Firstly, an apology for not having kept this series as frequent as I would have liked. I sometimes succumb to the temptation to develop an idea and this dramatically increases the amount of work I need to complete a post. Today's post is just such an example; as I developed it, the focus shifted away from the camels (although they are still there). I'll try to keep my grandiose ambitions in check in weeks to come.
By the way, if anybody wants to add to the table of "Things found in the desert" and turn it into a d30 table, please feel free to make suggestions in the comments section.
No. appearing 1-12
Armour class 7
Hit Dice 3
Percentage in lair Nil
Treasure type Nil
No. of attacks 1
Damage per attack 1-4
Special attack - Spitting
Special defences Nil
Magic Resistance Standard
Intelligence Animal to Semi-
XP value 35 + 3/hp
Okay, so it’s not much to do with camels; they do appear but they’re not the stars.
Fane of the Jackal
The Fane is a temple complex in the desert that had long been deserted since the downfall of its cult. Now the cult has returned, attacking and killing the watchers in rooms 1-4 (who were a virtually forgotten outpost given the task of keeping an eye on the Fane). The cultists joyfully entered the temple but found that the Fane had been desecrated and parts of the statue are missing. They are now trying to find them and reunite them, at which point, the statue will animate and grant them arcane and evil powers (results at DM’s discretion).
They ride out on their camel mounts each day to see if they can find more fragments of it – as of now, they only have two fragments of the arm and three of the head to find.
Things found in the desert (roll 1d6,1d12 once per day if thought frequent enough)
1. Head fragment 1
2. Fragment of ruined building with some hieroglyphs that make it clear the fragment is upside down
3. Bones, animal
4. Buried nest of roc eggs – the mother may be back soon
5. Dried up river bed, seasonally flooded. An old boat is half buried in the cracked mud
6. Bones, human
7. Chunk of coloured glass, worn smooth by the wind and sand. There is a chance that it is enchanted glass from the long-lost Foundry of Eyes and if looked through, invisible creatures may be viewed clearly (other spirits and entities can also be seen, which may have detrimental effects on the user’s sanity)
8. Rusty weapons (see result 18)
9. A mysterious oasis where the water’s edge is littered with empty clothes.
10. Petrified tree – appears to be vaguely human in form. It is extremely hard wood and if used as a club will do +2 damage.
11. Head fragment 2
12. Lapis lazuli bottle, worth perhaps 25gp. Inside might be (1d6)
a) dried yarrow stalks, worth a great deal to seers and fortune tellers as they will give a very accurate reading due to their purity
b) cinnamon sticks
c) a handful of glass beads. See how they sparkle in the sunlight. Don’t look too closely because you will have to save vs. INT or end up in a trance for 1d6 hours
d) a tiny model ship, of a type not seen on the oceans of the world for centuries. If you listen closely, you can hear sea shanties coming from inside the bottle
e) a puff of dusty powder erupts into the face of the holder, turning their face a random colour for 1d12 days.
f) nothing appears to be in the bottle but unbeknown to the holder, an invisible out-of-phase entity has emerged and attached itself to the nearest head. Its presence will cause eerie nightmares of deserted cities, cyclopean tombs and sinister gods for 1d4 days until it is sated and slips into another universe.
13. Odd-looking stone that is slightly shiny and glows at twilight in a hue that causes temporary insanity if looked at for too long.
14. Head fragment 3
15. Ambush predator, sand snake – injects venom which causes all the water in the victim’s body to turn to a powdery residue which the snake craves (this is also the ingredient of a powerful narcotic used by the desert tribes)
16. Semi-buried effigy, nothing to do with the Fane. There is a chance that it is not human – possibly a lamia or sphinx and may serve as some sort of psychic conduit to the creature that it represents.
17. Arm fragment 1
18. Rusty armour; only parts are sticking out above the sand. Excavation may lead to the site of a ferocious battle that occurred many centuries ago, with the possibility of magic items.
19. Huge skeleton of a whale. 1 in 8 chance that there is the bleached wreck of a small fishing boat somewhere inside the rib cage.
20. Arm fragment 2
21. Ambush predator, sand scorpion.
22. Tumbleweed – one in 20 of these is in fact possessed by a minor vampiric entity which attacks by use of its numerous tendrils.
23. Dust devil – again, one in 12 of these is actually a minor devil who will blind its victims with sand before manifesting and attacking.
24. Cactus containing watery sap – this liquid can be used to heal 1d8 of hp per dose.
The map is from the great Dyson Logos' blog and can be found here.
Rooms 1-4 are in a rocky outcrop across the sand from the main dungeon entrance. Access is gained through a doorway; the heavy door that stood there now lies in fragments on the sand, battered and scorched.
1 Three skeletal figures lie on the floor here. All are wearing robes and have been hacked about and abused before their deaths.
2 There are several stone jugs in here. Only three are still sealed and they contain a rich red wine which is perfectly drinkable.
3 The shrines – at each end of this passage is a small effigy, one in ivory, the other in jet. Just inside the door are several brass incense holders and some small sticks and blocks of incense. If they are taken and lit, the effigies can be approached in safety – although breathing in the incense may well give visions of past, present or future – it is up to the DM if he chooses to allow the inhaler to see some aspect of the main dungeon. If the effigies are approached without lighting the incense, then their effect is limited to turning the skin of anybody who touches them either chalk white or jet black, depending on which is touched.
4 The terrace. Several withered skeletons lie here, some in robes, some in the garb of cultists.
5 Stabling point for the camels. Depending on whether the cultists are out searching for pieces of their statue, there will be either the full complement of camels or a handful of young or lame specimens.
6 Stable master. He has furnished the room with skulls that the cultists have found in the desert and brought back for him as they know he likes to collect them. They have been set on shelves with a flickering tallow candle in each one.
7 Wide area of sand and rocks that is partially sheltered from the desert winds by a crumbling stone wall, about four feet high. The small squares represent pressure pads that trigger the crossbows in room 10 to fire, once loaded.
8 Room with a few bloodstains on the floor; empty apart from a skeleton at the entrance to the passage.
9 The first chamber. A wall of force extends across the corridor just before the first set of steps. Access to the lever for disabling it is to be found in this room.
10 Old guard chamber. Three crossbows are set up here but they have been fired long since and now stand idle. There are several boxes of bolts stacked up against one wall. If the party enter through room 8, the stone golem will move to room 10 and load the crossbows, then stand ready to reload again and again until there are no more bolts.
11 Room of the Golem. A stone golem stands here, over a metal grille in the floor. If he moves off it, a thick cloud of stinking black smoke issues forth, filling the whole room. It will dissipate in 1d12 minutes. If the golem returns to the grille, the gas will start to build up again. The golem will move to room 10 if the party enter the complex through room 8 but if they try to descend the steps into room 11 first, the golem will defend the entrance, using the advantage of the smoke. He has no functioning eyes so will not be blinded. The party, on the other hand…
12 The second chamber. If a character passes this room, the flight of stairs will move to present a smooth gradient, down which the character will tumble unless they make a save vs. DEX. If they arrive at the foot of the stairs in an undignified heap, the cultists in Room 13 will burst out and beat them with clubs in an attempt to subdue them prior to binding them for sacrifice.
13 The third chamber.
14 Guard room. Guards who hear anybody moving down the passage from room 11 will use the spy holes on the over-passage to observe the progress of intruders and the trapdoor to fire on them or bomb them with burning oil.
15 The chamber of the priest. Here the head of the cult is living. Just outside the door is a carved image of the jackal god which will bellow “Kneel before your Master!”
This phrase is a reference to a pressure pad which will cause a poison dart to fire into the back of whoever stands on it, unless they are kneeling, in which case it will pass harmlessly over their head.
16 Hidden chamber in which hides a cult member with a magic dagger. His job is to wait until somebody has approached the secret door and peers through the eye holes before striking from behind, provided that they have not triggered the trap.
17 The statue itself – the head and one arm are missing. At the right hand side of the room is a raised balcony area. The secret door is located in a carved section of wall that, from the Fane side of the wall, resembles a jackal-headed servitor of the god itself. To operate the door from the passage side, the person must stand inside the hollow statue, put their face to the eye holes and move both arms simultaneously. Moving one arm will trigger a dozen poison needles the length of the body. Moving neither arm will cause hallucinations to be seen through the eye holes that require a save vs. Magic or the person will succumb to shrieking fear for 1d12 rounds.
If the cultists have managed to capture a victim, they will take them to this room and swiftly prepare for a sacrifice as they believe that this will motivate their god to send them visions of the location of the missing pieces. This may or may not be true.
18 Weapons store. In here are stored extra arrows, spears, swords that require sharpening, several clubs which are merely lengths of wood with nails hammered through and a selection of curved throwing daggers. There are also a great number of oil flasks.
I’ve deliberately left the stats of the cultists unlisted, to enable DMs to pick up and run with the dungeon that little bit easier. Likewise, there is no treasure listed, but please feel free to put in whatever you feel is appropriate.
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