Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Cupid Sex Swap Caper

Here's a campaign subplot, and new magical item, to help GMs get ready for Valentine's Day. This material should be useful for any D&D variant, ranging from the good old D&D Rules Cyclopedia, through AD&D, all the various d20 System iterations, and maybe all the way up to D&D Fifth Edition. (All text in this post is released under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with its terms. Copyright 2020 Steve Miller.)

Cupid's insane sister, Himera, has trapped him in a pocket dimension, and she has taken over as the Spirit of Love. She wants to move up from mere minor entity to full-fledged god, and she is appearing to characters with Charisma scores of 16 or better, and Wisdom scores of 12 or better, with an offer: "Promise to be loving and kind to those who deserve kindness. Promise to defend and protect romantic lovers wherever you find them. Promise these things, and I will give you power and make you a Soldier in my Army of Love."

When a character agrees to be a Soldier in the Army of Love, a silver chain with a heart-shaped ruby pendant appears around his or her neck. The necklace cannot be removed, and, although it does not radiate magic, it is an artifact that grants its wearer the following abilities:
    * +5 bonus to hit with all bows, all bows and missiles they fire are treated as if they are enchanted weapons
    * Use charm person as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to the character's Charisma bonus. The character's total levels is the caster level.
    * If the amulet is flipped around so it hangs down between the character's shoulder blades, if the character utters the command word "It's the Power of Love", a pair of ghostly wings appear on his or her back that function as a feather fall spell cast at 20th level. The spell effect is limited to the character, although he or she can share the effect with one other creature (up to Medium-size) if it is embraced tightly.

Himera will continue to appear to the character from time to time, sometimes offering helpful hints in solving whatever problems the character and his or her allies are currently facing, and other times she will ask that assistance be provided to star-crossed lovers under dire threat.
    When the character next gains a level, Himera appears to him or her and demands that the character become a Priest/Cleric/Mystic (or whatever class casts divine magic in your campaign). If the character refuses, he or she, and close friends, allies, and others he or she cares about, are transported to the pocket dimension where Cupid is imprisoned. They must then help the actual Spirit of Love escape from captivity and put his sister back where she belongs.
    Even if the character chooses to become a priest of Himera, at some point he or she is bound to do something that offends the capricious entity and will find him- or herself banished with all their friends and loved ones to Cupid's prison.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In This Christmas Season...

… here's a magic item for your d20 System RPGs (like Pathfinder and such).

Candle of Peace
Candles of Peace are found in churches and shrines to good-aligned deities. No one knows how they are created or by whom. They just seem to appear in dark corners  bundles of 2d4+4, on random festival days for the deity a given shrine, church, or temple is devoted to. If subjected to detect magic, candles of peace radiate faint auras of divine magic, but nothing more specific can be determined. Roll 1d6 to determine what color the candles are: 1-2 red; 3-4 white; 5-6 green.
   When lit, a candle of peace provides a +2 bonus to Will saves to resist fear effects, and a +2 bonus to Fortitude saves to resist disease, venoms, and poisons (magical and non-magical) within a 10-foot radius and sight of the candle's flame. Each candle can burn a total of 48 hours before completely expended. It can be lit and extinguished any number of times during that period. (Each time it is lit, the GM can assume that a minimum of 1/4 of an hour  of burn time is spent.)
   A candle of peace cannot be wet or submerged in water to work. It can be used to ignite flammable materials and substances. It can be extinguished by any means that would extinguish a normal candle.
   Up to four candles of peace can be lit at the same time and their benefits will stack, for a maximum bonus of +8. They cannot be more than 4 inches apart for the bonuses to stack. The radius of the effect never expands beyond the 10-foot radius.

Best Holiday wishes from your friends at NUELOW Games! Here's Mike Oldfield's fabulous version of "Silent Night" to help set the mood!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Bessie Love and the Gourdians

In 1928, during her time fighting supernatural evil as The Love Bug, actress and secret warrior in the battle of good vs. evil, Bessie Love liberated a Gourdian from enslavement by an evil necromancer. She posed with him for a portrait, and he visited her and her family every Halloween for the rest of her life.

Bessie Love and "Gourdon", the Gourdian she befriended.

Tens of thousands of years ago, during the height of the Atlantean civilization on Earth, a misfired experiment in pushing the boundaries the Aeromancy and Biomancy magical disciplines flooded a pumpkin patch with magic and brought into existence a whole new species of beings. The Atlanteans named them "Gourdians" and the beings didn't really care what others referred to them as, so the name stuck.
   Most of the Gourdians exist in a non-corporeal state, drifting through the boundaries between this universe and parallel realties, as well as this plane of existence, the spiritual realms, and the dimension that the Witchkind call home (generally considered part of the Realm of Fairies). They appear like floating, ghostly pumpkin with feet and occasional hats. They also manifest spindly arms with three-fingered hands when they need to wave or give someone the middle finger. Their faces appear as if they were carved out of their surface and it appears like there is a bright light glowing within them.
   Once a year, when the dimensional veils are weakened during the time some mortals describe as October 30th through November 2nd, the Gourdians cross over onto the Earth plane. While here, they are semi-corporeal, and they can interact with our world to a limited extent.

* Gourdians appear in groups of 3d4-2.
* Gourdians have a base Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores of 8, but each increases by 1 for each Gourdian that is assembled together (to a maximum of 18).
* Gourdians have 1 rank in all existing skills (attribute bonuses apply when appropriate).
* Gourdians are treated like 12th-level Fast Heroes (Rogues) for puroses of saving throws and attack rolls.
* Gouridans have 12 hit points. When reduced to 0 or less, they do not die, but instead become non-corporeal and are banished back to the spaces between dimensions.
* They can lift objects using the telekinesis spell, as a spell-like ability, at will. The can also use telekinesis offensively twice per day, four times on October 30th through November 2nd.
* When non-corporeal, Gourdians cannot be harmed nor can they do anything but observe their surroundings. They are invisible except to true seeing spells and spell-like abilities. They cannot be harmed in this state, except with a wish spell... and the only thing that can be done is that they must be wished out of existence.
* Gourdians can use fear as a spell-like ability twice per day, four times on October 30th through November 2nd.
* Gourdians can use planeshift as a spell-like ability twice per day, four times on October 30th through November 2nd.
* Gourdians have a permanent true seeing ability, and they can look into any dimension adjecent to the one they are currently in.
* Gourdians can cast bless or curse as spell-like abilities twice per day, four times on October 30th through November 2nd.
* Gourdians may grant a worthy person up to three wishes on October 31. (They usually do this for those who have sacrificed a great deal to to good deeds, or who combat evil against all odds.)
* Gourdians may initiate mental contact with any intelligent being that is within their lines of sight. The target hears a distant whisper, and the GM is to ask if the target chooses to listen. They can carrying on a mental conversation with a willing target for as long as 13 minutes, making themselves automatically understood in the target's native language. Only one Gourdian can be in contact with a target at a time, and they can only contact a single individual at a time. Unwilling targets may roll a Will save; if the save is successful, the Gourdian still makes contact but can only communicate for three minutes.
   Gourdians usually contact people they want to help, warn, or, in the case of evil beings who have incurred their wrath, terrorize... but sometimes they just want to chat or tell jokes. (They love telling bad jokes.)

One of the Witchkind, who is not amused by this Gourdian's jokes

Gourdians like spending time on Earth, especially on Halloween. Although they usually just hang around the Witchkind, they will sometimes roam far and wide, helping heroes and making life difficult for villains.
   Gourdians can be trapped using a special variant of the lesser planar binding spell and a specially prepared lamp (oil-burning or one that takes a candle). A single Gourdian can be trapped in a lamp, and the person who trapped it can force it to use its spell-like abilities on targets he or she specificies until the Gourdian has been forced to use three wishes. If the Gourdian is commanded to harm an Atlantean, one of the Witchkind, or other Gouridans, it is freed and will attack the person who trapped it. The Gourdian can also be liberated if the lamp holding it is smashed or targeted with dispel magic. A freed Gourdian will offer to grant wishes to the person who freed it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Balls of Yog-Sogoth

The Balls of Yog-Sogoth are a pair of perfect spheres of a smooth, white, semi-translucent crystaline substance. One can be comfortably cradled in the palm of an average adult male human's hand. Each glows softly with a white light that originates from the orb's center. Legend holds that the balls were dropped from the elder god Yog-Sogoth itself, and so they are highly sought after by the cults devoted to the various aspects of the entity. No one really knows their true origin, however.

A cultist handling a Ball of Yog-Sogoth

If subjected to a detect magic spell, the Balls of Yog-Sogoth radiate faint alteration and divination magic. No other magic short of a wish spell will reveal any additional information about the mysterious spheres. Seekers of knowledge must discover the power of the balls through their own experimentation, or by recovering and reading sacred scrolls possessed and jealously guarded by obscure cults, or perhaps an Immortal or two.
   To use the Balls of Yog-Sogoth, a user must old them in their hands. The balls function in different ways, depending on whether a user is handling one or two of them.
    One Ball: While cradling a single of Yog-Sogoth's balls, the character will receive a mental image of a magical item that is in his or her possession, or in the possession of a friend or ally. The charcter comes to know everything about the item as if he or she had cast an identify spell upon it. It takes 1d6 rounds for the vision to materalize. Once the user has realized this use of a ball, he or she can mentally picture specific items and gain information as if he or she had cast identify upon them.
   Drawback: For each item past the first that the user identifies within a 72-hour period, there is an increasing chance (10% on the second item, 30% on the third item, 50% on the fourth item, 70% on the fifth item, 90% on each additional items) that the user will collapse into a deep coma that lasts 1d6+1 days. Upon regaining consciousness, the character must roll a Fortitude save (DC18) or feel weakened to the point of suffering a -4 penalty to Strength and Constitution scores for 24 hours.
   Two Balls: While holding one of Yog-Sogoth's balls in each hand, the character can either envision a historical figure well-known contemporary figure, or someone with whom the character is personally acquainted, be it a friend or foe. After concentrating on the mental image of the person for 1d6+1 rounds, the character receives one of the following vividly detailed visions, as if he or she was present for the events and experienced them as the person did. (Roll 1d6 to determine which kind of vision.)

   1. The happiest moment of the person's childhood.
   2. The proudest moment of their youth.
   3. Their greatest achievement during their lifetime.
   4. The place the person felt most comfortable/spent most of their
        leisure time (if dead); where the person will be in exactly one day
        (if alive).
   5. The place where the person spent/spends the most time with the person
        they loved/love the most, as well as who that person is.
   6. The single event or secret that the person wants to keep hidden forever.

   Drawback: If the user tries to have more than one vision within a 72-hour period, there is an increasing chance (10% on the second vision, 30% on the third vision, 50% on the fourth vision, 70% on the fifth vision, 90% on each additional vision) that the user will collapse into a deep coma that lasts 1d6+1 days. Upon regaining consciousness, the character must roll a Fortitude save (DC18) or feel weakened to the point of suffering a -4 penalty to Strength and Constitution scores for 24 hours.
   Each additional vision within the 72-hour period is determined randomly, just like the first. If the same scene is rolled more than once, the user sees it from a different angle, perhaps even experiencing the scene as someone else did/does. Each reiteration reveals new details.

All text in this post is released under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with its terms. Copyright 2019 Steve Miller. (If you find this material useful or interesting, please purchase some of our actual products. It will encourage us to make more!)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Tin Foil Hats and More for the d20 System

In 1954, the Soviet bloc and NATO cooperated on first repelling, and then covering up, an alien invasion of Earth. The aliens' main weapons were telepathy-based, and they were able to make humans see what they wanted them to see. Although the aliens were defeated, the world's militaries and intelligence organizations couldn't be sure they had been driven off the planet completely, so they worked to create means by which their troops and operatives could keep from falling victim to the aliens mind-effecting powers, or to see through them even after falling sway to them.

With the immediate threat averted, however, cooperation between the two military alliances soon faltered, and it ceased completely when it was discovered that the Soviet military had been infiltrated by the aliens and that the enemy was undermining the effort to invent countermeasures. Many of their top scientists NATO--led by Britain and the U.S., with assistance from Japanese scientists--had better luck, and created two different types of devices to defend against the aliens: Psychic Blockers (codenamed "Tin Foil Hats" and Ocular Filters (codenamed "Cheap Sunglasses").

NATO's anti-alien devices were manufactured in labs located in a remote corner of what is referred to as Area 51 in Nevada. Their method of creation, and the fact they even were being created and given to chosen military personnel and intelligence operatives was such a carefully guarded secret that when a mishap with Atlantean technology in 1983 caused the building housing the lab and all in it to be shifted to another dimension, the knowledge of their existence was all but lost.

The surviving aliens of the 1954 invasion attempt have been trying to find and destroy the remaining devices, as they attempt to soften humanity for the day when another full-forced invasion is launched, while the U.S. government has been trying to reclaim and protect the devices.

The Tin Foil Hat comes in two different varieties: one that can be subtly shaped and fit inside (or over) other headgear, and one that looks like the crude and cartoonish, tin-foil hat from conspiracy theory jokes. (The first variety was made in the government labs at Area 51, while the other was made by a researcher who went rogue and decided the general public needed to warned about the psychic aliens and given the means to protect themselves. From 1978 through his death in 2019, he made and distributed an unknown number of these while living life on the run from both government agents and aliens.)
   Although both varieties appear to be made from tin foil, they are made of a special material, the formula for which was lost when the secret lab was dimensionally shifted.
   When worn, the Psychic Blocker grants a character enhanced protection to all mind-effecting magic, mind-effecting  spell-like effects, and mind-effecting psychic or psionic powers. When targeted with such abilities or spells, the wearer gains a +6 bonus to the Will save to resist. If no saving throw would normally be allowed, the character may roll a Will save with a +3 bonus to resist.

Type (and Number) of Psychic Blocker Found
Psychic Blockers are usually located in abandoned government safehouses, hideouts for aliens or human traitors working with them, or among the possessions of dead friends (who passed away under mysterious circumstances, or simply of old age) or defeated foes. Roll 1d10 the following table to see what kind of Psychic Blocker, as well as how many, is found by the player characters.

1d10 Result      Type of Blocker      Number Found
1                       First Variety            1
2                       First Variety            1d6
3                       First Variety            1d6+1
4-6                   Second Variety        1d6+2
7-9                   Second Variety        2d6+2
10                    Second Variety        3d6-1

These appear to be normal sunglasses that are made in styles that were popular in the 1960s, 1970s, or up until the mid-1980s. The lenses, however, are made with materials derived from alien technology that was recovered from their wrecked ships.
   When worn, the character can see all things as they actually are. With a Spot skill check (DC8) the wearer of sees though illusions generated by magic or psychic sources, sees the exact locations of creatures or objects under blur or displacement effects, sees invisible creatures or objects normally, and sees the true form of polymorphed, changed, or transmuted things. Creatures who can shapechange, like certain supernatural beings, will be surrounded by a vague, faintly glowing shape of their natural form, or their most commonly used alternate appearance. The range of the ocular filter is the wearer's line of sight. They will also reveal the true appearance of beings and items in photographs, broadcasted signals, or in films.
Number Found and Styles of Ocular Filters Found 
Ocular Filters are usually located in abandoned government safehouses, hideouts for aliens or human traitors working with them, or among the possessions of dead friends (who passed away under mysterious circumstances, or simply of old age) or defeated foes. Roll 1d10 the following table to see what kind of Psychic Blocker, as well as how many, is found by the player characters.

1d10 Result      Number Found and Style
1                       1d3 1960s
2                       1d2 1960s, 1d2 1970
3                       1d3 1970s
4                       1d3 1970s, 1d3 1980s
5-7                   1d3+1 1970s, 1d3+1 1980s
8-9                   1d2 1970s, 1d6+1 1980s
10                    1d2 1960s, 1d6 1970s, 1d6+3 1980s

All text in this post is released under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with its terms. Copyright 2019 Steve Miller. (If you find this material useful or interesting, please purchase some of our actual products. It will encourage us to make more!)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Of Love and Muses (and Vengeance): d20 Muses and Erinyes

Bessie Love began her acting career in 1915, after her Mom told her to get a job. D.W. Griffith, at Biograph Studios, first gave her a couple small parts, but she struck a chord with audiences and her star rose quickly. She spent the next 15 years playing bubbly, energetic, and adventuresome young ladies. As sound arrived to film, Love was aging out of her signature roles, and her Hollywood career began to fizzle. She moved to England in the mid-1930s where she continued to act on radio, stage, and later, television.

Bessie Love in Greece, 1938
(Photo by Dr. Henry W. Jones, Jr.)
But, as revealed in this post and this post, Bessie Love was more than just an actress: She actively battled the forces of occult evil for 25 years, from 1925 through 1950.

During one of her adventures, in 1938, Love stopped the fascist government of Greece from gaining control of the Muses and channeling their powers to corrupt the creative urge of humans across the world. The Muses were so grateful for Love's intervention that they now often wear her form when appearing before petitioners and those exceptional people to whom they wish to offer gifts and inspiration unbidden. It was also at that time that she came into possession of the ritual through which a random or specific Muse can be called and asked for assistance.

There are two rituals for summoning a muse. They are essentially the same, but one involves an extra where a summoner (who must also be the petitioner--the person who is seeking the Muses's assistance) can name the specific Muse he wishes to call to him. Both versions of the ritual are detailed on a scroll that dates back to the days of Ancient Greece.
   On the version of the rituals recovered by Bessie Love, notes scribbled in modern-day Greek on the back of the scroll state that either version should only be performed every ten days. "Performing either more frequently will result in total failure, or always call E.," the note concludes.

Summoning a Random Muse
Using ink mixed with the blood, sweat and tears of a creative person or performer, the petitioner must write his or name on fabric or paper that has been carried close to the skin of an artist or performer for at least three days (this does not need to be the same person the blood, sweat, and tears were collected from).
   The petitioner must take the inscribed item to a place where creative or intellectual activities of creation or sharing take place, such as a theater, art studio, or university lecture hall. Muses may also be summoned on the slope of Mount Elikonas where the original temple to Zeus stood in ancient times, or anywhere on the island of Melos. (All these places are considered sacred by the Muses.)
    Once at the intended summoning location, the petitioner must burn the item while reciting the following words:

Oh, beautiful Spirit of Creation!
I ask you to spark within me a fire!
I ask you to let the light of Inspiration burn through the night!
Come, beautiful Spirit of Creation!

Ourania the Muse, as she appears in modern day
  This incantation must be spoken loudly 1d6 times while the item is being consumed by the flames. Then, what appears to be a slender young woman appears, forming instantly from the faint tendrils of smoke twisting in the air. She says that she has been called by the drive to create and that she will help if she can.
   The summoner gains a base +1 bonus to all Craft, Knowledge, and Perform skill checks made for three days after the Muse was called, with the benefit expiring as the sun sets on the third day. Specific Muses grant the summoner additional benefits detailed below. (These expire at the same time as the base benefit.)
   A random Muse answers the petitioners call in the simplest form of the ritual. Unless asked, she does not reveal her name, nor spell out what boons she is granting the petitioner. To see which Muse appears and what benefits she grants the petitioner, the GM rolls a d10 on the following table:

d10 Roll/Muse     Benefits Granted
1. Calliope           +4 bonus to all Diplomacy, Knowledge (Law),
                             and Craft (Writing) skill checks.  +2 bonus to
                             Will saves to resist Fear effects.
                                Calliope sometimes wears a crown.
2. Clio                  +4 bonus to all Research, Knowledge (History),
                             Perform (Guitar/Plucked Stringed Instruments)
                             skill checks.
                                 Clio usually appears holding a book.
3. Erato                +4 bonus to all Seduction, Sense Motive, and
                            Craft (Writing) skill checks. The bonus on
                            Craft (Writing) increases to +6 if the character
                            is writing romantic poetry or lyrics.
                                Erato usually appears carrying a lyre.
4. Euterpe            +4 bonus to all Diplomacy, Investigate, and
                             Perform (Wind Instruments) skill checks.
                                Euterpe usually appears carrying a flute.
5. Melpomene     +4 bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, and Perform (Act)
                            skill checks. +4 bonus to all saving throws and
                            attack rolls while fighting on behalf of those
                            who live on the Isle of Melos.
                                 Melpomene usually appears carrying a combat
                            knife and wearing a Tragedy mask (which she
                            removes before speaking to a petitioner).
6. Ourania           +4 bonus to Knowledge (Astrology),
                            Knowledge (Astronomy), and Navigation
                            skill checks.
                                Ourania appears wearing a gown that glitters as
                            if it were made of stars and carrying a small globe
                            of the planet Earth.
7. Polymnia        +4 bonus to Craft (Music), Craft (Sculpture),
                            Knowledge (Mathematics), Knowledge (Religion),
                            and Perform (Song) skill checks.
                                Polymnia  usually appears carrying a lyre.
8. Terpsichore    +4 bonus to all Knowledge and Perform (Dance)
                           skill checks. The bonus on Knowledge skill checks
                           increases to +6 if the skill check is being made to
                           pass the knowledge onto other characters.
                               Terpsichore usually appears wearing a laurel
                           wreath on her head and carrying a harp.
9. Thalia             +4 bonus to Knowledge (Mathematics),
                            Craft (Structural), Craft (Writing/Art),
                            Perform (Comedy) skill checks. The bonus on
                            Craft (Writing/Art) increases to +6 if
                            the work is humorous in nature. +1 bonus to
                            attack rolls when wielding a scythe or sickle.
                               Thalia appears wearing a Comedy mask, which
                           she removes before speaking with the petitioner.
                           She also often carries a club painted in bright,
                           cheerful colors.
10. Erinyes         +4 bonus to Bluff and Intimidate skill checks,
                           as well as a +2 bonus to all attack and damage
                           rolls. However, after the three days have passed,
                           if the summoner has harmed or killed innocent or
                          defenseless sentient beings within three days
                          prior to calling the Muses, or while enjoying the
                          benefits of the summoning, the summoner will be
                          subject to a curse that imposes a -4 penalty on all
                          attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and
                          savings throws. The curse can only be lifted with
                          a miracle, wish, or if the summoner specifically
                          calls upon Erinyes by following the steps detailed
                          below. (Erinyes is not one of the Muses, but rather
                          a goddess of vengeance who enjoys answering
                          calls for of those other entities, posing as them,
                          and then cursing and forcing atonement out of
                          those she feels have escaped punishment for

Summoning a Specific Muse
The ritual and preparation needed to summon a particular Muse is similar to what is described above, with the following differences: The petitioner writes the name of the Muse he or she wishes to summon above his or her own name, and replaces "Spirit of Creation" in the first and last lines of the spoken incantation with the Muse's name.

Calliope, after being rescued by Bessie Love in 1938
   Once the specific Muse appears, the petitioner is immediately drained of 500XP, the spiritual cost of demanding that a divine being manifest in the presence of a mortal. In addition to benefits the Muse grants upon appearing, she will also answer up to seven questions relating to arts, sciences, creation, and specific artists, performers, and scientists. (The number of questions that will be answered equals 1d6+1, with an additional questions equal to the petitioners Charisma bonus, to a maximum of seven.)
   In addition to knowledge and the temporary blessings, a specific summoned Muse can also be asked to grant the petitioner one of the following permanent benefits, for a price:
   *Gain Educated, Investigator, Skill Focus, or Leadership as a bonus feat.
   *Make a single Craft, Knowledge, or Perform skill a permanent class skill.
   *Gain a permanent +1 increase to Wisdom or Charisma attribute (maximum of three increases for each attribute, and the attribute cannot be raised of 19; the Muses don't want too much competition from mortals)..
   As soon as the Muse grants the petitioner's request, he or she is drained of 1,000XP.
   Whether a character is wishing to summon a specific Muse, or is requesting a permanent benefit, the experience point cost cannot cause the character to drop below his or her current level.
   If the 500XP drain would bring about a level loss, no points are drained. The GM should roll on the table above to see what Muse (or if Erinyes) appears.
   If the 1,000XP cost would bring about a level loss, no points are drained. The Muse tells the character that she feels he or she is not ready to fully appreciate the gift being asked for, but that she may give it in the future.
   The summoned Muse may also ask the petitioner to undertake a quest, or may offer additional assistance if the petitioner is engaged in a struggle she considered important. Some Muses may lend the character an artifact to use for the duration of the quest or struggle. The item is returned to the Muse once the quest is over, or the danger has passed. (These artifacts, and conditions surrounding their use, are detailed in this post.)
   If the petitioner agrees to undertake a quest for the Muse, the 500XP lost during original summoning are immediately regained. This is the only way the XPs taken by the Muses can be restored (other than through the normal methods of earning additional experience points).

Multiple Summoning Attempts
Despite the note on the scroll recovered by Bessie Love in 1938, the ritual to call the Muses can be performed by the same petitioner with possible success as frequently as often as every four days. It's only with a ten-day period between summonings that there is a high likelihood of actually calling a Muse.
   If less than three days go between summonings or summoning attempts, the call will always fail.
   If there are between 4 and 9 days between summonings, the GM must roll 1d10 against the following table to see the results.

1d10    Result of Frequent Summoning Attempts
1-2.       Failure. The Muses and Erinyes ignore the call.
3-8.      Erinyes answers.
9-10.    Roll on the Summon a Random Muse table

Summoning Erinyes
Calling upon Erinyes is not something that is recommended by mystics, occultists, or any sane individual. She exists to first and foremost to punish the wicked, and anyone who purposefully calls upon her will either find themselves a target of her punishment, or an instrument of search to avenge those who have been wronged. The one possible exception would be for someone who has been subjected to her curse while she was posing as another goddess, as asking her directly to lift the curse may be the easiest option.
   There is a base 90% chance that an attempt to call Erinyes will be successful. That chance increases by 1% for each additional person who takes part in the ritual (91% for two individuals, 92% for three, 93% for four, and so on).
   Those who wish to summon Erinyes, must write her name on a piece of paper, parchment, or thin piece of bark in their own blood. They must then wrap this document around a weapon that they have used against a sentient being, or which has been used by a sentient being against them. The item must then be placed into a fire, and the summoners must chant Erinyes' name with increasing volume 2d10+2 times. At the moment the goddess appears, the fire explodes upwards and is instantly snuffed out and replaced with thick, acrid smoke with swirls and coalesces into the manifestation of the goddess. The weapon and the material is was wrapped in are completely consumed, taken by the goddess as an initial offering.

A manifestation of Erinyes
    When directly called upon, Erinyes wastes no time with pleasantries, but immediately demands to know why those who have called her think they are worthy of her attention (or mercy, if they have been cursed by her).
    If she finds the answer lacking (if it's too arrogant, or if an attempt is made to deceive her, for example), she glares silently and with obvious disgust at those who called her and then dissolves into smoke. If those who summoned her aren't already cursed, for the next three days, they suffer a -2 penalty to all skill checks, saving throws, and attack rolls (with the effect ending at sundown on the third day, or following a miracle or wish).
   If Erinyes finds the characters worthy of her, her response depends on why she has been summoned.
   If she is being called to aid in a quest for revenge: She will answer four questions that the summoner believes will provide help in bringing about the revenge being sought. She will warn those who summoned her that revenge may not satisfy their thirst for justice, and that that if they are not careful, they may themselves become the monster they seek to slay. If summoners do not subsequently seriously pursue their attempt to gain revenge, she will subject them to the curse described in the result for rolling a 10 on the table for summoning Muses in the Summoning a Random Muse section.
   If she is being called to lift a curse on one or more of those who have summoned her: The summoners are charged with bringing a murderer or other criminal who has caused suffering to justice. Here are some suggestions for missions that Erinyes may task characters with. She lifts her curse as soon as characters agree to undertake her mission of vengeance, as well as granting them the temporary blessings described in the result for rolling a 10 on the table for summoning Muses in the Summoning a Random Muse section. If the characters do not subsequently engage in serious efforts to complete Erinyes' mission, the curses all who summoned her, as described on the table.

All text in this post is released under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with its terms. Copyright 2019 by Steve Miller.

If you this material useful and entertaining, consider buying some of the many game supplements and anthologies of comics and short stories that NUELOW Games has to offer.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Artifacts of the Muses

NUELOW Games's primary creator Steve Miller posted his latest bit of fun that casts real-life silent movie star Bessie Love as a superhero who battled supernatural evil from 1925 to 1950 over at his 'Shades of Gray' blog. We'll eventually bring that article over here, but, in the meantime, here's a little something that ties in with that post....

By Steve Miller & L.L. Hundal
All text in this post is released under the Open Game License,
and may be reproduced in accordance with its terms

The nine goddesses of creativity and scholarship, the Muses, have a number of powerful magic items that they grant use of to those who have earned their favor, who are engaged in work they consider important, or to whom they have assigned a particular quest. The items all grant certain basic abilities to those who have the Muses' blessing to use their treasures, as well ones that are unique to each item. Those who gain possession of the items and use them without the Muses's blessing, are subjected to a curse.

General Powers and Shared Traits  of the Artifacts of the Muses
The mortal granted the use of one of the Artifacts of the Muses enjoys the following basic benefits when the item is worn, wielded, or otherwise carried on his or her person.
   * +1 bonus to all Craft, Knowledge, and Perform skill checks.
   * +1 bonus to saving throws against Mind-Affecting magic and spell-like effects.
   * Each of the Muses' artifacts radiates faint magic of an indeterminable type. Analyze and identify spells fail to reveal anything about the items. Only a wish spell, or an explanation of the item's power from one of the Muses, or the Greek gods Apollo or Erinyes can reveal the items uses. (Some uses can be gleaned through trail and error. Generally speaking, however, a character who rightfully has possession of one of the artifacts will have had their purpose explained to them.
   * Once the purpose for which the Muse lent the artifact to a mortal has been fulfilled, the artifact vanishes. (The Muse may appear to reclaim it in person, but this is rare.)

Descriptions and Powers of Individual Artifacts
   The Muse's Lyre (given by Clio, Erato, and Polymnia, a golden lyre with a silver crossbow carved with symbols representing the Nine Muses): Gain +4 bonus to all Charisma and Wisdom-based skill and attribute checks.
   Euterpe's Flute (given by Euterpe, a double flute made of wood and bound together with spun gold): Gain the ability to understand and fluently speak all languages, but not read them.
   Melpomene's Knife (given by Melpomene, a large combat knife with small symbols representing the Nine Muses etched into the blade, four on side, five on the other): This combat knife deals 1d4+5 points of damage (+5 enchantment bonus), and the person carrying or wielding cannot be flanked.
   Melpomene's Mask (given by Melpomene, an unadorned traditional theatrical Tragedy Mask made of alabaster): While worn, the mask grants a +5 bonus to Move Silently skill checks.
   Ourania's Globe: (given by Ourania, a softball-sized globe of the planet Earth): When held under the open night sky, the user can transport him- or herself, plus a number of other characters within a 10-foot radius equal to the total of the user's Intelligence and Charisma attribute bonuses, to any location he has seen on a map. The user and companions appear outside a building, or near a location, where the performance or creation of art or scholarly lectures usually takes place, or used to take place, that is closest to the specified location. The artifact can be used once every three nights. Unwilling or unaware targets of this effect receive a Will save with a +2 bonus to avoid being transported.
   Terpsechore's Crown (given by Terpsechore, a wreath of forever-fresh bay laurel branches and leaves). This wreath gives the wearer the use of a spell-like abilities that mimics charm person three times per day.
   Terpsechore's Harp (given by Terpsechore, a portable silver harp with her symbol engraved with gold on it): Grants the user a +5 bonus to Perform (Stringed Instruments) when played. If the user utters Terpsechore's name while playing the harp with a successful DC12 Perform (Stringed Instruments) skill check, a number of targets equal to his or her Charisma bonus within line of sight who can hear the music are subjected to the effects of an Irresistible Dance spell. Targets must dance for as long as the user plans the the Harp, plus a number of rounds equal to his or her Charisma bonus. If an enchanted character is attacked or otherwise injured, the effect ends and he or she may act as normal.
   Thalia's Club (given by Thalia, a two-foot long club that ends in a crook and which is painted gaily in bright blue, green, and red colors): The club deals 1d4+5 points of damage (+5 enchantment bonus), and the person carrying or wielding it has a reduction of 2 against blunt damage.
   Thalia's Mask (given by Thalia, an unadorned traditional theatrical Comedy Mask made of alabaster): While worn, the mask grants a +5 bonus to Tumble skill checks, as well as a +2 enchantment bonus to Armor Class/Defense Rating.

Possessing and Using the Artifacts Without Permission
If a character comes illicetly or unwittingly into possession of a Muse's artifact--by looting or otherwise stealing it directly from the person it was lent to, or taking it from a treasure hoard found in a long-abandoned locatation--the Muse who owns it will appear to him or her in a dream. She will introduce herself and explain to the character that if he or chooses to keep the artifact, he or she will be required to adopt the task that the person it was legitmately supposed to be in the possession of, or return the artifact within three days. The Muse will explain the original quest. (The Muse will leave it up to the character to figure out how to pursue the quest or return the item--which can be learned in a variety of ways--but the item must be brought to a place where artists and scholars either create, work, or perform.)
   If the character has not started to work toward the Muse's assignment within three days, he or she is visited in a dream by Erinyes, a goddess of revenge who is dedicated to punishing liars, cheats, and those who escape the hand of justice. Erinyes warns the character to return that which was stolen, and the the dream turns into a nightmare full of torture and monsters. The character must make a Fortitude save (DC12) or sufffer a -1 penalty to all skill checks, attribute checks, and saving throws the following day.
   Erinyes haunts the character's dreams every night until the Muse's item is returned, or until Erinyes is someone placated. Each night Erinyes sends the character nightmares, he or she must roll a Fortitude save, which increases in difficulty by 2 each night (DC12, DC14, DC16, and so on), and the penalty to checks and saving throws on the following day increases by +1 for each consequetively failed saving throw. Conversely, the penalty is reduced by 1 for each night a successful save is made.
   Magical wards and spells intended to protect the character from being haunted by the goddess in hir or her dreams must be recast each night. Remove curse and similar efforts will have no effect, as the character isn't cursed; he or she has just attracted the attention of a wrathful goddess.
   As soon as the item is returned to the Muse, or the character has devoted him- or herself to the quest or task its possesser was supposed to undertake, Erinyes stops her nightly visits, appearing only once more along side the wronged Muse. The Goddess of Vengeance says she hopes the character has learned a lesson, while the Muse thanks him or her for helping. Any accumulated penalties are removed, and the character enjoys the benefits outlined in the "Summoning a Random Muse" for the Muse the artifact belongs to, as if he or she had summoned that Muse. (Click here for details.)