Posts Tagged ‘adventure modules’

The bowels of Xak Tsaroth where Onyx lairs

The bowels of Xak Tsaroth where Onyx lairs

This is the bottom layer of the buried city of Xak Tsaroth, the lair of Kisanth the black dragon. Minor (and major) changes have been made but it keeps its general shape and essence.
xak-tsaroh004This is the shattered plaza where play begins. A river is joined in the center and flows down the center of the avenues, with crumbling buildings lining them.
The maze
This is a good image showing the three types of dungeon tiles used: D&D tiles are made from cardboard, Itar’s Workshop tiles are lighter grey with half as tall walls, half as thick floors.

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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

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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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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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Last week I was struck with sudden inspiration: why not play some good old fashioned AD&D? All week I pondered different ideas for our group to switch gears and start playing advanced d&d after a year now of playing various mini-campaigns using the upcoming newest edition’s playtest materials, when just before game-time, the Dragonlance idea struck..

With the Fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons publishing this summer, and being tired of sorting through scattered, incomplete playtest materials, I wanted a chance to cleanse my palate of all that and enjoy the first edition. Pure d&d.

Over the past year we have played at least 5-6 different min-campaigns, never getting above third level before starting something new. It sometimes happens that a game group has a hard time settling on a game, either after a long campaign, or if there are a lot of player changes, or if scheduling is an issue, or if the dm is a maniacal bag of insane ideas that can’t be silenced. We were beset by all these problems, but I was ready to get serious about a long-term campaign game. And so it came to pass.

At our smallest size since Friday Night Game Night began five years ago, five of us gathered round ye olde gaming table to pick up the roles of the dungeon master (that’s me) and Tanis Helf-elven (my wife played this dude, who has never played a character of the opposite sex.) Sturm Brightblade played by Dr Karen Khar, no stranger to playing dudes. Dave took on the mantle of Caramon who’s boyish grin and rippling muscles is surely how Dave sees himself. And o

f course the evil mage was played by our resident evil mage. No surprise there. (And for a young wizard who is used to all the trappings of modern magic users, he was less than enthused with many of the harsh old-school constraints put on his character class, including the 8 hit points, the few spell memorization slots per day, the low-powered spells available to him (Push?! I didnt even remember that spell existed and laughed out loud when I saw it in my old PHB.) The icing on the cake of disappointment was the fat that most others start at 5th or 6th level but Raistlin starts at third! (Don’t worry Joel he is also the only one to gain godhood, so it balances… eventually.)

The campaign began with a question: do you remember all those past adventures and campaigns and characters? For they were naught but dreams of another realm of existance. As one fades away, whether is be a Temple of Elemental Evil or an Isle of Dread, another dream of the multiverse comes into focus. We discover that all those characters are but aspects of the Eternal Champions who are called upon to serve and save where needed across the multiverse.

In this case the world was Krynn, and it was an Age of Despair.

Four of the Companions returned to the crossroads outside Solace five years to the day after setting out on a mission to rediscover divine healing or any sign of divine aid. They returned empty-handed, and while reminiscing about their journeys, they were interrupted when seven hobgoblins stumbled out of the underbrush, followed by a flabby donkey carrying a flabbier hobgoblin under-sergeant, the Fewmaster Toede. The cretin demanded they turn over the wizard’s staff, which caused a harsh rebuke: Raistlin cast Charm Person of the hobgoblin captain. He amazingly made his save and called for his troops to attack, whilst he rode off to safety.

Two hobgoblins charged each of the three fighters with the last charging the wizard. The first hobgoblin rolled a natural one – a chance to use the new improved critical hit and miss tables! He wound up killing the hobgoblin next to him, wanting Tanis all to himself apparently.

Sturm fought and parried two as did Caramon, but the one who charged Raistlin hit for max damage with his rusty logsword, doing 8 hit points damage and dropping the magic user to zero. The wizard, wounded onthe ground fought back and slew the hobgoblin with a strike of his magic Staff of the Magius.

After the battle they stumbled into the tree-town of Solace, and up the winding staircase that led to the Inn of the Last Home nestled in the bole of a great oak. They interact with the crowd, and then two Native Akrynnians enter and begin singing a song. Cue the youtube video.

The magic blue flash of Goldmoons staf heals the wounds of Raistlin and the crowd is surprised. They learn of four different choices where to take the staff: the capital, turn it in for a reward, Darken Wood, or the lost city of Xak Tsaroth. They turn in for the night and the next day set out to explore the region. Tanis goes to a nearby peak and hnts for the white stag. He spots a glimpse and follows it deeper in the woods. Meanwhile Caramon spots a naked giggling girl who darts off deeper into the woods. They both follow, while Sturm and Raistlin keep to the path.

The stag leads Tanis to a clearing in which four pegasi calmly munch on a patch of sweet grasses. Caramon is led to a pool around which six giggling girls sit. Regretfully he turns back to the path until everyone arrives at the pegasus clearing. Raistlin mounts a pagasus and it leaps into the air and heads south. The rest follow until the whole group flies between the peaks and heads deeper into the Darken Wood. They land in another clearing and standing on a rocky outcrop they came face to face with the beautiful unicorm known as the Forest Master.

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Ninarrens Cabin in the Woods

Ninarrens Cabin in the Woods

An elven serial killer’s secret hide-out in the woods.

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.

This would be about the point my last major campaign went “off the rails” due to my inability to follow my own self-imposed stricture to play a campaign by the book with store-bought adventures. Apparently my mind doesn’t work that way. The night of adventure inspired by this encounter has remained one of my favorite, and in some ways was instrumental in getting this blog started. For the encounter is described in the third ever post on this site, from Feb 12th, 2010:

…The game commenced with the party awakening in their garret apartment of Dame Gilroy’s Tenement, the morning after solving the Mystery of the Black Skull.

First order of business was breakfast, followed by shopping and information gathering. Valthrun the wise gave a history lesson that revealed three things: the downfall of the Keep was a rift in the Shadowfell caused by Orcus, that Orcus is imprisoned in the Abyss, and that Lord Padraig’s ancestor commanded that doomed garrison.

The dwarf Bronzebottom Brothers revealed that they received the crate with the black skull from men in the woods, and had some items to sell.

The party left town and went to the farmhouse where Jib Booter the woodsman agreed to help them navigate the wood. They followed the trail of Delphina along a secret path that ran parallel to the Kings Road, until it met two other sets of tracks in a clearing and turned north just before reaching Ninaren’s cabin.

The cabin was made of living branches pruned from the tops of four living trees, which were the four cornices of the cabin. It had a door, two shuttered windows, and thick thatched roof.

The cabin held a trap, a “Living Cloud of Daggers” that attacked when the door was touched. Inside was Delphina, tied up ad bleeding from a stab in her bosom. The room contained many hidden items, some of them magic: cat tabi boots, bloodstinger poison, an arrow of firesorm +1 and another of feezing +2.

Delphina was near unconcious, but before she slipped into a Snow White like slumber she told the following tale:

In the beginning, when the first elves awoke, even before the sun rose for the first time, they chose among them a king and queen. Thus the royal line of elves began, and a prophecy said that as the first royal elf brought the rest of the elves into the world with him, so the last royal elf to leave the world, would take the elves with her.

In the Undead war of 100 years ago, the elf lads were invaded and decimated, the royal house slaughtered when the capital fell to ruin. Only one young princess survived, and she was whisked away into hiding. Delphina is that princess,and if she dies, so must every elf alive.

However, the full prophecy was thwarted when Ninaren stoul her soul with a spirit knife and then cast an eternal slumber upon her before she perished forever. Why Ninaren, a fellow elf, would do this is unknown, but her tracks lead to the Keep on the Shadowfell.

Jib weeps as Delphina drifts into slumber, and vows to protect her. The party sets off for the Keep. ..

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