Wednesday, August 31, 2022

New Magic Item - Nurfank's Eggs (OSR and 5e friendly)

Missy Nurfank loved birds of all kinds; From the time she could walk Missy would try to play with birds. She learned that they were wary of people, and over time by feeding them she could gain their trust. She gradually befriended entire families of birds.

Missy also loved her crazy Uncle Ribblin. 

Ribblin had no formal training as an alchemist, but his spare time was spent experimenting with all sorts of mixtures and half-baked rituals. He also doted on his niece and showed her how to make fun combinations, some that spewed colorful smoke, made different smells, or shot sparks into the air, and some that tasted good to drink or eat.

Missy soon caught the alchemy bug just like Uncle Ribblin. She began trying her own mixes using gifts brought to her by her bird companions. She showed such an aptitude that Ribblin begged the local Chemist Guild to admit her as an apprentice. 

Here then are several of her inventions which she used to earn high honors upon graduation from training.

Nurfank's Eggs

These colorful eggs vary in size from Hummingbird to Ostrich and each has a beneficial effect beyond the delightful visual and olfactory presentations when used.

Hummingbird - This tiny egg packs a powerful punch. When cracked into a cup of warm tea the mixture begins to bubble, then bright scarlet steam rises before eventually giving off a scent of maple syrup. When consumed it cures diseases including the difficult to escape effects of Mummy Rot. (Rare)

Song Sparrow - Performers would pay handsomely for these eggs. Dashing the egg to the ground, breaking it produces a bright pink flash accompanied by white smoke, which clears quickly, and a subtle honeysuckle odor. For up to one hour the beneficiary may roll twice on an attempt to influence (not intimidate) persons within 30', taking the better roll. Once the attempt is complete the effect wears off. (Uncommon)

Crow - Cleverness is a trait that would be helpful to everyone. Upon cracking, user is greeted with a calming smell of Lavender and a wisp of dark green smoke. This egg enhances the focus of the user for 1 minute granting an intelligence bonus of +1 to all related checks and saving throws. (Common)

Chicken (rotten) - The purpose of this egg is to dissuade pursuit. Thrown near those intending harm, it shatters to release flashing sparks and a disgusting odor of rotten eggs and rotting fish. All creatures within a 20' radius must save or suffer blindness and debilitating bouts of vomiting for up to 1 minute. (5E blind and poisoned conditions, DC 15 constitution save). (Common)

Ostrich - For those needing to perform feats of strength this is the egg for you. Cracking this huge egg over your head results in being engulfed in a roiling cloud of blue smoke and the scent of cooking meat. Strength of the beneficiary is increased to maximum for 1 minute. (OSR 18(00) or equivalent, 5E 20) (uncommon)

Friday, August 26, 2022

Chadranthar's Bane - Dungeon Magazine 18

Here's one that played as-is feels like it would be a blast. When looked at from a Ptolus perspective however, would probably need a hatchet taken to it. Once pruned down to its core, the magic item that causes people to shrink, there are some awesome things you can do with the scenario.

The core elements and where it can go:

A former apprentice wizard steals magic items and treasure from their former teacher's home. Place the site of the theft near Vock Row, once again perhaps Dweomer Street. The crooked wizard teleports out of the vault and it goes awry, popping in 30' above the intended target. Make this an abandoned home's overgrown garden in maybe the Rivergate District.

The crash landing scatters ill-gotten gains all over the place with the powerful globe of diminution safely splashing down into the fountain. The thieving wizard then shrinks to the size of a typical miniature figure about 1 and 1/2 inches. 

If you wanted to stick closer to the adventure as written then you'd want to introduce the location into your city as a known no-go zone from the beginning, because people that go there don't come back. The wizard that was stolen from might not report the theft because they don't want to be held responsible for the resulting problem.

Getting the player characters involved could be problematic without some careful thought. Is the victim of the theft alive? Is the victim of the theft in the city when this happens? Would the wizard hire the party to do the job of going after the item because they don't want to risk their life, and anyone learning the problem item is theirs? There are many ways to go about this, but be aware of the potential repercussions.

Ideally the characters would be unaware of the true nature of the magic item and would be affected some time after entering the property. This is when the heart of the adventure takes off.

It may be that the writer intended for players and DM to take their minis all over the playing location using the real furniture as the actual scale of play. I'm sorely tempted to put a kitchen chair up on top of the gaming table to give the players both a sense of scale and a laugh when the shrinking occurs. 

Fixing the problem involves breaking the cause, shattering the globe. The globe is about the size of a baseball and is transparent, clear glass. It survived the fall into the fountain by luck.

The adventure takes place in the abandoned house and garden with encounters with rats, spiders, insects, etc, being scaled up compared to the diminutive characters. If your pet cat jumps up on the game table you have another example of scale to reference, and an encounter to play out.

Eventually they will find the also shrunken thieving wizard and work out how to deal with them. This thief won't want to be caught by the wizard they stole from, but does want to be restored to original size. Coming to a compromise is entirely possible.

In the original module the theft happened many years ago and in the intervening time the orb had worked its magic on large numbers of people. Entire tribal colonies had come into existence in the garden and wilderness waystation building and stable. Something like this happening in Ptolus would be a major issue, but not out of keeping with the setting. 

You could even have the location be somewhere under the city within the dungeons and caverns. A vast mushroom garden is not out of the question to represent the garden environment. I can certainly make that happen. My collection of terrain includes a bunch of varied mushrooms scaled up, including one that's a foot tall. The minis are tiny compared to some of these pieces.

Having the adventure location be down in the dungeons may actually be the best way to go and keep more of the original scenario ideas intact.

There are many ways to make use of this adventure's parts and plot within Ptolus. However you do it, I expect this adventure to be fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Thursday Knights


This session we completed the previous puzzle room and got the purple gem/key. We then moved immediately to the second room and became engaged in a combat with waves of warforged enemies, eight in total.

The fight was fortunately brief enough that we didn't suffer any permanent casualties. Ennark limited his spell use, keeping mostly to healing since we weren't as threatened as some fights in the past and he anticipate possibly moving to the third room afterward.

Once the battle ended we recovered the red second gem/key, but assessment led to the decision to set camp and rest before attempting the third challenge.

Hopefully we won't be disturbed by the dragon or anything else.

Once we acquire the third gem/key we will enter the main tomb.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Prop Dusting - Wizkids D&D Icons of the Realms Daern's Instant Fortress

My wallet weeps green blood. A fourth costly Wizkids Icons of the Realms show piece has joined the attack, stealing more of my precious and very limited funds. Coming in at a suggested $149 this one also bites deep. As with the others I believe the cost of their product is above what it should be by quite a bit, but they are well made, and I suspect they have to make up in price what they are unlikely to make up in volume.

Large and in charge, Daern's Instant Fortress takes up a 7 x 11 x 7 inch foot print. Like its companion pieces it is scaled for use with the miniatures they produce for D&D. I also buy a ton of their miniatures too.

Accompanied by a 1" cube with Daern's mark on it, the fortress and the cube represent the wondrous magic item of the same name. 

For those unfamiliar, a character places the tiny cube on the ground and speaks a command word. The cube then expands to become the fortress. Characters can use it as a safe place to rest. The magic item can also be used in some instances as a weapon. As it expands, anyone in the way of where it will sit takes a lot of damage. This use can be abused so DMs are advised to think carefully before putting Daern's Instant Fortress into the hands of player characters.

My plans for the fortress include using it to represent a tower in the city of Ptolus along a street known to host the abodes of magic users. Along with other towers of various shapes and sizes it will be in good company.

Unlike the larger The Tower by Wizkids, this one does not break down into useable levels. It was mentioned somewhere that it might function as a dice tower, but until it is in hand that won't be verifiable.

Opening my wallet is like an un-boxing gone wrong. It's empty.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Of Nests and Nations - Dungeon Magazine 13

Wow, so far that's 4 adventures in a single issue of Dungeon Magazine that can have uses in Ptolus!

This one has a city on the verge of all out riots and internal warfare with every faction that has a bone to pick with someone else beginning to pick that bone. The Commissar would probably be calling on everyone to come together to solve the problem and offers of rewards would continue to grow.

There's a problem with this however. The way this is written we would be expected to believe that a small number of events, mostly coincidental, and inconsequential appearing, would get almost every faction in the city gnashing at each other's necks. In Ptolus it would take quite a bit more activity of a more serious and directed nature for that to happen. 

It's apparent that this is two adventure ideas trying to have a baby together, but neither knows anything about the birds and the bees. Don't let that stop you from using the neat idea seeds planted here to grow into some great scenarios.

First the problems for the city. 

Murders, arson, strange creature summoning, etc. are happening as it progresses, and this time it has nothing to do with chaos cults, but they do like the chaos and some might take advantage of it to stir up more. This stuff is happening just about everywhere in the city. 

Events can put a couple of factions on edge and with enough trouble, the Commissar and City Council would indeed put up rewards while trying to calm the situation, but all-out warfare in the streets is unlikely, and the factions aren't the only parties affected since the serial murders have included a handful of the city watch.

You'll need to figure out who the antagonists are because the ones in the written adventure don't make sense in my opinion. Consider making the bad actors separate individuals with no connection except the conspicuous timing. 

The arsons would be the events I would choose for heightening tensions between perhaps the Balacazar's and Killraven's group. The arsons target two businesses and a cargo ship, all of which could be tied to those criminal organizations. 

There is a timeline of events that lends itself easily to being parsed out while characters are busy with other things so that it will be happening in real time for them.

The intended culprits are a parasitic hive of creatures that could easily be leftover remnants of Ghul's Squirming Horde that some delvers accidentally awakened. This is the second seed and should not connect to the first.

Make these bug-like creatures the escapees from a previously sealed and inactive lab in Ghul's Labyrinth. Have them begin spreading out into other areas including pre-cleared sections of the dungeon. Make them show up in all sorts of inconvenient locations including the Undercity Market, Delver's Square, etc. Let this lead to a bug hunt as they need to be hunted down and the nest located and destroyed.

Create a timeline of events for the bugs similar to the timeline for the city problems and trickle out the happenings in the same fashion. Have these two seeds overlapping so you can maintain more of the feel from the original adventure.

You'll have to work out what creatures to use as the bugs, or create them from scratch. Certainly avoid using them as written since that way leads to madness and over-complication.

I'm amazed to find 4 adventures that can at least somewhat be used in Ptolus in a single issue of Dungeon Magazine.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Wizards Presents - August 18th, 2022

Among the news delivered is that Magic: The Gathering will be doing The Lord of the Rings. M:TG has been around for 30 years (in 2023), and WotC are celebrating in Las Vegas for the Magic World Championship. They're also going to be doing a Magic: The Gathering Warhammer 40K set. They're also doing DOCTOR WHO. 

Wizards is revising the three core books to add more options, new spells, new monsters, new additional content, updating the rules. They're not calling it a new edition. Playtesting of the modifications begins today. The release of the updated books takes place in 2024, the 50th anniversary of the game.

They're working on a Digital/Physical bundle now that they have acquired D&D Beyond. using the Unreal Engine to provide graphic setups on screen.

2023 is the 35th anniversary of Drizzt and there will be a bunch of stuff going on to celebrate.

Spelljammer just released. 

The Dragonlance setting is returning. There's also a related board game (Dragonlance Warriors of Krynn).

Planescape is also coming back.

There were a handful of additional book releases mentioned including a book based loosely on the Deck of Many Things, The Book of Many Things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Joy of Lightning Bolt

A 1st edition AD&D Lightning Bolt spell can be a wizards worst nightmare in a short hallway. If it strikes a solid surface that doesn't give way like a wooden door would, then it will rebound toward the caster. If they have not placed themselves beyond the reach of a rebounding lightning bolt, well, let's just say the effect could be hair raising.

In 1e if you were a 5th level wizard that had just acquired the spell you could set the origin of the bolt up to 90' from you and the length of the bolt itself would be 80' meaning a target up to 170' away could be blasted. It also means if you are within 40' of a stone wall and unwise enough to cast in that direction you would cook yourself like a hotdog touching two live wires. (This self zapping could be from a longer distance if you set the origin of the bolt close to the wall).

Put yourself in a really short hallway with walls at both ends and multiple strikes can toast you to cinders. While the multiple instances of damage from a single bolt is debated by some, it certainly can happen in the Balder's Gate computer game. I know, I've been dumb enough to try it.

Fifth edition does nothing to clarify the issue of rebounding lightning bolts or the potential for repeat damage. It simply describes the bolt as being 100' long with the origin of the bolt being the caster's position. It is however an evocation spell so the Sculpt Spell ability would also work meaning no cooking party members in the line of fire.

Sounds like the call has to be made by the DM, hopefully with input from the players in the campaign, especially if their wizard does things like I did because they could all be at risk.

You're a hairy wizard, but stay out of this.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Ptolus Group Two - Three Little Thugs (part 2)

Location: Ptolus, Docks district. 

Participating characters:

Alcott - Half-Elf Rogue, level 1

Crispin Ellindril - Elf Ranger, level 1

Quinn Farshore - Human Fighter (Magical Adept), level 1

Alcott, Crispin, and Quinn had made their way down the cliff road and into the Docks district. They had taken Bay Street to the piers and were nearly at Wharf Road when the alarm bell rang out with urgency. They rounded the corner to find themselves at the edge of an attack by Sahuagin.

The city watch had already engaged the sea devils, and there was much running about by sailors, merchants and others. Out on one of the piers a lone Assarai (lizardman) had been sunning himself when he was attacked and thrown into the harbor to be immediately set upon by a shark.

A short distance away 4 laborers were wrestling with a large crate, dropping it to flee from the attacking monsters. Crashing to the ground, the crate broke open releasing a man-sized giant centipede. The creature instantly leapt upon the nearest man, biting and poisoning him, leaving him immobilized on the cobblestones. The owner of this dangerous cargo began shouting, "Capture it, there's a reward!"

Quinn began making his way along the docks planning to join the fray against the Sahuagin when he found himself in combat with the escaping centipede. It raced toward him, biting another of the fleeing laborers. Quinn's swift rapier strike subdued the skittering menace. Meanwhile Crispin and Alcott began peppering the sea devils with arrows, seriously wounding and driving some back into the water.

The city watch had managed to stand their ground, confining other monsters to the piers, and eventually the defenders drove off the remaining enemy.

With sea devils driven off, Quinn and Alcott gathered some rope and planking to secure the stunned centipede. Meanwhile Crispin approached Captain Tomlin of the watch to get information about the attack and inquire about the three young thieves they were seeking. He learned that daylight raids like this one are very rare as the fiends prefer to enter the city at night to kidnap people. Tomlin surmised that the beasts must have been after something important. As he was returning to fill in the group, Quinn collected the 60 gold piece reward from Orbal.

Orbal explained to Quinn that he is a collector of fine art, primarily statues, and paintings. He had contracted with Xel's Creatures to bring him the giant centipede as a guardian for his vault.

Crispin informed the group of what he learned, both about the attack and the three troublemakers. According to Captain Tomlin the gang members were seen down by Sard's Boats.

The party approached and spoke with Sard, learning that punks destroyed a box of his after doing something with an amulet and complaining that it doesn't work. The three then went to Pridwin's Esoterica shop just a street over.

In the event that the gang members were concealed within, Crispin moved to the alley behind the shop while Alcott and Quinn entered. Standing on a chair behind the counter was a gnome wearing what passed as a uniform bearing gold braids on the shoulders and a green sash across the chest. "How can I help you fellows?" Pridwin asked. 

Conversation covered a few topics, always leading back to the gang. During the discussion the party learned that the kids had been there, tried to sell the amulet, "Not interested," Pointing to his glass case full of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, hat pins, rings, hairpins, broaches, and assorted other shiny objects, "Sailors come in and buy these to impress the girls at Essers. The girls then bring them to me to make a few extra coins. The cycle repeats. An ugly hunk of brass wasn't going to sell. They then set their eyes on three used short swords which they bought with platinum pieces and traded in their clubs." With the offer of 5 gold, Alcott was able to learn where the thugs had possibly gone from there. "I heard them say they were going to buy some Ayorith, probably from Gil, behind the Savage Shark."

Regrouping out back, the decision was made that Crispin would work his way closer while keeping watch in the alley, and Quinn and Alcott would repeat scouting inside the business. 

Entering the Shark through the front, Quinn and Alcott paused to let their eyes adjust and to scan the crowd. Several patrons looked their way and told them to stop staring and get a beer. 

The beer was cheap, and tasted so. Everything about this bar looked the part of a seedy environment. Broaching the subject of the kids the bartender said he hadn't seen them, "but it's always busy in here, ain't got time to study everyone that comes in." Quinn paid for his beer with a gold piece and asked about Gil. "Where can I find him?" The bartender pocketed the coin and slid a warm beer across the bar. "That cheapskate? Never spends a penny in here. Always out back."

 Quinn and Alcott go out back and see a guy standing in the alley wearing a long leather coat, saying nothing and ignoring them. Not seeing the punks they've been pursuing they go back inside and ask the bartender about Gill. Bartender asks "Didn't you just see him out back?" 

They go out back again, and are this time joined by Crispin. "You must be Gil. Have you seen three teenagers wearing green?" Gil states that if he has he doesn't rat on customers. Two gold pieces and a promise of more, draws out a grunt and Gil points a short distance down the alley. "Flop house."

Rooms was written on the door to the rather non-descript two-story building. In the front room sat an elderly lady beside a mop, broom, and other cleaning supplies. A quick bribe later and the party were kicking in the door of a room the punks were getting high in. 

Quinn was first inside. He said nothing, instead starring at the kids as he stepped aside to allow his companions entrance. Alcott strides past him, right up to the now armed punks as if he owns the place and Crispin follows him in, drawing his two swords. With confidence tells them how things are going to happen. "You messed with the wrong person. You're going to put your weapons down and place what you stole on the table."

Alcott's persuasive effort is very effective. The punks disarm, believing the trio to be members of the Balacazar crime family despite the party never acknowledging Tibb's question. The gang members answer every query about what happened, why they mugged the woman, etc. 

Alcott offers them unspecified work. With a little manipulation they learn Kelcan's father is a carpenter. Ordering them to take him to the man, Alcott, stolen amulet and remaining money in hand, leads out of the door, with Quinn following the three cowed gang members, while Crispin gathers their swords.

In North Market, the party are introduced to Edward, Kelcan's father who currently is out of work. Edward accepts the job, paid for by Alcott, to go fix the old woman's window in the apartment next to gang hangout. Realizing their affiliation will be found out, the kid's all look nervous.

That business arranged, Alcott takes them to a flophouse for a while for them to come down from their Ayorith high. Quinn goes to Midtown to find a wizard he knows at Danbury's bar in Delver's Square. Crispin goes back to Windship's Fine Fabrics to check up on the woman he helped earlier.

Crispin learns the young woman was taken to the Church of the Lawgiver (a temple of Lothian) in North Market. He goes and speaks with Brother Thadeus Bravon who then introduces him to Maryanne, the victim. She thanks him for what he did and is relieved to hear that she will soon have her amulet back. Crispin offers her the remainder of her mon ey as well, but Maryanne declines. "I suspect I am better off than those that robbed me, and you have earned every coin."

Quinn sits down with the wizard Yardley and asks him to look at the amulet. Quinn had interpreted the writing on the back to be phonetic for either or both a Draconic or Giantish word. In Draconic it could mean Open or Pass, and in Giant it means Give. Yardley examines it and points out that the symbol on the front, of a box with arrows passing through it in opposing directions, indicates its purpose to be a swap or trade of some kind. His further investigation reveals it to be a form of minor teleportation. "It involves containers. Place something in one and send it to another. Use it to open one to retrieve something. Nothing bigger than the containers involved can be transferred."

Within the hour the group meet up and go to the temple to return the amulet, trade in their rat tails for the reward and get Quinn cured of disease. They then each go to tend to personal business with plans to meet at Quinn's later.

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Treasure Vault of Kasil - Dungeon Magazine 13

Here's yet another one from Dungeon Magazine issue 13, and another trapped dungeon for Ptolus. Possessing Neveran's All-key would make this thing a lot easier.

There's a vault, perhaps under an abandoned estate in the Nobles Quarter, that allegedly many people have tried to access with no success. If your party rogue has made or is trying to make inroads with the Longfingers Guild, this might be something they would find out about from that source.

This thing can potentially wipe out characters of even high levels if not careful. The treasure and magic items you can find among the remains of those who failed is pretty decent as long as you can defeat the traps long enough to pick through the bodies. Four false entrances with death traps and one real entrance with a death trap. Then the real vault with more traps. It's a character grinder.

Here's my take on what you might do with it:

Let the party learn that even Sobac Redwand won't attempt to break this vault.

Characters that take the time to arrange a meeting with Redwand and ask about the vault are told to pay 1,000 gold and he'll save their life. If they pay up he'll explain why they should forget about the job.

Redwand is smart. He takes the time to do a ton of research on targets. He did a deep dive on the family and their vault. Sobac determined that the risks likely far outweighed the potential reward.

He dug into the family history to try and determine where they got their wealth and possibly how great it was. They died paupers, so did they spend it all, or did they accidentally lock themselves out of their own vault?

He researched the location. The vault isn't inside the home, but boldly placed on the grounds of the estate. He took measurements, made notes about materials he could easily identify. He then searched city records, the deed, construction contract information, and began to compile estimates of expenditures for the building of the vault and all of its traps. 

He pursued contacts with anyone living that was related to the original builders to get their stories about the project, anything secret they might know. Based on the order of construction over time, and by the contract periods of the multiple companies involved he was able to guess where the real entrance might be, but lacks certainty.

He visited the site several times. 

By one of the pedestals he determined that there was a scorched area in a roughly 10' radius at the bottom of it on one side and that the scorching extended up the side making him think the fire came from above. 

He also located one that had multiple keyholes and figures that one might either be a means to disarm the traps or be the real entrance, maybe both. 

He also noticed that the gargoyle statues atop the pedestals are missing some eyes that are valuable gems, but none of the missing emeralds appear to have been fenced anywhere meaning they are themselves trapped or cursed. 

He even opened one false entrance, but decided not to explore because he had no help and was not prepared for the defenses he could see.

His conclusion based on the estimated cost to build such a structure, have it imbued with powerful magical defenses, and complex traps is that they may well have spent everything building the vault and had nothing left to place in it when it was complete.

Of course he could be wrong and you might just discover an emperor's ransom. Most likely you'll just end up dead. But for another 1,000 gold he'll tell you where he believes the real entrance to be and what to watch out for.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Thursday Knights


Last session the party found a way to enter the tombs of the servants to try and recover the keys to the grand tomb. This session we continued trying to solve the puzzles.

In the first servant's tomb is a room with riddles and puzzles. Three riddles were quickly solved, but the puzzles were another matter altogether. With each failed solution, increasingly stronger bolts of energy shot down from the ceiling, some hitting party members, some missing. 

A coincidence of manufacturing differences really hampered one of the puzzles. The DM based the puzzle on the numbering and configuration of a 12-sided die. Thing is, if they are from different manufacturers they are rarely numbered the same. Eldrid's player was looking at her d12 and trying ti work her way through the puzzle while the DM was looking at his. Eldrid kept failing. During this time the DM looked at a second d12 of his and discovered the numbering difference. An audible "well I'll be damned!" came through the speakers at his realization. 

He declared that the puzzle was solved and then comparison of a bunch of d12s commenced, with a plethora of differences showcased. The only ones that matched both came from the Rick & Morty D&D boxed sets.

The party then went back to work on the two remaining puzzles. One was solved fairly easily, but that last one still has the group confused. We'll pick up with that one in the next session.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Prop Dusting - Wizkids Icons of the Realms The Wild Beyond the Witchlight Swamp Gas Balloon

In the Ptolus campaign setting is a business known by the name Barbarian Balloonists. The two enterprising owners have a patchwork hot-air balloon on a long tether line and they charge customers to go up not just to have a look around (if that's all you want it's more expensive), but to use bows to hunt flying birds from the balloon. You'd be right if you thought this might have some element of risk not just for those in the balloon, but for people in the city below who might be hit by falling arrows!.

When I saw the Wizkids Icons of the Realms The Wild Beyond the Witchlight Swamp Gas Balloon (egads what a long name) I knew exactly what I would use it for.

The Swamp Gas Balloon has approximate dimensions of 9 x 10 x 9 inches and the gondola can hold about 4 or 5 standard minis. I have not yet tried to cram minis in it so the number it holds could be less, but definitely not more.

Price-wise I'm still feeling the pinch to my wallet (more-so for the Falling Star ship and The Tower). This piece ranges in the mid $70 range typically, but I've seen some vendors go into the $90 plus price range. I have to wonder what the higher price sellers are thinking since the majority have kept the price to about $75 and they offer free shipping. 

Quality of the Balloon is, like the other Wizkids items, very good. It is designed to last for a long time and with care it certainly will. 

I'm working on a scenario that will make good use of the Swamp Gas Balloon on more than one occasion. This will be one way to take a little coin out of their pockets and they'll even catch a price break if they tell the owners what dangerous thing they're going up to do (as long as they take an owner along for the ride because it's something the proprietors would consider great fun).

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Moor-Tomb Map - Dungeon Magazine 13

I mostly look for adventures with some urban elements to fit into the urban portions of Ptolus, but I am keeping an eye open for small dungeons to place beneath it as well. There are plenty of large dungeons available both as part of the Ptolus adventures and those that can be repurposed for use in Ptolus. I like to scatter about mini dungeons that can be quickly dealt with while pursuing other goals.

The Moor-Tomb Map contains just such a gem. Very little adjustment of the tomb itself is needed. Separate it from the rest of the adventure and slap it under some section of the city and presto, instant fun. You can even attach some criminals to the tail end of it that have a deal with other under-city critters like ratlings or an unsavory group of Assarai (lizard folk), in place of the bandits from the original scenario.

Sticking with the treasure map idea, the PCs can discover a map while browsing the Delver's Guild files, that purports to show a hidden tomb not too far under Oldtown, maybe Citation Street. It could be put just about anywhere. Notes could indicate a failed attempt to gain entry, but no additional details.

The dungeon itself mostly consists of traps to overcome with the exception of one "inhabitant". A wizard was pursuing immortality, but not lichdom, and his plan backfired when a hireling brought the wrong kind of tomb guardian to protect the place. The wizard is now mixed with the guardian, losing his spellcasting ability, but making the guardian tougher.

One of the traps in the dungeon could possibly knock the entire party unconscious resulting in the criminals pulling them from the tomb as prisoners. They would be considered for possible ransom or maybe for ratling food as payment for ratling services. If the characters have anything identifying them as allies or friends of important people then ransoming is guaranteed, otherwise the PCs need to do some talking. In the event the party was split then perhaps the others can try to free them or pay the ransom.

The adventure it comes from is geared more toward lower level characters, but the treasure is quite respectable. It wouldn't be hard to adjust it for higher level characters should you need a quick one for a mid-level party.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Interactive Ptolus City Map

There is a great website resource available for both DMs and players in a Ptolus campaign. It is the Ptolus City by the Spire Fully Interactive Map. It is not an official product of Monte Cook Games, but does have their blessing as I understand things.

I highly recommend viewing the interactive map on a laptop or PC. I find it unwieldy on my phone.

Ptolus Interactive Map

If you own the setting book, and can prove it to the site owner, you can access the book details about the locations pinned on the map. However, you can still make great use of this as a player without spoiling the secrets about the locations. 

Finding your way around the city and becoming familiar with the districts is very helpful. This map can take the confusion out of knowing where you are in relation to everything else. Need to get from the Guildsman district to the Docks? You can use this to plan your  route if that much detail is desired.

The important street names are on the map and you can make up your own for other short streets, and alleys if you choose. 

I use this most often when placing scenario locations for the player characters to visit. I can't add pins to the map, but I can note street names in my notes along with landmarks they are close to so players can match them to the map.

Check the site out. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Dungeon Vignette - The Dancing Tide

Dungeon Vignette articles will describe a room or small area within a dungeon that can be easily dropped into another dungeon or used to spark adventure ideas.

The Dancing Tide

This is a 30 x 30 room with a single standard wooden door. 

Along one side is a sluice for what was once a natural spring to flow through, providing clean drinking water for inhabitants. Due to a breach from the city sewers, the sluice now carries muck and filth. When it rains, this sluice overflows covering the rest of the room with an inch or two of murky water and depositing smelly sediment across various patches of the floor. 

In the center of the room, covering a 10' area, is inscribed a mystical circle. When clean and not submerged it enables the imbued magic to function.

Those entering the circle experience a compulsion to perform a specific dance. The saving throw is a DC17 Charisma roll. Subjects willing to perform the dance do not need to save against the compulsion. Failure of the roll or acceptance of the urging, causes the affected creature to dance around in the circle for up to one minute making additional saves each turn to break free of the dance.

While one or more subjects are dancing within the circle a secret door opens in the far left corner of the room, across from the entry door. Anyone not compelled to dance may proceed through the opening into the next room. The secret door cannot be opened by any means short of destruction or submitting to the dance.

Once there is no dancer performing in the circle the secret door begins to close, taking a full round to do so. 

For the return trip back through the door there is a musical piece written on a wall of the next room. The piece contains lyrics in a language of the DMs choice, that characters must perform to open the secret door. The door remains open for 1 minute after the tune is completed and taking a single round to close

.A clue about how all of this works should be either given to the party by someone, or discovered by them prior to encountering this room.

Solving this problem should require some thought.

There's the matter of how to stop the flow, and how to get the existing water out. As long as it keeps raining the sluice will overflow enough to keep the room under one to two inches of water and muck. 

A Wall of Stone spell would be overkill for blocking the flow in a small room. Hauling in a bunch of sandbags might be a good option if a bit labor intensive.

For clearing the water you have options like Control Water or Create/Destroy Water spells, or mops and buckets.

For clearing the muck there's always a good old shovel and the Prestidigitation cantrip. It's not deep and you really only need to clean the 10' magic circle.

The Bones plastic version of this Reaper Mini is available on their website. SKU 77668.  I did not paint this. You can tell because it looks great. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Ptolus Campaign Two - (First Session) Three Little Thugs, part 1

Location: Ptolus, North Market district. 

Participating characters:

Alcott - Half-Elf Rogue, level 1

Crispin Ellindril - Elf Ranger, level 1

Quinn Farshore - Human Fighter (Magical Adept), level 1

The three had been on the docks that morning when they noticed a woman hold an amulet up to a box they knew to be empty and then extract a thick pouch from inside. They followed her up into the city, through Midtown and into North Market. They would have to move quick, before she could reach the crowded streets and vendor stalls. Tibbs knew just where to stage the ambush.

Tibbs struck fast, the first blow was to the woman's forehead, his cudgel opening a gash, his second blow to her right cheek. She fell instantly to the cobblestone street. Nuckle grabbed the amulet from around her neck while Kelcan stole her fattened coin purse. Then the three of them sprinted down the road dodging everything in their path eventually rounding another corner and descending into an open sewer grate.

Quinn, Crispin, and Alcott noticed three young teenagers armed with clubs running up the street and ducking around another corner. Shortly a woman, half running, half staggering came into view crying out "Stop! Help!" before dropping to all fours, blood pouring from the injury on her swollen purple face. At first they hesitated, unsure if the two things were related, then Quinn and Alcott raced after the youths and Crispin went to aid the stricken woman.

"Get the amulet back" she coughed, "and you can keep the money." With that, she lapsed into unconsciousness. 

There was little Crispin could do for her. He looked around hoping to see the city watch, but none were immediately present. Lifting her from the ground Crispin carried her into Windship Fine Fabrics. There he asked for help. Luckily a young midwife was shopping for dress making materials and immediately rendered aid stopping the bleeding. The shop's seamstress ran out for help from the city watch and Crispin followed after his companions.

At the next corner Quinn and Alcott could see no sign of the escaping teens, but a sewer grate stood open. Making the assessment that this was likely their escape route, the two descended into the darkness beneath the street.

Alcott could discern that the tunnel ran from the west to where they stood and continued to the north. Quinn, without the benefit of darkvision decided to light a torch, certain that the buildup of flammable gasses was negligible. A brief examination showed that the western end was blocked by a thick grate, unmovable without tools. They headed cautiously northward and halfway along the west wall they spotted a badly disguised opening.

Crispin came to the same conclusion regarding the sewer grate, climbing down and seeing his friends illuminated by a torch, not far down the tunnel. Uncertain what he would face, Alcott armed himself and pushed rapidly past the hanging tarp. Inside were two giant rats and a humanoid ratling, surprised at the sudden intrusion. Quinn joined him followed shortly by Crispin.

A rotting table lay upon its side mid chamber, ceasing the initiative, Alcott charged past the giant rats, leapt the obstacle and stabbed the ratling with his rapier. The larger of the giant rats, clearly twice the size of the other, fell to a magical blast of purple energy launched by Quinn. Then the ratling struck. 

With a loud screech the bleeding ratling slashed Alcott, dropping him unconscious to the feces soiled floor of the room. It back-peddled putting more room between it and the bright torch in Quinn's hand. The remaining giant rat rushed forward, savaging Quinn with a nasty bite. Crispin pushed into the room and closed the distance to the ratman, trading attacks until slaying the vile creature. Quinn armed himself and laid low the wretched thing as Crispin used Alcott's healing kit to stabilize the half-elf.

The party cut off the tails of the rat creatures, aware of the three gold piece reward for ratling tails offered by the church of Lothian. They would need to stop by a temple to receive the reward, and maybe a remove disease cast by a priest should they be unlucky.

Across the dirty room another passage led into a chamber of similar size, even more filthy than the first. It was empty except for an aging set of wooden stairs leading upward to an old door. Taking the lead, Crisping climbed the stairs and examined the door. The lower left of it had been chewed away and a bookshelf could be seen behind it. He pulled the door open and examined the shelves certain it was itself a secret entrance.

Crispin pushed on the bookcase and it opened easily with just a slight creaking sound. Across the dimly lit room amid crates, boxes, and barrels was a table covered with an alembic, bottles, flasks, and jars. Back to the party stood a halfling staring at a test tube. A voice coming from out of the line of sight spoke up, "What was that?"

The smell here was overwhelming, acrid and nauseating. 

The elf stepped through into the room with Quinn on his heels. To the left was a tall human with white hair, wearing a leather smock. Behind the man was a large contraption, a boiling cauldron beside some strange equipment filled with colored liquids. Crispin apologized for the intrusion explaining they were following someone and the trail appeared to lead here.

The human loudly barked "You don't belong here!" Shortly followed by the appearance from another room of two burly, armed men. Realizing they were in no condition for another fight, the party backed from the room closing both doors and retreating back into the sewers. Quinn remarks "This must be a drug lab."

Further along they find another open sewer grate where they overhear members of the city watch discussing the problem of broken locks on grates. Waiting till the watch leaves they exit the sewer.

Round the next building's corner they locate the two watchmen and ask about seeing three thugs wearing green, carrying clubs and a pouch. After some back and forth, the guards mention that they might have gone into the Red Stallion over on Diamond Street.

The Red Stallion Pub is crowded with farmers, merchants, and laborers. It is noisy with conversation and laughter. The party spread out and wander through the large establishment searching the crowd for signs of the three miscreants. 

While searching the crowd they manage to overhear mention of young punks spending platinum coins, Alcott inquires in thieves cant and learns about a gang house on Anointed Street. 

Walking a slow circuitous route to make sure they aren't going to be followed, they arrive to find a busy lane of smaller houses and tenement buildings. Finding a spot to loiter and observe, it doesn't take long to see a number of young men coming and going from a tenement about a third of the way down the street.

Forming a plan, Quinn watches from the street while Alcott and Crispin go inside. Gradually making their way to the third floor Crispin and Alcott spot half a dozen "greens" standing in the hallway near an open door from which conversation can be heard.

Cautiously easing past the gang members avoiding eye contact, the two go to the next door on the same side of the hall. A knock from Alcott brings an old lady to door, Alcott says "Auntie, we're here to help with your chores" as he slips her a gold piece. Stunned she lets them in, closing the door behind them. 

Alcott asks her what she could use help with and she mentions the leaky window frame. Crispin climbs out the window and moves over to the neighboring window to eaves drop on the greens. Alcott examines the window frame and is surprised Crispin didn't plunge to the street from a catastrophic collapse.

Perched precariously on the very narrow ledge, Crispin overhears part of a conversation regarding Tibbs and his crew making a big score earlier and something about them going to the docks to do something about a box. Worried that lingering longer will get him discovered he eases back into the old woman's apartment.

The two excuse themselves, working their way back past the gang members and out of the building meeting up again with Quinn.