Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Maurians (Part I)

In the land of Mauriatown, the Leader and his servants rule supreme. Yes, the humans there are safe from most invading orcs and goblins, rampaging monsters, and supernatural threats, but they must also obey the Leader and belong to one of the Maurian castes. And it is only humans that are welcome: all others must serve as slaves or become banished, though the Leader has been known to make exceptions for specific individuals, those who might better assist Mauriatown, from time to time.

Whatever the case, the Maurian ‘M’ device is displayed prominently throughout Mauriatown, whether on hat, helm, armband, or flag.
The Leader: The Leader himself is a mysterious figure, always keeping his face obscured by some hood, cowl, or other mask. His dictatorial rule is followed without question or at least, without obvious defiance by his subordinates. Depending on the Leader’s mood and which caste he wishes to support at the time, he has matching uniforms in various colors: black, blue, grey, and even red and violet for some reason, though his main color of choice is that of white.

Some might whisper that the Leader is then prone to impersonation, since so few actually have seen his face, but his very direct and charismatic demeanor certainly marks him apart from all others, as well as his very eccentric accent and apparent magical abilities.

What is more, the Leader is sometimes surrounded by a cabal of Maurian Wizards who remain silent and yet are dressed in a similar manner to him, albeit with far less medals and marks of rank. He also has certain unique advisors, as well as the four castes below him, and his personal unit of crack Black Hat personal guards.

Black Hats
The elite caste of Mauriatown, the Black Hats serve as leaders of their society, beneath the Leader himself, of course. As such, they dress in black uniforms with tall, black boots. Officers wear tall peaked, black caps and soldiers wear simple, black caps or helms. Both are armed with crossbows and swords, though officers wield crossbow pistols and long swords, while soldiers use repeating crossbows and short swords. Neither wear any armor, but due to their superior intelligence and athletic ability (for which members of the caste are selected), they are skilled enough at dodging attacks.

Intermediate, Blueshirts are the main warrior caste in Mauriatown, though of course, all castes are expected to fight. Blueshirts dress in blue uniforms, naturally enough.  Officers wear peaked, blue caps and tall, black boots and soldiers wear simple black helms and balaclavas. Unlike the other castes though, they bear light armor and shields, since they are selected for physical strength and endurance. Still, they do wield crossbows (pistols for officers; repeating for soldiers) and short swords like the less numerous and more skilled black hat soldiers.

The worker and farmer caste, Greyshirts run most of the day-to-day tasks of Maurian society. Though they have very few officers, the vast majority wear their grey uniforms whether tilling a field, crafting a house, or lining up for battle.. Whatever the case, when called to fight, they wield cudgels and light crossbows and are used  en masse, since the only requirement for being a Greyshirt is being fully human and swearing allegiance to the Leader.

Gnomes & Other Slaves
Mauriatown is a place for humans only. When so many threats exist for humans in the Vale today, it isn’t surprising that so many are willing to give up some freedoms in order to gain a great deal of safety. What may be surprising is that non-human races would be willing to live in such a society. The vast majority of these unusual types are gnomes, since they are often unable to defend themselves against other threats, so they accept slavery amongst the humans in Mauriatown. Nevertheless, rumors of a Gnomish underground cannot be discounted.

Those humans who fail to follow the Leader, as well as those non-humans who fail to accept slavery, become outcasts from Mauriatown. Despite the (not completely untrue) propaganda of the Maurians being heartless murderers, they often (at least try) to banish offenders from their land before killing them. Of course, any who attempt to return are then executed in one of the very imaginative ways of Mauriatown (detailed next week).

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Atavar Stats (Atavars Part III)

Ruminant-headed folk, atavars are hostile to civilization and all who support it, often doing unto errant humans that which humans might do unto livestock! Those who pay proper respect to the wilderness and to the atavars themselves though might then just be ignored (a 50% chance), unless of course they are hungry or looking for some new (human) pets. Whatever the case, the use of soap, extra garb, and polite conversation is not recommended when venturing into atavar lands, unless that is, the travelers are looking for a fight!


Atavar, Cervine
No. Enc.: 1d6
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60’
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d4 (gore) or 1d8 (hunting spear) or 1d6 (bow)
Special: Charge attack for 2d4+1 damage, immune to Sleep and Confusion
Save: F3
Morale: 7

Usually found in the deep forests, these deer-headed folk enjoy turning the tables on those who would make way for civilized lands or other abuses of the woods. Many an unfortunate huntsman, trapper, or logger has found his head mounted upon the sylvan walls of a cervine atavar’s home. After dining on his carcass, it is said that the atavar might remark that the human was a bit ‘gamey’.

Atavar, Hircine
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 40’
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 3+1
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4+1 (gore) or 1d6+1 (shearing sword)
Special: Charge attack for 2d4+2 damage, immune to Charm and Confusion
Save: F3
Morale: 9

These goat-headed people are fond of hills and mountainous areas, but not very fond of those who lack barbarity. As a result, hircine atavars will likely attack any civilized-seeming intruders in order to subdue, shear, or even challenge them to a head butting competition. Such an encounter will likely be fatal, and most certainly, gruff.

Atavar, Bovine
No. Enc.: 1d2
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 40’
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6+1 (gore) or 1d8+2 (battle axe)
Special: Charge attack for 2d6+2 damage, immune to Sleep and Charm
Save: F4
Morale: 10

Often found in deserted fields, these cattle-heads may appear similar to minotaurs (to which they are related), but they are man-sized and are more concerned with violating civilization than with roaming labyrinths.  Those unfortunate enough to meet a bovine atavar and then act in any way that borders on high society will face goring and the terrible experience of being cut into steaks or even milked! In any case, such victims are asked to not ‘have a cow’, whether they survive the ordeal or not.

Additionally, atavars come in three main body types, further sub-dividing the cervine, hircine, and bovine varieties:

Arcadian: head, legs, and lower torso are animalistic; upper torso, arms, and hands look human. These are the default type of atavars encountered.

Antediluvian: animalistic and quite furry all over: essentially a very feral animal that walks upright with longer hind legs and humanoid hands. Grant them +3 extra hit points per HD, as well as the ability to make an extra a bite or claw attack for 1d4 damage each round, but also take away their ability to use weapons and act in anything resembling a polite manner.

Minoan: only the head is that of an animal- the rest of the atavar’s body appears human. Unlike other types, Minoan atavars are quite intelligent and even refined in their own manner, but not as strong or as tough. Reduce their HD by 1, but also give them the ability to speak Common, as well as act as a 1d6 level cleric, shaman2, or druid2 of one of the following divinities (roll1d6):

1. Dionysus1     2. Pan1
3. Poseidon1    4. Cernunnos 2
5. Balor2          6. Baphomet3

1See Divinities and Cults: Volume I for further details
2See Divinities and Cults: Volume II
3To be detailed at a later date

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Atavars Throughout the Vale (Atavars Part II)

Found north and west of Middlechest, the rugged lands of Gore hold many atavars and even some human savages amongst them. Those there are known for their wilderness ways and bouts of ceremonial violence. Quite simply, it is the atavars who are in charge, and any others who resist their claim to the land are attacked- others are left alone, though they most likely are relegated to a very primeval and unclad existence. Whatever the case, it is fittingly a place of much ‘goring’, as well as much ‘gore’.

Gorian atavars are more likely to be Arcadian in type (roll 1d20: 1-14: Arcadian, 15-19: Antediluvian, 20: Minoan.

Gore encounters (roll 1d10)
1. 1d6 Wild Animals (50% chance of being dangerous)
2. 1d12 Human Folk (25% chance of being good at singing; 75% chance of being savage or hippie-types; 95% chance of being unclad)
3. Roaming Atavars: 1d6-1 Deer-heads, 1d4-1 Goat-heads, 1d2-1 Bull-heads (50% chance of each being aggressive)
4. Atavar Hunting Party: 2d6 Deer-heads, 2d4 Goat-heads, 1d4 Bull-heads (75% chance of being aggressive, otherwise they are really aggressive!), plus a 25% chance of also having  1d2 minotaur or 1d4 satyr allies.
5. 1d2 Minotaurs (100% chance of being aggressive)
6. 1d4 Satyrs (50% chance of being intoxicated; 100% chance if being lecherous)
7. 1d3 Nature spirits, dryads, or nature fey
8. Natural event (roll 1d6): [1] weather change, [2] terrain change, [3] noticeable tree, rock or hill, [4] pitfall, [5] bug swarm or coldness (depending on season), [6] poison ivy or brambles
9. 1d2 Great beasts (75% chance of simply being giant versions, otherwise are mutants/monsters)
10. Other (roll on a general mountain, field, or forest table)

Located north and west of Strass Hill, Pentagram Tannery is a cursed place, at least for humankind. Whether by some demonic influence or simply because of the way the atavars there evolved, they tolerate no humans running free. Any who are not immediately attacked and butchered are instead sent to live as chattel for the atavars. There they live out what little remains of their lives as either beasts of burden, foodstock, or even pets!

Pentagram atavars are more likely to be Antediluvian or Minoan in type (roll 1d20: 1-4: Arcadian, 5-12: Antediluvian,13-20: Minoan.

Gore encounters (roll 1d10)
1. 1d6 Wild Animals (25% chance of being dangerous)
2. 1d6 Folk (75% chance of trying to pass through Pentagram Quickly, otherwise here to fight the atavars)
3.  Atavar Ranchers: 1d2-1 Deer-heads, 1d4-1 Goat-heads, 1d6-1 Bull-heads herding 2d6 human ‘livestock’
4. Atavar Raiding Party: 1d6 Deer-heads, 2d4 Goat-heads, 2d4 Bull-heads looking for human livestock and pets, plus 50% chance of also having  1d4 centaur allies or 2d6 pack humans (see below)
5. 1d4 Centaurs
6. 2d6 pack humans used for (roll 1d3); [1] hunting, [2] carrying, [3] or being pets, with 1d3 Atavars of random types watching over them
7. 1d3 Nature spirits or Demonic spirits
8. Other event (roll 1d6): [1] weather change, [2] terrain change, [3] noticeable tree, hill, or field, [4] pitfall, [5] bug swarm or coldness (depending on season), [6] human mass grave
9. 1d2 Great beasts (50% chance of simply being giant versions, otherwise are mutants/monsters)
10. Other (roll on a general mountain, field, or forest table)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Atavars (Part I)

Not to be confused with avatars (the physical emanations of Gods), atavars are humans with the heads of animals, often ruminants. Though the varieties and types of atavars may have different tendencies in their behavior, all are hostile to civilization and its effects on animals, even taking it upon themselves to treat humans like pets and livestock. A hunting party might be very surprised to find a barking woman on a leash, or even a man being put out to pasture by some animal-headed master... before he becomes its dinner steak!

Atavar Varieties
Most encountered in the Vale have either stag, ram, or bull heads, though other herbivores and even some carnivore heads have been reported. 

Stag or doe-headed atavars are usually found in the deep forests. They often enjoy turning the tables on those who overhunt or over- log, though those who respect the wilderness may just be ignored.

Ram or she-goat headed atavars are instead more often found in lonely hill or mountain areas. Unlike satyrs, those fey-like beings that lack full goat heads and enjoy frolic of all kinds, Ram atavars will likely attack any civilized-seeming intruders in order to subdue, shear, or even challenge them to a head butting competition.

The Bull or cow-headed ones are more often found in deserted fields. Though they may appear similar to Minotaurs (to which they are related), they remain man-sized and are less concerned with labyrinths.  Those unfortunate enough to meet them and appear or act in a civilized manner will face goring and even possibly the terrible experiencing of being milked.

Atavar Types

Atavars are further divided by how animalistic or human they appear.

Arcadian: though the head, legs, and lower torso are animalistic, the upper torso, arms, and hands will reveal bare human flesh. Arcadian atavars are the default type of atavars encountered.

Antediluvian: animalistic all over; essentially an animal that walks upright with longer hind legs and hands, rather than claws or hooves. Antediluvian atavars are stronger, tougher, and faster than their Arcadian cousins, but also less intelligent and are incapable of using tools or weapons.

Minoan: only the head is that of an animal: the rest of the atavar’s body appears human. Unlike Arcadians, Minoan atavars are quite intelligent and even refined, but not as strong or as tough.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Clerics of Asclepius (part IV)


Cleric Spells (Asclepius)
Clerics of Asclepius have access to any spells that cause healing, rejuvenation, and/or promote good health. Remember too that their Asclepian Mysteries can grant them a +4 bonus to all healing-related Casting Rolls, up to once per day per level (if using that rule, which you should!)

1st Level: Cure Light Wounds, Protection from Evil, Purify Food and Drink, Remove Fear, Resist Cold, Sanctuary, Detect Snares and PitsD, Purify Food and WaterD

2nd Level: Bless, Delay Poison, Find Traps, Resist Fire, Snake Charm, Heat MetalD (for sterilization purposes)

3rd Level: Cure Blindness, Cure Disease, Prayer, Remove Curse

4th Level: Create Food and Water, Cure Serious Wounds, Exorcise, Neutralize Poison, Protection from Evil 10’ Radius

5th Level: Atonement, Cure Critical Wounds, Dispel Evil

6th Level: Heal, Restoration (gained at an earlier level than other clerics)

7th Level: Regenerate, Resurrection (use triggers an automatic Type V Divine Test!)

Asclepeion (healing temple) Encounters
Roll or pick to determine what adventurers encounter in a place of healing.

Roll 1d8
1. 1d6 Special Facilities are also at the Asclepeion (roll 1d8): a Gymnasium, Healing Well, Labyrinth, Library, Sacred Grove, Small Stadium, Theatre, or Tholos (small circular building/ gazebo)

2. Strange event (roll 1d3): random visiting spirit (see Divinities and Cults: Volume II), contagion (Save or catch a disease), or per Referee.

3. 1d10 Non-venomous snakes (75% chance of freaking out those not used to them)

4. 1d20 Patients that are either (roll 1d4): very ill, not ill at all, known to a random party member, or dangerous.

5. 1d4 Assistants or Orderlies that are (roll 1d4): very helpful, know ‘what’s really going on’ (35% chance of actually being right), suspiciously absent, or have some ulterior motive.

6. 1d6 Nurses that are either (roll 1d6): quite attractive, quite unattractive, very helpful, very rude, under duress, or a combination thereof.

7. 1d3 Clerics of Asclepius that are (roll 1d6): distracted, busy (wait time increases to 4d20 minutes), under duress, very skilled, very talkative, or a combination thereof.

8. Re-roll twice.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Red Noon at Helltowne Now Available on Kindle!

I am pleased to announce the release of my newest novel, Red Noon at Helltowne, on Kindle! 

Fans of dark fantasy, comedy, and adventure, as well as foes of Communism should enjoy this book.

Order your copy now! (Available on Amazon)

On the road to revenge, Oborren and his eccentric allies must face not only the terrifying supernatural threats of Helltowne, but also the insidious philosophy pushed by that accursed land’s red dwarf masters: Equalitarianism. Devils and darkness; red flags and tyranny abound, and it is up to the brave adventurers to stop Commissar General Noel and his machinations to ‘Abolish Humanness’, including his scheme to unleash a mighty weapon of the Ancients upon them all!

But the vile plans of the red dwarves are not contained to Helltowne. Elfriede, the savages of Fjord Vallee, and others must work to free the land of Dinglesfuhr from the bizarre Glowing Spectral Personhood cult. Thanks to such supporters of Underreign, including the former leader of that land, Mekla, goblins were even invited into Dinglesfuhr! Now they have devastated it and subjected its inhabitants to a life of oppression, terror, and death.

Set in the Night Skies Over Valhallow world of the fantasy future, Red Noon at Helltowne is the first book in the new Vale War trilogy. A map and comprehensive glossary are included for those new to this setting, so that they can immediately begin enjoying this amazing work. 

Red Noon at Helltowne: a must-read for fans of dark fantasy, action, humor, as well as saving the world from the lies and calamities of Equalitarianism.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Clerics of Asclepius (part III)

Photo: Wikipedia

It may come time for the cleric to do Asclepius’s work more directly, or even experience some dangerous challenge.

Divine Tests
1-3. Time for incubation. The cleric must sleep at his or her earliest convenience for at least 1d3 hours. During this time, he or she has a 20% chance of being visited by Asclepius in a dream and experiencing the benefit described in the Healing Side-Effects section. 

4-7. Time to heal. The priest of Asclepius experiences a reduction in spells available (50% chance for each one) for the rest of the day. He can immediately regain one though for every time he successfully heals a patient (that actually needs healing). If too many healing spells had become unavailable from this Test though, then it might be difficult.

8-9. Have you come to some sort of Katharsis? It appears the cleric needs to, so he or she must purification themselves with hot baths, purgation, or even a visit to a gymnasium. Until he or she does so, all of the cleric’s spells will be unavailable.

10-11. The Healing God now calls the priest to work at the nearest Asclepeion or other place of healing. He or she must do so for the next 24 hours, leaving all other responsibilities behind for that time.

12-13. Chiron raised and instructed Asclepius and so now too must the priest. He or she must seek out a centaur or other great healer and spend at least 1d6 days with them. Until the priest does so, he or she will suffer a -3 to all rolls.

14-15. A snake arrives to remind the Asclepian cleric of the value of healing. It bites him for 1d20 (nonpoisonous) damage and then departs. If the cleric survives, then he or she gains a Rod of Asclepius, which grants them a +1 bonus to their healing rolls, which is constant as long as the cleric holds it (unlike the once per day per level bonus of Asclepian Mysteries). Future instances of this Test cause the surviving cleric’s Rod to gain an additional +1 bonus.

16-17. Cut open. Reenacting Apollo’s Caesarian section of Asclepius’s unfaithful mother, the Sun God rips the cleric from wherever he or she is to live with the nearest centaur teacher for the next 1d4 weeks. Depending on how far away that is, it may take the cleric some time to return.

18+ Zeus has had enough of the cleric’s meddling with the natural order. Whether he or she actually performed a resurrection or not, the Sky God will send a 5d6 damage thunderbolt to immediately smite the transgressor. For every Asclepeion result over 18, increase the damage by an additional 2d6 (so 7d6 damage at 19, 9d6 damage at 20, etc.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Clerics of Asclepius (part II)

Healing Side-Effects
The healing of Asclepius is great, though not without its requirements at times. In all cases, there is also a 20% chance that Asclepius will later visit the patient in a dream when he or she next sleeps, granting the recipient a +1d3 bonus to any one roll related to healing or avoiding harm for the following day.

1. Telesphorus: Healing must be brought to completion. The spell takes 1d6 x10 minutes to cast; 1/2 that time if the cleric is a dwarf or often wears a hood.

2. Aceso: It takes a 1d6 x 10 minute process for the effects of the healing spell to kick in, but only 1d6 minutes if a snake is present.

3. Podalirius: Is the patient a hero or an animal? Is there a stream nearby? If so, then the healing works normally. If not, then the cleric must operate, causing 1d4 damage to the patient.

4. Iaso: In order to recuperate, the patient needs rest. At the earliest opportunity, he or she must rest for at least 1d3 hours in order to receive the healing. The chance of a visit by Asclepius is 40% in this case, rather than just 20%.

5. Machaon: All that is needed are medicinal herbs for the healing to work. If not on hand, then it will take the cleric 1d6 x 10 minutes to find them.

6. Aglaea: Such a healthy glow! The recipient is healed and gains a +1d3 bonus to all Charisma-based rolls for the next 1d6 hours.

7. Hygieia: Cleanliness is next to this goddess. If the patient is clean (per Referee) then he or she is healed and gains a +1d6 bonus to resist disease for the next day.  If not, then the patient only receives 1/2 the healing effect and no bonus vs. disease.

8. Epione: Soothed of all pain, the recipient automatically gains the full healing effect of the spell. What is more, the next time he or she is healed by any cleric, they may pick which Side-Effect they wish to experience, if any.

9-12. Blessing of Panacea: Not only is the patient healed by the spell, but is in fact healed of all injury and malady.

Look for more about clerics of Asclepius in upcoming blog posts!

Part I

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Clerics of Asclepius (part I)

Lawful God of Healing

Tenets of Asclepius
* Heal others whenever you can
* Maintain Asclepieia (healing temples)
* Respect snakes, especially the non-poisonous kind
* Never bring back the dead without divine permission!

Clerics of Asclepius
Special: Clerics of Asclepius are also referred to as priests and priestesses. They are talented healers, but usually avoid participating directly in battles themselves.
Allowed Weapons: Rod, staff, or club
Allowed Armor: None!
Holy Symbol: Rod Entwined with a Snake
Can Turn: Those who have cheated death: undead and resurrectees
Asclepian Mysteries: Clerics of Asclepius can gain a +4 bonus to all healing-related rolls, up to once per day per level, including to their d20 Casting Roll (if using that rule)

Look for more about clerics of Asclepius in upcoming blog posts!

Photo: Wikipedia 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Red Noon at Helltowne

I've finished editing my third novel, Red Noon at Helltowne. It is dark fantasy with humor, action, and political commentary.

My design person is nearly done with the cover, then I'll be handing the text off to her for the Kindle and Createspace conversions. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hospitaliers of the Shield Ghul

Detailed in the upcoming module, Wyrd Ways of Walstock, Hospitaliers are the crack enforcers of the Fell Cult of the Shield Ghul. Like paladins would for wholesome Divinities, the Hospitaliers serve the demonic Shield Ghul and its Ghul Physicians. The latter work their evil by forcing innocent townsfolk to wait unreasonable amounts of time, only to pay exorbitant sums of treasure, in order to receive simple healing! Those who can't (or won't) pay then face the ire of these twisted knights.

Not only are the Hospitaliers well-clad in armor and skilled with weapon and shield, but they also possess terrifying syringe-lances. Unlike the lances of normal knights and paladins though, these fiendish things are designed to exsanguinate their victims! Such is the greed of the Shield Ghul, that if won't receive its sacrifice in coin, then it will take its sacrifice in blood and vital humors! Woe be unto those who fall victim to such a fate.

No. Enc.: 1d6; Align: C; AC 2; HD: 3; Attk: 1; Dmg: by syringe lance or weapon; Mve: 30’; SP: those hit by syringe lance must Save or take 1d6 Constitution damage due to exsanguination ; Sve: F3; Mor: 9

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New Map of the Shenbyrg Vale

I commissioned Michael J. Patrick to draw the Shenbyrg Vale and here’s what he came up with. This gorgeous map shows the lands discussed in my upcoming novel: Red Noon at Helltowne. It is set in a fantasy future, where perhaps not too much has changed after all.

Will the wholesome lands of the West drive off the depredations of infernal Helltowne and their goblin cronies from the East? Pick up your copy to find out! Due out this November.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

On the Nature of Cults

Cults corrupt. Unlike the followers of the Gods, those who espouse real, practical aspects of existence, cultists follow Fell Lords that pervert that which is natural and right. Whether a Demon Lord, Arch Devil, or the like, such beings are necessarily flawed and thereby also impart such limitations upon their followers. As a result, they can be effectively counteracted by those who follow a certain virtue. Potential victims who truly follow such a wise path gain a +4 bonus to Save against the magical powers of such cults.

For example, Beliah is an Arch-Devil who deals in the corrupted idea of wishes: one can get whatever one wants, just by wishing it. If it doesn’t then happen, it is only the wisher’s fault. Such lies can destroy those who fall into their trap, but they can also be counteracted by the modesty of those wise enough to remember to enjoy that which the Gods have given them already, and to avoid the devilry deception of False Promise.

See Divinities and Cults: Volumes I & II, or the upcoming module: The Wyrd Ways of Walstock, for more details on the followers of these fell beings.

Fell Being
Corruption of
Counteracted by
More Details
Volume II
Volume II
Volume II
Volume I
Volume II
Common Sense
Volume I
Volume I
The Shield Ghul
Home Remedies
Wyrd Ways
Volume II
Male Independence
Volume I

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Boons of the Greek Magical Papyri, Part 2

Continued from last week, here are some other ways that casters can use to make their spells work more easily and attempt even greater magical effects.

Asceticism (+1, +2, or +3): avoid food, drink, lovemaking, and/or other pleasures before attempting the spell. The bonus is based on how much is avoided and for how long. For example, fasting for a day before might grant a +1 bonus, while remaining ‘pure’ for a week might grant a +2.

Timing (+1, +2, or +3): cast the spell during the right time of day and/or season that matches either the Divinity being invoked, the spell being cast, or both. The higher bonus occurs when either both conditions are met and/or are very specific. For instance, invoking a dark goddess at night might bestow only a +1, while invoking her at the stroke of midnight on the eve of Samhain would grant a +3.

Tassel (+2): Attach a tassel to the recipient of the spell in order to make it more likely to work. The object will be obvious to all who notice, but not necessarily be identified as magical. If removed before the spell’s duration is over, then the spell automatically ends and the spell’s caster also takes a -2 penalty to all of his or her casting rolls for the next 1d6 days.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Boons of the Greek Magical Papyri, Part 1

The Ancients sometimes saw little difference between the ways clerics and magic-users cast spells. All things came from the Gods after all, including magic, so both classes would use similar methods at times. This fact is reflected in game terms by not only the custom spell lists available in Divinities and Cults: Volumes I & II, but also in the boons.

Below are a number of other boons available for spellcasters in your game, so that they can increase the usual chances of a spell’s success or even attempt greater elaborations (q.v.) Inspired by the historic Greek Magical Papyri, and all its many cultural influences (in addition to Greek), here is part 1 for your gaming enjoyment.

More Boons

Appeasement (+1, +2, or +3): Provide food, drink, and any other gifts that would appeal to the being that is summoned. The more appeasement provided and the greater its relevancy, the greater the bonus. This boon only works for spells that would summon beings, of course.

Scribing (+3 or +5): Carve special characters on a fitting object to help in the spell. The process usually takes at least 1d20 minutes to finish the carving, in addition to the time needed to either fabricate or acquire the object (per Referee). The particular item can then no longer be used for this boon, if and when the spell succeeds. The higher bonus is given if the item is particularly valuable.

Smearing (+2): Cover the target’s body with a substance or substances that match the spell’s intended effect and/or the cultural tradition of the caster. It takes at least 4d6 minutes to apply and also 1d4 hours to get the unpleasant smell off the target, once the spell is finished. The target suffers a -4 penalty to all Charisma checks, as well as Saves vs. Magic during that time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hard Core Magic

Magic is sacrifice. How could it not be? The Gods demand a heavy price for such great power – one only the truly willing can afford. Who will pay it? Not any mere simpleton, otherwise Reality itself might become forfeit. No, it is only the truly capable that engage in such amazing acts: those not only with the ability, but those willing to give up everything. 

Most RPG's miss this important fact, making it easier to cast a spell than to hit someone with a sword or shoot them with a bow! One has to roll to hit a foe with a weapon, but a spell always works? Where is the fun in that? How is that magical?

Divinities and Cults offers an alternative. Though the roll is usually relatively easy, one must still be made to work magic. What is more, magic is dangerous! Something more and possibly unpleasant can unfold for those who are unlucky, arrogant, or who simply tried to push the Will of the Gods too far.

But then again, such is the sacrifice of magic. And each God and Goddess has his or her own price.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


This is the term I decided upon for my upcoming novel, Red Noon At Helltowne, to reflect the tyrannical attempts at Forced Equality that has and will continue to do so much harm in the land of the Shenbyrg Vale. Unlike 'Egalitarianism', 'Equalitarianism' is more obscure and also holds its root 'Equal' more obviously. This not only fits well with the novel's style of using more obscure words to reflect its fantasy future setting, but also the overall theme that even though some tyrants may claim that their goal is Equality, it is often really only an excuse to diminish certain other groups that they don't like, ironically creating even worse inequality. Think Animal Farm.

In the case of Red Noon At Helltowne, the red dwarves are using the goblins (as well as another terrible weapon revealed at the end of the book) to try to annihilate Dinglesfuhr. A particularly warped Cult has assumed power there, which espouses the cause of Underreign in order to promote Equalitarianism. Will it be any wonder that so much of the awfulness of Helltowne could become recreated in Dinglesfuhr? Perhaps even the insane cultists won't be that surprised?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Upcoming Books

Here are some projects that I'm working on now, or will be starting on soon. Stay tuned for further announcements!

Red Noon At Helltowne: a fantasy novel exploring the dire threats of Forced Egalitarianism upon the Shenbyrg Vale. Anticipated release: October 2016.

Gaming Modules set in the Shenbyrg Vale: a line of adventures exploring the Night Skies Over Valhallow world, compatible with most old-school roleplaying game systems. First module projected release: Early 2017

Divinities & Cults: Volume II for Swords & Wizardry: just as in Volume I, I'll be having Curtis Lyon do the conversion to Swords & Wizardry, as well as the print-on-demand version of this excellent Roman Gods, Celtic Gods, and Demon Lords resource. Projected release: TBA.

Dan O Poems: a book of collected poems from my site of the same name. Projected release: Early 2017.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Divinities and Cults: Volume II Now Available for Purchase


Have you unleashed the mighty power of Divinities and Cults in your game yet? 

Divinities and Cults: Volume II covers the Gods and Goddesses of both the Celtic and Roman Pantheons, as well as a number of Evil Cults. Like Volume I, this work provides detailed tenets, special cleric considerations, healing side-effects, numerous divine tests, and custom spell lists for all 19 of them. What is more, optional rules and random tables abound, organized by  Divinity, of course. This excellent book is compatible with the various Old School Editions and their 'Retro-clones', especially Labyrinth Lord™! 
  • Detailed rules for playing clerics of 7 Celtic and 7 Roman Gods and Goddesses
  • Full rules for also playing clerics of 5 Evil Cult types
  • 20 pieces of unique artwork by Luigi Castellani (note: some Goddesses are depicted partially nude)
  • 11 Random encounter tables
  • 7 Other random tables
  • 20 Optional rule & sidebar sections
  • An Appendix that offers guidelines for making over 20 additional Divinities, as well as  having cultural variations for clerics of the various Divinities, such as Ionian, German, Etruscan, Gallic, etc.
  • And much more!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Germanic Tables

Divinities and Cults: Volume II (Labyrinth Lord version) is nearly ready for upload. Look for it on Drive Thru RPG sometime in the next few days. Like Volume I, it will have tables galore: not only for the 14 new Divinities and 5 Demon Lord types, but also 20 additional tables, for area encounters, Otherworlds, battle events, Fomorian Mutations, and more.

Two such tables (appearing in one of the book's Appendices) are the Germanic Healing Side-Effect and Germanic Test tables. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Red Noon and Communist Evil

As we feverishly await the unveiling of Divinities and Cults, Volume II (to be released sometime next week!), let us turn for a moment to my next impending novel: Red Noon at Helltowne.

This shorter work (~160 pages) follows the story of Oborren, Brymanah, Kolvaig, and the others as they seek retribution against the Red Dwarves. As described in Quiet Upon Shenbyrg's Dawning, the Red Dwarves were barely stopped in their invasion of Walstock, but their strength remains in their eastern fastness: Helltowne. Discover the terrible land of Uncle Steel Dwarf, mustached God of the Red Dwarves and their human and other subjects. What horrors does this accursed land hold and how will the adventurers ever survive it?

Part of the Night Skies Over Valhallow series, Red Noon at Helltowne continues to explore the world of Amercia, the fantasy future equivalent of America. Fans of the series will enjoy the continued gripping  action, humor, and deep insights into the way of the world of both the future and today: a parable of what brave folk must do in the face of overwhelming evil.

And those new to the series can even start with Red Noon at Helltowne, if they wish: an extensive glossary is included so fans of fantasy, philosophy, and social commentary can dive right in to this amazing book. It's projected release on Kindle is this September. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

So Many Divinities

Though Divinities and Cults, Volume II will provide full descriptions for running clerics of 7 Celtic & 7 Roman Divinities, as well as 5 new Demon Lord types, it will also offer short guidelines for even more Divinities:

Celtic: Ceridwen, Goibhnie, and Nuada
Greek: Aphrodite, Ares, Demeter, Hades, Hecate, and Hephaestus
Norse & Germanic: Eostre, Heimdall, Idun, Sif, Uller, and Woden
Roman: Ceres and Silvanus

What is more, Volume II will revisit some of the Divinities from Volume I to provide their clerics with even more Healing Side-Effect and Divine Test options.