Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sapiam's Observatory

Good morning, 

Here's an island location, with its main occupant a skilled craftsman or some renown. 

Hopefully, a locale like this could be used for a number of possibilities: PCs seek to either purchase or commission a lens ground by Sapiam, gathering some astronomical information or interpretations, hired to infiltrate his compound and gain secrets of his methods and materials. An NPC like Sapiam can also become a patron, or commission the acquisition of raw materials, as well. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Just a quick dungeon stocking exercise

Not too long ago, I watched Daniel of Bandit's Keep roll up a random dungeon to illustrate the process.  I, too, am a proponent of the Moldvay 2d6 method, so this wasn't a new approach, but it's always good to see how someone else utilized the method. And a follow-up actual play, where he ran his players through the creation, was a fun bookend on the process. 

And this morning, I watched Red Dice Diaries quick dungeon generation video, which spurred me to do a bit of quick-and-dirty dungeon populating. 

Ok, I have an hour(-ish). Let's see what I can do.

Scrounge a Dyson map of approximately five rooms, and hit a few random generators for aid. Mostly rolled up general room contents by Moldvay 2d6, adjusting as it seemed appropriate. Treasure was rolled via the OSE generators, and occupants, unless noted, are bone-stock OSE. A couple other generators aided in color.

Addendum: Clearly notated map for rooms and details:


Numbered map for key: 

Source

1. A worn statue to Phaarus, god of massacre guards the entrance. The statue is carved of black stone, depicting a tall man with a head covered in bony plates, and wearing garments made of the bones of the dead.

2. The room was once a meeting hall, but has long been stripped of anything of value. Faded and damaged frescoes show scenes of the god lording over the deaths of innocents and vanquished soldiers. A few broken crates are scattered about, apparently formerly containing provisions or trade goods. A locked closet is filled with dusty jars. One contains 200sp and a potion of levitation. Running water can be heard down the corridor to the northeast.

3. A rough alcove on the west wall hold an alter to the worship of Phaarus. Four gnolls crouch here, snickering in their rough language, while offering up a number of severed hands as tribute. A shallow alcove at the north end of the room shows evidence of a removed statue or figure.

4. Rough stone steps lead to the bank of a subterranean river. Claw marks are visible in the sand. There is a 2 in 6 chance that anyone investigating the river will attract the attention of a giant crayfish (as giant crab). It will surprise intruders to its territory on a 3 in 6.  

5. A rough cavern has been hollowed out by some burrowing creature, now absent. A pile of bones, chitin, and nesting material fills the eastern end of the borrow.

6. A two-level room contains a monolith depicting Phaarus. The monolith is on an unstable footing, with a 2 in 6 chance to topple on someone investigating it (2d4 damage, requires 25 combined strength to lift from a trapped victim). Beneath the monolith is a coffer containing 100sp and 300gp.

7. A former small shrine is empty but for three broken columns. 

8. The chamber's southwest corner has been eroded away, falling into the river. The room contains some broken furniture. It is occupied by a gnoll shaman, Drogakk Barkclaw (as gnoll except: 4HD, spells: magic missile, protection from good, hold person) and his gnoll guard. If the PCs encountered the giant crayfish (Area 4), the shaman will be warned of their intrusion. The shaman carries a pouch containing three gems of 100, 500, and 1,000gp value.

***

Ok, maybe closer to two hours, but I stopped and had a snack.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

OPD 2021

 One Page Dungeon Contest time again, and my brain was empty. I've entered consistently since 2013, and having a deadline always helps creativity.

(Shuffles around in his collection of downloaded maps)...

What's this?

blame Jackson

Well, I had a space to work with, and a title. And somehow, in my notes, there needed to be the potential for encountering drug-addled unicorn-folk revelers. That's what random tables are for.

A compact 'adventure' area with a built-in mini-game in the vein of the classic "case the joint and dlo a heist." Bribe folks, buy information, figure out how to get the McGuffin and get out, and maybe clear a bit of extra cash for yourself. Who knows?

Here ya go: Have A Cigar

Friday, July 9, 2021

Dying Heroically

I recently watched Daniel Norton's discussion on alternatives to death at 0 hit points. While most games I've played in tend towards expiration at 0 hp, I have played in a game using Cavegirl's Horrible Wounds table (My PCs have avoided its effects, but I recall a henchman cleric now has a serious speech impediment from taking a swinging-log trap to the face). Likewise, I've followed the Ten Dead Rats AP and the 'Critical Injuries' table in their house rules has been used with some effect.

So while death is certainly still on the table, it's not a sure thing, nor is it necessarily saved away, as in certain modern editions. 

So, an alternative that I'm thought experimenting here... At 0hp, one still dies, but has the chance to go out in a blaze of glory.
 
In Pathfinder, orcs have 'ferocity,' the ability to make an additional final attack or other action upon being reduced to 0 hp (dying the following round unless healed). 

So, give the characters an opportunity to die a cinematic death via one final action upon hitting 0 hp. They still die at 0 hp, but there's that chance to slightly salve to wound of losing a PC by closing out their chapter with something cool.

"Roland at Roncesvalles"
by Alphonse Marie Adolphe De Neuville

Now, not ever character gets to take this action. After all, most will still die ignominiously in the dark (shanked by a goblin, melted by slime, bonked by a falling rock trap)...



So here goes:

Roll to save vs death, because of course.

Upon a successful save, the PC may take one final, glorious action the next combat round before expiring. This is tailored for combat, as that is when these actions may have more relevancy, but there are other opportunities to play this out (traps, natural hazards, etc.)...

...or, you know, holding a door...

The player states what action their doomed hero will take, and the GM adjudicates target numbers and effects. With a success, the player then narrates that final moment of Pyrrhic glory. Followed by an appropriate moment of silence. 

Example actions:
  • Fighter - one last all-out strike, push/grapple an enemy over that chasm edge, dive in front of a comrade and take damage meant for them
  • Mage - cast one last spell, or alternatively 'spellburn'  - release any stored magical energies from uncast spells in an arcane conflagration (effects variable and highly risky of collateral damage) 
  • Cleric - Solicit their deity for a final blessing or curse (dependent upon the attentiveness and favor of the god) 
  • Thief - stab 'em in the back, take ALL the trap damage.
Kikuchiyo's death, "The Seven Samurai"

Of course these actions are flexible and not specifically relevant to any particular class (magic notwithstanding). Anyone can likely find that terminal courage to dive in front of a blade, or grenade, er, fireball. Although their success is not guaranteed, it provides a moment of character closure, rather than just, "You're at 0. Roll up another PC."

Oh, and throw in some poignant and/or defiant dying words. Goes without saying.


And since we're talking dying cinematically, have a Sean Bean death reel, just because:











Monday, July 5, 2021

Swords & Wizardry box set review

I've enjoyed the Swords & Wizardry ruleset and books pretty much since I found my way back to gaming and, specifically, into the preserved and remastered rulesets made possible through the OG.  I initially grabbed the free pdf, then picked up hardback rulesets.

I own two versions of the all-in-one hardcover rule sets (Erol Otus cover and Kaos Nest cover). I like the system for its OD&D simplicity and hackability, and a large number of my scribblings have used the system as a base. 

So when the Kickstarter for a digest-sized boxed set was announced, I jumped in for the 'wood grain' style box. Because nostalgia of original white box/45th +/- year anniversary (not that I owned the books or played in that milieu - I started with Holmes). I also appreciated the idea of the presentation of the multi-book digest format.

The project funded in March 2020, right about when other newsworthy events were happening. The planned fulfillment was October 2020, with the actual fulfillment occurring in the Spring 2021. Kudos on the team for their periodic updates and not going dark on the supporters during this time. The books and boxes were to be printed and prepped overseas, and delays occurred with production and shipping. 

So yes, I was pleased to receive it, even if somewhat delayed.

The box in its glory

The product consists of 'wood-grained' box reminiscent of the 1974 box set containing four softcover books: the Player Book, Spells & Magic, Monsters, and Referee's Book. Also included were a thank-you note from Matt Finch, character sheets, a set of dice, and a bookmark. Non-physical rewards included digital copies of the books and other player/GM aids. The reward add-ons included a book of additional monsters, a GM screen, and an intro adventure. The box is large enough to contain all items with room to spare.

The contents

So what's my takeaway? Well, it's a good product. But not a great product.

Before I detail further, I have to say that any product of this type will find it tough to compete with the fit and finish of the OSE products as a current 'standard' for published old-school D&D rulesets. Bluntly, if the Frogs had pushed this product out a few years ago, it would likely have been well-received and potentially influential.

However, Gavin took the B/X ruleset and moved it forward by recombination and organization, making a exceptionally usable product. Unfortunately, the S&W set doesn't feel like it significantly revisited the system or organization, but is more a repackaging.

The good (because it is still a good product, after all):

The multiple-digest format always had good usability at the table. Being able to toss out the player elements and hold the GM-specific information for use and reference has a lot of utility.

The art is solid and varied in style - Del Teigeler's character portraits are particularly fun and evocative. The art is strongest in the Player and Referee books, and a bit more sparse in the Monster and Spell books. 

So, the other grumpy bits:

First off, the smallish font size and glossy pages harm readability. And, admittedly, I am of an age where readers may be necessary. As are perhaps many of the other purchasers of said boxed set... know your audience...

Vs. OSE font size - sorry guys...

Likewise, the binding is saddle-stitched, so that's favorable, although I'm always a bit hesitant on the long-term wearability vs. a hardback or binding designed for lay-flat use. 

I purchased the add-ons in the KS package, including the DM screen. Unfortunately, it's of limited use, having combat matrices only. There are no other reference tables for at-a-glance use, such as reaction rolls, movement, initiative, thief and cleric tables, etc. Obviously, the screen was limited to maintain the digest-sized format for inclusion in the box set, but I do note that the pdf screen included in the stretch goals at least adds the cleric's Turn Undead table.

Supplemental items

The other two add-ons - Moar Monsters has a good selection of classic and new monsters to torment parties with, and The Baron's Gambit is a fairly straightforward adventure with a bit of a mystery. Depending on the party's actions and success, the village has the potential to become a base, and the eponymous Baron a potential patron. 

So all in all, a good product and presentation, but it left me a bit flat for what it could have been.

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Vestin Tomb, repurposing a Crooked Staff map

Oop, been awhile.  Away from keyboard, I suppose. Between work, the fact that my gym re-opened, and that it's time to go outside for adventuring...

Anyway, I have a folder full of maps that are in need of tales told, and I found one from a couple years back produced by Kristian Richards.  He produces a goodly amount of VTT content and printable 3d terrain for gaming locations and material, and is definitely worth a look.

Kristian interpreted the map on his own as Thorfinn's Tomb, a one-shot pamphlet dungeon. 


And here is my take on the space, a secluded shrine and tomb that currently has some unwanted visitors. I've borrowed liberally from Gavin Norman's Theorems and Thaumaturgy, a fine collection of three somewhat unpleasant arcane magic user subclasses and spells, with a few OSE and 1e bits and bobs attached.

Well, I should probably post this and get to doing some 'real' work on this warm Friday (predicted >100 this weekend and Monday locally). I have plenty more maps and notes that I want to get down on paper (er, computer) and hopefully share with the world.  

Friday, April 2, 2021

Stopping in at the Sweet Town of Treacle

I don't know why Treacle was given its name. It's just what's on the label... But the town has a dock, and smattering of buildings, and a few other structures of note. 

What I envisioned is a small "port" recently expanded and now under the eye of a magistrate or similar assigned by the regional authorities. Much to the disdain of locals, who enjoyed their quiet, unregulated dock...

Like Dawold, Treacle may be a good disembarkation point for adventures and explorations to points beyond. It has a few basic tradesmen and amenities, as well as a couple of potential sources of rumors and news (in the forms of inn notice board and occasional courier). And a bunch of potentially sketchy halfling refugees, who may make for somewhat effective henches...

Source

So step off the dock, take a look around, and maybe have a bath to freshen up. And perhaps stop by the local deity's temple and their rather stern curate.

Well, guess I'd better get to work building some backlog....  Dual review of a pair of similarly-named books upcoming...

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Random thoughts: Incremental "Draining" Damage

Just because I occasionally I think about game stuff besides populating little towns with people with interesting names:

"Get your prybar under there, Zophia, I'll prop the lid with this brick," said Barrick. "One more good shove, and we'll have it off."

"Good," she grunted, "Hope the temple will be happy to have their saint's reliquary back."

The sarcophagus lid slid off, revealing a filigree chest between a pair of skeletal feet. Zophia reached in, "There you are."

As she touched the chest, the skeleton's eyes flared ice-blue and the body rose, striking the intruder. Zophia raised an arm to ward off the strike, as blue-tinged claws raked her sleeve. Her prybar dropped from suddenly numb fingers. 

"Back away!" yelled Barrick, drawing sword against the glowing undead. It scrabbled at his shield, unable to breach his guard, before leaping from the sarcophagus at his stunned companion.

She clumsily swung a cudgel at the horror, before receiving another gash across the face.

"Run, now!" urged Barrick, grabbing her arm.

It was like ice, as Zophia slowly turned to him, slurring, "I tir'ed..."

The skeleton leered, stepping in for another attack.

Source

***

There have been discussions on alternatives to level draining undead.

Not sure if I dreamed this, or it just came unbidden to my mind as I was considering something completely unrelated, probably work... 

So I toyed with the idea of incremental damage effects from repeated strikes/touches from an undead or similar "draining" foe. Not simply physical damage, but each touch "stacking" on the last to create a greater effect and debilitation to a victim of the attack.

For an analogue I took the stages of hypothermia for inspiration for our "chilling" undead friend (For stats, I'd probably use a Wight/Wraith analogue)...

  1. Victim shivers and is cold to the touch, all actions are taken at -2
  2. Victim becomes sluggish, treat as if slowed
  3. Victim disoriented, as per confusion spell
  4. Unconscious (1d6 turns)
  5. Death

Recovery required warming a victim one hour per "stage" of effect, with victim passing through each stage during recovery, requiring monitoring and control. A cure spell (as "the god's warming hand") will bypass 1d2 stages.

This type of incremental damage/debilitation could be potentially devastating as a character stricken multiple times becomes increasingly ineffective or potentially a liability, depending on how the damage effect is designed. Unlike level drain, the effect may be counteracted or recovered in hours or days, depending on how it is structured. After the first encounter with a foe of this sort, PCs will likely attempt to find ways to minimize melee contact, or spread damage around, mitigating the stack effects. 

Just conceptualizing, of course. This has probably been modeled and playtested elsewhere by those more clever than me. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Hidden Garden of Ilddar

Happy Spring. Time to do some planting...

Once again, back to the maps. Today's inspiration - What are those trees doing underground? A bit of a mystery, that. So like some prior exercises, here is a space where the "treasure" isn't loot to carry off, but a resource, and potentially some intelligence as to its use. Of course, because this nursery is underground, that implies that the trees themselves have value, and perhaps are something that groups or individuals may wish to keep undisclosed. 

And, of course, the caretaker of the place has had a mishap. Fortunately, they were prescient enough to leave some "help" behind to keep an eye on the place, and keep the trees watered. An incautious party that slays as it goes may lose a secondary resource in the residents. And because places under the earth often have a history of multiple tenants, there are a few artifacts from different groups may be found.

source

Alternatively, a bunch of halflings would probably just move in and set up a grow-op.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Dungeon Poem Dungeon

Late to the game, as always - Saw a couple of folks post up keyed dungeons off a suggestion offered by Patrick over at False Machine.  Take the proffered Dyson map, make it artpunk, functional and incorporate the idea of poetry somehow ("condensation of utility, beauty, meaning and originality into a functional and interesting micro-adventure...")


I guess I can do one of those three things. Although I did put in a clue poem (don't worry, it rhymes in the original Klingon). Design-wise, it's written mostly stat-less, with qualitative descriptors for the various challenges and treasure.

I stared at the map for quite a while. Picked it up and put it down. Something about the three pits(?) on the north side of the eastern large room didn't quite jibe for me (Yozzat might have something to say about that). This morning, I finally just sat down and pounded this out in about a 2-hour exercise (delayed slightly by my laptop keyboard mysteriously freezing). Trust me, the quality shows...

Welcome to the Temple to Thoas

Link to submitted creations

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Back to Adventures - The Sinking Temple

We once again return to the scattered small adventures culled from some Jackson maps. This map was included in "A Collection of Presentations Cartographical in Nature," a selection of five maps Matt had produced for his Patreon, back in the day.


Again, this one had a good space to work with, and had to have an interesting story behind it. After all, how does a temple with a three-story tower "sink" into the ground? I chose to sink it, instead, by inundating it with a lahar.  

Source

Never mind that a building hit by a fast-flowing concrete-like slurry would have likely been collapsed. We're in fantasy-land. We need a buried building that's been knocked off-kilter. I can let geology slide now and then... 

In this case, a lahar happens when you neglect to ask the god of the temple if they mind that you are changing patrons (Spoiler, they do mind). You get thwacked by a mudflow, and the god leaves in a huff

And, as happens, other things move into the abandoned space, and they bring their pets with them.

Probably not a spoiler

So, enjoy your explorations of The Sinking Temple. As always, watch your step.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Dwarven Architectural Criticism, or Yozzat Makes Fun of Mega Bloks

(Wherein a friend shared pics of his 5-year-old's progress building a castle with Mega Bloks, and my dwarf PC gets all judgey- a quick freewriting exercise) 

***

Magnus Keep and the Surrounding Lands

Notes by Yozzat Leadjaw, Engineer

Uncle Thurnael,

I have traveled to the site of Magnus Keep, a fortification along the Oshawa Wildlands, to collect a bounty for an old blood feud. As I had a few days waiting for my contact, I made a survey of the fort to bide my time. I have attached sketches and illustrations of the fort’s architecture and probable construction sequence for future reference.

The Keep is a keep-and-bailey fortification, typical of small to medium sized hardpoints on the boundaries of territories in these parts. Situated on a defensible defile, the Keep overlooks a wide valley into the inhospitable cold lands to the north, and a large lake to the south.

The stonework is passable, if not a bit primitive (no dwarven craftsmanship, to be sure). The fort shows evidence of typical progressive construction, with stone transported from multiple quarries. As such, the quality and fitment of the stonework is variable.

The keep itself is narrow and rectangular. Based on the position and craftmanship, it is obvious that this was the original structure. A tower abutting the keep shows some signs of settlement and poor foundation engineering, another clear indication of non-dwarven construction techniques and haphazard building. The attached gatehouse and barbican are overbuilt, as if to compensate for this shoddy work (sketch below).



A curtain wall of the bailey was likely the next phase of construction (conceptual sketch below). The wall juts awkwardly to the west and southeast, roughly following the contour of the precipice where the fortress is situated. Here, evidence of multiple quarries is most clear, and the battlements reflect at least two styles of fortification design, more indication of multiple phases of construction by different supervisors and engineers. Obviously, no edict of style or consistency was laid down by whatever noble bankrolled this place. Again, a sign of the temperament and short lifespan of its human builders. Three (3!) gates pierce this wall, allowing ample opportunity for breaches. Whatever tactical advantage of the place affords is negated by this very questionable design decision.



The final bailey and curtain wall construction show continued use of multiple quarries, as evidenced by the varied type and size of blocks. Obviously, no dwarven specifications-writer was employed in any of this work. A thin defensive tower overlooks the ‘wall of gates.’ Again, overcompensation. The southwest corner of the baily is already showing signs of questionable construction and possible settlement (see sketch). Give me twelve honest sappers, and we’d have that wall down in a jiffy. Likewise, the southern and eastern walls are somewhat lower than their western and northern kin, possibly budgetary or materials shortfalls. I also noted that the eastern wall doesn't appear to be properly pinned to the barbican. Another quality oversight by these rustics. More recent reconstruction and reinforcement of the keep has attempted to correct some of its original faults.



The surrounding land is of questionable value, although I did find a passable ale or two during my time there. The fort also secures a trade road from a provincial capital to the west to other centers farther east. The locals have attempted to engage me in their odd traditional ice sports, but I fail to find the attraction. I’ll stick with some good honest axe-throwing and beard tug-of-war, thankyouverymuch.

I hope this note finds you well, and I shall soon return with the bounty and a small cask of this sweet tree-sap delicacy the locals keep raving about.

In the names of the ancestors, 

Your nephew, Yozzat.

Friday, March 5, 2021

A Brief Detour...

 A break from the regularly-scheduled program of recent small adventure postings to throw out a new village, this time by a new-to-me mapper and creator, Daniel's Maps.

The Village of Komico came across my Reddit feed, and I had to take a closer look. Daniel's architecture in this map is evocative of a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern setting of flat roofs, stucco and plaster exteriors and compact, multi-story builds. And it's built into the sides of a gorge or similar. 

Daniel added eight named locations on the map, and a bit of background in his own post. I took it as inspiration, but reinterpreted the town with respect to what I saw, as well as who the various NPCs became as I wrote. 

Source

I'm apparently sticking with a somewhat consistent town format, and I guess that includes the Deity of the Week. This one comes with the idea of an old god seeing a revival in popularity. The art inspiration comes from Hannes Bok, a mid 20th century illustrator of pulp and science fiction covers.

I'm having a good time with these, so we'll see how long this creativity lasts. One can never have too many towns for the PCs to hang out in, listen for rumors, or become nuisances. Also, low to mid-level characters need a base to work from, perhaps somewhere that they can rent or buy a residence to recover in and stash gear between forays into the world. No reason they can't have a cozy place to hole up in while they are leveling up for those future aspirations of stronghold construction and domain building.

The Village of Komico Welcomes You

Monday, March 1, 2021

Redcaps, and fun with spaces...

Might as well release the next small adventure out into the wild. This was a fun map to fill out and consider. I don't necessarily pick maps for a particular 'story,' but more as inspiring spaces, where I can look at a layout and say, "Yeah, I can work with this." Sometimes the story comes with the first glance-  a space that implies a goal or use, a big-bad's lurkum... This map's interconnected chambers and "missing" bridge spoke of a harassing foe, and chances to double back.

Monsters can fight smart. More clever creators and authors than I can line out all the how's and whys. So here's a space occupied by a bunch of sneaky buggers who can use the loops and passages, as well as a couple of their own skills, to harass and wear down a party. Even in a relatively small arena, depletion of an incautious party can come quickly with a clever foe. And especially one who knows the ins and outs of the space.

Source

So send your players to root out some Damn Redcaps. Really, it should be a quick in and out job...

 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Abbey of St Martin, an experiment in scaled adventure.

When I populated my three little towns, I had intended them to be part of a hex, with a few adventure locales to explore and exploit. I'd grabbed a few Jackson locales that seemed to fit the bill, but when I filled them out, the adventures didn't seem to gel, or have a consistency that would place them in a close region. Or maybe it's just me. So no hex got filled, and the four adventures idled.

So out they go - either as standalones, or maybe somehow connected. We're not sure. 

First up, the old abbey off the road, haunted by its former tenants, and perhaps a more malevolent force. 

A couple of design notes. First, this is an experiment in a 'scalable' adventure. For two of the encounters, I've modded them for a solo PC, a few 1st level mooks, or a few 3rd level adventurers (assuming a B/X or similar system). At each level, they should still be a hazard, but (I loath to use the term) 'balanced' to give the respective parties a good go. The remainder of encounters and traps remain the same. Let's see if this works.

Source

The old abbey is a two-story affair, with damage and decay appropriate for a place abandoned a generation or two ago. There's a scary baddie in there. And while there isn't a significant treasure lying about, the value of the place comes from a potential resource. Something to return to periodically, provided the PCs interact with the resource appropriately... The PCs may also choose to use this structure as a retreat or base (temporary or permanent) as the campaign requires. Like a 'ruined tower' or similar, having a place in need of restoration can jump-start a bit of domain thinking.

Anyway, enough woolgathering.

Who's living in the Abbey?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Neuförde Needs a Bridge

Let's travel down the West Road a bit farther from Stoneash, and well inland of Dawold

Neuförde was on the cusp of growth when the spring floods undid those plans by uprooting the town's bridge, forcing trade and travel to other crossings. Understandably, most folks are eager to get the bridge rebuilt, but the summons for an engineer to supervise new abutments has gone unanswered. 

Neuförde is a bit larger than the prior two settlements, ranking as a hamlet. Basic provisioning and lodging is available with an established inn and trading post, as well as craftspeople suited for supporting a (hopefully) burgeoning river crossing and future market. The settlement's mayor, Johannes Stroemen, will take interest in any adventurers who visit the town, and may point them towards locales needing investigation or clearing. A pair of odd elves occupy a tower, but may be willing to offer some services in identification or other arcane practices. No temple yet, but a couple of missionaries have set up shop with hopes of constructing a place of worship once the building site is consecrated.

Map by Matt Jackson

And several halfings have recently set up shop in town. Creepy little buggers...

Today's deity was inspired by another early 20th century artist, Harry Clarke. Clarke's illustrations grace a number of fairy tale collections, Edgar Allen Poe stories, and a translation of Goethe's Faust. "Garond, the Judge" is inspired by a piece from an illustrated poetry collection titled "The Year's at the Spring." Clark's works have been used as illustration/inspiration pieces in other RPG products, and I first saw his work used in The Necropolis of Nuromen

Beware: Bridge Out Ahead

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Stoneash, the next town down the road...

Next in my little collection of places and people comes Stoneash.

The thorp of Stoneash is mentioned in the Dawold Tower town descriptor as a next stop or a possible resource for PCs interested in reconstructing the tower (in the form of the local stonemason).

Map by Matt Jackson

In my imagined hex, Stoneash is approximately six miles up the road, and sits on a belt/trade road known locally as the West Road. The West Road connects the settlements in the area, and forms a rough boundary between local control and the "wilderness."

Like many small burgs, the residents of the town have aspirations, and although no particular threat or limiter has kept the town from growing, it seems that settlement and development has stalled. Perhaps there is some rumor or force keeping the town from recruiting more settlers, or a yet-to-be-determined threat has halted its growth. A recent tragedy has also robbed the thorp of one of its necessary crafts-people.

The town is a bit more established than Dawold, and has a few more resources and personalities to interact with. A guard-post implies some contact or oversight from the area hierarchy. The inn provides a place to lay over, and perhaps pick up some news or a spare hand. And there is the local clergy, with their own deity, again inspired by a Henry Justice Ford piece (For a fistful of other inspiration sourced from Ford's works, check out the Ford's Faeries project).

A note on "classed" NPCs in this and the other settlements: Where there are two classes denoted, the first refers to a suggested BX-type race-class category, with the second being the distinct class per other versions of Ye Olde Game, depending on how one chooses to interpret the various actors.

Stoneash Chamber of Commerce Welcome Brochure

Friday, February 12, 2021

"You have acquired the deed to a ruined tower" redux

So I haven't posted for a bit. But I haven't been idle. I was trying to work up a hex of a few small frontier towns and areas of interest. But it just wasn't gelling. So I have several locations to post. I'll trickle them out over the next bit - I've been having a difficult time sharing, not sure why. Let's just chalk it up to some winter malaise....

Anyway.

One of my favorite outcomes in Donjon's "Pickpocket Loot" random generator is the "Deed to a ruined tower." So much so, that it was the inspiration for my 2017 One-Page Dungeon entry

And lo and behold, Jackson had one floating about in his back catalogue. A tiny coastal settlement with the remains of a tower on the edge of town. 


So add a bit of a setup, and a collection of personalities inhabiting the thorp of Dawold. In the spirit of some of the original village modules, everyone has a brief description, a touch of personality or agenda, and a stash of coin, just in case the PCs decide to just rob the town. You never know.

I wrote this, and two other small settlements, with the intent of linking them along a frontier road. Interestingly, all three ended up with a theme of a frontier town whose development was stalled or inhibited due to some factor. In Dawold's case, the tower was to be the anchor for a small port and watch on a wild coast. A bad omen had put an end (maybe) to that aspiration, and with it, the settlement's growth. Not that at least a few of the residents don't mind the low profile.

I also made some notes and suggestions in case the PCs decide they really would like a tower with an ocean front view. After all, where's the fun in waiting until name level to have a killer pad? (The next town down the road is also referenced with respect to the tower build, stay tuned)

And, after I wrote up the three towns, I realized I'd made up a different randomly-named deity for each local preacher to honor. In the spirit of the Expanded Petty Gods project, it was a moment to write up someone new to worship. (Crap - just discovered that the original EPG project has been pulled from Lulu and DriveThruRPG over a potential copyright infringement. A shame - it was a great example of the group mind of G+ and a few people's dedication to move the project forward). That said, a piece of art from Henry Justice Ford served as inspiration for "Butia of the Field." Similar art and associated deities will follow with the other two towns.


More to come...