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Posts Tagged ‘role playing game’

halloween

For Halloween 2016 I wanted to do something special. After an eight year run of weekly gaming, we have recently been reduced to a series of monthly game nights, split between dnd and board games, due to some people moving away and others getting busy. It is getting harder and harder for me to get my dnd fix, so on these special occasions where we have a chance to play for 4 or 5 hours, I like to make the night unique and memorable.

Last month, we had a game night that corresponded to the Release of the Middle Earth Players Guide. I came up with a short adventure that involved a fellowship, travelling on a journey, and the exploration of a Wight’s Tomb. Not to spend too much time on that episode, it is worth noting that the game was fun and that middle earth roleplaying with official licensed Dnd products is now possible, entertaining, and worthwhile. The rules otions seem solid.

My favorite part of that episode, after half the night was spent making characters, was when they came across an ancient battlefield and stumbled into the tomb of an elf who was killed by an Orc’s cursed sword. I had been reading stories about some hideous idea to dip bullets into pig’s blood prior to shooting Islamic terrorists so as to keep them out of heaven or something. Anyway it gave me the idea of this cursed orc sword. Whenever it strikes an elf, a sliver of the metal is lodged in the elf’s body, so that when the elf dies, they do not go west, but their soul is trapped in the world as a ghost, or poltergeist (can’t remember which stats I used.) So After millennia of being trapped, the elf ghost has gone mad with interminable pain and attaks all who enter. The PC’s had to figure out what was wrong with him and save him while he tried to kill them! They were able to remove the sliver and end the elf’s suffering…. Which promptly caused the barrow to collapse, nearly crushing them all! Good times.

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But that was last game, what have we done lately? Well, this time I gave into one of the player’s most requested type of game – an evil campaign! This was going to be the game night for Murder Hobos to finally get a chance to shine. In the past, the character have done some pretty nefarious deeds, but always with the thinnest pretext of not being evil. Well, this time the gloves were off, and the characters had a requirement to choose one of the three evils for their alignment: chaotic, neutral, or lawful. On top of thet, we pre-made the characters before game time so as to minimize prep, and I broke another cardinal rule of my own and allowed the characters to start at fifth level rather than first. This may be the first time I have ever allowed that, and it seems to have worked out.

The premise was sweet and simple. Each character had a chosen demon lord patriarch, and they were being sent to the world to refill their master’s armies of darkness. Every kill that each PC made would go directly to that demon’s army. Kill stealing, backstabbing, and any other nefarious activity were allowed and expected.

To get up to the world from the underworld was not so easy, however, and for the opening scene, the character found themselves stuck in a force field around a pentagram, having been summoned by a snotty and inexperienced drow wizard to do his bidding and assassinate the scion of a rival house. The drow mage would only release them if they agreed to his quest, and would be unable to harm the wizard while on the quest – standard Geas fare. The perceptive character however, noticed a few flaws with the set up. They discovered that a stalactite had made the force field imperfect, and that 40 simultaneous points of damage would destroy it.

Destroy it they did, in a surprise assault on the force field. It broke under pressure of the combined attacks of all five characters. We then rolled initiative and the character focus fired on the wizard, taking him out before he even realized how doomed he was. Ironically, the five basic drow mercenaries who were with the wizard, passed a morale check and put up a really tough fight. They used a little bit of focus firing themselves, and reduced the bard to single digits.

Then the necromancer pulled 8 skeletons out of his bag of holding, and they began to whittle down the drow with arrows, but not before they got in a few licks against the wizard, who also went into single digits. He became alarmed for his skin, so he leapt into his own bag of holding to escape the punishment! The nearest drow scooped up the bag of holding and dropped it into a nearby cauldron of burning oil. (I am evil like that.)

The battle was won before the wizard burned up or suffocated (because I am not evil lie that) and the bard decided, grudgingly, to give back the bag of holding he just found and release the wizard.

The characters peeked out the door the were in to find themselves in a drow city. It is a suburb of the main drow capital, called Melanie Bonet (which is a shout out to Moorcock’s Elric and his corrupt city of Melnibone.)

The city is ancient, and it is formed by eons of stalactites dripping down to form narrow alleyways and streets between long tall walls of stalagmites. They immediately encounter a group of drow children playing the fun game of “Last One It is Dead,” and one of the drow kids makes a mistake of provoking the warlock, who blasts off a head-exploding spell. The drow children run off with their little knives, and cause no further problems.

They are walking through a poor section of the city and come across a diseased elf who begins coughing, releasing spores. The warlock is infected by Zugtmoy’s spores, but the rest make it safely through the quarantined area until they are stopped at the gates by four more drow warriors, with spears and riding giant lizards. The battle went well and they made it out of the quarantined district, and that is where we left off for the night.

We played a game called Secret Hitler afterwards, which I am incurably bad at. I just cant be sneaky I guess. It was a great game night, so much fun after a month of no gaming.

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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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zero2hero

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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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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Minotaur maze

Minotaur maze

To get past this level of the dungeon, one must confront the mighty minotaur.

This mini-adventure 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 dungeon level originally took place in a multi-dungeon tomb of a long forgotten king. Many of the ancient king’s advisors continued to serve him long after the entombment, and one such is the bailiff, transformed into a mighty minotaur, who guards the coin vaults of the king. The notable features of the dungeon are air fire and water traps. The water trap was a room whose doors locked when a counter-weight was achieve din the middle of the room. The room then filled with water in 3-6 rounds. Also a water weird was released into the room, intent on tripping and drowning anyone caught in the chamber.

The secret doors are difficult to detect can only be passed by waving a hand in front of them at the nine foot level, other wise they are are considered solid rock. They slide open and closed silently by magic when the hand wave is given. The minotaur uses the secret doors strategically in order to catch his prey off guard for and do drive by stampede and gore attacks.

The coin vaults are presided over by a ghostly accountant, unable to interact with the world except to count and stack coins, and who knows where every coin of the hoard is at all times, intent on keeping them together. The bailiff aids him in this endeavor. Treasure value 8,000 gold coins.

The minotaur’s lair is a veritable bachelor pad of evil delight, complete with demoness concubine. Could be a succubus, or maybe Type V…

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