Thursday, November 27, 2014


In  honor of the release of Chris Kutalik's Slumbering Ursine Dunes project, and inspired by his War Bears - meet their sneakier, stabbier colleagues...

More than one usurper noble, crooked merchantman, or criminal lord has been caught unawares upon finding a Ninja-Bear padding within their quarters, their guards nowhere to be found. The image of the boisterous, and occasionally bumbling, War-Bear does not correlate to such stealthy actions.

As such, many a final thought/word has been, "Where did that bear come fr...."
although he'd prefer fresh ground
To add insult to injury, they have a tendency to infiltrate and/or escape through palace or manor kitchens, walking off with delicacies and any whole-bean coffee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Random Magic Item: Bone Bracelet of Undead Invisibility

Joseph Browing has one, too, but of the opposite effect.

A quick-and-dirty magic item that came to mind when I saw 'undead invisibility.'

This divinely-enchanted bone bracelet renders the wearer invisible to lower-level undead (up to 4 HD). It was crafted for infiltration into tombs, dark temples, or undead strongholds where low-level undead may haunt or be employed as guards.  While more powerful undead can discern the wearer, the bracelet still imparts a displacer effect, and attacks by these undead are at a -2 to-hit penalty.

Restrictions: Wearable only by characters of lawful alignment. If a cleric wants to turn undead, they will need to remove the bracelet and become visible.

A perfect fashion accessory for one's Bone Armor of Sozqshy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A New Race - November 2014 RPG Blog Carnival

Johnn Four took the helm of this month's RPG Blog Carnival with the topic of races.  How are they played? What flavor makes PCs or NPCs of a particular race special, and not just a batch of modifiers?

I think that many of us have doodled with races, either making our own, or modding up canon races.

Even in my brief ruminations, I have a bunch of elves who are nowhere near trees. My lizard-folk are an ancient and perhaps degraded race, seeking renaissance. And I cobbled together a quick mechanism for making any critter an intelligent 'uplifted' class.


So, something new... among the classic creatures of myth (and gaming) are the centaurs.

Might they have a smaller, more canine, cousin?

Centdogs, dogtaurs?

How about Canivirum?

close, but not sure why the artist didn't commit to canine hind legs.

With the upper body of a humanoid and the legs and body of a dog, this liminal creature runs in loose packs in deciduous forest and plains climates. Much smaller than the familiar centaurs, the canivirum have been likened to a halfling-dog melding (much to their disdain). Semi-nomadic, their tribes/packs live by hunting and herding.  They have few industries of their own, but maintain a trade in wool and hides.  They live for the hunt, and love nothing more than a good challenge. To this end, individuals or parties requiring more exotic hides or meats have been known to offer a group of canivirum but a modest bounty to bring back the required beast (or its component parts).

Racial prerequisites: Con 12/Dex 9
Maximum Level: 8th; Level progression and saving throws as per Ranger, with subclasses, as described below
HP/Hit Dice: 1d8
AC: 8/12: any armor allowed, but costs 2X normal for customization. Shields as normal.
Weapons: no polearms or longbows; racial proficiency is with a short, thrusting spear (similar to Zulu assegai) and sling (+1 to hit/damage for both)
Movement: 15
AL: neutral or lawful
Languages: Racial + 1
Special: Pack Attack - when two or more canivirum attack a foe in concert, each receives +1 to hit as they circle and dodge their way through a target's defenses.  Likewise, the foe takes a -1 penalty to hit from the coordinated actions of the canivirum.  See also sub-types, below:

The canivirum generally tend to one of three sub-types.

Herder - Herders hold a natural influence over herd animals. They may tend semi-feral sheep and goats or work in concert with hunters, below, to corner or drive large prey herbivores.  Herders with Wis scores of 13+ may, at 3rd level, access cleric spells in the following progression:
Spell Level/
PC Level





Hunters - The seekers and providers of the pack, hunters have increased tracking ability by sight and smell, as ranger, but beginning at 95% proficiency. They also receive an addition +1 to-hit for missile weapons (additive for slings, above).

Guards - Larger stalwarts watching over the pack, with +1 damage in melee or unarmed combat, gaining an additional +1 per two levels. Their natural wariness makes them unlikely to be surprised (1 in 6 chance).


As "wandering monsters" or an NPC group, canivirum may be encountered in herding/hunting packs of 2d4+2, with one 'Alpha' leader of one to three levels higher than the remaining pack members. Pack-groups may be exclusive (2/3 chance), or a combination of sub-types (1/3 chance):

Alternatively, nomadic parties will be encountered in family-tribal packs of 12-20 individuals, with males and females sharing hauling duties of travois containing belongings and portable shelters.

(I must attribute this creative exercise to my wife, who came up with 'dogtaurs' during a stream-of-consciousness moment - as I have mentioned before - I do not understand the workings of her mind....)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hex 18.16, Tenkar's Landing Crowdsource Mapping Project, Revised

Well, I revised my crowdsource map and text based on a few comments - filled in the map and added numbered features, and fleshed out the hex a bit with substantial additional description and content

Download link

Text below, and comments welcome:

The Head of the Ghavor


The River Ghavor is sourced among a ring of volcanoes occupying the southern portion of the area. It flows from a lake fed by geothermal springs and mountain snowmelt. A colony of lizardfolk has settled there, and have driven off other humanoids for miles around. No one is certain why they have arrived here, or even how they arrived upon the island, many leagues from their favored marshy territories. However, they have mined obsidian from the volcano's slope, forming and erecting stele throughout the forest for mysterious rituals. North of the volcanoes lies a lush evergreen forest, mostly uninhabited, but rife with tempting game,and a few odd predators. As long as one's incursions are brief, and does not raise the lizardfolk's notice, a fat hart or boar may be taken without raising their ire. More intrusive exploration must be undertaken with great caution...

Forest Primeval:

The northern portion of the hex is forested with primeval evergreens, typically monkey-puzzle trees and similar. Since the lizardfolk have pushed out former inhabitants, and patrol the area, game is relatively abundant. A few odd, almost alien, organisms are found here, as well as installations put in place by the lizardfolk.

Points of Interest:

1. Methuselah Tree:
Centuries older than the remainder of the forest, it towers over the area, allowing surveying of the northern half of the hex for anyone brave enough to climb its gnarled, spiny trunk (and deal with the giant wasps (1d3) that live there). However, sap from the tree is a potent curative (cure 1d8+1 dmg and cure disease, up to 4 doses available/day).

2. Obsidian Stele:
Explorers in the area will be greeted by loose rows of obsidian sculpted into mysterious, helmeted figures and odd, twisted stele with indecipherable cuneiform. The figures have not been carved, but expertly shaped (Stone Shape equivalent) by the lizard shaman (below) as tribute to their ancestry and for a secondary purpose. Each weighs 400 to 500 pounds. Astute observers will find the figures to be arranged in a 'Y' shape with the east and west arms of the Y pointing at the position of the star Akbal during spring and autumn equinox. Upon the equinoxes, the shaman goes into a trance at the junction of the Y. The stele act as an amplifying antenna, which the shaman uses for far-seeing to communicate with fellow lizard shamen scattered across the globe for sharing information and to make their ineffable plans. During the communication, the stele shimmer and pulse, and anyone foolish or curious enough to touch one will receive 2d6 shock damage + save or 1d4 CON loss (permanent) due to the etheric energies pulsing through the 'network'. Even one sculpture would exceptionally valued by collectors or sages, but if any were to be moved or disturbed, it would immediately be detected by the lizardfolk, instigating a fierce and terminal pursuit.

Creatures of note:

Tree Octopus: The lizardfolk have brought with them an invasive species, the Tree Octopus, which is considered a delicacy by the tribe(1HD, AC 8/12, 1d2, timid and retiring, camouflage hides on 5 in 6). Although the climate is much less humid than the lizardfolk's native marshlands, the octopus have adapted to the somewhat humid microclimate afforded by the lake and surrounding geothermal activity. Lurking in the canopy, the arboreal cephalopods subsist on small rodents and reptiles, and by raiding bird nests for eggs and chicks.

3. Filamentous Feeders: Several of these immobile creatures are scattered throughout the forest. They appear as giant fern-like evergreens, however; they are actually arboreal 'filter feeders,' snaring birds, small mammals, tree octopus, and occasional larger prey. The branches are coated with a sticky enzyme that both captures prey, and begins to digest it as it is passed to one of several mouth orifices on the 'trunk' of the creature. Multiple glowing blue eyes on 'branches' and attached to low-hanging tendrils watch for potential prey and act as lures. (HD6, AC7/13, Move 0, Dmg: entangles on successful to-hit,1d4/round enzyme +1d8 bite if pulled to mouth, minimum strength 9 to break entanglement – roll-under Str at +2 penalty, surprise on 5 in 6)

Shadows: In the forest surrounding the stele haunt 1-4 shadows. The shadows have been ripped from their native plane by use of the stele during the lizardfolk's biannual communications. These incorporeal beings are not undead, but instead consist of alien energies. They loiter near the stele, awaiting its next use. Each use of the stele allows 1d4 to return to their home plane; however, an additional 1d4 are drawn forth.

4. Lizardfolk Colony (U'essril):
A colony of lizardfolk (90 individuals: 50 males, 26 females, 14 juveniles) has settled near the outlet of the lake. The colony's name, U'essril, means 'Searching' in their language. Well outside of their normal environs, the 'Stonetalkers' keep to themselves, taking advantage of the warm lake waters and the bounty of the forests to the north. They show disdain, if not outright hostility, to the 'chattering monkeys' who have colonized the remainder of the island, and with the exception of intermittent trade with other humanoids, keep to themselves. While they may tolerate hunting parties into the area, any more intrusive incursions will be resisted.

The colony is comprised of mud and wattle huts and burrows. Closer inspection will find the apparent 'wattle' huts to be mere facades, with the structures lined with closely hewn or formed, interlocking stone of precise workmanship. The village is seasonally inundated as flood waters from snowmelt cascading into the lake push the lake and river past their banks. The lizardfolk call this the 'cleansing time' and relish the muddy inundation. The warriors will be typically armed with obsidian-bladed spears and macuahuitl (as morningstar, 1d8). Although the blades appear to be mere knapped stone, they have been magically hardened to steel-like resilience, while still maintaining the exquisitely keen edge of glass (+1 damage).

The colony is led by the shaman Shy'ald'aes (8th level cleric/druid equivalent), who brought his kin here several years ago from unknown lands. Based on certain augeries, he is convinced that evidence of ancestral lizardfolk may be found in or around the island's volcanoes, prior to the race's more recent descent into the swamps. He lost face among his peers due to this theory, and regaining a relic would allow him to return triumphantly, perhaps even staging a coup among the leadership. Likewise, his village is split between ardent followers (70%), and those who have begun to doubt his leadership and vision (30%). The shaman is armed with a trident (+2/lightning 3/day (5d6 damage)).

People/beings of note:

Three lieutenants share leadership duties with Shy'ald'aes and lead patrols and explorations in the area. These are Scale-walkers, who speak one or more humanoid languages and will (begrudgingly) interact with outsiders. They are not welcoming in the least, and brusquely turn explorers or hunters away. If their particular flavor of negotiating fails, they are willing to defend their territorial claims.

It'as'es: 6th level fighter (cloak of protection +2, macuahuitl +1 /+3 vs humanoids) is Shy'ald'aes' oldest friend and closest confidante. She is tasked with exploring the region for evidence of the ancestors and as such, will often be out on the volcano slopes, entering caves or directing her underlings in scratchings and diggings.

T'queash and T'quaem: 5th level cleric/druid (Spear+2 / snake charm, sticks to snakes 1/day) and fighter (shield +1, Sling +2), respectively, are siblings, and lieutenants to the two higher-ranking individuals. T'queash has begun to question Shy'ald'aes' mission and wisdom. She is homesick for the native marshlands, and hopes to gain support for abandoning this foolish quest and settlement in this inhospitable land. T'quaem is an unimaginative leader, happy to be hunting in the forests, and chasing off interlopers. He and T'queash strongly disagree on their leader's vision, and he is conflicted on his loyalty to his leader and his egg-sister. He quietly hopes that he will not be forced to choose.

Additionally there are six acolytes (3rd level fighter (60%) or cleric/druid equivalent (40%)) in the tribe.

Mt Ghavor and Head of the Ghavor:

Points of Interest:

5. Mt. Ghavor is believed to be a dormant volcano. Although it has not erupted in historical memory, its slopes are almost always snow-free, except in deepest winter.

6:.The River Ghavor springs to life dramatically from the slopes of the eponymous volcano. A huge geyser (7) gushes forth with superheated water. The geyser, among other springs, feeds into a lake, and is surrounded by smaller geysers, steam vents and mudpots. In colder weather, or during inversions, the lake basin is filled with fog and mist. The north side of the lake is bounded by a wall of obsidian (8). The river flows westward from the lake.

The area is surrounded by overgrown lava flows and extinct cinder cones (9).

Creatures of Note:

The warm lake is home to several species of amphibian, most benign, a few malicious or hazardous:

Rage Salamander (1-2): An extremely territorial flame-red salamander that charges forward, jaws drooling hallucinatory poisons (1+1 HD, AC 7/13, 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).

Thunder-Frog (1-4): These large frogs (1 HD, AC 7/13) 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 the 15' cone. If a frog is injured while puffing, there is a 50% chance it will explode for 1d6 damage in a 5' radius.

Paralyzing Periwinkle: Besides the amphibians, a poisonous freshwater periwinkle snail lives in and near the lake outlet. This nondescript lemon-sized snail has a heavy shell and clusters among the rocks near the lake outlet, requiring significant caution when crossing the river, in the event that one steps on a snail and its stinger pierces a foot. (AC 3/16, 1 HP, Atk 1 pt + save or complete paralysis in 1d6 turns, death in 1d6 hours; Move 1) The lizardfolk use them for their rituals (They have a racial immunity to the effects of the poison, and use the venom as hallucinogen).

Southern Peaks:

Points of Interest:
10: Hrada Peak and a second, unnamed peak, south of the lake, dominate the topography of the southern portion of the area. Hrada is an extinct volcano, riddled with lava tubes, some dead-ended, some interconnected within the heart of the volcano (A framework and maps for the volcano interior are in the works – V.A.). Many of the lava tubes have been explored by the lizardfolk in search of evidence of lost cities and artifacts that may provide the information and means to bring uplift and renaissance to their race. Explorers to the tubes will have a chance of encountering one or more lizardfolk exploration parties (5th-6th lvl leader with 4-6 companions). Hidden deep within one of the tunnels, among other artifacts of inexplicable purposes, is The S'thter: A tome of pictographs and cuneiform etched on wire-bound sheets of mica dating to before the Age of Man. It contains a history of the lizardfolk's 'lost' city, allegedly located in the Desert of Glass. The book documents the history and advances of the race prior to the coming of the humanoids and the race's subsequent downfall. The book may include information on advanced 'magics' known to the ancestral lizardfolk. Although they have not yet found this relic, if it is located by explorers, the lizardfolk will attempt to recover it be any means necessary.

Creatures of Note:

11. Caves near the summit are home to a family nest of Blue-laced Wyverns, recognized by their lustrous iron-black scales with iridescent blue edging (valued for both their resilience and decorative qualities by certain armor-makers). The family is territorial, and one or more adults are typically patrolling or hunting in the vicinity. Adult (4): HD 6; AC 3/16; Atk 1 bite (2d8) or 1 sting (1d6+poison); Move 6 (Fly 24). Juvenile (2): HD 2; AC 4/15: Atk 1 bite (1d8) or 1 sting (1d4+poison); Move 6 (Fly 24) (6 total, 3 will always be present).


Whispers you may have heard about the area:

1) Cutting down the largest tree in the forest will release a grateful imprisoned god (F, and kind of a dick move – V.A.)
2) Stone statues in the forest walk during the full moon (F)
3) The lizardfolk seek ancient secrets and magics (T)
4) Wyvern eggs, when eaten, are proof against all poisons (F)
5) Caves riddle Hrada Peak, and have been barely explored (T)
6) A wall of black glass borders the Ghavor headwaters (T)
7) The river flows from a steaming valley (T)
8) The lizardfolk practice rituals during the equinoxes to speak with their god (partial T)
9) Use caution wading in the Ghavor, the water will turn you to stone! (partial T)
10) Excretions from the red salamanders will give a pleasant buzz (F)
11) The lizardfolk climb Hrada Peak to worship the wyvern (F)
12) The caves of Hrada Peak were formed by huge worms, a few of which still burrow through the mountain (F)
13) Beware the forest, the trees will eat you! (T)
14) Ghosts walk the forest (partial T)

Wandering critters, forest:

1. Giant wasp
2-4. Boars/wild hogs (3-6)
5-9: Deer/elk (2-12)
10. Tree Octopus (1-4)
11-12. Black bear
13. Mountain lion
14. Giant snake (Constrictor – 3HD, AC 6/13, 1d4 + constrict (1d4/round))
15. Fierce feral chickens (4-8) (Ruins surprise chances next turn, but you might find eggs...)
16. Lizardfolk hunting party (4-8, 50% chance of 3rd-5th lvl leader)
17. A very confused, sun-burnt yeti.
18. Shadow
19-20. Odd noises, probably just the wind...

Wandering critters, in and around the lake:
1-4. Lizardfolk hunting party or patrol, or perhaps just swimming and cavorting in the warm water (3-6, 50% chance of 3rd-5th lvl leader)
5. Rage Salamander (1-2)
6. Thunder-Frog (1-4)
7-8. Very large carp or other fish surfaces/jumps in the lake
9. Giant axolotl (2HD, AC 8/12, Bite 1d4, attacks only in defense)
10-11. Patch of poison periwinkles (2-12) in shallow water
12-13. Nesting pair of large Steamer Ducks (1HD, AC 8/12, Bludgeon(x2) 1d4, Move 3 (Fly 12), very territorial)
14. Black bear
15. Fishing eagle
16-20. Nearby geyser or steam vent erupts. PCs in range receive 1d6 scalding damage.

Wandering critters, mountain:

1. Giant eagle
2. Mountain goats (Will tend to flee, although rams will be territorial (¼ chance))
3-4. Snow snake (2HD, AC 6/13, 1d4+cryo-poison (save or 1d8 cold damage), white fur camouflage, surprise 5 in 6 if in snow)
5. Yeti
6. Grizzly bear
7-8. Wolf, single or pack (4-8)
9. Ravens (2-6) (If party camped, 20% chance of stealing food or random shiny thing)
10. Snow leopard
11-12. Wyvern (75% adult, 25% juvenile)
13-14. Marmot (1-4) (Chatters at party, ruins surprise chances next turn)
15. Lizardfolk exploration party (4-8 with 3rd-5th lvl leader)
16. AVALANCHE!!! (dodge or 4d8 damage to anyone caught in path)
17-20. Nothing, but did the mountain just rumble?

Wandering critters, lava tubes:
1. Spider, giant spitting
2. Albino cave squirrels (4-12) (½ HD, AC 7/13, atk bite 1d2, tend to flee, Chatter at party, ruins surprise chances next turn)
3. Bat swarm
4. Mouse Swordsmen (4-6) pursuing a giant weasel
5. Cave Fisher (one only)
6. Small earth elemental (2-4HD)
7-8. Cave Cricket
9-10. Fire beetles (1d6)
11-12. Rockfall (1d6 dmg)
13-14. Pocket of asphyxiating gas (save or 1d6 dmg)
15. Lizardfolk exploration party (4-8 with 5th-6th lvl leader)
16. Cave Fairies (2-5, HD1+1, AC7/13, Fly 6, atk tiny dagger 1d3, 2nd lvl thief abilities, 1 random 1st lvl illusionist spell 1/day, flit about teasing explorers, annoying, try to steal stuff)
17. Giant weasel fleeing Mouse Swordsmen, carrying one of their deceased number in its mouth.
18-20. Nothing, but did the mountain just rumble?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Inspiration from the next barstool over.

...having a quick beer-thirty IPA at the bar next to my office, and jotting ideas in my notebook, trying to come up with a few more items/ideas to populate my shared hex for its next draft...

The guy next to me (whose beer-thirty arrived had a substantial head-start on mine) looks over and says, "Hey look, we're both doodling!" (he is sketching on a notecard while half-listening to his lady-friend). "Whatcha drawing?"

I tell him I'm making notes for a wilderness adventure story, but that my forest is boring.

"Oh, you need to make it underwater."

"I have a lake with some interesting stuff already."

"No, dude, like filter feeders.  Saw them on TV.  Put 'em in trees. Guy's in the forest, it's all dark and creepy. 'Hey, what's that?' Sees something floating in the air. 'Rawr!' "

And that is how I came to contemplate arboreal filter-feeders....

... another thing perfect for eating halflings.


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Mamalen Entek (magic beast)

The Mamalen Entek, or 'Wandering Root' makes its appearance in Chapter 1 of the excellent webcomic "Unsounded" by Ashley Cope.  Unsounded has been on hiatus while Ashley built up buffer but came back on line today, as promised. In recognition of the creative worldbuilding in the comic, have a statted-up magic beast...

Referred to as a 'Senet Beast' in the local parlance, the Mamalen Entek was created through ancient magic, or perhaps even by the gods, and wanders the deepest primordial forests. Believed to be centuries old, it appears as a massive, crude sauropod comprised of boulders and gnarled tree trunks, often with one or more aged trees growing from its back.  Green-glowing 'eyes' bracket the head.

Absolutely silent when still, and comprised of vegetation and country rock, the Mamalen Entek will surprise on 5 in 6.  Some say that the beast's idea of curiosity and problem-solving is, "Will it fit in my mouth?" But other observers believe that the beast's intended purpose is to re-balance a place, and as such, it seeks to neutralize discord, occasionally by gastronomic means...

As a creature of deep magic, the Mamalen Entek has an empathetic response to any intelligent creatures it encounters.  In fact, it is believed to 'feed' off these responses, whether peaceful or violent. Neutral or positive encounters will typically be ignored, or observed in the Mamalen Entek's ineffable way. Minor aggression, especially by relatively low-powered foes, will either be ignored, or efficiently, but relatively harmlessly, dispatched.

In the event of continued annoyance, a powerful physical attack, or sufficient feelings of aggression, the Mamalen Entek takes on a dark visage, with a reddening glow of visual rage.  Its body spouts plant-like thorns, hardening its hide and increasing damage dealt.

The beast will defend itself via smashing or trampling, entangling, and swallowing foes.  Any swallowed foe will take additional damage as the beast's fibrous 'entrails' engulf them and root into their body, absorbing energy and essence. Undead (such as Unsounded's reanimated mage) are not affected.

Blunt trauma is shaken off by the beast. Normal and magic weapons do regular damage, but the beast takes double damage from magical fire attacks.

Psychic energy spilled by the dying Mamalen Entek will cause any intelligent creature within one mile to feel despondent and sluggish for one day.

Mamalen Entek ('Wandering Root")
Huge Magical creature
Extremely rare to unique
HD: 16, AC 3/16, Atk: Smash 2d10x2/Engulf 2d8+4-8/round swallowed, Move 9, Save 3, AL N, CL/XP 19/3,800; Special: Surprise on 5/6, Empathetic, morale/response will mirror 'foe,' Blunt weapons cause no damage. Rage attack increases damage to 3d10, AC improves by -/+1. Death causes all intelligent creatures within 1 mile -2 all actions/saves for one day.

(Welcome, Unsounded readers - I'm pleasantly surprised that Ashley added this to the fanfic contest list!)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Tri-Colored Crater Lakes of Kelimutu, Indonesia

This popped up on my G+ feed...

The Tri-Colored Crater Lakes of Kelimutu, Indonesia occupy the summit craters of the Kelimutu Volcano on Flores Island, Indonesia.  Although the three lakes are adjacent to one another, each is differently colored, and the colors periodically change, also independently from one another.  The color changes are suspected to be attributed to chemical changes in the lake waters from interactions between dissolved minerals and volcanic gas eruptions.

The three lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Spirits, or Enchanted Lake).

Hook possibilities:
Of course, as volcanic lakes, I'd make them reeking, corrosive, poisonous, bubbling up with asphyxiating (or perhaps explosive) gasses, and a lovely place to visit during the summer.

For the less mundane, the color-changing lends to differing characteristics of the water.  Hook or plot drivers may entail collecting water at certain times, in order to gain certain abilities or characteristics - for more complexity, multiple trips may be required, or only when two or more of the lakes are in a certain color combination. Of course, lake characteristics change randomly. Water qualities include curative, poisonous, component for potion or construct, toxin or other reactant specific to the big-bad or a barrier, etc.  Have at it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Halflings of Bogaert

The Enclave of Bogaert

To feed off of Timrod's and Zenopus' halfling posts - a little community out in the boonies where few travel...

Most halfling communities are somewhat reclusive and insular, and the Enclave of Bogaert is certainly no exception. They are willfully independent and generally suspicious of outsiders. The halflings settled in contested territory within the foothills of the Rhodamine Peaks ten generations ago, and have been generally keeping to themselves since then.
The Enclave is generally forested, with cleared, terraced fields growing rye, barley, and wheat.  Livestock includes sheep and semi-feral hogs that roam among the forest brush.

The residents live in hamlet- to village-sized settlements, with the 'capital' of Myrkan having a population of 3,800, quite populous for any halfling settlement. However, visitors speculate that it is not so much a town as a haphazard group of villages that have grown together, disheveled and unorganized. Although outsiders are soon disoriented and confused by the torturous streets and pathways, a native finds her way effortlessly, reading subtle signs and ciphers known only to the residents.

Individual residences are the typical hobbit burrow-holds, although many well-to-do and/or eccentric residents will build one-to two-story buildings over the burrows. Close inspection will find them to be empty shells.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dungeon Geology 5

A long-tardy addendum to some musings, starting here.

As part of my hex contribution to the Tenkar's Landing crowdsource project, I elected to throw a couple of volcanoes into my hex - one dormant (but still geothermally active) and one extinct. The area around the extinct volcano is riddled with lava tubes, which are in the process of being explored by a local band of lizardmen seeking artifacts of their species.

Simply, a lava tube is formed by lava flowing under a hardened 'roof' or under a crust of cooled lava:

They are not uncommon in volcanic areas - both stratovolcanoes and shield volcanoes.  My semi-local example is along the slopes of Mt. St. Helens.  Tubes may be quite cavernous, or may pinch down to crawl-spaces or nothing, as repeated flows fill in the cavity.

Access may be through a 'typical' cave entrance, or via a roof collapse.

The challenge with a lava tube system is that the passages tend to be linear, with very few branchings or chambers.  Characters could end up exploring multiple dead-ends and in-and-outs before encountering anything of note other than whatever cave fauna has moved into the chambers.  However, as a natural tunnel (many may be over a mile long) it can interconnect two areas.  An interesting possibility, especially if the lava tube is an unknown quantity, or perhaps acts as a bolt-hole from some residence or redoubt.

So although the tube or tube system doesn't have the tortuosity of a dissolution cave (ex. limestone), it still has the potential for some interesting features, geometries and interconnections.
Small tube
The "Meatball" inside Ape Cave, Mt. St. Helens
Lava stalactites 
Lava "gutter" and tube-within-a-tube
Branching lava tube or side-tunnel
Page with more features and definitions

For the crowdsource exercise, one or more tubes will access ancient lava chambers (this may be more artistic licence then scientifically accurate), where there is the potential to find interconnection over multiple levels, ancient workings and macguffins. An event, such as an earthquake or landslide, may expose a heretofore unknown tube or passageway, or clear a formerly blocked conduit. Now to create a few levels for some populating...
Looks like something out of Giger