Thursday, July 31, 2014

Old timey climbing and mountaineering

Telecanter posted up some public-domain vintage illustrations of rock-climbing and mountaineering, illustrating a number of stalwart climbers in precarious positions...

So in my real-world adventures, I climb - on nice dry rock- I tend to stay away from slogging in snow or alpine climbing.  The equipment and techniques have improved a bit,

...but those old illustrations show the rudimentary technique and equipment of the time, much of which evolved into modern climbing techniques, and a few which are still in use. And they can be very informative for players whose characters' "climbing equipment" is equivalent. That is, hemp rope and a few metal spikes.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Temple of Voeq

Wiped from a day of kung-fu clinic, but had a bit of energy left , so cobbled together this little cavern/dungeon complex.

Why the heck did I decide to hatch the corridor exteriors though? Cramp...

The Temple of Voeq, heretical Dagonites, has lain untended since the Dagon priest and his mercenaries put them to the sword two years ago. The locals won't approach the complex, for fear of the Old God, and rumors of curses, so perhaps it is relatively un-looted. Or the rumors are true.

The Voeqites carved temples and cells from the existing caverns, putting it to their own use. A series of cells and the prelate's chambers line one corridor, with a columned temple hewn from the central cavern. Statues and idols pepper the complex, placed in corridors, alcoves, and caverns. The Voeqites took advantage of an underwater connection between two cavern ponds, using it to awe their gullible initiates by swimming costumed priests between the ponds to make their deity 'arise' on cue.

Here it is without grid - I'm a total Gimp gumby, so this is as fancy as I'm getting for now...

Friday, July 25, 2014

"Magical Traps Around Madness"

Way off schedule on following my OSRBA writing exercises.  I have maintained better than I expected, but have fallen out of the habit.  Onward.

"Magical traps around madness"

The Maelstom appeared three generations ago, a by-product of a mad priest's attempt to speak directly to his deity.  He contacted something immortal, to be sure. But not the intended, and not something amused to be disturbed by the incursions of some random mortal.


The immortal did communicate with the priest, in its fashion.  Its alien intelligence pulled apart the priest's mind, stripping it as a flayed criminal at the stocks. Or more likely, as a bored youth pulling legs from a fly.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Village of Creekside

This is a campaign/local setting for my little sandbox.  Feel free to co-opt it for your setting.

The village of Creekside is a stockaded frontier town, located along Peregrin Creek. Creekside was hewn from the forest and sits along a bend in the creek.  The cleared area is outside the town walls is home to several farms and residences.

The village is notable for a side-channel of the creek diverted through the stockade walls, allowing water and mill power during times of crisis.  If the town is pressed, dams can be dropped at the stockades, and the creek diversion floods low-lying areas along the north wall.  The stockades are wood, with some stone facing along the gates, blockhouse, and at the stream inlet/outlets.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Visiting Gary's house

Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World, visits Lake Geneva and the Gygax home, including the proto-nerd-basement with Gary and Dave's wargaming sand-table.

Via BoingBoing

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hall of Mirrors trap

Hallway lined on one side by d4+4 full-length mirrors.  The mirrors are 'unbreakable' - only magic weapons can damage them.  The mirrors are glamoured to compel a character to look upon them (as per Charm); however, if the mirrors themselves are covered, or otherwise magically blocked, such as by Obscuring Mist, their effects will be negated.  Random effects as per list, below:

Monday, July 14, 2014

More mines and found dungeons

I like the idea of 'found' dungeons and incorporating accurate geology in dungeons/underground works

Over at, a pictorial of several historic mines.  Some closed, some still active, most open to tourists.  But they may provide some inspiration and fodder to those great underground temples and passageways for your delving needs...

Of the list, I've been to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, outside of Krakow, Poland.  Although it was first built in the 13th Century, local salt mining extends back to the Iron Age, and was a significant driver in Poland's place as a regional economic power.  Descending into a mine that was active for seven centuries is quite intimidating.

I think this is most parties' henchman tally.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Invasive Species Part the 2nd (July 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

Via Jim Garrison and the RPG Blog Carnivalling.

"Did you capture one of the beings that have colonized the East Shores?"

"Yes, we journeyed and caught one. They are called 'Man.' They are rather... durable."

"We've watched them for a Song Cycle. I believe that four of their generations have passed in that time.  And they are quite fecund."

"Yes, but quite fractious too. Since their arrival, the original population has split into two groups; one along the shore, one farther up the Ton'esto River. It seems to have something to do with the form of the sigil on their temples. They have fought one another in at least three armed conflicts in that time.  I doubt that they will last. No race that feeds on itself in such a way can persist."

"True, but the population in the Ton'esto is encroaching upon our groves. We should talk to the Council, deliberate on if we should act in some way."

"You know that they are never hasty. It takes a Cycle for them to decide anything."

"Agreed. Perhaps we bring it up at the Council Convocation at the beginning of the next Song Cycle."

"So we leave them be?"

"As I said, I don't see how they can last. What's the harm?"

Friday, July 11, 2014

Why does that orc only have 1 HP?

So I hear that someone was wondering how an orc could only have one hit point...


  1. Podling lied about age to join horde
  2. Larger orcs always stole lunch coppers.
  3. Would rather be pressing flowers, wearing women's clothing, and hanging around in bars.
  4. Do you know how difficult it is to be a vegetarian orc?
  5. Rickets.
  6. Hunger strike - Release the Oubliette 6!
  7. Desecrated the wrong temple.
  8. Just returned from vision quest and fasting.
  9. Dungeon Lung.
  10. Should have retired years ago - waiting for dungeon economy to pick up before cashing out.
  11. Fetal Arcana Syndrome.
  12. Midget.
  13. Born under a bad sign, been down since he began to crawl.
  14. Bad case of Leolian Gut Worms.
  15. Conjoined twin attached to larger orc, wields miniature hand axe.
  16. Waiting for universal health care to kick in before having that lump looked at.
  17. "Lefty" from the last encounter.
  18. Suffering withdrawal from Cave Orchid.
  19. Tharq told him not to break that mirror.
  20. Not actually an orc, just a monkey someone dressed up.

Farthing and Tig, farther into the hole... (What's in the hole, Part 1c)

Final (?) installment of our two friends' misadventures with a worm and a tomb.


"Throw! Throw!" Farthing darted around the lunging ghoul, as it swung ragged claws at the halfling.

"I'm trying!" shouted Tig, throwing another unsuccessful loop.

"Nine hells, Tig!" Farthing re-secured his grip and started to sprint in a circle around the raging undead.  The ghoul connected with a claw, ripping Farthing's jerkin and arm.  Farthing's arm bled and went numb, but that was all.

"Trip it!"

"Trying! A hand would be helpful!" Farthing continued to attempt to circle the ghoul and tangle its legs. Tig tossed another loop, this time at the ground, and yanked as the snarling ghoul stepped into the loop. The ghoul went down hard, splaying as one leg tangled in Tig's line.

"Whoop! Hog tie the thing!"

"Get a loop on its arm!"

"Watch the claws!"


"Who knew they we so quick!"

"Ow, that's me!"

"Sorry, sit on it!"

"Like hell! Get that leg!"

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The cantrip, or '0-level' spell, makes for some potentially useful utility spells that a conjurer may have picked up along the way - and also may add some color or surprise to other characters, perhaps a thief who picked up some tricks somewhere, or a failed cleric or mage acolyte who now campaigns under a different guise.

# of cantrips available + INT bonus, each may be used once daily.  Select randomly.

A list of 'useful' cantrips.  Some of these probably exist elsewhere, some are de-powered 1st level or similar spells, some may even be original content...
  1. Dispel Swarm (up to 1 HP total)
  2. Heat Water (Boil up to 1 gallon)
  3. Water Witching (locates water but not quality (1/2 mile outside, 150 ft inside))
  4. Gnat Swarm (1d4 rounds, 5'radius, target -1 to hit)
  5. Fire Arrow (cast on arrow: +1d3 fire damage + 25% chance to set target on fire)
  6. Sticky Hands (1d4 turns, +2 climb/pickpocket)
  7. Stink Bomb (Save vs. Spells or nausea 1d4 rounds)
  8. Itch (2d4 rounds, 1 target -1 to hit/ physical actions)
  9. Obscuring Mist (1d6 rounds, 10' radius)
  10. Squeaky Hinge (Minor alarm on single portal)
  11. Annoying Buzz (1d6 rounds, 1 target -1 concentration (spell casting, picking locks, etc.))
  12. Sour drink/food (1 serving, not poisonous, but unpalatable)
  13. Fabulous Hair (1 day - +1 to reaction rolls)
  14. Tangle (upon 1 rope, hair, net, whip, etc.)
  15. Detect Food (locates food but not quality (1/2 mile outside, 150 ft inside))
  16. Command Vermin (up to 1/2 HD total, 1d4 turns, simple 1-word commands)
  17. Talking Page (One non-magical page of text or scroll in unknown language will translate - as text to speech)
  18. Predict Weather (1-2 days)
  19. Sparkle (1 target outlined, +1 to hit w/ missile, 1 round/level)
  20. Find Trinket (conjure item of up to 2 gp value from equipment list)
  21. Fumble (target saves or drops item)
  22. Sneezing Fit (target sneezes 1d4 rounds, no actions except defense)
  23. Kitchen Voice ("GETOUTOFTHEKITCHEN!") (causes one opponent to flee) 
  24. Conjure Cookie (Makes one delicious gooey cookie.  Everyone will be jealous.)
  25. Eyes in the Back of the Head (1d4 turns, surprise on 6 only)
  26. Sharpen (restore edge on one tool or weapon)
  27. Annoy Undead (your guess is as good as mine)
  28. Restful Sleep (+1 HP recovery)
  29. Dog Whistle (attracts 1d4 stray dogs)
  30. Magic Dart (1d3, addtl dart/3 levels)
  31. Sprint (move at 2x speed 1d4 rounds)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Invasive Species" (July 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

Looks like Jim Garrison has assumed the mantle for this month's RPG Blog Carnival - "Invasive Species"

Minor Amphibious Horrors That Have Shown Up Recently in the Kingdom:

1. Pustule-toad: Large toad covered in corrosive, seeping nodules (bite 1d4 + 1d4 acid damage on initial contact, with 1 pt of damage for the following two rounds). Kills plant life and leaves a scorched trail in its wake. Areas occupied by the toads will not grow crops or other vegetation for one year.  Belligerents have been known to collect these nasties and 'seed' them in enemies' fields in order to damage crops and degrade cropland. 1+1 HD, AC 7/13, Encounter 4d4.

2. Rage Salamander: An extremely territorial flame-red salamander that charges forward, jaws drooling hallucinatory poisons. The poisons are reportedly refined by the psychotic Mercenaries of  Zoeh for their battle-rituals. Several dozen salamanders escaped into local river valleys after the defeat of the rebel prince Oldoron and his mercenary army along the Plains of Aras.  Bite 1d4 damage + save vs poison or suffer acute hallucinations for 1d4 turns (1-4 - Attack nearest PC or NPC, 5 - Abject terrors, 6 - Catatonic), 1+1 HD, AC 7/13, Encounter 1-2.

3. Bleeding Caecilian: The warmer, wetter springs have seen an influx of these legless, burrowing amphibians moving north from tropical climes. Although nearly blind, they are equipped with an acute sense of smell and sense motion via vibrations. Their bite is relatively strong for a small animal (1d4 damage), and their skin secretions contain a hemolytic poison (dam 1d4 + 2 hp hemolysis/day until cure disease or 2x save). 1-1 HD, AC 8/12, Encounter 1d4.

4. Thunder-Frog:  No one is quite sure where these noisome nuisances came from, but evidence points to a vivimancer's misguided experimentations.  These large frogs puff up to three times their normal size to issue forth a bellowing croak. To another Thunder-Frog this says, "I am sexy," but to other creatures, these vocalizations can deafen and stun for 1d4+1 rounds any caught within a 15' cone in front of the frog. Multiple frogs croaking in concert will multiply the stun effect for 1.5 x the rolled duration per frog, plus cause 1-2 HP damage per frog within a 15' cone. If a frog is injured while puffing, there is a 50% chance for it to explode for 1d6 damage in a 5' radius. 1 HD, AC 7/13, Encounter 2d4.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Farthing and Tig, farther into the hole... (What's in the hole, Part 1b)

Leftovers from the June RPG Blog Carnival:

Jim Garrison was curious as to what happened to Farthing and Tig in their predicament, and so was I...


Farthing's palms tingled as he crawled into the burrow.  The digging was fresh, still damp with the worm's protective slime.

"I think we're on the right track," he called back to Tig.  "Fresh slime, too."

"See anything?"

"Nope, tunnel bends hard here - feels like our friend hit a big rock."

Farthing crawled around the constriction, sniffed hard. Yup. The lemony worm smell.

"I think I hear it.  Definitely can smell it."

"Lovely. Whatcha want to do?" Tig called.

"Go home and bake bread. But I suppose that's not happening quite yet. I'm backing out Tig, take up rope."

"Chicken out all ready?" goaded Tig. '"I suppose I can find a dwarf, or maybe a couple of hard-up dagger-gnomes.  They are always up for a dirty challenge."