Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In the News: "Hijacking History"

Looking at history through insanity goggles. Not recommended for ages 1 and up.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The High Priest of the Temple at Pankot

Another in my continuing series

(circa Temple of Doom, 1935)
Male Human Smart 1/Dedicated 3/Charismatic 3/Occultist 8; CR 15; Medium Humanoid (height 6', weight 185 lb.); Age 50

Init +4; Senses (core) Listen +7, Search +3, Spot +5; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +15, Search +16
Languages English, Hindi, Punjabi, Sanskrit (read only), Urdu

Defense (core) 16, touch 16, flat-footed 16; Defense (house) 16, touch 11, flat-footed 16; (+0 Dex, +6 class)
hp 67 (15 HD); Mas 12
Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +13
Action Points 8

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +9/+4 (1d3+2 nonlethal, 20) or
Melee by weapon +9/+4 or
Ranged by weapon +7/+2
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +7; Grp +9
Atk Options +1 on attacks against opponents without allegiance to Kali Ma
Special Qualities aid another (+3 bonus to allies who share allegiance to Kali Ma), can’t be surprised, spell resistance 13

Abilities Str 14 (15), Dex 10 (11), Con 12 (13), Int 14 (12), Wis 17 (16), Cha 15 (12)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
          Note: Mola Ram has age penalties and bonuses due to middle age.
Allegiances Kali Ma, the Thuggee Cult, evil; Rep +3; San 51
Feats Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Athletic, Focused, Frightful Presence, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Low Profile, Minions (Leader score: 23; from Past), Oathbound (Kali; from Future), Simple Weapons Proficiency, Sixth Sense (from Dark*Matter), Studious
Skills (core) Balance +2, Bluff +8, Climb +4, Concentration +12, Craft (visual art) +4, Decipher Script +14, Diplomacy +9, Gather Information +7, Intimidate +11, Investigate +6, Knowledge (arcane lore) +18 (+2 when casting incantations), Knowledge (history) +7, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +9, Listen +7, Profession (priest) +8, Read/Write English, Read/Write Hindi, Read/Write Punjabi, Read/Write Sanskrit, Read/Write Urdu, Research +12, Sense Motive +11, Sleight of Hand +6, Speak English, Speak Hindi, Speak Punjabi, Speak Urdu, Spot +5, Swim +4, Treat Injury +5, Use Magic Device +15
Skills (house) Athletics +6, Control +12 (+2 on Balance), Craft (visual art) +4, Deduce +16 (+2 on Decipher Script), Persuade +18, Gather Information +7, Knowledge (arcane lore) +18 (+2 when casting incantations), Knowledge (history) +7, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +9, Perceive +15 (+4 on Sense Motive), Profession (priest) +10, Read/Write English, Read/Write Hindi, Read/Write Punjabi, Read/Write Sanskrit, Read/Write Urdu, Research +12, Sneak +6, Speak English, Speak Hindi, Speak Punjabi, Speak Urdu, Treat Injury +5, Use Magic Device +15
Talents (Smart) Savant (Knowledge [arcane lore])
Talents (Dedicated) Faith, Skill Emphasis (Sense Motive)
Talents (Charismatic) Coordinate, Inspiration
Talents (Occultist) Arcane Research (items, scrolls), Arcane Skills, Bind Shadow Creature (“minion of Kali Ma,” as 4 HD night terror [from Menace Manual], except as noted below), Shadow Contact (“minion of Kali Ma”; requires the removal of a human heart as compensation), Spell Resistance
Starting Occupation (core) Religious (Decipher Script as permanent class skill, +1 on Knowledge [theology and philosophy], Sense Motive)
Starting Occupation (house) Religious (Deduce as permanent class skill, +1 on Knowledge [theology and philosophy], Perceive)
Possessions (total weight 7 lb.) Thuggee high priest headdress (grants Mola Ram resistance to fire damage as the spell resist energy; 2 lb.), crocodile-tooth talisman (grants Mola Ram a +2 profane bonus on Knowledge [arcane lore] checks to cast incantations), formal attire (Thuggee high priest robes; 3 lb.), human skull chalice (containing the “blood of Kali”: anyone who ingests the blood becomes the target of a minion of Kali Ma, and suffers a –2 penalty on Will saves to resist fear effects from that creature; 2 lb.), Sankara stones (x3; see below), arcane scrolls: 1st - cause fear (x2), disguise self (x2; from Dark*Matter), hold portal, instant identify (x2; from Urban Arcana), sleep, trace purge (from Urban Arcana), undetectable magic aura (x2; from Urban Arcana); 2nd - arcane lock (x2), darkvision, knock (x2), locate object (x2), protection from arrows/bullets (x2); 3rd - dispel magic, nondetection (from Urban Arcana), Kali’s caress (x2; see below), various personal items
Wealth Bonus +15

NEW Creature Minion of Kali Ma (Night Terror variant)
Binding this type of shadow creature to a chosen victim is done by way of having the victim drink a special ritual blood, an act which triggers the first stage of the “black sleep of the Kali Ma”: a period during which the victim is haunted by the demonic fey. Although minions of Kali Ma are rendered incapable of attacking on their own by their very nature, any victim that suffers Wisdom damage from a minion’s terrify ability likewise becomes a devoted minion of the occultist by proxy.

Minion of Kali Ma Fast 1: CR 3; Medium-size fey; HD 3d6 plus 1d6; hp 13; Mas 10; Init +5; Spd 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (average); Defense 15, touch 14, flat-footed 12 (+1 Dex, +3 class, +1 natural); BAB +1; FS 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; SQ chosen victim, fear aura (DC 16), immune to fear, low-light vision, selective invisibility, terrify (DC 16), vulnerability (fire damage); AL Kali Ma, evil; SV Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +6; AP 4; Rep +3; Str 13, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 18.
          Skills: Bluff +6, Climb +3, Disguise +5, Escape Artist +2, Hide +8, Intimidate +13, Knowledge (behavioral sciences) +6, Listen +6, Move Silently +7, Search +3, Sense Motive +13, Spot +6.
          Feats: Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Renown.
          Talents (Fast): Evasion.
          Possessions: None.

Variant Species Traits
          Special Restriction: Cannot attack or use weapons.
          Chosen Victim (Ex): A minion of Kali Ma can feed on the terror of only one individual at a time. Once it chooses its victim, it can choose another only upon the death of the previous victim or after another victim has been made to drink a special ritual blood prepared by the occultist the minion is bound to.
          Terrify (Su): In addition to the effects described on pages 70-1 of the Menace Manual, any victim that suffers Wisdom damage from this effect is compelled to obey the occultist just as described under the bind shadow creature class feature (see d20 Modern Roleplaying Game, p.294-5). Victims who have suffered Wisdom damage in this way remain under the occultist’s sway until all the Wisdom damage has healed, the minion is killed, or the victim suffers at least 1 point of fire damage.

NEW Spell Kali’s Caress
Note: The following spell is an arcane variant of Erzuli’s fetish (from Dark*Matter). Both spells function exactly the same except as indicated below.
Level: Mage 3; Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level); Duration: 1 day/level (see text)

Unlike the divine version of this spell, the doll may be damaged or destroyed by someone other than you and the target still suffers any ill effects.

The spell lasts for as long as the attuned doll has at least 1 hit point remaining, or until the duration ends.

Special Material Component: Instead of one or more silver pins, the doll’s handler may use a single silver pin of exceptionable value to pierce the doll without damaging it as an attack action. Such a pin must have a purchase DC equal to at least 4 + the character level of the subject.

NEW FX Item Sankara Stone
Named for Shankara, a Hindu priest, whom legend states was given five of these stones by the god Shiva on Mount Kalisa. With the stones he was instructed to go forth and combat evil. Each stone contains a diamond inside that when brought together glow with the same intensity as a light spell. The diamonds themselves carry the power of enchantment not the stone that encases them. Although the stones were intended for use to generate life and warmth, they could also be used for fiery destruction against those whom would betray Shiva.
          Sankara Stone: A smooth amber-colored stone shaped like rounded columns or lingams and marked with three lines said to indicate the three levels of the universe. Though a Sankara stone is use-activated, the light feature of the stone will function permanently when at least two stones share the same 5-ft. space (no activation needed). To access the stone’s greater powers one must be at close range to the stone (within 30 feet), know the stone’s exact location, and succeed at a Knowledge (arcane lore) check. Refer to the table below (a separate check is required for each activation desired, and you may not take 10 on the check; all effects at caster level 10):
          DC 20: Cause the stone to independently emit light, as the spell, 3 times per day.
          DC 20: Cause the stone to generate warmth equal to that of a small camp fire for 24 hours. All those within 5 ft. of the camp fire effect enjoy protection similar to the spell endure elements (from D&D Player’s Handbook).
          DC 25: Render a person, object, or area clean, as the spell (from Urban Arcana), 3 times per day.
          DC 30: Cause the stone to radiate enough sacred heat to deal 1d6 points of damage each round (up to 1 round per 2 caster levels) or until dismissed, twice per day. All damage dealt is half fire and half holy damage. Only those persons or objects (flammable ones in particular) touching the stone are subject to damage.
          DC 35: Cast magic circle (from Urban Arcana) twice per day.
          DC 40: Cast faith’s fury (holy version only) once per day.
          DC 45: Cast panacea (from Dark*Matter) once per day.
          The stones’ collective strength is amplified when they are brought together. Add +1 per stone to the caster level of any effects generated by the stones (max caster level 15th). Also, add +2 per stone (max +10) to the Knowledge (arcane lore) checks of those attempting to cast incantations with the heal, life, or ward seeds. It is rumored that even greater powers can be unlocked by one who commands all five stones, though perhaps only Shankara knows for certain.
Type: Wondrous item (magic); Caster Level: 10th; Purchase DC: n/a (37); Weight: 2 lb.

NEW Incantation Remove Heart
Necromancy [Death], Conjuration (Healing)
Seed(s): Heal, Slay; Skill Check: Knowledge (arcane lore) DC 32, 6 successes; Failure: Two consecutive failed skill checks; Components: V, S, (SC, see text); Casting Time: 1 hour (see text); Range: Touch; Target: One helpless living humanoid (up to 20 HD); Duration: Instantaneous; Saving Throw: Fortitude partial; Spell Resistance: Yes

Through the ritual use of chanted words spoken in supplication and reverence of a dark deity, this incantation allows you to reach into the subject’s chest and remove its still beating heart. Though the subject, which must be helpless, may react with shock and minor discomfort as your hand plunges into its chest, no immediate harm is dealt the subject as the cavity left behind will promptly heal as the heart is removed. The subject remains alive through the necromantic powers of the incantation. The heart may be restored to the chest from which it was plucked if you choose to do so. However, even 1 point of damage to the removed heart, or damage enough to incapacitate the heart’s host body, will cause the subject to die instantly.

The subject is entitled to a Fortitude save if the incantation is successful. On a successful save, the subject instead takes 4d6 points of damage.

Options: The incantation can be done with or without secondary casters, though the collective chant of likeminded supporters will help to focus the dark energies and make the task easier for the lead caster (i.e. –2 to the DC for up to 10 secondary casters, –6 for 11-100, –10 for 101+). The lead caster need not make the requisite checks in plain sight (though he must be in the same general area) of the secondary casters so long as they continue to chant or otherwise lend support to the casting, as in a large ritual/service chamber. In such cases, the lead caster can appear on scene near the end of the casting (if all has gone well to that point) and complete the final check.

The incantation may be attempted against a subject that is not helpless, though the check DC is increased by +2, and, of course, the subject may object or attempt to resist in some way.

Lastly, remove heart may be performed in a hurry, during combat, for example, greatly reducing the casting time but at an increased risk to the incantation’s success. Skill checks toward achieving success may be attempted each round. For each additional attack that the lead caster has beyond the first, he may attempt one additional skill check that round. For example, if the lead caster has a BAB of +6 (i.e. up to two attacks) he may make two checks toward success as a full round action. In this way, the casting time may be as little as 2 or 3 rounds, though never longer than 6 rounds. However, making an attack with remove heart in this way provokes an attack of opportunity each round that it is attempted. Furthermore, this hurried method adds +6 to the check DC needed for success.

Backlash: All casters are exhausted afterward.

Failure: Reversal. On two consecutive failed checks, the caster will watch in horror as his own hand quivers in an attempt to bury itself in the caster’s very own chest.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another Peek at "The Alchemist's Run"

Click here, scroll down, and go read another short excerpt from an upcoming piece of fiction set in the fantasy steampunk setting that gurgled out of our collective heads: Pure Steam™!

And here's a sample of some of the awesome interior art that can be found in our main offering, the Pure Steam Campaign Setting. (See our products in the preceding link above.)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Strip Club: The Series" Set Visit

Yume and I took a two-day road trip this last weekend down to L.A. to attend a special shoot and set visit for Strip Club: The Series. I ended up backing the series at the "Executive Producer" level, so I was eager to "make my presence felt" on set and provide Yume a "chance at stardom." (I don't have any pictures to support either of these ambitious claims, but what I do have I gladly share with you now.)
The crew busily preps for the party-scene episode entitled, "Demon in a Bottle." I was pleasantly relieved to find that this had nothing at all to do with any kind of hellish take on the similarly titled song by Christina Aguilera.
A piece of set scenery, tastefully redecorated so as to avoid needless lawsuits over copyright infringement.  
A calendar (featuring faces of the three series' stars, my brother center) set to March of this year…? Could this be a sign of when we should expect the series to debut?
Lighting and sound? Check.
Actors and director on set? Check.
"Wait, what's my line again?"
"You see, Trev, right here is where it says your character goes viral and gets a Webby!" (And no, that's NOT a wedgie-related STD. But it should be.)
"X-tras, assemble!"
Highlights of filming included a scene with SPOILERS who has acted in video games and film (e.g. 42; and no, it's not Harrison Ford, but wait till you see the scene, it's rich stuff!), and a scene where one of the main characters gets "dick faced" (above).
Then, it was enter the robot…!
The climactic scene involved a Fight Club style fight scene pitting the robot against "the beast" (played in mask by the show's director, Reid Ackerman).
They square off…
…but you'll only find out the result if you tune in! For more on that, stay tuned right here for word on when and where the series will pop-up on the intratubes. Can't wait!
Special thanks to Reid Ackerman and his cast and crew for letting me take and use these behind-the-scenes looks. Keep up the great work you guys—break at least a couple legs (even mechanical ones)!