Sunday, September 17, 2023

Mystery Solved


Last December I posted a message asking if anyone knew what the heck this four-armed three-eyed weirdo was and today I noticed someone had an answer. An anonymous commenter has recently added some useful info:

It’s a Gobbler, a creation of gloranthan dwarves, whose job is to eat special metals and other materials the dwarves would prefer that humans, trolls, and others not get their grubby hands on.

Basically the dwarves take it near where they suspect other races have been doing technological espionage, feed some Gobblers a sample of X material, and then those Gobblers go crazy for X, can sense it from far away, can digest it, will fight past anything just to reach it, and will eat it in preference to continuing to fight

I don’t recall which book they are in. I don’t remember their RuneQuest stats either, but I don’t there was anything unusual about their combat abilities. Doubt they had magic, unlike nearly everything else in Glorantha, since they are artificial.

Thanks, anon-a-commenter! With that lead I was able to track down this image of the re-release of the original Archive mini back in 2005 or so:

I also found this new re-design for a more recent HeroQuest figure line:

The Gobblers are mentioned in Different Worlds issue 24, the special issue devoted to the Mostali, RuneQuest's dwarves. Here's what Greg Stafford has to say about them in his article "Why I Dislike Mostali": 
Dwarfs have other creatures to help them protect their possessions, too. One of the best known is the Gunpowder Gobbler. A horde of them appeared one time, and they ate much more than that arcane substance when they stampeded towards their prey. They have many hands and a great mouth, and they are very strong. Their appetite is enhanced by their eating the alchemical powder, and they get stronger from it as well . Thus, the more there is to eat, the hungrier and nastier one gets. Once it has eaten everything, it goes on a rampage. Many instances of Gobbler outbreaks are recorded, and most authorities are quite adamant about suppressing the development of, or even experimentation with, that alchemical powder in their districts.
I feel like Different Worlds is
overlooked nowadays. Good mag.

According to this web article by Sandy Petersen, Gobblers "can be taught spells, but has only those Arts and Presence which has been enchanted into its hide." I have no idea what Arts and Presence mean in this context, as I know very little about the RuneQuest/HeroQuest family of games. 

Finally, I was able to track down some RQ stats for these four-armed goons:

Characteristics Average 

  • STR 2D6+12 19 
  • CON 4D6+12 26 
  • SIZ 3D6+12 22–23 
  • INT 1D6+2 5–6 
  • POW 3D6 10–11 
  • DEX 2D6+8 15 

Hit Points: 29 Move: 8 Magic Points: 11 Base SR: 2 Armor: 7 points of metallic hide. Skills: Dodge 35%, Smell Foodstuff 160%. Magic: A gobbler can eat near-limitless quantities of its designated substance. Sometimes gobblers receive enchantments or long duration sorcery spells from the dwarfs.Weapon % 55 Damage 1d4+2d6  SR 5/8 Note: A gobbler attacks four times each round, with both upper arms on its initial SR and both lower paws 3 strike ranks later. Add +1% to its Paw attack skill for each ENC of the target substance eaten. For every 10 ENC of the target substance eaten, add +1 to one characteristic chosen by the dwarfs when the gobbler was programmed


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Starmongers Guild

The Starmongers Guild is the closest thing to an operational magic-user's organization in the Kingdom of Drazbin. The main guildhouse is in the city of Yowat, but there's also a large contingent in Dillhonker. The original point of the organization was to provide solidarity for astrologers and soothsayers during a royal crackdown on fake fortune tellers, but all practitioners of the arcane sciences are now welcome. The usual route to membership is to apprentice under a master for several years but adventurers can skip that nonsense and join for a mere 1,000gp donation and a successful Charisma check (the fee is non-refundable). Membership provides the following benefits:

  • Membership is a legal defense against accusations of witchcraft (but not Black Magic) wherever Royal law applies.
  • The right to participate in the parades and festivities of the order. This means anytime you carouse in a town with a guildhouse there's a 1 in 6 chance the XP gain is doubled.
  • The Dillhonker Tarot has 99 cards.
    Every time you level up after joining, you receive an additional benefit if you can roll OVER your level on 1d12. If this roll is successful, throw 1d6 on the chart below:
    1. Gain basic proficiency in astrology. (If re-rolled on a later level, you get nothing.)
    2. Gain the alchemical knowledge needed to brew 1d3 different random potions.
    3. Gain the ability to Read the Cards once per day, which works like the spell Augury (if re-rolled, gain an additional usage per day).
    4. Gain a random MU spell.
    5. Gain knowledge of an ancient language.
    6. Gain all the mental abilities of an Arduin Psychic equal to your level. (If rolled again, you lose these benefits. They can be regained later.)
Note that non-magic-users can try to join the guild. In these lazy days of warlockery there's only a 1 in 6 chance they detect that you're a charlatan. But woe unto ye if that happens.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Broodmother is back!

FYI, my magnum opus, Broodmother Skyfortress, is back in print at the Lamentations of the Flame Princess euro store. If you missed out on a hardcopy the first time around, here's your chance to buy one at non-collector prices. Also, it should be noted that among the many new LotFP releases is Black Chamber by my friend Becami Cusack of Systematica. Congrats, Bec!

Monday, July 31, 2023

Dude! Northumbrian Tinsoldier!!

In a great reply to my quickie humanoid post commenter 1d30 mentions that Northumbrian Tinsoldier carries a line of goblins in the vein of the muppets from Labyrinth. And he ain't kidding. Check out these great gobbos:

That's just a sample. There are many, many more goofy little freaks in the line. Here's some other fun stuff they sell:
I love an adventurer with a light source!

This delightful figure is called Sir Blessed of Briian.

And don't miss the licensed Time Bandits line, featuring the best dwarfs to ever appear in fantasy (fight me):

They've also got most of the cool characters from the movie. Conspicuously absent at the moment are either version of God and these scary mofos:

Anyway, if you like cool minis, check out Northumbrian!

Saturday, July 08, 2023

lotsa different humanoids

If you are going to use all the standard D&D races, you need a quick handle on how each of them behave. If you can't makes these sorts of distinctions, they become blurred into different hit dice versions of Generic Foe. Here are my usual elevator-pitches for them:

Kobolds - like the Gremlins in the movies

Goblins - everything you hate about middle class existence

Orcs - blue collar working stiffs, part Homer Simpson, part Archie Bunker

Hobgoblins - the goddamn Nazis

Gnolls - evil frat boys variously chilling on spring break or rioting after their team wins the championship

Bugbears - sadistic cannibalistic Bigfoot

Ogres - Sweetums from the Muppet Show

Sunday, June 25, 2023

mini-review: White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game

One of the earliest retroclones was Matt Finch's Swords & Wizardry, published in 2007 or 2008, if I recall correctly. S&W was an updating and reworking of original D&D. In 2009 Swords & Wizardry: White Box came out, which was a version of S&W that stripped the game back to the original three little beige books. White Box: Fantasy Medieval Adventure Game is Charlie Manson's 2016 reworking of the 2009 game.

Since this is an old school D&D type game (If you don't know what that means, good luck reading the entire blog archive.), I will only hit a few rules points for those of us who are really finicky about these things:

  • Stats are -1 for 6 or less, +1 for 15 or more.
  • Hit dice are d6. Fighters start at 1+1.
  • Single saving throw
  • Four classes but thieves are listed as optional.
  • All class charts go to level 10 except MU which goes to 12.
  • 'Thievery' is a skill that covers all thief stuff except backstab. You start at 2 in 6 with it. It goes to 3 in 6 at level 4.
  • Four races. Per OD&D elves switch between fighter and MU.
  • Both ascending and descending AC is supported.
  • Weapons generally do d6. Two-handers do d6+1.
  • The spell lists are unnumbered. I hate that.
  • Monster list is a bunch of old standbys but also includes Death Knight, 4 demons (balor, imp, succubus, lemure), and a neat little take on the Sidhe.
  • The magic item section is pretty nicely fleshed out.
  • There are some nice little jousting rules.
If there's a major revelation in these rules, I have yet to find it. But that's hardly the point, is it? As a retroclone, it's first job is to be a serviceable version of the Game. By that standard, White Box hits the mark nicely. One can both dungeoneer and dragonify using these rules. My only real complaint (other than failing to number the spell lists) is that it lacks a starter adventure, sample level, and/or dungeon generator.

What really makes White Box stand out to me is its physical format. The book is only 8.5" tall and 5.5" wide, 144 pages, paperback, black & white, and cheap. A copy on Amazon goes for only 4.29 in US dollars! The paper is a greyish newsprint quality, but the printing on it is all clear and quite legible. No index but the table of contents is robust. The illos by William McAusland are frequent and evocative. All-in-all if you need a small, cheap rpg to give out to newbies or to throw in a travel bag, White Box fills the bill nicely. Add a handful of dice, some paper, a writing implement or two and the gates of adventure lie open unto ye.