Thursday, December 30, 2021

Improvised Solo Adventure

Greetings, fellow adventurers!

Currently having the mixed blessing of the inadvertent adventure of cancelled flights due to a combination of the plague and two atmospheric rivers gut-punching the West Coast.

Thankfully, I'm visiting family, so much better off than the poor souls stuck at airports or hotels. And I have a notebook and the interwebs. 

So I cobbled together a quick and dirty solo adventure of random rolls using OSE as a framework. 

Initially I grabbed a PC from a random character generator - yielding a cleric with above average WIS and CHA and equipped with plate and shield. Solid start. I bumped our hero to 2nd level for a spell, and gave him two Meatshields extras.

I could have found a procedural dungeon generator, but went bare-bones with a simple d6 roll:

1-3: corridor

4: Door

5: intersection ('T' or 'cross' 50/50)

6: Room

When a room was rolled, it got the B/X random stocking roll:

Monsters were generated using the OSE Reference Booklet.

Encounters were d6 for surprise plus 2d6 for reaction. Combat was loosely based on Kevin Crawford's Solo Heroes. Successful monster attacks caused 1 point of damage, and heroes/hirelings caused 1hd damage (e.g. a 2HD monster required 2 hits to go down).

How did it go?

The adventure:

Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Grumpy Old Man character class

This came to me as I woke up this AM. So I had to write it down. And share. Sorry about that.

A friend was lamenting the impending passage into dotage with the purchase of a pair of readers. Welcome to the club, dude.

Oh look, time for a new pair of readers

Which must have inspired my morning meditations on that neighborhood terror, the Grumpy Old Man.

A dynamic duo for the ages

Anyway, I'm not sure how many of us get characters to name level/retirement age. Mine seem to get retired early in the depths of some labyrinth. But I'm sure it happens. And while one may aim to build a domain, lord over some vassals, and make a name for themselves, I'm sure that plenty of others are happy to hang up the spurs or spellbooks and just tend a garden, rock on the front porch, and complain about the kids and their too-loud lute music. 

So bask in the glory that is the convertible character class, the Grumpy Old Man. Simply take your 10th level PC, change their class to G.O.M., and park them on their porch.

Ok, well, if someone askes nicely, they may step off to totter out and help out with a local problem.  Bulettes in the field, dragon eating sheep, necromancer defiling the graveyard. But don't ask much, because it's Tuesday, and that's the Early Bird Special at the pub.  

They're tough, they know stuff, and they are not ones to suffer fools. And don't you dare track across the lawn. They just mowed it.


(Updated 15/5 - minor edits to character description and immunities)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


 Hidely-ho, neighbors!

It's been another quiet month on the blog-front. Had a couple things in the works, then JB over at B/X Blackrazor had to go and post up an offering of a contest.

The theme, "Out of the Sewer," as in rats... Everyone's favorite ubiquitous dungeon denizen... 

So off to scrounge a map that will fit a rodent-inspired adventure and see what my boring brain can come up with.

Idea #1: Of course, rats have many connotations besides just our favorite plague-wielding rodents. Definition#2 in old Miriam-Webster is a deserter, or informer.

"Viktor Pacovi has deserted Wringcaster Keep and fled with the Castellan's sword..."

Wherein our heroes are called to judiciously, or extra-judiciously, take out a deserter before he has a chance to spill the beans on the Keep's defenses to the highest bidder. Of course I've got him holed up in a very well-defended compound. One where walking in the front door is a good opportunity for Many Bad Things to happen to a careless party. But don't worry, there's another rat, er, informer who is happy to share intel with you. How good it is, is up for debate...


Don't worry, there are a couple of back ways in, and depending on how generous, or honest, the informer was feeling, the PCs may actually learn of which one is the better option. In the end, it's a tactical dungeon crawl.

But with muskrats!

Download 'Clearing the Warren' here

Then, 25 days into the month and after futzing around with margins and single words for entirely too long, I woke up to more ideas. Of course. Because rats propagate. 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Vobleavira Haven Revision

Well, after the events recounted in last week's post, it was time to lift the hood on the adventure and do some tuning. 

Spoilers aplenty below...

Saturday, November 6, 2021

A quick visit to The Mausoleum of Matias

Well, I have word that Jackson has recovered enough hit points to return home, so that's some good news for his recovery. 

In the meantime, a quick stocking exercise of "The Mausoleum of Matias" that he posted a couple weeks ago.

An inviting 5-room format

The mausoleum, per the creator, is heavily trapped (3 in the 5-6 areas), with the true tomb hidden behind a secret door. So a good space for the player characters to defile, er, explore. And, as I've done in a few other stocking exercises, the big-bad may be a threat or potential benefactor, depending on how they are played, and how the party interacts with them. 

Feel free to pay your respects at The Mausoleum of Matias

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Vobleavira Haven Play Report and Revision

So I attended our revived local con, Dragonflight, after a year's hiatus due to <REDACTED>. I signed up for a few games, but felt the offerings were thin in the RPG front (due, in part to the absence of organized play supported by the current editions of the game).

Nothing else to do but step up and run a game. I set up a 3-hour window on Sunday morning running my B/X-OSE dungeon-crawl Vobleavira Haven. It's been a while since I looked at the adventure, so I reviewed it, and decided to tweak the adventure for the game - adding a few details, and creating a bit more story to make the adventure less of a "wander around and steal stuff."

Spoilers below:

First of all, apparently adding this:

... is becoming a recurring theme via another recent adventure....

Besides, it was a Halloween game. Gotta have something spooky.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Another Itch Jam entry - The Tomb of Spear and Smoke.

Been quiet but not unproductive (I hope). Besides reworking The Long Hall (see yesterday's post), I took a whack at's recent Dyson Logos Jam.  After all, a theme and a deadline is always good for the creativity. Perhaps. 

Per the jam requirements, I scrounged through the maps made available for commercial use. I downloaded several, and of course there are now multiple notated maps scattered about. But this one came through in the end:

It's an interesting complex - certainly not linear, and with multiple zones to work with. At first glance, it doesn't have a clear 'goal' location. The adventurers enter into the center of the maze, with four doors to choose from - which way to go?

Some process notes:

The entry room with three columns and an apparent broken fourth column implied an incomplete story. 

The five-chambered room looked to hold five small sarcophagi - were they small individuals, or other remains? Who were they?

And why is there a separate larger sarcophagus in the upper center? Obviously an honored dead - what was their relationship to the other remains, and why were the two sets separate??

And what's with that capstan-looking thing in the hall adjacent?

Subterranean water is always a good feature to hide threats... Besides, I'd just watched this video.

The number of small alters, statues, shrines, implied a temple or center built in stages, or maybe repurposed to fit a need.

There will be traps - some telegraphed, some not.

In the end - we have the tomb of a hero, interred to watch over those he defeated. And because the hero is here - so is his favored weapon, a magic spear... But of course it's not in his tomb. That would be silly.

And those he defeated? Like many evils, they do not rest easily...

So welcome to the Tomb of Spear and Smoke.

Where's the smoke? Well, the adventurers will just have to discover that themselves...

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Long Hall, redux

So a bit ago I entered the Prince of Nothing's No Artpunk Contest with a cobbled-together adventure using Jackson's "The Long Hall" map.

And, well, it sucked. No two ways about it. That said, I got some valuable constructive criticism in the judging. 

So nothing to do but take it home and rework.

(insert stock footage of typing away in the garret) 

Added some more story to the place, a few more NPCs, tweaked the baddies. Shifted a few things around to help the flow of the adventure. And dumped in more treasure (although the Bag of Holding hit the cutting room floor). So perhaps it sucks less now...

And now it's live, again, on So have a look, see if it's improved, and enjoy your visit to the shrine... Where is that weird droning noise coming from? 

Some bad related news: Matt Jackson took a serious fall last week, ending him up in a trauma unit with numerous d6 in falling damage. Been receiving updates from his family, and now, thankfully, Matt himself. He has a healthy shopping list of injuries, but nothing that won't mend. That said, he's at the beginning of a long road of recovery and rehab, but I suspect it's hard to keep an old soldier down. So if you know him, feel free to drop a line of support, prayers to an appropriate deity, and/or good thoughts. 

Oh, and I received an Honorable Mention in the One Page Dungeon Contest, (again, with a "Matt Map") so there's that. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

A Pilgrimage to Aldo's Call

Not much to report - writing is off, been reworking a prior project to re-introduction into the outside world. Been getting outside and moving around...

So, this is Aldo's Call, named for a martyred priest whose death is memorialized beneath the dome of the local temple/shrine. Folks come from all around to visit the site, and the surrounding village is purposed to serve the temple and its many pilgrims. 

Visit the town! (download)

Crafted from another fine Jackson illustrated product. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Deck of Several Things, a revisitation of the Deck of Many Things

I'm not sure how the DoMT came to my mind. I've never encountered or used it in play, but I suppose that the idea of a pack of random boons/banes floated into my head, and I needed to expand on that.

But when my favorite thrash-bluegrass outfit has a song about The Deck, I'm compelled to write something...

Serendipitously, Prismatic Wasteland posted this review of the original Deck cards, rating each card for its effect and game-breaking abilities.  So it was, again, A Sign.

Anyway, below are three Decks of Not-Quite-Many Things... 

The Deck of Several Things: A less-wondrous collection of cards, de-powered to break the world less. Several of the effects are more reversible, as compared to the very limited reversible effects of the original DoMT. I've kept the 50/50 proportions of beneficial and detrimental cards, and renamed some of the cards to better fit the effects of the drawn card. Starred cards are included in the 22-card deck:

  1. Ace of diamonds — Vizier*: Gain the ability to cast Augury 1d4 times
  2. King of diamonds — Sun: Random non-weapon magic item usable by your class (Selected by GM).
  3. Queen of diamonds — Moon: Gain the ability to cast True Seeing 1d3 times
  4. Jack of diamonds — Star: +1 to prime requisite attribute.
  5. Two of diamonds — Favored Enemy: If you single-handedly slay the next enemy, gain it as a favored enemy (+1 to-hit/damage).
  6. Ace of hearts — The Fates*: Reverse the effects of a negative/tragic event. Applies to either the past or may be held for a future event.
  7. King of hearts — Throne: +1 charisma, and a deed to a ruined tower...
  8. Queen of hearts — Key: One random magic weapon usable by your class (Selected by GM).
  9. Jack of hearts — Mook: 1st-level man-at-arms appears (6hp, chainmail, spear, short sword). Loyal unto death. Gains experience as a retainer.
  10. Two of hearts — Gem*: A 1000gp gem appears.
  11. Ace of clubs — Talons*: One magic item held by the character loses its ability (weapon becomes mundane, potion inert, etc.).
  12. King of clubs — Mindless: As Feeblemind, may be dispelled with Remove Curse.
  13. Queen of clubs — The Imp: Attacked by a most disagreeable imp. Anyone supporting you summons their own imp to defeat.
  14. Jack of clubs — Haunt: Haunted by a ghost of a slain enemy for one month. Prevents natural hp recovery and spellcasters must save vs spells (or equivalent) to gain daily spells due to fatigue and distraction. May be dispelled with Exorcise or similar.
  15. Two of clubs — Hampered: -1 to prime requisite attribute.
  16. Ace of spades — Kidnapped: Dragged to the fey realm for 24 hours. Returned bereft of gear and no memory of what happened. Permanent haunted look and random paranoia.
  17. King of spades — Gone Broke: All carried wealth (coin, gem, jewelry) disappears.
  18. Queen of spades — Bane: -1 to all rolls for one month, or until Remove Curse.
  19. Jack of spades — Rumors: The PC has gained the ire of the local law enforcement, realm leadership, or inquisition.
  20. Two of spades — Re-balance: Rearranged attributes, new PC class.
  21. Joker (with TM) — Fool*: Lose one level, draw again.
  22. Joker (without TM) — Jester: Sufficient XP to level up, or two draws.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Moar Minotaur. And the Shaman class!

Well, figured I should give my minotaur the Advanced Version of ye olde game treatment, and give them a little class, or classes, as well. So here's our bovine friend kitted out for 1e/OSRIC/OSE Advanced Fantasy/etc. 

Download Me

Gave them the fighter and thief, of course, because apparently anyone can do that. And barbarian, because uncivilized. But felt like I needed a bit of a spellcaster too. Not being satisfied to just toss them the cleric/druid class, I wanted to perhaps give them something a bit hybrid. So the shaman class came to be. Now I know that there are likely plenty of shaman/witch/druid/nature-priest classes out there, but why not one more? 

Besides, I had this guy for inspiration:

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Minotaur Player Class

Well, I haven't done up a character class in entirely too long, so a quick and dirty writeup of that labyrinth denizen and antagonist of disoriented heroes everywhere: The Minotaur! 


(Made up for OSE-B/X, or similar old-school flavored games)

HD: D8

Saves: As dwarf

Allowed armor: Light or medium, shields

Allowed Weapons: Single or two-handed melee

Requisites: STR, CON 12

Prime Attribute: STR/CON

A denizen of the labyrinths and dark, twisting places, your chimeric, monstrous appearance keeps you on the edge of the civilized world. 

Unless, perhaps, some serious muscle is needed, a spectacle is demanded for the gladiator ring, or a party needs someone who does not get turned about in the underground. And then, who do they call? Your bull-headed self of course... Hulking and outcast, you tend to be a loner, but will join up if the coin is good and the maze is worthy of your nose for direction.

Your native habitat is the mazes and winding passages, either engineered or natural. You have an inherent sense of direction underground, and can readily track back to the last known exit or passage to a level change.

You’re a big boy (or girl). Your height is six feet+1d12 inches (watch your head). Armor costs 25% more to fit your majestic physique. That bullishness, though, has made you tough as nails. Add your CON bonus to your armor class.

You much prefer to get up close and personal for bashing, stabbing, and slashing, so missile weapons are not on your shopping list. That said, you can use two-handed weapons single-handedly. 

That whole man-eating thing is a myth... Isn't it? Whatever. You can forgo your weapon attack to bite or gore (1d6 damage) an opponent.

You may be big, but you're surprisingly light on your feet. You may move silently in the tunnels as a thief of the next higher level.

And, of course, you can see in the dark (infravision to 60'). Not much good underground otherwise, eh?

Download the maze-runner here (includes XP table and Move Silently matrix)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Contest Entry 2 - No ArtPunk Contest

Entry #2 for this month. Fortunately a deadline extended (August 31) so that I could wait for the muse-imps to finish their coffee or running errands and come give me a hand.

So plenty of folks aren't so hot with the pink and purple layouts or out-there artistry, or art for the sake of art game or adventure writing... I appreciate people stretching creatively, and especially the innovation in game and adventure design of the last few years, but much of it doesn't appeal to my esthetics. 

Or maybe I'm just a luddite who can't do layout to save his life.

Well, the Prince of Nothing rolled up a contest just for us unfortunates: the No-Artpunk contest

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, he announced the contest in the theme of just making some interesting adventure content.  

Well, I had a map floating around to start from, at least...

I don't know if it fits the criteria, of "exciting, fantastic, and fun," but I occasionally need a deadline to create. The idea of a 'hidden thing' stands out on multiple levels with this map, as the main edifice of the complex is hidden behind secret doors. So the 'hidden thing' theme came up a couple of times in my scribbling and drafting for this adventure. Let's see if it works. Oh, and the big bad may be a bit squidgy for some folks. I have no issue with it being reskinned by users.

Come take a walk down The Long Hall

Update: PoN's feedback here

Revised adventure here

Monday, August 23, 2021

Jam Entry - The Funnel

Oop - been remiss on my scribblings and paltry efforts....

Stumbled upon the itch.o jam page. I honestly haven't perused much other than a few recommended downloads, and only had a passing familiarity with their jams. But it's always good to have a deadline...

The one that caught my interest was the Funnel Jam - building a 0-level funnel game and/or adventure to run classless PCs into 1st level characters. 

I previously built a funnel adventure, complete with a 0-level character mini game in my 2018 One Page Dungeon entry. The 0-level mechanics are loosely based on the DCC method, with some added randomness and a brief framework for attempting class-like skills. Most importantly, a PC doesn't "know" if they are potentially good at something until the first time they attempt an action, at which point the player rolls the relevant stat.

Without the imposed space restriction, I could add to the 0-level character mini-game, as well as build a small adventure that our hapless mooks may find themselves in... In this case, they are The Help for a local mage, who has asked them to open and tidy up his summer house for the season. Unfortunately, it has squatters, as well as other tenants left from more diabolical activities. It's going to take some serious elbow grease to get these dust bunnies all swept up...

Anyway, here it is, for your perusal.

Download here

The Funnel Jam runs thru August 31.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sapiam's Observatory

Good morning, 

Here's an island location, with its main occupant a skilled craftsman of 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: 


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 two gnoll guards. 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:

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.

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...


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.



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.


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.  


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).

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. 


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.


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 2nd-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.


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....


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...