Archive for March, 2014

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.

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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.

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A group of brave young souls traveled towards the edge of civilizations in hopes of gaining fame and fortune. Then they got captured by orcs.

The rules of the game are very simple: roll the six ability scores (4d6 drop the lowest) three times, do not bother putting them into the attributes — right now they are just three nebulous sets of numbers. The characters are literal blank slates, with no class, nor even race or sex (all virgins). Imagine them as hooded figures of questionable lineage. Each character has 2 hit points and an armor class of 10. That’s it.

Each character should be allowed one mundane non-weapon item worth no more than a single gold piece, such as a rock, nail, or ice pick, as well as a loin cloth and moth-eaten cloak. This can be altered for other adventures than the one presented here: Slave Pens Under Ghost City.

The player chooses one of the three sets to begin playing that single character unless and until another is needed. The others are considered “hovering in the background” until needed. The fact that each player rolls up three sets of scores means they will not be as worried about losing a character. In fact, some of the characters might have terrible scores and be purposefully put into perilous positions. The zero level adventure can be very deadly in order to winnow out the excess characters.

During play the characters will want to do things, like attack, break something, try to read a scroll, or search for traps, whatever. At that point the player puts one of their numbers into the applicable attribute, and makes the necessary roll. If it is successful they make a note of their deeds done. Eventually the characters end up with most of their ability scores filled in, and a set of deeds that will point to a character concept.

This method allows players the time to choose which score went where as they are needed, and the dynamic of needing a good roll at the moment, countered by the optimal ability score placement for any future character concepts, creates a great spread of the numbers, not always optimized towards the future class, but gives a character real character.

This can also be used for deciding racial factors, by asking if anyone has the ability to detect sloping passages, for example, a dwarf might be revealed. Uncovering themes, backgrounds and other specialties, depending on the length of the zero level adventure are also possible. Even class abilities can be discovered through play, such as a character making a wisdom check to pray to her deity for divine aid, or a sagacious character making an intelligence check to detect the presence of magic.
Whoever survives the adventure becomes a first level character. They can keep the two extra hit points as a reward.

Under Ghost City

Under Ghost City

1. Slave Pens
The room is dark.
The large dank room has been divided into a number of small cells by the iron bars stretching from floor to ceiling. A stone table and a rancid pool of water occupy one corner, near a heavy oaken door as the only exit.

A ring of keys hangs on a hook by the door, which will open all the cell doors, but not the door to the chamber, which is also locked (DC 10 to unlock). There is a well concealed secret door 10 feet above floor level in the west wall.

2. River run-off
The sound of rushing water becomes overwhelming as the door opens, revealing a splashing river flowing through the mist-filled chamber from iron-barred openings in the north and south walls.

The river is fast flowing and deep. The ground is pebbly, with a number of larger sharp rocks, and the iron bars require super-human effort (DC 21) to bend. Once through a person has a 25% chance to survive the roiling, airless passage before being dumped into a reedy pond on the outskirts of the ruined town where reside a gaggle of 10 goblins. (HD ½, HP 5, AC 12, Atk 1, Dam 1d6, 50% chance of 2 HD leader)

3. Guard room
The hallway has a trip-wire set to ring a bell if anyone approaches from area 1.

The room contains a table and stools in the center and piles of filth in the corners.

4 orcs (Orc (HD 1, HP 8,8,5,5, AC 14, +2 Atk 1, Dam 1d8) Two orcs are big and bulbous and grant an extra +2 with their battle axes, while the other are tall and skinny and grant +2 damage with their compound short bows. One of each duty is always on duty while the others sleep in their trash piles.

The room contains 4 sets soiled studded leather, 2 battle axes, 2 short bows, 20 arrows, 2 daggers, a lantern, 2 flasks oil, 2 sets manacles, skeleton key to open any door in dungeon, and a cask of really terrible beer.

4. Blutus the ogre
The stench should have warned you away. A huge hulking form squats in this small chamber, snoozing with his chin resting on the spike of his club. It Is an ogre.

The ogre (HD 4, HP 24, AC 14, +4 Att 1, Dam 1d10) is automatically surprised and sits there grinning if the characters attack. He then commences to pound each of them into paste. He is also willing to barter and trade, loving things that are shiny most, and tasty, second most. His treasure consists of 45 gold, 2 roasted chickens, a large bag, 1 short sword (toothpick), and a large tangled coil of rope – 50’.

5. Pool room
This chamber looks to be natural, but overlaid long ago with tile murals depicting joyous bathers enjoying the steaming warmth of the natural spring. Now the tiles are decaying and falling away, but the pool looks as inviting as ever.

Anyone who swims in the pool is invigorated and earns 1 permanent boost to hit points and forever afterward has a distinctive healthy glow.

There is also a purple worm randomly passing by who will eat the first person to get in the pool, and then disappear forever.

6. Supply room
The door opens to reveal a room stacked with a jumble of farming equipment, animal handling, and other implements of the rural life. The room smells of rust and abandonment.

This room is a supply chamber for the farming and animal handling of the slaves. All sorts of tools are kept here, mostly in bad, rusted conditioned, after the orcs swept through the town and collected the abandoned relics.

7. Treasure vault
This chamber appears to be the main storage vault of the occupying orcs. Suits of studded leather, a suit of chain, and battle axes, bows, 200 arrows, 2 long swords, back packs, bags,etc.

… and a small locked and trapped chest (poison gas DC 12 or death 10 ft radius) which contains 150 gold, and a scroll Fireball. In one corner stand is a banged up suit of Heavy Plate with a symbol of a rising full moon on the breast plate. (-1 AC, -25% value until repaired). The secret door is hidden behind the armor (DC 12) the sound of running water be faintly heard from that corner of the room.

8. Mausoleum

This shadowy vault contains three alcoves on either side of the chamber. The floor is tiled in a mosaic pattern depicting the grim reaper.

Six skeletons rise from the caskets in the alcoves to attack. If the characters survive, the doors (locked DC 13) leads to the surface. Each skeleton wears a sigil ring worth 50 gold due to the historical significance of the noble families.

9. Waterfall cavern
The sound of a waterfall becomes ever louder until the hallway, dripping wet, enters a natural cavern with a waterfall splashing through a hole in the ceiling. Daylight!

If the characters defeat the giant crayfish (HD 4, HP 21, AC 15, +4 Att 2, Dam 1-12) that calls this pool home, they can escape.

10. The church
From the doorway the open sky becomes visible. The stairs lead to the same deserted shrine last seen when entering the foul pit.

11. Captains Room
This chamber reeks of blood and smoke. The room contains a pile of rotting furs against one wall, food and drink heaped on a table, and a few disfigured corpses in pools of their own spreading blood.

This is the room of the orc chieftain (HD 3, HP 17, AC 15, +3 Atk 1, Dam 1d8). He wears chain, wields a battle axe, and has a lockbox under his furs with 50 gold, and a silver necklace worth 75 gold.

12. House slave room
A dozen house slaves live and til in this smoky chamber. Cooking the questionable foods, washing the clothes, and generally aiding the orcs in whatever way they can, even being occasionally eaten themselves.

The humans (HD 1, HP 1, AC 10, Dam 1-2) will try to talk the party into turning back, and if that fails they will attempt to stop them while calling for aid on the captain or the guard chamber. There are a few knives, food, and some pots and pans about, as well as wineskins and flasks of oil.

perytonOnce the “heroes” have pulled themselves out of the mire and are back on the road to freedom, it might be time to harry their journey towards civilization with a Peryton.

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wizard dungeon

Beneath the enchanted Wizard Obitallo Amber’s mansion, the cellars are under assault by devils out of hell. The wizard’s apprentice children have already fallen prey and only a wizard locked cellar door holds them back.

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.

While spending the night in Amber Mansion. A soft knocking on the door opens to reveal the old white bearded man who introduced himself as Obitello the enchanter. He held a hand written note in a shaking hand. The rays of moonlight fall across his silvery hair and white robes from the windows in the hall as he read aloud what he was planning on slipping under their door.

“I only have a moment of clarity before the darkness descends over my mind. I do not know who you are, or why you are here, but you are in danger. The magic on this island is strong, and tainted by chaos of the elemental abyss which bubbles up from below. Unless the devils who have invaded this house are destroyed, all who enter are doomed to be enslaved by them, slowly turning into devils yourself. My three apprentices, who are also my children, have succumbed to the darkness. You will be next, already it may be too late. Leave now and save yourselves, or descend into the dungeon below and eradicate the evil that is older than this house. The hearts of my children bind the demons to this land. Take them away and the demons can be destroyed.”

1-The doors open upon a clean well-lit chamber of stone blocks. The soft light is provided by two softly glowin luminescent globes hovering near the ceiling. Further in, the sound of splashing water comes from a fountain, and next to it a stand containing ever-burning torches. Next to the entry is a neat stack of cut logs. From the northeast can be heard the tinkling of bells and colored lights shine from under the door jamb.

two softly glowing globes of light that hovered fifteen feet overhead become agitated and start moving about erratically if interefered with. The will o’ wisps are not be amused. Being dual purposed guardians of the enchanters dungeons, as well as givers of light, they become angry and their lights wink out, making them practically invisible. The heroes find the best method of finding them was to rush wildly around the room and the wisps would find them, becoming visible to attack.

1a-The room has three game tables set up. Cards, a spinning wheel, dice, and other strange gambling games are flashing and ringing, while overseeing it all on a wide bench in the corner is a smiling devil reclining on a cushioned bench. In one hand he spun a beating heart encased in crystal like a basketball on his fingertip. In the other, he swung a silver chain with tiny razorblades on the links. The chain wrapped around his arm, his waist, and even around a leg. He greets them heartily and invites them to stay. A young man named Sfart in a purple velvet suit plays frantically at one of the tables. He is pale.

1b-a swmall locked closet to the south – locked – a fine piece of work from a famous locksmith in Shalazar – Party sees a large bronze bound chest in the room. There are also two rolls of canvas, and a barrel holding a pair of sledge hammers. As party moves closer to get a better look, a huge fist forms from one side of the chest and takes a swing at a chin, and notice the tools and the canvas start to tremble and shake.

1c-The door in the north wall is heavy oak, and it is round. It looks like it was not part of the original construction of the dungeon, possibly older. Written in chalk across the door are the words “Frog God” and a chain once crossed from handle through the hinges, locking the door closed, but they now hang broken and limp.

2-This area of the dungeon looks completely different than the clean square lines of the previous area. The walls seem to be widened from natural caverns, and the floor is a strange metal grating. Beneath the floor, lapping water can be heard. The area is completely dark, but the feeling of being watched makes your hair stand on end. Ahead, a large statue of a bulbous man-frog looms. It sits like Buddha on a stone bench. In its lap is a stone tablet, and its eyes are made of large unfaceted emeralds.

(reading the stone tablet grants a boon. Prying an eye away unleashes a jet of boiling water causing 10 points of damage. The gems appear to be worth 250 gold pieces apiece, but they will explode in a burst 1 for 2d12+6 whenever the hydrodemon chooses as a minor action. Owner takes the full force but those in the burst can make an Acrobatics to drop prone and take half damage.)

2a- Alters of the Frog God
The second statue is of a strange vampire fanged manta ray who stands behind a stone chair with its wings fanned out around it. It also has emerald eyes (same as above). If someone sits in it, they suffer from temporary paralysis (fortitude attack +12 to break free and slip out) as the ixitchatl bends in for a bite on the neck. The wound never heals, but opens up, and gills form underneath. The character loses a healing surge (permanently) but gains the ability to breathe water for short periods – up to 1 half hour.

2b- Fire God Alter – burning forked tongue frog devil
There is a half finished ritual scrolled in primordial. It is of unknown type, but if the ritual is completed (skill challenge) it causes a fireball to instantly ignite in the chamber (3d12+12) DC 24 acrobatics or endurance for half damage.

2c- Water God Alter
A half finished ritual will cause heavy stone doors to slam into place and a water filling chamber trap to be set off. Meanwhile, a green glow emenates from the well-like alter.

3- Library
This chamber is a library as in the Strongholds. THe room to the south opens into a capacious well furnished library. Without wasting a second, player can cast detect magic items and discover 4 scrolls amongst the miscellany. One was a deed for a duplicate magic library, the other a deed for a magic armory. The other two scrolls were recipes for alchemists fire and frost.

3a- teleportation Room
This room is dark except for the strange glowing rune inscribed in the floor. It appears to be a teleportation circle, but it is glowing a sickly red rather than the arcane blue of past circles you’ve seen. In addition, 3 small imps are cackling as they work on the circle. One is cutting himself with a night, dipping his finger in the wound and smearing his blood into the runic cracks. Another has a jar of blood he uses, and the third has a greenish leg torn from some unfortunate creature, with which he cuts off strips and gobbets to smear into the etched circle. When they notice the door open, they begin to work more furiously. You can feel an occasional gust of hot wind come from the area above the circle.

The imps are 4 minor actions from opening a portal to hell. Characters can undue any of their work as a standard action. With 8 successes, the teleportation circle is fixed. If the imps are successful, an evil demon steps forth to give them battle.

3b- Hidden Shrine
This small chamber is lit by candles placed in an arc in front of the silver statue dominating one coner of the room. The staue depicts a white gowned man with eagles wings in plate armor and a great sword over the shoulder. He holds his hands palms up and out, as though expecting something. At his feet is an empty bowl.

The statue is a puzzle – This room is quiet and illuminated by a pair of ever-burning candles at the base of a statue in silver. The statue depicts a maiden with swans wings folded over her back pouring water into a basin at her feet. The gleam of coin sparkles from the basin. There are 45 gold coins in the basin. If a character drops a coin in, they will have a feeling of well-being, and 5 minutes later will be granted a boon.

Additionally, there is a fragment of black bone under the edge of the fountain (DC 26) from the finger of a kua toa a pushed a cursed emerald under the statue. If it is removed from underneath, a golden scroll will appear in Erathis hand, it is a deed to a Chapel to Erathis, and will instantly convert any suitable area into a magic embued chapel to the fey lord of magic

4- Electric Floor Room
This room is large and empty. The floor is made up of tight fitting metal plates of alternating light and dark gray.
When anyone steps on a square, the door slams shut and becomes electrified (15 damage if touched) (the door can be disabled with a skill trap challenge – 4 successes before 2 failures. The floor can as well, but only if one of the metal plates is pried open.)
The floor also becomes electrified, doing 2d10+6 and ongoing 10 damage and stunning/slowing anyone in the room (except for the two squares by the doors, which stay un-electrified.) Save ends stun, causing the PC to be dazed/slowed until out of the room or until the electricity is no more. Levitating higher than 5 ft off the floor will deactivate the electricity, as will wearing thick rubber soled boots)

5- There are three denizens in the chamber, as well as a hypnotizing mirror. In front of the mirror is a deep spiked pit, and the mirror was such that it drew the will of those who strayed to near. If party disturb a coating of ice that covers one statue, it turns into a large fist of ice hovering abo0ve the statue it once covered. Meanwhile, the flames that coated the other statue like a blanket slowly pull upwards into a ball of flame that rested atop the statues head.

Like many of the enchanters creations, these were living spells. The enchanter had been casting the spells with a type of sentience that gave them a life – and will – of their own. These were two such spells. The first was a ball of flame-fireball, and the other was a Bigby Icy grasp-blizzard storm.

Hidden in one corner of the room was a silver lizard, standing on its hind legs. It held a ball of silvery energy that it formed into a large round shield of force. It wore a belt and tucked into the belt was a wand, which for the cat-sized lizard was a walking staff.

6- Refuse Chamber
In the center of the room is a marble pedestal upon which rests a softly glowing book, surrounded in a nimbus of light..It will take 4 rounds of mental combat with the spell book to wrest control of the book and not suffer madness. Each round, the victim must make a check, and if they fail, they suffer the attack, but if they succeed, they direct the attack at the otyugh,

7-the enchanters laboratory.
In the chamber stood a blazing angry Pit Fiend. He had only one wing, the other had been savagely hacked of, leaving an oozing stump. In one hand he held a silver sword, a fabled silver sword of the githyankee. In the pit fiends other hand he held a pair of silver chains. One ended hooked into Shalazar Shackleton who stood like a puppet on a rope, and the other chain led to the third apprentice wizard, Isolda, whose chest was an open and gaping wound. Standing next to the pit fiend on the wizards oaken experiment table so they were eye level with each other stood the succubus they had slain earlier. She looked as healthy and alive as ever, only she had a golden cage rising from her ample bosom, and inside that gilded cage the heart of Isolda beat fluttering and frantic. The succubus let out a long and low chuckle.

If victorious the wizard is awake at the door to meet his saved children, and promises the heroes anything and everything he had. He mentioned he was a great enchanter, and could magically enchant any item they had.

This dungeon was recounted in a series of game night posts in early 2011, starting here.

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amber mansion

There is an island in the mysterious southern seas called the Isle of Dread. And on this island is a lake, which we will call the Lake of Dread. In this lake is a small islet, and on that islet is the House of the Amber Wizard.

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 arch wizard Obitello Amber built the mansion in the most remote location he could find, and moved there with his daughters Isolda and Ismelda and his son Sfart, the perennial apprentice. For many years the wizard worked hard to create his masterpiece, the Crown of Enlightenment. However, he was rendered feeble-minded when the crown was stolen from him.


To get to the house, one must cross a small by VERY deep lake, which may or may not harbor the fearsome Lake Kraken. Once the waters have been navigated, the islet is a small grassy hillock, with a few copses of trees. The outdoor areas under the trees look like a messy encampment has been set up, but no campers are visible. This is because they are all invisible.

Ripped from the CS Lewis novel the Dawn Treader, these creatures, who are invisible Halflings, have stolen the crown, and given it to their hero Freedom the Halfling, for it has special properties for them. The Halflings were once known as chibi-fanaton, cuddly but savage little creatures who were like furry Halflings with prehensile tails and no culture or even language other than a few grunts and squeals. The wizard loved these creatures and kept them around as pets and servants, until making a startling discovery one day.

His favorite little Halfling put the crown on one day while the wizard was napping and a terrible transformation took place. His hair fell out and his tail blackened and fell off, and thus the first halfling sprang into being. More soon followed until all the chibi fanaton on the islet were transformed. Eventually Freedom stole the crown and ran off with it to “liberate” his people on the mainland. Obitello has been in a semi-conscious state ever since. The Halflings who were loyal to the wizard stayed, but convinced the spell caster to turn them invisible because they were embarrassed about their nakedness.

Amber Mansion

Amber Mansion

The house itself is surrounded by a Hedge Maze. The inhabitants of the maze are unicorn-rabbits, also known as al-miraj. There are hundreds of them but they will only be a nuisance, running between legs, unless the hedge itself is damaged, whereupon 4 al miraj will direct savage ankle-goring charge attacks against any arboreal aggressor. They can be tamed and kept as a pet under the right circumstances.

The house is typical of an arch wizard – anything and everything that can have a spell cast on it DOES have spells cast upon them. The entry chamber has suits of armor ready to attack, living furniture etc. The dining room is served by ghosts of servants long gone. The downstairs is fully of crazy wizard stuff, and the upstairs holds the bedrooms including the bedroom of the sleeping wizard, who only wakes up for one hour per day. His daughters are missing (in the basement?) and the nly other inhabitant is a world explorer named Shackleton who has spent the past decade searching for his lost love Isolda. The explorer is mad with grief and also possibly possessed by whatever (demons?) is in the basement.

The next Ancient Encounter might be called Devils in the Basement of the Amber Wizard.

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The dungeon master singing Canticle of the Dragon, or possibly imitating unicorns.

The dungeon master singing Canticle of the Dragon, or possibly imitating unicorns.

Last night was incredibly fun and hilarious. It started with the grilling and consumption of meat, as is often the case, and was followed by three hours of game play that had some of the funniest moments of gaming I have experienced. It was one of those nights, some might blame the full moon.

The game started as the characters landed in the secluded forest of the Dark forest and met with the majestic unicorn called the Forest Master. This divine creature spoke to them in a lilting soft voice and told them that they would be safe from all the forest creatures while they stayed. He then told them about a prophecy which foretold that those who carry the blue crystal staff must go to the ancient ruined city of Zak Tsaroth within 3 days to receive “the greatest gift of all time.” During certain epic keywords during this speech, the unicorn would pause as the nearby pegasi who were chewing on some sweet grasses would shake or whinny or my favorite, shimmy their shanks, all of which I role played for the players to give the encounter and added level of visualization.

They were then led to a banquet catered by centaurs, and the young neutral wizard Raistlin commented that with the dark wood and the centaurs and the unicorn and pegasus bit it was sounding very Harry Potter. The DM retorted that was all well and good but Dragonlance was published in 1984, yearsbefore the british wizard apprentice invasion.

Goldmoon (and the blue crystal staff) were not with the party, but back in the inn at Solace singing plains folk songs with Riverwind accompanying on the flute. The pegasi flew the party back to the inn, where they ordered a meal. I was going to have the players roll for drunkenness but I forgot. Durnit.

Suddenly the swinging doors crash open and who walks in? …a villager. It is the one whom the night before said that there were groups in town offering a reward for the blue crystal staff. Behind him the hoboblin undersergeant Fewmaster Toad barges into the room followed by ranks of hobgoblins, still tramping up the spiral stairs into the taern resting in the bole of the great oak tree. The voluptuous Tika leans over Caramon and whispers in his ear “come with me if you want to live” and dashes off into the kitchen. The party is quick to follow.

There is a hole in the floor and a rope for bringing up supplies from the ground far below. As the party begins sliding down the rope, making dexterity checks, Sturm fails his roll, his hands burn on the way down, causing 2 hit points damage (one per hand.)

Raistlin starts to grab the rope, even though the humble wizard reminds him of the feather fall spell. The wizard counters that since it is once per day he might need it later. That does not do, with a nod, Caramon gives his brother a push, who stumbles out the hole and must cast his spell to float gently down to earth. Caramon’s look of dismay turned to one of wonder as he watched his brother glide to safety.

At the bottom they were confronted by a road going bo0th directions. At the end one way were a group of human guards, at the other were hobgoblins. They chose the guards but were having trouble convincing them to let the heroes of the lance pass, so Raistlin had to charm Roy the Guardsmam whose lack of wit will keep him charmed for 3 weeks. Roy led them to the shore of the lake where they had to search for a boat. They eventually found a small dingy with “The leaky caldron” painted gaily on its side. Speaking of which at some point during the night it was decided that since the player of Tanis only wanted to play a woman, and it is required for story reasons that Tanis have a beard, then Tanis would become Caramon’s “Beard.” I hhad to look up what that meant, but then I agreed.

Lair of the Turquoise Hydra

Lair of the Turquoise Hydra

(This setup had nothing to do with the game but the players set it up and it looks cool. )

As they rowed away in the leaky caldron, the hoboblins lined up in ranks and behind them the guardsmen lined up and leading them came fewmaster Toad. He shouted Archers! and the hobgoblin raised their bows. He shouted Fire! and a few of the archers loosed hastily drawn arrows while others looked around confusedly. Then fewmaster toad shouted No Flame! and everyone smiled and understood and the guardsmen rushed forward to light the arrows with their torches. Now Fire archers! he sputtered and they launched their flaming missiles toward the boat. Then then guardsmen stepped forward and when toad shouted Hurl! they all did you know what. They hurled their hand axes, ineffectually. They plunked into the lake. Except for one unfortunate guard. He was australian and was experimenting with a boomerang axe concept. Meaning he rolled a “damage self” on the penalty roll table.


On the other side of the lake, the party was safe and made camp. The next day they were crossing mountains on their way towards the ruined city, when they had to pas through a tunnel. Whilst in their they heard the chanting of monks, pulling a wagon upon which one of their number lay. Their were nine of them including the one in the cart, and the party pressed themselves against the wall to let them pass. the Leader stopped and told them they were on their way to a town where it was said a staff of healing was performing miracles. The heroes of the lance shrugged noncommittally, but Goldmoon (played as an NPC by an evil dm at the moment, until our real native american princess takes her over) steps forward and proclaims that she has the staff and will heal them.

It was around this time the wizard discovered the 0 level cantrips out of Unearthed Arcana. They are hilarious, as the below example for the spell Wink proves:

By means of this cantrip, the caster causes the subject person (or
creature) to blink his, her, or its eye or eyes. The blinking reaction is
only momentary, of course, lasting no more than half a second. A successful
saving throw indicates only a single eye wink, or no effect for
one-eyed creatures. The verbal component is a softly spoken magical
word (such as hat-cha-cha), voiced while the caster snaps his fingers

Make a saving thrown for half-wink!

The draconians revealed themselves and a wild melee ensued. The weapons got lodged in the dead dracs, Roy went on a boot-kicking spree, and someone’s wrist was sprained (It really hurts!) But they lived and were victorious and Goldmoon healed em up good at the end of the night.

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Dwarven Forge Cavern Game Tiles kickstarter Day One

Dwarven Forge Cavern Game Tiles kickstarter Day One

Dwarven Forge, a leader in 3D dungeon terrain, is launching their newest — and best yet — Kickstarter for 3d Cavern game tiles. Based on last year’s wildly successful dungeon game tiles kickstarter, this years offering looks to surpass that success in every measure — from the dollars collected (congrats guys, you are earning it!) to the amkpunt of tiles offered, and to the unbelievable quality of craftsmanship of the tiles themselves.

I cannot gush enough about Dwarven Forge Game Tiles. My good friend and fellow gamer Dave came through during the original dungeon tiles last year, donating a two-set kickstarter for the good of the group* and after using them for a few weeks I told him I felt as if my dungeons and dragons life was complete. They are the best.



This kickstarter is just beginning and I will update along the way. Right now in it’s first day of 28, it has achieved half the total amount the original kickstarter achieved. This is a good sign, and I roughly estimate they will double the money this time around. Lets hope that leads to twice as many cavern tiles!


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