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.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

If Santa Claus is coming...

 ... to one of your projects, and NUELOW Games has four possible portraits that you can use in it!

NUELOW Stock ARt: Santa Claus cover

This new stock art collection features our usual wide-open license AND in the spirit of Santa himself, it can be yours for free. (Your can pay whatever you want for it, if you feel like giving US a Christmas present!)

Click here to see previews of and/or to download NUELOW Stock Art Collection: Santa Claus at DriveThruRPG!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Cursed Candy Canes

The Christmas-hating mad scientist Dr. Stephen Nicholas and his faithful assistant Holly have unleashed their latest scheme to destroy the Season of Good Will and Cheer--cursed candy canes!

Christmas Art by Richard Sala

Using ancient rituals and Atlantean magi-tech, they infused thousands of candy canes with dark magics that places those who consume them under a curse. These candy canes have been mixed in with non-cursed ones and will soon be distributed all across the United States and Canada!

Will the heroes be able to stop this evil, or will Dr. Nick and Holly finally meet their evil goal?!

(The rest of this post is released under the Open Game License, and the text may be reproduced in accordance with its terms.)

The Cursed Candy Canes can be distinguished from normal candy canes, because they emit a faint magical aura of an undeterminable type or school. Characters with a natural ability to detect magic, or those using spells or magic items to do the same, can identify the Cursed Candy Canes.
   The magic of the Cursed Candy Canes is only active from the stroke of Midnight at the beginning of December 1 to the final moment of January 5. 
    The following tables determine the size of a cursed candy cane and what effect it has on the character who consumes it. These rules are suitable for use with all d20 System games, as well as all OSR game systems.
   First, roll on "Size of Candy Cane" and then roll to determine what curse it bestows upon those who consume it.

Size of Candy Cane (Roll 1d10)
1-8. Mini Candy Cane (must be completely consumed for curse 
       to take effect)
7-10. Regular Candy Cane (only half needs to be consumed for curse 
       to take effect; can be split between two characters)

The Curses (Roll 1d10)
1.  The character can only communicate by singing Christmas songs 
      and carols.
2.  The character becomes enraged whenever he or she hears music 
     and attacks the nearest person for 1d4+2 rounds.
3.  The character's teeth begin to rot rapidly and they all fall out within
     1d6+2 days.
4.  The character can't sleep. Whenever he or she closes her eyes, terrifying 
     visons gigantic, semi-humanoid sugar plums oozing a strange, sparkling 
     substance haunts him or her.
5.  Whenever the character sees an image of Santa Claus, or someone 
     dressed in a Santa outfit, he or she is terrified and must flee the area 
     at maximum movement rate. The character remains terrified for a
     a number of rounds equal to 10 less his or her Wisdom bonus.
6.  The character must naked whenever he or she stands or passes below
7.  The character becomes semi-insubstantial, appearing ghostly and 
     translucent. The character does not need to eat or drink, is immune to 
     all harm, but cannot pass through solid matter.
8.  The character becomes a werewolf whose transformation is triggered by
     the physical presence of a decorated Christmas Tree. The transformation 
     lasts until the next sunrise.
9.  The character becomes a vampire, but needs to consume 1/2 gallon of 
     eggnog each day instead of blood. Just like a vampire's need for blood, 
     the character has an insatiable desire for eggnog. If he or she does not 
     consume enough eggnog, the character suffers a temporary loss of 
     1 point of Strength and 1 point of Intelligence until the hunger is cured.
10. The character becomes enraged whenever he or she sees a wrapped 
      wrapped Christmas present. He or she must destroy the presents. 
      The rage lasts until the presents are all destroyed. The character attacks 
      anyone who tries to prevent the destruction.

A curse can be ended by a bless or remove curse spell cast upon the sufferer by a 12-level caster (or from an item or scroll with the same power-level), or if the sufferer eats 1 pound of Fruitcake over the space of 30 minutes. The curse also ends automatically at the stroke of Midnight on January 5th, the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
   (For victims of #3, the curse may feel like it becomes worse: Their teeth grow back over the next 1d6+3 days, with severe pain as the baby teeth grow, then fall out, and are replaced by a new set of adult teeth.)

It's December...

… Christmas is coming, so let's get in the Christmas Spirit with an unusual version of a favorite among the NUELOW Gang--"Little Drummer Boy", with a video that was filmed not far from the birthplace of NUELOW Games itself!