snakemouthguy

Belching Snakes

Send to Kindle

We were driving in the car recently and my son asks, "what would happen if snake came out of your mouth every time you burped?"

I think a normal parent would have reacted much differently than I did.

"What kind of snake?" I ask.

"Well, if you burp once, a spitting cobra comes out. If you burp twice, a king cobra comes out."

"What happens with the cobras when they are out?"

"The cobras will do whatever you say or just follow you around for a while."

"If you burp a lot, do you get a lot of cobras?

"No, you can only get three cobras no matter how many times you burp."

"What if I burp three times?"

"Nothing. One burp is a spitting cobra, two burps are a king cobra."

Thus we have the belching snakes spell for Swords & Wizardry or your favorite retro-clone.

Belching Snakes

Spell Level: Cleric, 2rd Level, Druid, 3rd Level
Range: 30 feet (after the snakes appear)
Duration: 1 hour

The caster begins belching loudly in bursts of one or two belches. If the caster belches once, a spitting cobra appears. If the caster makes a two belch burst, a king cobra appears. The snakes follow commands, but wander off at the end of the spell. If killed, they disappear into nothingness.

Spitting Cobra: HD 1; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 bite (1hp); Move 16; Save 17; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Spit poison, 30' range (Save with +2 bonus to roll or go blind for 2d8 turns).
King Cobra: HD 2; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 bite (2hp + poison); Move 16; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Lethal poison.

Section 1 to 14 of the OGL are here

Section 15 of the OGL for this article:

15. COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document
© 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson
Swords & Wizardry Core Rules
, © 2008, Matthew J. Finch
Monster Compendium: 0e, © 2008, Matthew J. Finch
Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, © 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author:
Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and
Skip Williams.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 2, © 2010, Paizo Publishing,
LLC; Authors Wolfgang Baur, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, Graeme
Davis, Crystal Frasier, Joshua J. Frost, Tim Hitchcock, Brandon Hodge,
James Jacobs, Steve Kenson, Hal MacLean, Martin Mason, Rob
McCreary, Erik Mona, Jason Nelson, Patrick Renie, Sean K Reynolds,
F. Wesley Schneider, Owen K.C. Stephens, James L. Sutter, Russ Taylor,
and Greg A. Vaughan, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte
Cook, and Skip Williams.
Monstrosities, © 2012, Matthew J. Finch
Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules, © 2008-2012, Matthew J. Finch
Belching Snakes,  ©2015, Sycarion Diversions, Authors John Payne and Jasper Payne

The Question This Geek Dad Has Been Waiting to Hear

Send to Kindle

So Dad, when can I play D&D with you?

I leave the table up the entire two weeks with the guys' maps, dice, pencils, and the module I am running. He plays a lot near the table, but has only recently asked me about it. I think part of this was prompted by the raucous laughter that woke him up last Saturday.

For those that do not know, my son is hard of hearing. It takes a very loud sound to wake him up normally, much less when he is recovering from ear surgery with packing, stitches, and cotton plugging up one of his ears. His bedroom is a floor up and in the opposite side of the house. He sleeps in a loft six foot from the floor. For all intents and purposes, he should not have heard us.

Anyway, he came downstairs and asked me what was so funny. I explained to him the following scene:

In a cave, there is a giant punching a bunch of noisy statues. Each statue is shouting "THIS IS THE WRONG WAY, TURN BACK!" There are 1000 bats in the cave swirling around the giant.

He (pointing to one of the players) is pretending to be a 7 foot tall orc-like creature on a huge horse. They are charging down a flight of stairs into the cave. Behind him is a bear running as fast as he can. Behind the bear is a suit of armor (pointing at a second player) that can walk and talk on its own. Behind the suit of armor is a priest kind of guy (pointing at a third player) that is not sure why he is running in.

He started laughing and that struck me so funny that I was in tears from laughing so hard. After a moment to collect myself, I turn to the guys and ask, "You've charged into this maelstrom, guns blazing. What do you do?"

The character on the horse says, "Can we sneak past the giant?"

My son laughs again.

It was a week later when he asked me the question. He was looking at the table full of dice and maps. I'm sure he remembers me laughing so hard.

I ask, "Was it funny when the guy charged in on a horse with a bear running behind him?"

"Yes," he said, "but it was funnier when he wanted to sneak past the giant thing."

I think I've got a future DM on my hands.

1446364

Remember the Gazetteers?

Send to Kindle

One of the thing about the Northern Reaches is that it had a DM book and a Players Book. I don't have all of them, but if memory serves, this was the only one that had more than one country detailed. I thought about this earlier tonight when I was working on a project.

When I was in high school playing my version of D&D, the Gazetteers felt like so much boring reading with no real value. I loved reading them and thinking about the stories that could take place in these various places. The issue was that I didn't feel like I could do the setting justice if I put it into the games I ran.

In my defense, I was 16. Still, I'm the same person that played Spelljammer without any 2e books and a mishmash of various editions + Dragon magazines. Why on earth did I get the sudden concern over playing "by the book"?

What I enjoy about rulesets and sub-systems is that they are tools to help me play my game. The settings books at that time felt like places to tell a story according to specific constraints. Some of the constraints did not fit into my game, so I tossed out most of it.

These days, I see similar books that seem to fit between a setting and a module. Anomalous Subsurface Environment feels like one of them. You're in the future, a city is laid out, there are lots of new creatures and all kinds of new devices. I feel like I could put Denethix in my game. More than that, I could just take out the city and just do the module, even with the lasers and robots.

The Grognardia review says it best:

... we get lots of random tables and adventure hooks rather than pages of historical and cultural information that serve no immediate purpose.

So while I am toiling away on a creature book, I begin to see connections between the various monsters. A series of images of giants make me wonder what kind of place would exist to deal with these massive creatures? My brain delighted in thinking about the backstory, history, and all sorts of neat story ideas featuring these giants. Maybe they are descendants of the Greek Titans. Maybe they are servants of evil gods sent to lay waste to the earth. Maybe they found a cache of growth potions.

After about an hour, I realized that as much as I wanted to write a Gazetteer type of book to explain these giants (and lots of other creatures), that I was about to create something that the 16 year old me would never use. Read? Oh my, yes, but not for a game. It's true that I can work my way back to random tables and adventure hooks, but I'm in the place now where I want to convey a sense of different without the story getting in the way. In other words, the setting where these giants exist is different, but not so much of a special snowflake setting that they cannot exist somewhere else.

I read a review of Slumbering Ursine Dunes and found a description of something different, but useful. One line from the review stuck out to me:

No verbiage is wasted on things that will never interface with play.

Finally, someone has put to words what I was thinking almost thirty years ago. Slumbering Ursine Dunes has a new class, tax-collectors, magic devices, and a solution to uninteresting elves. There are places to visit that aren't detailed into a series of keyed rooms or hexes.

If I were to write a mini-setting, a gazetteer, or interesting hex-crawl, it would look a lot more like S.U.D or A.S.E and less like some of my favorite reading material as a kid. I'd make sure to present the bones of new classes, new monsters, and unique locales to be sure. More important, though, would be a list of adventure hooks as well as a way to generate your own. After all, it is not about my vision for a perfect fantasy setting, it's about evoking possibilities and providing tools to fleshing out those possibilities.

Where does this leave me several hours later into working on this project? Two new classes, a handful of new spells, unique creatures, and just enough info to let you know that this isn't just another faux European place. The only jargon I've got so far are the names of the gods, a city name, and a word for a massive giant-killing crossbow. The names of the Gods matter to Clerics because you get three or four extra spells available to you depending on the god you serve. The giant-killing crossbows matter because giant attacks happen more than would normally happen rolling against the encounter table. The names feel a bit Phoenician/Roman/Punic, but creating a character is still rolling 3d6 in order, buying some gear, and walking out of town to seek your fortune. If you want, you can generate a name that sounds Phoenician/Greek/Roman, etc, but if you want Bob the Bold, go for it!

Just don't call the tricherabishtra a big freakin' crossbow. Maybe a trichee, if you're a local. :)