Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monster Monday: Goblins of the Dreaming Dimension

Regular readers of Kickassitan already know the disdain that I bear for cookie-cutter monsters. I dislike hobgoblins, can't stand kobolds and desperately search for cures to Not Another Orc Syndrome. Goblins are one of those sorts of monsters that I just don't like because they're seldom an interesting choice when stocking the dungeon. "Oop, it's dungeon level 1, there must be goblins there," just doesn't happen in my games. They'd be vermen, there'd be a reason they're there, half of them would be mutants or some crazy difference from the other vermen and my players wouldn't necessarily know what to do with them. When I get tired of the vermen, I'll use something else. Frogmen? (Not bullywugs.) Turtleguys? Dingodudes? Whatever. The point is, if I'm going to do goblins, there's going to be a point to them and it's not just going to be "they're murderous little jerks who like to poke your grandma with sticks and ride dogs to death because they're eeeEEEeeevil like the fru-its of the dev-il." 

Beyond the veil of sleep, the minds of human beings drift on the aether across impossible gulfs of space and time, ultimately to settle in that remote and unearthly land known as the Dreaming Dimension. Here, the beings of distilled dreamstuff that men call elves create wild, shifting vistas unbound by the laws of reality out of inchoate possibility, only to destroy them utterly and replace them with something new or warp them into some half-formed nightmare. Against these backdrops, elves cavort in the dreamspaces sleeping mortal minds entrust them with, active participants in the dreams of men, living for the experiences they may glean from their contact with mortals, giving over a small portion of their dreamland authority to their dreaming visitors. While the elves direct the scenes played out in the Dreaming Dimension, it is important to note that they do not create them; goblins do.

A race of multitudinous forms and sizes, goblins are closer to the raw substance of dreams than elves and, as such, have a much easier time shaping it and warping it to their wills. If elves are the architects of the Dreaming Dimension, goblins are the contractors, carpenters, laborers and skilled hands tasked with and eminently capable of turning those visions into (a sort of) reality. Though they have little sophistication as it is understood by men (and elves), goblins have an intuitive cleverness that makes them excellent problem solvers, builders and troubleshooters, much like fox who finds every weakness in a farmer's fences to abscond with chickens no matter how many times the fence is repaired. Working in crews or gangs, the goblins of the Dreaming Dimension change the scenery of Man's dreams like stagehands in a theater, building and tearing down set after set, changing a prop here or there, making details as consistent or inconsistent as direction calls for.

Most goblins belong to a crew that owes its allegiance to one or more elven nobles, playing their necessary part in the nocturnal dramas that play out for mind's eyes of every sleeping human. Since currency is practically unknown in the Dreaming Dimension (except as it figures into the dreams of mortals, which often means it is portrayed in a less-than-accurate light), and goblins can make any object they desire out of the unformed substance of the Dreaming Dimension, their loyalty is not compelled through material gain, but through the threat of corporal punishment and a several-fold reward system based around a sense of aesthetics. An elf might compose a song for his goblin work crew to sing through its labors, might teach them the location in the night sky of a new-born constellation, might show them a new shade of blue he'd just invented, might serve them a feast taken from dreams of sleeping mortals, anything that shares a new joy or pleasure with the goblins. The highest honor that an elf may bestow upon a goblin is a name, a real name that belongs to him and him alone, and not a title like "foreman" or "stagehand." Named goblins are regarded as elders among their kind, and their ability to shape the raw stuff of the dreamscape improves dramatically.

While the vast majority of goblins serve the elves who create and inhabit dreams, there are a goodly number in the employ of those degenerate elves responsible for nightmares. This Nightmare Court trades in horror and panic, teaching its goblins the pleasures of cruelty and wickedness. Few elves know the names of their cousins in the Nightmare Court as they remain masked and use cryptic aliases ("He Who Rings A Bell Upon The Finding Of A Pin" for one), but every goblin knows the name of the butcher and sadist goblins who earn their names from the Nightmare Court, for they will torture mortal and immortal alike with few prejudices. Still, unnamed goblins of the Nightmare Court may depart their gangs at the behest of their masters and take up life among the goblin crews, working to earn their names by subverting the crews, corrupting them from within and subtling teaching the pleasures of the darker passions. This interference has fostered a malignant streak which,uninterrupted by the indifference of their masters, is subtly changing the goblin species for the worse.

AC: 8
HD: d6
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: d6
Dexterity: 12
Move: 12
Alignment: Neutral (1 CE : 3 N)
Treasure: 12 (1)

For every 6 goblins, there will be one 2d6 HD foreman and for every 3 foreman there will be one 4d6 HD boss, who will directly answer to an elven master. In their home dimension, goblins are capable of minor magics and illusions (as well as the sorts of small magics that other rules sets might call "cantrips"). Foremen and bosses may cast spells as Magic-Users of a level equal to their hit dice.

[EDIT: Corrected the number of attacks.]

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Carousing, Cavorting and Carrying-On: Turning Loot into XP in Ur-Hadad

I realized a few minutes ago that I currently use at least three different sets of carousing rules depending on the game that I'm running. While I might call it "carousing," it's actually "blowing your hard-won treasure on crap that you could probably do without, pursuing one interest or another, usually drinking and ladies." I know that some DMs like to look at carousing as yet another way to separate PCs from that selfsame treasure, but personally, I have no problem with PCs accumulating vast amounts of treasure, but I feel like choices to spend that money on things that have no value in the long run or simply stockpiling treasure to build the biggest damn stronghold they can at 9th level need to be meaningful. Carousing for xp provides a meaningful choice, and the degree to which it provides xp depends on the game I'm running (some games call for a higher "gp to xp" ratio, some require a lower one). Here's a brief rundown of how I handle carousing in some of the different games that I run, both live and over G+. But first, a quick clarification: I use the terms "gold," "gold piece" and "gp" as a generic term for the base unit of currency, so don't get confused. I'm talking about bits (in Ur-Hadad), Marks (Black Giant) and all the other "base unit" currencies active in my games. Further, I talk a lot about "carousing activities;" by these, I don't necessarily mean drinking, feasting, whoring and so on, but rather any sort of activity a PC might be interested in that likely happens off-camera (although it could happen in-game) that has no lasting mechanical effect on the game. The kernel of inspiration for my take on these rules comes from Dave Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign, where he had a sophisticated matrix of what different sorts of people are interested in and how much xp it should net them; I didn't want that complicated of a system, but I loved Uncle Dave's interpretation of "carousing" being "blowing your loot on shit you're interested in."

Swords & Wizardry of Ur-Hadad

One of these days, I'm going to come up with a name for this campaign. This is the game that I'm running over G+ using S&W where the players are a misfit group of bounty hunters cashing in on terrorist plots, revolutions and other nefarious activity in the First City. Maybe "Adventures In Ur-Hadad?" Nah, too bland. Anyway, carousing hasn't yet come up in this game as something that the PCs have actually done, but rather it's come up in an academic sense. For every 1 gp spent on stuff that does not directly benefit the PC (weapons, armor, potions, lotions, tinctures, stuff like that), the PC gets 1 xp. Yep, 100% payoff. Rarely does this stuff happen "on camera," but it can. For me, the key is that the PC has an experience or learns about something that he might not have otherwise. This system doesn't just reward spending money, we need to talk about where that money's going, because your PC's new experience should be meaningful. For example, a character who spends his loot boozing and whoring might end up meeting an NPC who becomes important later, whereas the character who invests his treasure in season tickets to the opera might become knowledgeable on the comings and goings of the cream of Hadadi society.

Iron Coast Carousing

One of the nice things about Adventurer, Conqueror, King is that it includes carousing rules that have an interesting slant. In ACKS, players are encouraged to have a stable of PCs, partly because of the lethality of the system, partly to allow for more options for players and DMs. To further this encouragement, 90% of all gold spent on carousing activities (whatever they are) shows up as xp that a player's stabled characters (the other characters that the player has who are not active at the time of the carousing) may split. Only one-half of the xp amount earned by the stabled characters (45% of the gold spent) comes back to the active character as xp. So, for every 100 gp spent on carousing activities, a player's stabled characters get to split 90 xp while the active character gets 45. Here, effectively, 100 gp = 135 xp, which is an interesting bit of inflation; the active character is bearing the financial burden of leveling up the stabled characters at the cost of "slower" (when compared to other carousing rules) advancement himself. With ACKS's excellently-integrated economy, the trade off between having money that you can use to affect serious in-game change and experience points (which also give you the ability to affect in-game change) represents a very real and very serious choice, and I particularly enjoy that the real benefit isn't aimed at the character the player is playing but the ones he might end up playing. Again, I use my "tell me what you're doing" guidelines for determining any end results of the carousing, but there's also a chart below you can use if you don't feel like thinking about it too much. While I'll continue to use my "carousing by doing a thing teaches you more about that thing," this sort of knowledge will never bleed over into the realm of proficiency-scale knowledge; thus, if you spend a bunch of money learning, say, healing arts, you might know a bunch about it, but wouldn't be able to practice it until you take the proficiency.

Carousing With The Metal Gods

Since DCC handles xp very differently from other OSR-style games, you have to expect that I'd handle carousing differently. Months ago, I tried to craft a carousing mini-game (Wastrels & Winos), but then realized that it was getting out of hand and never completed it. It really just felt way too complicated and, thereby, not really gameable. Now, the DCC rulebook suggests that 1 or 2 experience points should be the limit earned through the sorts of activities that I lump in as carousing (training, feasting, magical research, etc.), and this makes a lot of sense: since the entirety of xp in DCC comes from defeating challenges (rather than finding treasure), the expenditure of treasure should have a smaller effect in DCC. Further, with a "1 to 2" scale, this carousing xp is more of a "just that last little bit to push me over to level 2" sort of xp award rather than a "meat and potatoes" sort of one. Here's how I handle it: if the PC spends at least 100gp per level on carousing activities, he gets a point of xp. If he spends 1,000 gp per level on carousing activities, he gets two points of xp. That is all. We'll probably come up with a good story about it and what happens during the carousing, but that's the bare bones. Roll on my carousing table below if you decide to, if not, don't sweat it.

Novelties of Carousing

What's the new thing you're exposed to during your carousing? Roll d11. (1 - 2) - A new idea. (3 - 4) - A new person. (5 - 6) - A new culture. (7 - 8) - A new place. (9 - 10) - A new fad/style/art form. (11) - A new religion. Things Get Better: The something new is beneficial for the PC (a new person is a friend or a high-placed contact, a new idea is a secret overheard or a lead on something great). Things Get Worse: The something new is a threat to the PC (a new person is a rival or enemy, the new religion is out to kill him for offending their god).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

More About Bonds & Social Class In the Shadow of the Black Giant

Are you sick of the Black Giant yet? Well, I've got a few more things to write before I start up that campaign (which is looking like Saturday nights if you're interested and haven't spoken up yet). A little while ago, I talked about using Dungeon World-style Bonds and gave some lists of DW-style mandatory Bonds; since then, I've rethought the issue and have a different way to go about things. 

In the Shadow of the Black Giant, social class is inextricably linked to the way individuals relate to the world around them; thus, social class plays a large part in determining the Bonds that characters form with one another. The system presented here replaces the one discussed previously, and presents the player with an interesting choice: what social class will his adventurer hail from? Each social class has unique benefits and Bonds, making the choice less an obvious one and more of an interesting one.

Lower Class

Dr. Bosengehirn can augment lower-class
wages with "volunteer money;" visit his
surgery in Blauheim for details!
Farmers, laborers, poor parish priests, peasants of all stripes, the lower class drives the survival and economy of the Blauertal. Lower class adventurers are often starved for resources at the outset of their careers, but are some of the hardiest people in the valley.

  • For starting money, roll 5d6 and pick the three lowest, multiplying the result by ten. Gain that many Marks. 
  • For beginning hit points, roll two hit dice and pick the higher of the two. 
  • Pick one of the following mandatory Bonds (for either another PC or for an NPC):
    • I'm sure that ______ is a witch. 
    • ______ has proven himself through his toil; I respect his strength and dedication.
    • ______ doesn't respect a hard day's labor; I need to show him the satisfaction of a job well done. 
    • Despite a long-standing rivalry between our families, ______ and I are fast friends.
    • Although ______ and I were childhood friends, we've become rivals over the years.
    • I may just be a simple country boy/girl, but I'll prove my love to ______ yet.
    • I owe ______ a debt that I can only hope to repay someday. 
    • Last year, I helped out ______ when he and his were in a bad way; how he settles that debt will mark his measure.  
    • I've heard songs sung of ______'s prowess and skill, but I'm not impressed... yet. 


Middle Class

Hard work isn't just for peasants. 
Traders, tradesmen, bureaucrats, mid-ranked priests, minor intellectuals and professionals compose the middle class of the Blauertal, forming the backbone of the emerging social structures of the valley. Adventurers from the middle class often make the easiest transition into their fortune-seeking careers, particularly given the growing amount of leisure time (and thus boredom) their class affords them and the drive to work hard that their culture has instilled in them.

  • Middle class characters start with a 3d6 times 10 Marks, but will have at least a minimum of 60.
  • Roll beginning hit points normally, but Middle Class characters are guaranteed a minimum number, depending on their hit dice (on a d4, the minimum is 2; on a d6, 3; on a d8, 4). 
  • Pick one of the following mandatory Bonds (for either another PC or for an NPC): 
    • I've heard that ______ and his family are heretics, he must be shown the light of the true way. 
    • I should stick with _______; his cleverness and industriousness will bring him far in life. 
    • ______'s contempt for society's virtues is sickening; I must make sure he is punished for his wicked ways. 
    • Business relations between ______'s family and mine have soured, but I believe we patch things up if we work hard at it. 
    • ______ and I are old travelling companions from our time [working/trading/studying] abroad.
    • I must find a way to get ______'s parents - and mine - to agree to our marriage!
    • I owe my success to the intervention of ______; when God permits me, it is only right and fitting that repay his kindness. 
    • ______ rents from me and my family; I'm here to ensure he keeps accounts in good stead. 
    • ______ was praised for his aptitudes and virtues during mass last Sunday; I'm sure he'll be a shining example to all of us!
Only the upper class has time
for poetry. 

Upper Class

Landed nobles and the ecclesiastical aristocracy, the upper class enjoys every benefit of society. Upper class adventurers use their (potentially) vast resources to make up for their physical shortcomings and frailties. 
  • For starting money, roll 5d6 and pick the highest three, multiplying the result by ten. Gain that many Marks. 
  • For beginning hit points, roll two hit dice and pick the lower of the two.
  • Pick one of the following mandatory Bonds (for either another PC or for an NPC): 
    • My sources say that ______ is a heretic; I'm sure I can profit from that knowledge.
    • ______'s star is rising here in the valley; I'll gladly ride his coattails to success.
    • ______ tries a bit too hard, don't you think? That much naked ambition cannot be trusted.
    • Is there any hope to heal the vast political rift between ______'s family and mine? 
    • Of course I'm old friends with ______, but I think it's time to remind him of his proper place. 
    • That bastard ______ is my chief rival for the heart of my love. He shall pay for standing in my way!
    • It seems that I am indebted to ______ for his careful application of favors and influence; I must find a way to get out from under that onerous burden. 
    • ______ owes me a favor, and I owe it to myself to make sure I make the most of that fact. 
    • A would-be poet composed an impromptu verse about ______; time has yet to tell whether the poet's words were praise or satire. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

L2Maps! Crooked Staff's Awesome Tutorial!

The Crooked Staff Blog: Drawing old-school dungeon maps (part 1):
The Crooked Staff Blog: Drawing old-school dungeon maps (part 2):
The Crooked Staff Blog: Drawing old-school dungeon maps (part 3):

image by Crooked Staff
I don't normally blog to post links to stuff, but this tutorial is awesome. Using only free software, +Kristian Richards creates an awesome old school-style map, a la B1. This looks so smooth, I think I'm going to have to do the same thing for the maps for my upcoming In The Shadow of the Black Giant campaign, if only to preserve the Holmes-i-ness of it all. I'll definitely be trying my hands at maps like this, even if I mix it up with some other styles after the fact.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kennels of Ur-Hadad

It took me a week to figure out which "K" word to write my "K" post for the A-to-Z of Ur-Hadad, I even farmed the question of what to write for "K" out to the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad G+ community. I'm pretty sure that's where +Edgar Johnson suggested "kennels," which, it turns out, was a pretty damn good suggestion. 

Man is far from the only animal who makes the First City his home. Aside from the intelligent races such as elves, halflings, dwarves and (arguably) vermen, thousands of species of animal make their homes in Ur-Hadad, many of which Man has tamed or domesticated to one degree or another. As a result, animal handlers maintain kennels all throughout the First City to house and care for the many animals owned, needed and used by the citizens of Ur-Hadad. Most kennels maintain stock for sale or rental in addition to those of residents of the neighborhood who pay for professional care for their animals and some even specialize in strange and unusual animals from the far corners of Ore. The quality and rarity of animals available at any given kennel varies widely, usually in proportion to the social class of the surrounding neighborhood, but always the kennels serve some form of purpose. 

The typical Hadadi kennel features a central courtyard for daily exercise; in less wealthy districts, these courtyards will be smaller and poorly-appointed while in more opulent parts of the city, these courtyards can become veritable gardens. Near the docks and other poor parts of the First City, these courtyards will rarely be more than weed-choked mud fields. Surrounding these courtyards are the kennels proper, where pens of appropriate size house the beasts cared for here. A gate to the courtyard and pens will be surrounded by the handlers' quarters and living areas, who have to remain on site at all times. Even if some handlers do not live on site, at least the proprietors will, since caring for the beasts requires constant supervision. Normally, the handlers' quarters will be multi-story dwellings with several views of the courtyard, so that the head handler may make sure his order and standards are being kept adequately below. If a kennel is sponsored by a noble or merchant house, this master handler is often a member of that house (and thus keeps lavish accommodations on site) or a trusted retainer. 

That's enough of that, it's table time!

Ur-Hadadly Kennel Kreator!

Who's In Charge Here, Anyway?

Who runs this show? Roll d11. (1 - 2) - It's an independent operation, a "mom & pop shop." (3 - 4) - Loosely associated with a minor merchant house. (5 - 6) - Loosely affiliated with a noble house. (7 - 8) - Openly run by a merchant house. (9 - 10) - Openly run by a noble house. (11) - Organized crime! 
Things Get Better: For one reason or another, the proprietors are inclined to favor the PCs. Things Get Worse: Maybe the PCs offended a member of the noble house, smell bad or are wearing the wrong color. Whatever it is, the proprietors naturally disfavor the PCs. 

What's For Sale Here, Anyway?

What kind of animals are available at this particular kennel? Roll d11. (1 - 2) - Dogs of the domestic variety. (3 - 4) - Wild canines of a more exotic sort (dingoes, wolves, trained foxes, etc.) (5 - 6) - Large and deadly predatory cats. (7 - 8) - Apes and monkeys of all shapes and sizes! (9 - 10) - Procyons like raccoons and tanukis as well as larger, clever marsupials like opossums and wombats. (11) - Bears. Friggin' bears. Things Get Better: The animals in question are exceptionally well-trained and -cared-for. Add 1 to their morale scores (or give them a +1 bonus to morale check Will saves in DCC) and they'll know one more trick than normal. Things Get Worse: The animals are either poorly-treated or relatively untamed. They suffer a -1 penalty to morale (-1 to morale check Will saves in DCC) and, on a failed morale check, will attack their handlers instead of run away. The animals also know one fewer trick than normal. 

How Many For Sale or Rent?

Roll d11. (1 - 2) - A few (1d4). (3 - 4) - A handful (1d8+1). (5 - 6) - Some (1d12+2). (7 - 8) - Plenty (2d10+4). (9 - 10) A bunch (4d6+6). (11) A whole mess of 'em. (6d8+8). Things Get Better: The sale/rental terms are very favorable. Things Get Worse: The sale/rental terms really suck. 

Anything Else?

Decide if you need something else and, if so roll d11. (1) - The proprietor has a secret. (2) - One of the animals is a runaway from the kennels of a (or another) noble house. Nobody's noticed yet. (3) - The animals are smarter than normal, and have taken a turn for the murderous against their handlers. (4) - One or more of the animals is actually the reincarnation of one of Ore's most important thinkers, rulers or artists. (5) - Vermen secretly plot to free the animals in the kennel as a distraction for some other crime. (6) - Whatever animal(s) is handled at this kennel, the constellation bearing its form is high in the night's sky, marking your purchase today as auspicious. (7) - Old an infirm animals here aren't buried, they're being eaten. (8 - 9) - The proprietor's daughter (or son) takes a special interest in one of the PCs. (10) - Kittens! Or puppies! Or baby apes! Whatever's raised here, it just gave birth and now it's your opportunity to raise your own! (11) - The proprietor stages weekly fights between the animals of his kennel and a nearby rival. So far, either the local guard haven't noticed or have been well paid off. Things Get Better or Worse: Figure it out, it shouldn't be too hard. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Con Aftermath: MichiCon '13

So, I had a blast at MichiCon this year. I'd never been before, but +R.J. Thompson talked the thing up and, not being the sort of person who backs down from challenges, I decided that I'd not just go, but step up and run something (or a few somethings) for the con, mostly because the RPGs being offered were of the ... better not talk about it ... variety. You know, that game, that everyone plays, like everyone and it's the whole reason you can't go to a game store anymore because everyone there's all like "Hey, have you seen the latest bazillion page splatbook from that game?" So, there was way too much of that game, and, when I signed up, only one D&D session locked in (which got jerked around, but I'll let +R.J. Thompson tell that story when it's due). Not even a single 4e event. But shit tons of that game. No Swords & Wizardry, no Labyrinth Lord, no old schooly goodness. It had to change. It was time to party like it was 1974, and I brought the wizard bong that is Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Now, there are some skeptics out there who, not fully grasping the amazing nature of DCC, talk some smack about the sheer number of tables and charts that drive the game system, as if they are some sort of fault or flaw in the game's design. If this were true, they'd serve as some form of barrier to entry into the game, a hurdle to be overcome by players new to the game. Spell charts and crit tables and funky dice, were these nay-sayers to be believed would complicate the game unnecessarily, and it would seem that running DCC at a con would be practically impossible. As usual, the best defense was a good offense and I decided to prove those smack-talkers false. Well, okay, maybe I didn't set out to do that, but I did that. And it was badass.

Friday - Tower Out Of Time

If you aren't familiar yet with +Michael Curtis's amazing Tower Out Of Time yet, I'm not surprised. It was released as a special incentive for folks like myself to run DCC World Tour events. Written for a 2nd-level party, TOOT (I love the fact that the acronym for this one is TOOT) is a short and focused romp that seeks to show off a lot of the stuff that makes DCC awesome. Crazy locations, unique monsters and an Appendix N-style plot that my players hooked right onto. Second level is a great level for starting folks off on DCC because it actually uses fewer of the funky dice than other levels; your Deed Die is a d4, as is your Luck Die. The only PC who spent any time rolling Zocchi dice was the halfling (the kid who played the halfling deserves his own post, let alone sentence) due to Two-Weapon Fighting.

The guy who played the wizard seemed to live in fear of his Mercurial Magic effects (until he realized that Psychic Focus is badass and then kept trying to find reasons to cast Mending to get it), but learned to love the randomness while casting Color Spray, a spell that I've previously discussed as having the potential to completely trivialize an encounter should a high enough result get rolled. Which was exactly what happened during our Friday night session. Twice. Including the "boss fight" of the encounter. The adventure that I thought was going to last three or four hours only lasted just over two and, while a great time was had by all, I think we all wanted a little more. (Which is good, because it lets me know how long I should make my own adventures for cons, at least with how my Judging pace works.) After this, the wife and I headed back to Ypsilanti from Rochester to catch the last few of the night's tribute artists at the Michigan Elvis Fest, a last round of drinks at the Tap Room, then home to prepare for Saturday's round two at the con.

Saturday - To Catch A Fallen Portal Under the Stars

On Saturday, I had a bit of a meltdown. The notebook which has all of my notes for To Catch A Fallen Star had come up missing, a state in which it still persists today. As of this moment, the only parts of the adventure that I can find are the images and maps from it on my computer. GRRRR! What to do! I totally signed up to run a funnel-style event and I don't want to let anyone down! I had already made my Deck of Many Zeroes (a set of fifty-two level 0 characters generated by the Purple Sorcerer funnel fodder factory), so all I had to worry about was figuring out what to do instead. I thought that Sailors on the Starless Sea would be too long (turned out it would have been perfect, I think), so I asked myself whether it would be so wrong to run Portal Under the Stars just because it's in the core rule book? I tend to avoid running adventures found in the core books because I figure that someone at the table has probably read them. Because I did. But nah, chances are none of these guys have read DCC, much less played before, right?

Well, my gamble paid off. No one (except for the two guys from my game on Friday night) had ever played DCC before and most of them didn't even know that it was an actual RPG and not just a title I was giving to a random adventure. It's game time, folks; I gave my "party like it's 1974" speech and dealt out some zeroes.

I should note at this point that, for this session, new-friend-of-the-blog +R.J. Thompson of Gamers & Grognards fame was in attendance. Thankfully, he'd never dived into DCC either, but was eager to give it a shot. Level zeroes in hand, my six players (18 total zeroes) headed into the dungeon and faced traps! Fought giant demon snakes! Outwitted more traps! Did more stuff! Died a lot! Used crit tables! Used fumble tables! Died some more! Came up with daring plans that I had to award Luck for! Thought like players in a campaign and not "I'm not keeping this guy, so I can trash him!"

While Friday night, I'd had four players, on Saturday, I had a full table of six. Some old schoolers, some new schoolers, and every single one of them was there to crush a goddamn dungeon. And crushed it was. No stone was unturned, and only one lead went uninvestigated (until they figured it out but bypassed the need for that lead, regardless). In short, we had a blast and, at the end of it all, we were all (including me) clamoring for more, partially because the game ran kind of short for the time slot we had!

So, in two sessions, none of my players had played DCC before. All of them - at one point or another - critted or cast a spell or fumbled or in one way or another had to use the crazy DCC tables and charts. None of them complained. Everyone had a mad gleam in their eye when that crit came up or awesome spell check. Everyone seemed to understand and even enjoy when they rolled poorly and gained disapproval or fumbled. It's not scientific, but to the nay-sayers, I'll quote Samual Johnson's refutation of Bishop Berkeley's Idealism by saying "I refute it thus!" Except here, I'm not kicking a rock, just trumpeting my experiences.

The Rest of the Con

MichiCon is not a big con. That is not a bad thing. Apparently, some people over the weekend were quoted as saying that MichiCon was small as a critique of the con. Fuck that. You know what I saw at MichiCon? I saw table after table of gamers gaming. I saw board games, card games, war games (WAR GAMES! That weren't GW games!) and roleplaying games non-freaking-stop. Yeah, it's not the biggest con in Michigan, but I'll be damned if it's not packed with gamers playing games rather than doing anything else.

The silent auction was pretty good and I picked up a 5th Edition CoC paperback with some supplemental material for $10. I haven't played CoC in two decades, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. One of the books was Cthulhu Now, which seems a delightfully dated book, but the more I think about it, the 90's were really the last decade you could run CoC in before the complete ubiquity of communication technology and the internet sort of make Lovecraftian horror close to irrelevant. The copy of Dead Reckonings is in good shape, but the first adventure is all marked up by somebody who thought it's okay to use a highlighter in an rpg book. For the record: No, it is not okay. I also picked up some bits boxes of Mordheim sprues, mostly Imperial citizens and Skaven, which is cool and super-appropriate to what I'm doing gaming-wise these days.

In the end, MichiCon was a great little con. I'm definitely doing it again and I hope all my fellow Great Lakes gamers will be there, too.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is It #7RPGs Time Again Already?

So, the other day, I thought to myself, "Adam, if you're hurting for content (which it sometimes feels like you are), you could always write another list of #7RPGs." It was to my surprise that I got on G+ last night after my awesome Con-sperience to discover that some folks had beaten me to it. Yesterday and this morning, it seemed to be the same old "#7RPGs I've Run" sorts of lists, but just now "#7RPGs I'd Like To Play (not run)" just hit the Plusosphere. Now, my list may surprise some of you, particularly folks who identify me as one of those OSR guys. I'm only half an OSR guy, really, and I'd never turn down a game system just because it quacked like a story game.

#7RPGs I'd Like To Play (in no particular order)

#1 - TOON! 
#2 - Traveller
#3 - RuneQuest
#4 - Burning Wheel/Mouse Guard/Torchbearer (pick one)
#5 - Dungeon World/Apocalypse World (I'm afraid of trying to read AW, though, based on what I've heard about how it's written)
#6 - Tunnels & Trolls
#7 - Warhammer FRP

I've previously mentioned that I've played TOON! before, but it was only twice. Once when I was in Middle School, one of my fellow geeks ran it at lunch time (we used to game every day at lunch time, it seemed) and once at a micro-Con (held in a house by +Jeff Winokur), +Christopher Smith ran something that I don't really remember. I remember fun, but I was probably really drunk, so I don't remember much else. But, given (a) what I remember and (b) the way everyone raves about it, I'd love to give TOON! a (third) (sober) (adult) chance.

Yep, I've never actually played Traveller. I'll admit it.

I've also never played RuneQuest. I'd love to run in an RQ game run by someone who knows Glorantha in and out (and who doesn't expect the players to, as well). I know this one guy who, whenever the subject of rpgs comes up, he just starts talking about how bad ass RQ is; guys who are as zealous about games as he is keep me from ever gaming with them, you know?

I know that BW/MG/TB get a lot of bad press in the OSR community, much of it of the "wtf?" variety. And yet, I have a bunch of friends who swear by the stuff. Well, okay, one friend. I'd like to try playing one of these games once with a GM who knows what they're doing and players who know how to accommodate players who don't understand the "wtf?"-ness of the system. The same goes for Dungeon World/Apocalypse World.

Tunnels & Trolls was one of those things that I didn't know anything about when I was a kid, other than the fact that it was out there. I didn't know anyone who played it or anything about it, I just saw it in the gaming catalogs and passed it over. Coming back to old school gaming as an adult, however, I understand the place that T&T has in the history of gaming and the evolution of the hobby and I'd like to see how it plays.

Somehow, despite always being a fan of the entire White Dwarf/Warhammer aesthetic, I've never actually managed to play WFRP. I'd love to fix this with 1e at some point.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quick Update: Con Prep Devours All My Time!

Don't click him, he's a tease. 
So, as of yesterday around 6:15, I am officially on vacation, a vacation which will run me through this year's MichiCon event on Friday & Saturday (I'm running DCC sessions both nights) and then a Tigers game on Sunday. Busy weekend, lots of fun to be had! All week, I've been doing small amounts of prepwork for my games, but just today it dawned on me: "this shit starts tomorrow!" In that time, I have to finish all my prep for +Michael Curtis's amazing Tower out of Time (not really much to do here, just building some neat info sets for my players so they can have all the stuff they need in one place and won't need books) and a shit ton of stuff for my own To Catch A Fallen Star. TCAFS is a 0-level funnel so, rather than let the folks roll up a bunch of 0s, I plan on pre-printing some (by some, I mean a deck's worth, 52) level 0's generated by Purple Sorcerer's funnel fodder machine (thank you +Jon Marr for making this possible!) and having them laminated to create a deck-o-zeroes for the players to draw an appropriate number of characters from. As of this moment, I have to put together 13 pdf pages from Marr's doohickey so there'll be 52 zeroes. Totally doable. The adventure itself, however, needs a bit of love, especially since I'm a Con-GM virgin and don't know how much we'll actually be able to get through in one night. That's why I'm running the Goodman Games adventure on Friday (6:30p onward, come check me out!) and my own on Saturday (again, 6:30p on), so I can tailor my own material to how the other session goes. I should be posting info as the day goes by on G+, so look for some ramblings there, with possible recaps of the imaginary action here.

But wait! Because I have a hard time justifying a post that doesn't add something to the blog and is merely informational, here's a neat thing I'll be trying during my funnel game on Saturday night!

DCC Zeroes Draft

There will be 52 pregenerated level 0 characters, the same as a deck of cards. Decide which player gets first pick by whatever method the table agrees on (die roll, high card, thumb wrestling, best bribe for the Judge, whatever); the Judge picks how many zeroes each player gets. The idea is to offer a degree of choice along with the randomness associated with the deck of 52 random zeroes. Here's how play goes down:

Player One: Flips a card for the whole table to see. If Player One likes the zero, he may keep it, or he may decide he doesn't want it. Either way, it's Player Two's turn.

Player Two: If Player One took the zero he flipped, Player Two's turn looks just like Player One's did: flip a card and decide whether to keep the zero or not. If Player One declined to pick up the zero, Player Two must either (a) take that zero or (b) take the top card from the deck.

Player Three: If there's a face-up zero on the table, Player Three has to choose whether to (a) take that face-up zero or (b) take the top card of the deck. If there is no face-up zero, Player Three plays the top card of the deck face-up.

This draft continues until every player has the number of zeroes that the Judge has decided. Once a player has that number of zeroes, he is out of the draft.

And now, I've got to go run Tower out of Time for the Metal Gods crew as practice. Have fun, folks, and I'l hope to see some of you at MichiCon tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monster Monday: Kobolds in the Shadow of the Black Giant

What? It's still Monday somewhere... west of where I am. It'll probably still be Monday for awhile by the time I finally get this post up. Once in awhile, I get an idea that creeps me out so much I have to write it down; it was from a very bleak corner of my imagination that these kobolds came, inspired by my very deliberately unsettling readings of traditional German folklore. 

Just as many fantasy settings fail to understand the true, nefarious nature of gnomes, so too do they frequently misinterpret the lowly kobold. Not "lizardy-dog-man" nor diminutive "dragon people," one of the key facts about kobolds is often overlooked, for, if kobolds were not by necessity and definition blue, we wouldn't have named a particular blue sort of metal "cobalt," would we have? (Yes, we actually did name cobalt after kobolds, look it up.)

As the gnomes are sprung from the root of the Black Giant, wherever those dark roots may find purchase and bring living stone to cruel and roguish animation, similarly do the kobolds owe their birth to the same dark father. Where gnomes are not unlike the tree that sprouts from another's root, kobolds are akin to the aphids, beetles, borers and other pests that dine on the meat of that elder tree. Kobolds, you see, nourish themselves on precious metals and gems, leaving behind a "goblin iron," a slag-like blue metal that releases a toxic arsenic cloud if smelted, a process which results in a strangely beautiful and hardy metal. The dwarves, gnomes and kobolds of the Alps all vie for the same resources, the same treasures, rarely coming to terms with one another, each seeking outside aid against their rivals, none possessing any lasting advantage.

Of the three Alpine races mentioned here, humans by and large find the kobolds the most disturbing for a number of reasons. From far away, the percussive stuttering sounds they use to navigate through pitch-black tunnels can sound like gentle, inviting human laughter as it echoes through those same caverns, as if a small group of people were enjoying each other's company just beyond the edge of the delver's torchlight. Further, kobolds naturally adhere to any stone surface and so are often found walking on walls or the ceiling of tunnels and subterranean corridors, where they frequently spring down upon unsuspecting adventurers who tend to carry surprising quantities of the precious sustenance that the kobolds need to survive. However unsettling these two important features of the kobold are, men tend to find the appearance of the kobold even more disturbing, for the kobold resembles nothing so much as a newborn human baby with blue skin, pitch black eyes with white pin-point pupils and, gangling limbs similar to those an adult (but emaciated) human, with hands that end in three large digging claws and scaled, taloned feet reminiscent of those of a common chicken. The largest kobolds have bodies the size and general appearance of a hairless three-year-old, while the more common, smaller members of their warrens resemble one-year-olds.

Kobolds attack with their fore-claws which, designed for digging, sink deep into the flesh of their opponents, allowing them, if both claws hit the same victim, the kobold also may rake the victim with its chicken-like feet. Due to their ability to walk equally easily on any stone surface, they often surprise their foes from above, granting them a 3-in-6 chance to surprise. Although they cannot metabolize organic compounds like the flesh of their victims, once a victim falls, any kobolds not currently engaged in combat will set about picking over the dead body, looking for any metals or precious stones they may devour. In combat, the ability to metabolize these materials does not manifest in any special ability to do harm to weapons or armor; the kobolds' metabolism and tastes are such that they would prefer to devour valuable metals first, then less precious metals, from which they derive the most nutrition and flavor.

Most kobolds are of the minor variety; for every six common kobolds (a pack), there will be a 1d8 Hit Die alpha (the damage statistics for the alpha are noted below in parentheses) which will be obviously larger than the others. Every pack has a 1-in-12 chance to include a kobold brute as well, a 2d8+1 Hit Die creature (damage statistics are the same as the alpha, noted below in parentheses), and if more than one pack is encountered at a time, there will be at least one brute "king" that leads the group (with a 2-in-6 chance of there being a second brute "queen"). In kobold warrens, any treasure found would amount to, effectively, their food stores. Kobolds have an imperfect (30') infravision, which takes a backseat to their natural echolocation for navigational purposes which gives them knowledge of their surroundings, which is particularly effective underground (and allows for nearly instant detection of any secret or concealed doors or traps, so long as the kobold can speak and hear). Being only mildly intelligent, kobolds speak a smattering of the Gurgir tongue, but rarely speak any other language.

AC: 7
HD: 1d4 (or 1d8 or 2d8+1)
Attacks: 2 claw (plus rake)
Damage: 1d2/1d2/1d3 (1d3/1d3/1d6)
Dexterity: 13
Move: 15
Alignment: Chaotic (3 CE : 1 N)
Treasure: 15 (5) 

For game purposes (and despite their inherent oddness), kobolds are considered humanoids. Kobolds are not particularly resistant to magic (or anything else), and they are unsteady in daylight, fighting at -1 in such condtions. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Justice In Ur-Hadad

Let's keep the #AtoZ RPG fun rolling with a brief discussion of Justice In Ur-Hadad. Much of this information was developed for a recent session of the "FLAILSNAILS of Ur-Hadad" game when the players were looking to turn in a bounty on several captured members of the Bloody Successors terrorist organization. 

"No, don't listen to those chumps who claim 'there ain't no justice in Ur-Hadad.' Yes, there is justice to be found in the First City, it's just that the chances are fairly strong that it's not justice for you and yours. There's been a hundred different bodies of law in the First City in the last age, and who knows how many before that when elves and lizard men and snake men and worse things reigned here. You know what they all have in common? Not a one of them was written to benefit you." - Master Guang-Yuan Jo

In Ur-Hadad justice, like most things, is a commodity freely traded by noblemen and merchants, bureaucrats and criminals, priests and apostates. Law, holy law, as handed down from the gods, as writ by philosopher kings of old, as agreed to by congresses of learned elders scheming legislation, fills scroll after scroll, metal plates bound with sanctified sinews, leather-bound and moldering tomes and even carved into the walls of the temples, palaces and public places by the bloody hands of the first free men. Such a sacred legacy as the Law cannot be entrusted into the hands of common men, argues tradition in the First City, but rather is the holy charge of the true guardians of the Dominion of Man, the social structure of Ur-Hadad. The justice system of Ur-Hadad, such as it is, places the greatest onus to keep Man's laws in the hands of the grreatest members of society; thus, noble houses jockey for position by bidding to fund and run as many prestigious guard gates and way stations within the city as they can, with the most important being the Gates themselves and the work-camp prison on Usilkor Rock in the city's bay. The captains these nobles employ endeavor not merely to keep the houses' interests in mind, but also each house's particular interpretation or preference in the Law.

While the main Gates of the city are the most obvious example, the Grand Vizier's bureaucracy maintains a series of gates connecting neighborhoods, marking the transitions from one district to another and carefully controlling traffic on major streets. Each gate is commanded by a captain, employed by the nobles of one particular house or another, who serves as chief bureaucrat and primary judge within his district. Since the city guard is primarily concerned with keeping the peace, they will rarely actively investigate crime not currently underway, but rather take statements from victims and offer bounties for criminals, a practice which has led to the recent boom in the bounty hunting business. Some gate stations refuse bounties from certain other gates or for particular crimes, but by and large, a system of paid extradition ensures that a bounty paid by one gate will be reimbursed by the issuing gate. A criminal brought in by a bounty hunter, should he be able to pay the appropriate fees and bonds, may pay for court trial by judge or jury (depending on the laws applied). In large part, the justice system of Ur-Hadad runs, like everything else in the First City, on money.

Who Are You To Judge?

The system of laws that is applied by a gate captain or judge varies not merely from noble house to noble house, but often from one gate to the next and even from one crime to another. What set of laws is being applied in this particular case? Roll d11. (1 - 2) - Trial by ordeal. Only a guilty man can fail to survive whatever harsh punishment law proscribes. This one is likely brutal. (3 - 4) - Trial by art. The defendant must spontaneously create the proscribed form of art, and is provided with the appropriate time and tools to do so. Surely the gods will only inspire an innocent soul to great creation. (5 - 6) - Trial by combat. You have to face an opponent in one-on-one combat and prevail to be found innocent. That person may be the judge, your accuser or a violent goon hired specifically for this brand of brutality. (7 - 8) - Trial by advocate. The standard sort of trial we tend to think of in western civilization, where you present your case (or someone does for you) while a prosecutor presents the case against you. (9 - 10) - Trial by performance. A mingling of the standard "trial by advocate" and the "trial by art," both the accused (or his representative) and the prosecutor must perform their argumentation as part of an artistic performance such as song, dance, poetry or dramatic performance (acting); only in the case of a superior argument and performance may a winner be declared, all other cases being declared mistrials and re-tried. (11) - Trial by mystery. Through enacting ancient and holy rites, the judge must undertake a prophetic meditation to determine the defendant's guilt or innocence. Whatever revelations he receives, he need not share or explain. Good luck with this one. Things Get Better: The judge or gate captain sitting in judgment is sympathetic to your case, your crime or your performance under the terms of the applied law. Your sentence will be halved if found guilty or, if found not guilty, you will be awarded damages in some amount. Things Get Worse: The judge or gate captain is unduly prejudiced against you for reasons of race, social class, birthplace or something else unreasonable. If found guilty, your sentence will be doubled or you will be found in contempt of court if you are found not guilty. When will your kind ever learn?

Please note that typical sentences include terms of labor in Usilkor Rock or stiff fines measured in crowns.

Friday, July 5, 2013

This Is What Lawful Good Looks Like In Ur-Hadad


Watch it. Love it. Here's a taste of the ass-kickery.


This shit rocks. And is exactly what lawful good looks like in Ur-Hadad.

[Edit]

Okay, so a few more observations.

First, Singham is so badass that he appears four times in his own movie poster.
Next, Singham is "Releasing July 22." I wonder how long he was holding on to it; not like anyone's going to stop him.
Finally, every action hero should know the words to his own theme song. Singham does.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What My Wife Thinks About RPGs

Some of you may know this already, but my wife is a lapsed gamer. She was even part of my last live D&D group, but got bored with it and decided she was done. Actually, according to her, she prefers it when games aren't campaigns, but rather when they're episodes, when, in her words "there's a beginning and an end, and not a lot of time in between." Obviously, this is a bit different from how I look at gaming. It works for her, and that's what counts. (Also, knowing that, to get my wife gaming ever again, I have to make sure it's a short, one-shot something that's she's interested in; she's already thinking that an all-day megadungeon romp like we used to do in the old days would be a fun Sunday for us sometime.)

"I become relevant later, honest."
"I don't want to talk, I want to fight some fucking creatures and act goofy." That about sums her up. She actually dictated that part. That's where this is going. She adds "It's really act goofy as we divvy up the treasure." Yeah, like that makes a difference.

Anyway, I've picked up quite a few new (to me) RPGs lately, and she's had some interesting thoughts about them. Interesting enough that I decided that I should share them with the internet.

Traveller5

"It makes my husband grumpy and I don't like when my husband is grumpy. So fuck that game."

Warhammer Fantasy RP 1e

"My dwarf pit fighter was way cooler than your stupid jailer."

She learned to use her percentile dice for this one (she didn't know what they were for before).

"I like the idea of playing a male dwarf. My dwarf would kick everyone's asses."

"I like most of the art, but some of it is awkward. Awkward as in... like... it reminds of the liger drawing in Napoleon Dynamite. A little too nerdy for me."

FATE Core

"I'm drawn cracked-out on the cover of FATE Core."
"Oh no! It's so fucking dumb! Except for the monkey. Creepy cracked out Uma Thurman lady looks dumb and so does this cop guy with fire coming out of his finger tips. Fire shouldn't come out of your fingertips; if it came out of anywhere, it should come out of your palm. That's just stupid."

"Awww! You get a bookmark? Pfft! <Snort> Wow, that's pretty... yeah... Bookmark's pretty cool I guess."

"I like all these gorillas. And it's awesome that they have a fat guy with a pony tail [as a depiction of a gamer]."

"I think [the game rules] are good for someone like you who's good at describing stuff right off the bat. For someone like me, I... like I need to know things [about the character] before I can say how awesome [my character] is. I need to know the options. It sounds like a test. I don't want to take that test."

"The art inside is much better than the cover. What were they thinking. Except there she is again! They must know her [Uma Thurman] in real life. I appreciate all the gorillas. Gorillas are cool as shit. That's really the redeeming quality [of FATE Core] for me."

RuneQuestII (Mongoose Edition; the cool leather bound one I just got)

"I like this one. It looks neat. It's fancy in the 'fan-cy' kind of way."

"My characters are cooler than yours in this one, too. You're always squishy. I kick your ass."

Not the fancy dancing she's talking about. 
"I really like how this is put together, it's nice. Is he fancy dancing? He's fancy dancing! [Page 37; he is in fact, fancy dancing.] I guess that could be really fun, I like being goofy. I like the artwork, I like the word 'encumbrance.' I like the font."

Then she launched into a diatribe about people being sensitive and how it shouldn't be offensive when she calls something gay because it's just a word. I'm pretty sure this had something to do with the "fancy dancing" guy.

"So, gods wear thigh-highs and pilot hats? That looks like a pilot hat, right?" No, it didn't.

She still doesn't understand why there's a Dance skill. She just can't get over it. "It's just stupid. Let me smile and entertain you and get +10 to my Dancing skill. [She's referring to the Entertainer's Smile common magic spell.]"

"Creatures! That's a pretty awesome picture right there... but no gorillas. It's important to have unicorns. It's not a very gender-neutral character sheet."

If you somehow didn't get that my wife is some sort of mad genius with stunning powers of super-humor, well, that's pretty much who she be. She helps with the gaming stuff all the time, particularly in brain-storming new plots and creatures and characters, but almost never in naming them. God no, names and the wife don't work out well. She just names everything after characters in Star Trek. But whacked-out crazy ideas for stuff? Yup, right up her alley. The whole "mashing up one thing with another and throwing something else in for spice before mixing it all up one more time and baking for an hour to see what comes out" is her bailiwick as much as it is mine, it's just her things tend to be different things than mine. She picks up my RPG books, flips through them and starts talking shit. You've got to love that. She'll mash it all up with some Miyazaki, throw in some Doug Adams, deliberately misinterpret the results and then throw all that away and make up something else entirely. As long as it has gorillas. "That's really the redeeming quality [of gaming] for me."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monster Monday: Gnomes of the Black Giant

Many fantasy settings envision gnomes as friendly, small woodland creatures at home among the roots of trees, trading in illusions and acting as a bit of ill-considered self-possessed comedy relief that then proceed to while away hours in pointless conversation with a star-nosed mole.

If only these fantasists knew the truth of gnomes, they'd cringe and recant the lies they spread, thinking they were nothing but harmless children's tales. For gnomes, you see, real gnomes, are the bastard children of the Black Giant, living, malefic stone arisen from where the roots of the Black Giant spread, foul creatures of greed and jealousy incarnate. Gnomes' bodies are living rock and they pass through the stone of the earth and the mountains as easily as a man passes through air, which they do in search of ores and gems which they prize above all else. In this endeavor, they are rivals of the dwarves - who turn those ores and gems into priceless treasures - and the kobolds - who nourish themselves by consuming those same valuables. Gnomes, however, neither build with nor eat the fruits of the earth; instead, gnomes collect them in the vaults of the Gnome King, who jealously guards them in preparation for the day when his father, the Black Giant, wakes, when they will gird him in their collected silver and gold, garnets and moon stones, to armor him against endeavors of Man and Law. 

Gnomes are treacherous and diabolic villains, caring not for the well being of mortal races, nor considering them good for anything that gnomes can trick, cajole or steal from them. Born as they are of the flesh of the mountain, most bladed weapons do little to harm gnomes, doing only half damage to them (magic and bludgeoning weapons as well as firearms do full damage). Gnomes, as mentioned above, may pass freely through stone, and so will readily retreat if presented with a credible threat; similarly, they'll use their bizarre mobility to their advantage in combat. If a gnome hits an opponent with both of his claw attacks, he attempts to drag his opponent into the stone with him; the opponent must save vs. Gaze or begin to suffocate as if he were drowning. 

For every five gnomes, a warren of gnomes will include a larger, stronger gnome huscarl of 3d8 hit points. For every five gnome huscarl, a group of gnomes will include one 5d8 hit point chieftan. The chief of all gnome chieftans is the Gnome King, an 11d8 hit point monstrosity who rules a vast vault at the foot of the Black Giant himself. Gnomes lack all sorcerous ability, and are incapable of using any form of magic whatsoever; magic items, when found, are typically misunderstood by the gnomes as being mere trinkets. These "trinkets" are usually given into the care of chieftans (who in turn will pay a tithe to the Gnome King), each of whom maintains a small gallery of such ornaments (although most really are just trinkets). 

AC: 5 (natural; half damage from bladed weapons and non-firearm projectiles; full damage from firearms, bludgeons and magic weapons)
HD: 2d8
Attacks: 2 claw (plus suffocation)
Damage: 1d3/1d3/special
Dexterity: 9
Move: 15
Alignment: Chaotic (3 CE : 1 N)
Treasure: 50 (15)

[Edit] For purposes of game effects, gnomes are to be considered elementals.