New Comic!

I’ve been enjoying Mike ‘Mortellan’ Bridges’ W.o.G. comic for some time now, and am pleased to announce that he’s given us permission to run it here on Tailslap!

I know it may seem weird to run a comic that focuses on Grayhawk in a magazine for 4th edition D&D, but it’s all D&D to me, and for me all D&D goes back to Grayhawk. And on his site Mike muses quite humerously about those old adventures and supliments.

So without further ado: this is the first of the W.o.G. “Cultist” comics, which chronicle the hijinks of a couple of Cultists of Tharizdun in their misadventures across the multiverse.

Mike’s inspiration for the comic, and the rest of his work can be seen here:

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Ceevok is one of the characters available for the players in the upcoming 30th level game we’ll be running at GenCon next month. The rest of the characters are available to view here.

Silent and mysterious, Ceevok speaks only on matters of life and death. As one of the greatest warriors in the grim and mysterious Shadar-kai society, this does not come as much of a surprise. With bow in hand, she has been responsible for slaying some of the most heinous monsters in five planes. At this time, she is entrenched in a quest to release the Chained God, Thardizum, from the Abyss. The vision for this goal came in a dream to her from the Raven Queen, who told her that beings from the Realms beyond the stars threatened the Universe. Only Thardizum has the power to defeat these utterly foreign beings, and must reluctantly be released.

Female Shadar-kai ranger 30 Size: Med
Initiative: +26 Senses: Passive Perception: 32 Passive Insight: 32 Low-light Vision

HP: 173 Bloodied: 86 Surge Value: 43 Surges per day: 9
AC: 43 (45 vs opportunity attacks) Fort 38 Ref 41 Will 38
Resist 15 cold and fire

Speed: 7 squares

Class Features
Style: Archer Ranger Paragon Path: Battlefield Archer Epic Destiny: Epic Trickster
Prime Shot: +1 to attack against a target if you are nearer to it than any other ally.
Hunter’s Quarry (+3d8)

At will: Nimble Strike: +33 vs AC / 2d10+ 13, Twin Strike +33 vs Reflex (two attacks) / 2d10 + 6
Encounter: Combined Fire(p), Triple Shot, Manticore’s Volley, Lightning Shot
Daily: Quarry’s Bane(p), Great Ram Arrow, Tiger’s Reflex, Three in one Shot
Utility: Yield Ground, Weave Through the fray, Expeditious Stride, Momentary Respite, Safe Stride, Archer’s Glory (P), Epic Trick (E)

Defensive Mobility(free)
Heroic: Lethal Hunter, Escape Artist, Durable, Jack of all trades, Weapon Focus: Longbow, Improved Initiative, Paragon: Blood Thirst, Iron Will, Danger Sense, Great Fortitude, Sly Hunter, Point Blank Shot, Epic: Unfettered Stride, Triumphant Attack, Flanking Maneuver, Skill Focus: Dungeoneering and Perception, Armor Specialization: Hide.

Skills: Acrobatics: +30, Arcana +20, Athletics +22, Bluff +17, Diplomacy +17, Dungeoneering +25, Endurance +28, Heal +22, History +20, Insight +20, Intimidate +17, Nature +25, Perception +22, Religion +20, Stealth +25, Streetwise +17, Thievery +23

Alignment: Unaligned Languages: Common
Str 16 (+18) Con 16 (+18) Dex 24 (+22) Int 16 (+18) Wis 20 (+20) Cha 11 (+15)

Equipment: Vicious Longbow +6 (+6d12 per critical hit), +6 Trollskin Elderhide (+5 masterwork), Star Opal Ring, Flying Carpet, Cloak of Survival

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For Love of Evil

For those readers who will be playing in “For Love of Evil” at GenCon in a month, we have finished the PCs.

Follow the link below for the D&D Character Builder and PDF versions of the 10 evil 30th level characters. They would also all make suitable villains in any game.

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Astral Archers

You conjure two ghostly, elven archers armed with radiant bows. They fire along with the caster, providing a volley of arrows that deal divine damage to enemies.

Daily • Conjuration, Divine, Implement, Radiant
Standard Action • Ranged

Effect: You conjure two elven archers, each occupying 1 square within range. When the caster makes ranged attacks, the conjured archers also fire. If the caster is successful in his attack, the archers also hit, dealing 1d10 + Wisdom modifier radiant damage.

You can move one archer or both a total of 3 squares as a move action. Creatures can move through the spaces occupied by the archers. The archers last until the end of the encounter.

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Diseases, Parasites and Afflictions

Before the advent of sanitation and scientific medicine people suffered a broad range of afflictions that we don’t ever have to think about. In order to present some medieval flavor to my games I’ve come up with a few unpleasant conditions for the players to suffer through and overcome.

Ranging form the merely pesky, like an infestation of fleas, to the deadly, such as The Black Death, these conditions can bring your players more fully into the setting you’re trying to establish. Are they adventuring in the slums of this city? Better not drink that water unless you want Dysentery! Digging through the ogre’s bed looking for lose gold? You’re likely to take away some fleas with you along with that coin.

Many of these afflictions can be treated with simple care, bathing, proper diet or simple medicine – aka a Heal skill check. Others can be difficult to treat with the poor mundane techniques available to ancient physicians, wise women and barbers and may require a trip to the temple for the gods’ intervention. Whichever disease you chose to afflict on your PCs, these diseases serve as a bit of detail to draw them into character, and perhaps relieve them of some of their coin, without becoming a game-stopper if you don’t want it to be one.

These Diseases follow the standard rules for diseases (see DMG p.49). Characters who contract the disease begin at “Initial Effect” on the disease tract, and move towards Cured or Worsened and then Final Stage depending on the results of the Endurance or Heal check they make at the end of each extended rest.


Fleas – Level 1 Disease
Tiny bloodsucking insects that cause painful itching bites.
Attack: +4 vs Fortitude upon touch exposure to a source of fleas.
Endurance: improve DC 16, maintain DC 11, worsen DC 10 or lower. Bathing and washing one’s clothes gives a +4 on this check.
Cured: The target has freed itself from fleas, or is ignoring them completely.
Initial Effect: Painful itching from flea bites cause the target to lose one healing surge that they cannot regain.
Worsened: The infestation has grown, causing the loss of another healing surge that cannot be regained, and the fleas can attack to infest those in close proximity to the afflicted character (such as the other party members).
Final Stage: The target is constantly itching the fleas, taking a -1 penalty to skill checks in addition to the above effects. Also, the sores from itching may become subject to Infection (see below).

Food Poisoning – Level 3 Disease
Consumption of uncooked, spoiled or tainted foods can result in severe stomach and intestinal distress.
Attack: +6 vs Fortitude upon consumption of tainted food or water.
Endurance: improve DC 18, maintain DC 13, worsen DC 12 or lower
Cured: The illness passes and the character recovers.
Initial Effect: Queasiness results in a -1 penalty to all attacks and skill checks, and the character loses one Healing Surge that cannot be recovered.
Worsened: Weakness and frequent vomiting and dihereah result in a -2 penalty to all attacks and skill checks, and the character loses two Healing Surges that cannot be recovered.
Worsened Further: As Worsened and the character is immobilized until they improve.
Final Stage: The character dies from dehydration.

Dysentery (aka the bloody flux) – Level 6 Disease
A disorder of the digestive system often caused by parasites that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and blood in the feces. If left untreated, dysentery can and usually will be fatal.
Attack: +9 vs Fortitude upon drinking tainted water.
Endurance: improve DC 21, maintain DC 16, worsen DC 15 or lower
Cured: The illness passes and the character recovers.
Initial Effect: Queasiness results in a -2 penalty to all attacks and skill checks, and the character loses two Healing Surges that cannot be recovered.
Worsened: Weakness and frequent vomiting and dihereah result in a -4 penalty to all attacks and skill checks, and the character loses four Healing Surges that cannot be recovered.
Worsened Further: As Worsened and the character is immobilized until they improve.
Final Stage: The character dies from dehydration.

Pox – Level 8 Disease
The pox begins with fever, aches and maliase. Then lesions form on the body and develop into inflamed ulcers that then cover over with thick black crusts.
Attack: +11 vs Fortitude upon physical contact with an infected creature.
Endurance: improve DC 23, maintain DC 18, worsen DC 17 or lower
Cured: The pox clears, usually leaving extensive scars on the skin.
Initial Effect: About 12 days after exposure fevers set in and the target sufferes fatigue, headache and possible vomiting or dhiarreha. The character takes a -2 penalty to all attacks and skill checks and loses two healing surges that cannot be ragianed. In addition, the victim is contagious to others within 1 square for 5 rounds.
Worsened: The pox (red pimples) appears on the target, beginning in the mouth and spreading to the face, then chest, then the limbs. The character suffers the Initial Effect and is immobilized, but is no longer contagious.
Final Stage: Roll Percentile die: the character either dies (%1-75), is permanently blinded by pox on the eyes (%76-85) or suffers a permanent -1 to all attacks and skill checks (%86-100). If the character survives the disease has run its course and the character moves to Cured.

Infected Wounds – Level 9 Disease
Wounds that prevent sufficent bloodflow to the extremeties or that are not properly cleaned may become infected and begin to rot, turning black or green and exhuding a terrible stench.
Attack: +12 vs. Fortitude if the character has open wounds that are not cleaned.
Endurance: improve DC 24, maintain DC 19, worsen DC 18 or lower
Cured: The infection clears up.
Initial Effect: The wound becomes red and inflamed, and pus or fluid drains from the wound. Lose one healing surge that cannot be regianed.
Worsened: Fever sets in. The tissue around the wound begins to turn an ugly dark color and smell like rotten meat. Red streaks may appear under the skin heading towards the character’s heart. Lose two healing surges that cannot be regianed and take a -2 penalty to all attacks and skill checks.
Final Stage: The character dies from the infection.

Black Death – Level 12 Disease

Adieu, farewell earths blisse,

This world uncertaine is,

Fond are lifes lustful joyes,

Death proves them all but toyes,
None from his darts can flye;
I am sick, I must dye:

Lord, have mercy on us.

“A Litany in Time of Plague”
by Thomas Nashe

Attack: +15 vs. Fortitude
Endurance: improve DC 27, maintain DC 22, worsen DC 21 or lower
Cured: The target recovers.
Initial Effect: The target experiences fever, headaches, painful aching joints, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise. The target loses two healing surges that cannot be regained, is -2 to all attacks and skill checks, and cannot spend any action points.
Worsened: Painful buboes appear at the groin, armpits and neck and ooze pus and bleed, the target begins coughing up blood or purple skin patches appear on the target. The target is dazed in addition to the Initial Effect.
Final Stage: The target dies.

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Ale Break: Keep on the Borderlands

It all started when I ordered a copy of the AD&D adventure “Vault of the Drow”. I like to read over these old modules and see how the original writers of this game conceived adventures. I was so taken with “Vault” that I also got “Descent into the Depths of the Earth”. I liked them so much that I decided I wanted to run or play in them. But with the two weekly games I run in mid-progress I felt like I was pretty much booked up.Wednesdays we play “Savage Tide”. At 16th level, they’re in the home stretch: 4 more adventures to go, and I don’t want to lose momentum on this game.

Sundays I run a D&D game for some friends and co-contributors to Unicorn Rampant. I’ve been running a homebrew campaign I call “The Heir of Soguer”, but have had a little writer’s block lately. So I thought, here’s a chance for us to take a little break from “Heir” and revisit some old adventures I haven’t played since high school or have never had a chance to play.

So far it’s been a blast running “Keep on the Borderlands”. I came up with a place to put the keep in my campaign world and told the players the story was taking place 10 years before the story I’m telling in “Heir”. I then told them they were from the Temple of the Stars, a historically important location they’re headed to in “Heir” and worked on backgrounds for their characters. I then and gave them their quest: go to the Keep on the Borderlands, where bandits are raiding travelers, and lend a hand however they can. This gave me a way to tie this side trek into the current game: it gives the players some foreshadowing of what they’re about to encounter in “Heir”. The quest is also the type of cheesy, simple old-school adventure hook that gave the game a great starting flavor.

It’s been wonderfully nostalgic running Keep. The players got to the famous “Castallian Keep” and started wandering around, meeting the locals and soaking up the medieval flavor.

I had to come up with names for all the NPCs, since that’s the one detail omitted from the town descriptions. For those who have never seen Keep on the Borderlands, there are elaborate descriptions of lots of things, including the contents of every drawer in the moneylender’s shop and the traps guarding each drawer, but the people there are “scribe: mu2, ac:9, at:1, dmg: 1-4, spells: ventriloquism, grease”. And you thought 4e stat blocks were short 🙂 All together the adventure is about 20 pages with the area descriptions, treasure, hidden features and stats all run together in a single paragraph for each area. Adventures have come a long way in 30 years, although you still sometimes see this.

Once they got to the Caves of Chaos and started in on the meat of the dungeon, I started converting the encounters on the fly. According to the 4e DMG, each 1st level character in the encounter merits 100 xp worth of monsters, up to 175 xp for a really tough challenge. The adventure says there are 6 goblins in the first room, and I have 3 players. So I went with four goblin minions at 25 xp each, and two 1st level goblins at 100 xp each for a total of 300 xp worth of monsters. If there were only 3 goblins called for I made them all 1st level goblins at 100 xp each, or two 2nd level at 150 xp each and a minion for 25 xp. It worked out quite nicely; I was able to run the adventure from a single page in the monster manual, so there wasn’t a bunch of flipping around from book to book. Between this and buying 14 goblin minis this kept the players from guessing who were minions and who weren’t.

All of this made me think about how simple the monsters were in AD&D. They had a HD, which determined their “BAB”, and a number of attacks and damage. They also had a morale score, and if they were special they had a “saves as” entry. Unless they had spells or special abilities, that was it. Compare that to the 3e stat block for a goblin: 23 lines of information jammed together in a poorly orgznized format. Of course, that format was inherited form the old AD&D monster manual. Paizo improved drastically on the readability of that format in their Dungeon Magazine by organizing the stats in sections, and we use that format here at Unicorn Rampant for our Claw/Claw/Bite! line of products, but there can still be a lot of digging around required of the DM compared to having only 5 or 6 numbers as stats for a monster. Now, in 4e, you can almost run all your monsters from a single chart again. I keep thinking I’m going to write up a spreadsheet that takes monster level and role and spits out complete stats.

For running the dungeon I used our big Chessex mondomat, as usual, and tried out the Dungeon Mastery dungeon tiles from Piazo that I got at GenCon last year. I was really happy with them: they add a lot of good-looking detail to the game without taking a lot of time to draw. Lack of good corridors is the only real weakness of the tiles, but it’s easy enough to draw the corridors and use the tiles for the rooms along the way. I’m thinking I’m going to pick up another set or two and copy some of the corridors in the back of the DMG for the next session.

I just got all three modules of the “Against the Giants” series, so hopefully we’ll keep enjoying these old adventures enough to string together a campaign out of them.

Thanks to W.o.G. for inspiring me to get “Vault of the Drow” and sending me down this old path once again.


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Taking July Off

We’re taking July off to spend with family, friends, and also to prepare for GenCon!

In the meantime take a look at our sister publication: Tailslap!

See you in August!

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