Saturday, December 31, 2022

Blog Productivity - Average Posts Per Month Comparison

This calendar year, the 11th for the blog, has been incredibly productive. Per calendar year it exceeds all previous years by a good margin. It is the highest number of articles beating even the first year. Average posts per month for 2011 is exactly 16 (6 months), and the average posts per month for 2022 is exactly 16 (9 months). Had I not fallen ill, and had instead scheduled the two articles planned for this week, the average would squeak to the top by .22

Recently the rate of posts slowed slightly for a number of reasons. Foremost is the downturn of active game play. 

My Saturday face-to-face game has been on another extended hiatus since the beginning of June and remains so till at least into the new year. We had previously lost over two years of play due to Covid, so this period ads insult to injury. 

I have stopped playing in the Thursday Knights campaign for a couple of reasons, one of which is that my character, Ennark, completed his overall goal of recovering major holy artifacts of his faith., and the other reason is personal. 

The Friday Ptolus campaign has seen over two months of postponements from a combination of player health issues and personal responsibilities, and taking a break until the new year.

Add to all of this the decline of motivation to write, thankfully not a complete shutdown like the three year total absence from early 2019 till early 2022. New posts are still being written, but nowhere near that early manic pace.

Because of the manic period of writing running from early March through early June, I still have nearly 60 completed articles sitting in the drafts folder awaiting scheduling, and have plans for a couple more subject matter series to work on for 2023.

It appears that 2023 will be productive, but it remains to be seen if it can come close to 2022. The aim is to manage 10 posts per month or better. If I get my other article projects moving then that will be manageable. 

The graph below is not relevant to the information above, but at least it is D&D related.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter: Cities Untold - Low Town (Delayed Launch)

The launch date was pushed back to February 12th to give time for more sculpts to be completed.

Some pics of interior pieces.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Dungeon On A Shelf - SPOILERS

Here are some pictures of the dungeon awaiting my Friday Ptolus  (Wayward Sons) players. Images include both complete rooms and a partially assembled wide-view. These will reappear as the adventure write-ups are posted.

Below is a shot of the partially disassembled dungeon.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The Artist's Loving Touch - Dungeon Magazine 68

 Here's an opportunity to engage the player characters with the wealthy fans of high art in Ptolus.

An aging sculptor suffering from the typical ailments that come with advancing age, arthritis, dimming sight, and the like, was losing his place among the elite of the art world. He was no longer being hired to produce works and feared being forgotten. Then he found magic gloves left behind by his mentor.

His ego and diminishing ethics led him to use the power of the gloves to "create" new and incredible works. To make it happen he needs people or animals to be kidnapped. He's gotten involved with some nasty folks and some monsters for that purpose.

In this scenario the characters get hired to act as security at a very high-end art auction in the home of a wealthy merchant. For the auction location I suggest The Soaring Idyll in the Nobles Quarter. This apartment building hovers above the ground and slowly rotates. It also has a sculpture garden below the building. Only very rich people can afford the rent.

During the auction a drunk rival artist makes a scene insulting the older man's new works, and ends up knocking over and destroying another creator's statue and a brawl breaks out. After things are back under control the auction finishes up.

The next day the PCs encounter a cartwright's wife nailing up notices about him being missing. He has been gone for a week. Details lead to an abandoned brewery which is might be placed in South Market, not too far from Emperor's Road.

During investigation the party can pick up some rumors and will learn that the old artist's studio is a couple blocks away from the location the cartwright was supposed to do a job. The studio would be placed along Emperor's Road.

One of the places to go for rumors is a tavern on a dead-end street, near an entrance to the sewers.

There's plenty more that could be revealed about the scenario, but locations are covered here and it takes care of itself when read through.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

A Steaming Cup of Adventure

Time for more shameless self promotion. The blog's Zazzle store has these mugs and some other things for sale. Follow this link to see what's available. If you like something order it. Thanks!*     <----- Link

Below are the designs on three other mugs. Pardon the duplication of images. The banner design mug image copied fine, but the rest came out, well, not as mugs.

There are cards with these images, you can send to folks for whatever reason or to invite them to a special game session. 

Also there are a banner pin and a banner magnet available.

Friday, December 16, 2022

The Petrifying Priestess - Dungeon Magazine 66

If you need a small dungeon under Ptolus that can springboard into other adventures or just be a one-off adventure, The Petrifying Priestess makes for an interesting option. Here's some ideas for fitting it into Ptolus.

An elven holy artifact has been stolen from Iridithil's Home, specifically their shrine The Sky's Lord, right under the protective watch of Doraedian Mythlord. He's embarrassed and pissed off. The stolen artifact is the mace belonging to a long dead elven high priest of Celestan. The theft is revenge for the death of a medusa's mother by a band of elves twenty-two years ago. 

Serpena the medusa has contacts on the surface that bring her news of anything to do with the more prominent elves in the city. That's how she learned about the presence of the mace. She likely used her contacts to cut a deal that gained her the tools she needed to get in, steal the artifact, and get out unseen.

Maybe she hired members of the Longfingers guild to perform the actual break-in so she could move in and take her prize, leaving behind only a petrified cat as a calling card. You can work on the details of this so that it fits your campaign.

Then there's the question of why the party gets hired. In my case, the party currently has a high number of elves so it is possible that helps with the hiring decision. Doraedian Mythlord would likely want to go himself, but he would be advised against it in the event it was a trap being set for him.

Serpena is not just a medusa, she is also a priestess. In the original module she's a cleric of Gruumsh. You could keep that or try to change up the deity the medusa worships to Ghul? There has to be some of Ghul's essence still hanging around to power lower level cleric spells. The orcs she is accompanied by could be both Toruk-Rul and Sorn-Ulth.

The scenario itself is pretty straightforward. Go to where the thieves are and get the item back.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

New Monster - Animated Object: Scauldron (OSR and 5E)

Trinta tried her best to avoid contact with the large animated cauldron to no avail. It rammed into her tossing Trinta up and into its red-hot interior.

While Trinta screamed in agony the cast iron construct galloped off, clanging and banging down the long hall and disappeared around the next corner with its victim engulfed and burning.

Her companions hurried behind their kidnapped friend, cursing as they went. This was not how they expected their exploration of the ruins to begin.


Animated by fiendish witchery, this oversized, four-legged iron cauldron's purpose is to engulf a target and run about while cooking them. By bouncing the victim around inside, it continues to trap them, doing searing heat damage. Once a victim has died the Scauldron dumps the body and goes hunting a new meal to cook.

Quick OSR version notes:

Hit Dice 5 dice plus 3 points

AC: 2 descending scale, or 18 ascending scale

Movement: 30'

Attack: as Fighter 5

Saves: as Fighter 5

Damage: 1d6 +2 and target must save vs paralyzation or be engulfed if man sized or smaller. Each round spent within the Scauldron causes an additional 2d6 damage from heat.

If the cauldron is unable to make away with the target it will continue to ram others causing 1d6+2 damage, but may only engulf one victim at a time.

Engulfed targets may attempt to escape by rolling at or below their strength on a d20 with no modifiers.

5E version:

Large construct, unaligned

Armor Class 18 (natural armor)

Hit Points 84 (8d10 +40)

Speed 30'

Ability Scores:  STR 16 (+3) DEX 10 (0) CON 14 (+2) INT 1 (-5) WIS 3 (-4) CHR 1 (-5)

Damage Resistance: slashing, piercing from non-magical weapons

Damage Immunities: fire, poison, psychic

Condition Immunities: blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poison, prone

Senses: blindsight 60' (blind beyond 60'. Passive perception 6

Languages: none

Challenge Rating: 2 (450 xp)

Anti-magic Susceptibility. The Scauldron is incapacitated while in the area of an anti-magic field. If targeted by Dispel Magic, the Scauldron must succeed on a Constitution saving throw against the caster's spell save DC or fall unconscious for 1 minute.

False Appearance. While the Scauldron remains motionless it is indistinguishable from a large iron cauldron. 

Ram. Melee weapon attack +5 to hit, reach 5', one creature. Hit: 2d6 +3 bludgeoning damage plus 1d6 fire damage.

Engulf. The Scauldron moves up to its speed and conducts a Ram melee attack. If successful, any medium or smaller creature must succeed on a DC12 Dexterity saving throw. On a success the creature may choose to be pushed 5' back or to the side of the Scauldron. On a failure the Scauldron enters the creature's space and the creature takes 3d6 fire damage and is engulfed. The engulfed creature is restrained and takes 6d6 fire damage at the start of each of the Scauldron's turns. When the Scauldron moves, the engulfed creature moves with it. An engulfed creature can try to escape by taking an action to make a DC13 Strength check. On a success, the creature escapes and enters a space of its choice within 5' of the Scauldron. The Scauldron may only engulf 1 creature at a time regardless of size. While engulfing a creature, the Scauldron will attempt to move away using the Dash action, along a path that seems to lead the farthest from other creatures. When a creature dies within the Scauldron the body is dumped out and the Scauldron chooses a new target.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Grotto of the Queen - Dungeon Magazine 64

If the characters need to escape the city for a vacation of sorts, here's an adventure that can take them across the Bay of Ptolus.

Written for the Forgotten Realms setting and using the evil goddess Umberlee, it involves a missing magically imbued ship, and a planned ambush of the party by the evil clerics. Maybe they're not evil, they could be clerics of Juranis, chaotic neutral. (The high priestess is definitely evil and uses undead as guards.)

Do your delvers have a nemesis that's been looking for an opportunity to have them killed? The scenario opens up that possibility with someone spying on them and letting the priests know the party is on the way to recover the stolen ship.

Maybe the ship isn't magical, but transporting magical cargo that belongs to the Balacazar Crime Family. Those responsible for capturing the ship are some unwise pirates backed up by the church. 

Menon Balacazar deals in black magics, drugs, slaves, and especially enslaving powerful other-worldly beings. Maybe the cargo on the ship is a being he trapped, one that is associated with the church.

Under normal circumstances Balacazar could enlist the aid of his Sahuagin allies to help in the matter, but this time the church is one dealing with the sea, so the sahuagin are kept out of things. That's when the nemesis of the party recommends hiring them for the recovery job, and will alert the church of their plans if they agree to take it. You probably want to hide the identity of their real employer from them at the start.

Meanwhile, having been pressured about this latest act of piracy, the City Council hires another team of adventurers to go after the culprits. These folks walk into the ambush planned for the player characters.

In the small town near the temple, are some Ennin slavers with a small enclosure holding 25 captives. This might be an additional task the PCs might take it upon themselves to tackle.

The tavern of the town is full of na'er'do'wells and there's plenty of chances for a bar fight to happen. A fair number of patrons here are humanoids, orcs, gnolls, ogres, etc.

Once the party reaches town they are on the clock. There is an included table detailing what happens if they delay taking on the temple by various amounts of time. The longer they wait, the worse things get, while acting quickly will reduce the amount of fight the temple can mount against them.

There are survivors from the other group of delvers that are in need of rescue.

The temple and defenses can be run as they are without much if any modification aside from updating them to your preferred system. 

As for what's in the hold of the ship, maybe it's a second Tribute Gatherer. It could be any kind of powerful creature, or artifact.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Magic Item - Black Fire (5e)

The Longbow Black Fire is a +1 weapon.

Additionally, once per long rest, when the command word Blackfire is spoken, an arrow may be fired that delivers a 20' radius damaging effect surrounding the resting place of the arrow. If the arrow is moved during the duration of the effect, so does the area of the effect.

Black Fire: Black flames leap and cavort out to a distance of 20' from the central point. Any creature entering the area or starting their turn within the area must make a DC13 Constitution saving throw, taking 2d4 fire damage and 1d4 necrotic damage on a failed save or half of the fire damage and none of the necrotic damage on a success.

The effect lasts up to one minute or until concentration ends.

The arrow can be fired at a creature and do damage as a normal arrow as well as the Black Fire effect.

The bow is made of bone, etched with patterns appearing to be black flames.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Temporarily Demonetized During My highest Period of Traffic in Years - Part 2

Getting this resolved has proven to be a pain in the ass. Basically the lost time is effectively Google picking my pocket of what would probably have been a pointless few pennies, but it's the principle of the thing.

Friday, December 2, 2022

To Cure A Kingdom - Dungeon Magazine 57

A Mind Flayer, exiled from its kind for attempting to take over control, has concocted a plan to get back in with its kind and finish the coup it previously started.

In the original adventure, the Illithid used psychic surgery to remove this one Mind Flayer's ability to Plane Shift, and then set it loose to wander among lesser beings. During its travels it kept seeking a cure for the punishment enacted upon it by the others, and eventually captured an alchemist. The alchemist, while in forced servitude, eventually discovered the cure, but the final ingredient was something difficult to get. 

As written, the final ingredient are some leaves off of two magic trees. This sparked a thought that in Ptolus, there might be a rare tree or something else of value, that can be found at Iridithil's Home. Maybe a few drops of Moonsilver.

The plan to get its hands on the rare item involves finding a hidden temple to a god of disease, taking over by masquerading as an avatar of the diety, crafting and unleashing a disease on the city, then offering the cure in exchange for that rare item.

A religion dedicated to the spread of disease would find itself quickly outlawed in Ptolus, so this place would likely be in the dungeons or caverns below. Once located, the City will want to send forces there to destroy the place and put the adherents to the sword.

The Commissar and City Council would be quick to put up a reward for a solution. Churches would be doing their best to stem the spread of this ailment. It wouldn't take long before Doraedian Mythlord would be called upon to help, and that is where the player characters can be brought into the equation.

An emissary of the evil temple has arrived claiming the disease as their doing. The emissary brought along a list of ingredients for producing a cure, but is withholding the one rare ingredient it can provide in exchange for the one rare thing the Mind Flayer seeks. 

The mission is to take the Moonsilver to the temple to trade for the rare ingredient of the cure, and come back. Simple, right? Nah, never that easy.

You'll want to replace the over-land travel with underdark travel encounters and locations. The temple is a pretty straightforward conversion. 

Temple defenders will work mostly as described, but beefing up the lizard folk might help a bit. Undead in the lower temple level are difficult to turn (impossible in the scenario) and will be a threat even to higher level parties. The big bad evil guy needs to be buffed up to be a real challenge. Since he is fighting alone, Legendary abilities and Lair actions will work great for those running 5th edition D&D.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Temporarily Demonetized During My highest Period of Traffic in Years

Of course Ad-Sense would pull the plug on ads run on my site when my traffic quintuples for a month. I had a chance to earn a buck or two more (I know, nothing really), but nope. Hopefully they'll allow ads back on the blog within a few days.