Monday, 31 March 2014


No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d8 in lair)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90'(30')
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3+3
Attacks: 1 (by weapon)
Damage: 1d8 or weapon +1
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XX

These large, hairless creatures appear like bulbous-headed humanoids in form-fitting leathery exoskeletons. They are however curiously passive unless treasure is present.  A former slave race of labourers, their great strength gives them +1 to damage using weapons.  The archeloid says little but does much.  They are also naturally stealthy, against unprepared opponents, they gain surprise 50% of the time.

Archeloids can be found in distant caves or ruins and can be easily fascinated by treasure.  Bright and gaudy items are preferred.  Strong personalities can dominate them into service.  Yet archeloids bear grudges when injured, if they fail a morale check, they attack their 'master'.  The master must therefore always appear to be strong to avoid this fate.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

building my own damn 3Dplaneboxmegacrawlathonsandhexamagig (tm)

Blame noisms for the idea which didn't go away.

Phase 1: Conceptual Spitballing.
First, one hex map.  This one will do (with thanks to's wilderness hexmap generator).  Then replicate it into three dimensions, each distinct from the other.  Populate accordingly, devise ways of travelling between and what has crossed over.  I want to start out traditional with hints of grim and weird.  I also want to separate the worlds to make takeover bids difficult.  The presence of other settings are unusual events.  A traveller from one world cannot integrate easily. Locals will believe them insane, possessed or worse initially.

Otherworld travel is not easy or everyone does it.  Methods of transit are varied, having one of the following traits.
  • Fixed location.
  • Reliable.
  • Safe transit.
Smart play will increase that to two, nothing makes all three happen!
Examples of methods of transit will include:
  • Eerie ships - Some ships visit stranger ports than expected. Odd passengers and trading exotica keeps them sailing until Fate decrees otherwise!  Neither still or safe, they are mostly (80%) reliable. 
  • Gates - A fixed (but often unknown) location.  Reliability isn't a given, some gates malfunction, have defenses or limited access. Gates are usually warded or emit deadly energies.    
  • Multidimensional tunnels - Some intersect with other worlds, monsters walk or crawl among them, some even wear human faces.
  • Shantak - For the desperate or insane, a shantak ride can visit other worlds or leave you choking silently in the void.  Shantak require negotiation and don't speak Common.  
  • Zikkuracts - Extradimensional ziggurats that permit dimensional transit via tesseracts.  These require blood sacrifice to activate.  A fixed location that requires bloodshed to provide risky transit. 


Tropes: Grimweird fantasy medieval Europe with faeries, giants and undead.  Battles between human and demi-human armies.  Kingdoms rise and fall while heroes fight monsters.
Sense Memories:  Green forests, hills and dales with distant castles.  Vaulted tombs as the sun throws your shadow forth.  Wind rushing through trees on horseback.  Chainmail on your shoulders with castle walls solid underfoot.  The roar of a thousand warriors in battle.  Dark ale, roasted meat and warm lips by the hearth.
Inspirations: Black Death, Dolmenwood, Excalibur, Game of Thrones, Princess Mononoke.


Tropes: A decadent, decaying world with strange magic, stranger beasts and sinister automata. This world is unstable, bolstered by extraplanar transfusions. Ancient planar feuds simmer under the surface.
Sense Memories: Crumbling gabled tenements and canals under aurora borealis.  Grand temples redolent of incense, clockwork and rot.  The roar of a distant coliseum.  Embossed velvet, bizarre feathers and strange leather.  Chicken and rosewater biriyani with citrus liqueur amid perfumed slaves on musky cushions.
Inspirations: The Dying Earth, Wermspittle, Zothique.


Tropes: A world-sized megadungeon where light and water are survival.  Battles with subterrene horrors in confined spaces.  Nobody looking for the surface ever returns…
Sense Memories: Cave walls in torchlight, drips of cold water.  Oppression of dim-lit, echoing tunnels. Spiders scuttling and weaving in shadowy, firelit rooms.  Dark, musty unopened cellars. Tension of leaning over intricate mechanisms.  Mushrooms and smoked sausage, flat water, huddling for warmth.
Inspirations: Undungeon, all this megadungeon talk, False Machine's light economy, WW1 sapper battles.

As there's three distinct settings here, all linked by interdimensional gubbins hopefully the next month won't be boring.  If I don't do it here, it won't get done so... Brace yourselves, #3DPBMCSHMtm is coming!

Friday, 28 March 2014

inns & taverns: the honey pot

The Honey Pot is famed for it's mead.  As both inn and apiary, it excels.  Those skittish around bees are warned away.  Stories of bees attacking rowdies help keep troublemakers out.  That said, there are few inns as good (or as well-loved) as this one.

The Honey Pot is a hexagonal tower of grey stone, three floors high and forty feet across.  It's roof is lead-clad oak.  Visible from outside town, it sits conspicuously on a hill surrounded by halfling cottages and orchards.  Green-stained flowerboxes hang from shuttered windows, giving much needed colour in summertime.  Ceramic latticed bricks vent air and occasional bees.  The front doors are carved in interlocking hexagons and stained golden-brown to look like honeycomb.  A sign of amber glass and iron declares wealth.

Entering by the front door reveals a trapezoidal lounge with a low-set bar against the long wall and ascending stair on the far wall.  The low tables each have a jug with a beeswax candle.  The ceramic grills let in sunlight and air.  Halflings find the place just perfect.  Taller races and the naturally clumsy find it tricky to maneouver at first.  To the right, the traveller in need can find a triangular privy.  Beyond the lounge is a diamond-shaped kitchen kept immaculate by the chefs and the maid.  Upstairs, the building is divided into a narrow external corridor with six triangular rooms in which Firya and the staff dwell.  These are windowless yet heavily decorated.  Stairs lead up from Firya's and Kaldo's quarters into the top floor.  Here are six active beehives and numerous jars and boxes for gathering comb, honey, wax and other goods.  Beneath the bar, the cellar is well-kept though better suited to halflings than humans.  The stone walls and earthen floors are lit by lamps of beeswax and piled high with stock.  Sacks on the wall hold batches of short mead ready for production.

Patrons enjoy a selection of drinks.  Three kinds of mead are served.  Strawhead, an effervescent short mead is pale, quaffable and served in half-pint tankards at 5 copper a time. Hivegold, a potent wine-like sack mead is served in goblets and priced at 2 silver.  Rosegold is a tart dark rhodomel made with rosewater, elderberry and apple, served in clay tumblers for 2 copper a time.  A floral metheglin made with camomile and meadowsweet is sometimes sold in the same measure for the same price.  Unrepentent beer drinkers are delighted to find a dark, creamy walnut ale for two copper a half-pint.

For food, the poor may enjoy oatcakes and baked turnips along with a measure of watered Strawhead for 2 copper.  Most patrons indulge in a bread pudding which hold pork pieces marinaded in honey and cider vinegar.  For good friends, Firya or Kaldo may instruct the chefs to go to town on honey-roasted suckling pig with baked turnips and candied apples.

There are no rooms at the Honey Pot.  Firya may invite adventurers to sleep in the lounge for some daring tale or new song.  She misses her old life.  Kaldo is no sufferer of fools or scroungers. "Only for a night friends." is what he says as the cooks simultaneously begin dicing pork with cleavers at the hearth.

The landlady, Firya stands tall for a human.  Flaxen hair shot with silver falls behind her shoulders.  Her dark wooden kirtle reeks of smoke, hiding warrior's scars and paired daggers.  Steel-eyed, she takes assured, unhurried steps.  Her contralto voice purrs threats or pierces the hubbub.   Distinctive among the usual mix of halfling and human labourers and goodwives, she led armies to victory in another life.

Her staff are seven halflings.  Kaldo, their manager, is dapper in dark curls, hooded eyes and oxblood waistcoat. His courtly manners and grace makes ladies swoon.  Jirgo and Ferdo, twin exuberantly ginger cooks make a show of preparation and delicious food.  Magda and Yulisa, immaculate barmaids tend bar first and gossip second.  Their deductive skills put secretive types on edge.  Chenna, the maid is flirty, feisty and flint-hearted.  If the city calls, she'll make a find assassin.  Treyo, the grizzled gardener tends herbs and bakes loaves shaped like tortoises or ducks.  His gruff exterior hides an angelic smile and skill with knives.

  • Cloaked and cowled strangers visit, reeking of smoke.  The bees ignore the formians at first but grow increasingly agitated.  They have a business deal that Firya won't like but Kaldo might.
  • Firya has made powerful enemies.  They hired a fire-breathing wizard to kill her.  Fortunately he is an overconfident braggart.  Unfortunately he is likely to succeed unless taken down swiftly.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

unlikely treasures 2: still more loot for the taking

Roll d12 for the loot!

  1. Dragonhide breastplate of green scales to fit a human (700gp).
    Weighs 30lbs. (+6AC; -3AC penalty, spell failure 25%).
    Non-metallic so can be worn by druids.
  2. Mithril short sword with carved darkwood hilt (600gp).
    Weighs 1lb. Masterwork-quality weapon.  Carved hilt is patterned in minature dragonscales to provide excellent grip.
  3. Composite longbow decorated with fluted ivory panels (550gp).
    Weighs 3lb. This bow grants up to +4 damage bonus if used by someone with appropriate Strength.
    If used by someone with less than 18 Strength, it grants a -2 penalty to hit.
  4. Braided wig of golden hair with golden strands (500gp). 
    Weighs 4lb.  Extends two feet and includes golden wire braided into tight plaits among elven hair. Would fit a dwarf.
  5. Engraved gold and darkwood sword cane (500gp).
    Weighs 4lb. Gold-plated, masterwork quality. Cane is elaborately carved darkwood.  Treat as shortsword for damage.  Difficult to spot as weapon.
  6. Holy symbol of platinum (500gp).
    Weighs 1lb. Simple emblem, functions as a normal consecrated holy symbol. 
  7. Jade circlet (500gp).
    Weighs 2lb. Green jade inscribed with runes for magic, power and transformation.  Suitable for a child or elven female.
  8. Owlbear coat with silver fox trim and silver knotwork buttons (500gp).
    Weighs 4lbs. Six silver buttons (worth 10gp each). Feathers hang over shoulders, cut for a short and stout human or very tall dwarf male, suitable for nobility.
  9. Prayer beads made of black gems with white asterisms and striations (500gp).
    Weighs 5lbs.  String of 49 prayer beads made of snowflake obsidian (10gp for each bead) on black spider-silk thread (1gp) . Useful for atonement spells. 
  10. Vellum scroll in ivory scroll tube (500gp).
    Weighs 1lb.  This is a 500gp credit note for purchase of slaves from an established slaver cartel.
  11. Wooden casket containing 9 incense sticks & vellum packet of iridescent powder (450gp).
    Weighs 3lbs.  Casket weighs 2lbs and worth 50gp empty. Incense sticks (sandalwood) worth 1gp each. Vellum packet contains 400gp of diamond dust. 
  12. Oversized engraved silver holy symbol (400gp).
    Weighs 4lbs.  Functions as a normal consecrated holy symbol.  Contains a compartment holding three doses of exotic perfume (100gp per dose).

Monday, 24 March 2014

lake slaver

No. Enc.: 1 (1d4 in lair)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 30' (10')
Swim: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 6d8
Attacks: 2 (tentacle lashes) or spell.
Damage: 1d6/1d6 or spell.
Save: M3
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: VIII + XII

These strange, aquatic creatures resemble an octopus with human mouth and four fanged tentacles sprouting six-foot long from a bulbous body the size of a bear.  They live in freshwater lakes, rarely venturing out unless food is scarce.  The creature itself can defend itself by lashing out with it's tentacles but only two can attack at any time.  They know a little magic, being able to cast charm person and read magic once a day as a 2nd-level magic-user. They communicate by telepathic speech understood by the recipient.

They spawn every spring, releasing hundreds of fluke -like larvae (AC9, 1 hit point).  These attempt to latch onto passing creatures, often as they sleep.  Animals are slowly killed by the larva draining it's blood (lose 1 hit point per day).  The larva drops off after 6 days and undergoes a chrysalis stage of a week to become an adult lake slaver.  If the creature can speak, the larva secretes a local sedative and burrows under the skin (detect as a secret door).  It also stops growing and undergoes certain changes.  This places the creature under the telepathic control of the parent (as charm person).  This can be broken as per the spell.  Dispel magic (vs. a 6th-level caster) or cure disease will remove an infestation.

The lake slaver will try to control a lakeside community and spawn.  Their innate distrust of each other and parasitic lifecycle limits them though. They lust after scrolls and spellbooks, trying to lure magic-users into being infected so they can 'share their magic'.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

city of justice

Pic from
This time, it's a look at life in a town where a paladin holds true.  The paladin is a natural civic leader. Charisma through the roof, divine favour and their code of conduct inspires trust and respect from citizens. Soldiers of faith rarely retire and those who settle down are planning for long-term campaigns. Whether a light in the dark or jewel in a crown, the paladin's city keeps vigilant.  Evil never sleeps after all.

Paladin towns are militarised by default.  They are usually targeted by evil so will build defences in response to potential attack.  Even passive religions know the virtue of defensive construction.  As with clerical towns, the temple is the hub.  Given the paladin's force of personality, civic functions and spiritual needs are consolidated with less risk. Clerics of the same faith may provide ancilliary aid and run temples. Paladins will minister if clerics are in short supply. Most paladins however are more champions than shepherds.

The citizens of a paladin's city may fall into two broad camps.  Those helping the paladin rule may range from fellow knights to the city watch to civic officials.  The laws of this city are just and this often requires additional administration.  Those who are ruled tend to need regular help.  This drives the paladin and his court to build for the long-term to save them.  Orphanages with workhouses, courts for settling disputes, prisons to confine criminals and hospitals for the sick all feature.  Everything has a place in this city.

The city will prosecute against evil by all just means.  This doesn't just mean dawn raids of dens of vice and iniquity, fun as they are.  Other options include:

  • taxation of vices and iniquitous paraphernalia.
  • prohibition of poisons and chaotic or evil items.
  • seizure and re-purpose of assets used for anarchy and evil.  Recompense may be offered for the former if well-intentioned, never for the latter.
  • driving off or exiling habitual criminals should punishment fail to correct their behaviour.

Paladin spell access is somewhat limited compared to other spell casters.  This is compensated by their gamut of special abilities.

  • Detect evil means NPCs have difficulty infiltrating if they have an aura of evil without magic.
  • Laying of hands and other mercies give more skilled paladins options as a healer.  Paladins can work amid  plague victims with impunity.  The smart hospitallers set up quarantine areas.
  • Turn undead means the city has fewer necromantic problems.

That said, the spell selection can produce a few surprises.

  • Agriculture - Create water may allow a orphanage garden to flourish.
  • Arbitration - Known for their fairness and justice, the paladin can arbitrate disputes through judicious use of detect spells and sense motive.
  • Healing - Combining cure wounds and lesser restoration with lay on hands makes healing accessible to the just or the needy.  At higher levels, various remove spells and delay poison in addition to removing disease may enable a dedicated paladin to save lives.

The paladin's city may not appeal to the licentious murderhobo.  Those traumatised by urban horrors may find it different.  That said, Camelot wasn't exactly a boring place to be.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

assorted dungeon locks

Not all locks are created equal.  Some of them are positively odd.
  1. Axehead-shaped steel lock of good quality dwarven manufacture. Keyhole where haft would go and intricate wards make it difficult (-10%/-2) to pick.  Worth 150gp to dwarves, 135gp elsewhere. 
  2. Crescent moon-shaped superior lock of silver-plated iron. Fiendishly difficult (-10%/-2) to pick due to curved positioning of tumblers.  Worth 250gp to the right people.
  3. Dusty copper average lock enchanted to give electrical shock (2d8 damage, save 1/2s) to anyone touching with conductive metal (like most thieves tools) or bare flesh.  Faint, tell-tale hum warns the observant.  Worth 500gp to someone non-conductive.
  4. Gorgon-faced average lock weeping red waxy fluid from eyes and keyhole.  This waxy fluid is contact poison, causing a loss of 1d6 Dexterity for 2d6 turns (save for half effect and duration).  The residue loses potency after 1d4 rounds  but the discolouration remains unless washed in wine.  Worth 40gp as the weeping wax is a curse.
  5. Knotwork-engraved gold-plated steel lock of good quality and elven manufacture.  Worth 240gp.
  6. Mermaid-shaped simple lock of brass and tin, average quality, keyhole where navel is.  Worth 20gp.
  7. Ordinary lock of brass and iron, average quality.  Worth 40gp.
  8. Quartz lock of good quality.  Immune to rusting effects, difficult (-10%/-2) to pick due to stiff crystalline tumblers.  Worth 630gp. 
  9. Sea lock of blue steel will only admit a key when the tide is out, pushing the key out of keyhole at all other times.  Magic can be used to unlock as normal.  Superior quality, worth 1000gp to right people.
  10. Umbral lock of lead and iron - only be opened by magic or the shadow of the correct key inserted into the keyhole.  Skeleton keys have a 20% of working if their shadow is inserted into the keyhole.
    Worth 200gp as a novelty.
  11. Wolfshead-shaped simple lock of pewter and iron, keyhole hidden underneath plate on which wolfshead is mounted.  Worth 20gp.   
  12. Yellow-golden (actually iron pyrite) average lock shaped to resemble a smiling actor's mask.
    Keyhole in right eye.  If left eye keyhole used, a magic mouth activates "Oh dear. You never go left." then commences raucous laughter that provokes a wandering monster check.  Works once only, worth 100gp.

Monday, 17 March 2014

zombie, tarhide

No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d6 in lair)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3d8
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d8 or weapon (see below)
Save: F2
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None

Tarhide zombies are undead corpses coated in dark tarry fluids and reanimated by sinister Chaotic magic. They are a little smarter than normal zombies, enough to handle simple commands.  Chaotic spell casters who create them use them as guards.  Those in melee with a tarhide zombie must make a save vs. paralysation each round or suffer a cumulative -1 attack penalty (to a maximum of -4) as their weapons stick to the zombie.  Multiple tarhide zombies impose a -1 penalty to the saving throw per additional zombie in melee.    Like other undead they are unaffected by sleep, hold or charm spells.  Tarhide zombies are turned as ghouls.  They also enjoy eating flesh and those killed by a tarhide zombie usually have bite marks.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

cthulhu double feature: arts & lovecraft

Azoth elixir.  

Rumoured to be formulated from alchemy perfected by Paracelsius, this elixir gives a form of immortality at a horrific price.  The elixir's ingredients are said to include rotten Deep One flesh, powdered jade, flakes of gold and colloidal silver.

The drinker may, at the time of drinking, convert magic points into instant physical healing (on a point for point basis) or rejuvenation (losing a year of physical age) to a maximum of their POW score.  For each magic point converted, the drinker loses 1 temporary SAN.  For each dose of azoth that is drunk, the drinker loses 1 permanent SAN, this is a debilitating brew.

Long-term drinkers are usually incurably insane and old beyond their years with patches of new skin in odd places.  These anomalies are noticeable to anyone with medical skills or with a successful Spot Hidden roll.

The Martin-Tongedo Box

This artifact was found in 2012 in the legacy of a occult scholar.  A decoupage box of wood and paper mache, one foot long by six inches wide by three inches deep.  The outside is a sallow patchwork of manuscript.  Inside is jaundiced, scraped butter-smooth and bare.  Light seems to reflect from the inner surfaces.

Typed text, sketches and handwritten note jostle  in palimpsest.  A combination of cursive script, fading type and agitated scrawl draws the eye toward unsettling revelation.  Curved paper strips converge on circular bosses at corners.  Fragments of confessions, stage directions and philosophical discourse can be found on the outside of the box..

Studying the cover of this box increases Cthulhu Mythos by 1% and reveals the following passage which may feature in a certain play.

The ending of all hope is come.
Its leaden beat denying song.
The messenger of nothingness
who's nothing more and nothing less
than all that's pallid, wan and wrong.

Friday, 14 March 2014

inns & taverns: the three fort knights inn

The Three Fort Knights Inn births rumours.  Tales of the three brother-knights, hellish hounds and kindly djinn grow in the telling.  It's position as a hill top forces municipal stable use.  Inconvenience discourages casual travellers from closer investigation.  The nearby slum is not salubrious.  The knights are dead yet the howls and keening winds at night-time say the tale continues.  For all these hardships, the inn prospers.

The dusty approach road to the inn is jostling with angular slum-houses, all gables and gantries.  They draw back a little from the inn.  The inn is a white stone roundhouse with circular doors and shuttered green-stained porthole windows.  Beneath these stand pots of flourishing spearmint.  The roof is tiled in spiraling slates with two chimneys to the east and west.  The walls are half-sunk into the hilltop.  A blue banner showing three white stars over a white fort serves as the inn's sign.

Inside the rooms resemble an over-sized halfling's burrow.  An eclectic collection of seating in every elliptical nook allow nearly a hundred to sit nearby.  A gentle slope descends from the front door to a north-facing oval lounge served by served by circular bar.  The oval extends east and west with a circular hearth at each corner.  Four benches seating eight each extend like wheel spokes from the hearths.  The whole effect resembles a gigantic eye.

There are four exits in the north and south walls.  Each is hung with bead and bell curtains.  The noise from these discourages eavesdropping and they reveal anything passing through.  This simple precaution has prevented all manner of problems.  The northern exits lead outwards to oval rooms.  Furthest north-east is a bustling kitchen.  The nearest northeast and northwest rooms are simple lounges sharing access to a spiral staircase leading down into the common room.  The far northwest opens into a magically-lit communal washroom with alcoves for eight privies.  Flourishing potted lavender and rosemary bushes keep the smell tolerable.

The southern exits also lead outwards to oval rooms.  The far southeastern room is a lounge for private meetings.  The near southeastern room is a lounge for the staff with stairs leading to basic rooms for Yusuf and Califea.  The southwestern room is a lobby with a spiral stair to the guest rooms. The far southwestern room is warm and spacious, Yusuf keeps a double-mash brewery running here.  Barrels are lowered by pulley via a hatch into the cellar.

The bottom level comprises three areas, isolated from each other.  The northernmost is a common room capable of holding twelve in comfort.  The central chamber is the cellar, kept near-perfectly by Yusuf and his staff.  A hatch in the south-east links to the brewery.  The last area is a small hallway with six curved doors. Each leads to a well-appointed guestroom.  All have circular feather beds with quilts, cushions and covered chamberpots.

A free house, regulars sup from long, cylindrical pot tankards called 'towers'.  A strong amber ale spiced with rosemary is sold for 4 copper, while a paler, small beer spiced with lavender is sold for 2 copper.  A local red wine, rough and phenolic is bought by hardened drinkers and connoisseurs of dubious merit.  The hearths produce delicious chambered pies, half cooked lamb, half rose hip and mint jelly for five silver. Circular pancakes cook on flatirons for two copper each.  Califea enjoys making stacks of pancakes. Porridge is also sold for two copper.

A common room berth costs 3 silver a night.  Popular after sunset as howling dogs and wind vie outside and people wax drunken and lazy.  The guestrooms are 3 gold a night and may be the best sleep in the city.  All accommodation is sufficiently underground the howls outside are unheard.

Yusuf is an odd yet genial landlord. Gaunt, pallid, perpetually windswept, he strides purposefully as he serves, his eyes contemplating three moves ahead. He knows magic yet he excels in brewing and knowledge of his djinn and noble ancestors.

Califea, cook and barmaid, loves the Inn.  Her boyish face and good singing voice charm guests yet her crude humour shocks prudes.  She prefers women, finding men diffident  lovers.  Would-be rakes find emasculating insults and her knives deterrent against groping hands.

Old Shamshir, the potboy is a grizzled, scarred veteran  whose eyes glow weirdly in lamp-light.  Drinking on duty is normal for him.  Clad in faded and patched cassock and trews, his dishevelled features are capped by a box hat.  He keeps a curved knife in case.

The other staff are casual barmaids from the slums or labourers working their way back east.  Quite a few barmaids dance for a living, practicing their art to keep the drinks flowing steadily.  A few supplement their trade by pickpocketing drunks.  Yusuf and Old Shamshir are fiercely protective of their people.  Violence is not tolerated with the notable exception of Califea dealing with unwanted attention from drunkards.

  • Yusuf will sometimes consult sages.  Sometimes they give him good advice.  Sometimes he will take extra precautions against invisible intruders.  
  • Old Shamshir loves hashish pollen.  When ships bring it to town, he books a guest room and proceeds to party for about two weeks.  Meanwhile Yusuf needs a potboy and charmingly brutal doorman... 
  • Word of the inn reaches a mystic order.  They are aware of the hounds, seeking seek to avoid the brother-knights' doom.  Their interest in the inn is purely strategic.  The curious will find them unsavoury indeed.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

unlikely treasures 2: yet even more loot for the taking

Roll d12 for the loot!

  1. Bastard sword with silver wire-wrapped hilt (350gp).
    Weighs 8 lbs.  Masterwork quality (+1 non-magical to hit) steel, suitable for enchanting as a magical weapon. Silver wire on hilt is worth 15gp.
  2. Scroll in wooden scroll tube (300gp).
    Weighs 1 lb. This is a credit note to a reputable horse trader for one combat-trained heavy warhorse sealed by local nobility to be provided to the bearer.
  3. Torc of wrought gold tipped with green gems (275gp).
    Weighs 2 lb. Gems are peridots (50gp each). Torc worth 125gp if gems removed.  Suitable for nobility of either sex. 
  4. Alabaster casket with 20 balls of resin (250gp).
    Weighs 5 lbs. Casket weighs 3 lb and is worth 50gp empty.  Resin is exotic incense (each ball weighs 0.1 lbs, burns for 1 hour, worth 10gp). 
  5. Minature greatsword letter-opener (250gp).
    Weighs 1/2 lb.  Made of platinum.  Suitable as spell focus for mage's sword spell. 
  6. Ornate silver armband with black gem (250gp).
    Weighs 2lbs.  Gem is jet (100gp value).  Armband worth 100gp if gem removed. 
  7. Repeating light crossbow (250gp).
    Weighs 6lbs. Magazine holds 5 bolts.  Can be fired one-handed.  Requires 2 hands to reload or to replace magazine.
  8. Suit of dwarf-sized banded mail (250gp).
    Weighs 35lbs. +7AC; Armour penalty -6. Spell failure 35%.  Kept in immaculate condition.
  9. Tiger-skin robe (250gp).
    Weighs 4lbs. Cut to fit a tall human female.  Suitable for court or nobility.  Will upset weretigers and those with tiger totems somewhat.
  10. Two folios bound in red scaled hide (250gp).
    Weighs 14lbs. These are diplomatic letters and notes bound in dyed snakeskin. Each weighs 7 lbs and mirrors the other in terms of content.  If consulted for 1d4 hours prior, the reader may do one of the following.
    • Create a letter of introduction which gives +2 to any reaction check with local officials or nobility.
    • Gain a +2 to any Knowledge (nobility) check using the detailed histories of local noble families.
    • Create a coded message (which takes 10 times as long) that imposes a -10 penalty to anyone trying to decode the message without either book.
  11. Suit of elf-sized ornate golden armour (225gp). Weighs 20lb. Masterwork gold-plated steel parade armour (+3AC; no armour penalty, 15% spell failure). Consists of plated epaulets and lightweight mail hauberk over chest only.
  12. Ornate silver chalice decorated with holy symbols. (200gp).
    Weighs 2 lbs.  This chalice is used to sanctify liquids poured into it and can hold up to a pint of fluid.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

city red in tooth and claw

Another spell casting class, another city.  This time it's the druid's turn. Druids are traditionally associated with wilderness.  Nature peeks through the city's cracks, infrastructure provides different niches among the human hive.  Here druids are not Princess Mononoke but more subtle.  Druids are of course, quality material for city leaders.  Take the wisdom of a cleric, wed it to natural charisma and a reputation for impartiality. Add in a versatile spell list, wild empathy, the ability to change shape.  The druid may need to sojourn from time to time but this may be a ruse.

The druid's city has tended gardens and green spaces.  Parks and groves appear amid buildings.  Trees are a regular feature.  Wonders like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are possible without aquaducts using create water.  Pigeons may roost in building eaves.  Bats haunt  high towers.  Cities may also use caves like Derinyuku or Nottingham. The rich and powerful in druidic cities prosper.  They are rewarded for careful stewardship of nature's bounty and given just punishment when they over-reach.  Yet the druid is aloof from courtly antics sometimes working in secret or watching in animal form.  Yet when the spotlight is required, druids take it with considerable force and almost no mercy.  Druids may cultivate links with horse-riders. They often have money and some rudimentary understanding of how to live and work with animals.

Druidic diplomacy is an interesting field.  Animals and plants can spy for a druid.  Here the wild shape ability comes into it's own.  Scrying is an available option.  The secret druidic language is another aspect, here rogues, magic or another druid are your only defence.  Druidic ties to elementals and fey provide additional options.  The vengeful druid burning civilisation is a cliche.  Druids are more surgical in it's use.  Druids also use contagion to thin over-populated areas.  Bizarre animal attacks without reason may lead to stories rivalling the Rue Morgue or The Beast of Gevaudan.  Summon Nature's Ally may mean you wake up to more than a horse's head in the morning.

Even if such high-profile risks are not for you, the druid may have a profession with options.  Brewer, cook, gardener, farmer, fisherman, herbalist, midwife, shepherd, stable master and trapper are obvious choices for the druid.  A professional druid is never poor.  Their trade is useful camouflage in the city.  Even the impoverished druid has advantages most beggars do not if they find time to rest.  Here poverty provides a different camouflage.  A beggar's court of druids is intriguing.

The following may feature in cities tended by a druid.
  • Agriculture is a very good reason for druids to walk a city's gardens.  Spells like create water, charm animal, guidance, plant growth, repel vermin and baleful polymorph make life simpler.  Animals are well-kept of course and of course, awakened plants.
  • Construction will allow for trees and parks (which druids treat as groves). Gardens and communal fruit trees will be encouraged.  Eaves and spires for birds will be encouraged.  Spells like soften earth and stone, wood shape, stone shape and transmute mud to rock are useful.  Buildings may be enhanced by hallow or other spells. 
  • Festivals are popular, goodberries and create water provide simple fare aided by brewing. Those who've seen the original The Wicker Man may have their own take on this.
  • Druids with item creation feats may build stockpiles of useful magic.  While goodberries are seasonal, druids may follow the squirrel's example.
  • Infant and mother mortality are much diminished.  A natural midwife class, spells like cure wounds, remove disease, stabilise, goodberry and restoration help to heal childbirth trauma. Druids may have reasons for helping of course.
  • Ports may be grateful for druids with spells like control winds, control water or gust of wind.  Even a light spell may matter on stormy nights at sea.
  • Summon Nature's Ally makes the druid a formidable foe.  Apart from potential for agriculture (aurochs, dog, horse and pony), there are other options. Morally flexible druids need never be short of poisons either.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

assorted dungeon fires

Roll 1d12 for the burning.

  1. Bed of hot embers used for firewalking and post-firewalk barbecue.  Trial by firewalking used by nearby humanoids to determine innocence.  Last meal of condemned takes on whole new meaning.
  2. Cooking fire for cauldron of mystery stew. 1 in 6 chance cauldron is occupied by something that would prefer being the eater.  1 in 6 chance of hand or conspicuous body part floating to surface.
  3. Divinatory fire used by oracles in diverse ways to predict fate or fortune.  1 in 6 chance an oracle will be available to offer advice on a course of action.  This is totally accurate 70% of the time.
  4. Funeral pyre for 1d4 Medium-sized corpses; burning quite lively, difficult to distinguish species due to smoke and charred flesh.  1 in 6 chance some grave goods survive the flames.
  5. Furnace used to smelt iron.  A bloomery with chimney stack and animated bellows.  Can create up to 30lbs of iron in a day.  About a week's charcoal and two sledge hammers are stored nearby. 
  6. Masonry stove used to heat room and bake.  Uses wood or coal. 1 in 6 chance it is magical.
    Magical stoves can talk and will create 1d6 loaves of rye bread if lit and tended by anyone willing to talk for 6d6 minutes. 
  7. Open-hearth forge for creating arms, armour and even  ironwork.  Forge is ready-lit, tended by twin dwarves. Magic is not welcome here without hefty bribes.
  8. Punishment for 1d4+2 criminals of heinous crime versus faith and local ruler.  Stakes and pyres are already burning.  1% chance a criminal survives, smell doubles chance of wandering monsters. 
  9. Purifying fire being jumped over by 2d4+2 humanoids; taking turns to goad each other into jumping over the fire in order to purge themselves of spiritual taint.  Sinful items are fuelling the flames. 
  10. Refining fire kindled to burn off alchemical dross; fumes cause nausea if inhaled (Fortitude DC12, nauseated for 2d6 rounds).  1 in 6 chance of 1d6 gold nuggets (worth 50gp each), still red hot.
  11. Sacrificial fire for 1d3 Medium-sized creatures fully aflame.  Offerings are already dead but anointed bodies burn excellently in any event.  Extinguishing will incur divine wrath from nearby clerics.
  12. Self-immolating fanatic makes supreme sacrifice to immolate tyrant.  Direct contact does 4d6 fire damage; anyone in 5' risks 1d6 damage.  1 in 6 chance that tyrant's bodyguards notice in time.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

mindmap: manageable megadungeon

I blame Greyhawk Grognard of course.  There was a lot of words.  I mean a lot of words.

Then I decided this may be a shade ironic given this was about making megadungeons manageable.

So I thought... mindmap?  Plus I had to give XMind 2013 a spin.

This reminded me just how much good stuff is out in the blogosphere. So for your viewing pleasure...

Mindmap: Manageable Megadungeon (PDF).
Or if you prefer, XMind 2013.

There are numerous lists out there (some included) but keeping track of it all is a challenge.  For those less able to speed-read, this may be some help.  Please provide feedback in the usual location!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

march fo(u)rth to the carnival!

Masque courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Happy GM's Day Carnival!  

This year, GM's Day just happens to be Mardi Gras.  Yet there is far too much earnest pontification in my newsfeed. In response, I propose a simple blog carnival with the theme of... Carnival in RPGs!  Grab the mask logo if you're joining in! Hell, get a guest writer if you don't fancy the subject material. Nobody need ever know it was you. So if you're scratching your head about what kinds of post would work here's a few ideas.
  • Carnival traditions adapted for your game. Will your game have a King Momo, bands of caretos prowling the streets or a funeral for Kostroma?
  • How to run a carnival-crawl.  Fine with the wandering monster checks?  The whole thing is wandering monsters! Why are they singing and dancing?  Did that orc just ask you for beads?! Even staying in one place is an adventure.
  • Odd carnival masks with abilities appropriate to your game.  Magical or mundane, just make them interesting and distinctive.
  • Odder characters in the carnival.  Carnival lets out some freakish stuff.  Perfectly ordinary people react in extraordinary ways.  Your party always needs to meet more freaks, probably.
  • Strange happenings in the carnival.  There might be chance encounters, or something a deal more considered.  There's all kinds of random tables could come out of this one too.
  • Extended carousing tables.  Face it, you've probably rolled all the entries already.  Time for your cash-laden murderhobos to go even further into uncharted territory.
Pick your system and setting.   The masquerade beckons, won't you join the dance?  You've got till midnight on Wednesday to have fun.  Or longer if your location lets you party longer.  Have at it and leave a comment with link if you're joining in the fun.

Monday, 3 March 2014


No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement:  120' (40')
Fly:  240' (80')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (touch)
Damage: 1d4 + whisper (see below)
Save: F4
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XIV

The whisperdoom is a gaunt, robed undead figure whose eyeless face peers from underneath a hood and whose mouth moves in continuous sibilant whispers.  The robes are often marked by signs of torture or penitence.  They cannot be harmed by normal weapons, needing silver or magical weapons to be hurt.  Like all undead they are immune to charm, hold and sleep spells.  A whisperdoom attacks by grasping it's target then whispering in it's ear.  This whisper causes the loss of 1 WIS for 6 turns. If someone is reduced to WIS 0, they permanently become a whisperdoom.  Any whisperdoom is subject to turn undead, being treated as a wight.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

hexagonal awareness month

March is Hexagonal Awareness Month.  Given tabletop roleplaying games have history with this shape, this month features some posts in tribute to this paragon of polygons.

As an aperitif, please find enclosed the One Page Hexcrawl Template assembled with help from the brilliant Inkscape Boardgame Generator add-in from Pelle Nilsson (with a little help on installing courtesy of Alex Schroeder of Campaign Wiki fame).

It's not all hexagons, lots of other parties this month!  March also features GM Day/Mardi Gras (same day naturally), Read an RPG in Public Week and Pi Day.  Plenty to be getting on with...
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