Monday, March 30, 2015

Ebay finds and filling in white spaces on the maps

Ok, so I proselytize on geology here and there on the blog. And in that, I also occasionally collect geological curiosities - and not just specifically those picked up off the ground. That includes the occasional old text or map:

Blurry picture of a book

In this case, one of my saved Ebay searches pulled up an old American Geographical Society Annual Proceedings, 1874 edition.

The book documents the 1872 annual report, as recorded in their annual meeting in New York City, March, 1873.
I haven't read the treasurer's report yet
So, what was that august organization talking about 143 years ago?

A quick thumbing through "The Geographical Work of the World in 1872" reveals many notes on the opening of the West after the Civil War.  Expeditions into the Southwest, exploring and defining Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, or tracing across the Basin and Range along the 40th Parallel through Utah and Nevada.

An expedition by one Professor Agassiz along the western coast of South America, doing a comparative study of the infant science of glacial geology and Ice Ages.  Agassiz was the controversial father of glacial geology, and much of my work in the glacial terrain of the Northwest hearkens back to his original interpretations of the landforms left by ice sheets.

A certain J.W. Powell was poking around the Grand Canyon. This was a few years after his legendary expedition along the Colorado River through the canyon. Powell went on to head the fledgling U.S. Geological Survey.

A good portion of the proceedings are dedicated to a study of the Verrazzano Map of the east cost of North America. Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian explorer employed by France, was the 1st European (well, besides those hale Norsemen) to explore the East Coast, tracing between the current Carolinas north to Canada in 1524. Two years before, the ragged survivors of Magellan's circumnavigation returned to Spain, inflaming another round of exploration seeking a water passage through the unexplored North American continent, as well as to begin to lay claim on this new land, as the colonial powers vied for control of the land and resources.

At this point, there was a new white space on the world's maps, and no one knew how huge it was, yet.

His intricate map depicts the coastline and predates St. Augustine, Florida by 40 years, and the Jamestown, Virginia settlement by over 75 years. Any old map is fascinating, as it is part of the evolution of human understanding and interpretation of the physical world we traverse.

This map, although rudimentary in many ways, and missing many significant landforms and waterways, was still very accurate given the methods of the time, and later maps would build from this reference. And for us Westerners, a place does not exist prior to its mapping (the indigenous people may have a disagreement with this, though...)

One step removed from 'here be dragons'
Which leads to the purpose for my purchase of the book.  A section holds a long treatise of the explorations of the geography and geology of the Northwest. My skimming of the article mentions many places familiar to me along the west side of the Cascades in Washington; Mount Rainier, Grand Mound, the Skagit River.  A number of articles also discuss the geography and geology of the Cascades, Columbia Plateau, and southern British Columbia.

And it describes a few places that no longer exist...

There are no more falls on the Columbia River, all drowned beneath dams in the name of navigation, irrigation, and power.

And to add to my collection of old Mt. St. Helens collectibles, a print of a volcano known, at one time, for its symmetrical peak, which slid and exploded away in May, 1980...

Which is why I collect these documents.  As I said above, maps define areas.  Both those extant, and those no longer present, whether by the hand of Nature or man.


Ok, to circle back to gaming, since that's what this blog is ostensibly about...  How does a document like this book inspire or inform our own gamebuilding?

The players find/receive a map - is it old? How accurate is it - are features missing, misplaced, or misinterpreted?  Is the scale totally borked? What was the purpose of the map? Who crafted it, with what priorities? The example map was created by navigators, viewing a coastline - attention is paid to inlets, waterways, and hazards. The land beyond a few brief explorations is terra incognita.

Or in the case of the latter examples - what if a landmark, feature, or goal is gone or irrevocably altered?  Do our explorers miss it?  Is it just a huge hole in the ground? Or buried, or wiped away by cataclysm?  Is this part of the mystery of the adventure, or a derailment of a goal?

Anyway just some musings.  Back to reading the minutes of the meeting.



Ok, got through the newly adopted bylaws and flipped beyond the aforementioned Northwest papers.
Two more articles are hidden in the back.

#1 - A study of the 1492 Martin Behaim globe (speaking of unknown spaces on maps).


The globe, compiled from the best available knowledge of the time, depicts Europe, Africa, Asia, and scattered Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific islands. The globe contains a significant gap in scale, and information of the Americas, of course, but the author discusses its influence on Portuguese (de Gama, etc.) in exploring an eastward path to Asia around Africa, and Columbus' westward intent.

#2: A letter, presented at the conference on behalf of H.M. Stanley, who was laid up from complications of malaria and apologized for not making the dinner.  After all, he had just returned from Africa where he had located David Livingstone, who had been missing for 6 years during his explorations of eastern Africa...   White spaces filled in.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Happy International Whisky Day

In non-gaming topics, feel free to celebrate.

Yes, even you people who spell whisky with an 'e'...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thanks Bill!

Purchased the S&W Complete Rulebook during Frog God's recent one-day sale.

In addition to being a most excellent rules-set, it also makes a very serviceable beer coaster...

(Sorry, Erol)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

David Trampier, one year gone

Saw on another blog or two that it was the one-year anniversary of David Trampier's passing.

His art stood out, along with Otus, Willingham, and Dee, as the definitive D&D art, providing illustrations for my imagination.

His adventurers were not heroes, but hardscrabble explorers and scavengers and looters,

 dealing with the mystery and horrors of the dark,

unbowed, and in some ways, unfazed...

Anyway, safe travels, Dave.

*Edit - images corrected based on comment - below - the dwarves encountering the magic mouth illustration is not Trampier, but David Sutherland.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Random Magic Item: Suver Resurrectionist Ova

"Brother Fennel!  C'mere! I'm not sure, but this thing here looks to have priestly writin' all over it!"
"Why do you think that, Caem?"
"Well, it looks like the Common Tongue, but half the words is all flowery and the other half is ass-backwards and unreadable.  Plus it's got those funny snake eatin' its own tail sigils all over it."
"Don't touch it.  Let me look.  And watch that blasphemous tongue of yours, Caem."
"Pshaw.  Don't be all high-horse, Fennel. You're down here crawling in the dark with the rest of us. Not my problem you got booted from some momentary for making waves."
"Monastery, Caem. And it was a simple disagreement on the interpretation of an ancient creed.  Unfortunately Abbot Uesti has more political pull then scholarly acumen, so here I am with you, making my way in the world until I find a sect that appreciates my scholarship."
"So what is it?"
"Well, it is a big egg."
"I know that much, Brother."
"Hmm.  This is High Old Common. One doesn't usually see it outside of apostolic texts. Mmm. That's an odd phrase... Hmm, that death prayer does seem scrambled...
That's no death prayer, Caem! Someone has ciphered a prayer to raise the dead upon this egg!"
"Wonderful, Brother!  Too bad we didn't have it last week for old Dealph, may he run across the Daroughian Fields forever..."
"True, that stalwart will be missed. Bless his soul."
"So why an egg?"
"Birth. Resurrection. In fact, our faith sets eggs as grave goods, that the soul may find its way back to life one day."
"So what do we do with a spell scribed on a huge egg?"
"Well, first of all, Caem, we don't drop it..."

Suver Resurrectionist Ova

Crafted by select high priests of the Suver resurrection cult, a raise dead spell-prayer is carefully inscribed on the shell of an ostrich egg or similar large egg. To reduce the odds of an inadvertent reading of the prayers, many of the words are written backwards, or in mirror-image, requiring close study and careful enunciation of the prayer to make it effective. Because of the intricacies of the writing, there is a 5% chance of failure, cumulative, per point of Intelligence below 18 (e.g. INT 13 = 25%).  Likewise, if the egg is broken and reconstructed, there is a base 20% chance of failure. Failure may result in the subject remaining dead (and no longer abler to be raised by any method), a more horrific, catastrophic partial resurrection, or creation of a tragic ab-dead being.

Upon completion of reading the prayer, successful or not, the egg will disintegrate into flour-like dust and immediately be blown away by a sudden breeze, no matter the environment.

The eggs may be created only during the spring equinox, and using inks made of rare pigments blended with realgar.  Ironically, the toxic pigments lead to the illness or death of many of the scribing priests.


(Funny story - an old girlfriend was an English teacher. She was grading papers on the Canterbury Tales, and discovered that two students had copied from one another - right down to the typos.  Hence, the monks lived in the momentary..."

Friday, March 20, 2015


A small village centered around an ancient worm burrow, and adjacent to a trade road, Wermhalten has seen the recent arrival of a worm-cult priest and his followers, bringing both prosperity and conflict to the town.


Calcified 'God-worm' tunnels run throughout the vicinity of Wermhalten. The village is located within the largest concentration of surface representations of the tunnels, including a 'junction' in the center of town. The tunnels are prehistoric in origin and have been exposed where the land surface has become eroded away.

No tunnel entrances are exposed in town, but a few may be located elsewhere.  Most of the tunnels appear to be filled with sediment or calcareous worm-castings, but a few may still be accessible, if an entrance may be found, and enforcers of the local cult may be avoided. Tainted vegetation surrounds exposed worm burrows, and an observant explorer can see traces of twisted foliage where the burrows are near the surface.

Commerce and culture of the town has recently become centered on a worm cult and the pilgrims who arrive to worship.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Random Armory

Was compiling my Alphabet Dungeon entries for later use, and realized I'd begun on Day 2: B.  Doh. Never claimed I was smrt.

So, a quick Armory, with a handful of oddities. Collected here are weapons used by the dungeon dweller patrols, as well as implements and protection scavenged from kills of less-fortunate foes and explorers.

In general, mundane weapons and armor will be in four qualities: 30%  unusable or broken, 25% poor quality, 40% good/normal quality, 5% exceptional quality.  For any available weaponry and armor, 55%  human sized, 25% oversized, 20% undersized.

There will be 2d4 swords, 2d6 axes, 2d8 blunt weapons, 2d10 bows and crossbows, and 2d12 javelins, spears and polearms.  There will be 1d4 heavy armor, 1d6 medium armor, 1d8 light armor, and 1d10 shields.


Random Weaponry:

1. Two wickedly serrated short swords, +1 damage from jagged wounds.
2. Boar spear, encrusted with dried blood. One crossbar broken, the other bent, note tied to shaft says, "hang with owlbear head in hall. RIP Undrak."
3. Three crossbow bolts, close examination will reveal glass capsules embedded in the shaft.  Poison-filled (save or die)
4. Punch-dagger, +1 to hit vs armored opponents, can't be fumbled.
5. Two-bladed sword-breaker dagger - if used to parry treat as AC+1, breaks or disarms opponent's weapon
6. Greataxe with blades at either end of shaft. Requires STR of 15+ to wield without penalty. STR of 18+ may strike twice per round.
7. Rack of large, apparently custom-made polearms. Heavy, scratched shafts indicate that the wielders were not human.
8. Lance with tattered battle-pennant.  Provides a clue to the fate of a regional noble who led an expedition against gnoll slavers.  Return of the pennant to his heirs will grant the bearer a boon.
9. A FN FAL assault rifle with two loaded 20-round box magazines.
10. Bronze short sword with "Come and take them" engraved into the blade.
11. Softly glowing warhammer. Hits cause 1d4 extra burn damage. Critical fumble causes random mutation in user.
12. Light crossbow with several names scratched in the stock. The last name belongs to one of the PCs.

Random Armor:
1. Oversized banded mail - banding is heavy, pitted. appears to be composed of iron from wagon wheel rims
2. Leather stitched with copper and silver coins - value 50 GP, 50% heavier than normal studded, similar protection
3. Breastplate of bones stitched together with leather thongs (wearable by druids, AC as ring mail. Will disintegrate after 4 hits).
4. Bronze greaves, etched in elvish, "The Dy'hini stand their ground" (+1 vs fear effects)
5. Long reinforced leather coat (AC as leather), lined with silver wires. Wearer may add 1d6 dmg by an electrical attack through a conductive weapon.  Likewise, any hit by a conductive weapon will cause 1d4 damage to the attacker. Powered by alchemical cells. 2d6 charges remain.
6. Corroded bronze breastplate. Anyone donning this armor without cleaning it thoroughly will take 1d8 acid damage (residual from a recent pudding attack)
7. Retiarius arm and shoulder armor - engraved with the name of a famous gladiator. Worth 150GP to a collector.
8. A fine set of chainmail, appears to be mithril or similar. Cursed (negates/reverses effects of any other worn or carried magic items)
9. Two lantern-shields. Round steel medium shields with a small lantern in the center.
10. Threax-styled full helm.  In place of a crest is a small birdcage, useful for housing a canary or similar small creature to warn of bad air.
11. Lightly scorched set of ring mail. Smells slightly of sulfur.
12. Plate armor composed of carapace sections from some large arthropod.  Carapace is ridged and spiky. Arm rerebraces will need to be modified, as they appear to be for a being with extra arm joints.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Y&Z and done.

Hammered out Y and Z today - whew...

The Yellow Coliseum

Carved out of mother-rock deep within the under-levels of the dungeon complex, the Yellow Coliseum is part of the politics and ritual of the insect-men. The competition area and surrounding viewing gallery are hewn into the hex-form of their hive-city. The ceiling is domed, its pyrite-veined bedrock illuminated by luminous, gas-filled air-cnidarians, which drift and bounce along the stone ceiling. Five stone pillars line the killing floor for the punishment and torture of show-victims, or the ritual insect-man executions by slow carapace-rending.
another application of isometric paper

The insectoid unter-carls line the stone benches to stomp and cheer on the victorious and doomed competitors as they spar, grapple, and bleed into the coliseum's sandy floor. Obsessive gamblers, wagers are thrown, not only for victories, but for more trivial matters as first blood, whether a competitor will stumble, or if one of the wall guards will scratch... Winners of wagers cheer and losers moan. Coins and promissory notes fly from clawed hand to clawed hand as events turn on the killing floor below.

Underlying the coliseum floor are four sets of three gladiator-cells, populated by disgraced hive-warriors, political foes, random humanoids, and/or captured adventurers. Singly or in groups, they are forced to climb the spiral steps to their fates above, be it by an executioner's shucking-rake, or the weapon of a goaded foe. Either way, they are fodder for the amusement of the insect-men chattering and wheezing above.

Overseeing this all, is the Hive-Ryss, the necro-elementalist leader of his race.

He sits upon the Zirconium Throne, symbol of power for the insect-ment.  The seat is composed of etched stone and massive jacinth crystals, nearly as old as the world itself. The throne is too massive to be moved, but even a single breadloaf-sized crystal, if somehow pried away without damage, would be worth 5,000 GP to a collector. The crystal would be worth even more to an elementalist, where it would provide enough cut gems to create wands, potions and components to last a lifetime.

Silent and contemplative, in contrast to the boisterous warriors and nobles surrounding him, the Ryss both gained, and holds, his power through political machination and subterfuge. He notes those who cast covetous glances at his throne, as well as intelligence whispered by his many informants.

The Ryss is not above periodically ripping a xorn or earth elemental from its home plane and into the ring. Disoriented and raging, it throws itself against the only visible perpetrators of its violation, crushing and consuming doomed combatants, to the thrill and joy of the spectators. A leader must, after all, provide some amusement, along with a reminder of the powers he commands...

Friday, March 13, 2015

X: Xeric Blast

Geh - missed a day or so - i'll finish this exercise this weekend.
Work is overwhelming, plus I couldn't think of anything for X - I suck.

Wand of Xeric Blast

Appearing to be nothing more than a desiccated stick wrapped with some crumbling, poorly tanned leather.  However, the 'stick' emanates magic, and, upon closer examination, is found to be a wand.

A blast from this wand is sufficient to reduce some creatures to desiccated husks, if not to outright piles of dust. A found wand will have 2d12 charges remaining.

Xeric Blast:
3rd level MU spell (necromantic/elementalist).
Range: 60 feet
Target: single (wand allows for multiple (up to four) targets within a 15' circle)
Duration: instantaneous

Desiccates a foe by literally ripping the water from their body.  Cells hemorrhage and mists rise from the target in excruciating, massive dehydration.  The target withers and sufficient damage may cause the body to crumble.  Damage caused is 1d4 x the level of the caster (wand acts as 6th level caster, or DM discretion).  Additionally, the target must save or lose 1d3 CON points (permanent) due to system shock.

A target killed by xeric blast has a 10% chance of arising as an undead 'Salt Mummy' that seeks moisture: (HD 4, AC 6/14, Atk; 1d6+1d3 CON damage [dehydration, temporary if target drinks 1 qt water per pt of COM loss within 1 hour], move 6, save 14, Resistances: Magic weapon to hit)

Stone or earth-based creatures (golems, earth elementals, xorn, etc.) are not affected by this spell. Water-based or protoplasmic creatures (water elementals, oozes, gelatinous cubes) lose their consistency and composition and must save or take double damage from this spell.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Washrooms of the Troglodytes

W - Dungeon washrooms of a race not expected to be fastidious.

Little is it known, but the notorious stench of the troglodyte is maintained only through disciplined hygiene and ritual. Troglodytes emit their distinctive musk though glands at the base of their tails.  If they stray away from water bodies or baths for too long, the glands may become blocked, and the stench decreases.  So much so, that opponents may receive a bonus save, or the effects of the stench are for a much shorter duration. Likewise, a troglodyte warrior will lose status if he is not able to keep clean, and therefore emanate his stink within the clutch or battle-band.

Therefore, the troglodytes maintain secret baths in their underground lairs.  This is not commonly known, and, according to some, may actually be a bit of a racial embarrassment...

babies in the bathwater
A bath will consist of several stone-lined, interconnected pools fed by a diverted subterranean stream or spring. The troglodytes bathe in order of status, highest to lowest, the lower-status individual washing in the effluvia of their betters.  The warbands reinforce bonds in this way, where the symbolic runoff from the baths both cleanses the warriors, as well as reinforces the 'aroma of the clutch' through the intermingling of bath waters. Group bathing takes place, with the individuals emitting a sonorous, subsonic hum, much deeper-toned than their usual draconic chatter.  Carved fetishes in the shapes of spiders, rats, and lizards are floated in the baths, and sponges or bound bunches of rushes tossed back and forth for scrubbing.
Linked Inca baths at Phuyupatamarca
A bathmaster keeps some semblance of order. This rotating position is one if the few that may come from any level of hierarchy, and the bathmaster reigns within the baths, wielding a symbolic sponge-headed javelin, keeping the chaos to a manageable level, and assuring that all may bathe in their appropriate rank. Even if the bathmaster is of the lower caste, he minds his authority, for the position will pass from his claws to the next master soon.

Inca baths at Tambomachay

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lernys' Veranda

(missed a day - catching up - work and life interposed on my silly pursuits)

V is for Veranda, because an under-lord still appreciates a room with a view....

The sorceress Lernys comes to this balcony to meditate and take in the view of the yawning chasm before her. Sometimes she just enjoys the luminous fungi lining the dripping walls, or listens to the soothing susurrations of the hoards of vampire bats as they rise and decend through the gap. Twice a year, she marks the scintillating migration of the luminous jellies as they rise to the towering cavern roof to mate and hang their mucous-like egg cases. Then she awaits the birth-fall of the young as they drift downward, a portion consumed by filter-feeding sieve-bats.


The veranda extends out over the chasm, ringed by stout columns (closely arrayed, but not so close that a disappointing servant or spent sacrifice can't easily be pitched into the abyss).

Lernys reclines on an azurite throne, absconded from some dwarven stronghold.  Braziers behind her hold not flames, but tiny flame elementals (2HD, atk 1d8).

To her right is a massive onyx sacrificial alter, cut through with an s-shaped gutter for collecting the blood of the lost. Sensitive about her height, a minion provided curved steps for Lernys to access the alter for ease in plunging the knife.

A pasha's pavilion tent, captured in some surface raid, jauntily occupies one third of the veranda. Inside are the usual array of simpering servants, cushions and delicacies both subterranean and surficial.

The entrance is guarded by a pair of Tusken ogres, each armed with a feersum double-bladed axe (2 hits per round, 1d12). If attacked, they will use their mirror image ability, and one will hold the entrance, while the second moves to free the sorceress' 'pet.'

She keeps as a pet, a small acid wyrm, (6HD, atk bite 2d8 or acid spit [20' range, successful hit causes 1d8 first round, 1d6 second round], no tail sting).  The creature is chained to an azurite pedestal.  If one of the ogres manages to free it, the wyrm will fly free to attack, otherwise it will thrash and defend itself from its position.

Lernys, 11th level sorcerer, 30 HP, AC 6/14 (leather / ring of protection +2),  obsidian dagger +1, healthstealer (save or 1d3 CON loss), scrolls (charm, summon monster I, invisibility)

Sunday, March 8, 2015


U is for Under-druids, distorted, subterranean versions of their more familiar, arboraceous brethren.

Tied to the dark and stone, rather than the moon and forests, the under-druids draw power from the stone, and twist it to their needs.

Under-druids (spec'ed here for S&W, with some add-ons borrowed from 3.5) share many characteristics with druids, modified for their subterranean environs. Deviations and modifications are noted below:

Prime Attribute: Wisdom and Constitution, both 13+ (a druid character gains a +5% experience bonus only if both their Wisdom and Constitution are 13 or higher.)

Hit Dice: 1d6/level (Gains 1 hp/level after 9th.)

Armor/Shield Permitted: Leather or bone armor and wooden shields only.

Weapons Permitted: Dagger, hammer, spear, sling, oil. Stone or stone-bladed weapons, if wielded by an under-druids may be treated as magical weapons.

Race: Any humanoids may become Under-druids.

Alignment - Any chaotic

Because of their disconnection from the world above, an under-druid does not require mistletoe as a spell/powers component. Instead, they utilize a variety of fungi, many of a hallucinogenic nature. In fact, they are likely addicted to them, resulting in a somewhat addled nature.  However, this also increases their sensitivity to the currents of the world around them, and they may cast an augury (as per 3.5) once per day.

Under-druids gain a +2 saving throw bonus against petrification.

Under-druids share most elements of the druidic spell list, except as noted below:
They do not have access to any weather-related spells, and plant-centered spells are substituted with either fungus/oozes, or stone.

Level 1
  • Detect Magic
  • Detect Snares & Pits
  • Faerie Fire
  • Locate Animals
  • Predict Weather
  • Magic Stone (as per 3.5 spell)
  • Purify Water
  • Stone Fists (as per 3.5 spell)
Level 2
  • Call Stone (as per 3.5 spell)
  • Create Water
  • Cure Light Wounds
  • Heat Metal
  • Locate Plants Fungus
  • Obscuring Mist
  • Produce Flame
  • Speak with Animals
  • Warp Wood 
Level 3
  • Call Lightning
  • Cure Disease
  • Hold Animal
  • Neutralize Poison
  • Plant Fungal Growth
  • Protection Against Fire Petrification 
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Stone Shape (as per 3.5 spell)
  • Water Breathing
Level 4
  • Animal Summoning I (summoned animals limited to subterranean types)
  • Control Temperature 10-ft. Radius
  • Cure Serious Wounds
  • Dispel Magic
  • Hallucinatory Forest Stones
  • Insect Vermin Plague (calls creeping, flying, scuttling mass of cave vermin)
  • Plant Stone Doorway (created passage through stone wall, only accessible by caster)
  • Produce Fire
  • Protection from Lightning
  • Speak with Plants Fungus and Oozes (may communicate with fungus, as well as oozes/slimes/jellies up to under-druid's HD)
Level 5
  • Animal Growth
  • Animal Summoning II
  • Anti-Plant Fungal and Ooze Ward (Protects caster from fungal attacks, as well as oozes/slimes/jellies, 10' radius)
  • Commune with Nature
  • Control Winds
  • Hold Plant Fungus and Oozes
  • Transmute Rock to Mud
  • Passplantwall (as 5th level MU spell)
  • Sticks to SnakesStones to Spiders caster may turn as many as 2d6 normal stones into large (1HD) spiders (lethal poison, +2 save).
  • Wall of Fire Stone (as per 3.5 spell)
Level 6
  • Animal Summoning III
  • Anti-Animal Ward
  • Conjuration of Fire Earth Elementals
  • Feeblemind
  • Finger of Death
  • Repel Wood Fungus and Oozes
  • Transport via Plants Stones
  • Weather Summoning Stone to Flesh (as per 3.5 spell)
Level 7
  • Animate Rock
  • Confusion
  • Conjuration of Earth Elementals
  • Control Weather
  • Creeping Doom
  • Fire Storm Meteor storm (as 9th level MU spell)
  • Reincarnation
  • Transmute Metal to Wood Earth (transmutation of metal to soil in a 10x10 area
Update: Gavin Norman commented on G+ that he'd made up some spells specifically for a druid such as this.  Here, here, and here. Thanks!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Turbulent tunnels


1. Howling winds, 75% chance to extinguish torch, 50% chance to extinguish lantern, hats lost, loosely held scrolls or maps flutter off.
2. Screaming ghosts - despondent undead, generally harmless, however, party deafened for 1d4 turns, unable to communicate vocally, vocal spells impossible, warns any critters in the area.
3. Inundation: water floods the passageway. 1-2) ankle deep; 3-6) knee deep; 7-9) waist deep; 10) neck deep. 50% chance that knee deep or deeper water contains bitey critter(s).
4. Tumbling tunnel - passageway 1-3) shakes, as if by earthquake (50% chance of stonework falling for 2d6 dmg); 4-5) spins 90 degrees; 6) rotates downward 90 degrees, turning tunnel into shaft (1d6 dmg per 10' fallen).
5. Transparent - suspended over apparently bottomless chasm - save or terrifying vertigo
6. Gelatinous cube, feeding on luminous dungeon geckos (also slow and languid). (contains dwarf-sized chainmail, +1 battleaxe, potion of spider climb, crystal skull [50 GP], and 320 SP scattered throughout)


Friday, March 6, 2015

Scarf of the Danse

S is for: Scarf of the Danse

Found among the detritus of a goblin's pantry, what appears to be a filthy, silken rag, with a few tarnished coins stitched into its hem becomes much more upon a cleaning...

The peripatetic dancer-thief priestesses of Izenda moved among the courts of the Old Kingdom, occupying themselves with intrigues, the filching of valuables, and malicious trickery.

Beautiful and mysterious (aren't they all?) the dancers were adept thieves who amplified their already-impressive skills and coercions through the enchantments of their dancing-scarves.

The scarves allowed them to beguile their victims, as well as improve their chances to make off with a valuable bauble, battle plan, or escape pursuit.

Scarf of the Danse: Allows user to charm 1d6 targets  for the duration that the user is dancing.  Wearer becomes particularly light on their feet, adds 5% bonus to any thief's climbing or move silently skills.  A non-thief character will be able to practice these skills as a 3rd-level thief equivalent.  If the scarf is worn as a veil, the wearer will become hazy and slightly displaced to a viewer, adding a +10% to hiding in shadows attempts, and to hit a wearer is penalized at -2.

However, the scarf must be kept spotless in order to perform its enchantments.  Spillage or staining of the scarf will render it ineffective, a fact known by certain advisers and guards, who were wise to the wiles of the priestess-thieves. Hence, the questionable tradition of throwing wine upon court dancers in some duchys. The scarf will still emit a magical aura, but its powers will be muted until it may be washed and restored.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ratling warren

Ratlings R' in yer dungeon

Downbelow, in the part of the dungeon where the offal and runoff from the upper levels collects and stews, the ratling warren subsists on the leavings of the dwellers above.  Seemingly pathetic when met alone, the cringing, pleading creature becomes belligerent and aggressive when backed by a swarm of his colleagues. And that, indeed is what they are, flooding from warren-holes, passable only by rat-folk or similar small humanoids.  An unwary group will soon find themselves surrounded and overrun by gnashing teeth and flashing blades.

Adventurers may note the distinct lack of kobolds in this region. The ratlings learned many tricks from the crafty little scale-dogs, and finally bested them at their game.  Treacherous, maiming traps, meant to attrit rather than kill, line the tunnels at the edges of the ratling domain. Murder-holes spew fire or quarrels. Tortuous tunnels allow for doubling back and flanking counter-attacks.

The ratlings have recently been co-opted by a were-rat skald, who has charmed them with his tales of sewers of the great cities, and of their destiny away from this remote, dank place, to a new, urban, dank place, where they may flourish.  To this end, they have been preparing for this endeavor by expanding their territory, displacing or killing seemingly more powerful neighbors in the dungeon.

The skald uses both his natural influence over rats and his lyrical storytelling to lead and influence his rodent thralls. One day he will return to his city, leading his warband, and displace those who believed they had made the sewers safe from subterranean threats.  They are becoming stronger, but it is not yet time.  He paces in his quarters, impatient.

Thanks, +Jim Magnusson 

 Were-rat Skald: (HD 3; AC 6/13; Atk 1 bite (1d3), Short sword+1, +2 vs. reptiles; Move 12; Save 14; AL C; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Lycanthropy, control rats, surprise, hit only by magic or silver weapons. Skills as Thief 3. Lyric-song - acts as charm while chanted or increases morale of allies by +2 . May also be used to implant certain trigger words into a recipient's subconscious, allowing later influence or to initiate actions.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Quartet in Brown.

Day Q: The Quartet in Brown

Deep at the end of a tortuous cavern, the party will come upon a hooded figure, robed in brown. As they approach, any light sources, whether mundane or magical, fade and extinguish.  A single candle flickers in a niche in the cavern wall, barely illuminating the figure.  His(?) robe is tattered and many-layered, the being beneath shrouded. Somehow, this meditative figure has remained unmolested by the denizens of the dungeon, whether evil, predator, or mindless.  The figure will not respond to questioning, and exudes a sense of peace.  After a few moments, he will push a small begging bowl from beneath his robe toward the party.

Once the party puts an offering in the bowl, whether a few coins, some rations, or some other trinket, the being will withdraw the bowl, and begin to hum.  The party will realize that three other similarly-garbed beings now surround them, as they begin to hum and chant in an unknown tongue.  The candle brightens, pulsing to the song. An overwhelming sense of peace and beauty washes over the party. At the end of the song, the candle extinguishes, the accompanying trio vanishes, and the being is found to be nothing but a pile of rags.

The lanterns and torches spontaneously relight.

Possible random outcomes of witnessing such an event:
1. All HP damage instantly healed, and PC gains 1d4 HP permanently.
2. Becomes pacifist, gives up on all this adventuring nonsense and wanders the land as an ascetic.
3. Becomes despondent that this moment will never be repeated. Personality becomes morose, as someone who has lost an invaluable object.
4. Gains 1d4 WIS.
5. Regardless of class, the song has released a bit of divine connection in the PC's soul.  PC gains one 1st or 2nd cleric spell per day.
6. Becomes enamored with beauty. Spends any wealth gained on art objects and music.
7. Remembers a snippet of the song. Singing it will have the the effect of Protection from Evil, 10 ft. Radius, once per day.
8. Becomes hopeless romantic, finding love in every girl's and/or guy's smile.
9. Becomes insufferable critic and one-upsman. "Worst-dungeon-ever!" "I was using 10-foot poles before they were cool."
10. Hmm, nice tune. When do we eat?

Totally ganked from this scene

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pool of the Naga

P is for Pool of the Naga

Deep in a cavern pool, eerily lit by odd, blue-flamed braziers, luminous fungi and phosphorescence, lives the water naga, Raeda.  The pool bubbles up from a a hidden spring, and flows from the room via a submerged outlet. A few cushions and other luxuries have somehow been dragged here, and line ledges within the room.

Raeda has retreated here from some forgotten conflict.  After all this time, she can't quite recall what the whole kerfuffle was about, and stays more from inertia and an acquired bit of agoraphobia.  She is old and wise, but a bit bored...

She'll trade riddles with adventurers, and ask for gossip from the world above.  For a suitable valued gem, she'll answer a few questions about the level.  Anyone who shares a delicacy with her will gain her favor, and she will return the gift of a scroll containing 1-2 1st-3rd level MU spells.

If the party appears to be suitably interesting there is a 25% chance that she attempt to charm the party in order to keep them around.  She will detain parties who she finds entertaining, freeing them of her grasp once they run out of jokes or tales of past exploits.  There will be a 50% chance that 2-5 charmed adventurers or similar present. If the party defends itself with violence, she will extinguish the braziers with a flick of her wrist, cast shield or protection from missiles, and disappear beneath the water.

(Update - now with crappy map)


Monday, March 2, 2015


Oubliette - a place to forget...

A sniff over the grate tells of decay, underlain by suffering and sorrow.  Abandoned by its gaolers, the 'hole' is now filled with broken bodies in various states of decay.  No one recorded those who were tossed into the pit-dungeon.  These were prisoners who were not even worth execution.


Who were they? Does anyone care to hazard roping down into the pit to investigate? Could one of these poor souls be a lost name from the world above?  Or did they all deserve this anonymous fate?

Digging through the bodies carries a risk of  contracting disease, 5% chance per turn, cumulative. One body may arise (20% chance) as some accursed undead (up to 3HD), making for a desperate, close-quarters fight in the dark.

However, there is a 10% chance per turn, cumulative, of finding a ring, still on a bony finger, or hidden within a fold of tattered cloth. There will be nothing else of value in this pit of despair.

1. A signet, providing a clue to to the fate of a minor noble who went adventuring, and was not heard from again.
2. Magic, seeping with enchantment.
3. Cursed and malevolent, woe to that scavenger who puts it on their finger.
4. Pretty but of little or no value (up to 10 GP).  Perhaps a trinket, providing a brief comfort in the dark.
5. Valuable, but not enough to buy off a guard before its wearer was pushed into the hole (up to 200 GP).
6. Really valuable, hidden, a king's ransom (up to 1,000 GP).  Too bad the bearer was merely a petty thief.
7. Relic - thought to be lost, the return or this artifact will gain great favors from the owner or race in question.
8. A prison itself, perhaps holding a djinn, or a demon, a being helpful or malign.  Close inspection shows a tiny figure thrashing within the gem.  Free it?