Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Campaign Journal: Out On the Town

 Who made it?

  • Rondel - elf
  • Fulvus - halfling
  • Jax - barbarian
  • Slick - Thief
  • Orzu - Illusionist
The session began with a recounting/retromod of the return to Brother Sigeric, since we'd cut off a bit abruptly at the end of the last session. The party returned to the city gates at dusk, talking their way past the guards (plus a minor toll). No questions were asked regarding the lump under the tarp.

The brother was eating dinner, but took a break from his repast to greet the party. He was, understandably, disappointed to hear that he'd been double-crossed by the merchant's guild. Sigeric did honor the professionalism of the surviving mercenaries and promised them safe passage. Likewise, he was happy to receive his wayward scout back, and suggested that the youth had learned an important lesson regarding watching his step. Oh, and Brother Sigeric now owes the party a favor. Something for the party to meditate on.

The party was ready to head back to the inn for their own dinner and celebrations. The Brother offered a couple of youth to take their horses to the stable to save them some steps. The party accepted, although Jax insisted on joining. After all, the party just gained six more horses, and although they have a good relationship with Saint Vivinna's Home for the Wayward, "accidents" do happen.

And so they did...

Outside of the city walls on the way to the stables, and in a conveniently dark location, three individuals stepped from the shadows to inquire if anyone might be hiring out. Jax shrugged and suggested the caravans. The three got a bit closer, looked at her, and said that it would be best that her friends stop looking for barriers out in the wilderness. This put her off a bit. As did one of them trying to hit her with an axe. It was on. Unfortunately, our brave barbarian was a bit on her heels as the second of the three slept most of her companions, and another cast fear on the ever reliable Goober. Dammit.

Oh, and the one dude had a beak, or was is a plague doctor mask? Tough to tell in the dark.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Temple of Kalonius

Per my prior campaign journal, I created a temple/tomb for the players to raid and explore. The session was a good opportunity for playtesting the adventure, and I found some weaknesses in the face of my low-mid level party. 

The published version uses the creator's title for the deity, versus one from my campaign pantheon. The areas and foes are written for generic OSR play. Based on the playtest, I added a hazard and stiffened a few of the foes to increase the challenge if things come to blows, as well. 

It was a fun session, with some good problem-solving, hectic combat, and roleplaying. Along with the general chaos that is my group. Hopefully your table will have some fun with it, as well.

Download me here

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Monster: Damned Horses

"Yeah, when the riding animals start fighting, we're in new territory" - Frederick

The party heard the sounds of struggle and battle through the trees. Rushing forward, they glimpsed four mounted warriors in a desperate fight against an unequal number of Chaos mutants, some on foot, some mounted. As they watched, one of the warriors was dragged from his horse and slain.

"Are we heroes today?" "I guess so.."

The skulky characters quickly assessed the scene, fading away to target the apparent leaders of the foes, as the elf and a couple of henchmen readied bows and spells to pick off the soldiers...

Slick and Flick made their ways around the melee, getting into position to shank the Chaos knight on his warhorse. Out of the corner of his eye, Slick saw the robed figure struggling with Frederick as he reappeared. Now! Slick leapt, stabbing between the knight's plate, as his companion flanked from the opposite side. Gravely wounded, the knight reeled in his saddle as his warhorse instinctively wheeled to seek the threat.

Slick looked up to see the horse rear with a horrid scream and glaring red eyes. A pair of iron-shod hooves sprouting what appeared to be rooster spurs came down on him, hard, nearly sending him to the Other Side...

... And that is how my party became aware of the Damned Horses. Like many of their Chaos foes, the horses have also been mutated to become "more perfect" in the eyes of the Maker.
All Damned Horses by Rigardatta

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Campaign Journal: Doing the Job

 Who showed up?

  • Fulvus, halfling
  • Slick, thief
  • Rondel, elf
  • Orzu, gnome illusionist
  • Random hangers-on
Frederick was under the weather, either from some bad eel, or perhaps a questionable tincture he bought from the caravan drover. Jax apparently decided to hang out at the stables.

The remainder of the party assembled for breakfast at the Archer & Chariot, deciding what to do with their day. As they dawdled, Alanso Ngom, the Theocracy military leader walked by with his honor guard. He paused, greeting the party, then asking them more on their thoughts and experiences combatting the twisted Chaos forces in the wilderness. Alanso was concerned that the Tribunal would lean towards becoming insular, rather than pressing battle vs the evil. On the other hand, he still needed to hedge his forces. The Tribunal had received their patrol's report on the forces they encountered but Alanso was curious at to the enemy's motivations. Rondel revealed that he had a charmed individual, who the soldier may be interested in seeing. Rondel led Alanso to his room, where they met Toby, his lobster-claw hands, and his fervent belief in the Great Maker.

'Nuf said, Toby was taken to meet the remainder of the Tribunal. Likewise, they were taken aback by the presence and appearance of the mutant. Toby put on a good show. The Tribunal decided to meditate on witnessing this individual. The Tribunal declared that a Chaos mutant should not be free within the city's walls, charm notwithstanding. Toby was surrendered to the custody of the Theocracy (And Toby was never seen again...).

Friday, November 24, 2023

Mini-Review: "Home" Sandbox Toolkit

Home: A Light in the Darkness, by Scott Wegener

Scott is also author of Glaive, a rules-lite OSR RPG built off the Knave chassis. I personally find Glaive to be a bit more readable variant of the two.

More importantly, Scott is also the artist on the long-running Atomic Robo comic, which if you haven't taken a look, I highly recommend.

Anyway, on to the actual topic of this review:

"Home" is a toolkit supplement designed to catalyse sandbox play by creating a base town with surrounding hexes, a threat on the horizon, a collection of resources, and a pathway for worldbuilding via play. 

This is a good tool for players and gamerunners who enjoy playing characters starting at the "you're a nobody from nowhere" style of play, as well as players who like their gameplay to have a direct and tangible effect on their world.

At the heart of the "Home" approach is the "steading" or base town. At the beginning of play, the steading is little more than a wide spot in the road, or clearing in the woods, with the characters as locals with itchy feet.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Campaign Journal: A Visit to St. Vivinna's Home for the Wayward

Session roll call:

  • Frederick
  • Jax
  • Fulvus
  • Rondel
  • And their various hangers-on
The party is seen departing the Temple of Khador after a mixed interaction with the city leadership. Rondel appears from points unknown with Henry Cee and Toby the Charmed Chaos Crab-man. 

Wandering across the center square of town, they enter a walled grove across the way from the temple. The grove consists of aged apple trees, and Jax and Fulvus poach a couple, which causes them to be set upon by the caretaker. Rude. The grove was not in honor of Khador, but was present since the time of the city's previous settlement, generations ago. The grove was in the honor of Asaxsxas, a saint risen to godhood long ago (she is first presented here). The caretaker explained the myth of the saint, and that he had a special dispensation from the Temple of Khador to maintain the grove. Fulvus tossed him a few coins in offering, which seem to satisfy the caretaker for their incursion. They then asked after the location of St. Vivinna's Home for the Wayward, and were pointed toward a sprawling building along the river.

The party headed over. A fellow draped in multiple tattered cloaks asked, "Alms for St. Vivinna?" Fulvus threw him some coins while Frederick subtly threw some not-a-thief gang signs. The fellow appraised this, and told the party to wait, suggesting that they step to the river side of the building, to take in the view, of course.

They did, and a few minutes later, a side door opened, and they were led into an apparent combination orphanage/flophouse/brothel. Following their guide upstairs, they stepped into the chambers of Brother Sigeric, which were considerably more opulent than the rest of the building. Brother Sigeric was obviously a man who enjoyed his delicacies. He greeted the party, and got a quick run-down that his charity had been recommended by Mellia Saber. The brother took the recommendation, and offered the party drinks from a well-stocked cabinet. Rondel tried to assess which bottle of wine looked the most expensive and requested that one...

The party enjoyed their drinks and gave the brother a rundown of their time in town, as well as generalized overview of their quest. In an information-sharing mood, Sigeric traded a few bits of news and rumors, as well as his take on the leadership of the city. Brother Sigeric seemed to enjoy his position on th margins of the theocracy, and noted that there were more things to be gained in these lands than mere souls.

Frederick, always the cooperative one, asked if there might be any jobs that the party could help with to support the charity's work... The affable brother said he'd think on it...

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Campaign Journal: The Road to Opharel

Quite a few more miles traveled, quite a bit more lore uncovered. And nasty beasts.

Firstly, the protagonists:

  • Frederick
  • Fulvus
  • Jax
  • Slick
  • 3 henches
With their 3 rescued expeditionary force survivors in tow, the party struck eastward on cart tracks toward Opharel, the regional stronghold of the Acroria Theocracy.

The morning dawned clear and cold, and the party made good time. Hearing traffic ahead, they paused, cautious. They were met by a caravan drover and his most unusual beasts of burden:

Slick was immediately enamored with the camels and wanted to pet one. The first one was tolerant, but blew snot on him and tried to bite him as soon as he turned his back... 

The caravan driver, Salemu, was hauling fabrics and asked on the condition of the trade road ahead. The party shared news, and asked if he might have any other goods. Looking about, Salemu suggested that Slick meet his favorite camel, Rosie. Rosie was much friendlier, and also transporting a portable pharmacy of questionable elixirs. Some haggling got the party some party goodies, and they bid Salemu adieu. Slick now wants a camel.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Campaign Journal: Damned Horses!

"Yeah, when the riding animals start fighting, we're in new territory" - Frederick

More on that later....

Tonight was a small contingent:

  • Frederick
  • Fulvus
  • Rondel
  • Slick
  • Three brave henchmen

Departing Axwold, the group dead-reckonned their way westward in search of the next point along the Barrier network. Things were progressing quietly. The party spread out, Fulvus scouting ahead. He bravely avoided a snake, but Slick did take a look at it to confirm it was Just A Snake. Yes.

As the party broke for lunch, they were set upon by pests. Because they show up to every picnic... 

Like this, but 3' long

Dispatching these flying pests, Slick climbed into their roost tree and recovered a puse with some coin and a potion. He also scouted westward, spotting clearings and paths that offered easier travel. Finishing their repast with no more vermin, they continued onward. 

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Five Visits to Goldrun's Grotto

Howdy, neighbors!

A quick post to finally post up some original content that's not a play report.... 

I'm sadly negligent on creating. Again, the brain just ain't as obsessed at creativity as it used to be. Even looking at my production throughout the life of the blog shows a lessening of creativity and (perhaps) interesting stuff.

Enough woolgathering for the moment.

Jackson threw this map up at the beginning of the year:

source looked like a good space, with an open-air grotto, a couple of entrances, and a loop. Off I went.

And in the theme of attempting a bit of creativity, I wrote up multiple scenarios, in the mode of my "4 scenarios" adventure writeups. This time, I ended up with five. So you get a bonus. We got various flavors of undead, hermit beekeepers, a suspiscious naiad, blind cave fish, BATS!, and a couple of Permian amphibians. 

Have fun with them, as a scenario may fit as a one-shot, side adventure, or locale for some item or knowledge within your own game. 

PWYW here 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Campaign Journal: On the Road Again, II

Back at it. A bit delayed with a work conference, taking care of outside things, as well as rejuvenating a couple of stalled project and tryin to wake the muse. Things in the works soon...

So, back to the party:

  • Jax
  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Rondel
  • Orzu
  • and the Miscellaneous Others

The party, after vanquishing hobgoblins and other nuisances, set up camp for the night, being cautious to protect their horses, for some reason... ahem... 

Second watch was disturbed as Orzu spotted movement in the treeline, and Goober barked a warning. Everyone blearily scrambled to their feet as Orz kept a watch on the intruders. They appeared disciplined and cautious, spreading out and keeping low. The party did likewise, taking cover. Frederick took a potshot at one in the dark, one-shotting the foe. Another arrow went wide. Rondel said, "Sleep." Snoozefest. The intruders turned out to be a hobgoblin patrol, perhaps returning to meet their compatriots at the ruined fort. Slick offed them and went through their pockets.

In the morning, the party debated riding cross-country, or returning to the trade road in their search for the next node location. Jax suggested that the road, followed by some dead reckoning off the found map might be the best option. The party rode back to Karnione, stopping to drop some coin with the furrier and ale-wife in thanks for their aid. 

Friday, September 8, 2023

Campaign Journal: Hobgoblins and Lizards and Wraiths, oh my!

The party awoke after a quiet night, undisturbed by chitin wraiths and other nuisances. Our heroes for the week:

  • Jax
  • Bonk
  • Stumbleduck
  • Orzu
  • Fulvus
  • Slick
I began with a bit of retconning - Bonk was not present last session, but the doomed Xusto Goyanes was his best friend in town, so he needed a closure on the matter. After the required cinematic: 

Bonk spoke to Mayor Stroemen regarding contributing to the greater good. Stroemen discussed the ongoing threat and defensive needs, especially with the loss of militia. Bonk has been itching to start stronghold development, and considered this a good opportunity,  contributing a large percent of his cash to complete the wall and recruit more militia. On the condition that he is now referred to as "Captain." Everything comes with a price.


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Campaign Journal: Homecoming

When we last left our heroes, they had just come over the hill to Neuforde, to discover smoke rising from the town...

The evening's crew:

  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Jax
  • Orzu
  • Fulvus
  • Various surviving henches

We started the session by leveling a couple of the hirelings, who had managed to survive long enough to become 1st level henchmen.

Prior to session, I had rolled randomly what buildings were destroyed/damaged. Bad news - they got the halfling trading post owned by Evrard Hornwood and Angilbart Tunnelly, our party's confidantes and fences (and that of Elsa Siegmund, the town's cattle farmer). Damaged buildings included the White Badger Inn, Mayor Stroemen's house, as well as the tanner's and carpenter's houses. The party’s house is undamaged, thankfully.

rough scanned and sketched map, red is fire

The halflings were glumly salvaging material from their trading post and sent the party to talk to the mayor. Mayor Stroemen and his lieutenant, Gorman Burscogh, were looking over the body of a chitin drake, a chimera previously encountered by some members of the party. The party suspected these abominations were the cause of other reports of fire they had heard in their travels. While the town's forces had slain this one, two more had escaped, flying east.

Among the casualties were four militiamen and two civilians, including Bonk's buddy, Xusto Goyanes the half-elf fisherman. The party now has multiple causes for vengeance!

Trurok the ogre had been injured and had retreated to his cave to pout. Rondel and Henry Cee headed into the woods to cure and console him, and set up the gnolls as pickets west of town.

Elsewhere, the town was gathering to put out residual fires, clean up, and begin repairs.

Stroeman was most worried about loss of nearly half his militia. He was concerned that he may need to request Hougan Duchy assistance if he couldn't retain sufficient local forces. Especially since doing so would limit the town's autonomy. 

The party retired to the White Badger to drink and consider their next moves. As they drank, the sound of a heavy caravan was heard. Venturing out, they saw a string of heavy wagons that looked something like this:

Something like this, but full of dwarves

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Review: "Arcane Tools, Treasures & Trinkets" by Timothy Dunham

Another recent supplement find: "Arcane Tools, Treasures & Trinkets" by Timothy Dunham.

The document clocks in at 71 pages, with 61 pages of item text, plus an index of items by category (armor, adventuring gear, summoning, etc.), and an art appendix for an illusion item. The publication is Pay What You Want ($2 suggested) for the bookmarked pdf. I sprung for the print on demand B&W softcover ($7 suggested price).

The content is 100 items, for the d100 aficionados in the crowd. Magic items range from minor one-use items to large, bulky items. All of the items are accompanied by an illustration, also by the author. Items are designed for OSR-adjacent games, but are loosely-described enough to be flexible for other game systems.

A few magic items are whimsical, such as the Scroll of Summon Feline (roll it out and a cat appears), or the Bee Holder Eye (a prosthetic eye containing a bumblebee).

Or this...

The majority of the items are useful, but not obviously overpowered: Cosy Bear Skin (a restful night's sleep, with the option to hibernate); Instant Rope Grubs (box of silkworms that manufacture 50' of rope in exchange for crushed gems); Imp Assistant (a box containing an imp in his library).

A number of items have the quality of benefit-with-cost, such as the Helm of Heavy Thoughts (18 INT, but you become morose and worrisome) or Elephant Stomach Belt (18 STR plus endurance, but your appetite increases considerably).

Take your gifts where you can get them....

I like that the majority of the items have a unique quality to them, and don't seem to be carbon copies from other similar publications. Similarly, the items are well thought out, and most have some practicality to them. They aren't weird for the sake of weird, for instance. There are certainly some of questionable value, but creative players may find a use under the appropriate circumstances. As the author notes on the backpiece, they wanted to provide items more interesting than another +1 sword.

I suspect one of my players may get this...

Like many supplements, I can see about 10% of the material having possible utility for my game, and modifying several more to match the tone or qualities for an adventure. Or at least to use them for inspiration for creating my own magical devices. No supplement is going to be universally useful, but we can pick and choose as we need, or build as needed. 

I definitely believe this is a good supplement of magic items, with a fine selection of readily useful material that can dropped into a loot pile for players to find creative uses for. I recommend that people take a look and find those items that suit their personal game. There is a lot to mine in this compact supplement.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Double Review: Monkeyblood Design's "Chewer of Fingers" and Professsor Dungeonmaster's "Deathbringer" RPG

A few weeks back, Mr. Jackson and I decided to play a quick one-on-one game to pass a Saturday evening. For the system, we grabbed Professor Dungeonmaster's ultra-light Deathbringer. And for the adventure, Monkeyblood Design's Chewer of Fingers, described as a "grim, old-school introductory adventure intended for The Midderlands setting."

For those perhaps unfamiliar, The Midderlands is a fantasy setting based on a grimdark medieval England, described by the author, Glynn Seal, as a "green and unpleasant land." Fog abounds, as does a thesaurus-full of shades of green, along with an equivalent number of venomous NPCs and critters. Monkeyblood published the original volume, as well as a number of supplements, via successful Kickstarter campaigns. For people following the current Dolmenwood Kickstarter, Midderlands bookends very well with that setting, and both were used within Red Dice Diaries' "CSI Midderlands" campaign for anyone interested in seeing how the two settings mesh. I've seen discussions that the Dolmenwood setting is intriguing, but some people are less attracted to the fairytale tone of the setting. The Midderlands may be worth a look for people who prefer a darker, more grounded, tone.

So here we go:

I made up a 1st level character of each of the five provided classes in the two-page game system, choosing three to pit against the adventure: a deathbringer (fighter), grimscribe (mage), and plague doctor (sketchy healer/alchemist). Chargen took about five minutes each. More on Deathbringer below.

We considered truncating the adventure, but ended up running the full scenario, which we finished in around 3 hours.

The hook is to investigate and (hopefully) capture a serial killer (the eponymous Chewer) who has escaped from a local gaol.

The PCs started their adventure by saving a "mud cow" for an old lady at her decrepit farm.

Mud Cow
After freeing the irascible beast, the party scraped the mud off themselves and accepted a bag of turnips in reward. Clearly going to be a treasure-heavy session...

Thursday, August 17, 2023

D10 +1 Hex Denizens

Via Reddit: A group exercise of creating some hexes to share ...

Not so much hexes, as much as those singular features or encounters that may be found within:

ROUBAUD, FRANTS (1856–1928) Caravanserai by Gur-e Amir in Samarkand

1. A decrepit caravanserai sits along an overgrown trade road, its only resident a hill giant named Oblex, who reclines within its collapsed walls, carving rough animal figures from tree limbs using a dull short sword. He raises a few goats and feral hogs that roam the forest, and will trade for casks of ale or wine. For a few extra shinies, he will lead a party to the Caves of the Drumming Ghosts in the cliffs beyond his residence, although he will not enter.

2. A hobgoblin caravan approaches, carrying preserved beast-meats and lead ingots.

3. The village of Shropshire perches among the cliffs of the Heagearth Reach. Its residents are wan and pale, yet the village has avoided the incursions of Chaos in recent years. The lord of the manor is Vitomir Birsa, with his wife Luana Brkiæ, provide their protections to the village. Any villager will explain that they are very busy, but may take an audience after dark. Neither Vitomir or Luana will admit to being vampires.

4. The bronze dragon Aythyd lounges in his lair within the Clarengami Tops. He is 900 years old, and recalls the battles of the Cornryn Flats, as humans and Chaos met at the Walls. Such amusing scrabblings and scufflings back and forth! He doesn't pay much attention to such struggles after all. They have very little of interest, unless great heroes or mages meet and leave interesting artifacts next to their broken bodies.   

5. The Lich-Bride Julija Repar and her legion of thrall-grooms hold the sacred Effinggan Pass against the fanatical battle-nuns of the Wynrey Theocracy.

6. The plains are strewn with iron ships' anchors, 100 miles from the closest ocean. They were dragged there as penance by the crews of a vanquished navy a generation past.

7. Barrows and mass graves line an ancient battlefield. Ghosts of the warring foes arise, their quarrels long forgotten, to exchange tales and commune with one another, or those who dare cross their field of war.

8. Feral, bloodthirsty horses bred by the vivimancer-warlord Gavril Florsech roam among the bluffs and forests, preying on unwary travelers and slower herbivores. Gavril was a adept creator, but a poor trainer...

9. Massive stone golems walk slowly in a circle, marching to the drone of some antediluvian song. Their walk has gone on long enough for them to beat a waist-deep trench into the earth.

10. The forest sports woven branches manipulated by a tribe of druid-goblins. The arboreal macramé is comprised of tree limbs, bones, and detritus from doomed caravans.

11. Bird-folk in their aeries trade raw emeralds for old books and scrimshawed dragon's teeth.

Tomas Honz

Thursday, August 10, 2023

38 More "Who Followed the Party?"

 ...Finally bringing the Camp Followers list up to 100.

  1. Small circus, including a trained bear named Bobo, who is a surprisingly adept pickpocket.
  2. Halfling Cultists, frighteningly cheerful.
  3. One of more of a PC's alleged illegitimate children.
  4. Crows, lots of crows.
  5. One very irascible possum.
  6. "Influencer" half-elf, constantly painting self-portraits of themselves holding meat pies and ales at various taverns.
  7. Dungeon Dietician: Making the best use of your rations and foraging for fun and profit.
  8. A hermit just off a five-year vow of silence. Very talkative.
  9. A pair of harpies attempting to kick off their singing careers.
  10. Five elves trying to promote a new sport, "hööpentossen."
  11. A halfling gambler of some renown, Two-Thumbs Bogwillow.
  12. A monkey with a knife.
  13. A gnome alchemist brewing sketchy potions. Best to camp him downwind.
  14. A vampire wearing a welding helmet.
  15. A bewildered WWI Tommy equipped with a gas mask, entrenching tool, and Lee-Enfield with 50 rounds of .303.
  16. Claustrophobic minotaur.
  17. Someone's mother: Constantly fussing over everyone to wash their hands and have dry socks.
  18. Two Spartan warriors. Very disciplined, but a bit self-important.
  19. Halfling-driven chuckwagon. You are the envy of adventuring parties everywhere.
  20. An intelligent swarm of bats. Communicate by flying formations to play charades.
  21. A poncy Landsknecht wearing bright motley and wielding a two-hander.
  22. A Witchhunter with a portable library of anti-heretical literature. Completely ineffective at recognizing spellcasters and heretics.
  23. Bounty hunter with a repeating crossbow, a bloodhound, and a sheaf of "wanted" posters.
  24. Killer automaton, nigh-unstoppable. Keeps asking for "Sarakonnor" in every town.
  25. A pair of siege engineers. "Trebuchet is the solution to everything."
  26. A gnome artisan specializing in erotic woodcarvings.
  27. The tabaxi cheerleading team.
  28. Knight-errant, constantly affronted, will periodically challenge duels at crossroads and bridges.
  29. A hill giant named Toby. Wears a very revealing macramé breachclout.
  30. Doom-saying fortune-teller. Constantly followed by a small raincloud.
  31. A platoon of gnoll halberdiers. 30% chance of changing sides in the middle of battle.
  32. An aranea with several charmed minions, may abscond with one of your porters.
  33. Birdwatching elf. Makes random stops and shushes party to make observations. Not amused by people giggling at "greater tit."
  34. A wandering monk, a master of seven styles. Occasionally attracts vengeful ninjas.
  35. Vengeful ninjas.
  36. Explorer claiming to be from the center of the earth. Fascinated by nightfall.
  37. Mage with a collection of magic staves carried in a golf bag by a goblin caddy.
  38. Seven dwarves. Become very cross when you call them by adjectives.

Updated Chartopia roller

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Campaign Journal: On the Road Again

 The Usual Suspects last Sunday:

  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Bonk
  • Stumbleduck
  • And a Player to Be Named at a Later Time
(Jax got introverted and went flower hunting, Rondel stayed to babysit 'his' gnolls, and Fulvus was suddenly absconded with by some extended family).

The gang stood at the town gate of Mithlonde as dusk fell. One of the guards asked them business and chatted about recent fires and increased humanoid raids in the area. He gave them the quick run-down of the town's amenities, and welcomed them in. Mithlonde is a modest walled town situated around a 'Y' in the trade road. 

The party approached the town square, where a number of caravans were parked. They recognized a certain odiferous wagon, that of the peddler gnome Hugo. Hugo greeted them and was relieved to find out that his potions had mostly worked, and no harmful side effects had occurred. He sold a few remaining healing potions to the gang for a slightly inflated price (most had been bought out, demand was up). He also had a few smoke bombs available to experiment with. Fred bought these for later use.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Campaign Journal: Knowledge Found, and Treachery Most Foul

"Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.

If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,

And give the letters which thou find'st about me

To Edmund Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out

Upon the British party. O, untimely death! Death!"

 - King Lear, Act 4, Scene 6


At the conclusion of the last session, the party had retreated from the ruin and barricaded themselves in the annex building, hoping to retreat east to the trade roads in the morning. They spent a rough night being harried by many legs scratching and testing the spiked doors and a spider's voice in their heads warning them of their impending dooms for intruding upon her lair.

Frazzled, the party gathered their gear, preparing to break out and face the threats. While gearing up, Mareth noticed that the flagstones below the electric trapped plinth were mis-matched, hinting at a passageway. Some cautious prodding and levering tipped the stone off the hidden door. Mareth just had to touch it anyway in his ongoing quest to collect rubbings of etchings and carvings found. Fortunately the trap was 'mostly' discharged, and he took only minor damage from a weak shock.

As the party pried open the passage, and exterior door gave way, and this unfortunate monstrosity lumbered in:

Inured to the appearance of various Chaos mutations, the party focused fire on the creature, quickly putting it out of its (and their) misery. Fortunately, it was not able to spread its disease to its assailants, although Slick did dip a dagger into its bodily fluids for later use. Eww.

Hearing more spiders approaching, the party re-barricaded the door and descended into the dark. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Campaign Journal: More Forest Sight-Seeing. Now with Wildlife!

Whew, that was a session....

The miscreants:

  • Frederick
  • Fulvus
  • Rondel
  • Slick
  • Mareth
  • Hench-cleric
  • Hench-thief
  • Four Redshirts
The party awoke after an uneventful night at Ashryn Spire, guarded by Brutus the Bear and numerous watchful eyes of forest creatures. Thefri the Hermit greeted them in the morning, and committed to keep an eye out for nefarious forces. He gifted the party a wooden amulet that would allow a messenger-creature to locate them, and wished them good luck in their quest.

After brief discussion, and review of the "Snake Map," the party decided that locating one more node would be helpful to confirm their place on the map, as well as to hopefully find intact components to reverse-engineer or duplicate. With confidence in their plan, they trekked northward toward the Lion's Tail River. Mareth counted their rations, figuring the party had about two days left.

A long day of uneventful travel brought them to the river. A bit of scouting and they found a reasonable ford for horses and men on foot.

Just for funsies I had everyone roll a d6 to see if they slipped while crossing. Only Rondel fell, and I asked him to roll a random item to lose. He lost his rations... Oops.

As night fell, the party set up camp. First watch, and the Random Dice struck. Frederick was taken aback as the ground burst forth in front of him with a pair of massive mantis-like insects.

Oops, indeed.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

12 More Found Deeds

After I discovered that I had passed 500 posts on ye olde blog, I was randomly poking around my old posts and looking at some of my creative endeavors. 

One early post was "12 Found Deeds" obviously inspired by the "Deed to a ruined tower" that one can occasionally lift from within the "Random pickpocket loot" generator.

Now, there are bloggers who can regularly post up d100 lists for such things. For now, I can provide twelve more.

"Forest House" by JJcanvas

You have acquired a deed...

  1. a coastal lighthouse, its light continually surrounded by a magical storm. Currently occupied by a trio of sirens who have been serenading ships onto the rocks.
  2. a tower surrounded by grasslands. Co-opted by a swarm of giant bees and now filled with continuous comb. The queen is obstinate about moving, but may be willing to negotiate a co-habitation agreement, dependent on the consensus of the hive-mind, of course. Will be a sticky restoration project.
  3. a floating orb with no apparent entrance/egress. Has a commanding view of the scintillating, psychedelic Piridian Crystal Reefs. The entrance to the chamber is a teleport gate in the 7th level of the Undercrypt of Mighty Chaos. 
  4. just a shack in the woods. Filled with reams of paranoid screeds and rants against the Ostuithen Dynasty and shelves of tottering bottles of unstable reagents. Nice mountain views.
  5. an abandoned caravanserai along an unused trade road. Filled with a band of hard-partying kobolds who won't leave until you chug a bottle of their mushroom wine and recite the Ballad of The Wakasing Canyon.
  6. an ambulatory carapace-domicile. Scuttles along on hundreds of necro-mechanical legs. Not sure where it is at any given moment. It tends to wander according to its own whims. You'll likely wake up miles from where you went to sleep.
  7. a cozy soddy on the frozen tundra. Risk waking up to herds of musk oxen using it as a scratching post.
  8. The deed itself folds via intricate origami. Upon completion, the piece expands into an immaculate pagoda. Very flammable.
  9. a grounded galleon, halfway up the side of a mountain, and one thousand miles from the closest ocean. Haunted by sailors' ghosts. But at least they keep the decks pristine.
  10. an orbital platform, accessible only by dead technology. Currently occupied by an increasingly eccentric maint-bot. Has petty arguments with the station AI and builds art installations from collected space-junk and spare spacesuits. 
  11. one of a never-ending collection of identical manor houses with immaculate lawns. Truly a hellscape.
  12. an abandoned dwarven wrestling arena and goat-racing ring. On humid days, the air is still redolent of acrid unguents and goat musk.

"Houses by a Creek" by Erik Taberman

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Campaign Journal: Forest Sight-Seeing

Doh, just realized that my last entry was #500 for the blog. Nine years ago, I wandered into the blogosphere, for better or worse. It's been a good outlet for creativity, and even a bit of community.  I hope to keep my mind flexible enough to continue on with scribblings and crack-pot ideas for a while longer.... 

And now, on to our adventure:

Full table:

  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Jax
  • Mareth
  • Rondel
  • Fulvus
  • Bonk
  • Henry Cee (NPC cleric)
Picking up where we left off last time, the party scouted the camp of the Chaos patrol from the woods. The camp was well-arranged, with several tents and brush cleared and pushed to the margins to form a rough abatis. A pair of guards watched the front. The party could see that they were mal-formed humanoids, similar to those they had encountered before. A pair of apparent leader-types conferred in the center of camp.

The party discussed options, deciding on two of the sneaky bastards (Slick and Fulvus) taking out the guards, and allowing for a surprise rush into the camp. Things went well until Fulvus stepped on a stick, betraying his approach. Slick took advantage of the distraction to shank his target. 

Battle closed, with the party squaring off against the mooks. Things went well, with Bonk even shrugging off a spell cast by one of the leaders, for a change. Minor damage was taken, with Bonk, as frontliner, taking the brunt of it between the foes' heavily-armored knight, and one weird naked dude who was running around... Fortunately everyone else avoided said naked dude and his acidic skin, with Jax putting him down without harm. The Chaos foes were fanatical to the end, with their shaman enlarging and attempting to wade into the fray. Tough to do when one of the thieves hamstrung him. 

Finally, the knight fell with a well-placed arrow through his visor, and the camp was empty.

The party dutifully went through everyone's pockets (except the naked dude) and recovered some loot, communiques from the gang's handler, notes regarding their intelligence-gathering, and a couple of fired clay balls that turned out to be one-time communication devices. The group did not take the bait and fire one off...

As they were finishing up, a second mutant patrol arrived, but were easily smoked.

The party commandeered the base camp for the night, fending off a few wayward zombies. They decamped in the morning, leaving heads on sharpened sticks, as one does.

Using their 'snake map' as a guide, the gang moved northwest, making good time. Around noon, the random dice had them set upon by a band of ne'er-do-wells, who rapidly realized that they were outmatched. A fortuitous '12' reaction roll, and the party now has a bunch of henches. The pot was sweetened by Bonk offering one bandit the scavenged armor of the Chaos knight, and Mareth subtly charming another... Goober got belly rubs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Campaign Journal: Which Way is Up on the Snake?

Back to the game, and further explorations along an abandoned road within the western forests.

Last night's heroes:

  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Jax
  • Mareth
  • Rondel
  • Henry See (NPC cleric)
The party, exhausted from their battle with the gnolls, crashed out at the ruined manor, securing themselves within the secret crypt that formerly held the undead knight. Noises were heard in the night, and the indomitable Goober growled at the door, but as none of the intruders appeared to be investigating the party's hidey-hole, they laid low. In the morning, a few of the gnoll corpses were found to have been dragged away. 

In the morning, the rescued merchants and their guards bid the party adieu, hoping to return to the trade road and better fortunes.

As the party made breakfast, they heard conversation outside the building and met a pair of fellows who introduced themselves as Divos and Albus - hunters and foresters patrolling this part of the forest. The pair had been tracking the gnolls, and were aware that the miscreants had been waylaying travelers for some purpose. Relieved that the party had intercepted the gnolls, the foresters noted that a larger camp was in the area, and that they had also found a few deformed or mutated animals in the region. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Returning to the Campaign

Back at the table, and as I mentioned before- the pick-up game is now a 'real' campaign. Scary.

Who made it tonight?

  • Frederick - Thief
  • Waegstan, née Bonk - Fighter
  • Jax - Barbarian (and Goober)
  • Fulvus - Halfling
  • Mareth - Elf

Since we'd been away from the table for about four weeks, I took a page from Gary G. and declared that four weeks had past in game-time as well. What have our heroes been up to in the meantime?

  • Frederick - continuing to look for "unsecured loads" along the trade road with his halfling compatriots, as well as getting coastal traffic updates from the "Road Safety Committee" along the coast.
  • Waegstan - Fishing, hanging out with the river boatmen, and advocating for a new sport of fish-tossing.
  • Jax - Plant-hunting and studying from a sketchy herbal remedies book that she bought off a traveling bookseller.
  • Fulvus - Negotiating with the town leadership to purchase a plot for the construction of a brewery.
  • Mareth - Supervising the charmed ogre (Ogre #2 made his saving throw and wandered off) in ditch/palisade construction and making awkward attempts at negotiation when the ditch cut through someone's field.

Hugo, the gnome apothecary, had to leave town under urgent conditions, but left a "recently-developed" potion for the party to try out, along with a substantial list of possible side-effects.

The party also checked in with their compatriot Victor Matui, who is rebuilding his family keep outside of town. Victor's advisor Firmin had sent missives east to a colleague regarding information on the "Barrier," and had received some minor information in return, pending further discreet inquiries. Likewise, the chip of glass from the cracked hemisphere found in the watchtower appeared to be either ruby or some ruby-like alloy. If so, it would have required both an exceptional furnace and skill to create.

Sometime during this, a patrol representing the Hougon Duchy arrived in town. The captain noted the town growth and beginnings of fortifications. As a representative of the duchy, he offered the duchy's support and protection. For reasonable accommodations and financial support, of course. The town mayor conferred with the party, and they agreed to consider the offer, sending the patrol on their way. Which led to discussions on the with of becoming a vassal, whether this power was a viable ally, and a potential third way of developing their own power center or allegiances.

With that, the party set off to see if they could locate another 'node' of the Barrier.

The party re-located the overgrown road and returned to the watchtower location. While there, they were set upon by a band of goblins. Slaying half their number, and taking some minor damage, the remainder of the goblins fled, and the party continued south. 

Spotting some more ruins in the woods, the party investigated. The structure appeared to be a fortified manor or caravanserai. As per usual, Fulvus, Frederick, and Mareth crept about. Fulvus took advantage of the halfling ability to hide in the woods, but the dice rolled 00, and for once, he stumbled.

Waegstan walked up to the front door.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

What's In My GM Bag?

It's been a few weeks. The brewery game went on hiatus as I paused to shift more into campaign mode, as well as spending a couple of weeks back on the Plains helping out my dad.  

Joethelawyer recently posted a "What's in my DM Game Bag?" video, and I've seen a number of other similar videos and posts over the years. Having the need to write a bit, let's go rooting through my bag, shall we?

I am an itinerant GM, with the majority of my play at cons, the FLGS, and now, the neighborhood brewery. So things are kept relatively compact. The majority of my game detritus lives in an expandable folio containing four folders:

1. Pre-gen characters and blank character sheets.

2. DM "Game Night" Aids: These are references to grab quickly for at the table use. Mostly comprised of houserules, campaign lore, a printed spreadsheet with loot and items accumulated by the party, local area random encounters, pre-rolled random treasure, NPC names and stats ,and local maps.

3. DM Aids: These are backup references or less commonly needed resources, as well as a few rules ganked from other games: Turn tracking, 2d6 usage guidance, the random headgear table, carousing rules, miscellaneous random tables for prompts, table safety, the Miscellaneum of Cinder

4. Maps and more maps: Some are statted up, either formally, or sketched out encounters, and lots of barrows

Also contained in the folio are:

  • Graph paper: For at-the-table mapping
  • Post-it notes
  • Extra pens

Along with the folio, the bag carries:

My Dice: Two sets of Zucati dice, selected for being slightly oversized, with readable numbers for low light/aging eyes.

A few sets of spare giveaway dice, pulled from a gallon bag of random dice that we somehow acquired.

dot-grid notebook for game notes and session writeups.

Rule books for table reference, currently the OSE rules tome.

Possibly additional session-specific references, such as spells or monsters, as necessary, to keep the players guessing.

Wet-erase mat, typically only used at con or game store games where I know I'll have table space.

Everything (except the mat) gets stuffed into a messenger bag, and we're good to go kill some stuff.

What's in your GM go-bag?

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Returning to the Watchtower, or, More Fun With OP Old-School Spells

Whew, that was a session....

So the gang got together for a bit more restrained mischief. We had:

  • Frederick - Thief
  • Slick - Another Thief
  • Waegstan, née Bonk - Fighter
  • Jax - Barbarian
  • Rondel - Elf
  • Mareth - Another Elf
First of all, we made sure that the charmed ogres are fed and busy digging a ditch around town. They like a job to do, after all... Although there is some grumbling regarding the local mutton supply.

Next, trailing a caravan came a gnome driving a somewhat odorous wagon. Hugo was his name, and he claimed to be a seller of potions of a restorative nature. After some haggling, the party were the proud owners of four "healing" potions of dubious quality. (Hugo is an NPC stolen/borrowed from other friends' campaigns, so has been putting some serious mileage on that wagon.)

After a brief discussion, it was confirmed that the party intended to revisit the tower explored in the last session. With the excitement of charming ogres and all, they hadn't given the space a good once-over.

Which was good, since I'd actually prepped for this... 

Tower and inevitable underground bits

The party returned to the locale with no wandering ogres or other critters encountered. Waegstan, always optimistic, strode toward the tower, taking arrow fire. Determining that the tower was now guarded by hobgoblins, the party made plans. Waegstan continued to dodge arrows as the two thieves successfully reached the door unnoticed. The remainder of the party wisely provided cover fire from the trees. 

Frederick and Slick breached the door SWAT-style, taking a third hob by surprise and quickly dispatching him. The two headed upstairs, as most of the remainder of the party now rushed the tower. The remaining roof hobgoblins were done in with minor injury.

This gave the party time to inspect a plinth with a cracked red glass hemisphere previously noted in the tower main level. After some poking about, they decided to chip off a bit of the glass for later analysis.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

The Necromuseum of Tutmus-Ra-Hotep-Pthah III

Among my piles of files of downloaded maps from various cartographers, I had a map by Dyson, drawn as a bit of an homage to the passages and rooms of Quasqueton.

It has been another project completed in small fits and starts. What came of it is a desert tomb occupied by a vain and somewhat bored mummy, Tutmus-Ra-Hotep-Pthah III (or just Tutmus to his friends...).

This became a tomb adventure complete with various tropes of tomb-raiding and mummy-cursing. Although I did have a bit of fun with it, and ended up providing some options for different approaches to play. The adventure can be played straight tomb-raiding, or players can encounter a bored mummy invisibly stalking them, offering a tour of his abode, charming a couple away to dust the fixtures, or even acting as a sage source of knowledge. And please don't miss the gift shop... 

Download Me Here

Spent a three day weekend at Norwescon science fiction and fantasy writing convention. I had volunteered to run some games, but had no takers, so hung out with writers attending panels and readings. It has been a long time since I've gone to a writing conference or similar event, so was a fresh experience. Not a bad long weekend. 

Ok, better prep a bit for this weekend's brewery game. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Those Charming Ogres... Game recap

Greetings, travelers. Pull up a chair and we'll recount the most recent Brewery Session...

This week had a smaller party of four, due to some no-shows.

  • Frederick, thief
  • Fulvus, halfling
  • Mareth, elf
  • Rondel, another elf
We started out in Neuforde, as is the custom. Our scene began with Proctor Armin, a higher-up in the Church of Garond, arriving in town with a small entourage for the christening of the new temple grounds. He greeted the local clerics, Nicolas and Eustace, recognizing Eustace from seminary days. Eustace gifted the priest with a recovered idol found in a forgotten shrine, and recounted the story of his rescue

Eustace introduced the characters, and Proctor Armin was effusive in his compliments. However, the good priest sensed something was amiss with Mareth, who showed him the cursed ring the elf had found in another crypt. Some sideways negotiation and discussion of tithes went back and forth, and eventually the party was around 500gp lighter in coin and other items. But at least the cursed ring had been negated. 

In light of the party's rescue of the young cleric, converting a former chaos cleric to the temple (via a charm spell, of course), as well as their actions in the area and gifts to the church, Proctor Armin gifted them with a writ of support to document their favored works in the eyes of Garond.

All gathered at the inn for a night of revelry and celebration of the temple groundbreaking. A few of the party members over-indulged, but it was only unfortunate Mareth, who, for the second time, got the opportunity to roll on the carousing mishaps table. He woke up to find himself in bed with one of the visiting clerics. Those lightweight elves....

Anyway, it was time to shake off the hangovers and do some exploring. The party was keen to further investigate the "nodes" shown on an old wall carving, as hints to a magical barrier that had once been in use in the area. 

The party reviewed their sketch of the stylized network of nodes, determining that one may reside southwest of town in the forests. They asked about, and found a local hunter who thought he recalled some tower in the woods, along the remains of an abandoned road. Hiring the hunter as a guide, the party headed into the woods.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Four Visits to a Tim Shorts Map

Tim Shorts posted up this map on the Reddits a while back, and I duly forgot about it with my other projects and distractions. Here we have a 5-6 room space, with pools and a few other features. A place ripe for description...

Original Post

I scribbled up one scenario over a lunch hour, but decided to fill out three more, as I haven't done a "4 Scenarios" writing project for a bit. So without further ado, we have four brief encounters, with four different denizens: humanoid, undead, monstrous, and dragon. 

Four Visits to Six Rooms

And we had a fairly entertaining session at the brewery last night, so putting together my notes for a writeup in the next couple of days. An ode to the OP charm spell of the good old days...

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

What Happened to Brother Eustice, the Scenario

Per my prior recap, the party managed to rescue the wayward acolyte, as well as slay the lurking beast with some stupid good rolls and cheaty use of an envenomed blade. Don't worry, Frederick, there will be more bitey, venomous things in your future, too....


So here is a quick writeup of the scenario itself, useful for a quick drop-in as needed for low-level characters. Based on the session's play, I've revised it a bit to increase the challenge and better round out the cavern space. Also, I noted that the entrance cavern that I had interpreted to be a pool is actually depicted as a ledge area, so the critters have been swapped appropriately. 

Original map here

All of the monsters, excepting the chitin drake, are familiar central casting foes. The chitin drake's stats and abilities are included at the end. 


What Happened to Brother Eustice?

Well, better figure out what I'm going to put them through this week...

Monday, March 27, 2023

Review: Trilemma Adventures Compendium Bestiary

I followed Michael Prescott's blog during the G+ days (Note to self - restore blog onto reader feed). The guy has the one- to two-page adventure down to an art, with compact perspective maps, terse but flavorful descriptions and enough theme variety and weirdness to make them more than a bog-standard crawl (I mean, you have stuff like I write for that...). So when Michael Kickstarted a compendium of 48 of his blog/Patreon adventures, with expanded descriptions and supplemental material, I threw in my support. The product won multiple Ennies in 2020. I realize the book has been waiting quietly on my shelf, and I need to do another read-through to find some seeds and locales to borrow. I highly recommend it as a resource for drop-in locations and one-shots, as it is an overlooked gem and does not get mentioned enough when folks ask for one-shot materials. The compendium is available on DriveThru for those interested in perusing further. 

With the Kickstarter, I apparently received the companion bestiary as a pdf, which compiles all of the custom beasties and foes included in Michael's adventures. I had forgotten about this collection until I was recently procrastinating, err... reorganizing files... Scrolling through the pdf, I realized needed to order a print copy to pore through more closely, since dead-tree reading materials work best for me. 

Book in action. Note post-it bookmarks for future hijinks.

The book was immediately filled with bookmarks and notes made for both set-piece monsters and wandering encounters. Last week, my group made the acquaintance of a Chitin Drake while rescuing a wayward acolyte, defeating the creature after one PC was paralyzed, and a second char-broiled.

The book (B/X version) clocks in at around 150 pages, and contains 112 creatures to encounter. The range of foes is of the usual types, including beast, humanoid, undead, mechanical, and infernal (I think the only major category missing is the ooze/slime). Creature HD ranges from <1 to 20 (If you want to interact with a god-tortoise trundling along with a hive of giant wasps living in its shell).

Emperor Tortoise with tenants

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Rescuing Brother Eustice, or, Flying Fire-breathing Centipedes, Oh My!

Oops - a week, and no brewery game recap? My dozen readers are disappointed... 

Last session, we were joined by:

  • Slick - Thief
  • Mareth - Elf
  • Frederick - Thief
  • Skuli - Cleric
  • Bonk - Fighter
I started out with a bit of world-building, sharing a in-process map of the inland sea and surrounding region where the characters are currently residing. There was a brief overview of the powers in the area, and how they may be encroaching on the frontiers surrounding Neuforde and its environs. Patrols from two competing duchies had been seen in the area, making probing explorations of the locals' attitudes and dispositions. That said, several new settlers and craftspeople had come to town, expanding its labor and skill base. Fixing that bridge had some benefit, after all...

World so far - PCs located about 1/3 way up
the west coast of the inland sea.

The PCs checked in on their friend Victor Matui, who was restoring his family stronghold off the main road. Victor shared a bit about his family's persecution at the hands of a competing religious faction, and his hopes to restore the family name. But strong walls in the meantime...

And, in the most-awaited part of the session, we determined Bonk's real name: Waegstan the Bo'sun. Recognized by a former crewmate, he was called out. (a few random rolls from a prepared table later) Waegstan had most recently served on a cog named the Gallarita hauling cargo around the inland sea. He had disappeared in port, and had been assumed a deserter. Obviously we still have a few gaps as to the incident leading to his amnesia, but we have something to start from.

OK, it was time to go explore.

Monday, March 6, 2023

The Black Labyrinth of Lord Greywulf - the party gets randomized

Okey dokey - Sunday again, folks, and we had a few repeat offenders, and a couple of new folks at the table.

  • Jax, barbarian
  • Fulvus, halfling
  • Rondel, elf
  • Mareth, another elf
and introducing:

  • Skuli Bodvarsson, cleric
  • Slick, thief (of course)
Skuli rocking his randomly-generated hairdo and 15 CHA

The party convened in Neuforde, with a wandering band of performers arriving in town to entertain and fleece the locals. I did this mostly to practice a bit of improv and to wait and see where the evening was going to go... 

Slick won a few gold in a game of chance, Rondel narrowly lost a knife-throwing contest, and Mareth and Skuli had their fortunes read by "Madame Grebe." Mareth also paid some good coin for "protective incense." Jax and Goober thought the whole affair was sketchy and gave the carnies a wide berth.

Slick also partook in a bit of five-finger discount work and garnered a few gold coins and "written directions to the Black Labyrinth of Lord Greywulf" (thank you, Donjon).

Well, I guess that's where we're going tonight...

<Pause for behind-the-curtains moment>

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Random Monster: Carnivorous Grass

Solomon dropped his pack. This little copse of grass would do to rest for the night. Green and soft - better than that rocky camp last night. He kicked aside a desiccated dear corpse mounded in the center of the grass. He wasn't about to share a bed with that. Solomon threw down his bedroll, took a nip from his flask, and shut his eyes...

The sun hit his eyes. Groggy, he realized he'd slept past the dawn. He felt numb, his limbs heavy... He'd only had one nip... Feebly, he tried to sit up, only to find himself bound to the ground. Farkin' pixies! No, that wasn't right. His vision cleared, and he saw in horror that his skin had been pierced and threaded with countless blades of grass! Solomon struggled, feebly, feeling drained, as the sun continued to rise. He vaguely felt the grass pierce more fully into his body and wrap more securely around his limbs... 

Don't Step On the Grass

One of many banes of the unwary in the wilderness, Carnivorous Grass presents a tempting "bed" of thick, soft turf for a weary traveler or animal to rest upon. The grass may give itself away by one or more desiccated corpses within its bounds, although the age of the corpse may not be clear, as the grass' attack and consumption of victims accelerates any apparent decay.

Only after they slumber, will the grass present its true nature, working its way through bedding and clothing to pierce the flesh and bind the victim to the ground as it slowly drains them of lifeblood and strength.

The grass manages this feat by producing an anesthetic effect (save vs poison to detect/be awakened). If awakened, the victim may escape with little difficulty, tearing away the grass blades from their flesh. Extracting oneself will cause 1d4 damage.

Those who do not awaken will take 1d6 damage +1d4 STR drain (One "attack" per night, three "attacks" per day). A trapped individual must make a STR test upon awakening to escape the entwining and piercing grass. They may make an additional attempt after each grass "attack," but repeated failures will lead to decreasing chances of escape as their blood and strength are drained. 

(AC: Umm, it's grass.  HD: No matter what you do to it, it's eventually growing back...)

Beware of the Lawn

And of course there's real "carnivorous" grass (via symbiotic fungus, but who's counting?)