Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Terror of the Killdozer!

Here's a series of tables that you can use to randomly generate ideas for an adventure inspired by artwork from the great Gil Kane for a rejected cover for a comic book adaptation of the 1941 short story "Killdozer" by Theodore Sturgeon.

Roll a six-sided die and record the result to make your basic outline. If results seem incompatible, you can re-roll, or you can use them as a mysterious element in your story and/or an avenue to come up with a truly outlandish and unique backstory for the rampage of the Killdozer!

A Randomly Generated Roleplaying Game Adventure Outline

A series of mishaps and accidents at a worksite culminate with a bulldozer rampaging through the area, crushing everything and everyone in its path. Will the player characters put an end to the nightmare, or will it put an end to them?

1. In the early 1930s.
2. In the mid-1940s.
3. In the late 1950s.
4. In mid-1970s.
5. In the early 1990s.
6. In the late 2020s.

1. In Main, in the north-eastern United States.
2. Near Hadrian's Wall in northern England
3. Near Four Corners in the American Southwest.
4. In southern Afghanistan.
5. In the Amazonian Jungle.
6. In Egypt, not far from Cairo.

1. At a newly opening mine.
2. At a mine that is reopening.
3. At a construction site.
4. At an archeological site.
5. At a lumber camp near a river or lake
6. At a decommissioned military facility

"Killdozer" by Gil Kane

1-2. They are hired to provide security.
3-5. They are part of the project from the beginning.
6. They uncover rumors of strange events that have happened at 
     the site through the centuries, and they come to investigate.

1. Mining
2. Logging
3. Road Construction
4. Demolition of an Abandoned Mental Hospital/Secret 
    Government Research Facility
5. Archeological Excavation of an Area Once Home to a 
    Mysterious and Long-Lost Civilization
6. Construction of a Housing Development

1. Spells protecting a buried Atlantean artifact that have been 
    activated because the vault housing it has been partially 
    unearthed and damaged.
2. Angry spirits (3d6, maximum of 13) of those interred at an 
    ancient burial ground on the site.
3. Demons (3d6, maximum of 13) who were trapped in buried 
    containers but were released when they were damaged.
4. Nature spirits (1d3+1) summoned by militant environmentalist 
    mystics who want to avenge the damage the project is doing 
    to the Earth.
5. An alien device has projected its awareness into the Killdozer.
6. Highly advanced circuitry and an IA, created and installed 
    by a mad scientist.

The Killdozer attacks!

1-3. The "who" and "why" are the same as the "what"; the very 
     activity on the site animated the Killdozer.
4. A crazed mystic seeking revenge against the funders or leaders 
    of the project.
5-6. A mysterious cabal that wants to keep things buried on the site 
     exactly where they are.

1-2. To destroy everyone and everything in its path, for the sake 
    of destruction.
3. To avenge the damage to nature that has been caused by the work 
     at the site.
4. To have proper respect shown to the location and the supernatural 
     beings who dwell there via the performance of ancient, now very 
     obscure, rituals.
5-6. To be transported to another world/dimension.

1-2. Explosives. Lots of explosives.
3. Ramming it with other heavy machinery until it's destroyed.
4. Finding a way to communicate with the spirits/demons animating 
    it and putting them to rest.
5. Letting it run out of gas.
6. Uncovering an ancient artifact hidden at the site (or nearby) and 
    turning it on the Killdozer.

1. Yes. The Killdozer is destroyed and work can continue safely.
2. More or less. The root cause of what animated the Killdozer may 
     cause more mayhem unless additional action is taken.
3. No. Once the Killdozer is stopped, the force animating it seizes 
    control of another vehicle on the site. (Treat as #2 if the solution
    is to put angry spirits/demons to rest.)
4. No. Once the Killdozer is stopped the force animating it possesses 
    workers and the site, turning them into homicidal puppets. 
    (Treat as #2 if the solution is to put angry spirits/demons to rest.)
5. No. Once the kill Killdozer is stopped, the force animating it turns 
    ALL vehicles at the construction site in murderous engines 
    of destruction.
6. No. Once the Killdozer is stopped, a mystical burst of 
    energy transports everyone at the site to the distant past (1-2); 
    an alien planet (3-4); a nightmarish other-dimensional hellscape 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Meet Myron the Living Voodoo Doll

In issues of the anthology title "Dork" and elsewhere, writer and artist, Evan Dorkin brought us tales of Myron the Living Voodoo Doll. Here's an example of one.

Myron the Living Voodoo Doll by Evan Dorkin

Each strip saw Myron have a mishap and that mishap was passed onto some unfortunate victim elsewhere in the world. For reasons that are probably too disturbing to dwell on, NUELOW Games's head honcho finds Myron hilarious. He also thinks he would be an interesting addition to your games.

Myron the Living Voodoo Doll by Evan Dorkin

Design: Steve Miller * Eye Rolls: L.L. Hundal
Based on "Myron the Living Voodoo Doll" by Evan Dorkin
(Myron the Living Voodoo Doll is used without permission... 
and in the hopes that Mr. Dorkin doesn't sic lawyers or Myron on us.)

Myron is the most unusual of voodoo dolls. He is alive, and he wanders about of his own volition. He does not initially seem different from other voodoo doll, but he has the following unique traits:
   * Myron is self-aware and he can speak. If a person thinks to talk to him, he will respond. He will explain his unique nature, but only if asked. (Myron is too busy contemplating the meaningless nature of existence to volunteer information to those he encounters.)
   * Myron can't help but become bonded either to the last person who handles him, or a person that individual chooses to place a curse upon. Whatever harm (or other extreme physical situation, such as being flung across a room) that subsequently befalls Myron also happens to the person who is subject to his inherent voodoo magic. Once bonded to Myron through his voodoo enchantment, (Myron doesn't necessarily want bad things to happen to people, but he is a voodoo doll so he can't help it.)
   * Myron is a tireless wanderer who is forever seeking new horizons. He never remains in one place for more than a few days. He is also one of the greatest escape artists to ever exist. Once he decides it's time for him to move on, there is nothing that prevent him from doing so. (Myron is completely immune to magic that tries to bind him or keep him trapped. Any such attempts cause him to teleport to a random location far, far away... while the person who attempted to magically trap him is subjected to Myron's inherent voodoo curse.)
   * If Myron is destroyed, he reforms 1d6 days later at a random location (see "Where in the World is Myron?, below). If someone had intentionally tried to destroy him that person is now subject to Myron's inherent voodoo curse--until it is shifted onto someone else. (Myron cannot be destroyed by any conventional--or even unconventional--means. The only ways to put an end to his existence and the inherent voodoo curse he carries is to either convince him that he doesn't exist via philosophical debate, or to bring him into the presence of God [the Clockmaker, the Creator, the Big Guy Himself], which will make Myron realize that existence is not meaningless.)

This table is used to both determine how the party first meets Myron, as well as how they might randomly encounter him again later. 

1-2. They find him among the property of a foe they've just defeated.
3. One of them receives a package from an unknown sender. Myron is inside.
4. His is found laying outside one of their homes.
5. A friend (or even an enemy) contacts them and begs them to track Myron, because he or she has fallen victim to Myron's curse and is suffering from random injuries and other mishaps.
6. He drops into one of their laps. Literally.

The GM should roll 1d20 once per game month after the party's first experience with Myron is resolved. On a roll of 1, they cross paths with him again.

This table is used to determine where Myron can be found.

2. On a city street
3. In a daycare center
4. In a prison
5. In a city dump
6. At a train station
7. At a bus depot
8. By the sea shore
9. Along a busy highway
10. Along a country road
11. In the highlands
12. In a swamp
13. In a forest
14. In a jungle
15. In a desert
16. On a golf course
17. In a school
18. At a construction site
19. In the mountains
20. In a coal mine
21. In a cemetery
22. In a war zone
23. In a crack house
24. In a teenaged girl's bedroom
25. In a teenaged boy's bedroom
26. In a church
27. In a mosque
28. In a synagogue
29. In a serial killer's lair
30. In a politician's office
31. Floating on a lake
32. On a weather balloon
33. Floating on a river
34. In a high-rise office building
35. In a top secret government lab
36. On Paradise Island
37. On Gilligan's Island
38. At John Wick's house
39. At the home of a player character's loved ones
40. At a NASA or other space-exploration launch site.

Myron stays in any given area for a limited amount of time, even if the party arranges for him to be trapped (as indicated in "Introducing Myron"). This table determines how long he can be found in the area determined by rolling on "Where in the World is Myron?"

1. 24 hours
2. 48 hours
3. 72 hours
4. 1d6 days
5. 1d6 weeks
6. 1d20+10 hours
   After the indicated period of time has passed, the GM rolls on on "Where in the World is Myron?" to determine where he can next be found.

Each day, it's relevant to determine if a character is injured due to being subject to Myron's inherent  voodoo curse, the GM must roll 1d12. On a "12" he or she rolls on the table below to determine what harm comes to the sufferer. If 1-2 hit points are taken, the character suffers minor discomfort or a sudden appearance of bruises or mild burns. Anything beyond that is painful and possibly lethal. Charactes may roll appropriate saving throws and benefit from any resistances to types of damage they may possess.
   Myron is destroyed if he takes more than 30 hit points of damage. He reappears at a random location 1d6 days later. While Myron is out of commission, there is no need to see if a cursed character suffers an injury.

Types and Amount of Damage
1. Cold Damage: 2d10
2. Crushing Damage: 2d10
3. Drowning Damage: 2d10
4. Electrical/Energy Damage: 2d10
5. Falling Damage:  2d10
6. Fire Damage: 2d10
7. Cold Damage: 4d10
8. Crushing Damage: 4d10
9. Drowning Damage: 4d10
10. Electrical/Energy Damage: 4d10
11. Falling Damage:  4d10
12. Fire Damage: 4d10

'Myron the Living Voodoo Doll' by Evan Dorkin

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

d20 System Feat: Like a Phoenix

Here's a d20 System feat similar to something we may already have done something similar to in Secrets of the Immortals. If we didn't, we probably should have.

LIKE A PHOENIX [General, Minor Power]
When the character dies, he or she is instantly reborn in a blast of fire.
   Prerequisite: Strength 12, Constitution 13, Charisma 12
: Whenever the character is reduced to -10 hit points, his or her body explodes, causing 1d10+10 points of fire damage to all living beings within melee range. Any non-magical items carried or won by the character are reduced to smoldering ash, as is the character's body.
   The player of the deceased character should roll initiative for the following round. On the indicated initiative, a swirl of embers and smoke solidifies into the character's body, at full hit points, and cured of any temporary penalties to attributes or levels. The character is completely nude when resurrected in this fashion.
   Special: Whenever the character is recreated from his or her ashes, the character loses a maximum of 500XP (to the minimum needed to retain his or her current level). The character's age is also reduced 1d6+6 years (to the minimum starting age). Additionally, the player must roll a successful Fortitude save (DC18). If the saving throw fails, the character suffers a permanent loss of 1 Constitution point.
   If the character's Constitution is reduced to 11 or lower, this feat no longer provides any benefit.

(All text in this post is presented under the Open Game License, and it may be reproduced in accordance with its terms.)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Puzzini's Elixir of Immortality

This post was inspired by "Forever and Ever" by Steve Ditko, one of four short stories that are included in the forthcoming NUELOW Games comics/RPG-hybrid book "Immortal Tales by Steve Ditko". (Some version of this material will be included in it.)

On May 23, 1568, the Italian alchemist Mario Puzzini sent messengers to his fellow practicioners of the Arts that he had successfully created an elixir of immortality. When his fellow alchemists arrived at his laboratory a few days later, however, they found the place ransacked and Puzzini and his assistant missing. Puzzini was never heard from or seen again, and the heaps of ashes found in the fireplace was believed to all that remained of his notes regarding his many alchemical discoveries--including the secret of immortality.

A few years later, rumors began to arise that the assistant, Georgio, has been spotted in different places throughout Italy and Europe. It was further claimed that he was living proof that Puzzini's immortality formula had worked--or, more specifically, immortal proof that the formula had worked. It also came to be widely believed that Georgio had murdered Puzzini and stolen his secrets and that the ashes in the fireplace was to throw pursuers off his trail. As time passed, rumors became legends, and those legends passed into near-forgotten obscurity... but well-informed alchemists continued to hold out hope that Puzzini's formula could still be found, either due to an immortal being walking the Earth.

The truth is that Georgio did indeed become immortal by drinking Puzzini's elixir. The mixture was flawed, however, and it was Puzzini himself who destroyed his lab and burned the notes and formulas; the aging alchemist was so angered and disappointed by his failure that he quit the art of alchemy on that day. He did, however, let Georgio keep the notebook containing Puzzini's final attempt at creating an immortality elixir, so that he Georgio might have a chance to perfect it, or do undo its effects.

Unfortunately for Georgio, Puzzini's notebook was taken from him by an unscrupulous mystic from whom he sought assistance during the late 1700s and he has no idea what has become of it. But maybe he can cross the paths of a group of heroes who have the skills and motivation to help free him from what he has come to view as a living Hell, and perhaps even succeed where Puzzini failed.

This section describes how to use Puzzini's Notebook to create his elixir of immortality and what happens to a mortal who consumes it. .

Creating Puzzini's Elixir of Immortality
The method for creating Puzzini's Elixir of Immortality is described in a notebook that consists of 100 pages of parchment bound within plan leather covers. The pages are covered with writing and formulas written with a spidery script. It takes 3d4+2 hours of total time, as well as a successful  (DC14) or Knowledge: Arcane Lore (DC19) skill checks to understand its content and successfully understand the content and thus apply it to the creation of Puzzini's Elixir of Immortality.
   Once the material in the notebook has been mastered, the character must have access to a well-equipped alchemist lab and at least 3 ranks in the Knowledge: Physical Sciences skill or 5 ranks in Knowledge: Arcane in order to actually create a dose of the Elixir. A successful brewing process takes a 12 hours of uninterrupted work and careful monitoring of distillation and the mixing and remixing of the liquids and two successful Knowledge: Physical Sciences (DC18) or Knowledge: Arcane Lore (DC15) skill.
   The nature of the elixir that is created at the end of the process depends on the success or failures of the skill checks.

Art by Steve Ditko
If both skill checks fail during the brewing process, the resulting elixir has the following effect
* The consumer must roll a Fortitude save (DC13). If the saving throw fails, the character's Constitution attribute is immediately reduced by 1 point. He or she falls very ill and is sickened for ten days, minus his or her Constitution bonus (adjusted if necessary). The character regains the Constitution point upon recovery from the illness.

If one skill check fails during the brewing process, the resulting elixir has the following effect:
* The consumer immediately becomes 2d10+10 years younger. If the elixir is consumed by a player character, the age cannot be less than the minimum starting age for the character's race, but NPCs can be reduced to infancy. The character's levels Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma attributes remain unaffected, but adjustments may have be made to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution attribute scores if the character has been reduced to young adulthood or even younger. The character ages as normal, just starting from the point to which the clock was turned back.

If no skill checks are failed during the brewing process, the resulting elixir has the following effect:
* The consumer immediately becomes 2d10 years younger. The age cannot be less than the minimum starting age of a player character of the consumer's race.
* The character no longer ages, and is immune to all aging effects, natural and magical.
* The character is immune to all physical harm from any source, including radiation, toxins, and poisons. As soon as he or she is about to take damage, the character immediately becomes insubstantial. He or she remains in this state until the source of the potential physical harm is no longer dealing damage.
* The character is seized with a lack of ambition and is disinterested in improving him- or herself. He or she has a 50% penalty on all earned experience points (round down).
* The character is drained of creative impulses and finds it hard to focus on intellectual matters. He or she has a -6 penalty to all Craft, Knowledge, and Perform skill checks. The character has a -2 penalty to all Bluff, Intimidate, Hide, Search and Spot skill checks.
*The effects of the elixir persist for 10d100+100 years. Once its duration ends, the character begins to age normally and all penalties to experience point gain 

Creating an Antidote to Puzzini's Elixir of Immortality
Creating an Antidote to Puzzini's Elixir of Immortality requires access to a well-equipped alchemy lab, or a well-equipped modern chemistry lab with either access to Puzzini's original formula or a sample of the correctly brewed elixir to analyze. 
   If a character is starting from Puzzini's formula, he or she must first successfully reverse engineer it. This requires 2d6+4 hours of intensive research, as well as a Knowledge: Arcane Lore (DC14, reduced to DC11 if the character has 5 or more ranks in the Knowledge: Physical Sciences skill). If the skill check fails, the character cannot create a successful antidote until gaining an additional rank in the Arcane Lore skill; at that time, he or she can try the skill check again. (However, the character must still spent six hours of uninterrupted work, distilling and mixing liquids in order to create a sweet-tasting but otherwise unremarkable potion.)
   Once a successful formula has been devised, it takes six hours of uninterrupted work, distilling and mixing liquids, as well as two successful Craft: Chemical skill checks (DC12). The end result is one dose that, if consumed within 24 hours of its creation, will end neutralize Puzzini's Elixir of Immortality and all of its effects. The character once again ages normally, can suffer injury and death, and is no longer subject to any skill check or experience point penalties.

If there's any interest whatsoever, we can provide some random adventure outline generation tables involving where Puzzini's journal can be found. Just let us know.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Valley of the Immortals

Legends tell of a valley where people are forever young. This post provides tables to randomly generate an adventure outline for characters who set out to find the fabled location.

1. In the Austrian alps, near the border with Italy.
2. A mountainous island in the Atlantic ocean.
3. A mountainous island in the Pacific ocean.
4. In the northern Andes mountains
5. In the Ethiopian Highlands.
6. In the hills above Loch Nevis, Scotland.

HOW IS IT HIDDEN? (Roll 1d6)
1. Surrounded by steep hills/cliffs. (Mountaineering skills, knowledge of secret underground tunnel system, or flight needed to access.)
2. Thick forests/rugged terrain, no easy road access.
3. Only reachable by boat, but surrounded by navigation hazards.
4. Magical misdirection. (Requires a special compass to find, or counter-magic.)
5. A thick fog and cloud-cover surrounds the outer edges, causing those who enter to lose their way and bypass the valley, unless they are members of the community or aware of the one walkable path in and out.
6. Roll two more times on the table, rerolling any additional results of 6. The valley is hidden by a combination of both described methods.

1. A magic fountain at the center of the valley. All who drink from it become immortal.
2. A strange property in the soil causes those who live here and eat food grown here to become immortal.
3. A shape-shifted dragon lives among the immortals. It has placed an enchantment on all who live in this valley, because it wants company.
4. An ancient artifact is buried deep in the ground, and its radiation makes humans and humanoids who dwell in the valley immortal.
5. The church, the school, and pub all conceal gateways to the realms of the gods; the magical energy seeping through gives all sentient beings in the valley eternal life.
6. No one in the valley is immortal. A strange energy field causes time to pass differently in the valley, with each hour spent within equal to a year beyond. (Skip "How Long Must a Person Be in the Valley to Become Immortal" if this result is rolled).

1. 24 hours..
2. One week.
3. One month.
4. Through All-Hallows Eve.
5. During the Winter Solstice.
6. As soon as the person enters the valley.

1. Nothing. The immortality will stay with them until they die through violence or starvation.
2. Nothing, but the aging process resumes the aging normally.
3. They begin to feel achy and sick. It goes so bad within two days that they must stay in bed for 1d6+6 days. After that, the age normally. If they return to the valley before the sickness passes, they immediately feel better.
4. Nothing they eat or drink provides nourishment. They will die of starvation if they do not return to the valley.
5. They become insubstantial but glow faintly. If they don't return within 24 hours, they disperse like glitter on the wind.
6. The time they spent in the valley catches up with them, and they age one year for each minute spent outside the valley, possibly dying of old age and crumbling to dust.

1-2. They don't. They like visitors, as it helps them keep up on the outside world, and rely on the discretion of the outsiders, or the general populations unwillingness to believe that a valley of immortals could even exist.
3. They imprison and eventually execute those who do not want to stay in the valley willingly.
4. They tell those who want to go that they will suffer a painful death upon leaving the valley's life-extending zone. (This may or may not be true.)
5-6. They do nothing to stop them, but they contact a cult of assassins devoted to keep the valley's secret and these assassins then hunt those who have left.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentine's Day Adventure Seeds

Why did the PC's sweetheart miss the romantic dinner? (Roll 1d12)
   1. Abducted by aliens.
   2. Abucted by enemies of the player characters.
   3. Abducted by an insane ex lover
   4. Caught up in a hostage standoff at a Starbucks
   5. Deep cover agent status reactivated, now on a mission
   6. Fell through a dimensional portal that opened in the living room
   7. Was in an accident, now has amnesia
   8. Is possessed by an ancient spirit on a quest for revenge
   9. Taken hostage by terrorists at Nakatomi Plaza
  10. Still sleeping off last night's bender
  11. Got lost along the way, stumbled into a meeting between rival gangs
  12. Abducted by a mummy who thinks he or she is its long lost love, reincarnated

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Potions for me but not for thee!

Magic potions

Potions (healing, invisibility, flying, and so on) do not all need to be the same. Instead, they can be tailored for specific species/races... and if used by other beings, they can have unexpected side effects. This little article provides some random tables GMs can use to make looted potions more interesting in the game. (It adds a little more bookkeeping and complexity that will need to be kept track of, but if some of the burden is shifted to the PCs--like requiring them to note where particular potions were looted from--it shouldn't be overwhelming.)

This is revealed along with the nature of the potion when it is identified via magic or the application of appropriate skills. (The GM should feel free to replace any result with species/races relevant to the campaign.)

1-2. Humans
3-4. Elves
5. Dwarves
6. Halflings
7-8. Gnomes
9.   Tieflings
10. Unidentifiable Alien Creature
11. Half-Elves
12-13. Atlanteans
14-15. Witchkind
16. Goblins
17. Kobolds
18. Ogres
19. Dragonborn
20. Amazons

This is discovered when a character not of the correct species/race drinks the potion. It is in addition to the potion's regular function, unless otherwise noted under the result. If the generated result doesn't seem to apply in any way to the basic effect of the potion, there are no side effects from consumption.

1.    No side effect.
2.    The potion's effect is delayed for 1d4+1 rounds.
3.    The potion's effectiveness/duration is doubled.
4.    The character enjoys a Damage Reduction of 1 against all sources.
5.    The character is healed of all injuries.
6.    The character is healed of all injuries and gains 10 temporary hit points.
7.    The character's eyes are like bottomless pools of darkness for 24 hours.
       The character has lowlight vision for that time.
8.    The character gains a +2 bonus to all saving throws for 24 hours.
9.    The character gains a +2 bonus to all skill checks for 24 hours.
10.  The character becomes 2d20 years (2d20x10 for long-lived beings) 
        younger. Only physical age is impacted and the character retains all 
        levels and learned skills. The character cannot become younger than 
        infancy. The age reversal is permanent unless reversed by a wish spell 
       or the direct intervention of a god or some other powerful being.
11.  The potions effectiveness and/or duration is halved.
12.  The character suffers a -2 penalty to all skill checks for 24 hours.
13.  The character suffers a -2 penalty to all saving throws for 24 hours
14.  The character's skin starts to burn if he or she ventures into the sunlight 
       for 24 hours. He or she suffers 1d6+2 points of damage for each round 
       of exposure.
15.  The character's STR and CON attributes are reduced by 2 for 24 hours.
16.  The character's eyes glow with a brilliant green light for 24 hours, 
       even through his or her eyelids..
17.  All of the character's hair falls out. It will regrow naturally, or can be 
       restored by a wish spell or the direct intervention of a god or some 
       other powerful being.
18.  The character and all items carried at the time of consuming the potion 
        become insubstantial for 24 hours. The character appears normal, 
        but he or she can move through walls, cannot pick up any items etc. 
        and can only be harmed by magic and magic weapons.
19.   The character's INT and WIS attributes are reduced by 2 for 24 hours.
20.   No side effect.

From "The Elixir" by Steve Ditko

(All text in this post is released under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with its terms. Copyright 2021 Steve Miller.)