A-Z Challenge: Dragons

This page is part of the Swords of the Red Sun Monsters Project. The Hur Dragon replaces the Holmes Bronze dragon.

Under the Red Sun dragons are most know as having been the backbone of the Last Empire. While their magics and their never having left earth are major differences between the Imperial Elves and the Lunar Elves (and man for that manner) you only have to consider the other name for Imperial Elves, Draconic Elves, to understand how important the dragons were to the empire’s spread and how their slumber is to the empire’s decline.

For if there is one thing to understand about dragons it is that they slumber. While the need to slumber between campaigns had always been a limit on the empire each cycle is growing longer. Whereas in the early days of the empire it might be a month between dragons’ waking periods with perhaps a season after a long campaign it is now measured in years. In fact, the imperial war dragons have slept since the campaign of Kiyomoro twenty-three years ago.

The other thing about the dragons is their fatalism about the Red Sun. The last known dragon birth was nearly half a millennium ago. Those who have studied and dared to ask dragons have gotten an impression this is due to the closeness of the Red Sun’s final day. The dragons have decided no dragon will die under a cold sun.

Dragons

Unlike most D&D like games ACKS uses dragon age to define Hit Dice, AC, damage, and other dragon characteristics. In the stats below a / separates the ancient and venerable except for damage and spells where the | is used. Under the Red Sun dragons come in two age categories: Ancient (400-700 years old) or Venerable (700+ years old). On a d4 any roll but a 1 indicated a venerable dragon. The HD ranges below cover the two age ranges above. The last listed power is only available to venerable dragons.

Hur Dragon
% in Lair: 70%/90%
Dungeon Encounter: 1d2/1
Wilderness Encounter: 1d2/1
Armor Class:11/12 (S&W: -2[18]/-3[19])
Hit Dice:18/20
Number of Attacks: 3/4 (claw/claw/bite/tail) plus breath
Damage: 1d12/1d12/4d10|3d4/3d4/5d8/5d8
Dexterity:3d6+3(avg 10)
Movement: 240′ swimming
Save as: Fighter 1
Morale:+2
Treasure Type: R/R,N
Alignment: Chaotic
Spells: 3/3/3/2|3/3/3/3/2

Breath Weapon: 90’x30′ steam cloud for HDd6 damage up to 3 times a day
Rot of the River Muck:: Characters within 20′ of the dragon must make a Saving Throw versus Poison or be nauseated by itsoverwhelming stench. Nauseated characters suffer -3 to attack throws and damage rolls for 1d4+4 rounds after leaving the dragon’s vicinity.
Acrid Blood:Any opponent successfully hitting the dragon in melee must save versus Poison to avoid being splashed with highly venomous blood. A failed saving throw results in death.

The longest river of the world is also the abode of its last swimming dragons. The Hur Dragons are long swimming snakes who long ago lost the ability to take to the air. They can breath blistering steam and have the stench of river muck where they spend most of their time wallowing. Their lairs are deep depressions in the river created by their wallowing, usually with a sandbar forming against their back and solidifying over time on the upstream side. Sometimes this bars form small islands.

Hur Dragons are rarely found sleeping (1 on a d20 for ancient, venerable never) and then only in their lairs.

The “saving” grace of the Hur Dragon is they are lazy. All have the power of speech and often, especially those whose wallow has created an island, will collect tolls on the river instead of hunting. Some river traders have been know to call them “river trolls” (although never in a dragon’s hearing) due to this feature.

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Cultists

This page is part of the Swords of the Red Sun Monsters Project. They are the Swords of the Red Sun replacement for Holmes’s bandits.

Lethargy and decadence are not man’s only response to the dying of the sun. As with just about everything else in human history the Red Sun and the cooling earth have become a cause for fanaticism. There are two major divisions in types of cults: those who wish to prevent the Sun’s death (and perhaps even reverse its cooling) and those who wish to hasten it.

Both are generally chaotic forces in the world. Sacrifices of various kinds are common solutions presented to the sun dying. Many cult leaders are sincere but plenty of con arts will use “sacrifices” of worldly good to enrich themselves while the occasional sociopath will use it to justify wholesale slaughter. A handful of cults, exclusively of the save the world kind, attempt to restore the sun by getting man on a moral path. While some of these are lawful, and you expect them all to be, many have become so fanatical that those who will not embrace their sun saving codes are put to the sword.

Cultists
% in Lair: 30%
Dungeon Encounter: Cell (2d4)/ Mystery (1 Cell)
Wilderness Encounter: Congregation (1d10 Mysteries) / Synod (2d6 Congregations)
Armor Class:By armor type, normally unarmored
Hit Dice:1
Number of Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-6/weapon
Dexterity:3d6(avg 10)/ 2d8 x d10 in lair
Movement: 120′
Number Appearing:
Save as: Fighter 1
Morale:+2
Treasure Type: None if not in lair/H in lair
Alignment: 1-10: Chaotic 11-12: Lawful

For every 30 bandits there will be a 4 level fighter serving as a leader. For every 50 there will be a 5th (1-3) or 6th (4-6) level fighter. Fighters generally have leather (1-7), chain (8-11), or plate (12) armor and a sword and shield or pole arm.

Over 200 cultists have a 25% chance of a mage of 8th level. They also have a 25% chance of a fanatical cleric of 10th (1-4) or 12th (5-6) level. These clerics are not attached to an order but draw on the fear of men of the world ending. They cast from the standard list but can only cast the reversible version of reversible spells.

Fighters have a 1% per level chance of having magic armor, shield, and weapon (roll separately for each). This is increased to 5%/level if a cleric is present given enchanting armor and weapons is a clerical power under the Red Sun. Such weapons will be attuned. Clerics have the same 5% chance per level for the same items.

Mages have a 5% chance per level for wands/staves, rings, and miscellaneous magic.

Cultists are generally unarmored and use clubs or daggers. If a fighter is present there will be three times his level will be armored one level below his armor (minimum of leather) and similarly armed.

A-Z Challenge: Beggars of Baslim and Brewers of Papazian

Today we feature two more clerical orders of the Red Sun: the Beggars of Baslim and the Brewers of Papazian. This two work some of the oldest paths of the Soul of Man: the seeking of alms and information and the creating and imbibing of alcohol.

The Beggars’ patron is actually relatively recent, coming from the myths about man travelling to the stars. Of course, even the elves traveled no further than the moon so Baslim’s home was a forgotten city and not another world. While Baslim did in fact beg for alms for the poor like so many of the beggars and other unnoticed he also dealt in secrets. Today his spiritual decedents beg for the money to support their alms houses but the members support themselves primarily in espionage by hearing conversations only the unnoticed can hear.

Beggars in ACK

Holy Symbol:Tin beggars cut with “all the worders for beggar” engraved upon it.
Temples:Alms houses
Allowed weapons: Beggars use the typical clerical weapon array. The most common is the staff which is often used as a walking stick or crutch as many beggars appear lame.

Spell Substitutions
Beggars use their powers more in efforts of spying than in efforts of succor although they are often second only to the Physicians of Holmes in healing.. As a result make the following spell substitutions to the stock divine list:

Still working on their spell list

Beggar Template:
Proficiencies: Lip Reading, Sensing Power
Starting Equipment: Tin beggar’s cup (holy symbol), quarterstaff, , peasant tunic and pants, sandals, blanket, small sack, 2 week’s iron rations

If the beggar is one of man’s oldest professions the brewer cannot be far behind. From the first spoiled berry juice to the first water-logged grain to the first still man has enjoyed indulging in drink. The Brewers still enjoy it today. While it might seem brewing does not allow for much use of power in the world the Brewers can create a variety of potent spirits that smack of alcoholic alchemy. Their spells are often those of fortifying the spirit as well as the body, sustaining both through stress and strain. They are so focused on fortifying spirits that they do not use holy water but holy wort or must (unfermented beer or wine).

It should also be pointed out that the spreading decadence under the Red Sun has created many desiring to follow the paths of pleasure. Many a glutton can be numbered among the Brewers.

Brewers in ACK

Holy Symbol: A very charismatic wooden spoon used to stir holy wort or must.
Temples: Speakeasy or Beer Garden (the later are more common rural areas where members grow their own grain, fruits, and hops)
Allowed weapons: Brewers may wield the normal clerical array but prefer to use scythes (treat as a flail).

Spell Substitutions
Brewers concentrate on sustaining the mind and boy. As a result make the following spell substitutions to the stock divine list:

Still working on their spell list

Brewers Template:
Proficiencies: Alchemy, Craft(fermenting and distilling)
Starting Equipment: Charismatic wooden spoon (holy symbol), scythe, chain mail armor, crafter’s tunic and pants, low leather boots, leather belt, a wineskin filled with good wine, a wineskin filled with good beer, 1 week’s iron rations

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Abolitionists of Tubman

One of the oldest sins in the Soul of Man is slavery. Consequently one of the oldest currents tapped into by clerics is opposition to it. The most common clerics under the Red Sun to tap into resistance to slavery are the Abolitionists of Tubman. Their patron in the Soul of Man is a woman of middle years who always appears in a drab shawl with a scarf about her head.

The Abolitionists strive to free slaves of any kind with their abilities. They are not an exceptionally martial order. Instead, they free their charges by stealth instead of the sword. They are commonly known to hire those of questionable character for their stealthy abilities.

Although they claim to have always been with us, the Abolitionists rose to their current prominence at the height of the Last Empire. Stealing away slaves from the Draconic Elves they were in many places the only resistance to the Last Empire for decades. As humans and others began guerrilla resistance to the Last Empire it was common for them to use Abolitionist Stations as assembly points. When open resistance began they played a less prominent logistical role but continued as a core ideology.

As the sun has cooled the order continues to work. The Last Empire has mostly shrunken to the Islands of Morning Calm but many of its successors, even in places where the Abolitionists were key to the resistance, continued slavery. In a feat of irony some Stations began to shuttle more Draconic Elves escaping slavery by humans than humans escaping slavery (the later at human and elven hands). As the world grows more decadent and people want to lounge in luxury waiting for the end slavery has become more, not less, common. As they have since the days of their patron, the Abolitionists will stand against it until the sun goes out.

Abolitionists in ACK

Holy Symbol:Set of broken shackles or a latern with lenses of red and green
Temples:Stations
Allowed weapons: Abolitionists use the typical clerical weapon array. They often assemble broken shackles on a poll as their most common weapon (treat as a flail). Also common is the quarterstaff (which doubles as a walking stick).

Spell Substitutions
Abolitionists lack access to spells that steal the will of their target. Instead, the tap into powers allowing for stealth and escape. As a result make the following spell substitutions to the stock divine list:

1st Level: Replace Command Word with Pass without Trace (from the ACK Player’s Companion).
2nd Level: Replace Hold Person with Obscuring Cloud (from the ACK Player’s Companion). Replace Snake Charm with Water Route (see below).
5nd Level: Replace Quest with Invisibility, 10′ radius (same as Arcane third level spell).

New Spell: Water Route
Divine 2
Range: 0′
Duration: 1 turn per level

One of the best ways to flee is over water as it leaves no trail or scent. This spell allows the person it is cast on to walk on water at their normal walking movement rate. It also keeps them above water and dry.

Abolitionist Template:
Proficiencies: Navigation, Disguise
Starting Equipment: Flail made of broken shackles, banded plate armor, crafter’s tunic and pants, cloak, checkered head scarf, leather belt, high boots, waterskin, small sack, holy book (The Exodus of Moses), 1 week’s iron rations, red and green lensed lantern and a flask of common oil (holy symbol).

Red Sun Day: Magical Weapons and Armor Alignment and Attunement

Under the Red Sun the imbuing of weapons and armor is a task for clerics instead of magic-users. The clerics draw the animating spirit of the item from the spiritual realm. One consequence of this is all magical weapons and armor have alignment. They work perfectly well for wielders of the same alignment at low levels of power but may or may not for those of other alignments. More powerful items are not only keyed to alignments but the deity or spiritual force that imbued them and will only work for adherents or those closely aligned to the powers in question.

Determining weapon alignment

If a magic weapon or armor is part of in a treasure hoard roll a D20 to determine its alignment (under the Red Sun the five alignment system reigns):

Roll Alignment
1-8 Lawful Good
9-13 Lawful Evil
14-16 Neutral
17-19 Chaotic Good
20 Chaotic Evil

Why are lawful items more common with lawful good the most common? Permanent powers are more aligned with a lawful world view based on structure and consistency. They are less in tune with the ability to recreate oneself associated with chaotic behaviors and do not inherently aid in maintaining balance between order and freedom or good and evil. Evil powers, even hierarchical ones, believe in a strong ruling the weak ethic and are much more cautious about empowering those weaker than themselves or their agents.

Attuning Minor Weapons and Armor

Minor weapons and armor are those with a bonus of +2 or less or special abilities no greater than spells wielded by a magic-user or cleric of 3rd level or less (both in level and frequency). At the beginning of each combat or before each usage of a non-combat power a character whose alignment does not match that of the item must roll a d3 and obtain a result greater than the number of steps of difference between his alignment and the items. If he does the item works for the combat or the power works. If not it is a normal item for this combat. If the failure was on a power attempt that usage is lost but has no effect. After a number of consecutive function roles equal to the character’s level + 1 the item attunes to that character and will always work for him. Any failed role resets the process. Going up a level during a series of successful roles does not reset the process but does increase the number of consecutive successes by one.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License or the Open Gaming License. Choose the license which best suits your purposes but I prefer the Creative Commons.

Swords of the Red Sun Monster Project

Rooting around so for something else I came across an old post by Jeff Rients listing the 65 monsters from Holmes D&D and it got me thinking.

One thing generally recommended for making a campaign your own is to replace the stock monsters, spell, and magic items with your own.

I’ve already got one, Clockwork Skeletons, on the blog for Swords of the Red Sun. Maybe we should go for the mystic 65.

Holmes Monster Swords of the Red Sun replacment
Bandits Cultists
Dragon, Bronze Hur Dragon
Giants Kaiju (prior discussion, Wikipedia)
Spider, Large Clockwork Servants
Spider, Huge Clockwork Skeletons
Spider, Giant Clockwork Men

I’ve Always Liked Redheads

With that as a given it is no surprise that the first campaign I attempted due to OSR inspiration used Basic Fantasy Roleplaying. Even now with Advanced Edition Characters I think BFRPG does a better job of capturing the “intermediate D&D” I played in the late 70s and early 80s.

Last year when I tried to restart Swords of the Red Sun I again went back to BFRPG as . See the notes on the Clockwork Skeletons post for evidence.

In the vast array of retro-clones why would you choose BFRPG?

First, it is the only one to do the ID&D feel: Basic combat with Advanced Race/Class split right out of the box. Second, it is non-commercial which means its community has a slightly different feel. Finally, there is the community around it. Because they are the “redheaded stepchild” (or the little redheaded girl) of the OSR the feel is a little more offbeat.

Clockwork Skeletons

This page is part of the Swords of the Red Sun Monsters Project.

Clockwork Skeletons
Armor Class:7[12]*
Hit Dice:2+2
Number of Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6/weapon
Dexterity:2d6+3(avg 10)
Movement: 40
Number Appearing: 2d6, rarely found in wilderness
Save as: Fighter 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: None

The Clockwork, or Bronze, Skeleton is one of the last remaining magics of the Cult of the Machine God. A bronze skeleton powered by wires and gears these automatons are a standard guardian in their temples and caves. They have rudimentary brain matrices limited to knowing a patrol area, responding to alarms, recognizing friend and foe, and standing guard. They will not automatically attack unless what they are guarding is disturbed. Because of the wires and pulleys that make up their mechanics they are vulnerable to edged weapons unlike undead skeletons.

Because they are not true undead they cannot be turned by a cleric. They have a weird vulnerability to electricity that appears to confuse them, often causing them to run away in a random fashion or cease working. If a Clockwork Skeleton is targeted by an electrically based attack it and all skeletons within 40′ of it react as if they were undead skeletons being faced by a cleric. Roll to turn undead at the level of the person wielding electricity. If turned they move about randomly without attacking. If destroyed they are not physically destroyed but merely freeze in place and cease functioning (if using BFRPG or similar games that interpret D as damaged instead of destroyed apply damage as per those rules).

It is said that the cult once had a secret to clothe these machines in artificial flesh and to allow them to speak, although in a stilted manner with little grace (phrases such as “Your clothes, give them to me” are recorded in stories involving them).

* For BFRPG add 1 to the AC, for LotFP use the conversion from DM book.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License or the Open Gaming License. Choose the license which best suits your purposes but I prefer the Creative Commons.