Thursday, September 21, 2023

Meanwhile, down at the fungal oasis...

"An oasis lies amidst rolling crimson dunes of rusty ore; a sump of sludge and slime surrounded by weird fungal palms and spore-retching bracken-bushes."

Vade Mecum Infernum by Aughm Lightchaser (p. 32) 

Oasis of the Lost (#22/30, #265/365)

"You notice two strange things about the fungal oasis that appears before you in the desert. Firstly, what remains of the vegetation is a blackened burned mess; though here and there you can see new sprouts, shoots and spore-balls erupting from the dusty iron soil. Secondly, dead-straight scorch-marks, apparently caused by the tracks of a large animal, lead away from the oasis in completely opposite directions, both vanishing equally at a sudden point amidst the blasted sands."

Contents: The Oasis of the Lost is the lair of the Crimson Fury, the Flaming Camel Demon of Vengeance! Here is where it rests during the day, fresh from another night-time excursion to claim the souls of the guilty upon Titan. Roll a die to determine exactly where it is at any time:

1-2 At this oasis

3-4 At the Desert of Skulls, Allansia, Titan

5 Travelling to Titan

6 Returning to the Pit

If the Crimson Fury is here, it will attack immediately. If it is returning to the Pit, it will appear on a 1 on a roll of one die every 30 minutes. If the Crimson Fury is slain here, it is destroyed utterly. Incredibly, if this happens, the Heroes will see a ghostly spirit of a desert nomad on a camel materialize, thank and Bless (as per the Priestly Power) them for their actions, and then rise up, disappearing to the Plain of Reeds and the Home of the Gods.

[History: The Crimson Fury is the cursed ghost of a great desert nomad warrior, who died in single combat against the Chaos Warlord that became the DOOM DEMON (see Return to the Pit, pp. 60-61). Their geas was to become a fiery camel, fated to collect souls for all eternity, or until slain on their home Plane by a mighty champion.]

 The oasis itself comprises the following locations:

- Bone Pile: When the Crimson Fury slays a warrior they deem worthy enough, that warrior becomes the Skeleton Rider that accompanies the camel of doom on its missions of vengeance. As these warriors are slain or start to fall apart, their remains are dumped here, on the Bone Pile. Some of them are still active, to whit:

  1. "Lefty" ANIMATED LEFT HAND SKILL 6 STAMINA 2, Damage as per Unarmed Human
  2. "Dexter" ANIMATED RIGHT HAND SKILL 6 STAMINA 2, Damage as per Unarmed Human
  3. "Skully" FLYING SKULL SKILL 8 STAMINA 5, Small Bite
  4. "Bonehead" FLYING SKULL SKILL 8 STAMINA 5, Small Bite
  5. "Curtis" HALF-SKELETON SKILL 6 STAMINA 5, Sword

As Skeletons, these creatures take only half damage from bladed or pointed regular weaponry; crushing and smashing weapons will do normal damage. They will attack if attacked themselves, or if Heroes start searching through the bones, but are otherwise content to rest on the Bone Pile, hurling insults at the Heroes, or, in the case of the hands, making rude gestures.

There are enough bones and rusty weapons and armour in the Bone Pile, for a competent Necromancer to create a cohort of 4-24 Skeleton Warriors. Also in the Bone Pile are 3-36GP in a range of coinage, 2 Sapphires worth 40GP each, a leather pouch containing 3 Black Pearls worth 10GP each, a necklace of Hydra Teeth (75GP), the horn from a Yachar Hell Demon, a Gauntlet of Weapon-Skill and a huge two-handed iron-bladed Sword of Cleaving. Both of these last two items require immediate treatment with Rustbane to use properly, otherwise they will only last for one combat before breaking.

- Sump of Sludge: This is the oasis proper, surrounded by scorched fungi. If drunk, the weird blueish liquid in the pool acts as Unholy Water (see Demons of Doom, p. 51), and also causes a random non-cumulative Chaos Mutation (see Encyclopedia Arcana: Volume 1, p. 57). Any sort of purification magic or potion will turn the blue sludge into normal water.

- Tree of Souls: This tall blackened dead tree has weird things hanging from its branches - iron chains connected to small trap-sized black-steel cages, inscribed with runes of binding. These are Soul Cages, containing the souls collected by the Crimson Fury on its night-time depredations across the Desert of Skulls. There are six full Soul Cages on the tree (and six empty ones), roll a die to see what soul each cage contains, in addition to its victim's rotting skull:

  1. Desert Nomad
  2. Caarth
  3. Black Elf
  4. Desert Elf
  5. Sand Stalker
  6. Serpent Guard

If the soul is freed from the cage, it will appear as a ghostly version of its normal form. It will be grateful for its freedom, accompanying the Heroes until their next combat, during which it will fight as a SHADE (SKILL 11 STAMINA 6, Small Claw). After this battle it will depart to the Spirit World.

Every 2-7 days, the First Retrieval Team (see below) will show up via a Demonic Portal connected to the Tower of the Wheel upon the Plane of Pain, to collect all full Soul Cages, and issue 3-18 returned empty ones. If the First Retrieval Team is destroyed, a Second Retrieval Team (also see below), will appear the following day to determine what has happened. If the second team is destroyed, the demonic bureaucracy at the Tower of the Wheel will assume the Crimson Fury is no longer functional, and assign the DOOM DEMON away from its regular duties, to show up here in a further 2-7 days to document what has happened, and take its place until another mighty warrior can be slain and reborn as the Crimson Fury.

- Plinth of Records: On the Plinth of Records lies a stoppered skull full of red ink, the white quill of a demonic bird, and a book with a brown leather cover - the Journal of Doom. In this book the Crimson Fury's nameless rider has recorded the nightly carnage caused by the creatures when they venture to the sands of the Desert of Skulls upon Titan (perhaps surprisingly, all entries are written in Allansian). A sample entry:

"7th Day of Reaping, 281 AC, the Year of the Dog

We toiled long across the dunes, leaving a trail of fire but saw no sentient souls for most of the night. Towards dawn we encountered the camp of a priest and their mulish steed, but the holy man was most blessed and held off our attack until the sun was about to rise and we were fated to return to the oasis."




5 BLADE DEMONS, SKILL 5, STAMINA 6, Arm Blade (as Sword)

Blade Demons are five feet tall with cruel, horned, dog-like features, spindly limbs, and arms that end in wicked curved blades of bone.

1 CURSED WARRIOR, SKILL 6, STAMINA 8, Sword, Leather Hauberk

 A Cursed Warrior appears as a skeletal warrior missing its lower jaw and covered with a strange green glow. The soul of an evil warrior serving its time in the Pit, by being placed in charge of unruly lesser demons.

(The BLADE DEMON and the CURSED WARRIOR are taken from Jonathan Hicks' excellent AFF mini-adventure, The Taskmaster's Tower)


4 SMOKE DEMONS, SKILL 9, STAMINA 12, 2 Attacks, Small Claw. Anyone fighting a Smoke Demon must deduct 1 from their SKILL due to the stench-laden haze that surrounds these creatures.

1 FIRE DEMON, SKILL 10, STAMINA 10, 3 Attacks, Fire Sword, Fire Whip, Fire Breath, Light Armour, +2 to Damage Roll.


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

A dark shadow in the valley below...

Valley of the Spike Demons (#21/30, #264/365)

"The valley opens out into a bowl-shaped depression, dominated by an enormous black rectangular rock, rising from the red earth like some sort of featureless obelisk. Gathered around the base of the rock are a tribe of five giant green-furred ape-like creatures with spiked heads, who howl and slap at the ground with their clawed paws."

Contents: The edifice is Grogar the Dark Obelisk, Spirit of the Black Rock, a renegade Earth Spirit from the Magical Plane of Earth, that has used its powers to take over the minds of these Spike Demons, and order them to provide it with tribute and sacrifice. 

The Spike Demons will attempt to capture the Heroes and carry them to the Dark Obelisk, forcing them to touch the rock with their bare hand. Anyone who does so must Test their Luck. If Unlucky, they are drained of 2-12 STAMINA points (which are added to Grogar's total below). They must then Test their Luck a second time; those that are Unlucky are now under Grogar's control and will be ordered to attack any colleagues who are free or uncontrolled, alongside the Spike Demons.

If the battle is going badly for the Spike Demons, or the majority of Heroes are uncontrolled or free, Grogar will transform, taking 1-3 Attack Rounds, into an immense humanoid figue of black rock, equivalent to an Earth Elemental, and attack as well.


5 SPIKE DEMONS, SKILL 16 STAMINA 12, 2 Attacks, Large Claw, Light Armour, +1 to Damage Roll. Spike Demons are so fast that they are impossible to Escape from in melee combat, unless slowed down in some way.

The Spike Demons have accumulated some treasure from their depredations and heaped it at the base of the Dark Obelisk as offerings, including 3-36 GP, 2-12 Obsidian chips (worth 1 GP each), a Bronze Key, two vials of silver Rustbane fungus, 2-7 Red Jewels worth 20GP each, a Demonhair Rope, and a Hellblade.

1 DARK OBELISK (active), SKILL 18 STAMINA 22 (plus any from drained victims), 2 Attacks, causes 4 STAMINA damage per hit. Only wounded by magic weapons. Only suffers 1 STAMINA damage for each successful hit.

As the Dark Obelisk is equivalent to an Earth Elemental, parts of it, such as its eyes or powdered dust and fragments, may be of use to traders in magical monster organs (e.g. see Encyclopedia Arcana: Volume 1, p. 66).

(Heroes of Titan is currently on sale here!)

Heroes of Titan is released as a PDF!

My sixth book for Arion Games' second edition of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG rules system has now been released as a PDF on DriveThruRPG, with a POD version to follow shortly.

It features 80 fully-playable pre-created Heroes for your AFF game, each with full colour John Kapsalis artwork, and five Adventure Sheet variants by Dyson Logos.

Heroes of Titan started when I participated in the January 2023 Character Creation Challenge, to stat up a PC/NPC every day for 31 days. Initially I thought of using a range of systems, but in the end went all the way with AFF, and finished with 31 new Heroes!

After that, it wasn't too much of a leap to add a whole bunch more Heroes to round out the concept and then get John Kapsalis involved for his excellent art to illustrate each Hero. I always liked Dyson Logos' evocative AFF Adventure Sheet in the first issue of The Warlock Returns, and was lucky enough to be able to use it and four more new variants.

I hope people have fun using these Heroes in their AFF games! :-)



Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Cavern of the Fire Worms!

Cavern of the Fire Worms! (#20/30, #263/365)

"Gouged from the side of the valley wall is an enormous cavern, most of the entrance to which is obscured by boulders and loose scree. From inside the cavern you hear a cacophony of clicking noises and one of the inhabitants whizzes past you, heading home to the cave. You can't be sure, but it looked like a centipede or millipede about a metre long, flying on dragonfly wings, with an ebony carapace and great pulsating compound eyes."

Contents: The cavern is home to a large colony of Black Milli-Wyrms, which will attack if someone enters their domain. If a lot of noise is made outside of the cavern, around two thirds of the flock will fly out to investigate, and then attack if their foe looks weak or wounded. The sounds of battle will instantly bring the full colony out, alert and ready to fight!


3-36 BLACK MILLI-WYRMS, SKILL 8 STAMINA 5, 2 Attacks, Small Bite and Fire Breath, Medium Armour. Excellent eyesight gives them the Awareness Special Skill. Also breath fire; roll one die every Attack Round, on a 1 or 2 the enemy is burnt for 1 STAMINA damage. See the Rough Guide to the Pit, p. 36.

Among the corpses and refuse on the floor of the cavern are several valuables. Anyone searching carefully will find 2-12 GP, 1-6 Obsidian tokens (worth 1GP each), a clay gourd containing a Potion of Noise, an Obsidian Portal Key, and a battered but serviceable suit of Demonskin Armour.

Where the wild flowers whistle...

Whistle Bud Plantation Farm (#19/30, #262/365)

This is a much larger version of the Whistle Bud Cultivation Chamber, which has been carved out of the wilderness of the fungal savannah by a group of Fiends. They are growing and harvesting Whistle Buds to brew Potions of Noise, which are essential items of defense in the arsenal of any demonic planar inhabitant who ranks a little lower on the foodchain. The Fiends are led by Thrax Ferox (hirsute, sullen), a Lesser Fire Demon, who spends too much of the profits on brewing Shroomshine Grog and growing hallucinogenic fungi 'on the side'. Most Fiends are equipped with little more than sickles and trowels, but there is an overseer class, all armed with flintlock rifles, and all to eager to use them on anyone 'attacking' the Plantation.

One of the reasons for their aggressiveness lurks nearby in a hidden glade. An ancient Wood Demon, Nepenthe of the Amber Gourd (diseased, albino), has gathered several clans of Fungoids into a Free Fungus Front (and other plants), and are constantly conducting infiltration missions against the Plantation, attempting to rescue as many Whistle Buds as they can, from their grisly fate at the end of a pestle and mortar. Nepenthe is currently on the lookout for interested allies to raid the plantation, destroy it once and for all, and free all the Whistle Buds from captivity.



Monday, September 18, 2023

Up in Tham Thar Hills...

Demon Shepherd Ambush (a.k.a. "Exploding Purple Goats") (#18/30, #261/365)

"You stumble over the top of a ridge and hear the sounds of mortal combat! Below you in the valley, several spear-bearing Fiend shepherds guarding a herd of goat-like Soy-Hijyez, are under attack from a quartet of apex demonic predators, four snarling Zeyjuvs, spitting flame in anger! One of the goat-things is too slow and caught by the fangs of a Zeyjuv. Dying, it explodes in a visceral blast of fury that send the rest of the red scaly creatures scuttling back. There's three now, that fourth appears to have been detonated. One of the shepherds draws a firepowder flintlock pistol from its belt and screams: 'Come on if you're well tough then! 

Bizarrely, some of the goat-creatures appear to be fading from view, to be turning invisible. As if matching them, the lizard creatures also turn invisible, marked only by flame and smoke, except for the dead one that lies gently steaming on the ground.

Will you intervene in this desperate ambush attack?"

Content: If the Heroes help the shepherds drive off the Zeyjuv predators, the Fiends will be grateful and thankful, but have little to offer other than advice and news of the uplands and any settlements here. For instance, they know the location to the lair of the necromancer Pagdulous of Phune, for they often deliver animals there for consumption by his troops.

If the Heroes attack the shepherds the Flintlock Pistol wielder will swear insults at them and cover the other two and the herds as they make their escape.


2-12 SOY-HIJYEZ, SKILL 8 STAMINA 6, Horns (as per Small Claw), Medium Armour. Spines cause 1 STAMINA damage to anyone who hits these exploding purple porcupine goats, if slain they detonate causing 2-12 STAMINA damage to anyone in the vicinity. Can turn invisible.

3 FIEND Shepherds: SKILL 6, STAMINA 8, Flintlock Pistol, Spear or Small Claw, Light Armour. Breathes Fire: hits on a 1-2 on one die for 1 STAMINA damage. The Shepherds have 1-6 GP, and ear plugs. Of the non-pistol bearing Fiends, the older one has a Brass Telescope, and the younger one has a Potion of Noise in a clay gourd.

3 ZEYJUV, SKILL 9 STAMINA 10, 2 Attacks, Large Bite and Acid Vomit, Light Armour. Test for Skill/Luck to avoid Acid Vomit once per battle, cause 4 STAMINA damage and has to be wiped off. Like their prey, can turn Invisible and flee if the battle is going badly.