Friday, June 22, 2012

Community Project 2: The Young Green Dragon Over The Next Hill

The first community project, The Trouble With Troglodytes, is complete. While I take my time compiling, editing, and making a pretty, downloadable version for your reading pleasure, here is something else to keep you busy.

In The Trouble With Troglodytes, the PCs learn that Breygataya's disappearance is a MacGuffin--she isn't in the dungeon at all. So where is she? According to The Book of Unpleasant Truth, she might be in the clutches of a green dragon over the next hill. So. . .

You guys fill this thing out, and I'll compile it into a PDF when it's done.

Note: I reserve the right to edit entries.

Some guidelines:
  • Use whatever retro-clone stat block you like for monsters & spells & magic items: Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, or Dungeon Crawl Classics.
  • Everything you post is considered to be Open Game Content, freely offered and free to be reused or remixed once the whole shebang is compiled.
So, here we go:

map created using Dave's Mapper; click to embiggen

Thorstown still has problems. Lots and lots of problems. Breygataya Lokisen is still missing, and her parents are still beside themselves. Ole Hornugson blames himself for her disappearance (as do many of the townfolk) for not running away with her when he had the chance. And it turns out Old Jaansen is a thieving liar with a thing for chickens.

While the townsfolk thought the troglodytes on the other side of the woods were the problem, the news is much worse than originally thought. The PCs, having investigated the troglodyte lair, have learned there's a young green dragon lurking about the caverns under the next hill over. Since then, rumors are a'flying.

 Random Rumor Table
(roll 6d8 and string together in form R1-R2-R3-R4-R5-R6 to create a rumor)

1. Last week
2. Within the past month
3. According to the Book of Unpleasant Truth,
4. The cheesemaker says
5. According to the blacksmith
6. Don't tell anyone, but
7. One time someone told me that
8. Keep my name out of it, but I heard

1. the dragon
2. Whizzer Wee
3. one of the volunteers from the village
4. the Duke of Urlhttp
5. one of the PCs
6. Breygatya
7. you (the PC doing the inquiring)
8. whatever is over the hill

1. ate
2. gave birth to
3. snogged
4. spotted
5. had relations with
6. married
7. transformed into
8. recently killed

1. a partridge
2. a goat
3. a sheep
4. a giant beaver
5. a werebear
6. an owlbear
7. a hippogriff
8. a catoblepas

1. in a pear tree.
2. on another plane accessible only through the troglodyte's lair.
3. in the pocket of a gigantic, mad, metallic wizard from above the sky.
4. in a bottled city somewhere in the dragon's lair.
5. on the road just outside of town.
6. behind the Hornugson's barn.
7. after drinking out of the village well.
8. on a 30gp bet.

1. (10% True)
2. (30% False)
3. (False)
4. (50% False)
5. (50% True)
6. (30% True)
7. (True)
8. (10% False)

The town elders have offered the PCs a land grant of 5d100 acres of lightly wooded land and 5d100 chickens or sheep to kill the beast and bring back some semblance of normalcy to the village (even though the place truly is crazygonuts). Lord Weaseltharn, Duke of the Grand Duchy of Urlhttp, has sent word that he approves of this plan as long as the PCs will swear an Oath of Fealty to him if they decide to accept the land and/or livestock. In addition, he pledges that the PCs would be exempt from any tax or tariff on any found treasure (the normal tax rate is 57.654%) if they can return with proof of the dragon's demise.

{If the PCs do complete this adventure successfully and attempt to claim the village's offer, the Duke of Urlhttp will be present at the award ceremony, administer the Oath of Fealty himself, and then immediately conscript the PCs into military service (with appropriate rank for their character levels) for 1d6 years the moment they accept and make their marks on the deed to the land and/or livestock--even if they plan to sell it. Yes, this is a railroad. Deal.}

Weaseltharn will not support the expedition monetarily or materially beyond providing a Writ of Safe Passage. In fact, Weaseltharn is a rotten bastard and has deployed his own party of adventure-seekers to slay the dragon and plunder its wealth.

The Bruise of the Closed Fist
Ailed: Chaotic Female Dwarf, Lvl: 7, Atr: 9/11/10/16/14/14 , AC: 1, HP: 34
Equipment: Banded Mail +1, Hand Axe
Personality: Obedient, Vengeful

Dolichena: Chaotic Female Fighter, Lvl: 7, Atr: 12/14/10/12/17/18 , AC: 4, HP: 52
Equipment: Chain Mail +1, Mace, Heavy Crossbow
Personality: Hedonistic, Famous, Miserly

Eckardus: Chaotic Male Magic-user, Lvl: 7, Atr: 13/14/11/8/10/9 , AC: 10, HP: 15
Equipment: No Armor, Dagger,
Personality: Weird, Scheming
Spellbook: First (3): Scribe, Dancing Lights, Message, Erase, Read Magic, Charm Person. Second (2): Magic Mouth, False Trap, Rope Trick, Phantasmal Force, Stinking Cloud. Third (2): Explosive Runes, Feign Death. Fourth (1): Confusion.

Heribrand: Chaotic Male Dwarf, Lvl: 7, Atr: 10/11/12/12/11/15 , AC: 4, HP: 36
Equipment: Chain Mail +1, Silver Dagger +1, Long Sword
Personality: Morose, Harsh, Sensuous

Megasthenes: Chaotic Male Elf, Lvl: 7, Atr: 14/14/14/12/11/12 , AC: 3, HP: 31
Equipment: Banded Mail, Shield, Long Sword, Trident
Personality: Rebellious, Defiant
Spellbook: First (3): Dancing Lights, Feather Fall, Scribe, Read Languages, Detect Magic. Second (2): False Gold, Auditory Illusion, Magic Mouth, Shatter. Third (2): Hold Person, Blink, Summon Monster I. Fourth (1): Ice Storm, Fire Trap.

Philometer: Chaotic Male Fighter, Lvl: 7, Atr: 18/15/16/13/16/13 , AC: 3, HP: 55
Equipment: Splint Mail, Heavy Crossbow, Long Sword
Personality: Tough, Sober, Proud

Ponteus: Chaotic Male Cleric, Lvl: 7, Atr: 15/15/17/10/14/7 , AC: 6, HP: 24
Equipment: Studded Leather +1, Club
Personality: Wise, Anxious, Jaded
Suggested Spells: First (4): Create Water (reversible), Purify Food and Drink, Remove Fear, Light. Second (3): Silence 15 ft. Radius, Find Traps, Spiritual Weapon. Third (2): Snake Charm, Speak with Animal. Fourth (1): Divination.

Richelda: Chaotic Female Halfling, Lvl: 7, Atr: 14/11/14/12/11/16 , AC: 4, HP: 31
Equipment: Banded Mail, Light Hammer, Hand Axe
Personality: Tough, Contrary

party generated using

Ole Hornugson has rounded up a few of his friends. They insist on accompanying the PCs on this expedition. They each ask for a 1% share of any treasure found on this expediton--with the understanding that their families should receive this payment if they themselves do not make it back to town alive:

The Semi-Clueless Meatshields
Name: Bran Riboflavin
Type: Torch-Bearer
Race: Human
HP: 3
Sex: M
Weapon: Dagger +1 (found in the woods; is part of dragon's hoard and dragon knows it's missing)
Armor: None
Alignment: Neutral
Background: Diary Farmer
Notable Possesions & Features: Cheese wheel; bad breath

Name: Dar Danengrad
Type: Man-at-Arms
Race: Human
HP: 4
Sex: M
Weapon: Spear, Dagger
Armor: Leather
Alignment: Lawful
Background: Town Bully
Notable Possesions & Features: Small mirror; missing ring finger

Name: Finn Keillior
Type: Torch-Bearer
Race: Human
HP: 6
Sex: M (F) [woman disguised as a man]
Weapon: Dagger
Armor: Leather
Alignment: Neutral
Background: Ex-Militia
Notable Possesions & Features: Breygatya's childhood best friend; unwashed

Name: Fisk Justfisk
Type: Torch-Bearer
Race: Half-Dwarf (doesn't know it)
HP: 5
Sex: M
Weapon: Spear, Dagger
Armor: None
Alignment: Neutral
Background: Fortune Seeker
Notable Possesions & Features: Floppy hat; cauliflower ear

Name: Ole Hornugson
Type: Man-at-Arms
Race: Human
HP: 6
Sex: M
Weapon: Spear, Dagger
Armor: Leather & Shield
Alignment: Lawful
Background: Farmer
Notable Possesions & Features: Flint & steel fire starter set; well-muscled

Name: Vlänk Staek
Type: Torch-Bearer
Race: Human
HP: 4
Sex: M
Weapon: Dagger
Armor: None
Alignment: Neutral
Background: Ex-Militia
Notable Possesions & Features: Tattooed

(meatshields generated by

By the way, the green dragon (his name is Garth but only his mother calls him that) isn't stupid. He knows what the PCs did to/in the Troglodyte's lair. And Garth has minions of his own. FYI, he insists his minions address him as Athkore the Acid Breather. But they keep forgetting. And that's okay because minions are tasty.

And one last thing: Breygataya is somewhere in the green dragon's lair. She is alive. But maybe she doesn't want to leave.


1. Entrance
This is the primitive guard house for these catacombs. The guards, usually two large, able bodied troglodytes, stand in the larger, central area and require a password from all individuals, or parties, attempting to enter the caverns.

The smaller central chamber is the sleeping quarters for the guards. A third and fourth guard should be house here at all times.

(The guards could be any race, goblin, kobold, hobgoblin, etc, and should each possess one semi-valuable item representing their pay for preforming guard duty. --a gem, a jewel, necklace, bracelet, enchanted bone club, etc.--
Another possibility is that the guards are dead, slain by the Bruise of the Closed Fist or some unknown assailants.)

The password is "piasa".

2. Ceremonial Preparation Room (Female)
This room serves as a preparation room for the Troglodyte offering ceremony. Females pray and prepare in this room; males prepare in Area 4. The walls are covered in troglodyte hieroglyphs, prayers and other cave paintings. There is nothing of value in this room.

3. The Rectory
This is the rectory for shamans and witches of the troglodyte cult of Athkore worship. Each leader performs their own rituals and prayers in her then joins their respective groups at the height of the ceremonies.

Locked chests hold the robes, powders, paints, bone scepters and other cult relics while the troglodytes are not here. They are largely useless and without any monetary value, but sages might be interested if they study non-human cults.

4. Ceremonial Preparation Room (Male)
This room serves as a preparation room for the Troglodyte offering ceremony. Males pray and prepare in this room; females prepare in Area 4. The walls are covered in troglodyte hieroglyphs, prayers and other cave paintings. There is nothing of value in this room. In short, it is roughly identical to Area 2.

5. This secret chamber, just off the dressing room, allows the acolytes of Garth to slip into the inner chambers and service area of their master. Pegs along the wall contain robes of their Holy/Unholy Dragon Order. A table against the wall contains random items, offerings to Lord Garth the Green.

(Random offerings might include: a ceremonial dagger, other weapons, a skull or severed head, pearls, jewels or coins, spell scrolls or books.)

6.  This room and the adjoining junction have been undermined by the tunneling of an insect colony. The flagstones are uneven: 1 in 6 now rest over a hollow 1D3' in depth; 1 in 6 hollows hold an item of Low-End Loot.

7. This square stone work chamber contains two shrines. One shrine, on the left wall, is to Garth the Dragon Lord. The second shrine, on the bottom wall, is to an unknown terror served by Garth and his minions. Each shrine is a raised dais of two semicircular steps approximately three feet, one meter, from side to side. The shrine to Garth is topped with a small statue of a green dragon. The second shrine holds an image of an unknown god, demigod, or daemon.

(Each shrine is trapped with a teleportation spell. The acolytes of this complex dispel the trap by speaking Garth's name at his shrine and perform the same preparation, using the name of "the other" at the second shrine.

Anyone who comes in contact with the shrine to Garth without speaking the key word will be transported to area 46, from which there is no escape. Or is there?

Anyone foolish enough to contact by touch the second shrine will be transported to area 25 where they will, most likely, become a meal for Garth.

8. This cavern is flooded with a liquid that is mostly water. The higher points of the cavern are above the water line but the cavern is a small underground lake.

The lake, very possibly dragon pee, is the home to a school of turtle-rats. These aquatic turtle rodents have the a head much like a rabbit with a long neck to their turtle-like shells. Their powerful webbed forelimbs resemble a wolf's, including claws [1d6 damage].

Their webbed hind limbs are more reminiscent of a rat and the shell and taie of a turtle. Turtle-rats are quick carnivorous scavengers usually encountered in schools of 1d8 members. They will attack by springing forward with their powerful front legs and attempt to bite and/or claw their intended pray [two attacks per round possible]. Turtle-rats should be classified as medium sized creatures; an adult aquatic turtle-rat's shell averages four feet from neck to tail.

The waters near their homes usually contain the remains of their past pray, including any valuables owned by these previous victims.

The waterway opens in a pool in area 9. There is a 1 in 6 chance that a Turtle-rat will be beached in area 9 and a 1 in 8 chance that the Turtle-rat will be sitting on a nest.

Also, of course, any treasure available in area 8 will be in the unknown depths of the lake.

Aquatic Turtle Rat (LL-style)
Size: Medium
No. Enc: 1d8
Align: Chaotic
Move: 120’
AC: 5
HD: 2
Att: 1 or 2 (claw, bite)
Damage: 1d6, 1d6
Save: F4
Morale: 8
HC: V or VI

9. The floor of this cavern is an odd combination of backed earth and loose sand and aquatic shells. A small pool is centered in one side of the room and a door hangs in the wall opposite the pool.

(The cavern may be home to a nesting Aquatic Turtle Rat, see notes for room 8. Close inspection of the floor around the door will reveal evidence of frequent use by some one, or something, carrying and spilling oil. The caver may also contain 1d4 small creatures from room 24.)

10. The packed sand floor here is littered with 2d20 jagged shell fragments, soaked with 2d10 gallons of a pungent oil and marked with depressions and furrows. Traces of sand, shell, and oil may also be found in rooms 9 and 11

11. This cavern is a narrow catwalk over a pool of fresh water. The pool is three to four feet below the natural catwalk. Cavern halls exit this chamber on each cardinal point and lead up into the complex.

(There is a 50% chance that two guards will be found here. The guards will be: Lizardfolk fighters, level 3, HP: 3d6+1, AC: 4, they will each carry a spear and a club and 1d6 gems worth 10gp each. )

12. This dead-end cavern is packed with various barrels.
(This is the storage area for the priests and guards of the Cult of Athkore. Many barrels of rations and water are stacked into the back of the cavern. These goods will always be guarded by two Lizardfolk guards. See area 11 for stats for the guards.)

13. A canal of fresh water runs diagonally through this stonework chamber. A small stone walkway passes over the canal. The water flows from the top corner and exit at the opposing bottom corner.

(There is a 49% chance that two guards, as in area 11, will be in this chamber.)

14. Altar to a water deity. The altar is a small stone fountain of a fish spitting out water.

15. Roll 1d6 for room contents:
1-2. Roll a random encounter.
3-4. A member of the semi-clueless meatshields is here, determine randomly.
5-6. A member of the Bruise of the Closed Fist is here…

The chamber will always contain the following items; 1d6x10 cp, one silver dagger (+2), one busted shield, half full wine skin (fresh wine,) one worn but serviceable leather backpack, one torch, one scroll (determine randomly,) one 100gp gem.

16. Three cots occupy the center of this room and objects of domestic life are scattered about.

(Domestic quarters for some of the guardians of the Cult of Athkore, this is the personal quarters for three guardians. The cots are spaced evenly to the right, left and center of the room; a crate sits in the right, upper corner of the room. The crate serves as a dining table and three barrels serve as the dining chairs.

Roll 1d4 to determine the current occupants of the room:
1. One guardian is here.
2. Two guardians are here.
3. All three guardians are currently off duty and occupy their chamber.
4. The room is unoccupied.

The guards who live here are:

Rum: Lizardfolk fighter, level 4, HP 19, AC 3: chain +1, bracer of protection [+1], trident 1d6+2, short sword 1d6+1.

Bull: Lizardfolk fighter, level 4, HP 17, AC 3: chain +1, amulet of protection [+1], trident 1d6 +2, short sword 1d6.

Skin: Lizardfolk fighter, level 4, HP 18, AC 4: chain, ring of protection [+1}, Short bow, 20 arrows 1d6+1, club 1d4+1, net.

Each will carry a coin pouch with 1d10cp, 1d10 gp. Under their respective cots there will be pouches with 1d12 gems worth 10 gp each. In the crate/dinner table there is a pouch of 1d20x10 gps and various discarded magic weapons. )

16a. (Entering the door from 15 or 16 b will trigger a bell in room 16 unless the trap/trigger is discovered and disarmed.)

16b. This ordinary wooden door is always locked.

(The lock contains a poison dart trap. The poison will cause paralysis, -3 chance to save.

This room is the personal quarters of Lo-Rae Leatherhide, Lizardfolk cleric of Chaos who will occupy his quarters 25% of the time.

Lo-Rae Leatherhide, Lizardfolk Cleric of Chaos, Level 6, HP 28, AC 3; chain +1, Helm of Protection +1, Heavy Flail 1d8+1. Spells: Cause Fear, Cause Light Wounds, Protection from Good, Hold Person, Silence, Resist Fire, Animate Dead, Cause Disease. Lo-Rea carries the key to his room on a length of leather around his neck.

Lo-Rae’s quarters are simple, furnished with a cot, a crude wooden table, a chest containing spare armor, unholy vestments and discarded weapons. The chest has a false bottom hiding one bag of 1d20x10 gp and a second bag of 1d20 10gp gems. )

16c. This simple wooden door is also locked at all times.

(This is Lo-Rea’s closet in which he hides his small library and various supplies. Supplies will include; one half barrel sour red wine, half barrel dried fish [for slow days at the office,] half barrel fresh water, abandoned bones of random origin. A crude shelf houses these tomes: The Basic Philosophic Nature of Holy Chaos [including all first and second level spells for chaotic clerics,] Doctrines of Chaos, Fear and Personal Conquest, Sacrificial Perpetrations & Cooking for the Uninhibited Omnivore, Illustrated Rituals and Techniques of Lizardfolk Procreation. All are written in varying combinations of Goblin, Lizardfolk and Draconic and should fetch handsome prices from collectors of rare books.)

17. The Offering Room
An enormous dragon head has been hewn from the rock in this room. 2 enormous geodes form the eyes and 20-1d8 elephant tusks have been fashioned into teeth. They could be worth quite a bit to an ivory dealer. There are two fountains filled with poisoned water on each side of the entrance at the top of the stairs. The walls have crude paintings of Troglodytes worshiping, or at least paying homage to, the dragon sculpture. A female Troglodyte leads her followers on the north wall and a male Troglodyte leads his on the south wall. Each is leading their groups to the head of the stone dragon.

Normally the troglodytes will bring their sacrifices and gifts to Garth to this room. If he's feeling up to it (40% chance he is) he'll actually make an appearance but usually he just growls from the back of the cave and scares his fans away.

It is possible to walk through the mouth and into the throat of the sculpture. The throat of the sculpture has a 3' wide hole at the end opposite the mouth and a pair of curtains over the passages in the middle portion that offer access to areas 18 and 19. Garth uses these to hide in the mouth when his troglodyte worshipers show up. Otherwise he'll just stay in room 20 and speak through the small hole.

Very few, if any, Troglodytes have ever dared venture beyond rooms 2, 3, 4 & 17. One shaman explored beyond the mouth of the stone dragon and became the next day's dragon shit.

18. This ordinary hallway is constructed of quarry stone. Unbelievably, the servants of Athkor keep their quarters clean and Spartan.

The door into area 20 is enchanted with a magical trap and always appears locked. Any attempt to unlock the door will teleport the individual touching the door to the head of hall 19. Any contact with the door without use of the password, "dog nipples", will transport the individual in contact with the door to hall 19.

As adventures are trapped in this puzzle there is a good chance that guards from areas 16 or 21 will enter these halls.

19. Identical to area 18, except the resulting location of teleportation is now the head of hall 18.

20. The insubstantial doorway opens into a cavern of average size. The cavern floor is flat and level, without the obstacles of stalagmites. One wall juts into the center of the room thus creating twin recesses behind this odd outcropping. (Based on traditional cardinal directions this would be the west wall, the back wall of Area 17.) The wall opposite the outcropping is six feet high; above this point a long row of spears can be seen in the opening between the two caverns. Two short passages in the north and south walls join this cavern chamber with the one above.

Cavern 20 is a small subsection of the cavern that is area 21. The ceiling in these caverns is, at least, twenty feet above the cavern surface. These chambers are the environs of Athkore and his Troglodyte and Lizardfolk servants. Barrels and crude tables furnish area 20 and the Lizardfolk warriors who guard this entrance to Athkore’s quarters. Three or four Lizardfolk warriors will always be present here. Fifty spears rise above the six foot section of wall; it is unlikely that any player-characters will have time to count them. Stats for Lizardfolk warriors are included in the notes for Area 21.

21. This spacious cavern is six feet above the adjoining cavern; it is an oddly shaped and narrow diamond. A set of double doors occupies the center of the wall opposite the entry passages from area 20. The briefest glance into this cavern will prove that there is much steel displayed here.

One Lizardfolk guard is stationed on each side of these double doors and twenty-five spears are mounted along the corresponding section of wall. These two guards are each armed with a shortbow, mace and shield. Two to eight more Lizardfolk warriors will be guarding or passing through this chamber at all times. [Roll 2d4 to determine.] The Lizardfolk warriors will be equipped in one of the following forms:

Group A: Fighter Level 3, HP (3d6), AC: 4 chain & shield, trident 1d6+1, short sword 1d6.

Group B: Fighter level 3, HP (3d6), AC: 5 chain mail, short bow 1d6, mace

Group C: Fighter level 3, HP (3d6), AC: 5 chain mail, trident 1d6 and net.

At the top of this narrow diamond is a smaller cavern used for food storage. The Lizardfolk sustain themselves with these, more civilized, nutrients when necessary; Five kegs ale, five casks wine, three barrels dried fish, two barrels fresh water. The water, wine and ale may be sour, behind all these barrels is a small, forgotten barrel containing 1d6x100gp. Various, abandoned weapons and armor litter the larger section of the cavern.

Three trophies of Athkore's influence outside his grotto are displayed at the far end of the cavern (south). An oaken throne gilded with gold is the center trophy. To the right of the throne is a set of full plate mail, to the left of the throne a claymore hangs on the wall.

The throne weighs 250 lbs. (or more) and is valued at 1000gp. The plate is of an antique design and is magic, +1 to defense.

The claymore is cursed and is guarded against detect magic spells. When detect magic is attempted have player roll a Aave vs. Magic at -3; a successful save will reveal magic but not the nature of the curse. When removed from the wall, the claymore appears light and well balanced but weighs 5 lbs. heavier the next day. On the third day the sword will begin to tarnish with small rust pits on the blade. The fourth day of possession of the claymore will require a Save vs. Magic at -1 or cause the player to attack a comrade in berserk rage. If the save is successful; on the fifth day a second saving throw must be made, at -2. This pattern of saves and increasing chance of failure will continue each day until the cursed weapon is abandoned.

22. A large (4' tall) bronze toad stained green with tiger-stripes of oxidation perches on the 8' tall ledge located at the north-west corner of this triangular cavern area. The toad gazes balefully at the stairwell in the triangle's south-east corner that leads to Room 23 while puffing on its bronze hookah. Anyone who attempts to examine the idol too closely may (base 40%) activate its non-magical trap, causing the toad to quickly (1d2 rounds) fill the entirety of the room with thick, musky and hallucinogenic vapor. Those afflicted (failed CON save) will act as though under the effects of a Fear spell for 1d6 turns.

23. Dragon's Grotto
This open roofed area is where Garth likes to do most of his hanging out and thinking. He'll also leave the dungeon from here since there is a very large (almost as large as the floor) opening in the roof. A pool of water collects in the northeast corner. A ledge runs about 15 feet above the main floor and offers access to the other caves. Garth can easily climb this and often does. Vines and other vegetation cling to the walls and partially obscure the opening from the air. If Garth is on a generous/cruel streak he'll let Breygataya spend some time in here. He'll amuse himself by watching her try to climb the vines or fret about her situation. It's a treacherous climb of at least 80 feet to the opening. PCs descending from above will have to rappel into the space provided they could find it.. It would be extremely difficult to rappel onto the ledge and would involve some swinging.

24. This cavern holds survivors and descendants of a former menagerie. Each alcove, passage and fungal bloom is home to 1d3-1 different small creatures.

25. This passage is scorched, reeking and scattered with 3d6 heaps of corroded or dissolved matter, formerly either 1) animal, 2) vegetable, 3) mineral or 4) as yet unclassified. The clinging residues, dusts and sands are easily stirred and highly irritant. Each step is 3d4 feet high at its lowest point and prone to sudden collapse.

26. These passages are home to 2d4 ghouls. Paralysis begins a transmutation to gold lasting 1d20 turns. Each ghoul has within its gut 1d3 gold nuggets, each equivalent to 2d20 gp.

27. This chamber holds a vast cluster of fleshy growths, fixed in place and feeding on minerals and microscopic living matter welling up through cracks in the rock. It is the primary source of sustenance for the ghouls. Of its vast mass, 2d8 hanging nodules are solid gold, each equivalent to 1d4 x 1,000 gp.

28. The great stalactites and stalagmites here are almost pure gold; 1d3 of the stalgmites partially cover a human skeleton. The floor is spread with 2d6 large heaps of rubble, each containing 1d6 nuggets, each equivalent to 1d100 gp. The soft metal pillars are slowly compressing; each cry or clash of arms within the area has a 1 in 6 chance of causing a collapse, with each occupant then having a 1 in 6 chance of being struck and suffering 2d6 damage; one new heap of rubble is created per strike, or one heap otherwise. 

29. This small square room appears to be a small lobby. Directly opposite the double doors, a line of columns separates the lobby from the passages beyond. The lobby is flanked on each side by walls with two sets of simple double doors; these are simple, ornamental interior divisions.

30. A hallway. (This is the main traffic area for Lizardfolk guards who serve Athkor; there should be at least two guards in this hall at all times.)

31. Twin double doors open into this dormitory lined wall to wall with bedrolls.
(This is the dorm for the troglodyte monks which serve Athkor. 1d6+1 troglodytes are always present here; these will be first level clerics with one third level cleric. They will have access to these spells: cause light wound, cause fear, protection from good, hold person, curse, and will be armed with spears and clubs. Combat in this room will attract more combatants from area 32; any treasure here or in area 32 will be insignificant, as service is the reward of the monks. There is a 1-in-6 chance that a Troglodyte hazing ceremony is commencing in the Troglodyte meditation room in 31a.

Troglodyte clerics: level 1, HP 2d6, AC 4 (+1 bracers), spear 1d6, club 1d4.
Troglodyte cleric: level 3, HP 4d6, AC 4 (+1 bracer), spear 1d6, mace 1d6+2.)

32. (This room is nearly a mirror of area 31. This is the dorm for the Lizardfolk monks which serve Athkor. 1d6+1 lizardfolk are always present here; these will be first level clerics with one third level cleric. They will have access to all first and second level cleric spells armed with tridents and clubs. The third level monk will have a Wand of Magic Missile with 2d10 charges. There is a 1-in-6 chance that a Lizardfolk hazing ceremony is commencing in the Lizardfolk meditation room in 32a.

Lizardfolk clerics: level 1, HP 2d6+1, AC 4 (+1 bracers), trident 1d6, club 1d4.
Lizardfolk cleric: level 3, HP 4d6+1, AC 3 (+1 bracer, +1 chain), trident 1d6+1, club 1d4, Wand of Magic Missile 1d6+1.)

33. This is a small clerical office; the door to this room is rarely closed.

(This is a guard station for area 34; four Lizardfolk guards will be stationed at this end of the hall at all times. The guards will be armed as Group A from area 21 or at the DM’s discretion.)

34. This section of natural cave passages is littered with chests, boxes and devices of storage.

(The monks keep Athkor’s treasure very organized; five chests contain 500 gold pieces each, one chest contains 580 silver pieces, an pottery urn contains 200 platinum pieces 470 electrum pieces are stacked neatly on ornate oak bookcase, 457 copper pieces line the lower shelves of the bookcase. Two small chests contain gems and magic items; one chest holds 700 gold worth of gems packed in seven bags, the second chest contains one Potion of Giant Strength, one Potion of Climbing, one scroll of Lightning Bolt, ten +2 cross bow bolts, one Bow +1, Helm of Alignment Changing. Lastly, an ornate oak and gold staff is propped against the bookcase; this is a Staff of Healing.)

35. Jail cell. This locked, unguarded cell is the current home of Breygatya, the lost lass from The Trouble With Troglodytes adventure. She is a bit malnourished and her clothing is dirty and ragged but she has come to no significant harm. However, occupancy in this cell is cursory to her induction to the outer horrors of Athkor’s Grotto.

36. This natural cavern is a jumble of tightly packed boulders. The rocks, averaging four feet high and wide, are spaced only three feet apart.

One to four Shadows [LL p. 93] are hiding within this cluttered passage. If any player thoroughly investigates the tight maze they will discover an additional passage, exit that is well hidden in the back of the cave.

37. This natural cavern forms a twisting passage which leads to a slightly larger chamber.

This cavern is a grisly trophy room of the servants of Athkor. Every eight feet a totem, the remains of some humanoid mounted on a post, is anchored into the floor of the cave. There are five totems, two in the entrance hall and the rest in the chamber. There is a 25% chance that 1d4 NPCs, from Area 38, will be here.

The first two totems each wear a battered breastplate and are crowned with worthless helmets. The right arm of each is pegged to a cross bar as if readying for a defiant attack. Battle worn sword belts now help hold these skeletons on their scare-poles. Each breastplate is inscribed with a crude moniker; the first reads, “Erik of Averoan,” the second says, “Able, no more.”

The third skeletal totem wears a long and tattered robe. Both arms are raised and a wooden wand is clasped in the gnarled right hand. A crude plaque, hung around the skeletons neck reads, “Wil th wiserd.”

The next totem is a corpse; long thin, dully colored hair hangs from the emaciated skull to a light chainmail shirt. The abdomen of the corpse is bear with a chain skirt covering the hips where a stout leather sword belt drapes uselessly. The title of the corpse is carved into the forearms; the right arm is carved “Joan,” the left arm is scribed “of Arkon.”

Two corpses are stacked and tied to the last totem. On the bottom of the macabre relic is the corpse of a dwarf, still dressed in the tattered rags and chain battle gear. The dwarf’s hammer, raised for an attack, now rests in the lap of his faithful Halfling companion. Above the Halfling’s decaying head a plaque has been nailed to the pole; with the message, “2 li’l pigs.”

Behind the totems, against the far wall, is a cage which contains a giant scorpion [LL p. 93] and a tall, square cage which is empty. (—Add more caged beasts as you, the DM, see fit.—)

38. Rogue Camp – A series of twisting caverns range from five to ten feet wide. These caverns are the quarters for a rogue band in the employ of the Cult of Athkor. The rouges are lead by a Lizardfolk Magic User named Zarqua and his Man at Arms, Lin. Their band will consist of no less than 2d4+3 fighters; as follows:

Trog fighters -- Level 3, HD 3, AC 3 banded mail and shield, Attack spear 1d6, short sword/hand axe 1d6, Hoard 1d20 cp, 1d10 sp, 1d6 10gp gems each.

Lizardfolk fighters --Level 3, HD 3, AC 3, Attack scimitar 1d8, light crossbow 1d6, Hoard same as Trogs.

Zarqua -- Lizardfolk Magic User level 6, HD 6d6, AC , Spells by level 2/2/2. Spells available; charm, magic missile, shield, sleep, detect good, esp, Levitate, mirror image, web, dispel magic, hold person, protection from good 10, protection from normal missiles, hast.

Zarqua wears a dirty grey robe with red and black stitching. His eyes and features have the look of stern, intelligent leadership. Most strangers will become subject to the fighting pit in area 39 but Zarqua will allow them a moment to plead for their lives. He carries a Wand of Diminution which he likes to use when capturing new fighting slaves. His personal quarters are in Area 40.

Lin – Lizardfolk fighter level 6, HD 6, AC 3 +1 chain and shield, Attack scimitar 1d8+1/+2 against Humans, light crossbow 1d6 with 8 +1 bolts. Hoard: 1d20 sp, 1d20 gp, 1d20 10gp gems.

39. Fighting Pit – This large chamber is poorly lit, if lit at all.

This is the fighting pit of the rogue encampment. Used for the entertainment of the rogues and off duty cult guards, prisoners captured during village raids are frequently initiated into the fraternity of the pit. Cages for men and humanoids line the outer walls of the cavern; random beasts are kept in separate cages. At least one to six human and demi-humans will be caged here along with a variety of medium or large sized creatures and goblinoids. Zarqua and Lin enjoy pitting the men and goblinoids against giant insects.

40. Zarqua’s Quarters – Behind the unlocked doors these civilized quarters, by dungeon standards, are lit by an oil lamp. A moderate sized bed fills the center of the room. Furnishings include a table and bookshelf. A scantily clad Lizardfolk female lounges on the bed. A tapestry illustrating acts of human coitus is hung on the wall behind the bed.

Zarqua’s personal wealth, library and Ajarla, his lizard love, are housed here. There is a ceramic urn containing 250 gp and the tapestry should fetch 500 gp. The bookshelf contains his spellbook and his personal copy of Illustrated Rituals and Techniques of Lizardfolk Procreation, one scroll: Ward against Undead, one scroll: Ward against Magic, a small, velvet lined brass box containing: a treasure map valued at 3600 gp, one potion Animal Control, one potion Healing and one potion Clairaudience.

Ajarla is armed with a +1 chainmail bikini, a scimitar +1/+2 against human, a light crossbow with nine +1 bolts and a dagger +2/+3 against goblinoids. If she is subdued she will command a handsome reward at a slave auction.

Arjala – Female Lizardfolk Fighter, level 5, HD 5 (25), AC 3, Attack as above.

41. This large cavern is a grisly dumping ground for sacrifices and unfortunate adventures. The servants of Athkor deposit most of the remains of sacrifice or disposed adventures here.

There are five shallow, open graves here containing corpses and skeletons. Before they are laid to rest, the unfortunate victims are stripped of all possessions except clothing and random items of very little value. i.e. rusty daggers, random jewels, copper pieces, etc. An army of Carnivorous Beetles lives within the graves and corners of the cavern.

Carnivorous Beetle: # 2d10+5, Move 120’, AC 3, HD 3d6, Attacks 1, Damage 2d6, Save F1, Size 2.5’+.

42. This large room is another dormitory; bedrolls and domestic items litter most of the floor space. An unfinished hall extends from the center of the north wall, progress on this project has been long abandoned. (1d4+1 Lizardfolk guards will occupy this dorm at all times.)

43. This chamber is littered with loose stone and bones; a crude barricade of stone crosses the center of the room, east to west. The center of the barricade, a combination of stones and skulls, appears to be fitted together loosely and may be cleared away easily.

(The southern portion of this chamber is the tomb for the servants of Athkor. Crude graves line the floor; none are fresh. Only the Lizardfolk servants are buried here. They are buried with old, mundane weapons, long rusted. A few copper pieces and 10 gp gems may be left in or around the graves as tribute to unknown daemons of the Lizard/Dragonfolk neither world.)

44. Elvin runes are carved into the stone work above this door. The runes are stained and caked with a variety of brown filth, much of which is probably dried blood. The door to 45, across the hall, is similarly inscribed and desecrated.

The runes read, “The last resting place of Merlanius the Malign.” The runes above 45 state, “Morlanius’ Horror.” The wooden door is wedged tightly into the frame but should eventually open with a bit of effort.

In the center of the room is a hand carved sarcophagus, highly detailed with geometric patterns, symbolic of a life of luxury and power. The lid has been pushed to the floor and broken, likewise, the skull of the skeleton rests on the hipbones. Rags, once a luxurious burial gown, litter the sarcophagus and floor near it, any valuables have been looted long ago.

The walls of the chamber are covered with graffiti in the script of the Lizardfolk. Among comments about the nature of Merlanius personal life, the phrase, “Daemon Namer” is frequently repeated.

45. This small room is an abandoned pocket of Athkor’s grotto. The door in the north wall was long ago barricaded with masonry, rendering entry through this portal nearly impossible.

“Merlanius Horror” is carved into the stone above the east door. The script is Elvin and is now covered in various dirt and filth.

In the center of the room, facing the east door is a stone statue the size and resemblance of a bear standing on its hind legs. Inspection will reveal that the statue was gilded with gold but has been stripped. Also, the creature appears to be a mammal/dragon hybrid with the head and forelimbs resembling a badger, the torso and hind legs of a dragon, and the short tail of a crocodile.

Merlanius Horror; a giant badger and dragon hybrid created by the magical arts of Merlanius. He was never able to fully control the beast and had banished it into a state of limbo by trapping it in a looking glass. HP: 5d6+, AC: 6, Attack; physical: 3d6, claw, claw, bite, Special Attack: psionic.

The looking glass has been left behind the statue of the Horror. Anyone peering into the looking glass will not see their own image, but will see the Horror, creating a link between the physical world and the limbo where the Horror is trapped. The Horror may then use a psionic ability, like a Create Fear spell, on the individual it has observed through the mirror. Successful use of the psionic ability will allow the Horror to return to the physical plane and continue psionic and physical attack on all!

As Merlanius Horror is a magical creature, it can only be hit by magical weapons. Also, DMs should adjust the AC as they believe necessary.

Optionally: The servants of Athkor have destroyed the mirror which now litters the dungeon floor. This will allow for varying methods of returning the Horror to the physical plane. Perhaps the tattered remains of Merlanius’ research notes were left in his tomb or hidden in a compartment in the statue?)

46. This cavern contains three stone work walls on the right, (of the map) left, and bottom. Set in each of these walls is a plain wooden door.

46a. There is a 1 in 6 chance that another victim of the teleportation trap (area 7) will be in this room, 1 in 8 chance that this person or thing is still alive but near death, and a 1 in 10 chance that the victim is healthy.

46b. Setting foot in this room causes teleportation to area 25.

46c. Setting foot into this room causes teleportation to a random location outside this dungeon. This is the safest option possible.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Magic is Magical. And Magical Things Are Dangerous.

I just read this blog post by fantasy author N.K. Jemisin: But, but, but — WHY does magic have to make sense? In it, she makes several excellent points about how RPGs have impacted fantasy fiction because they have trained us to think of magic in terms of systems, and that systems of magic take away the one thing that makes magic special: it's unpredictability. While she is specifically dealing with fiction where magic just "is", this criticism got me thinking how we can mirror unpredictability in a game by dismantling some of the systems around it. But because this is a game, we still need a system of some sort--just one that results in wide unpredictability.

Traditional D&D games and their retroclones approach magic as a knowable science in actual play--and even though the 1e DMG clearly laid out that their is great personal & material cost to a PC in gaining spell levels and doing magical research, most folks throw those out the window and concentrate just on how which and how many spells their character knows. This, quite frankly, seems to be roots of all the min/maxing we saw in later editions of the game. Great care needs to be taken to select the right spells for the right time, and then all a player has to do is cast the spell, rest up a night to "recharge" and then they are all hunky-dory to go out and cast again. But that really isn't Vancian magic.

Vancian magic as presented by Vance in his Dying Earth stories is HARD. It takes effort, it takes time, and the results might never be what the caster intends. In fact, this is a trait shared by many of the fantasy writers presented in Appendix N. The only true "Vancian" part of Vancian magic is the "use it and lose it" portion--which I suspect Gygax inserted into the game to limit the ability of spell-casters to be walking human Howitzers.

Various attempts have been made to get away from the memory-based Vancian magic system because as players, we want to be the powerful wizard because fantasy wizards are cool. They cast fireballs and wield lightning and can summon beings from the beyond the planes--how fracking awesome is that?!?

But we forget that wizards are not all about the casting of magic to show they can wield power--the harnessing of the mystical power that is magic comes at great price physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A caster never knows if he or she has gotten a spell or ritual right, and thus the outcome is never certain. Success is hoped for, but often times things go awry. This is a common trope among most fantasy stories that fall into the Sword & Sorcery genre.

And clerics? Sometimes they doubt. Sometimes their faith fails them. Sometimes they become afraid. They lack conviction. They just go through the motions. They haven't been faithful to their vows. In the face of great evil, they may lose control of bodily functions. Or perhaps their god isn't paying attention to them right now.

So how can we mimic the unpredictability of magic?

Jack over at Tales of the Grotesque & Dungeonesque proposes this:

To cast a spell, the character must make a successful Saving Throw vs. Spells to see if they have properly marshaled and controlled the forces of magical power. This Saving Throw gains a bonus or penalty based on the level of the spell-caster and the level of the spell being cast; simple subtract the level of the spell being attempted from the spell-caster's level to find the applicable bonus. This Saving Throw is further modified by the character's ability score bonus or penalty for whichever ability score governs their spell-casting ability. For example, a 5th level magic-user with an Intelligence of 16 attempting to cast a 3rd level spell would get a +4 bonus to their Saving Throw (+2 for level, +2 for Int bonus).

If the spell-caster fails their Saving Throw, the eldritch energy required to fuel the spell fails to materialize (and thus the spell does nothing), but the caster retains the spell's formula and may attempt to cast it again on a subsequent round. However, if the player rolls a 1 for this Saving Throw their character has lost control of the magic they were attempting to harness and must then roll on the Magical Mishap table found below.

Using this alternate system a character may also attempt to cast a spell from a scroll or grimoire that is higher than the level of spells they are able to memorize. For example, a 3rd level magic-user attempting to cast a 5th level spell from a scroll would take a -2 penalty to their Saving Throw. Any failed Saving Throw during an attempt to cast a spell of a higher level than the character can normally use results in a roll on the Magical Mishap table.

Jack then provides his own Magical Mishap Table, which is pretty awesome. Go read it and see for yourself.

I like this system because it's tight and the mechanic fits into the concepts of checks & saves that are already built into the game. But I want to drop the whole idea of retaining spells. As I mentioned, Vancian magic is too pat a system. Too easy. Too . . . predictable.

Instead of a Vancian system or a spell points system or a manna points system, let's boil it down to two things: magic (natural or divine) depends on 1) the caster's latent magical ability and 2) the magic being attempted. So how do you account for these things in the game?

Jack's Saving Throw method accounts for the the role of the caster. But his proposal only solves part of the unpredictability problem. Shouldn't there be side-effects for successful casting, too? Hell yes there should. Because magic is dangerous. You gotta be a bit off your rocker to attempt to harness the unseen powers that control the universe. You need to pay the price for having the hubris to think you can play at being a god.

I suggest that magic users & clerics may only cast from scrolls or spellbooks--no memorizing except cantrips & orisons, which are really just showy tricks and minor useful effects. Per the SRD, a spellbook has 100 pages of parchment, and each spell takes up one page per spell level. 0-level spells (cantrips & orisons) take up one page per spell. DMs should put a reasonable limit on known cantrips & orisons--I suggest no more than 2 per level until 4th level, at which point they just know all of them. Especially because we're gonna make their lives hell with what I propose below.

Let's then keep Jack's idea that a magic user (or cleric) can attempt any spell for his or her class regardless of his or her level or the level of the spell as long as the spell is in the character's spellbook or read from a scroll. Let me repeat that: any spell. They may attempt as many spells as they wish per day. As long as they are crazy enough to do so and don't mind the dangers inherent in mucking with the electrical goo that holds the universe together.

Because all spellcasting comes with risk. Always. Regardless of success or failure.

So, here's my edit of Jack's proposal:

To cast a spell, the character must make a successful Saving Throw vs. Spells to see if they have properly marshaled and controlled the forces of magical power. This Saving Throw gains a bonus or penalty based on the level of the spell-caster and the level of the spell being cast; simply subtract the level of the spell being attempted from the spell-caster's level to find the applicable bonus. This Saving Throw is further modified by the character's ability score bonus or penalty for whichever ability score governs their spell-casting ability. For example, a 5th level magic-user with an Intelligence of 16 attempting to cast a 3rd level spell would get a +4 bonus to their Saving Throw (+2 for level, +2 for Int bonus).

If the spell-caster fails their Saving Throw, the eldritch energy required to fuel the spell fails to materialize (and thus the spell itself does nothing to its intended target). The caster may attempt to cast the same spell or a different spell on a subsequent round.

Using this alternate system a character may also attempt to cast a spell from a scroll or grimoire that is higher than the level of spells they are able to memorize. For example, a 3rd level magic-user attempting to cast a 5th level spell from a scroll would take a -2 penalty to their Saving Throw.

If the spell casting was successful the spell works as intended, BUT the player must also roll on one of these side-effects tables created by Orrix: Random Magical Effects v1.2.pdf & Random Magical Effects v2.pdf

alt link for Random Magical Effects v1.2.pdf
alt link for Random Magical Effects v2.pdf

If the spell casting was unsuccessful, then the player must roll on this multi-tabled behemoth to figure out what the fuck happened (this table was originally found here and I simply printed it to PDF from my browser). Or roll on Jack's table. GM's choice.

Now we've made magic magical again! Cast a spell and see what happens! Unicorns & sprinkles for everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canned Unicorn Meat

You've probably seen this, but it still makes me laugh:

No foolin' - Unicorn meat is real!

Excellent source of sparkles!

Unicorns, as we all know, frolic all over the world, pooping rainbows and marshmallows wherever they go. What you don't know is that when unicorns reach the end of their lifespan, they are drawn to County Meath, Ireland. The Sisters at Radiant Farms have dedicated their lives to nursing these elegant creatures through their final days. Taking a cue from the Kobe beef industry, they massage each unicorn's coat with Guinness daily and fatten them on a diet comprised entirely of candy corn.

As the unicorn ages, its meat becomes fatty and marbled and the living bone in the horn loses density in a process much like osteoporosis. The horn's outer layer of keratin begins to develop a flavor very similar to candied almonds. Blending the crushed unicorn horn into the meat adds delightful, crispy flavor notes in each bite. We are confident you will find a world of bewilderment in every mouthful of scrumptious unicorn meat.

Unfortunately, due to restrictions on the importation of mythical processed meatstuff, we are unable to bring you Canned Unicorn Meat in the way the Sisters of Radiant Farms intended. When you open your can, you will find one tiny unicorn which has been appropriately sliced into its main cuts of meat. Simply use your Growth Ray to re-embiggen the unicorn before skinning it and processing its flesh. Or if you're lazy, just bring it to your local Mad Scientist-Butcher. He'll know what to do.

Radiant Farms Canned Unicorn Meat Specifications
  • 14 ounces of delicious unicorn meat, canned for your convenience
  • Imported from a small independent cannery in County Meath, Ireland
    Crunchy horn bits in every bite - an excellent source of Calcium
    Tastes like rotisserie chicken but with a hint of marshmallow sweetness
  • Easily spreadable for sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres, and more
  • Sparkly meat lends the unmistakable air of class and sophistication to your parties
  • Unlike other meats, unicorn fat is polyunsaturated and lowers your LDL cholesterol
  • Not yet approved by the USDA or FDA, but the nuns have eaten it for centuries and they're healthy as horses
(source: Think Geek)

But wait! There's more!

Unicorn Meat® Classic
Taste where it all started. The original flavor from 337 that turned the world on its tongue. It’s been called “The Miracle Meat of a Million Uses”. Available in the standard 12 oz. and convenient 7 oz. sizes.

Unicorn Meat® Low Salt
Since 986, providing you all that Unicorn Meat® classic taste with 25% less salt.

Unicorn Meat® Lite
This version of Unicorn Meat® Classic has 33% fewer horn bits and 50% less sparkles. That‘s why they call it Unicorn Meat® Lite!

Unicorn Meat® Hot & Spicy
Do you love Tabasco®, but don’t have a bottle handy to pour on your Unicorn Meat® Classic? Look no further. Unicorn Meat® Hot & Spicy is here. Not recommended for those of Lawful Alignment.

Unicorn Meat® Spread
If you’re a spreader, not a slicer, then Unicorn Meat® Spread is for you. Just like Unicorn Meat® Classic, but in spreadable form. Recommended for dwarves and halflings!

Unicorn Meat® Singles
Hooray for single rations! A convenient way to enjoy Unicorn Meat® Classic for those on the go or in retreat from undead.

Unicorn Meat® Singles Lite
A convenient option for those who desire an individual serving with 33% fewer horn bits and 50% less sparkles.

Unicorn Meat® Hickory Smoke Flavor
Ahhh, smoke flavor! There’s nothing quite like it. Combined with the great taste of Unicorn Meat® Classic, it’s downright powerful.

Unicorn Meat® with Bacon
Many people may be torn between having Unicorn Meat® Classic or bacon for breakfast. Why not have both? Case closed.

Unicorn Meat® with Cheese
The variations of Unicorn Meat® Classic go on and on. This one’s got the perfect combination of flavor.

Unicorn Meat® Oven Roasted Manticore
100% lean manticore. 100% manticore, 100% delicious. Suitable with stuffing at any Fest or as a sandwich on a Thursday.

Our druid friends will be happy to hear that starting this Autumn Fest, we will be distributing Imitation Unicorn Meat®, made from 100% pure ground Fire Mare with Mermaid Scales. It really DOES taste like the real deal! Look for it soon!

Unicorn Meat® Incorporated follows safe kill practices. All Unicorn Meat® products are produced in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Interplane Agricultural and Livestock Commission. All manticores used in Unicorn Meat® products are guaranteed 100% neutral alignment and raised in captivity on the Edible Plane specifically for Unicorn Meat® Incorporated. All manticores are required to fail saving throws before slaughter by magical means. No wild manticores are harmed in this process. Our customers can rest assured that Unicorn Meat® Incorporated takes the protection of rare species on the Prime Material Plane extremely seriously.

Radiant Farms is but one distributor of Unicorn Meat® Incorporated products. Our unicorn, manticore, and harpy lines are sold throughout the Known and Forgotten Realms under multiple brand names, including Skanky Seraphim, Greyhawk Grub, Koa Tua Sweets, and Waterdeep Farms. How do you know you are sampling one of our delicious products? Simply look for producer code T33L3 stamped on the product's freshness seal.

But what if you bought your Unicorn Meat® product from a reseller? How do you know that your Unicorn Meat®, Unicorn Meat® Oven Roasted Manitcore, and Crusty Harpy® Baked Snaks are the real deal? Well, just ask your serving wench or innkeeper! We pride ourselves on being the best and ONLY supplier of these fine products. Anyone selling imitation Unicorn Meat® products are dealt with personally and harshly by our legal team of Baphomet & Orcus, LLP.

If you are displeased with any of our fine product lines, we will be happy to refund a pro-rated portion of your purchase price. Simply place any unused product back in its original packaging, stuff it in a portable hole or bag of holding, and deliver any unused product via abiding mule to the dread gazebo near the Castle of the Mad Archmage.

Monday, June 18, 2012

More Material for Your Old School Marvel Game

I'm a fan of the Marvel Super Heroes Roleplaying Game published by TSR back in the 80s, the one that used the FASERIP engine. You know, this one:

You might even be familar with, where you can download most, if not all, of the official MSHRPG materials in PDF format. If you haven't heard of this site before, go check it out. Seriously--it is worth your time.

Anyway, this is all an introduction to get to my main point. This morning while doing some mindless googling, I stumbled across a few cool links. These have been around, but they are new to me, so I thought I would share:

Spider-Man's Guide to New York: Here, you can download a 109-page fan-made compendium of Spider-Man's world. Very cool.

Gaming Nerds R Us - MSHRPG Downloads Section: A fantastic resource of material--including adventures extracted from Dungeon and Polyhedron!

Game Nerds R Us - MSH Netbooks: A sub-forum of the above downloads section, this is an archive of 24 fan-compiled sourcebooks and adventures to use in with the MSHRPG. How cool is that? Included in this mix are 2 new fan-made adventures written by this guy over at Marvel Flipside:

And There Came An Age

Avengers Academy: The Worst is Still Unwritten

Both of these are flippin' fantastic! Hit the links under the pictures to download them from my Dropbox.

Oh, and go read this over at Ah, memories!

Save Vs. Dragon's Community Geomorph Project

Richard over at Save Vs. Dragon (he of the most excellent d30 DM Companion) is hosting a new community project with a twist: The Community Geomoprh Project. I'm not that great of a map creator, but I'm going to come up with something--and you should, too! Head on over to his blog and check out the details!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It Is Done!

The Community Project is done! Mostly by Marc Pavone. But still, it is done!

In the coming days, I'll turn it into a PDF for easy download.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


NOTE on 2014-01-25: This project has been canceled. See this post.

For the past two years, this blog has served as my small foothold in the OSR gaming community. I like to think I've done an admirable job of sharing with the community—the zine list and downloads page hopefully attest to that.

So now I've been thinking about starting a zine again—a compilation of stuff from the OSR/RPG blogosphere that I think is cool. I'm not going to be doing a lot of writing—no, I'm a better arranger, compiler, and editor (although I will need help with copyediting, most likely). Notice that I said "again." I founded and edited an online poetry zine for almost ten years. I retired the zine when the quality of submissions sank so low that I couldn't meet my self-imposed deadlines and kept sifting and sifting through the slush pile and second-guessing rejections until I got headaches. I was a one-man operation because I am a bit of a control freak. In 2009, I released only a single issue of the zine, and waited almost a year to make the end-of-the-road announcement I resisted for almost just as long: I finally had to admit that my desire to edit a poetry zine had wilted. But it wilted right at the same time my interest in old school D&D rekindled.

And now, almost three years later, I am feeling that itch again.

Yes, I have a few other projects on the burner, things I need to finish before jumping into a new endeavor. The Community Project: The Trouble With Troglodytes, needs to be collated, edited, and formatted for PDF (once it's complete, that is). A Hamsterish Hoard of Monsters is almost done; I'm still tinkering with final copyediting. I need to finish The Book of Lairs III and The Book of Lairs IV, two projects based on threads at Dragonsfoot—projects that have been sitting on my hard drive for almost two years in one state or another and that I need to just sit down and muscle through. I've got to do another round of copyediting to The Monastery of the Order of Crimson Monks to correct minor niggling errors. But these projects don't satisfy that itch.


I'm announcing a new zine called RENT ASUNDER! to be published in PDF and given away for free on this blog. The zine will adhere to an old school DIY aesthetic. It won't look as slick as Encounter or Oubliette or Fight On! Heck, I hope it looks half as good as The Manor and LOVIATOR and CRAWLzine and Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols.

A POD version might come later, but I'm more comfortable with PDF—and with 4 kids and a full-time teaching job, I don't have time to print, fold, staple and mail.

I've already got some great stuff lined up for the first issue, and I'm hoping to pump it out at the end of August as kind of a "back to school special."

I'll write a description/manifesto later, but for right now, here is what I'm thinking:

Each issue will have a specific theme. Here are the themes planned for first few issues:
  1. Big Ass Scary Spiders
  2. Hell Yeah Skeletons
I'm planning on 2-3 issues a year, published sporadically when I have collected enough material. If I'm able to get at least 2 issues out the first year, then I will pledge to give it a go for at least another year. I'm not making a long term commitment—maybe this will fizzle and die after the first issue. But I hope not.

Here's what I'm hoping will be included in each issues:
  • A feature article/rant that serves as an introductory centerpiece to the theme of each issue.
  • Tables. I'd love to have a table for each standard die, and at least 1 d30 table.
  • Some kinda dice-drop chart for you visual learners
  • Maps and/or Geomorphs
  • Monsters, Magic Items, Spells
  • A community-created or single-user generated adventure module (sandbox, drop-in, location-specific, whatever)
  • Artwork. I'm not an artist, so I'm relying upon the community here.
All monsters/items/spells statted using 0e/BX/1E stat blocks or a retro-clone's stat block style (Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinith Lord, or OSRIC; doesn't matter which). I'm not going to go through and standardize the stats. Besides, a decent DM/GM can adapt on the fly, dude.

Any OGL content submitted for publication not created by the submitter must have the Section 15 Copyright Notice included, if applicable (See

Each issue will be released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) License. (See This license only covers each compilation as a whole.

The zine will be modeled on a mashup of Footprints and the Candlekeep Compendium and Dyson's Dodecahedron and Lapsus Calumni and Secret Santicore 2011 and the maps from Monster Johnson. Kinda. Maybe. If I can pull it off. ( I'm too lazy to create links to the zines; you can find them on the zine list).

I'm going to try to compile everything in Google Docs as I assemble an issue. If need be, I'll export it to Word to do the heavy lifting. My hope is that, by using Google Docs, I can have some other people help me with copyediting without having to email a file back and forth a bazillion times. Once it's ready for release, I'll export it to PDF, drop it in my Dropbox, and post a link on the new RENT ASUNDER! page for download.

Now, here's where you come in. I'm only going to compile & edit this thing. The content will be created by YOU. I've already got stuff lined up for the first issue; I need content for issues 2 & 3. I want/desire/hope all content will be generated by solicitations and submissions from the OSR community. People post stuff on blogs, I read it, I ask to use it in the zine OR people can send stuff in.

If you have something that fits one of the announced themes (and I know you do because I read your blogs),  hit me up by submitting your work to mwschmeer atty-at gee-male DOT com.

What are you waiting for? Come on, you know you want to!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Community Project Is Almost Done!

UPDATE: It is done!

Since Marc Pavone has been hitting the comment button, The Trouble With Trogdolytes is almost complete! This has almost turned into a one-man show, folks. Marc is really flexing his creative muscles and creating some extremely interesting encounters--many of which tie back to stuff the other contributors have written, too.

Rooms 6, 12, 12b, 15, and 17 are all that are left. If you want to help out, it looks like this might be your final chance.

Come on over and finish this sucker!

Oh, and stand by for a big announcement tomorrow. Yeah, that's a teaser. You'll just have to wait for it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hartwell's The Veiled Invocation Has Been Released!

Dylan Hartwell, otherwise known as The Digital Orc, has a new adventure (or module if you are a real old schooler) for Labyrinth Lord for sale at all the usual outlets:

The Veiled Invocation

This adventure contains NPCs based upon characters submitted by various OSR bloggers. Mine's Vlark, a 3rd Level Dwarf. Dylan even went as far as to create ads based on the NPCs. Here's mine:

I just downloaded my copy from Go get yours today!

(note: the image of the ad isn't showing up in some versions of Firefox. I can't figure out why.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

All Hail Marc Pavone!

Marc Pavone has been hitting the comment button pretty heavily over on the Community Project: The Trouble With Trogdolytes. He's filled in nearly half the dungeon on his own.

Why not head over and see what he's added? While you're there, leave a room of your own!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hitting the Bottle Week PDF

David Lawson over at Weekend Wizardry just finished up his second annual week of posting a variety of magical containers under the heading "Hitting the Bottle Week".

With his blessings, I've compiled both series of posts into a PDF for easy use at your gaming table. You can download it from my Dropbox account here:

Hitting the Bottle.pdf