Author Archives: Goblin's Henchman

Tuesday Toot!! | Finish the darn Magic System …

Tuesday TootG+ is closing closed. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

Background: This is an incomplete magic system that I posted about, back in early 2016,  … maybe now that G+ is closed I will finish it. I had some very good comments back in the day, and hope to incorporate them … Below is the original post unedited (excepting for the most egregious typos), with some added pictures for interest:

I had an idea for a new (at least I think it is new) magic system.

When I say ‘system’ I mean a concept. Unlike Vancian magic, it might be too awkward to make into set of workable rules. Maybe someone out there knows better …

Here’s the idea:

pom aThere is a huge desolate plane, riven with craters, troughs, ravines, gorges and cannons, and in the reverse, there are hills and mountains that pile upwards. In short, the plane of magic defines an infinitely thin surface of very irregular shape.

Most of the plane is a barren waste. In few places there is ‘precipitation’ that falls and then pools to form puddles, ponds, lakes and even oceans. Some areas of the plane are in a ‘static phase’ where no precipitation has fallen for eons, and others are wracked by raging typhoons. In some places the pools only slowly evaporate and in other places they boil frantically.

The ‘precipitation’ is of course magical energy, and in many ways this energy is recycled in the plane like water in the water cycle, i.e. ‘evaporating’, forming ‘clouds’ and ‘raining’ down again.

pom bEvery self-aware creature has a ‘conduit’ to the plane of magic opening somewhere at its surface. For most the conduit links to a desolate ‘dry’ area with no magic energy present. They therefore have not access to magic energy.

For the lucky few the magic conduit connects to a pool of magic energy from which, with the right training, they get can draw from. Those lucky few can train to be magics users.

There are two kinds of magic users.

(i) ‘Dead pool’ magic users – In the first kind the conduit connects to a ‘dead pool’. That is, the pool only has a certain amount of magic energy stored within it and will not fill again with magical energy in the lifetime of the magic user. This pool might be small as a puddle or in theory be as big as an ocean.

(ii) ‘Live pool’ magic users – In the second kind, the conduit connects to a magic pool that gets topped up with magic energy periodically, i.e. a ‘live pool’. In most cases this topping-up of the pool is a regular occurrence, hourly, daily, monthly, but it could be just once in their life time. Once the pool is full obviously it cannot fill any further until some draining occurs.

pom cFor most would-be magic users, the conduit lies at the base of a shallow, ‘dead pool’. During training the pool is drained and that is then end of their career. They are given a few years to see if their pool will fill again. If not, they can stay on as envious servants or are put out of the magic school.

In some ways it is easier for magic users when they drain their pool and it fills again, that way they know their limits and can cut their cloth accordingly. Like a man with a steady income.

It is more difficult for a magic user who has not yet ‘gone dry’. Do they have a ‘dead pool’ or not? One day will the magic all be gone, just when they are at their prime? These kinds of magic users tend to be thrifty with their magic not knowing if it will ever end. It’s like living off an inheritance without knowing how much money is left in the bank, and if it is getting topped up (or not).

Each magic user also has an internal ‘well’ within themselves.

pom dMagic energy travels from the pool in the plane of magic, down the conduit and fills the magic user’s internal ‘well’. Once the ‘well’ is full no more magic can enter the magic user from the plane of magic (until it is used up in casting spells). So, the size of the internal ‘well’ limits the size of the spell they can cast. With training (and levelling up) the internal ‘well’ size increases as does the width of the conduit (so the internal ‘well’ fills faster). Generally, the internal ‘well’ can not exceed the size of the pool on the plane of magic.

In this system, you could imagine two extremes – a magic user with a small pool on the magic plane that fills rapidly. The magic user might never be able to cast more than a magic missile but could shoot these out like a machine gun.

Next you have a magic user with a ‘dead pool’ the size a lake. Only their internal well can hold them back. In theory at very high level (as their internal well increases) they might be able to rip a castle up from its foundations and hurl it through the air. But one day the magic might simply end, and then they would be nothing more than a commoner again. A commoner with lots of enemies.

pom eMagic items have their own internal ‘well’. They are either filled will magic when created, and so have a limited number of charges, or they are connected to the plane of magic via a conduit, and so do not run out of magic. Some wands/staves can be filled by magic users with magic energy and so can be used as a ‘reserve’ tank of magical energy. Clearly, such wands are sought after by magic users with small ‘live pools’.

Magic creatures – these are born into a race predisposed to tap into the same large pool of magic. If it is a dead pool the magic might simply end for the species someday.

Twins are an oddity and connect to the same pool of magic, but not necessarily at the same height, so one might run out of magic before another. It is also not impossible, but very rare, for two unrelated magic users share the same pool.

Gods, greater devils etc. obviously have access to massive pools of magic. Over eons their internal wells have become massive.

pom fClerics are selected by Deities, they are ‘called’ into their service. Deities always select individuals connected to ‘dry pools’, i.e. so with no access to magical energy. The deities then fill those dry pools with magical energy which the clerics can use. The deities often select individuals with very large dry pools, and so have the potential (as they level up) to access lots of magical energy, if given to them.

After spells are cast using energy from the internal ‘well’, it returns to the magic plane.

So that’s the general idea – is there a workable mechanic for it?

I think the idea is fun, but it needs work, well to be workable …

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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.

1988 Dungeon| A video review

Vince “The Evil DM” was kind enough to give my throw-back ‘1988 Module’ a review on his YouTube page – check it out:

image_preview  The module is a free PDF for download on DriveThruRPG: LINK

This is one of the first dungeons I ever made way back in 1988, when I was a teenager. So, it’s about as Old Skoool as it gets … not in an OSR sense, but in a “I’ve made a dungeon who wants to play” kind of way. If you’re looking for understandable/sensible dungeon ecology, themes, plot, and balanced encounters etc., then you’ve signed up for the wrong adventure!  It’s 1e AD&D, and I’d say for PCs at about 3/4 level.

My original blog post is here: LINK

Here’s the original map (with original numbering):


A Spreadsheet Adventure Module (SAM) version of this adventure can be fond here:
xls  download  |  YT Demo


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Tuesday Toot!! | Stick of Thorns

Tuesday TootG+ is closing gone. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

The Master’s Hoard is a compilation of quirk-some magic items which I posted on my G+ page over a period of weeks. The compilation of magic items can be downloaded for free here: Link

:: Stick of Thorns ::

Wooden sword with thorny vines growing around and through the blade, that can entrap the target

The weapon operates like a scimitar (e.g. D8 damage), but with vines writhing like a sawing edge, and thorns that drink the blood of its targets. Occasionally, the weapon puts forth small pink, white, and/or yellow flowers after combat.

Druids and rangers intuitively recognize the nature of the weapon.

:: Combat Quirks
Natural 20 – the blade vines unravel and grow, grabbing and tearing at the target (double damage), and enveloping them in a thorny cage of vines. In addition, one unravelling vine grows earthward, boring in to the ground and taking root, firmly anchoring the cage in place. The weapon is essentially useless at this stage.

Carefully pruning the sword away from the thorny cage and root-anchor allows it to be reused. A carnivorous vine grows from the cage in a few months.

Breaking free of the cage takes two rounds of effort, causing rending damage each round (D8). Alternatively, friendly hands outside can cut out the ensnared victim.

Natural 1 – the blade vines unravel and grow as above, forming a cage and anchor, but in vain, since it missed the target.

:: Other Wielders
When handled by someone other than a druid, ranger, or woodland creature, the wielder often pricks their hand on the thorns. This annoyance hints at a more dangerous drawback:

When the rooting-stem grows, it tries to grab the wielder’s forearm. The wielder must succeed at a Agility/DEX check, or become entangled, taking 1 damage, and requiring 1 round to disentangle or cut free.

:: Background
In the besieged vale of Nether Stowey, an enclave of druids created several of these weapons, by magically grafting a carnivorous vine to a wooden sword. The druids wielded these weapons in defence of the vale, and also used them as pit stakes, to ensnare trespassers.

The carnivorous vine’s snaring instinct remains within the vine, making the weapon unpredictable as described above. These weapons are usually found poking out of (and ensnared in) a thorny briar, growing around crumbling bones. Recovering the weapon requires clipping it away from the main briar. Druids and rangers can do this without the vine attacking.

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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.



Rubik’s Cube Stat Generator | a review

I made a blog post about using a Rubik’s cube to generate charater stat’s here. I think it’s a neat method. There was a follow up post here.

A free .pdf is on DriveThruRPG.

Recently, Mathew Perkins on YouTube was kind enough to do an entertaining review:

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Tuesday Toot!! | Wereman – Lycanthrope Hunter

Tuesday TootG+ is closing closed. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

Background: This class was written in response to +Ivan Sorensen “Write a Class Competition” with a ‘Werewolf Hunter’ as the theme. About 4 or 5 people submitted something. It’s more of a bolt-on class than a stand alone class. I beleive a .pdf came out, but is perhaps trapped on a Google Drive somewhere!?

:: Wereman – Lycanthrope Hunter

WeremanAbout one in a hundred people cured of lycanthropy still harbour the menace within them, albeit in a semi-benign form.

Such individuals often become lycanthrope hunters due to the innate abilities they harbour as a result of their cured lycanthropy.

These rare individuals are known as ‘Weremen’ (irrespective of their gender). Weremen are driven to eradicate lycanthropy in all its forms. In particular, they seek the kind of lycanthrope that originally infected them.

Weremen are often on the move, because they fear that if they stay in one place they could be mistaken for true lycanthropes. Weremen, thus often resort to adventure to earn a living (if they were not already so prior to the infection). Such adventures maybe any character class, although usually fighters or clerics.

Weremen are invariably chaotic good, but other non-evil alignments are possible.

Special Abilities

:: Weremen are immune to the same strain of lycanthropy they were cured of, and have a 75% chance to resist other forms of lycanthropy.

:: Like true lycanthropes, they can shape change into their animal form. This can be done at will once a day, but only during daylight hours. They will have the same HPs as they had before the change, but otherwise they have the same abilities as their animal form (see Monster Manual pages 63-64), with the exception of alignment, immunity to non-magic weapons, and being able to speak the lycanthrope languages.

:: As an unfortunate remnant of their past lycanthropy, during a full eclipse, the Wereman losses control of the beast within and they revert back to their bestial form for 24 hrs. Wereman, for obvious reasons, are very superstitious about celestial events, comets and even country folk sayings about the weather.

:: Wereman have the ability to sense Lycanthropes with 100 ft (even in their unchanged form). For example, the scars from their original infection may begin to itch then burn. However, the lycanthrope will also sense him/her in return. If the lycanthrope has never met a Wereman before, they will invariably think he/she is another lycanthrope, and may approach the Wereman out of curiosity. This is the best chance for the Wereman to identify or even slay the beast.

:: Wereman have an affliction that causes precious metals that they touch with bare skin to debase. Platinum is turned to gold, gold to silver and silver to lead. The change can be slow, but visible to the naked eye. However, silver to lead happens particularly fast. Copper, iron, steel etc are unaffected. Weremen, therefore, invariably were gloves and avoid touching coins with their barehands. Silver weapons are treated especially carefully. They prefer payment in copper, gems or in kind.

:: Belladonna is a powerful intoxicant causing a Wereman to become highly stimulated. Consuming belladonna gives a Wereman +1 hit and +2 on damage for one hour.

On the downside, belladonna is highly addictive to a Wereman. If used twice (or more) in one month it causes incessant craving for more. The craving lasts 7 days from the last use. In the 7 day craving window the use of belladonna gives no bonus and resets the 7 day craving window. Worse, if the craving is not fed each day in the 7 day craving window, there is a – 1 to hit due to withdrawal.

The only way to break the belladonna craving is to go 7 days without it. To do this the Wereman must make a wisdom save each day, else they have near irresistible urge to find and consume belladonna.

:: Domestic animals are uneasy around Weremen. Dogs and cats can be unusually aggressive although rarely attack. Horses, unless drunk, typically need at least a week to accept a Wereman as a rider.

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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.

Monstrous plagiarism …

I created a monster, it was sort of an anti-unicorn (my blog post is repeated in full below). I had fun with it and quite like the idea overall.

But … a week ago I downloaded Monsters of Myth, which is a free monster book download available on Lulu and published in 2016.

I started scrolling through the pdf, just skimming the images and what not, pausing to read a few  … when I saw this:

Karkkadann image

My eyes fair nearly popped out of my head. But, I figured my anti-unicorn was going to be original over this evil beast! Right? Not so much …

Here’s the text for the Karkadann:

Karkkadann text.png
(Monsters of Myth was published in 2016, with the Karkadann being created by B.J. “Stranger” Poirot, in 2006, so the idea predates mine by about a decade).

So let’s do a check list:

  1. Horn modification – CHECK (I have two horns, they have a twisted one)
  2. Monster trades off its resemblance to unicorns – CHECK
  3. Fang like teeth – CHECK (removed from my version for the sake of brevity)
  4. Preferred prey – CHECK (mine preferred halflings, but removed for brevity)
  5. Link to Paladins – CHECK
  6. Hates unicorns – CHECK 
  7. Horn does extra damage – CHECK 

I think the only thing missing is the lion-like tail. I do have some additions though, e.g. my ‘anti-unicorn’ has some guff linked to its Nightmare lineage, weird smells and monster parts.


So, this left me wondering … am I a terrible hack? And/or does a monster concept (in this case an ‘anti-unicorn’) naturally and almost inevitably lead to shared themes. Perhaps the same is true of say things like ‘new’ magic item concepts or traps.

In this case, the key USPs of a unicorn are – a horse with a horn, and that it is good (some other guff about virgins). So … does it follow that an ‘anti-unicorn’ will have a horn modification (i.e. evidence of perversion) and be basically bad (e.g. hates paladins and unicorns). Since it still looks mostly like a unicorn, it seems natural it will use this to its advantage. Maybe anything else would be another monster concept, but not an anti-unicorn?

Therefore, this thought experiment makes me wonder: If two people decided to write up an “Undead Gelatinous Cube” or perhaps a “Coin Golem”, would many/most of the key features of these monsters be the same? I should probably Google these examples … as they’ve probably been done!

That is, maybe once the ‘monster concept’ has been fixed, little extra elaboration is needed? Perhaps the monster writes itself …

I bet there are lots of Ice/Fire Wolf concepts out there. Probably most of them spew forth cold- or heat-based damage respectively. Probably most of them suffer extra damage from the reverse of their respective powers. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an Ice Wolf per se.  I can imagine players enjoying such an encounter, and the smart players thinking of using fire on it etc. There’s a natural gaming dialogue that follows and is fun. Players hate nothing more than a trap/puzzle that is toooo subtle to figure out!

But, do we need another “Ice Wolf” that’s basically the same as all the others …

So, to create an “original monster” we could make it look like say an anti-unicorn, but give it the powers of a Phase Spider (this idea seems a bit bankrupt though); or better, put more work into the ‘monster concept’, but let the ideas naturally flow from there. Perhaps, like jokes, we could/should reject the most obvious ideas that occur, as they may have already been done.

For example, perhaps it would be more interesting if the tundra-based Canidae breathed fire, or burst into fire as a defence mechanism (I bet if I Googled these, they will have been done). But, perhaps that’s the kind of thinking that is needed for new monsters?

But, …. what do I know?

PS – Of course, I haven’t ruled out the option that me and B.J. “Stranger” Poirot are simply geniuses.

COPY of my original (cough) post

:: Yfelcorn :: 


YfelcornFrequency:                 Very Rare
No. Appearing:          2-5
Armor Class:              2
Move:                          24’’
Hit Dice:                      4+4
% in Lair:                    5%
Treasure Type:          X
No. of Attacks:           3
Damage/Attack:        1-6/1-6/1-12
Special Attacks:        See below
Special Defenses:     See below
Magic Resistance:    See below
Intelligence:              Average
Alignment:                Neutral Evil
Size:                            L
Psionic Ability:          Nil
Level/XP Value:        500 + 6/hp

Also known as lacharmata, hippomal, rhinocorn, and Chevalier’s Bane. Yfelcorns are the malign sterile progeny of Unicorns (MM, pp 98) with Nightmares (MM, pp 74).

Yfelcorns are sly ambush predators using their appearance to deceive prey. Yfelcorns resemble unicorns, except they have:

  • a small additional horn
  • hot hooves which will eventually scorch the ground
  • an odd garlic-mint smell that unsettles the stomach;
    Elves find this smell especially repugnant (-2 to hit and damage); but oddly, Halflings find the smell quite pleasing

Lower plane denizens prize Yfelcorns as mounts (though treacherous); impressing minions/peers, and deceiving goodly creatures alike.

Yfelcorns share the primary statistics and abilities of a unicorn (i.e. +2 to hit with horn; charging double damage; poison immunity; sense enemies within 24’’; surprise 1-5; teleport 36’’once per day; 11th level magic-user save; death spell immune).

Nightmare lineage
Horn does double damage to good creatures. Paladins are polluted by a horn wound, and need a wish/quest to restore their powers. Stallions have the Nightmare’s smoking hot cloud ability once per day (i.e. failing save gives a -2 to hit and damage); albeit garlic-mint reeking stench. Immune to fire magic. Triple damage from cold and holy based damage.

Yfelcorn horns are deadly to unicorns; which later rise as undead unicorns. Zombiecorns start as shambling heaps of horse flesh, progressing to have the abilities (and stats) of a ghast (MM, pp 43; although cannot turn humans into ghouls). Later, a Yfelcorn foal erupts from the zombiecorn destroying it. This is how they breed.

Yfelcorn parts
Horn – crumbles into chalky ash upon death, makes hard to detect poison coveted by assassins.
Hide – makes a fire-resistant covering; but retains unpleasant garlic-mint smell.
Hooves – can store heat, releasing it again slowly. Can absorb 6D6 HPs of heat damage from fireballs, but have the same % chance of being destroyed.

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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.