Expanded Petty Gods is now available
via RPGNow and Lulu
At a monolithic near-400 pages, this community project is the largest collection of divine beings ever assembled. Featuring the talents of
- Jennell Jaquays, a TSR veteran who wrote and illustrated one of PG's main sources of inspiration, The Unknown Gods (Judges Guild, 1980).
- James Ward, another long-time TSR creator who wrote the other big PG influence, 1st Edition's Deities and Demigods (TSR, 1980).
- Erol Otus, a leading light among TSR's early stable of illustrators, his fingerprints are all over 1st Edition AD&D.
- & SO MANY OTHERS from within and without the OSR!
Links and pricing via Richard LeBlanc, PG's editor-in-chief and a major contributor to this work:
Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition (Premium Softcover) $13.22 (USD at cost)
Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition (PDF: no watermark) FREE
[Note that the RPGNow page will say "Watermarked PDF" on the page for the item, but when it downloads, there will be no watermark.]
Look, I've studied this thing for hours and my mind still has not wrapped around the QUANTITY of material herein. As the first release under the ORC royalty-fee/community imprint, PG is a monument to the collective creativity of the Old School community.
In addition to the deities themselves, PG hosts an array of divine minions, cults, artifacts and spells. It's CHOCK full of sweet illustrations that illuminate the weird descriptions too! Just loooook at this:
Richard has done a marvelous job designing this book, and we are lucky to have him. In case you're in need of some weird new monsters on a more, shall we say, earthly scale, you should by all means look into his new CREATURE COMPENDIUM. My mini-review:
2015 is apparently the Year of the Bestiaries. Was sitting in the hospital again today as glorified babysitter and spent much of my time reading Richard LeBlanc's Creature Compendium. Hot damn! There is such a fine array of weirdos to choose from in here -- itself a monumental achievement. Historically, I've gotten excited for and been let down by monstro manuals. They look all sexy, but then you get them home and climb into the sack with 'em and they're totally limp fish. (D20 ERA I AM LOOKING AT YOU.) To Richard's credit, the monster entries he's singlehandedly assembled here are quite usable. From underworld "dragons" like the Thuzzendahg and Carriage Worm, to gross globsters like the Izzoo (that's going in the next pit trap) and the Stinking Pile -- there's so much WIN here. Also, give the man kudos for including some Fortean types like the Mothman and Dover Demon and Crimson Death Worm -- seeing them made me quite happy. Once again, NBD brings the attractive and utilitarian layout that I have come to expect -- nay! -- demand from them. And OH HEY, Richard also did every single illo in this book, probably with one hand while he used the other to do PETTY GODS. Don't ask me what limb he's using for the upcoming psionics book.
The purpose of this post is to nail down some of my ideas about the Meta behind the Vancian magic system and offer some guidelines to make it more interesting for the players. There are several "story" assumptions being made here to establish a certain fictional magic paradigm. Some of these may not line up with your understanding of the Rules, but they're my jumping off points for what follows:
- In order to understand the magical arts, an apprentice magic-user begins with "general theory" texts that outline the basic workings of the school he/she is being indoctrinated into.
- Many schools of magic have overlap with other schools in terms of ideology and practices.
- By "school" I mean something more specific than the "Schools of Magic" familiar to most D&D buffs. My usage here implies a branch of a magical tradition, eg. the specific demon-summonings and demonological background of the witch-coven found in the southern woodlands of the Kingdom of Theogax. Their methods and litanies, their collective repertoire of spells, curses and malignities.
A 0-level magic-user has access to or owns a Foundation Text (FT) for a particular magical school. This contains general purpose, universal spells like Read Magic, Detect Magic. Also included in the FT are 1d3+1 spells that improve in efficacy as the magic-user gains experience levels -- in exactly the same manner found in Wonder & Wickedness (Lost Pages, 2014).
Traditionally, magic-users "get" new spells upon advancement to the next level. Maybe the player and referee collaborate to pick the appropriate number of spells out of the rulebook -- maybe the magic-user hires a tutor or exchanges wealth for access to a magical college's book collection and the referee and player roll up what he/she learns in these scenarios -- maybe both of these things happen -- or neither. IN ANY CASE, I propose the reverse:
As a condition for level advancement, the magic-user must both obtain and learn a given # of spells through whatever means possible IN GAME. At least one of these new spells should be of higher level than the highest level spell in his/her repertoire. The magic-user will continue to accrue XP as normal, but his/her experience level will not improve until he has met these conditions.Grimoires can and should contain more than spells. As products of a specific magical tradition, they could possibly deal with technical, non-spell areas of study like occult sigils, extraplanar entities, astrological data, diagrams, etc.
- Sometimes it's not enough to simply find a new spell to learn. Sometimes you must be familiar with another spell or branch of knowledge before you can add that spell to your repertoire. It's an idea that's run rampant in video games (see skill tree), but I think it has good application for D&D-like games. Access to spells becomes more tricksy and requires in-game research that reinforces the setting -- Where do I go to find more about this kind of magic?
- Spell descriptions should include a Source (the specific school/tradition that invented or adapted it) and Requirements like minimum experience level, prerequisite spells, a specific branch of magical knowledge (eg. wandcraft, elementalism, ley lines, etc.), and/or a specific item, action or quality (What do you mean I need to chop of my right index finger and have demonic ancestors to learn this spell??) that is not a component of the spell itself.
Example Spell Description
Naacalese Warding Chant (2nd Level/Incantation)
- Rarity: Scarce and largely forgotten
- Source: Nigromantics of Mu-Lem, 5Ae (Fifth Aeon), author unknown
- Requirements: (1) Must be able to read/write Old Naacalese or hire translator; (2) Invocation of the Demon Kwatto (1st/Inc.); (S*) Knowledge of demonic contracts
- Casting Time: 1 round
- Duration: Effect lasts until magic-user (a) stops chanting or (b) exceeds his/her experience level in turns
This incantation is a staccato burst of repeating Nacaalese stanzas that calls forth a trio of ancient sorcerer-ghosts bound to the service of the demon Kwatto. Per the incantation's instructions, these ghosts must scour the area (100 ft radius) in the magic-user's vicinity and report in their hollow, sighing voices if there are any other invisible spirits or persons about (note that only the caster can hear the ghosts' voices). The ghosts will move along with the caster for the duration of the spell but cannot or will not venture away for more than one hundred feet. The caster cannot see them but can feel their breath on his/her neck. The ghosts will also indicate the presence of beings hidden from the caster's view but not magically invisible. There is a 10% chance they they will tell the location of any treasure nearby as well. This can be increased to 20% if the caster allows the ghosts to lick his hands with their dry, dusty ghost-tongues.
*S = Suggested: Not required knowledge but useful in this instance.
Painted this tonight in Shotophop. Been thinking about a module set at the edge of the world -- a la Dunsany and Manly Wade Wellman.
UR-THRYM is named for the range of mountains that teeter at the eastern edge of the World -- which as we all know is a big flat rock suspended in the Void. The region is nominally a holding of the self-styled Warden of the Eastern Edge, a petty godling named Byatis Snakebeard, hight for the coiling nest of green serpents that sprout from his chin and neck. The translucent throne of King Byatis is found in an ancient port-town called Exartes-the-Lesser. It is the only port-o-call for many thousands of miles.
Night-gaunts dwell in the caves that pock the sides of the world and are known to drop victims into the Gulf of Night.
Gargantuan green spiders called gholocks are used as mounts to journey to the mines of an extinct race that built nameless cities on the bottom of the world.
The world is crumbling. Most of its cleavings fall into the Void forever, but some "islands" of earth remain mysteriously buoyant. Such places are reached through the use of magical galleys or -- if near enough -- rope bridges. Best known among them is the floating city of Pnoptis -- a holy city known for its curious temples. No men dwell there anymore, having abandoned the city long ago when it split with the World. The place is difficult to find, concealed by a massive belt of mist and sulfur nicknamed the Giant's Fart.
Prospectors range the mountains and primeval forests in search of rare and strange minerals.
Weird things scuttle across the Edge that are not seen at the heart of the World.
No. Appearing: 1d3
3+1 HD | AAC 13 | Attack: (a) fang-stab-slice 1d8+1; (b) caustic webspray 1d3 ea. rnd for 1d6 rnds
A large (3 ft. wide) carnivorous arachnid often mistaken for a true spider. The Skulker throws caustic web from syringe-like vessels within its diminutive fore-fangs up to a range of 20 ft. Its lower fangs are tusk-like and operated by fully articulate mandibles which it uses to maim and devour prey like a pair of razor-sharp arms. It is known to lurk just outside rural villages in the hopes of sneaking up on unsuspecting maidens. (Illos by GGMLK)
Cacodoxy: Perverse teachings
Nigromancy: Black magic; demonic magic
Concept: A compendium of demonic servants and patrons; an alternative to D&D's standard demonologies described in AD&D's Monster Manuals I and II; new Hells; Tsojcanthian summoning/banishing rules and spell descriptions; random summoning/encounter charts.
THE NIGROMANTIA STORY BIBLE (so far)
The Eight Towers of Agony loom equidistant from one another over the cavernous decrepitudes of the Grey Hell that most men call Qlune and learned sorcerers know as Yhddon-Thex.
Each Tower is the possession of a blooded Monarch and his/her offspring, and houses many cataphracts and thralls, and various infestations of demonic vermin.
Cataphracts are a warrior caste bred from remnants of an Elder Race that once ruled over ancient Qlune. Various cataphract houses serve a particular Tower and its master. Cataphracts resemble wingless night-gaunts, jet black from head to toe and having no facial features aside from a pair of black horns. They often wear ornate armor and nimbly wield two-handed swords forged from scaly Qlunic ore.
Thralls are slaves who have been robbed of their will, being bound by powerful demonic geases and enchantments that threaten the extinction of their spirit should they try to break them. They hate their masters but are powerless to act against them.
The First Tower is the abode of Lord Xhaunticleer, a cockerel-headed despot who possesses the largest host of contracted dead in Qlune. He fashions concubines out of ghost-flesh and is usually honored with the sacrifice of a mortal woman-child or matron. He has written an untold number of magical texts. Some have escaped into the worlds of mortals, through theft or malfeasance or as part of some arrangement with Xhaunticleer or one of his blood-relatives. All of these texts are accursed but contain much wisdom.
[This is the demon who appears on the cover of the book]
The Second Tower is the possession of Pzarzael, who appears as a corpulent white maggot with the head and neck of an eyeless snow-haired woman. Rivulets of black blood still drip slowly from the blood-brown holes in her face, as if her eyes were plucked just days ago. Pzarzael has many plump and asymmetrical breasts on the underside of her worm-body. A pair of long arms ending in long-fingered hands project from beneath her beautiful neck. There are many amber rings on Pzarzael's fingers -- each contains a single potent spell (7th or 8th level) that can sometimes be seen swimming about inside its amber prison like a phosphorescent fish.
file(s) Cacodoxia Nigromantia