Thursday, February 27, 2014

Garbage of the Damned: Temple of the Offal God

I wrote this as an example for my Digital Narratives class to show how to embedded multiple narratives in a game mission. It's silly, but works. I adjusted it a bit to work for actual tabletop play, stripping out the cRPG if/then branching plot implications and references to game narrative and story arcs.

It's not statted and I invented a lot of magic items that lack descriptions, but what the hell—have fun with it. At some point I'll post a cleaned-up PDF which will include credits for the maps, etc.

Note: The following NOT Open Game Content.

Note: updated on 2014-02-28 to fix some minor editing errors. I'm sure more corrections will be necessary.

Garbage of the Damned: Temple of the Offal God
Designed for a Single Low Level Character

The PC is a slave in the Gnomish land. To win his freedom, the PC must retrieve an Ancient Artifact from the Offal Pits of Charn , the traditional sacrificial dumping grounds of the Gnomish clans, for Arlkkklk, the Gnome King. Unfortunately, Arlkkklk has no idea what the Ancient Artifact looks like: he only knows it’s called the Ancient Artifact. The PC must enter the dungeon armed only with a silver spork.

The PC has the chance to win several major weapons and much treasure in this level. However, the real reward is his freedom. If he finds the Ancient Artifact and returns it to Arlkkklk, he will be freed from slavery and be provisioned for further adventures.

Relevancy Ratings
Areas 3, 8, 13b, and 20 have the highest relevancy rating of 1. The player needs the magic item in Area 8 to explore the majority of the dungeon. Retrieving the item from Area 3 and returning it to Arlkkklk will grant the PC his freedom, but discovering Area 20 and the secret therein provides the PC with moral choices that may have major consequences on the rest of the game world.

Areas 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 18, and 23 have a relevancy rating of 2, as they are crucial to unraveling the Gnomish obsession with cabbage soup, which is the primary sub-plot for this encounter level.

Dealing with the major NPCs (in Areas 17 and 19) have a relevancy rating of 3, as they grant the PC more information about the game world and may impact later encounters outside of this level.



Map Key

1. Entry
The PC enters here, coming down the stairs into the temple. An unlocked door is to the east, and another is to the south. A small golden statue of Charn the Offal God sits in the corner of the room. The statue cannot be moved and is too heavy to carry. Otherwise, the room is empty.

The passageway between Area 1 and Area 2 is a teleportation booth. If the PC enters the area and both doors are closed, the PC is teleported to the east doorway of Area 23.

2. Vegetable Storage
The door to this room is locked. This large room is filled with fresh vegetables, but mostly cabbage. There is a slot in the bottom of the south wall (the wall shared with Area 6) just large enough to shove a head of cabbage through; hanging on the wall above the slot is a shelf full of glass bottles and irons pots, all of which are empty.

3. Animal Pens
The door to this room is locked. This room is filled with live animals in small cages—goats, rats, mice, birds, beavers, etc. The animals are well fed and well behaved, as if they are under a spell. They do not make any noise, but watch the PC intently. If the PC discovers the secret door in the room, the cages spring open and the animals attack in a coordinated swarm. Inside the secret passageway is a Laser Rifle with an empty pulse cartridge. This is the Ancient Artifact that Arlkkklk thinks he wants.

4. High Priest’s Room
This is the office and living quarters of the High Priest. It is sparsely decorated. A bed, small desk, and chest of drawers are against one wall, and the rest of the room is filled with trash and trinkets of sundry sorts. There is a 1-in-10 chance that the PC will discover the broken finger from the statue in Area 15 mixed in with the debris. There is a 50% chance the High Priest is present. If he’s not here, he’s either visiting the kitchen (Area 23) for a bowl of cabbage soup, or he’s preparing a spell in Area 17.

5. Prisoner Holding Cell
The door to this room is wide open, as the room is currently empty. It is obviously a holding cell for prisoners. Chains and shackles hang from the walls, an overflowing chamber pot sits in the corner, the walls are slathered in blood-soaked moss growing on top of a layer of feces, and the floor is littered with soiled hay. At the bottom of the chamber pot is 1,000gp wrapped in a grubby handkerchief embroidered with the name “Grlakktch”.

6. Prisoner Processing Room
The door to this room is locked. The floor is littered with ripped and shredded clothing, sliced boots and footwear, piles of shorn hair, and what appears to be finger and toenails. There is a slot at the bottom of the north wall (shared with Area 2). Leaning against the middle of the east wall is coffin-like box made out of sparkling black metal; the dimensions are such that it can hold a normal sized human with no wiggle room to spare. The PC can fit easily inside. The box cannot be moved, as it is too heavy and awkward to carry. Anyone climbing in the box and closing the lid is turned into a cabbage.

This is the infamous Rongnome Krautomizer™.

If a cabbage is placed in the box (even a cabbage brought from outside the dungeon!), it is turned into a random human prisoner who is naked, bald, and missing all his or her finger and toenails. The prisoner is grateful for being returned back to normal form, and it is possible that if enough prisoners are resurrected (at least 12) and freed that they will aid the PC on his quest, acting as 0-level henchmen. There is a 5% chance that one of the resurrected prisoners knows the exact location of the Ancient Artifact that Arlkkklk thinks he wants.

7. Guard Dressing Room
Two Gnomish guards are here, equipping themselves for their guard shift. One of them is searching for his wallet. If the PC offers the guard the gold-filled handkerchief from Area 5, the guard immediately summons a guard squadron by pulling on an alarm wire hanging against the south wall, and then the two gnomes attempt to capture the PC, assuming he is an escapee.

8. Squad Rooms
Areas 8 & 9 are identical mirror images. Both house one 14-man squad of the High Priest’s personal guards, for a maximum total of 28 guards present at any one time. However, each squad normally rotates between two 7-man fireteams per shift unless they are on high alert. The rooms are empty the first time the PC enters them; on subsequent visits there is a 50% chance that one or more Gnomish guards are present.

The rooms contain gnome-sized beds and footlockers, and hanging above each bunk are brackets for swords, spears, and shield storage, although none of those are present. A thorough search of the rooms will reveal at least 100gp in various coinages. Stuffed at the bottom of one footlocker, wrapped in an old cloak, is a necklace with a key-shaped sapphire worth about 3,000gp. Donning the necklace gives the PC a +2 armor bonus and allows the PC to walk through locked doors without opening them. This is a Skeleton Key Necklace.

9. See Area 8.

10. Welcome Center
This area is brightly lit and pleasantly decorated, and houses large comfortable couches and overstuffed lounge chairs. Large signage welcomes the PC to the Offal Pits of Charn and warns the PC against unlawful dumping of non-approved sacrifices and the penalties for such. On a buffet table are two pots of warm cabbage soup, a stack of bowls and a pile of sporks—along with a sign in several languages encouraging visitors to partake of this Gnomish delicacy. The soup is delicious, and eating it grants a restoration of 5HP per bowl.

There are two colorful brochures available, each of which features a non-labeled and horribly inaccurate map of this level:
matt.pngDM map.png

Huge floor-to-ceiling murals decorate both the east and west walls, depicting bloody ritual sacrifices, drunken orgiastic Gnomish feasts (including a large panel depicting what can only be deciphered as a recipe for a delicious cabbage soup), and triumphant portraits of Charn in all his garbage glory.

There is a 65% chance of meeting a Gnomish fireteam (from Areas 8 & 9) on patrol in this area.

11. Foot Switch
Stepping on this switch rotates the statue in Area 15 in a clockwise direction, one for each of the cardinal and intercardinal compass points. If stepped on four times in quick succession, it resets the statue to its original east-facing state.

12. Apothecary
The door to this room is locked. This small room houses floor-to-ceiling shelves of potions and salves. There is a 20% chance that the PC finds a Healing Potion. There is a 30% chance that the PC finds a potion labeled as a Healing Potion that is actually a Potion of Slow. If the PC drinks the Potion of Slow, he suffers a –5 to all melee rolls (to hit + damage) for 1 in-game hour. All other potions and ointments are inert or don’t work on humans.

13. Sanctuary
This entire area wraps around the southern side of the Sacrificial Temple (Area 14) and is used as a preparation area by the Offal Priests of Charn. The room contains many robes and priestly garments, a small washing station, and a statue of Charn, the Offal God. Two sconces on either side of the statue hold torches. One is a Torch of Everlasting Light. There are normally 2 priests preparing for their hourly rituals. The priests carry heavy maces and wear boiled leather armor beneath their sacrificial robes.

13a. Priest Cells
Areas 13a–13d are identical in size and furnishings. Two Offal Priests of Charn share each of these small cells. The rooms are equipped with nothing but a single bed and one or two personal affects. The priests take turns sleeping in the bunk; one is on duty while the other is resting.

There’s a priest sleeping in here right now.

13b. Priest Cell
This cell is occupied by an Offal Priest of Charn trying to get to sleep by reading a scroll entitled The Sweet Fair Maide of Turnnyseede, the plot of which deals with how an unscrupulous gnomish king usurped the throne from his niece by turning her into a turnip. It is considered highly inaccurate by current Gnomish standards. If asked, he’ll tell the PC where he found the scroll.

13c. Priest Cell
This cell is occupied by a sleeping Offal Priest of Charn who clutches a stuffed baby owlbear. There is a Ring of Invisibility from Elves hidden inside the owlbear’s beak.

13d. Priest Cell
It appears this room is empty, but that is only an illusion; there is an Offal Priest of Charn sleeping here. However, the doorway is trapped; stepping into this room teleports the PC to a location five yards in the air above the pit in Area 14.

14. Sacrificial Temple
Situated in this room is the offering pit to the God of Offal. A hellacious smell permeates the air. The main feature of this location is a large pit filled near to the brim with decaying vegetation, the carcasses of sacrificial animals, and the corpses of humanoids of many races—elves, dwarves, gnomes, humans, etc.

Two priests perform sacred rites. One sacrifices small animals by slitting their throats and tossing them into the pit after draining their blood into a large copper chalice. He drinks from the chalice before moving on to the next sacrifice. No matter how many animals he kills, the chalice is never filled even though he only takes one drink after each sacrifice.

The other priest is on the altar at the west side of the temple, reading aloud from a thick, black book with flame-damaged edges; his melodious voice filling the air with songs of praise and thanksgiving in ancient Gnomish. As he reads, he stretches out his arms above the altar, and the air quivers and shimmers above them. Two cabbages prop up the book. When he reaches the end of a page, he removes a cabbage, tears it in two with his bare hands, and tosses the halves into the offal pit. He then replaces the cabbage from a stack of cabbages at his feet.

The pit is 100 feet deep by 30 feet wide. Rats and vermin of all kinds prowl the pit. At the bottom of the pit, under tons of offal, is the Sword of Ultimate Power, clutched in the hand of a Gnomish Death Knight. If the PC manages to get to the sword, the Gnomish Death Knight will not release his grip and engages in combat using the sword. If the PC has learned the Power Word, the Gnomish Death Knight will surrender the sword upon its utterance. The magic word is, of course, “Please”, but it must be spoken in a combination of Gnomish & Goblin (Gnomlin? Gobish? Whatever.). The sword is just a regular sword, despite its cool name.

15. Big Ass Statue of Charn With a Broken Finger
  • If the PC has found the finger from Area 4 and places it on the statue while the statue is facing west, the statue comes to life as one of the manifestations of Charn and attack the PC. If the PC defeats the statue, Charn grants the PC a boon.
  • If the PC places the finger on the statue while the statue is facing east, the statue falls on the PC, trapping him beneath its weight.
  • If the PC places the finger on the statue while it is facing north, the PC is teleported to inside the Rongnome Krautomizer™ in Area 6, with three Gnomish guards attempting to close the lid.
  • If the PC places the finger on the statue while it is facing south, a poisonous cloud of gas erupts from its backside and engulf the PC. The PC loses half his Health Points and become Poisoned, losing one 1 HP per game hour until he can drink a Healing Potion.
  • The PC cannot place the finger on the statue if it faces any intercardinal direction.

16. Anti-Apothecary
This small room houses floor-to-ceiling shelves of poisons and rash-causing ointments. There is a 50% chance that the PC finds a bottle of Fire Rash that can be applied to a weapon. Any creature hit with a weapon coated in Fire Rash bursts into flames and suffers double damage for the attack and an additional 3 points of fire damage per attack. One bottle of Fire Rash can be applied up to five times before being emptied.

17. Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain
Behind a floor-to-ceiling purple velvet curtain, a burly barbarian sits on a throne of pure silver. Neither the barbarian nor the throne can be attacked. The barbarian appears bored, and will answer many questions about the level, answering to the best of his ability; unfortunately he knows nothing of value and the PC will quickly realize that the barbarian’s knowledge contradicts his own experiences in the encounter level so far.

If asked, the barbarian will relate the story of his failed mission to find the Ancient Artifact many years ago and how he ignored a sign indicating that use of this throne was reserved for the High Priest of the Offal God, but he really, really, really needed to void his bowels and didn’t think the High Priest would mind. But he did. And he cast a Spell of Binding on the dude. The barbarian has been sitting on the toilet for roughly thirty years, surviving on a diet of cabbage soup provided by the priests.

The barbarian (his name is Nannok) will offer to reward the PC if the PC can free him by killing the High Priest, who must renew the Spell of Binding once a fortnight. The reward is an accurate map of the dungeon, minus the secret passages, drawn on a sheepskin. The barbarian will then flee the dungeon.

If the High Priest is dead before the PC encounters the barbarian and the PC accepts the task and then tells the barbarian that the priest is already dead, the barbarian will go berserk and attack the PC (after pulling up his pants, of course).

18. Sewing Room
The door to this room is triple-locked, and two Gnomish guards stand outside the door. This room is for the creation, cleansing, repair, and preparation of all the sacrificial garments, vestments, and altar cloths worn or used by the Offal Priests of Charn. There are 7 to 10 gnomish tailors and seamstresses in here, each working feverishly to create the intricate hand-embroidered designs most pleasing to Charn. Most of the workers refuse to talk with the PC, but one might admit that they are working so feverishly upon pain of death; another says nothing except that his mother, a highly skilled seamstress, was turned into a cabbage. There is nothing of value in the room.

19. Rongnome’s Lair
Rongnome, mad gnome wizard tinkerer extraordinaire, keeps his home and workshop here. The room is littered with mechanical geegaws and widgets, machines half-working and non-working, piles of books, architectural blueprints, mechanical schematics, print outs from Google maps, etc.

Rongnome himself is here, working on his latest contraption, a star-shaped monstrosity occupying the center of the workshop. He will explain the machine will be able to magically turn rotting carcasses of any kind into delicious green gelatin, once he works the kinks out. Rongnome is extremely devoted to Charn and sees his machines as ways to more efficiently offer the sacrifices that the Offal God demands

Rongnome is crazygonuts and can cast any 10th level spell or lower; he favors Grease, Magic Finger Fireballs, and Chainsaw Lightning. Rongnome cannot be defeated; if he gets to less than 5 Health Points, he teleports out of the dungeon and the PC should encounter him later in the game world after he (Rongnome) has grown even further in power and knowledge and has become an even more formidable foe. The PC can find 5,000gp in coin and another 10,000gp worth of stuff to sell in here, but the problem is getting it out of the dungeon.

20. Ultra Super Secret Room
Only the priest in Area 13b knows this room exists, as he stumbled upon it one day while carrying altar cloths to Area 18. Even Rongnome and the High Priest have not heard of its existence.

The room is a hidden library. The north and south walls are covered in cubby holes that house ancient scrolls in various states of decay; a dusty, empty pathway with a two sets of footprints runs down the middle. Many extremely rare titles may be found here, including:

  • The Adventures of the Crazed Manticore
  • The Legend of the Box of Egog
  • Fallen Light of the Princess
  • The Omnibus of Solael the Mystic
  • Ri’Vassa’s Enchanted Diary
  • The Lies of the Undead Armor of Tahra
  • The Chronicles of Lartius the Invoker
  • The Lies of the Sacred Armor of Avacen
  • The Seeker and the Boots
  • The Potion and the Necromancer
  • The Gnomish Chains of the Queen
  • The Spiritual Hills of the Shaman
  • The Destruction of the Astounding Pool of Ptorahee
  • The Lich and the Shield
  • Writings of Haret the Lord
  • The Holy Ground of the Ghost
  • The Kraken in the Tower
  • The Curse of the Disturbing Goblet of Wirmarth
  • The Magic of the Doomed Crystal of Libelem
  • The Demon and the Staff

The Gnomish Chains of the Queen and The Lich and the Shield are the two parts of the actual Ancient Artifact; they are the only two scrolls that reference each other. If the scrolls are read aloud by alternating between the two texts (reading first from The Gnomish Chains of the Queen and then from The Lich and the Shield, and then from TGCQ, etc.) all the way to the end of each scroll, a powerful Bloodline Curse is enacted against all gnomes of true royal blood, instantly vaporizing them into clouds of pulpy mist.

21. Guard Break Room
This room is set up to provide the guard squads a little R&R. Several sets of tables and chairs occupy the room, and all the off-duty guards are currently here engaging in various activities—eating, shooting the breeze, or playing games resembling chess, checkers, and marbles.

The PC may challenge several guards to a variety of mini-games at this stage; each guard will explain the rules and the PC has the chance to improve his skill level at whichever games he chooses to play for as long as he chooses to play them. Playing a game and winning against the guard at least five times in a row grants a permanent +3 to INT and +1 to WIS.

A teleportation square is situated in the middle of the room. Stepping on the square transports the PC to the south doorway in Area 23.

22. Memento Mori
A large star is engraved on the floor of this room. The same word is engraved many times in a circle surrounding the star; the letters are scuffed, nearly unreadable, and written in an ancient tongue that appears to be a combination of Gnomish & Goblin (Gnomlin? Gobish? Whatever.). The word translates into the Common Tongue as “PLEASE”. Otherwise, the room is empty.

23. Kitchen
This is the kitchen for the entire complex; huge pots of cabbage soup simmer on several roaring flames, kitchen staff is bustling to and fro, gnomes are popping in and out of the east door carrying vegetables of all sorts, etc.

The cook has two cookbooks open on the counter, reading the instructions first from one book and then the other as he dumps ingredients into a cauldron on the counter. The liquid in the pot is bubbling, frothing, and steaming even though there is no heat source beneath the pot.

The room is a hive of activity, and the PC’s arrival may be cause for alarm. If the PC is noticed (50% chance), the cook sounds an alarm to summon a squad of Gnomish guards, who instantly appear from the south door.

The north and west doors to this room are locked. Entering the south door teleports the PC to the middle of Area 21. Entering the east door teleports the PC to the small passageway between Area 1 and Area 2.

There are several items of value in this area, including a Titanium Spork +2, a Knife of Knifing, a Fork of Barbarian Soup, and a Pot of Kettle Blackening.