Thursday, May 31, 2012

Community Project -- Maybe The Battery Is Flat

Anybody got some jumper cables? The Trouble with Troglodytes needs a jump start! Come by and key a room and help get this sucker off the shoulder and back into blog traffic.



Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Post In Which I Embrace The Gnome

If you haven't heard of Gnome Stew, it's a kick-ass website with lots of tips and tricks for DMs. While they focus on current-edition gaming, a lot what they post and discuss can be adapted toward any edition or scenario. It's one of the best all-around sites for tabletop RPG tips & tricks (the other is Johnn Four's Roleplaying Tips).

Gnome Stew was holding a newsletter sign-up drive the past three weeks, and they were giving away over $200 worth of prizes to lure people into subscribing. The Grand Prize was a $75 gift certificate to DriveThruRPG.com and PDFs of two of their own publications.

Since I follow Gnome Stew via RSS using Google Reader, I didn't feel the need to subscribe to the newsletter. But then I thought about it some more. I follow roughly 250 blogs via RSS and I'm constantly missing cool stuff and playing catch-up (not all of those are RPG-related). So, I thought I'd subscribe to the newsletter, too, just to see if they were going to use the newsletter as a compendium of links to material they've posted on the site or if it was going to offer additional, newsletter-only features. Two of my non-rpg blogs do this--Next Draft and Back to Work's Bulk Bag.

And it's a good thing I decided to subcribe. I won the Grand Prize! w00t! Here's another sentence ending in an exclamation mark!

Many thanks to the random number generator at Gnome Stew for picking my subcriber number for the Grand Prize!

So what did I order with my winnings?
  1. Stuart's Weird West was the first thing on my shopping list.
  2. Simon Washbourne's Woodland Warriors core rules and supplements bundle. If you haven't heard of Woodland Warriors, it's like Troll Lord Games' Harvesters, only cooler because it uses the Swords & Wizardy Whitebox as its rules engine.
  3. I also added Dylan Hartwell's The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz and The Horrendous Heap of Sixteen Cities modules for Labryinth Lord to my shopping cart.
  4. Tim's Knowledge Illuminates, because you gotta support Tim. I think that's an OSR rule or something.
  5. Christina Lea's Snow, a multi-system statted module.
  6. DwD Studio's Trouble at Karam's Claim, a one-page module for 50 cents
  7. Trey's Weird Adventures. In print.
  8. Barrowmaze, also in print.
  9. Rob's Blackmarsh. Again, in print.
After all this, I still have around $4 left. But I'll save that for another day.

Man, you guys produce some great stuff. I'm glad I can support you on someone else's dime!

Oh, and while you are here, please stop by the community project and add a room.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Daddy Grognard's Cloak of Elviskind

Back in January, Daddy Grognard hosted a community project to stat up a new gonzo magic item, the Cloak of Elviskind.

I've pulled the descriptions together into a PDF and threw it in my Dropbox for you to download. Enjoy!




Also, be sure to check out my own community project, The Trouble with Troglodytes, and fill out a room!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Community Project: The Trouble With Troglodytes

[EDIT #2: IT IS DONE! Well, almost. It still needs a wandering monsters/random encounters table. I'll pull that together for the final PDF.]

[EDIT: A big fat "HELLO LADIES!" to those of you link-jumping from YDIS. Please feel free to follow pixie whistlebritches's lead and add your own distorted/gonzo/potty-humored room to the mix.]

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

Note #1: I reserve the right to edit entries.

Note #2: I'm thinking we need to call this the Marc Pavone Project if the rest of you bastards don't step up soon.


Some guidelines:
  • The theme is Troglodytes. Make of this what you will.
  • Use whatever retro-clone stat block you like for monsters & spells & magic items: Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, or OSRIC.
  • 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.
The wilderness encounters mentioned in the last paragraph of my intro might be the next community project if this whole thing is successful.

So, here we go:
THE TROUBLE WITH TROGLODYTES
map created using Dave's Mapper; click to embiggen

Thorstown has a problem. Every so often, a cow or two will be found slaughtered and half-eaten in fields that rim the dense woods surrounding the township. Chickens will disappear from their coops, never to be seen again. Old Jaansen the half-mute whispered of some kinda creeps up in the hills, but as he's usually drunk before midday no one ever paid him much attention. At least, they didn't until Svarli Lokisen's daughter disappeared in the middle of the night.

At first the farmer suspected his daughter had run off with that Hornugson boy from the next farm over, but his wife's fears were confirmed when a bloody, torn piece of Breygatya's dress was found hanging from a tree limb at the forest's edge. The villagers now suspect something snatched Breygatya in the early dawn hours when she was on her way to milk the cows. Flan Flurth says he heard something akin to dogs barking that night as he was stirring the embers of his kiln. He says he didn't know dogs could chant and it spooked him pretty good (Flan hasn't been particularly brave since the night the Reavers came and killed his wife and son before his eyes during one of their winter raids from across the sea).

And, even scarier, people are now beginning to say they're starting to take Old Jaansen seriously.

The PC's party has been asked to investigate Breygataya's disappearance. If they agree, they will eventually have a two-day slog through a terribly brambled woods they eventually come to this complex carved out of the side of a cliff at location #1.



1. Main Entrances
The two entranceways are fissures apparently melted through the sedimentary rock of the cliff. The double door across each fissure is formed of two sheets of an immensely thick leathery material, each sheet running between an iron clamp at the jamb and a vertical stake weighing several hundred pounds; the stakes are dropped side-by-side into deep holes in the middle of the entranceway, presumably using the padded iron grips driven into them at a great height. The jambs, sheets and stakes are webbed with flowing pictograms and geometric designs, scratched, stained or burnt into the surfaces. [Porky]

1a. Offal Pit
This small, confined space is filled with cast-off chicken bones, feathers and bits of dead chickens. The offal is knee-deep on a typical human. The smell is atrocious.

There are (2d4)crude fire-hardened wooden spikes set into the floor just below the level of the blood, feathers, etc.

Anyone walking through here risks getting wounded by a spike (1d2 damage, Save or infection). Each spike adds another 20% to the chances of each person hitting one of the nasty things, unless the explorers take precautions such as using a shovel or shield to scoop away some of the debris to reveal the spikes, or perhaps using a ten foot pole to test things out first, like when traveling over densely-packed snow.

There is a dirty blue ribbon partially buried in the still-moist and recently-added muck. It has blonde hairs caught in it, and can be identified as belonging to Svarli Lokisen's daughter, Breygatya, assuming anyone in the party knew the girl, or asks back in the village.

If old man Lokisen finds out about the ribbon he'll fly into a berserker rage and head off to the troglodyte lair all on his own, unless someone convinces him to cooperate with a larger group (CHAR mod, or Charm spell, or whatever).

Any relatives of Breygatya's who might be in the party gain a +1 bonus to all their attacks as though under the influence of a Bless spell, for the duration of their time in the lair. [garrisonjames]

2. Waiting Room
The atrium of this room is tiled with the finest marble, alabaster and granite. The sound of faint music can be heard from some unseen source. A sign welcoming visitors urges them to see the sights and enjoy the company of the dungeon's friendly inhabitants, but warns to avoid overstaying their welcome, as the owner is due back in a week.

Two archways, leading to 2b and 2d are labelled MEN and WOMEN respectively. Curtains made of heavy blue velvet hang in the arches, obscuring the view into each space.

Another 2 archways, leading to 2a and 2c are without curtains.

The entire space is well lit with candles in a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The chandelier weighs 2 tons, is made of pure electrum and holds 285 candles.

2a. Sitting Area
This sitting area is set up to meet the needs of VIP guests. The couches that line the walls are low enough so the sex slave that would normally be here may properly service the guests with oral sex and lap dances. In the corner marked with a star is a player piano that will play a short and lively tune if a coin of any value is dropped in the coin slot. The curtain that could not be seen from the central area is tied back behind the eastern edge of the arch.

2b. Men's Room
Behind the curtain is a squat toilet (popular in this region). A single corn cob (for one's sanitary needs) hangs from a silver chain just out of arm's reach of the person using the toilet. A spring that keeps the toilet clear runs below the room. There is a 75% chance that anyone using the toilet will drop something of great value into the drain. The item can be retrieved, but on removal the item will be dyed blue and reek of pine oil based cleaner, causing the eyes of anyone within 5 feet of the object to water. The watering will not inhibit vision or anything, but people who meet the person will be likely to ask why he/she is crying.

2c. Ladies' Room
This room is set aside for female VIP guests. Sadly, the room is not equipped for the oral pleasure of the guests. It is set up with a number of mirrors and vanity tables with comfortable benches for the ladies to primp and preen themselves. Perfumes, cotton balls, and a few kinds of makeup are available. These are of high quality and could be sold to prostitutes and ladies of the gentry. The curtain to this room is also tied back behind the left or right side of the arch. If the age of oldest person at the table is even, it is to the left side; otherwise it is tied to the right. A single statue of Adonis stands in the corner marked with the star. He is endowed with an erect, average size penis which is unlikely to get any attention. The statue is worth 1d6x1000CP.

2d. Wind of Ipecac
DO NOT GO IN HERE. Anyone parting the curtain will be hit with a blast of hot, noxious gas that causes them to immediately vomit. All others in the room will get a Save vs. Poison to avoid losing their lunch. Anyone holding a naked flame and parting the curtain will be greeted with a searing blue flame that causes 2d6+2 damage. The toilet in this room is clogged with troglodyte shit. There is no corn cob, or spoon. Anyone attempting to use this toilet has some serious issues.

All the curtains are made of the same blue velvet and could be sold for (1d4+(2(1d6+1d8))x1d10)+(1d12+1d20)x2 GP. [Marc Pavone]

3. Ogre Dorm
The outer walls of this room are made of heavy logs, assembled like lincoln logs. Long narrow windows are on the north wall. The floor and walls are bare, hard packed dirt. A firepit has been recently dug in the floor and is lined with stones. The air is smoky and damp. The rest of the inner walls are mostly dirt and roots, shored up by logs. The whole place has the feeling of a sod home common on the American Prairie. A spiral staircase, also made of roughly hewn logs, leads up to a hole in the ceiling. There is an archway in the southwest corner and three doors on the south wall. One leads to 5.[Marc Pavone]

3a. Ogre Bedroom
An archway in 3 leads down a small flight of stone steps to this sub room. A hearth made of mud bricks is on the west wall. Skins and haybeds are the only decor. The ogres, who spend their days on the platform at 4, spend their drunken nights here. There is only a 10% chance at night the ogres will be here, passed out. During daylight they'll be on the platform. For most of the night they'll be hanging out with Whizzer from room 8.[Marc Pavone]

3b. The Resting Place of The Unpleasant Truth
The door to this room is Wizard Locked, Held, spiked, and triple locked with 3 very difficult padlocks. The door is trapped to explode if it is opened during daylight hours. Should the players get into the room, they will find a leather bound book with only a few pages. The name of the book is The Unpleasant Truth. The pages reveal the following secrets, which can only be read in full daylight.

1) Whizzer knows how to reset the guillotine trap. If you pay him, he will reset it without fail.
2) The Ogres' game is a scam.
3) You shouldn't be reading this if you don't want to ruin the game.
4) Avoid the troll at all costs. He is in a room south of this room.
5) Ask your DM to read the descriptions for the treasures in room 8a, 20, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d and this room.
6) The secret word for the ogre's Bag of Holding is "Money". What did you expect? It's owned by an Ogre.
7) Everything you see on TV is a lie. In real life and in the game.
8) Grzzatch wears wool panties. That explains a lot.
9) I'm sorry, but Breygataya is in another dungeon.
10) Opening secret doors is a really bad idea.
11) Dial 606 0842 for a good time.
12) Whizzer's machine is a 302 Small Block Chevy V8. It's useless to anyone in this world. It came through a vortex similar to the one in the Troglodyte section of the dungeon.
13) Don't blame the Troglodytes for the problems in Thorstown. It's the young Green Dragon in the nearby caves you want.
14) Old Jaansen is stealing the chickens. He doesn't have sex with them. He steals and eats them out in the woods while he's making moonshine.
15) Ole, the Hornugson boy, and Bretagatya WERE in fact going to run away together because this place is just too damn crazygonuts.
[Marc Pavone]


3c. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The walls of this room stretch up into a bright white light. The light could easily be mistaken for sunlight and, unless the party knows for a fact that it is dark outside, the PCs will probably assume that the room is actually the bottom of a shaft leading up and out of the dungeon.

The light is actually an illusion, a side effect of the enchantment placed upon the ceiling which is about 50 feet from the floor.

Any PC or flying animal that finds a way to fly or climb up into the light will be destroyed the same way an item stuffed into a Bag of Devouring would be. Only it's very, very painful.

The effect takes place when the object ascending the room reaches a height of about 45 feet, but by the time it reaches 40 feet the light is so bright it obscures vision. [Marc Pavone]

4. Tower Defense
The roof of 4 can be accessed through a hatch from 8a or a spiral staircase from 3.

On the roof is a ballista with a pile of head-sized rocks next to it. There are 2 ogres standing nearby. One is wearing pointed toe shoes, bluejeans, and a spiked leather jacket. He has no sense of irony and takes thing at face value. The other is wearing a white tee shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the right sleeve. He is quiet and appears quite drunk.

The two of them have set up stone ring about 50 yards away. It is 3 feet high, 1 foot thick and about 6 feet in diameter. The ogres will make a bet with anyone for 10GP.

Taking the bet gives the contestant 3 shots at the ring of stones. If they can put 3 consecutive shots in the ring, they win a prize.

The ogres are carnies of the lowest sort and will demand 10GP up front which will be promptly put in a Bag of Holding worn around the one in blue jeans' hip. Once the fee is paid, you get your chance. The ogres will keep saying that the PC can keep trying if the last shot went in but the first one or two missed. The hits need to be consecutive, and paying for more chances is cool.

The ogres will even demonstrate how easy it is to do. They will take a few shots and manage to place 3 out of 5 hits quickly.

When the sucker takes the bet and pays his 10GP, the ballista is suddenly quite inaccurate, scoring a hit on a roll of 2, 3, or 13 on a d20. The ogres have a trick to the rig, and by some means put a little extra tension on the bow. When they step away the tension is reduced enough to affect accuracy. The PCs will probably give up quickly and anyone failing a check against Wisdom (or similar test) will feel that one more try is in order.

If they confront the ogres about the obvious shenanigans, the ogres will be belligerent and refuse to return any of the money. Should the PCs kill the ogres, their Bag of Holding will not give up it's contents without the magic word. If the PC miraculously wins, the ogres will give them a crude corn-husk doll that is anatomically incorrect.

Basically the DM should play this out like a carnival midway game. [Marc Pavone]

5. The Fallen Ones
Both doors are firmly held shut by (1d4) large iron spikes driven into them with the frantic force of a pair of would-be adventurers who were ultimately too late in their efforts to save themselves.

The doors are clearly moldy, slightly softened by the infiltration of a colony of dun-brown mold that reeks of stale cheese and molasses. A combined STR of 12 will snap either door into (1d4) pieces. The iron spikes are heavily corroded and worthless.

There are two bodies, mostly skeletons now, curled up on the floor. One is wearing battered, rusty and seriously rent chainmail that would cost more to fix than to replace it outright. The second skeleton is wearing the tattered remnants of a fur-trimmed robe and a cloak infested with glistening fungi that appear to throb and bulge slightly like blisters that breathe. There is a hammer with a broken haft, a short sword with the tip bent at a strange angle, two daggers rusted into their sheaths, and a wand. The wand has 1d4 charges and casts a random non-attack spell.

If anyone rummages around further, they will find a small pouch containing 3d6 pieces of raw, uncut green amber worth 6d4 GP, twice that to a magic-user or alchemist who knows how to use it to craft magical items. [garrisonjames]

6. Hut Museum
The floor is carpeted with commercial grade blue carpeting from wall to wall. There are lights hanging from the ceiling that buzz quietly and give the room an ever-so-slight greenish tint. Two raised platforms, 10'x40' in dimension and standing about 8" above the floor, are ringed with velvet rope. On each of the platforms is a recreation of various homes common during the late stone-age. Inuit, Viking, Native American, Scottish Highlanders, a Mongolian Yurt, and a sub-Saharan tent to name a few. Each diorama is outfitted with mannequins in appropriate garb, using tools found in each culture and depicting life in general for each area. There is at least a mother, father, son, daughter and infant of indeterminable sex in each setting. All are dressed in the local costume. Each display has a small plaque describing the scene, but most of the writing is illegible. Nothing of great monetary value can be found, but the whole experience is very enriching culturally and intellectually. Anyone making the effort to read the plaques and spend some time looking at the scenes will gain 100XP, or some other reasonable but small reward. [Marc Pavone]

6a. This Dungeon Sucks And So Does Your Mom
Sitting in the center of this room is an enormous troll, reeking of shit and AXE Body Spray. He is naked and sitting upon his enormous, warty nut sack. His cock is stretched out 15 feet in front of him like a baby purple worm larva. Balanced on top of his cock is an old Dell laptop from the 1992 line of computers designed to serve college students's needs for porn and hookups on craigslist, but with a price two divorced parents can afford. The computer is functional and currently turned on. The troll is typing away, cackling at his own jokes and punctuates each chuckle with fits of farting. Any time the troll farts (4 in 6 chance every 10 seconds) each PC in the room must make a Save vs. Poison to survive.

The PCs will recognize the computer for what it is, without fail. There is no saving throw for the PCs to make that will protect them from the knowledge that they are controlled by a bunch of stinky asshole gamers sitting around a table telling stories of fantasy and rolling dice like a bunch of pre-school children. When the PCs leave the room, they will be CURSED with ennui with the full knowledge that they have no control over their actions and they are likely to die without ever truly living. If any player has read The Kolbold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2, they will immediately recognize this plot hook as a direct ripoff of that story. They will be subject to suicidal thoughts because they actually realize that they really are wasting their time in masturbating their sad little ego.

It is impossible to hurt the troll, with any weapon or spell. He is completely lost in his own world of cruelty, gleefully trolling the internet and writing biting sarcasm and criticism in the comments sections of bulletin boards, YouTube, OSR forums and email to families who have recently lost a loved one to cancer whether the butt of his jokes deserve it or not. For the record, they deserve it. Even if they stab his balls with a flaming pitchfork or pour acid in his eyes, he will be unfazed as he is completely unable to be hurt.

Trying to speak to the troll only makes him mad because the interruption takes him away from his fun. He will lash out with the usual claw/bite/claw attacks but instead of doing damage with any hit, the PC taking the hit must make a Save vs. Death. Any PC who fails the roll is immediately killed; their body disintegrates and their soul destroyed. The character may not be resurrected or even wished back into being. The player in charge of a PC meeting this fate MUST tear up his character sheet and flush it down the nearest toilet. Since most gamers don’t know how to use a toilet they should throw the torn up sheet in the nearest storm drain. The player must then go home and sell all his gaming materials and get a life.

The troll only attacks as long as the PCs continue to speak to him or fight him. If they stop, he will too. The best course of action is for the PCs to leave the room quietly but even then they will be cursed. They will be doomed to hear the troll’s incessant laughter in their minds. This will cause total madness and suicide in 1d6 days. [pixie whistlebritches]

6b. Fungus Defense
In this short span of hallway, 8 large black circles are painted, 4 on the floor and 4 on the ceiling.

They have been treated with a Tinactin®-like anti-fungal powder and thus keep the glistening, horrifying fungus from breaching the passage.

Standing on the circles while barefoot cures those afflicted with athlete's foot. Scraping the paint away will allow the fungus monster to reach a few feet into room 6.

The scraped paint could be useful if it can be remixed into new paint and applied elsewhere. About 4oz of effective paint could be made from the scrapings. More could be made but with dodgy results. [Marc Pavone]

7. Fungus Among Us
Semi-sentient, glistening, blistery fungus (epicentre at 7a). The fungus has one tentacly growth per PC, plus one. Each tentacle has 1HD per PC, plus one. Hit bonuses, defence and saves can be worked out from there; your system's bound to have a chart for this sort of thing.

Tentacles will not attack anyone carrying or wearing the infested cloak from room 5. Tentacles will attack anyone with a naked flame for preference, and attempt to throw them toward 7b.

7a. Giant, infected-looking blood blister, with a shrivelled troglodyte inside. If the blister is burst, it showers the burster in fluid; the fungus lashes out at every PC not carrying the cloak, and then collapses in a shower of dead skin and ooze.

7b. This corridor is out of reach of the fungus. The door halfway along has been barred from the 9-10 corridor side.

7c. Stairs leading upwards. Anyone making for these while the fungus is still alive becomes its priority target, unless wearing the cloak from 5.

The fungus is, of course, infectious. Each of the following factors adds 10% to a character's chance to be infected while in this room:
  • wearing the cloak from room 5
  • being damaged by a tentacle
  • killing a tentacle while not carrying a naked flame
  • cutting open the epicentre while not carrying a naked flame
Infected characters suffer body-wide blisters, and -1 DEX and CON per hour. At 3 or less in both stats, they fall unconscious and their limbs start melting. At 0 in both stats, they bond with whatever flat surface or creature they're closest to, and I bet you can work out the rest.

Make up your own lurid descriptions and treasure. I'm sure you're a good enough GM for that. [Von]

8. Whizzer
Beaded curtains in the hallways block the view into room 8. Those willing to part the tacky things will be amazed by the junk contained within.

A crudely painted sign "Whizzer Wee's Junk Imporeum" hangs on the north wall. The room is choked with rickety shelves, bookcases, chests of all sizes and an enormous armoire with glass doors. A few glass cases run parallel a few feet from the north wall under the sign. They are lit with long glowing rods and showcase a few pieces of jewelry within.

Whizzer Wee will burst forth from area 8b any time someone enters area 8, pulling up his pants and tying a piece of rope to hold them up. He clears his throat and lays into a spiel about his magnificent and rare treasures. He'll ask if you saw his ad on TV.

Whizzer comes off as an uneducated, ugly redneck with lots of bad habits. None of these hide any ulterior motives. He really is an uneducated, ugly redneck. He swears constantly, but apologizes if f*ckin' ladies are present.

Whizzer has amassed an enormous quantity of real and imagined treasures, pilfered from the bodies of people killed in the dungeon and traded on his rare excursions out. If the PCs look long enough, they have a pretty good chance of finding any mundane, non-magical item they want.

Some treasures are more plentiful though:

Glass bottles, random color, holds 3d4oz of liquid. All of them are empty.

Swords, mostly short or long types. Mostly human origin. Nothing unusual about them.

Daggers. Long and pointy with decorative hilts and hand-guards.

All sorts of hand tools in usable but rusty condition.

Torches, lamps, lamp oil.

Bits of rope. Come in 3d20 foot lengths.

Knick-knacks, good luck charms, small toys, and other random items that would make a good gift abound. All sorts of materials. Make a request and Whizzer will spend 1d4 turns digging for it, promising to find just what you're asking for. Roll d100:

01-60 Whizzer finds just what you're asking for
61-80 Whizzer finds something close but not exact
81-00 No luck; Whizzer doesn't have it and never will.

Whizzer will set no price; he'll let you make an offer. He will always ask 10% more in return. There is a 50-50 chance he'll settle for less. Failure means Whizzer won't part with the item at the PC's offer.

Threatening Whizzer or outright attacking him is a bad idea. Whizzer and the ogres are good friends and often hang out in the evenings. Whizzer will blow an ogre whistle (only ogres can hear it) and they'll come running. The ogres will then beat the shit out of anyone in the room that is not Whizzer. If the fight is really awesome the ogres may get too excited and beat each other up, too. [Marc Pavone]

8a. This crudely dug out tunnel slopes up and down and connects areas 7, 8 and 4. This is all new construction and not originally part of the dungeon. This area may collapse if the PCs blow something up, use a Horn Of Blasting or similarly dangerous thing. A trapdoor in the ceiling leads to the floor of area 4. [Marc Pavone]

8b. Up the stairs and behind the beaded curtain is Whizzer's living space. The room is complete with everything a lonely hermit junk dealer needs to be happy. He has a stack of pornographic paintings of all sorts of naked things in graphic poses. There is a heap of scrolls, all with dirty jokes and stories. A great metal machine sits in the corner, half assembled and tools scattered about. It doesn't look like he'll ever finish fixing it, or taking it apart. It's unclear what he is doing with it. Dozens of clay jugs are in another corner, some empty and some full of foul, sour rotgut moonshine. There is a filthy mattress with wadded up crusty capes and sticky robes for blankets strewn about.

Under the mattress are a few magical items:

Amonhothep's Scarab
When pinned to the clothing of a dead body or effigy of some living thing, it will animate said thing. The dead body or effigy will act as a mindless servant, attempting to follow orders as literally as possible. Setting fire to the animated thing will destroy it quickly. The animated form can not be harmed by non-magical weapons. Play the rest by ear.

Hubble's Telescope
Looking through this telescope allows the viewer to see any place they have been and what is currently going on, but they will only be able to see what is going on in a 3 foot diameter circle. They can look around with some success, but will only be able to see what is going on in the circle. Trying to use the telescope to "travel" from one place to another (like using a camera on a drone) will cause severe motion sickness. Trying to look at a person to locate them in an unknown area reveals only what the person in question is doing. All other details will be cloudy. Looking at the sun with the telescope will set the user on fire and completely burn them to ash in one combat round.

Bernoulli's Principal Sack
Whizzer doesn't care about how much money he gets from his sales because of this bag. Any time a sum of money is put in the bag and the owner waits 1 week, when the money is withdrawn there will be MORE coins than put in. The coins put in may be of any type. If all the coins are the same, the withdrawal will yield 2d4% and if different coins are put in each type of coin will be increased by 1d4%. Round up fractions. Coins that are then taken out of the sack may be reinvested. Taking the coins out before the week is up will not yield the bonus coins. The sack may hold a deposit of up to 100 total coins. [Marc Pavone]

9. The Waiting Room
Furnished with chairs arranged in the center and around the perimeter, this room is a great place to take a seat and do some resting, or waiting for Whizzer (if the PCs have already met him) to find whatever it is they have asked for.

Muzak is piped in by a troupe of bards. They incessantly belt out mellow versions of popular court music. Thankfully they do not sing. They make their living doing this so they have left out a small hat for donations. The six skeletons clutching instruments and laying in a heap are a testament to previous adventurer's lack of appreciation.

PCs might want to pick up a scroll and catch up on their reading, even if the scrolls are literally over 100 years old and behind the times. There is a 6% chance that any scroll picked up will be of use to the magic users in the party. Give the players about a dozen chances to find something good, but don't let on what you're doing until they find something good. Only one scroll will be of use and it won't necessarily be a spell.

A minotaur wearing an Apache style head-dress, as imagined by a costume designer for a 1950's western aimed at children, is sitting in one of the chairs reading. He will make small talk or fight to defend himself. He fidgets uncomfortably for 1d4 turns until a doctor pokes his head out the door to room 10 and calls him in.

If the PCs follow there will be no sign of the doctor or the minotaur in room 10.

Later on, if the PCs pass through the area again the minotaur will walk out, thank the doctor, and then immediately attack the party. Still no sign of the doctor in room 10 though.

[HEY DM! Download and play this MP3 on repeat any time the PCs are in room 9. Play it just loud enough so it can be heard but not too loud. It should be played in that annoying level that you can't ignore but don't have to talk over. Play it on repeat. Every now and then, turn it up a little bit.]

If the PCs decide to kill the band, there are only 3 members, they fight as 0-level humans and only have 2 or 3 hit points. No gain to experience, no penalties, no bonuses, but at least the music stops. For now. If they return to the room, 3 new bards are there playing the same tune. Killing this group will put an end to the music. It will also make Whizzer and the ogres unhappy, but not enough to do anything about it. [Marc Pavone]

10. Storage Room
There are about a dozen oaken barrels in this room, scattered randomly about. 7 are upright and full of stinking, foetid water. The rest are on their side and empty. One of the tipped barrels hides a human female's clothes, a simple tunic and bodice made of wool and linen. A fistful of long, blonde hair accompanies the clothes. [Marc Pavone]

11. Msser. Guillotine Requests Your Presence in Room 13
Rooms 11 and 13 are supposed to be one room, but somebody tripped the enormous Mithril guillotine trap. The idiot in question is the bisected (from head to ass) and curled up in a grisly pile on each side of the guillotine. One half in 11, the other in 13. The body has nothing of value on it.

11a Behind a locked door is the reset system for the guillotine trap. There is a confusing and poorly labeled system of over a dozen levers on the west wall that do a few things. Each time the PCs mess with the levers, roll 1d6:

1: Part of the trap is reset. Mechanical clankings and clicks can be heard behind the west wall. (It takes 3 successful rolls of 1 to fully reset the trap)
2: The floor vibrates as the PCs hear the sound of chains dragging overhead. (Nothing happens otherwise)
3: The trap is sprung, or the reset process is undone.
4: The guillotine is momentarily lifted a few feet, then it slams down. If no PCs can see this, they simply hear ratcheting then an enormous THUD.
5: Roll again, another 5 is the same as a roll of 1. Anything else is the same as 3
6: The trap locks in place for 6 hours, up or down.

Once the trap is reset, the guillotine blade raises smoothly and clicks in place. Only using the levers, or terribly bad luck, will spring the trap.

The blade weighs 5 tons and is 2 feet thick at the top. The blade edge is kind of blunt (not razor sharp) and uses the weight of the whole thing to do its work.

It is pointless to label the levers, as they will do something random each time. Goddamn gnomes must have designed this thing . . . [Marc Pavone]

12. H
An enormous letter H stands against the north wall of this room, look over your left shoulder if you enter from the west and over your right shoulder if you enter from the east. Look straight ahead if you enter from the south.

To the left of the H is the rear half of an enormous spider, to the right is the front half of the same large spider. Both halves are sticking out of the wall. This spider is intelligent and will gladly explain what happened to it that caused the poor, poor beast to be trapped as it is.

Q: What happened to the spider?
A: Whizzer Wee happened to the spider.

Whizzer has no recollection of it, though, because the same thing that made the spider transposed and bisected as such sucked Whizzer's once formidable intelligence from his brain. Things have been going to hell in a hand basket rather fast since Whizzer drank those 600 random potions he had been saving. He drank all of them, over 20 gallons of random magic potions. Let me reiterate that. 20 GALLONS OF RANDOM MAGIC POTIONS. On a bet. A F*#KING BET. The ogres said he couldn't do it and being that Whizzer had an 18 Intelligence, plus a bonus for his magic hat, but only a 3 Wisdom, Whizzer was, as they say, long on smarts but no common sense. He was a sort of autistic idiot savant, able to determine the effects of potions just by smelling or sometimes even looking at them. Well, Whizzer had been saving potions and selling them to the adventurers who came calling. The ogres bet Whizzer he couldn't drink all the potions he had amassed and Whizzer took them up on it. He poured them all in a giant brass pot and buried his face in it.

It took 3 minutes to do, because many of the potions were HASTE potions, plus a few cursed potions that caused ravishing thirst. Whizzer gulped them all down and fell to the floor in a coma for 6 years.

When he awoke, the ogres remembered little but could recall that time stopped for a while, things started falling from the sky, rainbows shot out of any bag that was opened, dragons whistled Dixie, nobody's hair grew but eveybody's ears did, spiders crawled out of every crack and crevice, and that Whizzer would occasionally get up as if sleepwalking and cast random spells at things.

Whizzer is now a retarded redneck selling junk in room 8. The spider was a victim and beneficiary of Whizzer's comatose rampage.

The spider can answer many other questions, but only about things that have happened in the room he has been trapped in for 3 years now.

The Troglodytes are TERRIFIED of Whizzer and will not mess with him. The Ogres pity him and look after his safety. The Green Dragon over the next hill is aware of Whizzer and keeps tabs on him.

Whizzer has no recollection of his past self. He occupies himself with making moonshine and selling junk.

Nobody has any clue why there is a giant H on the wall. [Marc Pavone]

12a.Recruiting Office for Cult of Ra
This is an abandoned office for the recruitment of new followers to Ra. A desk and 3 chairs are available and there is a small bookcase that has been knocked over. The cleric in charge is not present. A mildewed clipboard holds 1d12 applications for membership to the Ramen club,. Most of the document explains that this cult is not to be confused with the popular Asian noodle and that the cult is very serious about its work.

Should anyone sign their name on the dotted line, they immediately become a Ramen Cultist. They will be expected to worship Ra, pay tithes of 15%, spread the word and sign up at least 3 other followers. They must slay Ra's enemies, make a pilgrimage to a major temple, kill a family member, learn the cult's secrets, seek knowledge, always, no, never carry a bag for trash. That makes no sense, they SHOULD always carry a trash bag. Finally, they must eat a heart from a Ramen Jar of Conviction. Such a jar is buried under each of the pyramids in room 20. Desecrating those pyramids is a bad idea though.

Eating a heart is disgusting, but grants +1d4 hit points to a PC's Max HP. The heart will spray blood everywhere and tastes like it has been pickled in urine. Make a test vs. CON (or similar) to force the whole thing down. Now you're in it for good. Ra is watching, and he expects you to keep your end of the bargain . . . [Marc Pavone]

12b. Recruiting Office for Cult of Isis
One would think that for the sake of symmetry room 12b would be a recruiting office for the cult of Isis. It isn't. The shrine to Isis was built only to counterbalance the shrine to Ra as a matter of aesthetics. Isis has no cult or followers on this continent as she is not worshiped in any great organized way. Followers of Ra will pray to Isis in addition to Ra.

Anyway, 12b is not an office where people are asked to join the cult of Isis. 12b remains as the guardroom overseeing room 20. This was one of two stations for guards to stay and mount a defense should the doors at 19 be breached.

Everything in the room is falling apart though, weapon racks are useless, the benches fell over a decade ago and a strange, glowing moss has started to grow on the south wall. The moss is mostly harmless and only causes nausea if eaten. It will make your bowel movements glow in the dark, which many people find kind of funny. The ogres think it's hilarious and will trick Whizzer into eating it quite often.

Again, anyway, the room is an old guard post and is unexciting. [Marc Pavone

12c. Teleportation Hallway
Anyone looking through the archway will see the north door of Room 5. Walking to the door will painlessly teleport that person to the door of Room 5. It is a one way trip, no looking back. Anyone left behind will be able to see the person, but the teleported dude won't be able to see back. He'll just see the door.

Because it's a teleport trap. Get it? [Marc Pavone]

13. Um . . . You Did Read Room 11's Description, Right?
Rooms 13 and 11 are supposed to be one room, but somebody tripped the enormous Mithril guillotine trap. The idiot in question is the bisected (from head to ass) and curled up in a grisly pile on each side of the guillotine. One half in 13, the other in 11. The body has nothing of value on it. [Marc Pavone]

14. Scrying Room
This room is dominated by a large crystal ball 18" in diameter hanging from a bronze stalk that is 2 feet long and 12" in diameter, the whole thing hangs from the center of the ceiling. The stalk slowly moves, as if it were using the crystal ball as a giant eye.

As the stalk moves around and faces other parts of the dungeon it uses a form of the Wizard Eye spell to projects what it is currently "looking" at on a 16:9 screen on the north wall.

As long as anyone is standing in front of the screen, it will display what the eye is looking at. The image will be surrounded by the requisite smoke/mist/fog and the faint sound of a harp being strummed. Roll 1d20+6 on the chart below to see what is on the screen:

7: Troglodytes raping Breygataya in a room full of barrels.
8: A frog being eaten by a bear just outside the entrance.
9: Troglodytes raping Breygataya in the room 7 while the fungus monster watches.
10: The party raping Breygataya at a festival held in their honor in Thorstown.
11: The fungus monster in room 7 kicking the asses of the two adventurers, now skeletons in room 5, 3 hours before the PCs arrived at the dungeon.
12: Troglodytes raping Troglodytes.
13: Breygataya running through the forest as she attempts to flee from the Troglodytes. She finds the entrance at 19 and pounds on the door.
14: A Troglodyte shaman sipping wine and reading a flaming scroll in room 16.
15: A big pile of treasure in room 10.
16: Troglodytes, raping something. What the fuck is wrong with these guys?
17: Troglodytes brewing beer made from the water in room 10 and the fungus in room 7.
18: Troglodytes raping the weakest member of the party.
19: Breygataya laying on the floor of room 2c, in a non-raped state.
20: A group of 4d6 Troglodytes getting ready to open the door of room #14. The PCs will recognize the door because it has a large sign saying "YOU ARE IN HERE" nailed to it.
22: A single halfling thief sneaking up on the PC at the back of the group to deliver a back stab attack with a poisoned short sword.
23: The PCs headed back to Thorstown with the raped corpse of Breygataya in tow.
24: The minotaur in room 9 staring directly at them through the screen. While he stares, the PCs sneak up. The scene goes blank as they strike.
25: Breygataya being turned into a Troglodyte by the Troglodyte shaman.
26: The troll from room 6a, but now he's in room 11a. He's giving Breygataya a hug. Then he rapes her.

Everything the PCs see on the screen is false.

The scenes change 3 or 4 times a turn, each scene will repeat a few times then go on to the next one given by the die roll. The PCs will get some sort of clue that the scene is fake, but it will be in some minor detail that isn't immediately obvious. For example, if a PC sees himself, his hair color will be wrong, or a pattern on his clothes will be wrong. If the party has passed through a room being shown on the screen, they will recognize it. There will not always be a sense of time either. Many of the continuity errors in the image could be easily explained away as happening before or after the party's visit to room 14. [Marc Pavone]

15. The Empty Room
Empty. Really, really empty. Smooth walls, devoid of dust, cracks, mold, mildew, odors, evidence, emotion, ideas, feeling, sensory input, color or light. It's a lonely, empty, sad room.

Better get out of here before the emptiness gets to you.

This is such a depressingly empty room that NOBODY may spend any length of time in here. Resting in here is impossible. It feels like being in solitary confinement, even if the room is jam packed with people and a birthday cake. For some reason, this room causes existential despair. Nobody rushes to leave, but nobody makes any successful effort to stay. [Marc Pavone]

16. Sacred Pool
The troglodyte shaman has a sacred pool in this room. It is infused with trog essence and ichor. He uses it to commune with the troglodyte goddess Klatch. After a 1d3 hour ritual, the shaman has a 1-2 in 6 chance of getting a correct yes/no response from Klatch. He only dares use the pool once every lunar cycle. Non-troglodytes who attempt to use the pool with arouse the ire of Klatch on a 1-2 in 6. If aroused, she will alert the shaman of the presence of the adventurers.


16a-d. Spawning Pools
The shaman oversees these rooms so the young may be blessed by Klatch upon their hatching. 2d6 troglodyte eggs (each room contains eggs in varying levels of developmental maturity) will be found in each pool. If harmed or pilfered, the troglodyte shaman and all the adult males will stop at nothing to recover the eggs and to punish the offenders. [Jim]

17. The Vortex
Room 17 can only be accessed by the secret door on the south wall. The normal door on the east wall leads to the leader's chambers.

The troglodytes have learned that using the secret door is very dangerous because it triggers a vacuum/vortex spell that has been placed on the small alcove within the room. Opening the secret door will immediately trigger the vortex vacuum and all objects within 50 feet not nailed, tied, glued and under a 1 ton weight will be pulled towards it. Objects or creatures of LARGE size or weighing 2000 pounds or more get some kind of saving throw. Objects being pulled towards the vortex take about 1 second to be drawn in, traveling at about 34MPH. That's a little slower than the speed a little league player can throw a ball. If someone, human or otherwise, is wearing a lead ring they will be unaffected by the pull of the vortex. Objects that make it to the alcove will be sent through a wormhole and dropped somewhere subject to the DM's whim. Preferably from a lethal height. The secret door will close 30 seconds after it is opened.

Entering the room from the normal door will not trigger the vortex. Trash and corpses are piled up in here, waiting for the next dumb-ass to open the secret door, thus putting out the trash.

The vacuum vortex itself is not dangerous, nor is traveling through it. Being struck with flying debris and slamming into walls is, even if you are wearing a lead ring. Big objects hurt more, small objects hurt less.

Outside the secret door is a heap of loose items, stacked about waist high with a narrow path about 10 feet long and 1 foot wide through it. It's up to the DM what is in the pile of junk.

Grzzatch, the sub-chiefs, the shaman and most of the other Trogs wear lead rings or at least have one. The leaders wear them all the time. Yurp the monitor lizard wears a lead collar big enough to be worn as a bracelet. It is only lead rings/bracelets that negate the draw of the vortex, a lump of unformed lead will be pulled in just like a baseball, a Chevy Small Block engine or a nude statue of Adonis would be . . . [Marc Pavone]

18. Troglodyte War Room
A gaggle of troglodytes has gathered here in a council of war. Just who do those damn ogres thing they are, anyway! The room contains two guards at the door (armed with spears and shields), three sub-chiefs and Grzzatch, the shaman's mate, a witchdoctor in her own right and a "power behind the throne" among the sinister reptiles.

Alcove A contains a shrine to the troglodyte goddess Klatch, who appears as a stout reptilian with six arms (four wrapped around her body, hands clasped, the other two holding a bowl of serpentine containing five gold coins), two folded legs beneath her, and a head with mouth opened wide to show off a set of ivory fangs (worth 50 gp). Scattered around the room are woven prayer mats and a corroded brass brazier with evidence of a foul smelling incense. No more than 1 minute after a person enters the shrine, they must either put a coin in the bowl held by the idol or press a secret button beneath one of the prayer mats or the idol coughs forth a cloud of poisonous gas (save or die) that fills the entire room.

Alcove B contains sleeping furs for Grzzatch and her pet monitor lizard, Yurp, who is usually curled up under those furs when he isn't sitting in his mistress' lap. Beneath her sleeping furs she keeps a slim wooden case covered with beaten gold (worth 30 gp - the gold leaf is mostly falling off) that contains two fangs from a giant amphisbaena, a string of colored stones and wand of fireballs (no charges left) carved from red dragon bone and decorated with a garnet (worth 200 gp). [Matt]

19. Garage Door
The door at the entrance of 19 is an amazing contraption that we would recognize as a roll-up security door that shops commonly have covering their windows. Both are locked down and are very hard to pick.

Should the attempt to pick the lock succeed, the door will roll up neatly and quickly. The mechanism has been maintained well by only the-gods-know-who.

Taking down the doors will destroy them and render them useless. They are made of an unknown metal so any smith or even sage/wizard will be clueless to its secrets.

The doors are extremely strong and sturdy for their weight, but a charging rhino should be able to break through them. Dragonfire will make them very hot and seize up. Acid makes the door shiny. [Marc Pavone]

20. This Room Would Make A Great Iron Maiden Album Cover
2 giant pyramids made of limestone have been erected in the doorway as a shrine to Isis and Ra. Praying at either one will grant the first person to do so a Blessing (like a Bless spell). Everyone else will be reminded by the respective god that they should have thought of it first. The pyramids are immovable, unless disassembled. Disassembling the pyramids is actually pretty easy, but time consuming. Simply start at the top and remove a brick at a time. A single person can lift and carry a brick.

Beneath each pyramid is a golden urn that is always filled with beating hearts, which is pretty gross. You'll have a hard time getting more than 20GP for each, unless you sell them to a necromancer or something.

Dismantling the pyramid removes any Blessings and grants a curse on all those involved. DM, it's your job to make those blasphemous bastards pay for their sins.

How Long Does It Take To Dismantle A Pyramid?

10 CLR
20 Add up eveybody's STRENGTH attribute
30 take the average
40 if average > 100 then gosub 1000
35 Subtract this result from 100
40 PRINT "this is the number of hours to dismantle a single pyramid"
50 END
1000 average STR - 100 repeat until resulting STR is < 100 1010 return 1020 END [Marc Pavone]

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crypts & Critters

So, there are a lot of blog posts about introducing kids to our esteemed hobby. Like this one posted today over at Heroes Against the Dark. And this one over here at Blue Boxer Rebellion. And a really great one here by austinjimm at The Contemptible Cube of Quazar that was eventually included in Encounter #4 last year.

Allow me to introduce you to another one, courtesy of Michael Tresca. Tresca, best known for his book The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games (amazon link) and numerous d20 settings, modules, and splatbooks, is also a columnist for Examiner.com. I'm not a fan of Examiner.com (wikipedia link) in and of itself  because it is a content mill, using freelance-written content to drive traffic to a heavily ad-supported site—and that content is often vapid beyond belief (think of it is a poor man's, small town Huffington Post). But Tresca's coverage of RPG issues is quite excellent although it predominately covers current games in production--it is 4e/5e heavy, in other words. It's a blog in all but name, and is worth following for his take on the current direction of the tabletop RPG hobby and the gaming industry as a whole.

Last April, Tresca posted a series of columns developing a game he called Crypts & Critters. The game is designed to introduce toddlers -- kids under 4, let's say -- to roleplaying concepts by further developing kids' natural instincts for imaginative play. I liked what I read and pulled everything together into a single document for archival purposes. It was ugly, and I planned on prettying it up. But before I did so, I thought that it would be cool to distribute it to others, too, so I write to Tresca and asked for permission to go ahead with this project, and emailed him my rough file.

It turns out he already had a nicely formatted version. And he gave me permission to share it with you.

So here it is via my Dropbox: Crypts & Critters.pdf

Be sure to check out Tresca's website for a ton of other goodies he has posted for download, especially his d20 fan hacks of popular genre movies. I really like the Evil Dead and Krull ones. I need to run a glaive-wielding dwarf one of these days.

And a big thanks to Tresca for letting me share this with you.