Thursday, December 30, 2010

Random Details for Empty Corridors

Sometimes the adventurers are heading down a long, dark (somewhat boring) corridor and you want to give them some details to spice it up (and increase their unease and paranoia!)

Here's a quick table that I put together for just that purpose.  Roll a d10 to select a random element.  Most of them have another d6 subtable built in for more random goodness.  :)

If anyone is inspired by the list and would like to add additional ideas in the comments, I'll collect everyone's ideas and turn them into a PDF file for download.

1 - Strange chalk markings are scratched on the walls and floor (d6: 1 - measurements; 2 - message; 3 - wizard marks; 4 - mystical runes; 5 - warning; 6 - gibberish)

2 - Footprints (d6: 1 - boots, 2 - reptilian, 3 - feline, 4 - lupine, 5 - ursine, 6 - strange) lead away from the party and are just barely visible in the dust.

3 - The floor stones are loose and wiggle when stepped upon.

4 - Periodically, steam rises up from cracks in the floor.

5 - The floor is covered with a few inches of water.  (d6: 1 - it bubbles; 2 - it smells foul; 3 - its warm; 4 - its uncomfortably hot; 5 - it is icy cold; 6 - it is acidic and begins to dissolve footwear)

6 - Dozens of spikes are driven into the walls and remnants of rope are attached to some.

7 - The walls are carved in bas relief (d6: 1 - mouths; 2 - eyes; 3 - snakes; 4 - geometric patterns; 5 - abstract humanoids; 6 - tentacled horrors)

8 - The walls are covered in murals of (d6: 1 - a battle; 2 - a ritual; 3 - a pleasant scene; 4 - an abstract scene; 5 - a godly visage; 6 - a dark visage) that are in (d4: 1 - well maintained; 2 - aged but well preserved; 3 - ruined; 4 - barely understandable) condition.

9 - A trap (d6: 1 - blades; 2 - falling blocks; 3 - moving walls; 4 - pits; 5 - spears; 6 - chute/slide) has been triggered and has not been reset.  It may have victims...

10 - The walls and floor (d6: 1 - change material; 2 - are oddly unfinished; 3 - are covered in blood; 4 - appear to be made of flesh; 5 - arc with energy; 6 - are vibrating).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What did I do now???

In the past couple of days, I've lost four (4) followers!

What happened?

Happy New Year to the 75 of you that are still around!  I appreciate you and am glad you enjoy reading the strange things that come out of my head...

PS: I just dug a bunch of minis out of storage and I've started painting an old Citadel troll.  I'm not a great mini painter, but I try really hard.  :)  I'll let you all have a peek when its done.  I plan on it being a special monster in my CotMA game, so I'll share his exploits with you as well (and his stats!)

PPS: Here's another book I've added to my OSR resource collection thanks to Al over at Beyond the Black Gate!  It's awesome!  Thanks Al!  Go get your own copy if you haven't already!

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (FH Chars) Graash

Here's the lizardman shaman, Graash that Sharky liberated from the dungeons of the Temple:
Graash is pretty straightforward.  He's tough, the way you'd expect a lizardman to be.  He has a klanth (an obsidian edged sword) and some magical spells.  I think the klanth is a RuneQuest weapon that I ported over to Queston, but I'm not sure.

Detect Magic is simple to understand, but "Second Chance" was the equivalent of a Cure Light Wounds.

White Plume Mountain - variant

Over at GeekDad, they just got done reprinting a series from 2008-09 about 10 old modules the author found in storage while looking for Christmas ornaments.

The finale is White Plume Mountain.

I post it here because it has an alternate encounter map for Wave.  It swaps the giant crab for a mist dragon.  I found it interesting to look at another DM's take on this legendary dungeon.

Personally, I find it interesting that he didn't swap out for the swinging disks -- those things are brutal!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Monster

Over at my other blog, the Massive Monograph of Malignant Malefactors, I've posted a new monster that I've re-imagined from the HeroScape boxed set.

It's these guys --
I'm calling them, "Hydrospawn Warriors"

If you're interested, head on over...

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (FH Chars) Dhornaab

Well, I guess I spelled "Doorknob" in a more dwarfish-kinda-way.  :)

Here's Dhornaab the Daring, dwarfin fighter:
Dhornaab is also incredibly tough, as you can see from his STR, CON and BOD characteristics.  He's got high defenses and a shield that bolsters his DCV.

As I mentioned before, I ran this scenario at Hexacon 3, so I tried to make each of the characters a little different and a little special in their own right.  

Dhornaab has a magical "Hammer Glove" (something he never had in DnD) that allows him to punch the ground and make a cone shaped earthquake for 8d6 normal damage.  Great way to soften up the minions...

I like the fact that I gave him the Talent: Immune to Alcohol.  In the old DnD campaign, Dhornaab was always drinking in the tavern and never got drunk.  

I also didn't "stat out" his "Mythril alloy chain mail" -- I just assigned him 6 pts of defense from it.

A Random Dork Tower

Now, you may have seen this already, but I thought I'd share it here anyway.  :)

Over at the Dork Tower comic, the author posted (a little while back) a random chart for "ironic Twitter names".

I don't use Twitter, so I can't comment on the usefulness of the chart.  But it did occur to me that you could use the chart to develop the personality of an NPC.  That personality would be summarized in just two words/phrases.

You can find the chart here.

Here are a couple NPCs that I randomized with the chart --
  • Drunk Vader
  • Feminist Hulk
  • Funky Khan
You get the idea...

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Shallowness of my Blog (plus Crafts!)

Out there, in the Blogosphere, Zak S is posting this awesome summary of what old school means to him.  If you haven't read it -- do so now.  Go ahead.  I'll wait here.

Oh good, you're back.

I always WANT to post something that thoughtful, profound and erudite, but I never get around to it.

Oh well.  Maybe some day...

I did make something cool while you were away -- look!  It's an old school dice rolling tray!

I bought a little un-finished wooden tray at Hobby Lobby for $0.99 and a sticky black foam sheet for $0.79.  Then I scanned and printed out some of my favorite pics on my laser printer.  I used the Erol Otus art twice because it fit the length of the tray just right...

A little black paint and a little Mod Podge later and PRESTO! you've got a nice little tray to roll dice in.

The pictures wrinkled up a bit when I glued them down, but it still works just fine!

House Rules for 4e?

I thought the whole point behind 4e was that it was a complete, interlocking system of finely tuned rules.  Tweaking one part of it has the potential to unbalance the whole thing.

Yet, I keep reading about house rules for 4e in the blogosphere.  What's up with that?

I mean, if you want to make a lot of house rules, wouldn't it be easier to start with a slimmer, less restrictive, less mechanical system?

I know this post sounds like trolling (or flame war fodder) but I really don't mean it that way.  I'm actually posing a question -- why play 4e with all its errata and multiple gigantic rulebooks and beta online character generator (and subscription service) if you are going to house rule the whole thing anyway.

What's the upside?

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (FH Chars) Brash

Here's our daring knight, Brash Blunderbuss:
Brash is HUGELY STRONG.  In fact, I had to pay DOUBLE points to raise his STR from 20 to 23.  20 is the max for heroic characters in FH.  His CON, BOD, PRE and COM are very high too.  He's quite a tough, imposing, handsome physical specimen.  :)

In Queston, knights have a totem animal and Brash's totem is the bear.  He can invoke a special power to roll 6d6 and add those points directly to his STR score.  On average, that would raise his STR about 21 points!  At STR 44, Brash would roll 8-1/2 normal dice of damage when he punches, his greatsword would jump to 4-1/2dK, and he would be capable of lifting (Ha! he's actually OFF THE CHART in Fantasy Hero -- switching to Champions...) 6400 kg!  Wow!

Brash is also the wall that walks like a man.  His defenses are practically DOUBLE the defenses of Sharky or Skanderbag.  He can take a ton of punishment before going down.

Of course, with Psych Lims of "Fears Nothing" and "Code of Honor" he's gonna need all the help he can get...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (FH Chars) Skanderbag

Here's the FH version of our heroic wizard, Skanderbag the Unexpected.
Skanderbag is exceptional in DEX and INT.  Good attributes for a wizard.  He also has an extra inch of running.  The best 2 pts. you can spend in FH.  You see, you typically make a "half move" in FH and then you attack.  Your normal move is 6" by default.  Adding 1" to your "full move" makes it 7" and your "half move" rounds up to 4".  A very handy thing to have.

In FH, Skanderbag is a little tougher to take down than his DnD alter ego.  He has a "Cloak of Defense" which gives him a significant amount of armor.  In fact, his defenses vs. energy attacks are actually higher than Sharky's! 

You can see that Skanderbag has a 3d6 RKA (ranged killing attack) in the form of the Gotcha! gem.  It has limited charges AND it has the chance to "burnout" after its used.  

He also has four spells.  Its pretty obvious what they do.  I'll have to look and see if I have them written up somewhere for a future post.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I've been resisting the temptation, but most of my fellow bloggers are putting Christmas wishes out there -- so, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

Here's some fantasy/Christmas-y type art I found on the interwebs that I particularly liked.  Enjoy!

I especially like this one!  Samurai Santa with elf ninja!  Priceless!

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (FH Chars) Sharky

Back in 1993, I ran a Fantasy Hero version of the "Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu" at Hexacon 3.  I mention that here in my Q1 recaps.  My good friend JD found copies of the characters and I present them here.

If you're not familiar with Fantasy Hero, you'll likely be perplexed by the characters.  I wrote a computer program (actually a stack) in HyperCard that helped me create these characters.  FH is a super crunchy system based upon Champions, the superhero RPG.  Its very flexible, if you know how to use it, so you can create just about any character/power/spell/magic item you can imagine within the rules.  It's a point-based system that strives for balance across characters with similar point values.

Anyway, here's Sharky Dangerthorn:

The scans were so light -- I printed the characters on my dot matrix printer (remember those?) back in the day -- that I had to do a quick select/paint in Gimp to darken them up.  Some of the hollow letters (like O and D) got filled in, but its much more readable now.

Attributes start off at 10 in FH and you pay, in points, a multiple of the cost listed next to the attribute.  Sharky is above average in everything but Comeliness -- he's just average there.  

He has skills listed at the top.  You try to roll the number OR LESS on 3d6 to succeed with your skill.  KS is Knowledge skill and PS is Professional skill.  

OCV, DCV and ECV are the various combat values.  You compare OCV to DCV and modify an 11 or less roll, up or down, depending upon who had the advantage in battle.

You'll see a theme as I post these characters.  Most of them have a "fighting style".  In FH, you can bundle skills together in what's called a "package deal".  This bundle then gets a small cost break.  Its a way of making characters who have similar backgrounds, like rangers, or races, like elves, well, similar.  You get a small price break in exchange for a small bit of homogeneity.  

FH, like Champions, also requires that you pay for any extra points you spend with Disadvantages.  You can see those in the upper right corner.

Unluck was always one of my favorite Disads in FH or Champions.  I always defined it as "Unlucky when you're winning."  So, when things are going super well, you roll Unluck.  Get 1's and bad stuff happens.  You can take up to 3d6, with varying levels of unluck possible.

Sharky had fantastically bad luck with missile weapons in the original DnD game, so I brought that over as a Reputation.  You could also enforce certain types of roleplaying by putting Psychological Limitations in for a character.   In this case, Sharky "Protects the Innocent."

In the equipment section, you can see that Sharky has a couple of weapons that do K damage.  K damage equals "killing damage".  There are two types of damage in FH -- normal and killing.  Normal damage is more likely to knock you out; killing damage is more likely to kill you.  It's a pretty good system and it works fairly well.  There are some quirks to it, but overall I liked it a lot.

One last note, there's a temptation in FH and Champions to write up EVERYTHING as a power and assign a point cost.  (3e I'm looking at you!)

Doorstop?  That's an entangle that works only to hold doors open or closed (2 pts.)

Oven?  That's a variable killing attack that has a 1 hex area and a heat special effect (4 pts.)

Butter knife?  That's a 1 pip RKA with no range (1 pt.).  You get the idea.

I resisted that urge often when I ran FH.  You can see that Sharky has a "vial of strong acid" listed in his equipment.  How many dice of damage does that do?  Killing or normal?  Can he throw it?

Well, I guess we'll just have to figure that out in play.  :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Eruption (part 5)

Here's the final page of the 9/6/85 issue of The Eruption.
Wilmanric the Archmage had a starring role as mentor and advisor to the PCs in the game.  The Bronze Gryphon Tavern and The Black Hound served as great jumping off points for adventure. 

You could even RENT magic items.  Heaven help you if you didn't return it on time.  The late fees were brutal...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gamer Coupons!

Over at my other blog, In The Dungeons of the Mad Archmage, I've posted some "Gamer Coupons" for my players.  I thought that some of you might be interested in giving coupons like this to your players.

The link above is for an editable version (OpenOffice format) so you can customize the document to suit your campaign.

Here's a look at what I did for my players:


The Eruption (part 4)

Here's page 4 of the 9/6/85 issue of The Eruption.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Couple of OSR Additions to My Collection

I've printed and bound (into little paperback books) two great resources from out there in the blogosphere.

Hill Cantons Compendium has some alternate character generation rules and some class options.

Pars Fortuna - Basic is a new "retro clone" with a charm all its own.

Check them out and make your own books.  You won't regret it.

The Eruption (part 3)

Here's page 3 of the 9/6/85 issue of The Eruption.

I think it's fair to say that I ran a pretty eccentric campaign.  You could rent magic items and flying animals.  You could have pizza delivered to your party in the middle of a dungeon.  You could take pictures of the dungeon with a "magical picture taker."  

Numerous NPCs were highlighted in the issue.  Bozod the Restorer was actually used by the PCs when a hero lost an arm.  Bozod replaced it with a giant crab claw.  Awesome.  

I'm actually disappointed that the PCs didn't sign on with Prof. Phineas Q. Rathbone, Captain of the Air for his balloon adventure.  :(  That would have been great.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Death, Dismemberment and Dangerous Damage Table Redux

I've added a column for "Chaos" on my DD&DD table.  The font is really small now to fit it on one side of one sheet of paper.  Sorry.  If I add any more columns/categories -- I'll split it onto two pages and make the text larger.

You can see the table below:
click to embiggen
The new PDF version is available in the Files section on the right.

I'm personally having great fun with this table.  You'd have to ask my players if they like it, but on the whole, I think they do.

There's a sense of drama and tension at the table when a PC has to roll the 2d6...  Of course, the alternative to the table is just PC death, so I think having a shot at something else by using the table is preferable, but that might just be me...

In this system, HPs have become something more like a PCs "luck" and when it runs out, a grisly death (possibly) awaits...

The Eruption (part 2)

Here's page 2 of the 9/6/85 issue of The Eruption, the Features Page.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Eruption (part 1)

Back on September 6, 1985, I wrote this issue of my campaign's "newspaper," The Eruption.  

The Eruption was chock full of inside jokes, campaign information, and all kinds of adventure hooks.  The Eruption was used to introduce important NPCs and chronicle the exploits of the players.  If my players couldn't figure out what they wanted to do after they read the paper, they just weren't trying.

This was my way of "sandbox"ing the campaign BEFORE I even knew what that was.  :)

I present to you, without commentary, page 1 of the 9/6/85 issue of The Eruption.  Comments and questions gratefully accepted.

Special thanks to JD for unearthing and scanning this!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Time Capsule

I have a heavy-duty four-drawer filing cabinet in my office.  It was a gift from a friend, Steve, who moved to CA about 15 years ago and didn't want to move it.

The top drawer is filled with household stuff, the third drawer is copies of my tax returns and the bottom drawer has teaching resources and some reams of copy paper.

The second drawer is filled with TREASURES!  I could probably pull random pages out of this drawer for five years and write about them on this blog.  In fact, I might just do that!  :)
The second drawer holds much of my gaming notes gathered from play and DMing since I began playing these games in 1980.

Today, at random, I pulled out an old folder and inside I found a time capsule -- a job application for Flying Buffalo Inc.  They had a game store back in the day and I spent nearly all of my Saturday's playing games there once I was able to drive.

Apparently, at one time, I thought about working there.  I filled out the app, but didn't complete it or turn it in.  It makes me smile to look at it and read the responses.

I can only assume that I didn't fill this out because my Mom got me a job on a golf course during the summer of 1983.  I didn't ask her to, but she did it and then I was committed.  I hated that job.  It was a lot of work for $3.35/hour.  Way more work than I wanted to do.  I got a tan and I got in shape, but it sucked.

I wonder what would have happened if I'd gotten a job at FBI instead?  I'd have had the chance to work with Michael Stackpole, Ken St. Andre, Liz Danforth and many others.  That would have been cool.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (Part 10)

Well here we are, at the end of the adventure...
D-9 "Beach:  A ceremonial boat rests, beached, on a lake of alcohol-water.  It will hold three people at most"
D-10 "Alcohol Lake:  Characters falling from rm 2-7 fall in dotted area without damage.  This water will wash off all traces of the oil and poison on weapons.  The characters will have to shed armor and drop weapons to stay afloat."
This shows my naivety about armor.  The warriors would have drowned under anything resembling reality.  In the game, the players shucked out of their armor and sent it down to the deeps.  Later, they worked to recover it.  Ah fantasy!
D-11  "Catacombs:  (A) The first high priest lies here.  He was buried with his crown and scepter of platinum.  5000 gp value.  (B) The second high priest is not dead, but he lives a second life (I said it first!!!), waiting only to be released.  Horonis will disappear and thank the party for releasing him unto the world to wreak chaos.  (C) The third high priest is dead here.  His main treasure is a small crystal hung on an invisible chain.  This allows the casting of illusions.  It has 22 charges. 
The giant rats will attack as soon as the party enters the catacombs.  12 in all.  In their lair is a gnawed magic user scroll of magic missile, knock, spider climb and invisibility."
In the catacombs the players succeeded in releasing Horonis unto the world.  I had planned on him being a grand plot hook but the players didn't bite.  Oh well.  They chose to do other things.  I figure some other heroes dealt with Horonis in their own way.

When the PCs defeated Kraalnar, it was a battle royale.  The red guards were in on the action.  Kraalnar released the skeletons (Sharky bashed one with his shield and rolled a critical.  It's impression was imprinted upon his shield).  Acid was hurled.  A person was held.

Eventually, it all came to an end when Skanderbag closed on Kraalnar, pulled out the magical gemstone in his robe pocket and pulled a "Dirty Harry" --
"Kraalnar," he said with a dramatic pause, "...GOTCHA!"  The resulting blast killed the evil priest and the gem shattered (I rolled it randomly).
It was corny, but cool at the same time.  I had no idea when that treasure was generated that it would be the key to the end of the adventure.  I had no idea that Sharky would use the acid to release Graash.  I didn't know that Graash was a shaman.  I didn't know the giant cockroach was afraid of fire.

In short, I explored my world as much as the players did and it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Download the adventure here.  I hope you enjoy it!  Leave a comment if you do!


Saw this in my blog reader --

D&D Home Play News
Scheduling and Reporting Update
Chris Tulach

For the last few years, D&D play has been able to be scheduled under 2 categories – home (or private) play and public play. With the change in focus to public play, and specifically Wizards Play Network (WPN) play, we have decided to retire the home play category effective January 2011. Home DMs and players don’t need to worry about scheduling and reporting their play through a store-based program like the Wizards Play Network.

For most D&D games, this will have minimal to no impact. We’ve already transitioned our DM and player rewards to our program kits available for D&D Game DaysD&D Encounters, and (coming soon) our WPN Gateway kits. For Living Forgotten Realms, we are in the process of making many of the previously released adventures accessible to the public at large through the Living Forgotten Realms Community Group (, and moving forward, that group will be the portal by which players will access new adventure content managed by the community.
Chris Tulach
D&D Organized Play Content Developer
Wizards of the Coast

What the heck are they talking about?  "Home DMs and players don't need to worry about scheduling and reporting their play..."


Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (Part 9)

The Dungeon of Fraz-Urb'luu's Temple
First, a word about the Dungeon Encounter's table.  There are a number of numbered encounters, but I had kind of a random/sandbox-y thing going on here.  Every so often, I'd roll a d6.  On a 1-4, I'd roll on the chart.  Lots of undead.  What's a "dink"?  What do you think it is?  I used to make stuff up on the spot.  Skelter was from The Secret of Bone Hill.  My friend Alan had run my monk through that adventure a few months before.  
D-1 "Stairwell Down:  This is the place the characters will fall to if they blow it in room 1-4.  If the fall doesn't kill them then they are free to proceed on."
The PCs did fall and the fall didn't kill them.
D-2 "Wight:  One wight lives in here.  He was a follower of the high priest.  It still wears tattered red clothes and armor.  He has an evil bastard sword, but will not use it.  Not being alive, the ring of vampiric regeneration it wears will not help it.   As the party enters, it will drop the arm it is eating and attack.  The arm's fingers grasp and wiggle though it is severed."
The party did not encounter the wight.  If they had, it would have probably spelled the end of them.
D-3 "Green Slime:  It is stuck on the south wall.  While the characters fight it, they will be bothered by a couple of dinks."  
Here are those "dinks" again.  In this context, I guess they might be like boggarts or imps or some other meddlesome creature that is less dangerous and more a nuisance to the party.
D-4 "Demon Skeleton:  This hideous bat winged skeleton is all bones except for its black head and flame red eyes (can you say cut-rate Balrog?).  It is clawing at the wall, digging out a skeleton.  It will screech and attack the party on sight.  The screech will make the party stand in fear or run away (even chance of both) unless they save vs. magic.  The skeleton wears a bracelet which has a single gem left in one of many mounts.  The gem is a 6d fireball."
The party did encounter this skele-demon and they ganged up and defeated it.  The gemstone went into Skanderbag's duffel for use later at the Citadel of Urk.
D-5 "A single dretch is hiding here from the demon in D-4.  If encountered, it will run away until cornered.  Then it will cast stinking cloud and run past the puking party.  It has no treasure."
I liked the monsters from Tsojcanth A LOT!  I talk about it here.  Heck, that's where Fraz-Urb'luu is from.  I never actually ran the adventure though...
D-6 "Giant Space Cockroach:  This beast is AC 2 and has 50 hp.  It does 2d8 damage for its vicious bite.  Bones of females are scattered about the room.  The doors are made of heavy bronze and are quite sturdy.  Scared of fire.  <--- note the emphasis here!
Wow.  There's a great story here.  If you recall from Part 2,  I mentioned that atop the pyramid-like temple there was an altar.  This altar was enchanted, like the altar in 3-5, to teleport its victim to the dungeon.  Well, at one point some of the party left the main level of the temple and decided to try and enter from the top.  This group was Sharky and Doorknob.  Brash and Skanderbag took a more typical route.  Well, Sharky and Doorknob got to the top of the temple and triggered the illusion.  They were brave (but also a little foolish) and they charged the (illusion) of Fraz-Urb'luu planning to go out with a fight.  Sharky was always one to swashbuckle a bit and so he jumped atop the altar for a better swipe at the demon lord.  POOF!  Doorknob followed.  POOF-2!

They found themselves in the room with the giant space cockroach!  Well, let's get the heck out of here.  The bronze doors were heavy and I decided they were locked from the other side, so they dashed across the room toward the door to D-7.  The cockroach is the "lock" for these doors; they opened easily...
D-7 "Cells:  These are sturdy lock and key, steel bar cells.  The bars are set deep within the floor and ceiling.  This is where defeated characters from 1-6 will be teleported.  Victims are locked up individually.  The lettered cells contain (a) a lizardman, Graash (love those double A's), (b) a dretch, cowardly and (c) a dead ogre.
...Sharky and Doorknob slam the door shut and examine their surroundings.  They realize the dretch is not worth rescuing and the ogre is dead.  What about this lizardman?  He speaks common AND he claims to be a shaman!  He's worth the risk!

Sharky busts out the vial of acid that he bought for use against Skanderbag's familiar and he dissolves the lock.  Graash is grateful and he joins the party!

Sharky decides that a giant insect would be scared of fire (dumb animal) so he lights up some torches and the trio throw the doors wide....  Well, it sounded good to me so I let it fly.  :)  I liked it so much that I ret-conned my adventure.  In the scan, you can see that I more or less scribbled "scared of fire" in the key.  Even early in my DMing career, I was flexible with my adjudication.  If the players had a good idea, I'd steal it on the spot and substitute it for my own.

It's funny how often they got things right!  LOL!
D-8 "Big Cells:  (a) contains a lamia, (b) a chasme.
The players never opened this door.

More to come!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Colored Forcefield for Use with Miniatures

Here's a brief video showing a cool forcefield that I made for use in my megadungeon campaign!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dungeon Dressing (Part 1)

I went to my local arts and crafts store (Michael's) and I purchased some wooden bits.  I was inspired by Mike over at Swords and Dorkery.  He's got some great posts here and here.

Here are my pics of barrels.  They come 8 to a pack for $1.47.  I just painted them brown.

I also created some giant mushrooms...  They were 6 for $1.47.

And a strange pot...  I wouldn't get too close -- look at all the dead guys laid out on the floor!  I think you get 6 pots of this size for $1.47.  

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (Part 8)

Level 3: Priest
3-1 "The door in this room can only be opened normally if the high priest's amulet is pressed into a depression in the middle of the door.  One red guard waits here."
This is one of those situations where you need a really strong character in the party... wait!  Brash is strong... BLAM!  Down goes the door.  Of course, everyone knows you're here now...
3-2 "The Anteroom:  This room has two couches of red velvet with gold trimmings.  The trimmings are worth about 800 gp for gold value alone, but if the couches can be transported out intact, they are worth 1200 gp each.  The room is lit by braziers and incense is in the air."
I like this room because there's A LOT of treasure here, but it isn't in convenient coin-shaped portions.
3-3 "The Hall:  The shaded area is red carpet.  The statues beside the door are of demons and are made of silver.  The semi-circles are pillars with bas-reliefs of demon faces, skulls, etc.  The south wall is made of an elaborate illusion/force wall that holds back the skeletons on the other side.  This wall is dropped by pressing the button on the crystal prod when it is in its socket on the throne.  The prod is owned by the priest."
In retrospect, I don't really think that Fraz-Urb'luu would have actual undead in his ranks.  That's more of an Orcus thing.  Some kind of spectral horror would be more his speed.  
 3-4 "Skeletons:  Six in number.  Each have 10 gp gems for eyes.  Will not attack the prod holder."
3-5 "The Priest's Chamber:  Kraalnar the High Priest resides here.  
Kraalnar -- Cleric 4, AC 1, HP 22, Plate and shield, +1 for DEX, Cause Light Wounds x2, Command x1, Hold Person x2, Mace +2, 2 vials of acid, wears amulet (3-1) and has crystal prod (3-4).  Sceptre of Healing (46 charges; 2-8 pts per charge).
The round objects to the north, center are pillows.  They are flanked by two braziers which are magic and cannot be moved.  The dark dots are pillars.  The statue is of Fraz-Urb'luu and is surrounded by three magical braziers.  The sacrificial block is magical in that anything placed upon it is teleported to a similar block in D-6.  Chained to the wall are six scantily clad females of the voluptuous type. (Good gawd! Was I a teenage boy or what!?!) One of them is the princess of Fyrkeep.  If returned to her father will bring a reward of 10,000 gp to each rescuer.  She is a very beautiful redhead and is a 1st level fighter with 9 hp.  She is cultured whereas the others are just beautiful slaves.
Behind the secret door is the cleric's wealth: 8320 gp, 359 pp, 16 gems, two bottles of magical fingerpaints (Nolzur's Pigments)"
This was the start of something really big.  Princess Fyrissa became the femme fatale for several adventures.  She was wooed by Sharky and Skanderbag.  Eventually, she married Skanderbag and they had a daughter, Embril.  Her kidnap and rescue were the focus of the campaign and led to a direct conflict with another demon lord, Graz'zt.

The treasure amounts for this adventure are HUGE!  If you rescue Fyrissa, you would become extremely wealthy.  A little bit of Monty Haulism was going on.  :)  I think the magic items were distributed well though.

On to the Dungeon!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (Part 7)

Level 2 - Security (continued)
2-5 "The Red Guard: Two guards wearing red armor and cloaks reside here.  They are AC 2 and have 16 and 18 hps.  They wield +2 evil bastard swords which emit an eerie black radiance.  They will warn the party that if they attempt to pass through the East door they will be stopped.  If slain, the guards will disappear in a puff of acidic smoke.  The evil swords will remain and they will turn on the wielder (if he is good or neutral) in combat, attacking for one round and then disappearing."
There's a lot to like here, IMHO.  The Red Guards are pretty dangerous, but they pull a "none shall pass" thing on the party.  Of course, the party didn't turn around so it was on.  The puff of smoke reveals them to be supernatural in origin -- perhaps bound to a task -- which is the reason for the warning.  I really loved the damage potential of bastard swords (2-8/2-16) so they appear A LOT in this adventure.  The swords turning on the wielder is a thing a beauty, especially because Brash could detect alignment.  If you ignore the warning...  In the end, the PCs didn't take the swords.  Oh well.

When I re-built the adventure for Hexacon 3, I bought a bunch of Chaos Warriors and I painted them up as Red Guards.  For that adventure, all the guards were "red", but only some of them had the powers described above.  Here are some pics of those minis.  The paint jobs aren't great, but they ARE PAINTED.  :)

2-6 "Was left out intentionally so as not to encourage the compilation of a 3-digit demonic number.  --- The Management"
A little inside joke from me of the past to me of the future.  I laughed out loud when I read this.  :)
2-7 "The characters step on the pressure plate and oil of slipperiness pours in gallons (apparently Fraz-Urb'luu goes to CostCo) out and down the slope.  This will cause the characters forward of the line to slide into 2-7a, and down into the dungeon D-10"
I love this room and the PCs actually fell victim to this trap.  I like the description as a rationale for how the trap functions.  In reality, there's virtually no way for the party to avoid the trip to the dungeon once the trap is sprung.

Upon closer inspection of the maps, it is obvious that room 2-7a runs directly through room 1-4.  :(  In actuality, 2-7a must be a lot smaller than is actually depicted on the map.
2-8 -- There is no key for this room.  It contains the stairs up to Level 3: Priest. 

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (Part 6)

Level 2: Security
This level is guard heavy.  All evil human cultist guards.  There's also a special faction called "The Red Guards" that is elite and protects Kraalnar exclusively.
2-1 "Three guards wait here for the party.  They won't be covered by missile fire until all but one is dead.  The missile fire will come from 2-2.  These guards have low hp; 5 max.
I rolled the hp up at the time.  1d8 per guard.  Rolls over 5 became 5.  It's apparent that I tried to add a little variety to battles by putting in a contingency (missile fire after all but one are dead).  Good stuff.
2-2 "Two guards will hold off the party by firing arrows down the corridor until they can maneuver the ballista into place (rate 1/3 damage 1-10).  It is loaded.  If hard pressed, they will fall back and rely on the wall crawlers (2-3) as defense.  One guard has an arrow of giant slaying and three arrows +2.
I remember Sharky carrying that arrow of giant slaying around in his quiver for quite awhile until he needed it in the Citadel of Urk (stay tuned).   I can't remember if the guards used the arrows +2 in their own attacks.  They probably didn't; they are treasure after all.  :)
2-3 "Wall Crawlers:  These creatures are AC 0, have 8 hps, and their holes are too small to permit attacks internally.  They have a keen sense of hearing and smell.  When they hear creatures approach, they sniff the air to see if they can smell "herb pouches".  If so, the crawlers will not attack.  Otherwise, they will attack as 2 HD creatures with +2 to hit and do 1-3 pts of damage."
Although I do not note the "herb packets" on any of the antagonists in this adventure, some guards were in possession of the packets to facilitate their movement past the crawlers.  The PCs found the packets and wrote them off as some kind of "tobacco chew".  They never made the connection.

In 1993, I ran a Fantasy Hero version of this adventure at Hexacon 3.  I built a 3D dungeon board for this event.  You can see pics of the board here.  I also created the "Wall Crawlers" in 3D.

I changed the "Wall Crawlers" to be a kind of tentacle.  I created 3D walls with purple and blue dots and I put them on either side of the corridor.  I used pushpins and Sculpey to create some tentacles and when the PCs triggered the trap, I stuck the tentacles in the foam walls.  It was great!  Pins and foamcore were the perfect way to set up a "transforming" room trap.  Now you see one thing; now its different.  Here are some pics.  I would have set up the corridor, but the 3D board is in storage.  :(
Here's a pushpin tentacle made of sculpey
Here's the wall section before the tentacles appear...
...and here's the wall section after.  Nasty! 
2-4 "Guard Barracks:  Three more guards in chain mail await here.  They have 11 and 12 hps and wield bastard swords.  There is a total of 10 bunks.  The other three guards are on routine patrol."
I didn't have a wandering monster chart for this adventure.  I did use these three guards as an encounter when things were going a bit slow.  I think the PCs encountered them in the dungeon...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (Part 5)

The Trap Rooms (Part 2):
TR-5 "The floor is illusionary.  The room is a spiked pit.  1-6 pts + 20% chance of hitting a spike for 1-4.  If the party walks the far perimeter of the room, there is a 2' ledge (dotted line).
This is the way that Kraalnar goes to ascend to the second level and his chamber.  There has to be a way for him to get around without being subjected to all the traps.  I think that my younger self was clever with these traps.
TR-6 "Anyone entering this room that is not of evil alignment will see his double.  His double will strike as a 1 HD monster and do 1-6 points of damage regardless of the weapon type.  If the character wins, the double disappears and a gem worth 1000 gp for HP the double had will lie in its place.  If the double wins, the character is teleported (D-1, Dungeon Level, Detention Cells) and gains 500 XP for the fight.  It will seem to the others that the character just disappeared with his double.
The gold and XP payout for this trap is pretty high.  If I did it all over again, I wouldn't include that part. I think that I was trying to sweeten the deal with this trap.  It's a little handwavey and there's no way to avoid it (unlike the other traps) if you are non-evil (and ALL my PCs were non-evil).

This trap is basically an alarm for TR-7.

At this time, I don't think I'd ever seen this kind of trap from my own play (I could be wrong).  I had played TSR modules almost exclusively at this point.  If anyone knows offhand what modules have this kind of trap -- I'd be interested to find out.  Only one other DM in our group created his own stuff, but by now he'd moved back to CA.
 TR-7 "Cage: In room 2-2 (Level 2 Security), 5 guards wait and watch.  The floor of the room is covered with hundreds of 1 gp gems.  After the party walks in, the guards will drop the portcullises over each exit and will start throwing things at the party; mostly chicken guts, blood and intestines but will use daggers, bolts and arrows if the party gets violent.
The purpose of this room is to basically STOP the party from advancing.  After they are suitably humiliated, the guards will raise the back portcullis and let them retreat (of course they'll have to face their double again -- another chance to be teleported to the dungeon...)  If memory serves, I think a well-timed Sleep spell took care of the guards and Brash with his 18/XX Strength took care of the bars.

On to Level 2!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Q1 - The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'luu (Part 4)

The Trap Rooms:

I actually broke out the key for this level into two parts.  1-1 to 1-5b were all "Temple Level", now we have "The Trap Rooms".

I'll label those TR-1, etc.  

I remember when I was creating this dungeon, I was thinking, "How do the bad guys get past all these traps and illusions?"  I think I succeeded in making each trap 'realistic', in that if you know that it's there, or you snoop around, you can figure a way around them.
TR-1 "In the center of the room is a pressure plate, which if stepped on causes a large block to fall from the ceiling.  Save vs. Pet. or take 2-16 pts of damage.  (Solution -- don't walk in the center of the room)
TR-2 "This room has walls which are very sticky and cause anything they touch to stick to them.  (really, I don't think the walls are in the habit of touching things; I think that things come into contact with the walls...)  This bond can be broken by strength, but the character will take 1-6 points of damage from his skin ripping off.  The bond can also be dissolved by alcohol a strong solvent (?).  There is a +1 longsword which hums in the presence of orcs stuck to the southeast wall.  Anyone trying to take the sword has a 1-3 on 6 chance of touching the wall and becoming stuck.  If the sword is forced off the wall it will break.
I seem to remember that the NPC, Brash Blunderbuss, managed to get the sword off the wall.  I don't remember if I did that to showcase the sticky walls or if the other players somehow suggested that Brash go after the sword.

the light beams in TR-3
TR-3 "There are beams of light alternating like steps (see above) in the center of the room.  They can be considered to be two things: 1- LIGHT STEPS: they can be walked across if desired.  This will accrue no damage or harm.  2- TRIP BEAMS for a trap: if this is thought of or inferred then the person who breaks the beam will take 1-2 pts of damage per beam.
This room shows my early development as a DM.  I was planning for player input and perception.  If the players thought that the beams were a trap -- they were a trap.  If they thought they looked like "light steps" -- then, they were harmless light steps.  I believe the players thought the beams were a trap.  They used a mirror or something to deflect the beams and avoid damage.

I'm actually quite proud of the following trap.  I enjoyed DMing it back in the day.
TR-4 "The Ascending/Descending Stair:  This staircase is set up on a counter weight system that allows the priests to raise and lower the steps to the dungeon level with little effort.  The steps are currently down.  The stairs counter-weight has gone slightly bad, in that if you walk along the outside along the railing, the stairs slowly crank upwards.  By the time the party has reached the bottom of the stairs in this manner, it will be a 20' drop to the floor.  This defect has been reinforced by an illusion that the stairs are still down.  The twisting and spiral nature make this ascent of the stairs almost impossible to detect (a 5% chance for someone who thinks something's wrong).  This effect is easily avoided if the characters walk toward the inside of the stairs.  The ceiling is 40' high.  The fall does 2-12 pts. of damage.
I remember the lead character taking a tumble at the end.  "That last step is a doozy!"  Of course the other problem is that you are now 20' below the bottom stair in a dark dungeon.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Dungeon of the Ghost Tower -- 4e becomes S&W! (Part 2)

It's been a month since we concluded this adventure.  I should have posted a recap right away; but I didn't. What is written below is my thoughts and memories of a great adventure.  I know the players enjoyed it and it was a hoot to run.

Of course, I didn't use 4e, so I can't speak to how the adventure would play in that system.  :)

When last we left our heroes, they had discovered to small chambers at the bottom of ladders secreted within sarcophagi --

One led here:
THE MAGIC CIRCLE ROOM:  This room was apparently empty except for the magic circle.

And another led here:
THE STATUE ROOM:  This room had four terrible monsters in it: a fire elemental, a demon, a slime beast and a giant two-headed worm.

The adventurers descended into the MAGIC CIRCLE ROOM and couldn't find a way in.  It was obvious that one of the keys they needed rested in the center of the circle.  Eventually, when searching, the dwarf discovered six different blocks built into the wall that didn't look natural.  Inside these blocks were potions of phasing.  They used one potion to enter and exit the circle.  The key didn't react to the phasing -- it was always solid to the touch.

The adventurers then decided to descend to face the four monsters in the STATUE ROOM.  I made the monsters up on the fly.  The PCs used several of the potions of phasing to increase their AC by 8.  This was vital because the monsters were TOUGH.  I found four minis (some DnD and some MageKnight) that fit the bill and pulled some stats together.

Two monsters got 2 attacks each.  One had poison.  One had acidic slime.  One burned.  Several got bonuses to hit and damage.  :)  In the words of Zach S, "I don't hate you, but I represent people monsters who do..."

The potions only lasted 6 rounds, so I used a die to "countdown" dramatically to the point where the PCs were going to get demolished...

The wizard cast sleep on the giant worm (it was the only thing it would work on and he rolled a bunch of HD)... down it went.  Of course, you can't just KILL something that big with a sword when its asleep.  You can do hella damage to it, but then it will wake up....

Collen had found a frostblade in one of the other sarcophagi, so he went toe-to-toe with the elemental.  Owyn went after the slime and demon.  Kalen went after the worm...

I don't remember much about the combat, but I do know that I needed a 20 to hit the PCs for the first six rounds.   I rolled 5 20's against Owyn alone!  His shield was destroyed by the slime creature's acid.  He got pretty well beat up before the demon went down.

Collen played it conservative right up until the phasing potion wore off.  Then he decided to roll the d30 as his attack roll.  The PCs managed to win initiative and good thing too.  Collen rolled 22 (a crit threat) then 23 on the d30.  Getting maximum damage 15 points --- EXACTLY the amount of damage the fire elemental had left.  Whew!

The PC's now had two keys of four that they needed.

They used some healing, bandaged some wounds, and headed here...

To the left  they fought many rodents of unusual size and eventually, there in the T intersection, a giant spider pounced upon Hanuman causing the donkey to run UP the stairs toward the lab on the right.  Bummer, that's where the other spiders are...

Xavier acted boldly and sprung into action.  He chased after poor Roberto (using a little umph from his feline leg to get over the crowd in the hall).  He found Roberto in the lab being feasted upon by two giant spiders.

Eventually the spiders and rats were defeated.  Roberto was nursed back to health by Cack (who has a knack with horses, etc.) and the third key (and some other interesting items) were recovered.

That led the party here:

The far room was filled with (surely) animated statues.  Just standing.  Waiting.  

The players spent a lot of time discussing how they could get to the key (held by that large winged statue) without having to fight ALL the animated statues.

Eventually, they came upon the plan that Hanuman would use his monk-y abilities to leap from statue head to statue head, trying to get to the back with a minimum of statue activations.  This plan was based on a lot of (correct) assumptions.

Hanuman made a number of successful rolls, rolling equal to or under his DEX, but just as he closed in on the big statue -- 20.  He missed his target.  

During the leaping, each statue that he touched activated and moved toward the door.  The PCs destroyed them in quick succession. 

I don't remember how the battle concluded, but I do remember that Hanuman got the last key.  He leapt from the tall statue in the far part of the room.  Several statues that had animated followed him.  The party used a rigged rope setup to trip the statues as they entered the 4x4 antechamber.   It was a very cool and very satisfying defeat of this room.

Animated statues are very poor at standing up...

That led the party here, to the concluding chamber...

The party assembled the keys into a metallic square.  The square, it was discovered, could be used to open a passage through the purple mist.  They entered the room and did battle with the creatures within.

The burning skeletons (S) were turned (!) and cowered in the back of the room.  The other skeletons (D) joined the fight.  The ghost of Anarus Kalton (G) had six different magical powers and I rolled them randomly each round. 

There was a great give and take in the battle.  Several of the PCs ended up on the DD&DD table.  Each of the ghost's powers were unleashed once.  Its final "Blast of Chaos" corrupted the wizard, turning a large portion of his flesh to a twisting, writhing mass.  Elin, the warrior maiden, was hit in the face.  Her features melted into a featureless mask and her eyes were destroyed.

Just as things looked extremely dire, the party rallied and defeated the evil ghost!

Now, back to town to see Uuthak and his Regen-O-Pod!

If I forgot anything critical, I invite my players to add some info in the comments!  Now back to CotMA!