Sunday, June 30, 2019

Exploring "The Abandoned Mine of Delko"

Hi all -

Thanks to MeWe, I discovered a new mapper this week, Daniel F. Walthall. Daniel crafts up generally compact maps of 10 encounter areas or less, suitable for a one-shots, side-quests, or destination adventures, as well as small hamlets, and other locations. A nice feature is that the map layouts include numbered spaces to outline the room contents, as well as a table with suggested challenges at varying party levels, random treasures, NPC names, or adventure seeds.

So go peruse his tumblr of released maps, and support his Patreon if you are so inclined.

I grabbed his "Abandoned Mine of Delko" (one thing I like is that his mines look like mines...) and ripped the map into my own format.


A crew of contract miners has failed to report in from their mountain prospecting, and their employer is eager to discover their fate, and even more eager to recover the ore they were sent to mine.

So grab some mooks, and go check out the goings-on in Delko...

Statted up using Swords & Wizardry critters, and perhaps a Richard J. Leblanc, Jr. spider...

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Mini Review: Ocean at the End of the Lane (and a critter)

"I was not happy as a child, although from time to time I was content. I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else."

https://www.amazon.com/Ocean-End-Lane-Novel-ebook/dp/B009NFHF0Q

How to describe this without a hugely number of spoilers...

A young boy meets an odd girl, her mother, and grandmother down the lane. The boy and girl have a few misadventures, and send a naughty housekeeper away.  The boy grows up.

That's pretty much what I can spoil. I think.

A short novel or long novella (about 180 pages), the book is a reasonably quick first read.  Some people mentioned reading it in a sitting, I took two short evenings for a re-read, after not reading the book since we purchased it when new. The book draws you along, with short, evocative chapters.  That said, this is Gaiman, and there is a density of subtle detail, easy to gloss over, and worth a reread.
How old are you really?" I asked.
Eleven."
I thought for a bit. Then I asked, "How long have you been eleven for?" 
She smiled at me.
Gaiman, as often, weaves together a a world of intersecting reality and unreality - I wouldn't call the forces and players in the book 'magic' because they are appear to be much older and more subtle than such a simplistic label...
"We don't do spells," she said. She sounded a little disappointed to admit it. "We'll do recipes sometimes. But no spells or cantrips. Gran doesn't hold with none of that. She says it common." 
In the course of the book, the narrator and his mysterious friend interact with forces out of of time, including a manipulative, malign intelligence that manifests itself and ingratiates its way into the narrator's family.

Powerless, the narrator makes a desperate flee to the mysterious womens' home for their assistance in dispelling the being.  After consultation and failed negotiation with the being, the girl calls ethereal predators to their aid in dispatching the being.
"High in the sky they were, and black, jet-black, so black it seemed as if they were specks on my eyes, not real things at all.  The had wings, but were not birds. They were older than birds,and they flew in circles and in loops and whorls, dozens of them, hundreds perhaps, and each flapping unbird ever so slowly, descended."
And then things go sideways....

No more spoilers, and you'll need to read to find out why an ocean is as large as it needs to be....

***

And - inspired by the quote above - a bunch of angry birds:
https://www.deviantart.com/madsketcher

Hunger Birds/Vultures of the Void

Called by powerful witches to banish demons and to rend apart the wormholes and doors in time and space that allow the infernal into our world, these incorporeal "birds" are ravenous and never truly under the command of their summoner. Once called to complete their task, they may not be sated, and can choose to have a mind(s) of their own... Summoning these critters is dangerous, and only performed under desperate situations...

Their numbers are ambiguous, and ephemeral, as they do not exist fully within this plane - there may be appear to be twenty, or one thousand. They attack and speak as one - a hive-minded swarm of malevolent hunger.

Number summoned: 1d4 birds per summoner's level.
HD: 1 per bird
AC: 2/17, semi-incorporeal, damaged only by spells or magic weapons.
Atk: The birds attack as a swarm, with a single engulfing roll for damage - 1 hp per bird/round vs a summoned/demon/extra planar creature. If attacking a mortal creature, the birds drain one point of  CON per successful attack, with death occurring at 0 CON. This CON loss can not be recovered by non-magical means.
Move: 2 (Fly 20)

Once the birds have attacked/consumed the summoner's intended target, there is a chance that they will not return quietly to their home realm. The greater their number, the hungrier (and less cooperative) they are. % chance of rebellion = 5% per number summoned > than summoner level. Negotiating with the birds is a dicey affair, as they may choose to turn on the summoner or allies to feed, or escape to ravage an area of prey - living or incorporeal - until they are sated and return to whatever plane that they infest.

https://www.deviantart.com/canis-infernalis

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wanger's Spit: Stealing real estate...

So there I was, going through Jackson's trash. Like one does. I'd bribed his dog with stale chicken nuggets, so I knew he wouldn't rat me out, plus I sent a couple of halflings to distract Matt by cavorting in his front yard.  We all know that he can't resist that... 

Anyway, he really should secure his trash better, who knows who will sneak in and swipe his pixels.

Here's a discarded draft of some bit of waterfront real estate - a gated community, if you like. While it may be interpreted as a yacht club for gnomes by some, this author identified it as an old customs post along a coastal boundary.  The government legislating the trade and passage has since dissolved, but the post is still occupied by a rogue's gallery of residents. 

So meet the locals, and roll a d20 to see what's happening in the neighborhood...


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Village of Prolge


I sketched up a small motte-and-bailey concept to fill with a small Norse-inspired population.  But, of course - there are others who draw better maps than me, so that sketch stays in the notebook...

But the population, that I can do....

Welcome to Prolge, a village out on the cold grasslands.

Original Map

The motte and bailey settlement of Prolge sits as a small redoubt out on the plains of the Southern Steppe. The settlement is a close-knit community, as is necessary for success and sustenance out in these unpredictable climes. While the village is not equipped for visitors, neither are they inhospitable, for the plains can be a harsh place, and those who travel with good intent are sheltered.

Ringed by a stout wooden palisade and dug moat, Prolge is surrounded by the croplands of the thegns to the local headman.  Local crops include barley, squash, and potatoes.

Within and without the walls are longhouses occupied by extended families (4-12 individuals), many with their livestock and larders. Craftsfolk have set up their shops to support the citizens and those few travelers who come this way to the end of the road.

The headsman's longhouse (1) is the core of the village, and is butted up against a large stone granary (2), which acts as a communal food store.

The local temple, the Church of the Harvest God (3) is the only other predominantly stone building in town.  The rectangular, flat-roofed building is topped by an iron lightning rod and the building's facade bears the carven image of a "wicker man."

There is no formal inn - travelers may hope to find their way into the community's good graces and seek shelter at the temple or with hospitable families for some coin or trade goods. If local supplies are sufficient, and the village is not enduring a famine or 'hungry gap,' individual villagers may have bread, potatoes, pork, small beer ('childrens' drink') and ale for barter.

For physical threats and self-policing, the town is protected by its rotating home-militia of able-bodied men (and some women).  They are typically arrayed in leather/shield, and armed with spear, axe and/or bow. The palisade walls are protected with a few scorpions facing the four cardinal directions.

Dramatis personae:

  1. Milka Huttunen ("Headman") - The village leader receives this title regardless of sex and she is well respected by her charges. Milka wears the blessed bear cloak of her office (+1 protection, resist cold), and wields a silvered spear in addition to the community's symbolic relic sword. This sword (The Sword of the Fathers) is useless as weapon, with a rusted, brittle blade, and is wielded simply as a symbol of the headman. However, through its long heritage it has absorbed protective magics for the clans (Protection from Lightning, Cure Disease (plants and animals only), once per day each), and is used to protect the village and its food production.
  2. Arvo Kaup ("Keeper of Grain") manages the weights and measures of the communal granary.  He is charged with tracking individual households' contributions and debits, as well as the thankless task of rationing grain during famine times. His position is sacrosanct and he will not betray village trust or accept bribes on pain of death.  Kaup also raises locally renowned, fierce rat terriers to keep vermin at bay.
  3. Lumi Haapala ("Touched by the Storm") ministers at the Church of the Harvest God. She is a local seer/shaman who was struck by lightning as a child. She suffers partial paralysis from the event, but was gifted with a number of spell abilities (Locate Animals, Predict Weather, Purify Water, Locate Plants, Speak with Animals, Plant Growth) as a result of the incident. She may cast up to three spells a day. Haapala is aided by an assistant who supports her if she is required outside of the chapel.
  4. Hann Häkkin, the smith/farrier, maintains his forge for local needs, fabricating arrowheads, axe heads, and other tools for the village.  He is practical, and not amicable to wanderers demanding goods and repairs.
  5. Matteus Oll, the town carpenter, directs construction and maintenance of the walls and longhouses.  He carved the six "story-poles" lining the entrance inside of the village gate that document local genealogy and lore.
  6. Hilla Kemppain, the apothecary, keeps a cluttered, stinking shop in the eastern part of the palisade. She is eager to trade for components that she may not be able to procure locally.  Among her stocks, she may have: 1) lesser potion of healing (1d4+1 hp), 2) unguent when spread on body act as resist cold for one day, 3) potion of +2 saves vs disease (effect lasts 1d3+CON bonus days), 4) a solution that acts as purify food or drink (1d6 'servings').

Reasons to be there:

  1. Old barrows of interest are in the area (these likely include village ancestors, potentially leading to serious animosity)
  2. Scouting a threat to the lands to the north, chaos, hairy horsemen, beasts...
  3. Investigate why the village and surrounding area avoids lightning strikes, and seems to have avoided a recent famine
  4. Heretics! Root them out, follow a rumor, or be fleeing for your own damn lives...
  5. Weird flying things have been spotted on the horizon, never a good sign.
  6. Migration of rare beasts (stony-skinned tripod beasts on their centenary journey across the south latitudes)
  7. The annual burning straw-man/effigy/wicker man festival is lit!
  8. Purchase ratters bred in the village for dungeon vermin patrol.