Feeds:
Posts
Comments
The dungeons of the sunken city of Xak Tsaroth

The dungeons of the sunken city of Xak Tsaroth

Our Subsurface Environments Acquisition Specialist, Dave surprised us all with a surprise deliver this holiday season. Itar’s Workshop ran a kickstarter concurrently with the Dwarven Forge Kickstarter and offered similar compatible dungeon tiles. The basic set unpainted in dungeon gray made its appearance on the table this week. The pieces ought to go onsale once the kickstarter is fulfilled through the webstore Itar’s Workshop.

'Ere's wot wot wot ye got right 'ere.

‘Ere’s wot wot wot ye got right ‘ere.

The general apearance of the tiles is very similar to Dwarven Forge’s Dungeon Tiles, with the key differences that the floor bases are not as thick, and the walls are only about half as high. I actually prefer the heights of these walls as they allow a better viewing angle of the table top action.

The mmaterial is very light, and feels like plaster. They are fragile enough that I will try not to drop, knock, or crush them. I store my Dwarven Forge tiles in the canvas sack they came with, but for these I will find a shoe box or something in which to carefully stack them.

Itars Dungeon tles after one black wash

Itars Dungeon tles after one black wash

The material was light gray as opposed to the dark almost black of DF tiles. Therefore I decided to do the opposite technique for painting. Instead of drhy brushing light gray, I would begin with black wash. The material is strangely water repellant which made it extremely difficult to do an effective wash.Perhaps they needed to have a primer, but I assumed the wqash would act as a thin primer coat. Apparently not.

I ended up dunking the pieces into the pool of black and still it would drain off leaving no trace but pools in the depressions. After letting the first coat sit all night, I went back with a second coat, and this time I really worked the now partially evaporated therefore even thicker black wash into the cracks and crevices.I think the improvement is noticeable.

A box of black washed Itar Dungeon Tiles

A box of black washed Itar Dungeon Tiles

The next step will be to do a light grey dry brush over the high points, and also a tan fieldstone drybrush to pick out a few fieldstones. I am thinking of picking out some watery and mossy highlights as well to really make these pieces pop. I will also make sure to sealcoat these, preferably wth something with some protective qualities, a polyurethane perhaps. More pictures to follw.

Dungeons and Dragons is my passion.

Dungeons and Dragons is my passion.


We had a really fun night this Friday. Dave brought everything, starting with copious amounts of meat, in dog form, for the grill. He also brought a mysterious package that turned out to be more Dungeon Tiles! These tiles are from the Kickstarter that ran concurrently with the Dwarven Forge Kickstarter, and they are completely compatible,though made out of a different material, and there are some height differences. I will write an article focused on the new tiles, but let it be known that Dave is now our official Subsurface Environment Acquisition Specialist.

We began outside the bank full of ghosts, and started off with some good old fashion looting. In the inner vault were six coffins mounted along the walls. They were the tombs of the Banker Priests and six more ghostly guards stood watch until the heroes of the Lance convinced them it was time to retire. Then they looted the six magic swords from their coffins and left.

The gully dwarves led the way down the waterfall that led to the lowest level, but were captured by Draconians and taken to the secret Draconian encampment where they were tied up in the center of a bonfire. A huge black dragon and 7 draconians occupied the chamber. The plan was for the wizard to turn invisible and search the chamber for the magical disks while the rest of the party held back the enemy.However the wizard was confident he could charm the dragon and attempted to do so. It was only moments later when the dragon would not do as it was bidden, that the wizard realized it was a wicker statue.

Who would have known draconians have such artistic skill with wicker?

Who would have known draconians have such artistic skill with wicker?

They slew the draconians, discovered five black dragon hatchlings which they tried to tame or put spells on,then put into bags for later. They rescued the dwarves and continued on their way to the central plaza of the sunken city. Good times.

Descent into Darkness

Descent into Darkness

Tonight we entered the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth after a long journey. Between the illnesses and dating (two related subjects imo) the adventuring party was made up of just Goldmoon, Raistlin, and Sturm. Tanis joined in for the second half. We ate pizza made fresh from the grocery store and baked in our oven. For dessert, our dessert specialist brought delicious oreo cupcakes, which also turned out to be diabetic-friendly, which is nice even though game nights are decreed to be “Freedom Fridays” as far as food is concerned.

The heroes of the lance were in the swamp surrounding the ruined city. Realizing they had missed the turn, they backracked until they found a side path which crossed a murky pool over a fallen obsidian obelisk. Everyone had to make a dexterity check to cross, and Goldmoon was so adept, she was able to read the writing on the monument as she crossed. Unfortunately she read it from end to beginning:

Home our of grace the in
Us reward gods the
Deeds generous their and
People its of good the to speaks
You surrounds beauty whose
Tsaroth Xak of city great the

Heh. This adventure is so ripe in material, and I was so eager to get to the dungeon, that I missed out on a great iconic scene from the Dragonlance saga in the swamps. I think I will find a way to weave it into next session. Moving on.

Across the obelisk, the swamp opened up into a clearing with a giant black steaming pit on one side and a holy temple with doors shining bright gold in the afternoon sunlight. They tentatively approached the pit but the stench and feeling of evil persuaded them to turn towards the golden doors of the temple.

It was a temple to Misha-kala, goddess of healing, and the statue turned to life and spoke to Goldmoon about blah blah blah, go out and heal girl, but first retrieve the disks in the dragon lair at the bottom of this dungeon. Then the statue sticks its tongue out at Raistlin and turns back to stone.

There are multiple doors exiting the temple. The one they choose leads to a room covered in frescoes depicting ancient scenes of glory. Five hideously filthy stunted creatures scrabble and scratch at the plaster walls, forming globs and piles of the plaster. The creatures eventually notice they are being watched after inadvertently giving away everything they know. They beg for mercy and weep and moan, while the heroes try to figure out what they are.

GullydwarvesEventually they realize they are gully dwarves, universally despised creatures so low that they don’t even have beards. Raistlin uses his beard cantrip to grow 7 inches of beard on each of the 5 gully dwarves who immediately begin grovelling at his feet and worshipping him as a lord. They command the dwarves to show them the way to the dragon, and the dwarves agree but suggest that the first go see the gully dwarf king.

And so they set off down a long flight of circular stairs. Before they set off, the dwarves argue about which one of them will be the guide and they start climbing up the wizard to try and perch on his head. The others join in a game of king of the hill to get to the top of Raistlins head and be declared the guide. Somehow it all works out, but the chosen guide angers Raistlin by leading him back to the wall for some more plaster. Raisltin hurls him down a flight of circular stairs, and they listen to every bone crunching bounce all the way down.

Goldmoon rushes down the stairs and at the bottom, uses her staff of healing to bring the dead dwarf back to life. All the otehr dwarves watch and a feud starts between them as Raisltin and Goldmoon make charisma checks to determine which of them they will follow as their lord. Goldmoon gets two, Raislin keeps two, and one goes to stand by Sturm and declares himslef to be an atheist (whose player Dr Karen Khar is also an avowed atheist) who doesn’t believe in magic. This while Goldmoon is performing miracles and Raistlin is wielding beard magic.

OK so we went on for another couple hours of hilarious gully dwarf action. They met a group of 30 gully dwarves, awed them wth their power, and for the rest of the night a tug of war took place between Goldmoon and Raistlin over who had the most worsippers. Goldmoon was ahead from practically the beginning, even though Raistlin would do anything to impress the loathsome creatures, including taking part in their ritualistic cavortations in “The squirming Chamber.”

The dwarves led them through some old sewer shaft chutes the led to a lower portion of the city, hundreds of feet below the surface. They lnded in the mud of the bakery, or Squirming Chamber as the dwarves called it, and after napping for a few hours, set out into a cavern that they realized was a shop-fronted street of the old city.

There was a swift flowing river, which the dwarves suggested riding down to the next level, but first they were required to make a dwarf bridge so the heroes could search the bank-like building on the other side. This led to a battle with ghosts known as Spectral minions.

Spectral Minions in the Sunken City of Xak Tsaroth

Spectral Minions in the Sunken City of Xak Tsaroth

They entered the bank and saw a ghostly figure behind a counter. Four spectral guards lined the walls, and when the ghost demanded payment of 500 Tsarothian sculli, Tanis and company tried to bolt. Unfortunately the ghost were twice as fast as the fastest character, could fly and pass through inanimate objects, so fleeing led to them being quickly surrounded beside the river. It was quite an intense battle which was nearly the death of them.

Raistlin fired off as many magic missiles as he could before attempting to flee, taking his dwarves with him. Sturm hacked right and left against the two assailing him but could not hit in fa after four or five rounds of rolling 5 or less I let khar re-roll and re-roll and re-roll on one turn ad she still couldn’t hit! Sturm was eventually knocked unconscious and into the river. At this point Raistlin diverted his escaping dwarves to rescue the knight before he drowned, thus saving him.

Xak Tsaroth02Tanis fought a ghost on the dwarf bridge, standing atop the heads of the sputtering gully dwarves, as she swung against an incoporeal opponent. She fought like a wild woman and injured the ghost before a magic missile of Raistlin saved her bacon as well. Goldmoon held her own swinging her +3 staff back and forth with abandon, slaying more than one ghost. Raistlin on the other hand tried his hand at hand-to-hand and immediately rolled a 17, oh yeah… but no a 3rd level wizard does not hit an AC 2 ghost with a roll of 17. Meanwhile 6th level fighters could hit armour class 2 with a roll of 11 or so. Can’t do that without THAC0.

After Sturm’s fall, Goldmoon started using her staff’s ability to Remove Curse to dispel the remaining spirits, then healed everyone up.

Ancient Desert Tomb

Ancient Desert Tomb

An ancient stone edifice pokes from the shifting dunes of the deep desert. In a world of magic and monsters, tomb looting is the most dangerous adventure. A tomb is a locale whose very design is to defeat the curious and greedy. The most difficult crypts are locked, hidden, trapped, and guarded vaults, and this one is no different.

This encounter area continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.

The ancient desert tomb is located deep in the vast wasteland of the scorching desert near a dried up river bed. It is a low lying rectangular building of tightly fitted stone blocks, now mostly covered by sand. Only one corner and the doorway are visible. The door is inset into the wall at a slight incline so that it will always slam shut unless barred by something strong enough to hold the heavy stone door open.

Hey a tomb in the desert guys lets check it out

Hey a tomb in the desert guys lets check it out

Once inside the dim foyer, the tomb robber is greeted with a chamber with two exits. Across from one locked door is a small fountain with fresh water trickling into a basin. Across from the other locked door is a bench. On the wall opposite the entrance is written in ancient hieroglyphic script “Enter ye who find this place. Take water if thou thirst. Find rest if thou art weary. Do thou not transgress beyond this chamber. The eternal slumber of Pharaoh will be disturbed and thou will provoke his wrath.”

The water is fresh and pure but an undetectable curse befalls anyone who touches either door within twelve hours of drinking the water. It will instantly turn to poison in the gut, requiring the creature to immediately make a saving throw versus poison or die painful death.

Scorpions are like super spiders

Scorpions are like super spiders

Beyond the doors are scorpions. In the next room is a pedestal that shoots laser beams and endless piles of skeletons that rise and attack, 1-4 per round while anyone living remains in the room or util the mummy in the next chamber is slain. The final chamber houses the false pharaoh, in a sarcophagus richly adorned in gold and lapis lazuli, worth at least 500 gold intact, or half that for the stripped gold and gems. Inside is a mummy wearing royal death jewelry worth at least 1,000 gold pieces who will attack until destroyed or until no one living remains int he tomb. The floor is made of round stone tiles, and the tile under the sarcophagus is a secret door (unedetectable unless the 2,000 lb casket is moved) that leads to the lower level.

tomb04It continues on from there. Trapped hallways. Poisonous beetles shaped like gold coins and mixed within piles of real coins. Fireball flinging flaming skeletons. Royal sacrificial chamber. A magical portal chamber to who knows where. Second false tomb, and final real tomb with a mummified skull demilich in a suit of ethereal armor. Or something. You get the idea: locked, hidden, trapped, and guarded

NASA Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas

NASA Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas

There was no game last week, instead we made a trip to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas for my son Jackson’s 17th birthday. Great fun was had by all, including a brand new game of Ticket to Ride, an instant favorite. This week we were back to the game, crossing the half-way mark of DL 1, Dragonlance Dragons of Despair.

Goldmoon

Goldmoon

This week also saw the triuphant return of one of our players after an absence that was way too long. She filled the character of Goldmoon with life, and was very excited to be playing a Native American Princess. I had to try and explain t the player that yes indeed she actually is wearing pants, but the cover of the adventure did not aid in that argument.

We began after a short recap about flying pegasi and unicorn forest lords; a flight out of town pursued by hobgoblins; and finally an encounter in a tunnel through the mountains betrayed by dragon-men disguised as priests. The dawn finds them atop the mountains staring eastward across the great ameri-Krynn plains. Smoke rose from the sites of the plainsmen villages, including the village from whence came Goldmoon the princess. Though they had planned to take the shortest distance east to the ruins of Xak Tsaroth, the decided to detour through the villages.

First they came to Que Teh which was abandoned leaving meals half eaten (the players finished those right up) and even left – gasp – their children’s rattles scattered about(!) Goldmoon’s village of Que Shu was similarly abandoned except for the savagely erected gibbet in the center of town upon which hanged three smoking corpses. After much intrusive investigation it was determined to be hobgoblin corpses.

A placard was deciphered by the magus to read that the Lord Verminard was in command and he would not allow his armies to capture prisoners. After much discussion it was determined that Verminard was a powerful northern warlord whom their missing friend Kitiara had spoken about joining on occasion. Sturm and Tanis had both heard their companion speak of the powerful warlord who could seemingly show up anywhere at any time and then disappear just as fast.

The heroes of the lance figured out that the native tribes must have been taken prisoner and hauled off to the south. They must however continue their quest to the ruined city to meet whatever destiny had decreed for them. Soon after they spot a naked indian being pursued by four draconians. They slay the enemy and rescue Nightshade a scout from Que Teh who swears fealty to the princess of the plains. He says hye was sent from his peaople to search for an escape for them, who were slaves of the southern armies.

Later that night, after seeking camp in an old abandoned mine shaft, they were surprised by four trolls staggering up out of the depths for their nightly hunt. They immediately attempt to retreat, bu not before Nightshade is killed in grisly manner, his head popping like a popcorn kernel between the rotted jagged teeth of the troll. Then the wizard’s charmed guardsman meets a similar fate before they escape.

The blue staff shows off its magic, healing the most grievous wounds from the troll battle, and the next day they finally enter the salt marsh surrounding the ruins. They come to a spiderweb-like rope bridge crossing over an especially deep section of swamp. Tanis decrees that they cross the bridge with the utmost caution: tying ropes to one another as well as each one tying off to the bridge itself as they cross. Basic OSHA Fall Prevention. I had no idea my wife had such knowledge, but after years of gaming, she has learned many of my tricks. It is a good thing too, the text reads something like: “If a character falls in the water, they attract a monster from the wandering monster table.

For fun, I rolled to see what they would have attracted, and it came up catoblepas. Death cattle! Description: does 1d6 damage or gaze causes death.

Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Goodness

Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Goodness

Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Kickstarter is in its final week, and it is looking pretty amazing. I became a convert during their last Kickstarter, and love using these tiles to build epic set pieces, or to throw together at the table. Sometimes even the players build the floor plan! It is great fun and looks awesome. I am a fan.

Orc Manor

Orc Manor

A roving warband of vicious orcs has slaughtered the inhabitants of a fortified Manor, and are reaping a harvest of plunder and occupation while they terrorize the surrounding lands.

This encounter area continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.

Breaking from tradition, this adventure idea heralds from the future rather than the past. Experimenting with the incredibly awesome Dwarven Forge Game Tiles (obligatory eternal thanks to Dave for acquiring them) I was trying to combine them with my other game-board building goods to make an ultimate dungeon. Multiple levels was a key element of this design, and it has four elevation changes, which is more than I hoped for when setting out to build this manor house. The map begins in the dungeon, goes to the main floor with surrounding outside area, then the upper floor with attached portico, and finally to the tower.


Zero level adventuring was also on my mind
. When the new 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons releases in the fall, our group will most likely wrap up our AD&D romp through the original Dragonlance series of adventures, and start over in a new campaign. A zero level adventure is a great way to start a new campaign, and what better than to be naked and chained to a wall? Last time, during the playtesting phase of the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the players started in the sewers beneath a ghost town, having been captured by orcs.This adventure is a variation of that theme, with the characters captured and chained up in the cellar beneath a pillaged Manor house, and must escape before being tortured, killed, and ultimately eaten by the vile humanoids.

For groups who prefer to have their starting equipment and/or levels, the alternative flips the adventure on its head, as the characters seek to rescue the town princess (or etc.) from the depths of the Manor House before it is too late.

Root Cellar and Furniture Storage

Root Cellar and Furniture Storage

1. Root Cellar/Jail Cell

The room is dark and dank. A pile of moldy sugar beets, overlooked by the orcs, provides sustenance for those trapped behind the locked heavy oaken door, banded in bronze.

Have every player begin with one mundane item, such as a candlestick or iron pick. For added challenge all prisoners are chained, hand and foot, to iron spikes hammered into the stone walls and floor.

2. Furniture Storage/Guard Room

Cupboards, armoires, settees, tables and other antique pieces of furniture are stacked against the walls of this chamber. In the center a large oak table sits covered in food and drink, coins, and blood stained gore.

There are always 1d4 orcs in this room, and 1d4 of them are usually passed out. The coins amount to 1-10 gold piece value in copper and silver coins. 1d4 items of furniture are worth up to 100 gold apiece due to the antique value and craftsmanship, but they are delicate and must be moved carefully to retain their full worth.

Defiled Subterranean Chapel

Defiled Subterranean Chapel



3. Subterranean Chapel/Defiled

This chamber reeks of the stench of corruption. What was once an ornately carved chapel with a steeply arched ceiling and marble plinth to a deity unknown, is covered in filth from the wretched sacrifices of the orcs who worship their sick deities through acts of pain, death, and decay.

Hiding behind the lecturn, an orcish witchdoctor is intently carving hateful runes into a golden holy symbol. The orc has a Wand of Purple Lightning Bolt (1d6 damage per charge spent to all within 30 ft line including rebound, 10 charges) and it can summon 1d4 skeletons from the grisly remains in the chamber as an action. The witch doctor can also raise any slain character as a zombie as an action. Two statues in the back of the room are coated in filth. If they are cleaned, they will grant a boon to any who assist. The statue on the left is of Garl Glittergold, god of gnomes, merchants, and beggars and it will grant a permanent +1 specialty bonus to a single tool or weapon the character possesses. The other statue is of The Unknown Majus and will grant a free cantrip to any spellcasters who pay obeisance to the might of the Unknown Majus.(Create Water for divine casters, Create Fire for arcane.)

Basement Wine Cellar and Natural Spring

Basement Wine Cellar and Natural Spring


4. Natural Spring/Cavern Expansion

The sound of picks can be heard. Prisoners break rock and drop them into a natural spring pool. A trio of big black orc brutes, wielding metal studded whips and tridents keep half a dozen slaves toiling until they are dead.

The slaves are villagers from nearby. Their mayor was eaten and they offer vassalage to any who will defend them from further travesty. The orcs are savage, and wear chain or banded armor, and have short swords and daggers in their belts. They each carry 2d6 gold coins.

5. Basement Wine Cellar

The chamber has racks along two walls and a gurgling fountain in the north wall. Rickety wooden stairs ascend to a door at the top.

Nothing of interest here but a few bottles of wine and fresh water from the fountain.

Orc Manor Main Floor

Orc Manor Main Floor

Orc Manor main floor, which includes the storage chamber, the barracks, the guarded entrance, and the front yard.

Orc Manor Upper Floors

Orc Manor Upper Floors

The upper floors include the pillared treasure chamber, the orc chieftains dining hall, the open air porch, and the un-defiled astrological observatory tower.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers