Dolmenwood | Artist-Collaborator Wanted

Gavin Norman of Ye Iron City and the Gorgonmilk have been busily/sporadically/vivimantically describing a place called Dolmenwood

Dolmenwood is a weird wilderness hexcrawl populated by creatures and persons drawn from the strange mossy growths scraped from our bi-continental collection of world folklore and legendry. It is a perilous place, haunted by phantoms and goaty things. Full of rustic magics and moonlit riddles. 

Currently Gavin and I have been preparing a doorway-to-Dolmenwood pdf that will introduce a series of the forest's native creatures and character types as PC classes and stat-blocked monsters. This booklet will be a prelude to the big Dolmenwood hexcrawl book but fully functional without that text -- allowing the referee to cherry pick whatever juicy bits he likes.

We're looking for an artist interested in drawing pictures of creepy woodlands and bizarre monsters, preferably in collusion with one another. These drawings will go in the "doorway" pdf that will be sold on RPGNow and/or the Lulu. We are but poor wordsmiths, so there will be no advance payment for services rendered. Any/all loot made will be divided into three parts. Send all inquiries to Gregory Gorgonmilk: flowthrake AT gmail DOT com


Underworld Lore | Back Issues (1-4)

#1 (24 pages) Premiere Issue

#2 (54 pages) Diseases & Filth Issue

#3 (80 pages) Hyborian Issue

#4 (84 pages) Occult Issue


OSR Logo Variant

Based on Rafael Chandler's "Metal Lord" version. Free to use however you like, commercially or non-.

Monster Design | David Meng

David Meng's lucid monster designs are fascinating. Also bull centaurs should totally be a thing now.


Underworld Lore | Issue V Addenda

Went back through the ossuary and recalled some old bones that I intended to include in the list of UL #5 contents I posted yesterday.


Underworld Lore | Divinations of Issue V

Proposed Contents for Issue #5
  • D20 Table of Random Highwaymen Encounters
  • D20 Table of Random Ulander* Encounters
  • D30 Table of Edible Monster Parts
  • Protocols & Procedures, ready rules references for the Referee
  • Classifieds, edited by Matthew Schmeer

Submission Guidelines for the Edible Monster Parts table are as follows:

  1. Name and identify a specific monster-derived food or beverage. Tell us where it comes from, how it's harvested and prepared.
  2. Explain any special precautions or necessary conditions that must be considered before obtaining the Monster Part(s).
  3. Identify and explain any special effects resulting from consumption of the Part(s). Provide mechanics if necessary.
  4. Identify and explain any neutral or negative side-effects. Provide the % chances that these effects may occur.
  5. If necessary, explain how long the Part takes to digest and how it might affect a creature's urine, fecal matter or spoor. Will monsters be able to detect its presence via any of these markers?
  6. Post your entry below. Choose the die result number (1-30) on the table you want your entry associated with.
*ULANDER: [yew-LAND-er] Any being originating from or dwelling permanently in the Underworld.


Kickstarter | Two New OSR Sandboxes

Two new products from the OSR that you probably want to get in on while the getting is hot:

Slumbering Ursine Dunes by Chris Kutalik/Hydra Collective

Revelry in Torth by Venger Satanis/Kort'thalis Publishing


OSR PDF Roundup!

As usual the OSR is flush with new supplementary and adventuring material for your Elf Game. Here are eight recent(-ish) products that have caught GGMLK's eye. I've provided links to the sites where you can obtain this stuff beneath each cover image. Most are free or PWYW.

Get It
(48 pages) The creators of & Magazine offer up this juicy, Judges Guild-esque collection of stocked monster lairs. The fluff factor is quite light here, with the emphasis being on the cold, hard, utilitarian stuff. Meaning that it's not necessary to scrape off any barcodes to drop these right into your campaign. 
BUT WILL I USE IT? For sure. These lairs require only minimal tweaking for me to use them at the table and have that classic old school vibe that I dig. I can attach details and significant elements easily. 

Buy It
(52 pages) David Lewis Johnson, artist/creator extraordinaire, brings us a menagerie of twenty-some monster freaks that would be comfortable stalking Geoff McKinney's Isle of the Unknown. There's a weird monster rancher named Grandpappy Cromdar, too, who is possibly related to the iconic mascots of EC horror comics. Last, it comes with a fully loaded three-level zoo/dungeon. Like the best module/supplements, Whizbang Zoo! can be dissected for ideas or used piecemeal.
BUT WILL I USE IT? Absolutely. DLJ's book encapsulates the Beer n' Pretzels spirit and is a weirdo monster resource that could easily crossover with other settings at my disposal.

Buy It
(19 pages) Daniel J. Bishop continues construction of his Dungeon of Crows megadungeon with this second supplement in the series that details areas 29 thru 52. It features a full-color, hand-drawn and -numbered dungeon layer map. While there are many things to encounter here, the "creature feature" is this level's eponymous eldritch horror. There are even some helpful tips for becoming one of the tentacular monstrosity's devotees.
BUT WILL I USE IT? I would love to send the game group through this Lovecraftian deathfest. Also there are plenty of great ideas to appropriate/pilfer.

Buy It
(64 pages) This is Courtney Campbell's first blog-thology, collecting some of his most useful posts into a handy reference. You can also get it in physical format via Lulu for the low low price of $4.99 -- substantially less than his previous print offering, On the Non-Player Character. Like that booklet, the posts collected here are anything but hack and slash, this time focusing on archetypal NPCs and ways that the referee might use them (hello Ratcatcher!)
BUT WILL I USE IT? Hell yes. Courtney's stuff is always packed with ideas and insight, and some of this stuff is begging to make its way into my campaign.

Buy It
(36 pages + maps) artist/dungeoneer Logan Knight delivers unto us a nightmare cavern that can be introduced into your campaign via an innocuous random encounter. If you like your fantasy flavored dark and weird (I do!) you will no doubt be delighted by this outing. "Smells like rotting hair, sour skin, the aftertaste is cold and stale, the walls of the cavern seem to expand, your head spins." Yup.
BUT WILL I USE IT? Yes, this must happen! The art alone makes this little cavecrawl worth checking out. The cool cartography is just frosting.

Buy It
(68 pages) Rafael Chandler teams up with LotFP to produce this witchy tome that is part-adventure, part-resource. The milieu is a pseudo-historical Europe, but there's is literally nothing to prevent the referee from bringing this horror into a non-earthly campaign setting. True to Lamentations form, this book drips with creepy atmosphere and features more of that lush artwork we've come to expect. 
BUT WILL I USE IT? I will pillage its witchy secrets and fold them into the home campaign.

Buy It
 SECRETS 2: STRANGE RACES (Darkwater Press)
(28 pages) This is the second issue of Nathan Irving's new Secrets fanzine. This time around he's provided us with an array of twenty+ races culled from various OGL sources and (I'm assuming) his own imagination glands. There's some crazygood stuff here like the Leshii and the golem-like Clockworks that will be creeping into my home game. Also available in print directly from Nathan here.
BUT WILL I USE IT? Is the Anti-Pope anti-Catholic?*

Buy It
WINDS OF THE ICE FOREST (Random Order Creations)
(24 pages) This superbly designed setting book, delightfully illustrated in a slightly cartoony (but perfectly apropos) style packs a lot of content into its pages. Its boreal-themed milieu comes complete with icy monsters and their lairs. This stuff could populate a hexcrawl or be picked and pilfered as the refereee sees fit. I can't wait to see what these guys do next.
BUT WILL I USE IT? By Ymir's ice-rimed man-teats, I shall!
* * *

And since we're on wintry topics, check out this (unrelated) Indiegogo for WINTER ETERNAL:

*No, according to Nathan Irving, who obvs knows nothing of pseudo-Medieval history.

Art | Pauline Baynes

It's no wonder that J. R. R. Tolkien admired the art of Pauline Baynes. Her pseudo-Medieval style compliments his work in a way that is -- despite the ever-growing wealth of Tolkien-related artwork out there -- rarely emulated.


SUB-PHYLACTERIAL LICH-LAIR | Revised Level Map and Induction

You face the mouth of a cavern carpeted with incandescent and undulating cilia* whose appearance suggests something not quite plant or insect. The stalks shudder to the stuttering breezes that wrap around the entire isle like invisible, clutching fingers -- probing the pale, reeking mist that rises from the stagnant lake of gray ooze surrounding you. It clings to your body and smells strongly of ammonia and old metals baked in a smith's furnace.

The mouth of the cave is trapezoidal -- much wider at the top than the bottom. The walls pinch inward about ten feet in, and you will need to walk sideways to pass through the gap. Beyond this gap you can see a massive, mist-pocked boulder partly obscuring a dim corridor. 

Above you hangs the undead wizard's fastness like the black mausoleum of an ancient king. It is windowless, featureless and not particularly vast, narrowing at the top to perhaps 50 ft. x 50 ft., though it is difficult to be certain from this vantage. The edifice appears to have burst upward from beneath the isle's crust fully realized, leaving bits of rubble and wiry vegetation scattered in its wake.

Everything beneath the fortress is composed of the same colorless marble-like strata. You note that the mist seems to have eaten worm-like holes into the exterior of this place, but beyond the gap you can see that the stone is smooth and glistening like uncurdled cream.

As you approach the entrance the cilia-stalks appear to become agitated and extrude further out of the stone. Each of their sinewy tips thrusts out a whip-like, double-forked tongue that methodically and cautiously tastes its way toward you. There are thousands of these tongues, and as they gather they begin to resemble a massive head of writhing hair or the unkempt beard of a particularly hirsute giant. 

[The cilia is a harmless but difficult to damage collective organism (stalks are AC -2, HP 40, immune to non-/magical fire and cold attacks). Its purpose is to taste and analyze any creature passing through the cave's gap and telepathically send this information to Memnodoror. Please note that it is slightly and incurably senile and will fail to communicate with the wizard every 2-in-6 occasions something passes through it. Any violent response to its (mostly gentle) probings will cause the cilia anxiety and guarantee that the lich is alerted.]

*cilium (pl. cilia): a short, hairlike vibrating structure.


Dungeon Science | Special Conditions In Sub-Phylacterial Environments

Once the spellcasting considerations are satisfied, the wizard proceeds to the next, equally important step: the making of a phylactery, a vessel to house his spirit. The phylactery usually is a small boxlike amulet made of common materials, highly crafted. Lead or another black or dark gray material is frequently used.  
Inspection of an amulet may reveal various arcane symbols carved into the interior walls of the box, and those grooves are filled with silver as pure as the mage can find. These amulets are never made of wood, and rarely of steel. Brightly colored metals, such as gold, are infrequently used. (Mirinalithiar's account is extremely unclear, but it may not be the color that is the problem. The relative softness of the material and its subsequent likelihood of being injured may create this restriction.)  
The mage understandably has no desire for anyone to learn what ritual is being undertaken, or the appearance of the arcane symbols and etchings he must use. Thus, the mage alone will melt and forge those precious metals, as well as learn whatever other crafting skills are necessary to design and construct the phylactery.
~ Van Richten's Guide to Liches 

So you're inside a phylactery. Well done.
Some environmental conditions to consider:
  • Shoddy Workmanship: Everything -- the furniture, the food, the very stones that make up the lich's keep will dissolve into colorless marshmallow goop if the object takes at least six points of magical damage. Some liches may augment that durability to suit specific purposes or areas. For instance, the walls of a cell inside a dungeon would naturally be of higher concentration. At a glance this may suggest that tunneling through the sub-world would be no real challenge. Actually that would be highly problematic -- without taking time-consuming precautions, you and your party would quickly find yourselves drowning in the thick goop this sort of activity would generate.
  • Ambient Moral Ambiguity: Alignment doesn't "work" here. Any ability or item that requires a specific alignment will work for any of the above. Or none. It just won't care anymore, ok?
  • Psionic Weather Patterns: Mental leakage from the minds of its occupants pools inside the boundaries of the sub-world and congeals into a stewing vapor. Weeks of accumulation will result in the formation of sickly, gloaming thunderheads that squeal and rant unintelligibly above. Any who dream during these periods risks mental dislocation and may awake to find that they occupy another party member's body or no body at all. Such a situation could cause a chain reaction of body-swapping and body-ejection of which no good can come.
  • Spell Materialization: Any spells you're carrying in your head are visible inside a phylactery. They take semi-translucent forms that vaguely resemble balloon animals and obscure types of ocean life in a myriad of colors and gloamings. They do not speak or produce audible chatter of any sort until the very moment they are cast, screaming in ecstasy as they transmute into their incantated effects. While they are in their uncast, inert state spells will cling to their magic-user like infantile creatures hanging on their mother, licking his skin with their squeaky balloon-tongues and twisting playful knots into his beard. Any wizard who sees a manifested spell-creature will immediately know its identity if that spell is part of his own repertoire.