Saturday, December 26, 2020

Possum Junction, or Tim drew too much.

Sometimes you get an unexpected gift around Christmastime. Tim prefers to create smaller spaces (five-room dungeons and the like) for his mini-adventures. But apparently he got carried away with this piece, working on technique and experimenting with textures and the like. So sure, I ganked it. 

This is a most excellent space, with looping corridors and multiple pathways, as well as a fine smattering of interesting features to tell a story. Hazards are built in, and there are enough room details to fix a number of points of interest and potential encounters.

A few elements stood out: a pool, a few statues, an apparent chapel space, a lot of collapsed corridors, and started filling in the blanks from my end. Helped by a few die rolls, of course. 

Like many subterranean spaces (and historical ones), I figured there had been multiple tenants. And each had left their mark. For reasons unknown or partly explained, selected features from prior occupants were left in place. Some out of respect, some due to their inherent hazard. And of course, there are the new squatters here, making a mess of things, perhaps.

And since Tim recently mentioned some content and a contribution to Expanded Petty Gods, I had to pull the tome off my shelf and add a couple of names out of that mighty group project of the G+ days... just for fun.

Statted with OSE, a bit of 1e, and some homebrew...

So let's see who's up to mischief in The Caluromys Chambers.

I did abandon Idea #1: Dwarven Frat House. But there is always time to return to that...

Edit: Updated scenario with specific stats for the water spirit (figured that since I'd written a build-your-own-monster formula, I might as well use it), and made minor language and format edits.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Taking a Rest Stop at Longtooth

 Two post in two days? What madness is this?

Well, Shane made up a 'five-minute map' of a wide spot in the road named Longtooth (although "Village" is a bit of an optimistic appellation).  

And I figured I could do a five-minute (well, 45-minute) writeup to give a name and purpose for each of the residents.

So here it is.

A one-page village with descriptors of the occupants of each of the seven buildings. No stat blocks, just some quick and dirty whos and whys for some idea seeds. Somewhere for your PCs to take a break along the road, or perhaps they just stepped off the Longtooth ferry from points unknown to find themselves in this dusty huddle of buildings. 



Sunday, December 13, 2020

Witebörd Dungeön

Well, last week's foray into Steve's White City of the Death Monkey God saw Shamus get feared out of the room, Vicil reduced to 3hp, and Sumeh avert a hold spell (and pending disaster) by judicious use of longsword. We did get some gems and a human femur with a crystal that seems to act as a detect magic. A qualified success, then. 

Steve also posted up his whiteboard the following morning. Obviously working on some Very Important Manager Stuff. 

And when people leave maps around, I may pick them up and make an even bigger mess of them. 

And I needed a focused writing exercise: About 90 minutes of freewriting produced the first draft, with some half-assed editing and additions this AM. Was good to just walk through the space room by room and say, "OK, what's here and why?" Steve says he's going to kill/run his home group in it. So we'll see how that goes...


As a bonus, the adventure also includes some brief advice for Dungeon Project Managers. You're welcome. 

Oh, and Matt prettied up the map.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Build-A-Bear, err... Monster!

December? Where'd the year go? Anyway... 

Someone on Reddit OSR asked about crafting up a monster if you didn't have access to a bestiary or similar, or perhaps to homebrew up a monster. Of course, there is always the most excellent advice of "Everything is a Bear"
But I haven't tinkered for a long time, and figured I could make a "Monster Cookbook" pretty quickly. 

(two weeks later) 

For old edition-style critters, I've often leaned on Swords & Wizardry's Challenge Level model for modding critters, such as adding an ability or effect to a "stock" monster for appropriateness for a scenario. 

So I took that as inspiration for making up a quick and dirty point-buy system based on a theoretical Hit Die monster. 

Roughly, with 2 points per hit die, distribute points to various attributes of your generic monster template. I included five very basic templates that should encompass most types of foes (Humanoid, beast, "monster," ooze, undead, abyssal). And a shopping list of available attributes for the different types and how to cost them for making up a foe. 

This hasn't been exhaustively stress-tested, but it seems to work in many cases. Some critters seem underpowered, and some end up with a surplus of points. But it's a starting place for experimenting, and as in all things old-school, it's a guideline.
Click to download

Here are a few examples I ginned up: 

Type: Abyssal, 5HD (“Nightfall Demon”) 10 points total 
1. +4 AC (4 pts) 
2. Multiple attack (2 x 1d4) (1pt) 
3. Extra damage (1 pt) 
4. Special movement (fly) (1pt) 
5. Weapon resistance (silver/magic req.) (1pt) 
6. Spell Effect (Fear) 1/day (1pt) 
7. Spell Effect (Darkness) 1/day (1pt) 
Generic Stat Block: AC 5/14, atk 2x(1d4+1), Movement: Fly; Special: Fire resistance, Immune to mundane weapons (silver or magic required), cast Fear and Darkness 1/day each 

Type: Monster, 12HD (“Dragon”) 24 points total 
1. +7 AC (7 pts) 
2. Multiple attack (2 x 1d4) (claws) (1pt) 
3. Extra damage, multi attack (2 dice size) – 4 pts 
4. Additional single attack (1d6) (bite) (1pt) 
5. Extra damage, single attack (2.5 dice size) – 5 pts 
6. Special movement (fly) (1pt) 
7. Intelligent/language (1 pt) 
8. Spell Casting (2pt) 
9. Breath Weapon (6xd8) (2pt) 
Generic Stat Block: AC 2/17, atk 2 claw (1d8), 1 bite (1d10+1), Breath weapon, 3x/day, (6xd8); Movement: Fly; Special: Language use, 12 points of spell levels 

Humanoid, 5HD (“Snow ogre”) 10 points total 
1. +4 AC (4 pts) 
2. Extra damage, single attack (2.5 dice size) – 5 pts 
3. Resistance (cold damage) – 1 pt 
Generic Stat Block: AC 5/14, atk 1d10+1, Special: Cold resistance

Beast, 4HD (“Of Course It's A Bear”) 8 points total 
1. +3 AC (3 pts) 
2. Multiple attack (2 x 1d4) (claws) (1pt) 
3. Extra damage, multi attack (1 dice size) – 2 pts 
4. Additional single attack (1d6) (bite) (1pt) 
5. Special attack/continual damage (hug, 1d6/round) – 1 pt 
Generic Stat Block: AC 6/13, atk 2x(1d6),bite (1d6); hug damage (1d6) after successful dual hit

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A Tourist's Guide to Foxtail Grotto

Another incursion into a creation of Dyson's, this time a lovely little piece of real estate in a grotto/cavern along some coastal environs. I also borrowed some general themes outlined in his blog entry, somewhat modded for my own imagining of the scenario.

Original post

I see this as a relatively low-level scenario, where the big-bad may be able to corner the PCs within the complex, but where they may find a few resources to help defeat it.

And why wouldn't they just run at the first site of such looming doom? Have you met players and their foolhardy PCs???

Anyway, here's Foxtail Grotto for use and abuse.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Gaol of Kilmanhard has some new tenants...

Shuffling around on my desk for a map that I swore I just printed out and this one surfaces instead. Like everything lately (gestures broadly), I don't remember where I found it or what inspired me at the moment.

Map in its original orientation

But statues, and a pool, and apparently a conference table. Important things are going down here. 

What exactly is going on in this secret place? Well, as my notes clearly show: is a hidden temple to a primordial god, one known for their two aspects, one of blessing and one of destruction.... 

Somewhere in the middle of this I figured out that it was a Jackson map from 2016, and that I had it oriented upside-down from the original presentation. So be it.

Ok, enough rambling and dawdling. Go see who has occupied the Gaol of Kilmanhard. And don't worry about pissing off old oceanic gods. After all, what could go wrong?

Original by Aurther Rackham

Ok, now I'm going to go print off that other map a 2nd time. Which probably means I'll find the original copy...

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Finding a forgotten project.

Was cleaning up my writing files a few days back and considering expanding on a prior project when I noticed a rogue document with an April date. Looks like I started working on infesting one of Jackson's map, then dropped it when work got crazy. Appropriately - it looks like one of his "CoronaCon" maps. Forgot where I found it. Welcome to my brain.

So I revisited the map and started revising. Shifted a couple of features about and set up to finalize. And then I noticed three more rooms. Welcome to my brain.

That said, I'd started down a 'four elements' path, so better shoehorn in Air and Fire, since I'd already addressed Earth and Water.  And there's a totally unrelated statue of a jolly fat guy in a red suit... I'm sure it all makes sense...


Saturday, August 15, 2020

What's Going on Down on the Priggin's Farm?

Heh, not sure what to say about this one, other than Tim Shorts left a pair of maps on Reddit for just anyone to do with what they will.

Like the last installment here, the maps are a paired surface/underground complex. And the residents? Well, they've seen better days, I suppose.

Spoiler on the underground creature-feature: I read somewhere in the blogosphere not long ago about re-skinning level draining undead, particularly for them-there old-school games, as level loss, especially with slower PC advancement, may be seen as an undue penalty (and a couple of level-drained PCs can quickly lead to a party death spiral). Alternatively, these undead attack ability scores, with death occurring with the score hits 0. While I don't specify if the loss is permanent, a few options may be offered:

1) Yup, permanent. Dammit.

2) Ability score recovers at some slow to modest rate, perhaps 1d2/month.

3) Divine intervention: I'd suggest remove curse as a curative to such unholy drains on a PC.

Anyway, take a visit to the old Priggin farmstead, and have some fun with it. The residents can definitely be played as eccentrics of their kind, and perhaps things will take an interesting turn...

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Exploring Dyson's "Old Fort Ruins & Dungeon"

Well, my brain is still mush with a lot of work demands and long hours. And I've found that I'm putting off a lot of exercise, both physical and creative. So this thing has been floating around in my carry-bag since Dyson first posted it in May. Which shows my productivity...

So here's Dysons "Old Fort Ruins & Dungeon," as interpreted by me... 

Not much to add here - no real deep creative process to unravel. I liked the interconnection of the surface space as an indication to the subsurface terrain (collapsed area) and its implications for exploration and geometry, and worked it into the narrative of the hows and whys of the adventure. Statted using B/X-OSE-adjacent methodologies. Or something like that...

Download me here

I hope to get back to a better flow upcoming - looks like I'm over the hump on the current work project (although there are rumblings that I'm taking on a new task). A few friends are discussing a modest collaborative project, and I have a fistful of other maps scattered about to fill with denizens.

Hope this finds you all healthy and finding your own ways to keep creative and connected.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

One Page Dungeon 2020 - Eggs for Breznac

So, the 2020 One Page Dungeon contest. An annual context of creative brevity. And with many things this year, the deadline was postponed (July 15 for your last-minute creativity). It had slipped my mind until I checked the site, and then, as a repeat offender, I got a reminder email from organizer Aaron Frost...


Not going to lie - Like many folks this spring and summer has been highly disruptive and emotionally taxing. I have been fortunate to be working straight through. Although I've been stretched with typically >40 hour weeks (construction-adjacent roles). So my brain is not in a creative space.

But I had a few notes. And a scribble in a notebook. So that's what we are going with this year. 

I swiped a simple graphical map style that I utilized a couple years ago, and tried to work out a somewhat faction-based adventure with multiple pathways. I like the idea of a low-level adventure where the protagonists have no chance against the "big-bad" of the scenario. 

And John Large of Red Dice Diaries recently said something to the tune of  "an adventure isn't old school if there isn't a random fungus table." I can abide with that...

And did I mention that the PCs are goblins?

7/11/20: Entry updated based on some reader comments - thanks for the suggestions, hopefully decreased the suck. I appreciate it!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Checking in at the Ruins of Castle Kazza

Sneaking in one more before the end of the month.

Not much going on here, or is it? The locals report that a band of orcs are squatting in the vacation home of a beloved past king. Might as well go see what sort of mischief they are getting themselves into. 

Or not? 

We visit another one of Daniel Walthall's creations, a small castle in disrepair.

I waffled about how to present this space. It seemed to have a few stories or possibilities to it, similar to my "4 Scenarios" exercises. In the end, instead of changing the occupants and scenario, I kept our somewhat anachronistic band of orcs, and, instead, took inspiration from Daniel's signature random table on each map. So, we have several potential objectives for our orcs, a batch of other NPCs to influence the action, and some random pocket change, as it were....

I hope this inspires some play or threads of other ideas. Enjoy, and stay healthy and safe out there. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Come on in, the acid's fine...

Ok folks, doing it again - a sit-down straight through populating of another of Jackson's Quarantine Specials. Matt "helped" this time by filling in the hows and whys of the place, along with several suspiciously-named NPCs.

And that evocative pool of acid - no self-respecting evil lair should be without an extremely hazardous room. Written primarily with the OSE pieces-parts and the baddies get a hopefully fun collection of cherry picked spells to assail the hapless with...

Not much more to say but, "watch your step."

Saturday, April 25, 2020

What's in The Tombs, Jackson?

Jackson has been busy cobbling together some excellent maps on 'vintage' notebook paper for folks to keep themselves entertained during our communal isolation.

A few days back he posted this bundle of joy:
with the teaser,

"You traveled the gorge, met Tomlin and he mentioned that farther along the gorge there is rumored to be some tombs. So, being of sound mind, you decide to explore further.
He mentions one tomb is rumored to already be open, inside it is haunted but there is some sort of glowing archway that the old timers say used to whisk you away somewhere. Where? He has no idea, perhaps to a secret tombs locked away in the rock?
Another tomb is rumored to be in the same area, one for the three sister of Agmorda who prayed to the toad god Ptturib. It is said, around the drunken tables at The Dead Rabbit, that the tomb is home to a room littered with gold coins. So many that it would take multiple trips to remove them all. Course, the sisters aren't too keen on all their pretty coinage leaving their tomb, but hey, y'all are adventurers, brave and whatnot, right?"

So - the current ongoing environment is wearing on me. Like most of us. Even though I can get out of the house for work, it's still an isolating world, and I just feel unmotivated and dull. So this morning it was time to bear down and create a bit.

Normally when I write, I'll note/outline each room, maybe use Moldvay's 2d6 random stocking method to suggest some fillings, then backfill the room descriptions, contents, and encounters. Today, I wrote from the empty page, starting at "Room 1" and moving in order through the complex. Matt threw enough seeds in there (Three Sisters, possible teleportation, toad god, and room of gold) that I just allowed myself to point and go.

So here it is - writing in a single sitting (more or less), one draft straight through. Written with the assistance of:

Yeah, it's a potential meatgrinder (besides the (SPOILER) literal meatgrinders)... Written primarily with OSE and a few extra bits and bobs.

Have fun, and...

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Pyramid of the Restless Eye - A Walthall interpretation

Greetings from CoronaCon2020, Day Whatever.

Doing pretty well here, and hope that you all are safe and sound as well. Trying to keep up fitness, both physical and mental, so regarding the second - a writing exercise for today:

Daniel's Patreon
Ganked another of Daniel Walthall's recent maps - an evocative pyramid, and wrote it up as an objective location with a number of undead guardians that will require negotiation (and potentially a quest) rather than combat to gain information or other desires from the target MacGuffin. It's a bit open-ended, and an eccentric undead has their potential, as do the undead's companions, hopefully.
So hack and slash your way through the jungle until you reach the Pyramid of the Restless Eye, and find out what Amenhemti is interesting in adding to his collection in exchange for his services.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Happy Jackalope 2020! A Writing Prompt...

James Young has helped run the Secret Santicore community writing 'gift' project over the last secret years. With the demise of G+, the project was ported over at the OSR Discord Server. And with the current state of the world, James added the Easter equivalent for a bit of creativity and levity - Behold, the Secret Jackalope!

I've played in these projects on and off, so threw my prompt into the list. In return, I received my Secret Jackalope prompt:

Hello Vance!
The Jackalope is here, and requires a SACRIFICE.
SherlockHole requests the following gift:
Weird monsters to stalk through some post-apocalyptic ruins in a world with lovecraftian horrors & GLOG sorcerers, or some plot hooks/ a dungeon for investigations within a walled-off city at the edge of the world

And a prompt needs inspiration. Serendipitously, a piece of 'appropriate' art popped across my DeviantArt recommendations:
All things considered equal, this fit. And so did the rest of Ondes7's work, a collection of surreal and adequately creepy pen and ink and graphite pieces that fit the imagery of Lovecraftian horrors...

So off to the races with several atmosphere-pieces of creatures that have invaded the world from the Void.

So these monstrosities aren't statted out - more notes, impressions, and perhaps a few strategies that have been found effective to counter them. But hopefully something useful as think-pieces and inspiration for a twisted world.

And I did have to shoehorn some background for the city of Redoubt, and some rumor seeds, as well. Because apparently prompts for last cities is a thing for me...

So, thanks to SherlockHole for the prompt, and thanks to Ondes7 for a batch of inspiration.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Dragonborn for the Black Hack

Still here, still essential, so out and about in the big scary world now and then. Picked up a couple of online games with various folks, so that's been a fun distraction, as well...

Hope all of you are staying healthy and relatively sane, as well.  Good thoughts to all, folks.

And as CoronaCon2020 goes on, I convert another of the darlings of 4e/5e, the Dragonborn, over to The Black Hack...

Because why not? Because you want to play a big sexy fire-breathing brute! Yes.. you...

Here, our Black Hack version's d6 table is, naturally, the scale color and breath weapon of the PC. I bonused their physical attack a bit to reflect their size, but avoided giving them a 'dealer of death' type skill, particularly because of their having the breath weapon. They do get a bit of extra resilience to draw on for valient last stands and the like, which allows for some cinematic play. And Dragonborn PCs can use their appearance and bearing to their advantage in RP or interpersonal situations.

So try one on for size, and have fun. Let me know if a Dragonborn makes their way into your Black Hack game.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Lizardfolk for Black Hack

A few years back I wrote up a Lizardfolk as PC class for Swords & Wizardry (or similar oldish-style game rules), while playing around with the rules set and some race/class generation templates.

Since I'm currently playing a bit of The Black Hack, I did the scan for the class again, just for fun.  Although there are a few supplements with new old races available, I don't find their presentation to be as flavorful or evocative as the format of the original game.

In the original four game book character classes, each is provided with a a d6 'flavor' table, two options for starting kit, and roughly three to four class-specific skill sets/characteristics. So when I made up my "Whack Hack" batch of random character classes, I tried to emulate that original style as closely as possible. Each class should have their "special thing" without making them too out of line with the game style and other classes.

And I happen to have an affinity for B/X-ish race-as-class. So my lizardfolk are fearsome warriors, with an odd spiritual connection to their god, "Old Croc." Old Croc gives you a random spell each day. You don't know what it will be. It may be Speak with Animals or it could be Raise Dead. Who knows? After all, ineffable ancient reptile gods have their own agendas and premonitions. And lizardfolk are good swimmers, of course.

Download me

So when you need a slightly monstrous warrior to wander into town, seeking adventure and fortune among the "monkeys," try a lizardfolk on for size.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Few Kid-friendly Adventures

Martin Thomas of Daddy Rolled a 1 recently put out a few threads regarding inspiration and playable content that may be kid-friendly for adolescents. I've talked with other friends with young-uns about gaming, before, as well, and gotten the "kid-friendly" question, as well. I discovered that I have (inadvertently, perhaps) written a few adventures that might be suitable for the kidlets.

And, since people may be stuck at home and getting some "quality family time" in over the next while, having a few play options may not be the worst thing.

So here's my list of six+ adventures.  Feel free to download, tweak, play, and let me know how it goes!

OPD 2016 – “Bowls of Stars” - Save the dragon! Solve the mystery of the alien 'grubs' and illnesses and role-play with some kobolds and others to get the halves of a sphere. The somewhat body-horror 'grubs' may be deleted/tweaked. I did receive a message that this scenario was run by a father for his kids with some tweaks to the role-playing aspects.

OPD 2017 - “You have acquired the deed to a ruined tower...” A mostly open hexcrawl involving uprooting a bunch of drunk halflings from a tower that you "own," as well as bunch of oddball local factions, including a leaderless cult, vegetarian orcs, and goblins with a hot-air balloon....

OPD 2018 – “The Dragon's Lantern” 0-level funnel – Hapless PCs are sent on mission by dragon to retrieve an artifact among a ratling warren.

Drokki's Tomb –  Reverses trope by 'returning' something to a tomb. Low combat, mostly negotiating a few puzzles and traps. Beware the Hammer Calliope...

Malleth's Cave – A small complex with multiple locations: There are possibilities to role-play/negotiate truce between two groups of quarreling goblins. Two side-areas include interesting 'toy soldiers' and a mean badger. Players attempting to retreat/rest at the abandoned farmhouse will find it haunted by a harmless but insistent ghost.

Nemar's Truancy – Convince a wayward prince to return home (or not) and come up with non-lethal ways to deal with his pet bear. One of four adventures built around Dyson's "Grizzly Eye Cavern"(some may also find "Trakhor's Bath" amusing - involves fighting a naked ogre armed with a wet towel)

Be safe and healthy out there, folks.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Sea Caves of Gara, or where did these mushrooms come from?

Happy viral endtimes!

Like many folks in Seattle, I'm working at home if I'm not out in the field. Likewise, the wife is teaching her university classes remotely, so I hear the dulcet strains of her cursing technology now and then... The commutes have been speedy, and surprisingly, my local grocery has not been stripped of toilet paper. While the PNB performance we were to attend this weekend is cancelled, my improv performance on Tuesday night is (so far) still on.

So, taking a break from staring at construction workplans, and making the brain be creative. Daniel Walthall posted up this evocative sea cave map with a few interesting objects and details, so I wrote a brief scenario using only his illustrations as prompts (with one exception).

Download this fungal fantasy
...and as John Large says, it's not old school if there aren't random mushrooms.

laccaria amethystina
A serendipitous find posted by Greg Gorgonmilk

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Updated adventures for Sword & Wizardry

With the Swords & Wizardry Kickstarter out in full force, I went back into my catalog of mini-adventures and scenarios with the objective of revising them into that system. A couple were already written up for S&W, and the remainder took some light work to fit them into the system.

So here are six adventures, uploaded to DriveThru for purchase (PWYW) and sharing.

All are crafted around a number of Dyson's maps, with my interpretations, of course.

Feel free to take a look, and feedback is appreciated.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Collaborative Dungeon, and one guy scribbling in the dark...

Matt Jackson ( uploaded a collaborative dungeon, inviting all to fill the individual rooms as they saw fit. The original piece and its traps, curiosities and denizens are here:

And he was nice enough to release it for free use for us randoms in the interwebs to cobble together our own works.

Mark Chance grabbed it and filled the entirety for Dungeon World stats:

And I needed to practice and focus a bit, so why not?

Bega Nigkoev was dead and buried long ago - so what's the harm in snooping around his chapel and tomb? I'm sure there's nothing to worry about... right? Right...?

Revised 07/22, grammatical changes, revised treasure.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Kübler's Shop - Stealing Shorts' Scribblings

Happy 2020, ya heathens...

So, Tim Shorts recently posted up a WIP map and narrative of his drawing process. The unnamed map is intended for a future adventure, or perhaps to torture his hapless players with... Anyway, it's a promising 10-room space for a bit of exploration and derring-do. Tim purposefully left out significant interior features for flexibility and interpretation. And no exterior doors, it seems, so we are dropping in from above, perhaps...

But you know, Tim, you shouldn't just leave these things lying about... you never know who's going to find them...


Gilgian Kübler has been tinkering around in his workshop and taking deliveries at odd hours. I'm sure that there is nothing untoward about that...

Better go check, just in case. What's going on in Kübler's Shop?  Good for a few low-level mooks, statted generically.

Support Tim's Patreon if you want to find some cool hand-drawn mini-adventures and eccentric NPCs in your mailbox. And of course, check out his blog and Anchor podcast for his thoughts and most enlightening audio unboxings...