Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye Old Game Year, Hello New Game Year

Another year of gaming has come to a close and a new year of gaming is beginning.

This waning year our group continued my campaign and introduced my brother's campaign. We alternate running our adventures which can sometimes confuse a few of the players as to which character they are playing at a given session. My brother is doing great as DM, being a novice isn't slowing him down or dampening his enthusiasm and I am proud of how well he is taking to the job of Dungeon Master.

My Hammered Game Table is back in action, having been taken out of storage and set up at my brother's house. He and his wife have fully embraced the game and went so far as to rearrange their house to create a large gaming space to fit the 8+' x 4+' table and turned an entertainment center into storage for gaming paraphernalia.

They have also been buying miniatures, and crafting their own terrain and decor for the adventures in his campaign.

The gaming group seems to have stabilized at 7 members for the time being.

I've just introduced Federation Commander to one member of the group, but it remains to be seen if any others will take to the game.

In the coming year there is a strong possibility we will add two new players to the group bringing us back up to nine which makes for a target rich environment for the monsters.  ;)

One of the possible new member played an old school version of D&D years ago, and the other, his wife, will be completely new to role playing. This will be fun rekindling his enjoyment and sparking new interest for her.

As for my campaign in the new year, I anticipate doing more dungeon crawling and less wilderness exploration. My players have begun to show greater appreciation for indoor environments than for the great outdoors. While both are dangerous, the party has lost more characters in  the wild than in the dungeons so far.

Here's hoping your games in 2019 will be grand, wild fun.

Happy Gaming!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Magic Item: Helms of the Myrmidon

Embuk slipped quietly through the concealed doorway making his exit to safety as the mahem began. The gift of the cursed helmet went into effect as his Lordship donned it and screamed a war cry. Drawing his dagger and leaping into the crowd of sycophants the despotic Baron stabbed and slashed at his new enemies laying low several of his most loyal friends.
"To a job well done and a curse well deserved" Embuk toasted to his companions.

Helms of the Myrmidon

These cursed helmets were created to take revenge on high ranking officers of the King's defenders and given as gifts. The curse causes a berserk rage driving the wearer to see all about him as enemies and immediate threats. Victims of the curse will fight until no enemies remain in line of sight and will renew the attack upon anyone that comes into view.

Example helmet.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Magic Items on the Borderlands

Keep on the Borderlands remains a popular adventure module for starting campaigns and introducing new players to D&D. As such it contains a good variety of magic items to allow players to experience the fun these toys bring to play. Here then is a rough list of how many items of various types populate the module.

TL/DR list =

7 Scrolls, 20 Potions, 2 Wands, 3 Staves, 1 Helm, 34 Amulets, 7 Swords, 3 Spears, 2 Hand Axes, 1 Rope, 8 Armor, 6 Shields, 2 Maces, 7 Daggers, 5 Rings, 19 Arrows, 1 Elven Cloak, 2 pair Elven Boots.

A portion of the items are located within the friendly/safe Keep and are unlikely to become available to the player characters without them risking a vigorous reprisal from higher level combatants and expulsion from the only safe place to rest and recover. This includes most of the armor which seems to be all Plate Mail +1, most of the swords +1 and +2, most of the +1 daggers, and most of the +1 shields.

The amulets are mostly worn by skeletons and zombies and increase the difficulty of turning by clerics. Other amulets are Protection From Good worn by evil priests.

Two cursed items and a couple of Potions of Poison are hidden about the Caves of Chaos.

Nine Healing Potions as well as some Cure Light Wounds scrolls are available.

Four of the Rings are Protection +1.

The magic rope is an odd item to be included since it doesn't call to mind any immediate uses in the adventure, but later adventures may have plenty of opportunities to employ the rope.

If the inhabitants of the Caves put their stashed magic items to use the adventurers would face a much tougher task of clearing the caves and it would reduce the amount of available magic items a fair bit. Can you imagine an invisible Ogre surprise attack?!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Pruning the Magic Item Christmas Tree

A long lamented problem for some campaigns is the accumulation of magic items by the characters to the point where a detect magic spell would cause them to light up like a Christmas tree.

DM's being loath to take away treasured items from the player characters for fear of disappointing the players have often neglected to use the built-in mechanics of the game which serve to mitigate this issue and keep the discovery of more magic items fresh and exciting.

Items like potions and scrolls are already meant to be used once only, and charged items like wands and staves run out of power after a random number of uses. This was meant to limit power while still allowing characters special bonuses. Sadly without the risk of these items being take away through hazards, spells, creatures, or other mishaps, the players tend to hoard them for use against the toughest foes or "end bosses". With the mechanics for taking items away, there is incentive to use it or lose it and encouragement to be more liberal in use of charged and consumable items.

Among the possible mechanics in 1st edition AD&D for handling the abundance of magical treasure available in the game are spells, creatures, etc.

Spells can include Dispel Magic, and Mordenkainen's Disjunction. The former can ruin potions and temporarily disable other permanent items like magic armor and swords. The latter permanently removes all magic from items affected.

Monsters can include Rust Monsters, Caryatid Columns, some slimes and oozes, and the Disenchanter. In my opinion the Disenchanter wasn't needed and was a bandaid for a problem that shouldn't exist.

Of course hazards play their part in reducing excess magic items from play. Things like lava, acid, and the common occurrence of falls into pits or from other heights play their part; and lets not forget other spell hazards like fireball, all bring the Item Saving Throw Table into play. The last one should not be forgotten despite the possibility of slowing down play.

Playing closer to the guidelines as written would provide a way for the problem to take care of itself.

Friday, December 21, 2018

New Spell: Troubled Footfall (Curse)

Troubled Footfall

Level: 3
Duration: Permanent
Range: 10' Plus 10' per level (May be cast through a scrying device.)

Troubled Footfall is a curse meant to prevent sneaking about silently. The victim of this spell is affected each time they attempt to move unheard. The snap of twigs, crunch of leaves, skitter of kicked pebbles, thump of boot heals on stone, are all results of this curse. A remove curse spell will negate this affliction.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

New Spell: Twig (Cleric, Nature; Wizard, Illusion)


Level: 1
Duration: 2 turns (20 minutes)
Range: 10' plus 10' per level

By casting Twig the cleric or wizard causes a distraction reducing chances of being accurately tracked by 20% for the duration of the spell. The caster tosses a twig off the trail which snaps as anyone tracking nears the diversion location. It then becomes difficult to discern which direction the caster took from that point.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Lair of the Necromancer

Here are a few pictures from the lair of a necromancer the party only saw part of before retreating to safety. They were in bad shape with most of them at 1 or 2 hit points so a withdraw was the wisest option.

The lair contained the remaining cultists of the Rat God, the Necromancer, and numerous skeletons and zombies, including a number of ripening bodies in the fetid water in the lowest reaches of the dungeon. Had more than just one party member entered the place, the Necromancer would have animated the bodies in the water to bolster his already impressive force of undead.

During the confusion the necromancer would have made his escape, leaving behind 8 cultists, 4 skeletons, and 10 zombies to vex the adventurers. Treasures left behind included an apprentice spell book, several Lesser Wondrous Figurines, a talking Auguring Skull, and a journal.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

More pics from other adventure moments.

Above - A Hammered Game Table completely filled with Dwarven Forge and other scenery.

Above - A wealthy merchants veranda.

Above - The merchant's basement with secret door behind painting.

Above - Delivery for the blacksmith.

Above - Well-to-do citizens hob-nob by the cathedral clock tower.

Above - The party is surprised by an Ocre Jelly while in the sewers.

Above - The party finds a secret door in the sewers and emerges into caverns.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Isle of the Abbey part 3 - unfinished post from April of 2015

This post was meant for publication in April of 2015, but it remains unfinished and is being posted now mainly to show off the pictures of resin Dwarven Forge sets.

At the end of part 2 the party had begun exploring into the maze of passages called "the trap" and the halfling and paladin were trying to lure an armored automaton back toward the rest of the party. Their effort was failing to trap the trap.
Eventually the paladin decided to confront the automaton at the intersection of the long halls.

The paladin paused at the intersection to light a torch. Somewhere in the darkness the automaton turned around and came back to attack. This action also triggered the rest of the trap. A section of wall opened behind the halfling and through it stepped another of the metal guardians.

The party pulled together to eventually destroy the first automaton, and the wizard discovered that the bracer allowed him to halt the second automaton, deactivating the trap.

Continuing further along, they found another door like the one between the first crypt and the trap.

Beyond the door lay a passage to the large gallery of the crypts, and shrine. About 50 feet into the corridor stood a pair of doors opposite each other. To the right was a storage room of mummification supplies and to the left was a  burial chamber with a sarcophagus.

The lid to the ornately decorate sarcophagus was somewhat askew and a horrible smell emanated from within. Half climbing, Endzique peered over the edge to see a mostly evaporated thick dark liquid with a roughly man shaped lump of dessicated sludge.  Merenk, the necromancer explained that this was likely a mummification technique using seawater and sea salts, and somehow the seal had broken allowing the process to go foul.

Nobody was willing to feel about in the dank mess so they proceeded to the next small chamber. The room was filled with faded and cracked murals, but little else.

Passing beyond a narrow door, the party found themselves by a sealed sarcophagus, their meager torchlight fading in the distance of a larger room.  Edging slowly out into the wider darkness, the paladin stopped and drew his sword when he noticed a human-like silhouette in the distance.

Endzique hearing the paladin challenge the person just beyond sight, ran back the way they had come and on a hunch ran down the long corridor beyond the doors they had previously investigated. He emerged into the Grand Gallery parallel to Fairchild and could see another figure opposite himself.

Cautiously the two advanced into the gloom, discovering that they faced only statues beside a shrine composed of a silently trickling mermaid fountain. The two statues of previous Lord Navigators of the church stood silent sentinel, arms spread to their sides, holy symbols of ship's wheel adorning their vestments.

Relieved, the party chose to bypass the sealed sarcophagus and continue into a smaller chamber to the left pf the gallery.

This turned out to be another burial chamber. Within they discovered a shattered sarcophagus cluttered with mounds of rubble, and broken bones.

Archway leading onto older crypt - "Between the pilings the Grand Navigator rests, with an eternal flame to guide him home beyond the waves."

searching, found stone block dimensions of a book, pried open, delicately removed book, discovered key fits pommel lock on large sarcophagus

mummy from behind tears cultist in two (44 points damage) chaos ensues

wizard cuts necromancer free mummy takes down ranger (down to zero) people begin to flee when realize only magic is affecting it

paladin tries covering escape route, is dropped by mummy (rolls natural one on his first death save takes two failures, three inspiration from paladin and other party members used to save life)

party, much like early cave dwellers discovers new use for fire, finally drop mummy

investigate large sarcophagus and find very old man preserved perfectly under crystal clear water

pull him out, he is dry, party members involved are wet, try to wake him up, eventual success, he heals ranger and paladin

party heads to living quarters area to rest and regroup before checking tower (will they find Silas? will there be a fight? will the powerful elementalist roast the party?)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Magic Items: Lesser Wondrous Figurines

Like their more powerful cousins the Figurines of Wondrous Power, the Lesser Wondrous Figurines are approximately an inch in size and depict various creatures. Unlike their cousins these figurines vanish upon their invoking.

No command word is needed and activation is as simple as tossing the figurine to the ground.

These figurines can sometimes be found in sets, but more often are located individually.

Spider - Single target web spell, effect lasts 2 rounds.

Hound - Tracking bonus of 20%, lasts 1 turn (10 minutes).

Pigeon - Send a message as the spell.

Mole - Digs a 10' by 10' hole in earth, does not affect stone.

Frog - Gives a bonus of 5' to a single jump attempt.

Minnow - Provides water breathing for the user for 5 rounds.

Chameleon - Gives user a bonus of 10% to hide for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Squirrel - Climbing bonus of 50% for one attempt.

Ferret - Dodge bonus to armor class of +2 for one combat.

Bat - Night vision for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Bee - Anti-venom bonus to saves vs poison of +2 for 5 rounds.

Butterfly - Provides a +2 bonus to Charisma for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Stirge - Heal 1 hit point.

Chicken - Flutters to the ground becoming a days rations.

Fox - Gives a 10% bonus to listen checks for 5 rounds.

Deer - Increases movement speed by 20 feet for 5 rounds.

Sloth - Slows a single target as spell for 2 rounds.

Snake - Fear as the spell for 1 round.

Pig - Cases a single target to drop held items.

Ant - Reduces encumbrance by 1 category for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

More Scenery

This time I was playing around with the Erinthor Mountain pieces from Dwarven Forge and a Balrog tea-light piece, using an LED flashlight for more oomph.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Magic Item: Blindfold of Seeking

"I know the door is here somewhere", Rillek grumbled.
"Maybe this will help", offered Embuk, passing a blindfold to his companion.
Rillek stared at the offering, "Very funny, Embuk, quite the joke.
Looking wounded Embuk coughed "Just try, the blindfold helps locate concealed things".
Taking the blindfold Rillek put it on and almost immediately gasped when he spotted the door behind the tall portrait of the Count. "Maybe he's hiding back here".

The Blindfold of Seeking provides a 20% bonus to spotting concealed and secret doors. When worn nothing else can be seen.  The power of the blindfold can be called on 3 times per day for 1 round each time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter 7: Some Early Beans

It appears the gang at Dwarven Forge have a good head start on designing the next Kickstarter project for the coming year.

Quoting Stefan Pokorny on Thanksgiving:

"BEANS: Yes, more Wilderness! And also some attention to City Builder and Castles! As I am designing all the interiors for Castles, Inns, Forts, etc, that will appear in the MYTHRAS Sourcebook I am getting frustrated with what I can do with the interiors, where I put corridors, how to configure the insides of houses and Castles . . . so Nate and I (and the team) are working hard to add the interiors of all these structures! Secret Doors! Tudor 2" x 4" style, 2" x 2" spiral stairs, smaller spaces (closets) garderobes, and more . . . so when the Mythras Sourcebook comes out you will be able to build to exact specs the Castle of Valoria! (Castle Crag), Temple of Khrom, Gold Coin Inn, Red Beards Tavern, etc."

I must admit that I was hoping for something different, but with my non-existent budget this might be a much needed break from the yearly struggle to participate. There will definitely be things I will want, but nothing yet that is likely to be a must have. We can only wait and see what surprises DF will have in store for us all next year.

If I had the budget I would like to see some additions to Sewers, Catacombs, cathedral, graveyard, and mausoleum.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter 6: Caverns Deep - Afterthoughts

As mentioned in the previous post, lack of motivation sapped my interest in posting to the blog, even about things I would normally enjoy discussing. That includes this years DF Kickstarter which normally would have been the topic of several posts before and during the event. Here are some thoughts about how it went.

The project end with a total of over 3.3 million dollars and over 3,000 backers. Included in the themes for this year were caverns in standard color and Underdoom paint, crystal caverns, ice caverns, and the new outdoor terrain Dreadhollow Forest.

Variety seems to have been the objective this year, not only in themes, but in piece types. Multi use pieces called trifecta pieces are part of just about every encounter option in the project except for the forest. Diagonal walls and swell walls are also a major addition and enhance builds that can be created with the cavern pieces from the Kickstarter 2 Cavern sets allowing for more natural shapes to your layouts. The mix of shapes is impressive. Sadly getting enough of particular pieces is a costly endeavor.

Every year the designs get more detailed, and more complex which drives the prices higher. Increased inclusion of magnets, metal, and LED features (some that can change colors through use of a remote control) also factors into the price inflation. As a collector I love the bling, but as one of many with low or no budget, it seems that the idea of making Dwarven Forge terrain more affordable to a wider audience has been forgotten.

Too many themes being presented contributes to a paralysis when trying to decide on what to buy and what to skip, hoping to pick them up later through the web store. Trying to get some of everything leads to "feeling like butter spread over too much bread". I imagine people new to DF terrain get migraines trying to figure out how to maximize versatility while having variety.

Since I don't want to sound like a Negative Nelly, let me state that I love what I saw offered in this Kickstarter and if I had a budget this year as in previous years, well, my participation would have run pretty deep.

The new forest terrain is gorgeous. The modular trees and depth of detail left many wondering if the factory would be able to match what the very talented crew of artists have created. So far the painted prototypes coming back from the factory indicate that they indeed are up to the task. A full set of the Dreadhollow Forest (painted) runs about $900, and if you want greater table coverage the cost climbs from there, especially once you include the extra items that were added during the pledge manager phase. If you want incredible looking wilderness terrain you can't beat this set.

 The cavern pieces are also quite lovely. The attention to detail and to grand elevation pieces really defines these sets as among the best work Dwarven Forge has created. The artists involved deserve high praise.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Don't Bring Me Down

I was reluctant to address this topic on the blog until now. My frequent and prolonged absences are due to depression sapping my motivation. Currently I have motivation to blog again and need some input from readers for ideas to write about.

Please offer up some topics you would like my opinion or insight about and I'll see what I can come up with.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Magic Item: Cudgel of Cleverness

Embuk rapped Silnar on the head with the cudgel.
"Ow! That smarts!"
"That should knock some sense into you."

Magic Item: Cudgel of Cleverness

This stout wooden weapon is designed not to harm, but to help. Those hit with it suffer only 1 point of damage while gaining the temporary bonus of +2 to their wisdom score. The bonus lasts for 1d4 turns (10 to 40 minutes).

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Random Table: What the Prostitute Knows

A random table of pillow talk rumors. 1d20 rumors previously submitted to a contest in Fight On! Magazine.

01 - A prominent merchant is dealing in slaves.

02 - That isn't just hog meat in the most popular sausage in town.

03 - The wife of the mayor has a tattoo that is a map to treasure.

04 - The magistrate isn't allowed back in the brothel.

05 - The place to buy or sell stolen goods is behind the stable.

06 - In the next town they grow apples that give people prophetic dreams.

07 - The real leader of the bandits is the jeweler.

08 - Under the floor of the barracks is a demon shrine.

09 - The High Priest keeps a mistress.

10 - There's a cave a mile outside town where smugglers hide loot.

11 - The blacksmith is blackmailing people and hides secrets in a tree stump.

12 - The dragon slayer is a woman.

13 - The gate guards take bribes.

14 - The stone mason likes wearing dresses and playing "elf".

15 - The secret passage under the walls is in a crypt.

16 - For 100 gold pieces you can buy a map of the keep from the barber.

17 - His Lordship's daughter secretly works in the brothel.

18 - If you want to know where the bodies are buried ask the rope maker.

19 - Inside the town square statue is a fortune in gems.

20 - An assassin was hired by the Baron to kill his brother.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Random Table: Who is that Drunkard? part 5

This is part 5 of a random table of tavern patrons submitted to Fight On! Magazine.

Random tavern patrons #81 through 100 of d100:

81 - An artisan carving images on an animal skull.

82 - Someone pretending a broom is a horse.

83 - A prudish old woman berating everyone about their loose morals.

84 - Someone that looks similar to the wanted posted outside.

85 - A toothless fellow that occasionally mutters Nope and shakes his head.

86 - A passed out wizard whose tiny companion sits nearby bored.

87 = The captain of the guard giving a lecture to the animal head on the wall.

88 - Two middle aged, bearded gents debating whose idea it was.

89 - A collector of swords that wants to examine any noticeable sword.

90 - The queen of a great kingdom, or so she says.

91 - A long-haired individual in robes with back to the room.

92 - A squat, pudgy individual with spectacles.

93 - A beggar wearing new looking shoes.

94 - A local rope maker weeping while preparing a noose.

95 - A hunter feasting on the bird he caught and had prepared.

96 - A beautiful young woman dressed all in scarlet.

97 - The winner of a race across town from another pub.

98 - The town barber, hands shaking badly.

99 - A soaking wet individual claiming to have survived falling in the well.

100 - A noisy group at a table, rolling strangely shaped dice and cheering about having slain a dragon.

There you have it, all 100 results for the drunk tavern patrons!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Random Table: Who is that Drunkard part 4

This random table of part 4 of 5, d100 tavern patrons #61 through 80 from a list submitted to a contest in Fight On! Magazine

Patrons #61 through 80:

61 - A teenager with one hand missing.

62 - Robed singers with facial tattoos of runes and symbols.

63 - A member of local nobility and retinue.

64 - A messenger with a pouch of wax sealed notes.

65 - A leather tanner smelling of urine.

66 - Two elderly persons sorting through a pile of scrolls and parchment.

67 - The jailer complaining to the room about the prisoners.

68 - Two big men in a drinking contest.

69 - An animal trainer with a ferret.

70 - A spice merchant.

71 - A group of people having beetle fights on their table and wagering on the outcome.

72 - A person with badly scarred face and hands.

73 - A thin waif crawling about making cat noises.

74 - Twins, one with bright red hair, the other with bright white hair.

75 - A heavy man sitting on a tall fellow and refusing to let him up.

76 - A tall bearded man smoking a pipe.

77 - A farmer sharing some bread and beer with a duck.

78 - Three hooded individuals whispering together in a dim corner.

79 - Two harlots arguing about a customer.

80 - A witch hunter staring at everyone that comes in.

Part 5 #s 81 through 100 will be posted in a couple days.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Random table: Who is that Drunkard part 3

This random table was submitted to a contest in Fight On! Magazine.

Part 3 tavern patrons #41 through 60:

41 - A chimney sweep covered in soot.

42 - A peddler selling flowers from a wicker basket.

43 - Two squires discussing arrangements for a duel between their masters.

44 - A rug merchant arguing with a weaver about quality of materials.

45 - A short fellow in oversized, dented, rusty armor.

46 - A girl with sticks and leaves in her hair and clothing.

47 - Wedding celebrants.

48 - A religious pilgrim.

49 - A troupe of acrobats.

50 - A scribe copying a text.

51 - Three midwives gossiping.

52 - An amorous couple.

53 - Veteran mercenaries.

54 - A stable hand with boots covered in muck and wet straw.

55 - A jeweler examining precious stones for a prospector.

56 - A flamboyantly dressed obese woman with lots of jewelry.

57 - A tax collector and guards.

58 - A cobbler measuring a customer for new footwear.

59 - A table surrounded by 5 unconscious patrons.

60 - Acolytes from a foreign church that don't speak the local language.

Part 4 patron #s 61 through 80 will be up in a couple days.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Random Table: Who is that Drunkard? part 2

This is part 2 of a random tavern patron table submitted to a contest in Fight On! Magazine.

Tavern patrons #21 through 40:

21 - A traveling entertainer passed out.

22 - A foreign diplomat and servant.

23 - A falconer wit an annoyed bird.

24 - The butch and baker placing lit candles on an unconscious man.

25 - Several porters in a local Lord's livery.

26 - A carpenter picking splinters from his hands.

27 - Three town guards betting on what other patrons are doing.

28 - An old woman mumbling something to nobody visible.

29 - An unconscious person in ragged clothing curled up next to an old dog.

30 - Someone that could be the identical twin of a party member.

31 - A group of well armed people sorting a bag of dirt encrusted coins.

32 - A pale gentleman telling stories of ancient times.

33 - A dancer.

34 - Two large men arm wrestling.

35 - The limner that just repainted the tavern sign.

36 - The local fletcher.

37 - A blacksmith with singed hair.

38 - A blind woman reading palms.

39 - A robed person petting a multi-colored toad.

40 - Refuges from a nearby town.

Part 3 #s 41 through 60 coming in a couple days.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Random Table: Who is that Drunkard? part 1

This random tavern patron table was originally submitted to a contest in Fight On! Magazine.

Part 1 #s 1 through 20 of 100 patrons:

01 - A farmer whose crops or livestock were recently lost or destroyed.

02 - A former apprentice to a local wizard.

03 - The jealous wife of a guard.

04 - A free spending merchant.

05 - A tailor known to serve wealthy clientele.

06 - A guard of the nearby brothel.

07 - A bounty hunter.

08 - A high priest or priestess of the temple.

09 - An angry father looking for the taker of his daughter's virtue.

10 - A poor peddler trying to sell small carvings or trinkets.

11 - A small lost looking child with crumpled papers in hand.

12 - A proud pig farmer going around showing off an unusual piglet.

13 - Half a dozen mourners dressed in black.

14 - A cartographer staring at a torn map fragment.

15 - The rat catcher.

16 - Three well dressed men.

17 - A veiled woman with a small black box on her table.

18 - A one-eyed harlot.

19 - The local magistrate or town elder.

20 - Two grave diggers tossing and catching a knife.

Part two #s 21 through 40 coming in a couple days.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Campaign Update: Another Casualty, Risky Behavior Takes a Toll

The campaign has seen a seventh character death. This time a trap nearly slew half the party. A pair of house rules used in combination saved all but one. The dungeon was a tomb comprised of five rooms, each having its own dangerous element. Everything could be defeated or avoided by paying attention and careful tactics. Sadly it was risky carelessness that ended the adventure.

I first ran this dungeon for some friends at GenCon in 2000. That party of first level characters (3rd edition rules) succeeded in beating the dungeon despite being under powered for the challenges. Players can and do often think their way to victory. After returning from the convention I tried out the dungeon for another group of friends and it also went well for that group.

This time the group triggered the first three traps resulting in them retreating from the tomb with a valuable monkey idol and a bunch of papyrus inventory lists for the containers in the second room. (Using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules in a standard style D&D setting). This group ranged in levels up to fourth and it was the 1st level elf that failed to survive the third trap.

The third trap exploded for maximum damage taking down three out of the six member party and leaving the rest badly injured. The first trap only caught one party member for low damage, and the second caught them all for low damage. The accumulated damage from all three traps was enough to convince them to gather their dead and retreat.

Fortunately this group of players, mostly novices, take the risk of character death without complaint and enjoy the game.

Below is the dungeon for your perusal and use.
Outside of the now cleared tomb entrance are two overgrown pillars and an obelisk.

Room 1: 30' x 40' The walls are covered in murals painted to depict a battle. The most prominent figure rides a chariot and is shown decapitating an enemy.

Before the door leading further into the tomb is a trap door into a 10' pit. The key to the door is hidden in a box painted to disguise it as part of the wall. The pit trap becomes active after using the key to unlock both it and the door. Opening the door triggers the pit. 1d6 damage.

Room 2: 30' x 40' Lining the walls are crates, giant urns sealed by clay lids, barrels of wine, and shelves bearing clay pots and boxes containing small scrolls in an ancient language. (inventory lists and warnings of the trap in the room.

In the largest giant urn are Thousands of carnivorous beetles, magically preserved awaiting their release to eat greedy grave robbers. Beetle swarm, 1d3 damage/round (1hp damage/round with save) to all in the room. Swarm will follow characters if not destroyed. Swarm has 10hp.

Room 3: 30' x 120' Murals line the walls depicting a funeral procession for the warrior in the murals of the first room. As the funeral proceeds down this long chamber the figures become more gaunt, eventually appearing as skeletons.

There is a pedestal upon which sits an ornate monkey idol (1000 gold or silver depending on which standard is used in your campaign). The pedestal is painted showing flames emanating from upraised hands of an angry looking monkey.

Removing the monkey idol without disarming the trap results in 2d6 damage from fire to all in the chamber, save for half.

Room 4: 90' x 90' This room is completely shrouded in magical darkness which is generated by a rod held upright near the center of the room. Destroying the rod (5hp) removes the magical darkness.

There are 4 10' deep pits (1d6 damage) spaced about the room and 6 skeletons (5 hp each) that will attack intruders. There is also a bejeweled (5 gemstones, random value) throne centered on the northern wall. Sitting in it opens the secret door hidden behind it.

Room 5: 50' x 50' Centered in this lavish room is a dais upon which rests a large sarcophagus. The sarcophagus is decorated in gold, silver, copper and onyx, in the image of the occupant. Tapestries line the walls and the floor stones are painted in bright colors. The ceiling is painted to depict the sun and moons circling a crown.

There is a concealed opening on the north wall that leads to a cliff.

There are no traps present, but disturbing the sarcophagus wakes the mummy. The mummy wears 5 pieces of gold jewelry (random value) and an Amulet of Shielding (protects from magic missiles, 20 points worth of damage, can be recharged).

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monster Ecology: From Rot Grub to Carrion Crawler

One of the most feared creatures for a party of adventurers to encounter by surprise is the infamous Carrion Crawler. This tentacled caterpillar shaped beast stalks through dungeons in search of corpses to eat. Reaching as much as 9' in length at maturity, the crawler is nothing to trifle with.
When Crawlers are ready to reproduce they gather in groups, known as horrors, of up to 6 members, to seek out living hosts to paralyze and into which they lay clutches of hundreds of eggs. Carrion Crawlers are hermaphroditic both fertilizing and laying eggs. Once all members of the horror have deposited eggs into separate hosts they go their own ways and exhibit no parental care of the resulting offspring.

The warmth of the helpless victim triggers the eggs to begin hatching almost immediately to begin devouring the host. These tiny ravenous larva are what we know as Rot Grubs. The larva are highly competitive, racing to eat their path to vital organs and fighting each other to the death for dining rights.

What begins as hundreds of fingernail sized hatchlings dwindles as they consume the living host and each other. As their numbers drop into the dozens the grubs have grown to finger length and nearly twice the girth.

Competition continues over what remains of their now long dead host. Remaining grubs strike out in small groups seeking fresh carrion or warm living bodies to eat.
Upon reaching roughly the size of a human forearm the individual grubs find shelter to begin the next stage in their development. Within a chrysalis the grub transforms into a miniature version of their eventual adult form, the Carrion Crawler.

In their new form they have become dangerous hunters far more mobile and armed with paralytic venom capable of stopping even the largest of prey.

Because of the dangerous nature of both the Rot Grub and the Carrion Crawler, neither form has a natural predator other than those of their own kind.

Rumor is that deep in the Under-realm enterprising tribes of humanoids have trained crawlers as war mounts, but no evidence of this is known. Such a practice seems too hazardous to be worth the required effort.

Among deep tribes tales of enormous Carrion Crawlers persist, though it is unlikely they exist at those sizes.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pearls of Wisdom: Do oozes create pearls?

We know that oysters create pearls by coating irritants in material to ease the discomfort. Could the same be said of oozes?

Typically an ooze dissolves most objects into a form they then devour for sustenance. The remainder is then ejected from their body to be left in their wake as they continue the perpetual search for more food. But what if tiny particulates sometimes remained, unpassed inside the body of the ooze? Might leftovers of very tiny, dust-like size remain and perhaps act as irritants?

While most oozes would conceal these minute treasures within their opaque membrane, the Gelatinous Cube would be an exception. Older cubes might gradually accumulate clouds of encased particles which if observed in sufficient lighting would help reveal their presence.

 Thousands of these little pearls could be carried about until large enough to be expelled by the creature. Following a trail of pearls through a dungeon or cavern might lead adventurers into great danger as they encounter what looks like a reflective star field ahead in the darkness.

Treasure comes in many forms, but the wise remain cautious about the source and oozes would be a dangerous source indeed.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What were we talking about?

Over the absence from the blog quite a bit has happened. Most of it is boring and not worth a mention, but there are some recent points that could use effort to try and restart the writing bug.

The West Marches campaign continues.

There have been 5 character deaths (6, see below *) and of the original starting characters 2 are still active.

The player group recently peaked at 9 plus the DM. Shortly afterward some real life issues appear to have resulted in 3, maybe 4 players having to step away from the game. The remaining group of players put forward an invitation to some other people to consider joining the game.

* The party murdered one of their own to cover up their effort to help an NPC sneak away without anyone noticing for at least a few days.  This threw me for a loop. As a DM I have experienced conflict within parties that resulted in killing of characters, and while annoying when it happens without good reason this one feels very different. The character was the one of the newest player, new both to the group and to table-top rpgs who had shown an enthusiasm for the game. The player cannot attend frequently, but it seemed unfair to the player for the party to write her character out and not confirm that she was ok about the decision.

We will see how it goes tonight at the game.