claws (damage: 1d4+1d4 small; 1d6+1d6 human-size, large; 1d8+1d8 huge, 1d12+1d12 colossal)
  3. 2 claws (damage: 1d4+1d4 small; 1d6+1d6 human-size, large; 1d8+1d8 huge, 1d12+1d12 colossal)
  4. Stone mace (dmg: 1d6 small, human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d10-1 colossal)
  5. Stone mace (dmg: 1d6 small, human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d10-1 colossal)
  6. Bite (dmg: 1d4 small, 1d6 human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d8-1 colossal)
  7. Bite (dmg: 1d4 small, 1d6 human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d8-1 colossal)
  8. Bite (dmg: 1d4 small, 1d6 human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d8-1 colossal)

If you get the same attack twice, the form of attack or the damage it causes, changes like this:

Claws: The damage die goes up to the next type (1d4 becomes 1d6, 1d12 becomes 1d20, etc.) Note: If both claw attacks succeed against the same enemy in the same round, the troll will make an additional attack, tearing the flesh of its victim, causing an additional damage die equal to that of one of the claws.

Mace: The troll can make one additional attack at the end of each round, regardless of its position in the initiative queue; this extra attack is made with a -2 penalty and can only be directed at an adjacent target.

Bite: Roll a die; if the result is an odd number, the damage die goes up to the next type; if the result is an even number, the troll can make an extra attack at the end of each round, at a -4 penalty, using its inordinately large and protruding fangs.

In addition to this, trolls usually attack by throwing stones (or trees!) from a distance. More than a form of combat, these are intimidation tactics.

4. Ability Scores and Modifiers

All abilities start with a score of 12.

Roll 1d12 for each ability score you want to modify, or choose the one you prefer. The result indicates a modifier between -3 and +3; the number in parentheses is the corresponding ability score (for instance, DEX 16 has a modifier of +2).

1d12 / Modifier (Ability Score)

  1. +1 (13)
  2. +1 (13)
  3. +1 (13)
  4. +2 (16)
  5. +2 (16)
  6. +3 (18)
  7. -3 (3)
  8. -2 (5)
  9. -2 (5)
  10. -1 (8)
  11. -1 (8)
  12. -1 (8)

5. Powers

Just as trolls come in all sizes and varieties, their powers are also quite varied. Make a roll according to the table corresponding to the size of the troll to find out its powers.

Small. 1d6 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1hp)
  3. Regeneration (1hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Metamorphosis
  6. Opportunism

Human-size. 1d8 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1hp)
  3. Regeneration (1hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Metamorphosis
  6. Invisibility (1/day)
  7. Opportunism
  8. Roll again until you get two powers

Large. 1d10 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  3. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Invulnerability
  6. Invisibility (1/day)
  7. Freezing Touch
  8. Blizzard
  9. Fascination
  10. Roll again until you get two powers

Huge. 1d12 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  3. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Invulnerability
  6. Invisibility (2/day)
  7. Supreme Strength
  8. Blizzard
  9. Fascination
  10. Freezing Touch
  11. Howling (1d3)
  12. Roll again until you get two powers

Colossal. 1d12 / Efecto

  1. Intangibility (1/day)
  2. Regeneration (1d8hp)
  3. Regeneration (1d8hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Invulnerability
  6. Invisibility (3/day)
  7. Supreme Strength
  8. Blizzard
  9. Fascination
  10. Freezing Touch
  11. Howling (1d4)
  12. Roll again until you get two powers

Blizzard. The troll summons forth a blast of icy wind that can blow out any flames and hurl flying creatures or hold human-sized creatures back from moving.

Fascination. When contemplating this troll, the adventurer must save versus magic or be fascinated (or terrified if the monster is particularly horrible or bizarre) and won’t be able to act for one round.

Freezing Touch. The troll must succeed on an attack roll to touch its victim with its palm, causing 1d4 cold damage; the victim must also save versus paralysis or suffer a -2 penalty to his attacks and AC, due to the cold that has numbed his muscles and frozen his bones.

Howling. Once a day. The troll howls like a wolf, but the howl is much more ominous. It’s a call. Roll the die indicated in parentheses and compare the result to find out how many trolls and what kind come: 1: 1d3 small trolls; 2: 1d2 human-sized trolls; 3: 1 big troll; 4: 1 huge troll. These trolls will arrive in 1d4 rounds and must be generated with the same tables or, if you want to save time, you can assign their powers and characteristics without rolling dice.

Immateriality. The troll becomes a floating cloud of smoke, fog or vapor with a movement rate of 10′. Cannot manipulate objects or pass through solids. The troll decides when to interrupt the effect, but its maximum duration is 1 minute per HD.

Immortality. When reaching 0hp or less, the troll collapses as if it had died but does not really die; in 1d4 rounds it will recover 1hp. Additionally, if it has the power of regeneration, each round after its “resurrection” it will recover the indicated hp.

Invisibility. The troll and all its equipment become invisible for one minute per HD. It can interact normally with objects and it is possible to detect it if it makes noise.

Invulnerability. Immune to mundane weapons and damage.

Metamorphosis. Once a day for up to one hour, the troll can take one of the following forms: 1d4: 1: wooden log, 2: dog, 3: cat, 4: human.

Opportunism. This troll has an initiative advantage. This troll’s initiative roll is made with 1d8. If group initiative is used, this troll rolls its own die.

Regeneration. Each round, the troll recovers the amount of hp indicated in parentheses.

Supreme Strength. This troll has an extra bonus to its attacks equal to +1d4. This bonus is independent of the Attack Bonus it’s gained from its strength modifiers and HD. Life is unfair!

6. Distinguishing Features

Trolls come in all shapes and sizes, with very varied traits; the following table does not list all possibilities, referees can create their own. Sometimes, these traits are cosmetic, sometimes they add something special.

1d8 / Feature

  1. Tumors
  2. Multiple Heads
  3. Multiple Arms
  4. Stone Skin
  5. One Eye Sharing
  6. Clothes
  7. Arboreal
  8. Horrible Appearance

Arboreal. The troll’s skin is similar to wood; larger trolls even sprout branches and trunks on their heads and backs. If the troll has the regeneration power, it gains 1 additional hp each round.

Clothes. The troll is dressed in gaudy colors, but its clothing is ragged and misshapen. If the troll has the power of fascination, the opponent suffers a -2 penalty to his saving throw against magic. If the troll is successfully attacked, there is a 1-in-10 chance that its clothing will be torn and entangled, causing it to suffer a -1 penalty to its attacks.

Horrible Appearance. The troll is particularly ugly, so much so that all adventurers must save versus paralysis or they won’t be able to act for one round.

Multiple Arms. The troll has a total of 1d4+2 arms, allowing it to make one additional claw attack at the end of each round, without penalty, with damage equal to the general 2 claw attack. If the troll does not have the 2 claw attack, the extra arms give it a -2 defensive bonus to its AC.

Multiple Heads. The troll has 1d8+1 babbling heads, causing it severe stupidity. Its intelligence is 12 minus the number of heads (from 3 to 10), affecting its ability to save against magic. This trait replaces the INT score (step 4.)

One Eye Sharing. Two or more troll share one single eye between them. The one troll who is wearing the eye has normal stats, the rest suffer a -4 to their perception-relatd checks, including attacks.

Stone Skin. The troll has a thick and rough skin, like granite. It gains a +2 AC bonus against mêlée attacks and +4 against ranged attacks. These bonuses are in addition to those already in previous steps.

Tumors. The troll body is full of hideous, oozing tumors. If the troll has the power of regeneration, it heals only half the hp. When the troll is attacked, there is a 1-in-10 chance that a lump will burst and splatter the adventurer, dealing 1d4 acid damage (save versus breath weapons to dodge).

Henrik Ibsen ain’t afraid of no troll

Appendix V | Ara Fell (vampires and elves don’t mix)

Vampires and elves don’t go together.

That’s been my opinion since I tried Ravenloft back in the 90s and again in the 3e conversion and finally, last year, with Curse of Strahd for 5e.

Based on these shitty games, it’s easy to say that pointy ears and bloodsuckers don’t go well together.

But a few weeks ago, while searching for a traditional turn-based combat JRPG, I discovered Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition, a game that proved me otherwise. Ara Fell proves that, indeed, vampires and elves mix well together, but also that you have to be smart to do so.

Why, then, did I always find Ravenloft to be an aberration? What does Ara Fell have that Ravenloft lacks?

Well, for starters, irony and, also, a sense of humor. Ravenloft takes itself too seriously. It wants to be dark, scary, mature, and for others to take it seriously too. Like Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlene. Ravenloft wants to be serious but it has elves, so….

Anyway, the fundamental problem with Ravenloft is that you can’t mix heroic fantasy and horror. Heroic fantasy and horror are two opposite things. One tries to empower, the other to disempower (is this a real word?).

Ravenloft tries but fails to scare players because a) D&D characters are almost impossible to kill and b) the characters are the heroes and heroes always succeed.

D&D players know they are the heroes and will triumph. They can’t fear for their characters because they know their characters won’t die.

In The Lord of the Rings, from the very first pages, we know that Frodo and Aragorn will triumph, that Sauron and Saruman will be defeated. In At the Mountains of Madness, from beginning to end we have the uncertainty of whether the “heroes” will survive and win, and we know that there is a very high probability that they will not. In a crude way, that’s the difference between horror and heroic fantasy.

Ara Fell works because it doesn’t try to scare you. It doesn’t pretend to be a horror story, it’s heroic fantasy. There’s magic, ancient prophecies, a city in the sky, elves and, yes, vampires. But it never tries to be edgy, dark, too serious. The vampires of Ara Fell are not the vampires of the gothic novel, they are just one more of the races… sorry, I meant: of the ancestries that populate Fantasyland. It’s not the horror monster, it’s the fantasy monster.

Ravenloft is based on the old Christian morality trope of good versus evil, so it’s a dark game (in more ways than one), and it’s always at night. It ends up being very edgy. And not in an ironic way, to top it off.

Ara Fell doesn’t make this mistake. It’s a lighthearted looking world, colorful, it’s almost always daytime, but its morality is not black and white, it’s the more complex, the more human of the grayscale. Elves are not the Christian good and vampires are not the evil of Satan. And in between the two factions are humans, with their flaws and virtues, desires, ambitions and fears.

So it’s not that vampires and elves can’t mix, it’s that horror and heroic fantasy don’t mix well. You can be one or the other, but not both.

Ye Olde Shoppe | Shop management for old-school games

An old school game can benefit from deeper systems that explore the rules and activities that are not the focus of the game. The system I present here is not a replacement for the existing rules. The existing rules are sufficient for a game that does not focus on trading goods, so a simple system, for an element of the game that will be used very rarely, doesn’t require further exploration and depth. But, what if you want to try something new? A combination of dungeoncrawling and business administration?

The players create their adventurers normally, they take them to explore dungeons and old ruins, they loot forgotten tombs and they recover relics and treasures, but instead of only looking for a buyer, they want to open a store and put on sale all the accumulated treasure, or at least the most mundane ones (works of art, simple weapons, pottery).

This system can be adopted by a single player, or between at least two players to form a cooperative. The distribution of the money to found the store, as well as the profits it generates and the payments to the employees, are decided by the members of the cooperative, although to avoid conflicts, the referee can rule that everyone gives and takes the same percentage.

Making a Shop

A character or cooperative must invest a minimum of 5,000 cash to open a store, but its reputation value will be -10. Every 5,000 extra cash invested in it adds some reputation points or changes the amount of possible sales made weekly:

Sales. A sale can be any amount of items it makes sense. A single adventurer might only purchase a couple arrows and some rope, but a 4-person party might need equiptment for everyone. The referee can use this to control how money moves in the world, or he can make random tables of customer for every reputation level.

Base price. The price of the products must be equal to the price in the list of items in the manual of the game you use, or can be proposed by the players with the approval of the referee. The price of items that don’t exist in the manuals is set by the referee.

Base price modifier. Reputation modifies the value of products by a percentage equal to their score, so a -10 score store sells items 10% cheaper than the base price, and a 50 score store, 50% more expensive.

Purchase. When a customer makes a purchase, the referee pulls 2d6:

Charisma. The salesman’s charisma value affects the previous die roll:

Salesman. There are four options: 1) Players can take turns, 2) One of the characters can retire from the adventure life and dedicate exclusively to the management of the store, 3) Players can create a new level 1 character to manage the store, 4) They can hire a salesman.

All options, except the first one (PCs taking turns), receive a commission for each sale made. The salesman’s charisma determines the commission as shown below, but the referee can adjust these values as needed:

20 items that can be bought at Ye Olde Shoppe

Christmas theme entry | Consumerism in your OSR games

The christmas spirit is in the air, releasing its stinky pheromones that washes our brains into thoughtless consumerism. Let the spirit invade your game world with this brand-new option for your players’ characters to spend their hard-earned silver pieces on.

Elfpunk. The suspicious man in the black cloak with the weird eye is actually a barber surgeon who can medieval/cyber-improve you with “The red eye of sleep”, a magically imbued red orb the size of an eye that, when encrusted in your forehead, allows you to cast the spell Sleep once a day even if you are not a caster. 10,000 gold.

Pay for protection. The crazy old woman, “Mad Hattie”, needs 5,000 gold. If you refuse to give it to her, she will curse you. Her curses are level 5 necromantic spells.

A much needed cure. That mad old woman, “Crazy Hattie”, can remove any curse from you. It will cost you 6,000 gold only.

Combat options. Dr. Brain, actually a mi-go in disguise, but a civil one, can remove those extra bones from your hip and chest, allowing you to have an extra attack every two rounds (round 1 two attacks, one on your turn, another last; round 2 one attack on your turn; round 3 two attacks again…) It will cost you, 12,000 gold and one point of permanent Constitution.

A time for introspection. When you kill, you accumulate bad blood points equal to the monster’s or npc’s XP. When you reach 1,000 bad blood points, all your rolls are done at -1. When you reach 2,000 bad blodd points, they are done at -2. And so on. Remember that weird man in the black robes by the temple, with the scary laugh? He will relieve you of your sins… for a price. One bad blood point per 1 gold coin is erased from your name in the book of names that keep record of all your sins (and therefore these penalties).

Festive merriment. The PCs arrive in town in the middle of some festivity or another, and forced to break through with money and gossip. Each piece of useful information, rumor or clue will cost them 200 gold, modified by their charisma (a +2 grants a 20% discount; a -2 costs them 20% more).

Books. You see that lady in the long black overcoat? She sells dangerous things. Poison, thief tools, dark charms. Books. Her books, while owned, grant you a bonus to a specific action or area of knowledge. Maybe an extra +1 to saving throws versus poison or a free re-roll when a climbing roll is failed. Is she doesn’t have a book on the matter you want, she can get it, for an extra 100-500 gold, of course. 1,000 gold per book is quite reasonable, right? But there are some forbidden tomes that would cost much more than that.

Personal training. Pay a teacher and in one week, gain one skill point (LotFP skills) or 15% in a skill (B/X thief skill). Only 5,000 gold.

Liquid courage. 500 gold will get you a bottle of dwarven ale. In combat, you gain +1 to attack rolls but -1 to AC (but your AC can’t be lower than the unarmored value).

Fulfill your heart’s desire. Lovelie’s is open for business. Some work might be needed, but Lovelie’s night therapy will improve you. Whether this means you gain a permanent point in one stat, XP enough to reach your next level, the ability to never be surprised, or being irresistable to the same or the other sex, she can do it. But her services are not cheap.

If you need more option, check The Goatman’s Goblet. He has a good list!

Christmas merriment

 

The Four Humorous Goblins

[Artwork source]

The Four Humorous Goblins is either a troupe of four goblins or the whole of the four strains, whatever fits your game.

The Four Humorous Goblins – The Four Strains

Sanguine Goblin aka Hemogoblin

AC 12, HD 4, 18 hp, STR Mod +1, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, SAVE as fighter 4, #ATT 1 tentacle or 1 projectile or fusion

A bloody mass of tissue, vaguely humanoid in shape, as though someone had inverted a small person inside out.

Tentacle (mêlée, 1d6). One per round, the hemogoblin can produce a metre-long tentacle that executes a swift whip attack for 1d6 damage.

Projectile (ranged, 1d6). One per round, it can squirt acidic blood up to a distance of 10m, 20m with a -2 penalty, or 30m with a -4 penalty, for 1d6 damage.

Shape shifter. Once per day, it can take the form of a short human for one hour.

Fusion (grapple). Each round, the goblin and the victim roll 1d6 and add their strength modifier; the highest wins. The first to win two rounds wins. If the defender wins, the grapple ends. If the goblin wins, it enters the victim’s body through the nose, mouth and any opening it can.

Once the hemogoblin is inside the host, it will remain dormant for some time, and at the most inopportune moment, its presence will prevent the host from having full control of its body.

Mechanically, this translates into penalties to their action or salvation rolls.

And when the referee sees fit, perhaps a few weeks later, the hemoboglin will hatch: the host body will throw hundreds of tiny goblin larvae in the form of blood clots. mucus and bile, through the mouth, eyes, nose, etc., suffering a massive 6d6 damage. There’s a 5% chance one larvae survives and grows into one of the four types.

Choleric Goblin aka Sallow Man

AC 13, HD 4, 20 hp, STR Mod +3, MOV 120′ (40′), ML 11, SAVE as fighter 4, #ATT 1 or 2 punch or 1 infection

A bubbling mass of sallow muscular tissue, vaguely humanoid, as though someone had melted a person in 50 kilos of mucus.

Infection (mêlée, 1d6). With an attack roll, the goblin can touch a victim to cause severe vomiting and 1d6 damage.

In addition, the victim must save vs. Poison or will get an infection that will cause 1d6 of cumulative damage day by day (next day 1d6, next day 2d6, etc.); if the victim makes a new Saving Throw, no vomiting will occur that day and the next day it will restart with 1d6 of damage.

Punch (mêlée, 1d6). The goblin can produce one or two humanoid arms to punch.

Accelerated nervous system. It can make two punch attacks every third round (round 1: two attacks, round 2: one attack, etc.)

Shape shifter. Once per day, it can take the form of a short human for one hour.

Low sensibility. Todos los ataques físicos le causan -1 de daño.

Cholera. Its extreme violence grants him a +3 bonus to all STR based rolls, including attacks (but no damage).

Melancholy Goblin

AC 12, HD 4, 16 hp, STR Mod -1, DEX mod +1, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 7, SAVE as specialist 4, #ATT 1 needle or 1 whale song

A fuliginous shape, a thing difficult to focus on, as though it was a humanoid made of shadow-tissue.

Whale song (auto, 1d4 INT). As an automatic action, and up to 3 times per day, it emits a sound that resembles the song of a hunchback whale. It spikes your dreams with (m/s)adness, causing you a loss of 1d4 INT. After a long night rest, all INT is recovered, but save vs. Magic or your Alignment changes to Chaotic.

If your intelligence reaches zero, save vs. Death or you will become a babbling and drooling vegetable. Make a new character.

Needle (ranged, 1d4). Each round, this goblin can create a sharp needle that shoots like a light crossbow (ranges of 50′, 150′ and 400′).

Self awareness. Its high insight makes all its DEX based rolls get a +1 bonus. And it cannot be surprised.

Shape shifter. Once per day, it can take the form of a short human for one hour.

Slow nervous system. Its attacks and all STR based rolls are done at -1.

High sensibility. Weapons used against it, deal damage as though they were one bigger die size (d4 weapons cause d6 damage and so on).

Phlegmatic Goblin

AC 12, HD 4, 18 hp, INT +3, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, SAVE as magic-user 4, #ATT 1 weapon or 1 spell

Looks like a regular goblinoid, pale green skin, eyes of a sickly yellow, smart.

Weapon (mêlée or ranged). It can wield minor, small and medium mêlée weapons, short bow or light crossbow or pistol, without bonus or penalties other than its +4 granted by its HD.

Caster. It can cast 2 1st leverl and 2 2nd level spells. Randomly determine which spells it has prepared for that day, as a magic-user.

Spells known. 1st level: Charm Person, Magic Missile, Sleep; 2nd level: Phantasmal Force, Stinking Cloud, Wall of Fog

Phantasmal force. Vicious dog. AC 12, HD 2, 9 hp, STR +1, MOV 180′ (60′), ML 12, SAVE as fighter 2, #ATT 1 bite

Equanimous. In reaction roll, results between 3 and 11 are “indifferent”, while 2 and 12 are “unfriendly” and “talkative”. No extremes here.

Story Hook

PCs have been hired to lead a humorous goblin-infected person to where a healer can have a cure. You have to get there before the hemogoblin hatches. The healer is actually a barber surgeon, and the surgery can be just as bad: save vs. Death, if you fail:

  • you survive but are left with only 1 hp
  • lose one hit die worth of maximum hp (roll a die your class size)
  • lose one point of either STR, CON or INT (your choice)

The Four Humorous Goblins – The Troupe

Main NPCs

Mr. Blood. Sanguine Goblin and main comedian; Mr. Night’s assitant.
Mr. Xanthous. Choleric Goblin and MC’s bodyguard.
Mr. Night. Comedian and kidnapper.
MC (Master of Ceremonies). Phlegmatic Goblin. Leader and maker of fog (wall of fog).

What’s happening

A new circus/comedy company is in town, its members are four short men, therefore they are known as The Four Humorous Goblins.

Children started disappearing the same night the company arrived, one child every night.

The Four Humorous Goblins are secretly real humorous goblins in disguise (the phlegmatic goblin wears an actual disguise, the other three, their shape-shifting power).

Freaks, outcasts and criminal work for them, as members of the circus.

The troupe kidnaps children (adults are hard to drag to their place). The children are used to produce more goblins by infecting them with sanguine goblin cells. One they have between 6 and 10 children, they leave town and return home, where the children are infected.

They already have five children, no-one suspects of the troupe. Five more nights, and they leave, or before if they realize the PCs are investigating them.

What the PCs know

  • Children have been disappearing for some nights
  • Find them and you will be well rewarded
  • Find them and the major will drop the charges against you
  • The son of a former lover has disappeared
  • Might or might not be your child

Clues | Roll or choose one everytime PCs interact with NPCs

  1. A circus is in town, it arrived some days ago
  2. One per night, for five nights now, children have disappeared
  3. Strange people have been seen roaming the streets after midnight
  4. The Four Humorous Goblins are a comedy company that travels around the land and now it’s here
  5. The major’s son was the first to disappear, he was only 6
  6. There’s been unusual fob these alst nights
  7. All the children were abducted while they were been accompanied by their parents; all say there was fog and couln’t see who kidnapped them
  8. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, and, yeah, maybe I am, but I know what I saw: it was a monster, but it wast not a monster first, it was a man, and then it was a monsters
  9. I found the remains of a camp, not far away, between the town and the forest
  10. Madam Letti’s heard giggles and wet steps in the fog when her child was taken

It is expected that the players can figure it out by themselves, but if they don’t, once they collect three clues, send some clowns, tricksters, acrobats, bearded women, strong men and other freaks against them. This means the troupe has realised the PCs are after them, and send their henchfreaks to stop them. This should be the most obvious clue: “Oh my dog it’s the circus!”

Random circus henchfreak generator

1d8 for freak type, ability modifier

1: clown (cha +2)
2: trickster (int +2)
3: acrobat (dex +3)
4: bearded woman (any +1)
5: strong man (str +2)
6: juggler (dex +2)
7: sword eater (con +2)
8: beast master with trained baboon (wis +2)

1d6 for armor class

1-4: 12
5-6: 14

1d6 for hit dice

1: 1
2-4: 2
5: 3
6: 4

1d6 for damage (customize weapon accordingly)

1: 1d4
2-5: 1d6
5: 1d8

Trained baboon

AC 12, HD 2, 9 hp, DEX +1, MOV 120′ (40′), ML 10, SAVE as fighter 2, #ATT 1 bite or 2 claws

Lazy and relentless. The beast master will command the babon to attack a specific PC, the baboon will obey in a 3-in-6 chance, otherwise it won’t act that round. Once it acts, he will continue attacking until death.

Bite. When a bite attack is successful, it can attack the same target at a -2 difficulty (or +2 to attack) the next round; if successful, the same bonus applies again.

Armor class is based on Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Here’s how you convert AC between systems.

Some goblins

Somewhere else I said the goblins might be corrupted halflings. But there might be different kinds of goblins, not all of them little green men. Here are couple.

Hemogoblin

AC 12, HD 4, 18 hp, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, #ATT 1 tentacle or 1 projectile or fusion, DMG 1d6 or 1d6 or special

Artwork by Yalaki

A bloody mass of tissue, vaguely humanoid in shape, as though someone had inverted a small person inside out.

Tentacle (mêlée). One per round, the hemogoblin can produce a metre-long tentacle that executes a swift whip attack for 1d6 damage.

Projectile (range). One per round, it can squirt acidic blood up to a distance of 10m, 20m with a -2 penalty, or 30m with a -4 penalty, for 1d6 damage.

Fusion. It tries to hold on to its opponent (mêlée roll; no damage). If successful, it will immobilize it for one round, and in its next action the hemogoblin will try to enter its victim through any hole it can (victim saves vs. Paralyzation to avoid it).

Once the hemogoblin is inside the host, it will remain dormant for some time, and at the most inopportune moment, its presence will prevent the host from having full control of its body.

Mechanically, this translates into penalties to their action or salvation rolls.

And when the referee sees fit, perhaps a few weeks later, the hemoboglin will hatch: the host body will throw hundreds of tiny hemogoblin larvae in the form of blood clots through the mouth, eyes, nose, etc., suffering a massive 6d6 damage.

History Hook: PCs have been hired to lead a hemoglobin-infected person to where a healer can have a cure. You have to get there before the hemogoblin hatches.

Cosmic goblin

AC 12, HD 1, 5 hp, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, #ATT 1 weapon or 1 command, DMG as weapon or special

Artwork by Yalaki

These creatures have the proportions of a human being, but their height is about one meter. Their heads are shaped like planets and are believed to come from the stars.

Weapon (range). Cosmic goblins usually carry a strange device that shoots a musical beam of silvery light at a distance of 20m, 40m with a -2 penalty, or 100m with a -4 penalty, causing 1d8 damage.

Command. One per battle, the cosmic goblin can insert a mental command into an enemy, ordering him to carry out an attack against whomever the goblin says. This action is undetectable; whoever has received the command is not aware that he has acted on the orders of the goblin, he simply does not know why he has attacked a companion (or whoever it was). To avoid this, the victim must save vs. Magic.

§

Stats are written for LotFP, where AC 12 is for no armor. This is the only adjustment you should make if you use another OSR system. All the illustrations were made by Yalaki, hire her!

Sparrow’s Heart, a Mörk Borg misadventure (II)

[go to Part I | go to Part III]

in part i, described murk burg, an ashen fog-plagued town, and some of its inhabitants; in part ii, i present a curse with a random blight demon generator, and three new scrolls

Powers

Curse: Demonblight Anyone infected by it can spread the disease by simply cursing you. Within 6 days, you must kill, or convince the one who cursed you to take the curse back, to get rid of it. Otherwise, you transform into a demon (controlled by the referee):

i) d4 for your new shape

1. Black humanoid goat
2. Human-sized cobra
3. Human-sized moth
4. Faceless human

ii) d4 for your hp

1. d6 hp
2. d8 hp
3. d10 hp
4. d12 hp

iii) d6 for your morale

1. 2
2. 4
3. 6
4. 8
5. 10
6. 12

iiii) d4 for your armor/damage reduction

1. None
2. -d2
3. -d4
4. -d6

v) d4 for your main damage die

1. d4
2. d6
3. d8
4. d10

vi) d6 for your main damage source

1. Claws & fangs
2. Energy blast
3. Tentacles or tendrils
4. Fire or acid breath
5. Trample or horns
6. Sheer willpower

Unclean scroll: Narcissus Metamorphosis Next d4 Reaction rolls are +2 but Presence DR 14 or fall deeply in love with yourself (in a mirror or lake, throw into your reflection’s arms, suffer damage or drown, according to your referee’s mercy).

Unclean scroll: The Law of the Plague And he that toucheth the flesh of the unclean Becomes unclean And he that be spat on by him, unclean Becomes unclean Causes infection. Every morning make a Toughness DR18, when passed, the infection stops.

Unclean scroll: Vacuum A micro black hole opens in front of your target. Your target rolls Presence DR12 ± your Presence or floats away into space. Take a minute to think about that. Floating. Away. Into. Space.

Part I | Part III

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Sparrow’s Heart, a Mörk Borg misadventure (I)

[go to Part II | go to Part III]

Writes: Vagabundork
City map: Watabou’s Medieval City Generator
Inspiration sounds: Christian Death’s American Inquisition, Emperor’s IX Equilibrium, Opera IX’s The Call of the Wood
Disclaimer: There is no god.

“In my sweet revenge I made a pact with the devil”.
(Christian Death, “Stop Bleeding On Me”)

Purple prose fragments: stuff your players don’t immediately know, maybe never.

Why are you in Murk Burg?

Choose one or roll one or multiple results, whatever works for your players.

  1. You were being chased by a troll, lost your way and somehow got here.
  2. A man working for Anthelia told you the Countess will pay good silver to anyone who brings her the blood of Sparrow’s Heart, that can be found somewhere in Murk Burg.
  3. A Bishop of Galgenbeck offered you amnesty in exchange for killing Prince Bernardus.
  4. In your childhood dreams you used to see a flying snake devouring a bald eagle. Your tribal shaman told you to “find the black tower”, but she never explained the relation between the two. There’s no relation, she was nuts.
  5. You were heading somewhere else, on the way someone gave you wrong directions.
  6. You’ve heard rumors about a new god who has rebelled against HE. Could this deity be the key to avoiding the end? According to that beggar, the cult resides in a black tower, South of Sarkash. This is a dead end.
  7. A sinister tower? In the middle of a ghost town? Must be some treasure there.
  8. Surprise! You have a daughter, Turquoise, and she is very sick. The loathsome rat people sell almost any remedy; get it and you’re free from any responsibility towards the child, “but, please save her”. Rat people usually live in shanty towns, among humans. And here we are. She’ll die in 5 days without the medicine.

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Murk Burg

This gloomy burg to the south of Sarkash was built around the Sparrow Tower, which in the past served the same function as a castle, “that was long before the ashen fog descended upon us”. Known as Murk Burg because of the ashen fog that eternally covers its streets, it’s divided into three areas: burg, parish and shanty town. At the center rises the Sparrow Tower.

Prince Bernardus was the rightful heir to duchy, but when his younger brother tried to assassinate him, he decided that politics was not a good reason to die for, and he exiled himself, followed by his loyal entourage. That was twenty years ago. Today no one remembers where he was a prince from (a duchy linked to Galgenbeck), nor do they remember if the ashen fog was already here when they arrived or if it came later.

They tried to live a simple life, but when it was clear the end was nigh, many joined one apocalyptic cult or another. One of these, the cult of Icon E, whose members are called Forever Mourners, established in the parish, but also hold reunions and black masses in the black tower.

Old Burg

Here lives Prince Bernardus, and his wife, the witch Misandria. Wooden houses, simple and old but sturdy. Most windows and curtains are closed, streets are empty but you can feel, rather than see, people or something always slipping out of the corner of your eye.

The old bourgeoisie Present these NPCs to your players as you need, or randomly roll d6.

  1. Misandria became full of hatred against men when her mother was crucified on the oak tree in her hometown, accused of witchcraft by them. She shows her despise of males and her support to women. The woman was innocent, the real witch was her daughter. She cursed all the men in the village with what they feared most: demonblight, an infection that turns them into demons.
  2. Lydia, beggar. In a good reaction roll she tells you a secret: “Don’t trust Misandria. She says someone abducted the princeling… yeah, the prince, her husband… but I believe she killed him herself”.
  3. A dead child, probably the son of a nobleman. Has a gold locket, but it’s empty (worth 1 silver, it’s fake gold).
  4. Torvald, corpse-paint teenage. Wants to join the cult of Icon E, only one more task to be accepted: murder a man.
  5. A human skull. Cast Whispers Pass the Gates and it won’t answer three questions, but will give one piece of advice: “Whatever you do, do not release the prince”, and immediately shatters to dust.
  6. Anastasia, a noblewoman. She hires you to find and kill a goblin who transmitted her the curse. She saw him enter the black tower. It wears white trousers.

Old Parish

Here are the ruins of the church of the false religion of the past. What little is known about this religion is that the faithful captured their god and nailed him to a post and put a crown of thorns on him, keeping him captive, suffering and bleeding, unable to die.

The church remained standing long after the extinction of the cult, but some years ago it was destroyed by the Forever Mourners, who set it on fire, as a way to symbolize the occupation of the parish and the dominion of the new god, Icon E.

Old parishioners Mattyas Manic street heretic, claiming the end of the world is a scam, no one takes him seriously. He will ask for a coin. Give him a coin and he will give you a die carved from a tooth. Roll the tooth-die once in the morning (and roll a real d6) and in a 1, you can re-roll one and any die before going to sleep, but in a 6, you won’t be able to recover hp until you roll 5 or less. HP 1 Morale 6 No armor Wooden plank d4-1. Ermengarde the Holy Whore She has been planning to kill Faustyr, “It’s disgusting. His smell is impregnated in me and I can’t get rid of it”. HP 2 Morale 7 No armor Kitchen knife d4.

The Kennel

Shanty town, cardboard houses, now dilapidated. Some people still live here, usually temporarily.

Upon entering the area, there’s a 1-in-6 chance d2+2 Scums are encountered and they want your possessions, no matter if they have to kill you to get them. Loot: One of them hides the Book of Illuminazi, also known as The Tar Black Book. It contains 1d4 random scrolls, either unclean or sacred or both.

If the slum is explored, the PCs will eventually find Yaal, a crazy homeless that proclaims the angels talk of the greater healer, but ignore him, it’s the drugs talking. HP 1 Morale 4 No armor Femur d4. In a good reaction roll, he will offer to sell you a special parchment (only 200 silver). It’s the unclean scroll Narcissus Metamorphosis.

They will also meet Ziggurd Rat, an anarchist rat person/healer (sells Remedy for 100 silver). HP 4 Morale 9 Buff coat -2 Rolling pin d4-1 Bite d4+Black poison.

Sparrow Tower aka Black Tower

In the center of the dreary village rises the black tower.

A black granite tower, in the shape of an inverted T. No one knows who built it or for what purpose. It’s known as Sparrow Tower because of the sorcerer who occupied it decades ago, or as Black Tower for obvious reasons.
Currently used by the sect of followers of Icon E, known as the Forever Mourners.

Part II | Part III

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What is a dungeon? | Another take

The nature of dungeons is a theme that fascinates me!

I have written about this subject before. Perhaps it all comes down to a search for meaning. I mean, whenever I make a dungeon, I try to give it a reason, an original purpose, but at the same time I like randomness (also I am not an artist or designer), and I use a random dungeon map generator (although I make changes to the final map to fix some inconsistencies; with Paint is actually easy).

This results in things as strange as a Victorian mansion with a layout that doesn’t correspond to a mansion, but more like a maze.

However, a realistic layout of a Victorian mansion, although attractive to the eye, is boring as a dungeon.

So I make again a weird maze and impose a sense, mainly, to choose the taste, color, aroma and general or specific characteristics of each room.

But I have been thinking a lot these days and I came up with another possibility. This is a dungeon, more or less typical:

Who built it and for what purpose? The answers may be many: a magician, an ancient civilization, aliens!

But what if it was built by a race of antimatter beings? What if solid spaces are the voids for them, and vice versa? From this antipoint of view, the antidungeon would look like this:

I don’t know about you, but it gives me the impression that it makes at least a little more sense as an architectural layout, as if it were a small village with roads and buildings.

If this was not the plan of an underground dungeon but of an open-air village, it seems a somewhat more reasonable map. The white areas are pathways and gardens, the black squares are buildings, and the black lines, only the antigod knows. Perhaps the foundations of crumbled buildings?

Take into account that the subterranean of these antibeings is their “open air”, while our open air for them is a “compact solid”. Perhaps our villages and cities are dungeons they crawl. That would partially explain the presence of ghosts and apparently immaterial beings in our streets, especially during the night, because following our unscientific logic, our night is their day, our darkness is their light.

These meditations were accompanied by the beauteous music of the gods.

Goblins are halflings gone mad

Halflings are a peaceful people, who mind their own business and are more worried about what they will have for second breakfast than how to acquire wealth and political power.

“What would cause this to become a monster?”

Other races, especially humans, view halflings as unworthy of respect. Even the most venerable of halflings are considered little less than children. It’s no wonder that when a human kingdom seeks to expand its lands, halfling lands are the first to be taken, much like the lands where animals live are taken: no one would think they are stealing anything, animals don’t own their lands.

Halflings can sometimes be invited to live among humans, but most often are assigned reservations. Many halflings accept these conditions, since they know they are at a disadvantage, but others, more proud, perhaps a little too proud, decide to leave in search of other lands.

But there is less and less good land for a civilized people, so, many halflings have formed small villages in dark forests and underground tunnels. But the halflings are people of the prairie, of the open field, the lack of sun and space and freedom, has acted negatively in some of these communities.

Leaving behind civilized customs, such as tailor-made suits, elegant haircuts, and hot showers, but above all abandoning their pacifism, many have nurtured resentment against those who have taken over their lands; entire generations have given way to these new, aggressive and savage halflings, who form hordes to invade human towns, with the aim of killing and destroying, of sowing terror in human hearts, of bringing a bit of vengeful chaos, knowing that they won’t be able to recover their lands. Anyway, that is not what they want, they have become used to living in their unsanitary villages and their abysses without fresh air. Most likely, they don’t even have a goal: it is resentment, hatred, and anger which drives them.

Note: I am not talking about Tolkien hobbits, I talk only about D&D halflings and goblins.