GORGON QUARTERLY

7/03/2015

Revised B/X Monster List



[Not Final]

MEN
Bandit
Berserker
CULTIST (includes "Acolyte")
HILLMAN (replaces "Neanderthal")
Medium
Noble
Normal Human
NPC Party
Trader
Veteran

BEASTS (MUNDANE)
Bat
Bear
Boar
Camel
Cat, Great
Crocodile
Elephant
Hawk
Herd Animals
Horse
Insect Swarm
Mule
Rat
Rhinoceros
Snake
Shark
Whale
Wolf

BEASTS (LEGENDARY)
Ape, White
Beetle, Giant
CRAB, GIANT GENITAL
Cave Locust
Centipede, Giant
Dinosaur
Driver Ant
Ferret, Giant
Fish, Giant
Leech, Giant
Lizard, Giant
MAMMOTH
Mastodon
Octopus, Giant
Robber Fly
Rock Baboon
Scorpion, Giant
Shrew, Giant
Spider, Giant
Squid, Giant
Roc
Titanothere
Toad, Giant
Weasel, Giant

MONSTERS OF THE WILDERNESS
Basilisk
BUGBEAR (literally a bug-headed bear)
Centaur
Chimera
Cockatrice
Cyclops
DEODAND
Devil Swine
Displacer Beast
DOUBLE (replaces "Doppleganger")
Dragon (Red, Green, Black, White, Blue, TIAMAT)
Dryad
Dwarf (Mountain)
Elemental
Elf (FAIRY)
ENT (replaces "Treant")
Gargoyle
Giant (ELDER)
Ghoul
GNOLE (replaces "Gnoll")
Gnome
Goblin
GORGON (replaces "Medusa")
Griffon
Harpy
Hippogriff
HOBBIT (replaces "Halfling")
HORSE, FLYING (replaces "Pegasus")
Hyrdra
Lizard Man
Lycanthrope
Manticore
NIGHT-GAUNT
Ogre
Orc
Owl Bear
REVENANT (INCORPOREAL) (replaces "Spectre", "Wraith" and similar)
Stirge
Troll
Unicorn
Vampire
Wyvern
Zombie

MONSTERS OF THE SEA
Dragon Turtle
Mermen
MERMAID (UNDEAD)
Nixie
Sea Dragon
Sea Serpent
Termite, Water

MONSTERS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Caecilia
Carrion Crawler
DHOLE
Dwarf (UNDERWORLD)
Kobold
Gelatinous Cube
Giant (UNDERWORLD)
GUG
Hellhound
Minotaur
Purple Worm
Rhagodessa
Shadow
SHOGGOTH
Skeleton
Wight

HAZARDS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Addercorn
Black Pudding
Blink Dog
Cloying Mist
Dungeon Fruit
Earwig, Greater
Fake Cake
Gray Ooze
Green Slime
Hickorywort
Ick
Jade Jism
Kitten Strangler
Lemonstrap
Mocking Turd
Numinous Tree-Shroom
Ochre Jelly
Phase Crystal
Quillvine
Royal Jelly
Saffron Scum
Shrieker
Taint
Umbilicus, Giant
Vestigial, Elder
Waxen Floatroot
Xorbidic Slime
Yellow Mold
Zoetic Moss

6/29/2015

GORGON | Trollnuts of Unwisdom


The Idea

Trollnuts of Unwisdom is a book-within-a-book that will be a part of GORGON #666 and also available as a separate, arted-up tome. Trollnuts are the opposite of "Pearls of Wisdom" -- they are more often than not designed to mislead adventurers and possibly lure them into traps. The book would contain a variety of rumor tables for different situations. (We leave it up to the referee to decide what degree of truth, if any, these rumors contain.) While the book will be intended for use with any pseudo-medieval campaign setting, I would encourage you all to invent new fictitious kingdoms, realms, townships and hovels willy-nilly, and I'll bake them all into a single campaign map. Cross-referencing other people's inventions as we go is absolutely encouraged.

Eg.:

Ten Lies Concerning the Location of the Sacred Grove

1) It is hidden in a cave beneath the roots of Blacknife, a crooked mountain far to the north-west. Gold flows like honey there, and the local dryads are eager for men's seed. [gg]

2) It lies just beyond the next hill. You will know you have reached the place because it is a copse of cinnamon trees -- their musk fills the air. A lone maiden attends to the shrine -- you will see her light from the road. She will accept a gift. Do not touch her. [gg]

3) It burned down long ago, but seeds from the trees were saved and the forest replanted in a different location. The grove retains the memories of its ancestral home and several trees long to return there. [Matthew Schmeer]

4) Near the scrim of the sea on the southern shore, the grove is hidden within the bowl of a sea cave. The trees need no light to grow but devour fish each night with mouths full of razor-sharp teeth in their roots. A sea god sometimes sleeps beneath their boughs. Do not disturb his rest. [Matthew Schmeer]

5) On an island in a lake of red waters grows a grove of bambaga trees, each tree three times as tall as a hill giant. The grove is protected by a spiderlion which spins webs of acidic silk. The fruit of the bambaga tree heals all sadness. [Matthew Schmeer]

6) Far into the desert, a copse of trees springs from the brackish waters of a dying oasis. Remove the curse and the oasis will recover. The trees will thank you with riches from beneath the sands. [Matthew Schmeer]

7) In a high mountain vale a stand of 7 trees is surrounded by 7 stones, each stone inscribed with 7 runes. If the correct 7 runes are touched in the correct order 7 times, a jeweled bird will alight in a nest on a branch of the 7th tree and lay 7 jeweled eggs. The bird will then depart. If the 7 eggs are kept warm for 7 days, they will hatch. Inside each egg is a seed which, when planted in a protected vale, sprouts an identical grove. [Matthew Schmeer]

8) Within the dark wood is a large clearing; in the middle of the clearing a clump of rowan trees entwine, their branches hopelessly engnarled. No magic works there. Buried beneath the roots of one of the trees is a golden axe. Remove it at your peril. [Matthew Schmeer]

9) The grove is to be found on the Plateau of Frozen Dreams, where the Snow Maiden slumbers. It is foretold that one day a brave soul's kiss shall awaken the sleeping beauty and lift the curse. No one has succeeded so far, and many lovesick souls wander among the timeless trees, sad and unfortunate. [Sándor Gebei]

10) In an underground paradise, created by the archmage Inscrupulous Testamen [sic]. The wizard, seeing how the overland world was unforgiving and intolerant, decided to conjure the elements to build his very own world, a haven for great minds, he thought. Since then, many misunderstood artists and philosophers have fled to his sanctuary, finding peace and harmony under the artificial sun. [Sándor Gebei]


6/19/2015

Announcement | GORGON QUARTERLY

What if the OSR had a quarterly anthology of cool bits from the community in a nice 8x10 softcover phonebook format?



Contributors would give the GORGON permission to reproduce their stuff. While I will happily layout some material for inclusion, the intention would be for YOU to layout your own stuff in 8.5x11 (.5" margins!) with all fonts embedded. This will cut down the time of production considerably and give GORGON a kind of punk look, with no continuity of style from article to article.

GORGON would be sold at-cost as a POD item from Lulu. So about 2,000 coppers (~$20) including shipping and handling.

I will take pains to not include any illustrations or artwork that is not from contributors or in the public domain. There is no shame in GORGON's game.


LINK: Gorgon Quarterly G+ community


SUBMISSION INFO & GUIDELINES

1. By submitting your stuff to GORGON, you give us permission to publish it in perpetuity on a not-for-profit basis.

2. In other words, I WON'T MAKE A RED COPPER ON YOUR WORK. GORGON pdfs are free to download, and GORGON print products will be sold strictly at-cost on Lulu.

3. All submissions should be in PDF format. Dimensions 8.5" x 11" (.5 inch margins!)  with all fonts embedded. Greyscale/b&w. REMEMBER: The way you lay it out is the way it's going to look in GORGON. More info on embedding fonts: http://tinyurl.com/k98286f

4. Submit stuff to the GORGON QUARTERLY Google drive here: http://tinyurl.com/pdv7oag

5. Make sure you have the rights to any illustrations you use in your submission. Whether you're an illustrator or an author, you retain the rights to your work, and you can use that work anywhere you like, regardless of its appearance in GORGON. Likewise, you can use work that you previously published elsewhere as long as you have the rights to do so.

6. There are NO LIMITS on the page-counts of your submissions, and NO LIMIT to the number of items you submit. That said, there's no guarantee that everything you submit will appear in GORGON right away or in the same issue. I will try to be flexible to your creative intentions, however.

7. There are no rules governing the TYPES of things you choose to submit. If it's something that would appear in an OSR blog post and it's good enough for the dead tree treatment, then it's allowed. If possible, I will attempt to keep the contents of a single issue loosely related thematically, or organized into a set of loosely related themes.

8. OGL: If you want to include an OGL license with your submission, please make it a separate PDF document that CLEARLY INDICATES what work(s) it addresses. If you have no interest in writing up and including something like this, you'll be covered anyway by a general purpose Creative Commons license that will appear on the last page of each issue.

6/08/2015

QUASI-CLONE | Crimson Dragon Slayer RPG

CRIMSON DRAGON SLAYER
by Venger Satanis

Q: What is it?

A 42-page ruleset available in PDF and print via RPGNow from the guy that gave us Liberation of the Demon Slayer, Revelry in Torth and (my fav of Venger's adventure module-supplement series thus far) Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.

Calling CDS a retro-clone really pushes the (arguable) definition of the term. What we have here is more like a set of stream-lined house rules that borrows some basic ideas from D&D (ability scores! XP levels!) and mashes them up with some non-TSR mechanics like point-based expenditures for spell-casting and dice pools that determine the outcome of actions. A stocked sample-dungeon is included.

The conceit of CDS is the venerable "guys sucked into a video game" set-up, itself a variation on the "guys sucked into a D&D game" set-up popularized by the Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon from the early 80s. This approach flavors most of the options available to characters, who have backgrounds as "real-world" types from 1983 that happened to get sucked in to the eponymous fictitious Commodore 64 game.  All this is familiar territory for fans of Venger's Heavy Metal (as in the magazine) retro-fantasy oeuvre that draws from the deep well of Hollywood/comic book/video game/pre-90s nostalgia that colorizes many OSR endeavors to a greater or lesser degree. Note: There's not much in CDS to offend folks with sensitivity to the luscious T&A scattered throughout Kort'thalis Publishling's other books. I wouldn't have minded, but there it is.

I love the Benito Gallego pieces chosen for the interior art -- skilled homages to John Buscema's Conan work that effectively capture the time period (more or less) that CDS immerses itself in. I think this tack could be taken even further in future editions -- maybe mimic the look of 1983-era video game guide booklets in terms of font and layout? and definitely include 8-bit "screen caps" depicting scenes and monsters. The cover art is killer but also obviously modern -- modern enough to dilute CDS' central conceit a bit.

Overall CDS looks like a good introductory pseudo-clone for folks new to the OSR and old school games in general. Stripped of its flavorings, the ruleset is light enough to be entirely modular like most of the clones to date -- in other words, you can add and take away bits as you see fit with ease and not have to worry about upsetting the works. In order for CDS to compete with more involved rulesets like the immensely popular Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry system families, it will need to grow its content -- but as a lighter alternative it is a solid offering.

6/03/2015

Underworld Lore | Courts of Chaos


Some Denizens of the Courts of Chaos

The Fane: Nyarlathotep (in his gross tentacle-head manifestation), Demogorgon, Melkor, those bad guys from Howard the Duck.

Öthengeline: The Jale God (in his primal aspect), the Phantom Clown-King, Jelly-Belly.

House of Asterion (AKA Labyrinth of Minos): Asterion the Mad Minotaur, those gross giants from Fraggle Rock, Jareth of the Codpiece.

Tartarus: Moloch, Baal, Surtur, and other god-inmates of the Divine Panopticon.

Decrepitude of Xin: Lloth, Hlo-Hlo, and other spider-gods.

Halls of the Hypersangreal: Guardians of the Chalice that contains the blood of the ur-dragon, Tiamat: Uroborialis, Yululun, Nug, Yeb.

Tor of the Horned King: Arawn, Ankou, Cernunnos.

Stheno's Metadungeon: Stheno the Gorgoness, Evil-Lynn from Masters of the Universe, undead Amazons.

Court of Azathoth: The Mad Idiot-God; His Pipers

5/18/2015

PETTY GODS AGOGO


Expanded Petty Gods is now available 
via RPGNow and Lulu 

At a monolithic near-400 pages, this community project is the largest collection of divine beings ever assembled. Featuring the talents of 

  • Jennell Jaquays, a TSR veteran who wrote and illustrated one of PG's main sources of inspiration, The Unknown Gods (Judges Guild, 1980). 
  • James Ward, another long-time TSR creator who wrote the other big PG influence, 1st Edition's Deities and Demigods (TSR, 1980).
  • Erol Otus, a leading light among TSR's early stable of illustrators, his fingerprints are all over 1st Edition AD&D.
  • & SO MANY OTHERS from within and without the OSR!

Links and pricing via Richard LeBlanc, PG's editor-in-chief and a major contributor to this work:

Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition (Casewrap Hardback) $22.47 (USD at cost)

Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition (Premium Softcover) $13.22 (USD at cost)

Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition (PDF: no watermark) FREE

[Note that the RPGNow page will say "Watermarked PDF" on the page for the item, but when it downloads, there will be no watermark.]

Look, I've studied this thing for hours and my mind still has not wrapped around the QUANTITY of material herein. As the first release under the ORC royalty-fee/community imprint, PG is a monument to the collective creativity of the Old School community.

In addition to the deities themselves, PG hosts an array of divine minions, cults, artifacts and spells. It's CHOCK full of sweet illustrations that illuminate the weird descriptions too! Just loooook at this:


Richard has done a marvelous job designing this book, and we are lucky to have him. In case you're in need of some weird new monsters on a more, shall we say, earthly scale, you should by all means look into his new CREATURE COMPENDIUM. My mini-review:

2015 is apparently the Year of the Bestiaries. Was sitting in the hospital again today as glorified babysitter and spent much of my time reading Richard LeBlanc's Creature Compendium. Hot damn! There is such a fine array of weirdos to choose from in here -- itself a monumental achievement. Historically, I've gotten excited for and been let down by monstro manuals. They look all sexy, but then you get them home and climb into the sack with 'em and they're totally limp fish. (D20 ERA I AM LOOKING AT YOU.) To Richard's credit, the monster entries he's singlehandedly assembled here are quite usable. From underworld "dragons" like the Thuzzendahg and Carriage Worm, to gross globsters like the Izzoo (that's going in the next pit trap) and the Stinking Pile -- there's so much WIN here. Also, give the man kudos for including some Fortean types like the Mothman and Dover Demon and Crimson Death Worm -- seeing them made me quite happy. Once again, NBD brings the attractive and utilitarian layout that I have come to expect -- nay! -- demand from them. And OH HEY, Richard also did every single illo in this book, probably with one hand while he used the other to do PETTY GODS. Don't ask me what limb he's using for the upcoming psionics book. 
Essential stuff.

5/17/2015

Esoterica | On Reading Requirements & the Magic-User


The purpose of this post is to nail down some of my ideas about the Meta behind the Vancian magic system and offer some guidelines to make it more interesting for the players. There are several "story" assumptions being made here to establish a certain fictional magic paradigm. Some of these may not line up with your understanding of the Rules, but they're my jumping off points for what follows:

  • In order to understand the magical arts, an apprentice magic-user begins with "general theory" texts that outline the basic workings of the school he/she is being indoctrinated into. 
  • Many schools of magic have overlap with other schools in terms of ideology and practices.
  • By "school" I mean something more specific than the "Schools of Magic" familiar to most D&D buffs. My usage here implies a branch of a magical tradition, eg. the specific demon-summonings and demonological background of the witch-coven found in the southern woodlands of the Kingdom of Theogax. Their methods and litanies, their collective repertoire of spells, curses and malignities.

Esoteric Protocols
A 0-level magic-user has access to or owns a Foundation Text (FT) for a particular magical school. This contains general purpose, universal spells like Read Magic, Detect Magic. Also included in the FT are 1d3+1 spells that improve in efficacy as the magic-user gains experience levels -- in exactly the same manner found in Wonder & Wickedness (Lost Pages, 2014).

Traditionally, magic-users "get" new spells upon advancement to the next level. Maybe the player and referee collaborate to pick the appropriate number of spells out of the rulebook -- maybe the magic-user hires a tutor or exchanges wealth for access to a magical college's book collection and the referee and player roll up what he/she learns in these scenarios -- maybe both of these things happen -- or neither. IN ANY CASE, I propose the reverse:
As a condition for level advancement, the magic-user must both obtain and learn a given # of spells through whatever means possible IN GAME. At least one of these new spells should be of higher level than the highest level spell in his/her repertoire. The magic-user will continue to accrue XP as normal, but his/her experience level will not improve until he has met these conditions. 
Grimoires can and should contain more than spells. As products of a specific magical tradition, they could possibly deal with technical, non-spell areas of study like occult sigils, extraplanar entities, astrological data, diagrams, etc.


Reading Requirements
  • Sometimes it's not enough to simply find a new spell to learn. Sometimes you must be familiar with another spell or branch of knowledge before you can add that spell to your repertoire. It's an idea that's run rampant in video games (see skill tree), but I think it has good application for D&D-like games. Access to spells becomes more tricksy and requires in-game research that reinforces the setting -- Where do I go to find more about this kind of magic?
  • Spell descriptions should include a Source (the specific school/tradition that invented or adapted it) and Requirements like minimum experience level, prerequisite spells, a specific branch of magical knowledge (eg. wandcraft, elementalism, ley lines, etc.), and/or a specific item, action or quality (What do you mean I need to chop of my right index finger and have demonic ancestors to learn this spell??) that is not a component of the spell itself.

Example Spell Description
Naacalese Warding Chant (2nd Level/Incantation)
  • Rarity: Scarce and largely forgotten 
  • Source: Nigromantics of Mu-Lem, 5Ae (Fifth Aeon), author unknown 
  • Requirements: (1) Must be able to read/write Old Naacalese or hire translator; (2) Invocation of the Demon Kwatto (1st/Inc.); (S*) Knowledge of demonic contracts  
  • Casting Time: 1 round 
  • Duration: Effect lasts until magic-user (a) stops chanting or (b) exceeds his/her experience level in turns
This incantation is a staccato burst of repeating Nacaalese stanzas that calls forth a trio of ancient sorcerer-ghosts bound to the service of the demon Kwatto. Per the incantation's instructions, these ghosts must scour the area (100 ft radius) in the magic-user's vicinity and report in their hollow, sighing voices if there are any other invisible spirits or persons about (note that only the caster can hear the ghosts' voices). The ghosts will move along with the caster for the duration of the spell but cannot or will not venture away for more than one hundred feet. The caster cannot see them but can feel their breath on his/her neck. The ghosts will also indicate the presence of beings hidden from the caster's view but not magically invisible. There is a 10% chance they they will tell the location of any treasure nearby as well. This can be increased to 20% if the caster allows the ghosts to lick his hands with their dry, dusty ghost-tongues.

____________________________
*S = Suggested: Not required knowledge but useful in this instance.