Friday 27 April 2012

Look what I got for my birthday

Cthulhu dice bag! Isn't he cute?

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Today's helpful message

Monday 16 April 2012

Team Adventure - Better the Devil You Know

It was not long before the elves appeared from beneath the trees. Gullhar was given the task of handing over the staff. The elven leader, BirdsPaintedOnWater looked slightly confused and asked the party what it was. Elysia explained that they believed it was the crystal that they had been sent to find. The elven leader said the crystal in question was a large piece, about the size of a human head, not one attached to a staff.

The party realised that they had jumped to the wrong conclusion (and freed the demons in the process) and decided that another delve into the dungeon was needed to bring their quest to its proper end. The elves told them that although they did not know what the staff was, they could tell that it was an object of great power and that it had probably belonged to the holy man of the party of knights that had attacked the dungeon many hundreds of years ago. The party explained that they had met the ghosts of the knights. Ferros’ eyes lit up when he heard that the staff could be used by a cleric.

Leaving their horses happily munching grass, the knights’ bones carefully bundled and the staff in the care of the elves, the party set off back down the winding stair, along the tunnel and across the bridge. Soon, they arrived at the room where they had seen the wrecked altar and Zanurax had tried to convince everybody that the carpet had tried to attack him. This time, the party decided to investigate this bizarre allegation and Alagon prodded the carpet. Right on cue, it rose up and tried to grab the spear point. Much debate was held at that point about what to do with the killer carpet before Elysia wondered if it might make a valuable addition to the Moat House redecoration programme. Using her Comprehend Languages, she attempted to establish contact with it and sure enough, it replied to her. It revealed that it was a Mimic and posed as a carpet to try and trap unwary dungeon denizens, then eat them. Elysia offered it a deal – join the party, work to protect the Moat House from intruders and it could have all the baddies it could eat. The Mimic agreed and to show what it could do, it assumed the shape of a treasure chest. It also told the party that it had larger and slightly less intelligent cousins who were nowhere near as friendly. Elysia told it that she thought it had assumed a very nice pattern as a carpet. The Mimic replied that she was very kind and that not every passer-by was so complimentary. Some just walked by without even noticing it.

Struck by that comment, she asked the Mimic who else had passed by recently and it revealed that somebody large with bony feet was a regular visitor to the room, passing through every few days. It could say no more than that, since it could only really see feet in its carpet form.

The party moved on along the passage towards the Pool, although they thought that the room wherein the stirges had been seen also merited investigation. Gullhar peeped in and saw that there were six heat signatures in the rafters; Ferros used his Speak with Animals spell to question them about visitors to the room (his player accidentally used an extremely suggestive phrasing of this question that had everyone at the table creased up with laughter). The stirges just wanted blood and revealed, during the conversation that nobody came into the room or had done for a long time. Ferros cast Locate Object and scanned the room but there was no indication that the crystal was anywhere nearby.

Feeling sure that what they sought was still ahead of them, the party arrived at the edge of the water. All was dark now that the staff had been removed. Elysia cast Fly and transported herself and Ferros across to the far side. They began their search of the cells where the demons had been imprisoned. There were huge scratches in the stone of the cells, marks of the frustration and anger that the demons had experienced during their centuries of imprisonment but no obvious signs of secret doors. Ferros’ Locate Object spell was still running, and he began to sense that it was nearby. Using triangulation, he pinpointed it about fifteen feet beyond the wall of the most left-hand cell. The wall seemed very solid indeed and it was likely that there was some other route to its location.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party had begun to get a little restless and had returned to the altar in the room of the Mimic. They put their backs into trying to shift it, but it was only after Alagon had managed to put his back out that Gullhar and Alurax moved it and watched it break up into a pile of stone fragments. Behind it was just plain wall and underneath it, flooring that showed no sign of any secret entrances.

Alurax had the idea of investigating the demonic figure that they had found standing near the entrance to the Great Avenue and off they set to do just that.

Meanwhile, Elysia and Ferros had been doing a bit of investigation on their own; they had been looking at the map that they had drawn of the dungeon so far and had concluded that there must be more rooms between the hall where they had met the salamanders and the Water Elemental’s pool. Rather than traipse all the way down to the far end of the Great Avenue, they began to check the southern walls of all the rooms that that they had so far entered. Using another Fly spell, they began to check the walls of the Pool and found a section of stonework that seemed slightly uneven compared to the rest. A quick push from Ferros caused it to slightly open and with a bit more effort, they were through and into a small room.

A passage led off and wound its way into the dark and from there came the faint sound of running water; rather than pause to collect the rest of the party, the daring duo pressed on to see where the passage led.

It came out in a large room that overlooked a pool into which a waterfall cascaded. There was a stream feeding into the pool and one flowing out. Ferros peered in and his scrutiny was rewarded by a glimpse of something glinting in the silt at the bottom of the pool. Sure enough, it was a key; this time, a golden one.

On the far side of the room were three doors and it was towards the one on the right hand side that Elysia and Gullhar made their way. Just as they got to it, it opened and out stepped two burly half-orc fighters. Elysia told them that they had come for the crystal, only to be informed that it was quite safe and in no danger from any interfering adventurers. Elysia promptly slept them; Ferros killed them and dumped their bodies into the stream.

Meanwhile, Alurax and co had finished their investigation of the demonic statue and had found nothing that could be moved or pulled on it. They decided to look at the plinth but to do that, they had to topple the statue itself; they applied the strength of all four characters and eventually managed to push it, get it rocking and finally send it crashing to the floor whereupon it splintered into a mass of shattered stone.

Elysia and Ferros entered the room from which the half-orcs had come and found only one other exit. Ferros pushed the door slightly open and peered in. There was a stone altar against one wall and on it, a knife that appeared, in the flickering torches as if it were rusty.

Use low-level lighting to achieve that "Evil" look

The two brave adventurers stepped into the room and were confronted by a mysterious stranger in black who asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they had come for the crystal. He laughed derisively and asked if they were the best that the “pathetic tree huggers” could muster in the way of a search party. He had plans for the crystal himself and boasted of his intention to summon a horde of ghosts to drive the elves from their forest. Then his image warped and shifted until he stood before them, a nine foot tall creature, little more than a skin-wrapped skeleton with a huge scorpion tail, holding what appeared to be a large bone hook.

It was clearly a stand-off until one of the sides made a move; Elysia ran out of patience first and fired a Sunburst from her Wand of Illumination. The creature reeled back, blinded for precious moments, while the two party members launched their attack with magic missiles and a pair of arrows from Ferros. The creature staggered under the impact of the assault and as Elysia readied another Sunburst, it vanished.

They were momentarily bemused by this but then decided that they needed to find the crystal and fast; some probing of the walls on the north side of the room revealed an area where a draft was coming from a gap in the stone. Elysia stood back and fired a brace of Magic Missiles at the stone, which slowly swung open to reveal a passage beyond. They started up it but they had only got half way when the creature reappeared behind them and attacked again. Elysia’s attacks caused it some damage but it seemed to be shrugging off some of the missile attacks this time and a Sunburst failed to have any impact whatsoever. She was struck by its huge bone hook and neatly grabbed, whereupon the scorpion tail reached up and over and stung her; she felt a strange weakness passing through her.

Ferros, on the other hand, used the party’s stock of magic arrows to fire at the creature again and again and finally managed to put one arrow through its throat. It dropped the bone hook, was gripped by convulsions and its withered skin turned to dust before its skeleton shattered into a thousand bony fragments. Ferros’ player was informed that he could add the title “Devil-Slayer” to his character sheet. The Bone Devil, for such it was, had been despatched but the party’s quest was not yet over as they still had the crystal to find. Sure enough, further up the passage, they came to a room where a large chest was pushed against one wall. It had three locks and both Elysia and Ferros surmised that the gold, silver and platinum keys might unlock them. Unfortunately, they found that the keys were entirely the wrong size. Reluctant to disturb the chest with any physical damage, they Enlarged Relic, sent him off to bring Zanurax back and put the thief to good use opening the locks. He managed to get the first one open, whereupon the second and third began to tick ominously. He moved on to Number Two and all he got was a face full of poisonous gas but he managed to hold his breath until it had dissipated. The third lock delivered a dose of paralysing gas but this too had no effect on the doughty thief.

While he was busily trying to get the second and third locks open, now that their traps had been discharged, there was a noise from down the corridor and Elysia and Ferros turned to see four half-orcs moving in towards them. A Sleep and a Stinking Cloud laid three of them low and the fourth was swiftly brought to the brink of death by mace, dagger and staff; he fled and left his incapacitated comrades to be despatched by Elysia.

In the room, Zanurax managed to get the chest open, to be rewarded by the sight of the crystal. Its golden aura of life energy radiated out in wisps and tendrils and the thief heard a seductive series of thoughts in his head, urging him to pick it up. Elysia had glanced back and urged him not to touch it. It was with a great deal of effort that he resisted the temptation. Using the last of her spells, Elysia called up an Unseen Servant to carry the crystal out of the chest, back through the rooms and passages and across the Pool to Gullhar, the only one of the party who could safely handle it.

Eight hours later, the magic user and the devil-slaying cleric had recharged their spells and could finally leave the dungeon with the crystal that they had fought so hard to acquire.

That's where we ended the adventure for today. Before I go, I'd like to introduce you all to the new-look, fully-painted Elysia.

Mummy Grognard's been using a Reaper figure for quite some time now but thanks to the services of Brian from Lead Legion, she is now resplendent and ready to take part in more adventures, Relic perched on her outstretched arm. I wholeheartedly endorse Brian's services; his rates are phenomenally low for the excellent standard of work that he does and he is extremely approachable when it comes to liaising on the progress of commissions. Go on - give him a try!

Thursday 12 April 2012

An Adventure for Every Monster - Crab, Giant

Frequency: Rare
No. appearing: 2-12
Armour class: 3
Move: 9”
Hit Dice: 3
Percentage in lair: Nil
Treasure type: Nil
No. of attacks: 2
Damage per attack: 2-8/2-8
Special attack: Nil
Special defences: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Non-
Alignment: Neutral
Size: L (4’ + diameter)
THAC0: 16
XP value: 35 + 3/hp

This adventure takes place in shallow waters just off the coast of an area of wilderness. Some time ago, a ship carrying treasure was sunk, either by natural or unnatural means. Many of the crew were killed in the wreck or struggled ashore only to fall prey to the humanoid raiders who roam just inland.

The ship itself is about half a mile off the coast, a hundred feet down, lying upright. The loot is stowed in two compartments in the hold and is stored in chests. Water has seeped into most of them, ruining any items that would be spoiled by immersion. (the DM can decide who owned the treasure and where its original destination was)

All the party has to do to recover the loot is to find a way to descend the hundred feet, enter the wreck and bring the chests to the surface. Unfortunately, their efforts will be hampered by two things:

Firstly, there are two guardians aboard the ship. The crew knew about them but not what they were and the impact of the ship hitting the bottom and the effects of the sea water have opened their caskets; they are Underwater Mummies, much as their dry-land counterparts but their bandages are treated with a resinous pitch-like substance that renders them immune to the effects of immersion and gives them a horrible black colouration. Holy water and fire have no effect on them but neither do they have the rotting effect. They will attempt to grapple their victims and drown them or stun them into unconsciousness so that they will die in that fashion.

Secondly, the ship and the surrounding waters have become the hunting grounds of a pack of giant crabs. There are eight of them and they are quite vicious hunters, surprising on a 1-4 of a d6. Their territory extends out of the water and onto the beach, including some caves in the crumbling cliffs. Some of those caves have scattered bones, the remnants of the drowned sailors which have been dragged back to land and eaten by the crabs. A few pathetic coins or trinkets may be lying with the bones.

DG note – oddly enough, the Giant Crab does not seem to appear anywhere on the Outdoor Encounter Tables in the DMG, even the Marine ones. If the DM wants to roll up some encounters while the party work out a way of getting down to the ship, the Salt Water Shallow Waters/Coastal Waters/Small Inland Seas table can be used

01-02 Crocodile, Giant
03-10 Dinosaur
11-17 Dolphin
18 Dragon Turtle
19-20 Elf, Aquatic
21 Ixitxachitl
22-23 Koalinth (marine hobgoblin)
24 Kopoacinth (marine gargoyle)
25 Lacedon (marine ghoul)
26 Locathah
27-25 Man, buccaneer
36-63 Man, merchant
64-67 Man, pirate
68-70 Man, pirate (tribesman with small craft)
71-73 Merman
74 Nymph
75 Octopus, giant
76-80 Sahuagin
81-83 Shark, giant
84-86 Snake, sea
87-89 Triton
90 Turtle, giant sea
91-96 Whale, carnivorous, small
97-00 Whale, small

DG Note 2 - check this out for another take on the Giant Crab adventure. Cool picture too.

Monday 9 April 2012

An Adventure for Every Monster - Couatl

Frequency: Very Rare
No. appearing: 1-4
Armour class: 5
Move: 6”/18”
Hit Dice: 9
Percentage in lair: 10%
Treasure type: B,I
No. of attacks: 2 (bite and constriction)
Damage per attack: 1-3/2-8
Special attack: Poison, Magic Use
Special defences: Becomes ethereal
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Genius
Alignment: Lawful Good
Size: M (12’ long)
THAC0: 12
XP value: 2400 + 12/hp

They are able to polymorph themselves and use magic – as a 5th level magic user and/or 7th level cleric. (45% use magic user spells, 35% use clerical spells, 20% use both)

The party is contacted by a harried and tired looking man, by his bearing an adventurers, by his demeanour very worried indeed. He has a proposition for the party but first he outlines his predicament.

He is the sole survivor of a party of explorers who, some months ago, set out on an expedition to a distant land of mountains and thick jungles in search of the riches that were reputed to be there. The voyage was hazardous, the jungles deadly and their destination was to prove the most arduous of all – a lost temple deep in the heart of the forest.

However, the riches that they managed to loot were reward enough for the trials through which they had come. They returned to civilisation, convinced that the worst was over.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Over the following months, one by one, the party members were hunted down and butchered in the most horrific ways. What was left of them was not enough to suggest that they had even been human. The last survivor knows that his time is drawing near and he has even managed to see glimpses of what he believes is reducing his former comrades to offal.

He presents them with a sketch that he has made – a winged serpent of prodigious size. He says that he will hire the party to protect him and slay the monster before it can kill him.

So far, so easy – but of course the party’s patron has not got the whole story – far from it. He and his comrades are being hunted, but not by the winged serpent. The entity that was disturbed when his party raided the temple is far worse, something akin to an invisible stalker but with considerably more claws, fangs and spikes. Its exact profile should be up to the DM to stat but it will be more than a match for the average party, with its invisibility the least of its powers.

The priests of the ancient civilisation were aware of the entity that haunted the temple and so summoned the couatl to attempt to neutralise the threat. The violation of the temple disrupted the couatl’s ability to contain the entity and, in pursuance of its mission it followed the entity and the explorer party back to their home city. It has not been able to save the other members of the explorer party but now wishes to fulfil its mission and depart.

The couatl will probably observe the goings-on using its polymorphing ability to take the form of a child. If it realises what is going on, it will approach the party to advise that only if the treasure looted from the temple is returned there will the entity be dispelled.

The last explorer will be reluctant to believe the couatl and give up his treasure; the loot was split between the explorer party members and their shares may well have been either buried with them (as their families believed the treasure to be cursed) or passed on to another family member. The PCs will have to gather it together and transport it back to the temple in the jungle, all the time avoiding the entity.

If there is a confrontation between the entity and the couatl, it may be that the latter will be killed or injured so that it is incapable of defending the surviving explorer. If the party work together with the couatl, they may well be able to defeat or at least drive off or incapacitate the entity – either for some considerable time or long enough to make a getaway (depending on how the DM has statted it up). If they manage to kill the entity, the surviving explorer may think that he is no longer in danger and decide to keep the treasure. The couatl will be displeased with this and use its Genius intelligence to work out a way of persuading the explorer to return the treasure.

The share of the treasure held by the surviving explorer is

345 pp
7 gems
3 pieces of jewellery and one small piece of jewellery – all in the style of the civilisation that built the temple in the jungle

The other members of the explorer party had similar shares.

Thursday 5 April 2012


I didn't read that many editions of Dragon back in the day (more of a White Dwarf fan before that went downhill) but one of the things I did like was Yamara. And when Arkhein at Rather Gamey started his comic strip, I was immediately struck by the similarity in style and humour. With that in mind, I had a look on the web for the old strips and found this site, where the back catalogue can be enjoyed at your leisure. Enjoy.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

A Hoard for Every Treasure Type - C

After the big hauls of the previous types, this one is a little on the small side. Here are the stats:

1000s of copper 1-12 20%
1000s of silver 1-6 30%
1000s of electrum 1-4 10%
1000s of gold nil
100s of platinum nil
Gems 1-6 25%
Jewellery 1-3 20%
Magic items Any 2 10%

No gold, no platinum. Odds are even against you for magic. Nevertheless, I have put my thinking cap on for you and behold, a veritable cornucopia of delights. Plus some plain weird stuff.

But before we kick off, let's just take a look at who might be hogging this little clinky clanky shiny lot...and if you thought Treasure Type B's guardians were an oddly assorted bunch, take a look at this lot.

Carnivorous Ape
Boring Beetle
Blink Dog
Type 2 Demon
Eagle, Giant
Hell Hound
Lizard, Minotaur
Lurker Above
Rat, Giant
Sea Hag
Slithering Tracker
Giant Spider
Su Monster
Ice Toad
Wind Walker

Well, that's who's looking after it. But what's in the pile?

209 copper pieces in a sack which has also been used to store meat in by the creature that had the treasure before its current custodian. Whilst the meat is quite rancid and riddled with maggots, it is generally only unpleasant, not dangerous, unless of course some of those maggots are rot grubs.

A small leather pouch, about the size of a book. Unfastened, it reveals inside several sheets of fine writing paper, a wooden stylus, a wax tablet, two quills and a pen-knife plus a small bottle of ink. The whole set is worth 500 copper pieces; however, an examination of one of the sheets of paper will reveal that it bears the impression of what was written on the sheet above it (now long gone). This will be the first half of a letter that gives some tantalising hints regarding a mystery of the DM’s choosing.

A set of copper bars, each with a hole at each end. There are twenty of them and they are of varying lengths. They are in fact components of a glockenspiel and if assembled and played in a glissando, they will generate sounds that can calm aerial attackers, be they birds, stirges, harpies or other such creatures. The value of the copper itself is 60cp but this assumes that the true function is not realised.

An earthenware jar that holds 231 copper pieces; they appear to be coins but are in fact tokens that can be purchased for use at a fertility festival at a temple in the port city of Kloccir. The design on the jar is of a priapic fellow in hot pursuit of several scantily clad nymphs.

A chest containing a set of robes (5 in all) that have been embroidered with the emblem of a local deity.
They are worth 300cp as vestments alone. Sewn into the hem of one of them is a small key that has the number 796 engraved on its bow.

A straight-edge razor with a handle inlaid with mother-of-pearl and set at one end with a small gem (worth 5gp if removed). The blade is engraved with the legend “Fear the Edge of Pain”, the motto of a notorious serial killer who haunted the harbour and docks of Gallimstaal. Rumour has it that the razor is but one of his tools of torture and death and before he was hanged, drawn and quartered, he pledged to return from beyond the grave to recover and begin his killing again. The razor itself is worth 23sp but to a collector of such things, considerably more.

A pair of handcuffs, made of what appears to be iron. They have a peculiar lock mechanism that appears simple but is worked on a spring tightening mechanism. If a person is so foolish as to place his wrists inside the cuffs and close them, they cannot be opened again and any attempt to extract the hands by force will cause the cuffs to tighten. 1d6 tightenings will start to crush the wrists of the unfortunate captive, and they will complete their task in a further 1d4 tightenings. They are worth 30 silver pieces.

2 silver pieces, each with the head of a gryphon on it.

An exquisitely fashioned silver doll with finely-assembled ballgown and corsetry, inlaid with tiny pave diamonds. She has a keyhole in her back which, when wound up, causes her to unfold her clothing a layer at a time until her full glory is revealed. These automata were very popular in the Palatine Fastnesses of Hthulmoz where, it is said, gnome and dwarf worked side by side, transforming the treasures of the earth. The doll is worth 970 silver pieces if she has the key with her; if not, about 200sp less.

A walking stick, shod with silver and with the head of an eagle as its handle. The eagle’s head once had two garnets for eyes but these have long since become mislaid. Its value is 25sp. If the head is grasped firmly and unscrewed, it will reveal a long but thin container which can be used to store liquor.

A set of revealing and erotic ladies’ underwear, bundled up and stuffed into a canvas sack. On their own, cleaned and mended, they might fetch 5 electrum pieces but a careful inspection will reveal that slipped into a seam of the corset is a piece of parchment that bears the legend “Lady Rumilla’s House of Games, Admit One”. The House of Games is a top quality entertainment salon and the price of admission can often be hundreds of silver pieces. The ticket will fetch 25 electrum pieces to the right buyer.

An ornately carved pipe, its bowl fashioned into the head of a satyr; the expression on the face of the satyr is one of malicious pleasure. If the pipe is used for smoking tobacco without cleaning it out first, the user will be plunged into vivid and powerful dreams wherein he is being pursued across a moonlit landscape by baying hounds. The user must also make a System Shock roll or suffer a psychosomatic heart attack and lapse into a coma that will be hard to distinguish from death. The pipe is worth 5 electrum pieces

A large iron box (56 electrum pieces in value) inside which can be found seven lengths of dyed silk. Each length is worth 20 electrum pieces. The whole lot, box and silk is therefore worth 196 electrum pieces. The box has three locks and sealing material set into the edge of the lid to prevent moisture and pests entering and ruining the contents. The box is not currently locked. On the side of the box are the remnants of a customs seal that shows the box was last used six years ago and gives partial identification of the shipper.

19 electrum pieces in a small pouch that has the name ‘Buknard’ embroidered on it The misspelling should be enough to alert the finder to the fact that it is a crude fake.

Banded agate, worth 10gp

A quiver made of stiffened leather, bound with iron and decorated with fine silver trim. Inlaid into the leather are several runic symbols that appear to show horsemen riding into battle. Inside the quiver are fourteen crossbow bolts, each of which has a tiny sigil engraved on the head. This gives them a bonus of +2 to hit and a similar damage bonus. It will be noticed that the quiver is larger than is necessary to hold the fourteen bolts; in fact, six have already been used and it is possible that they may be found if a search is conducted within a hundred feet of the room in which they were found. The DM will need to decide if they can be located, depending on the monster that has the treasure (some more likely than others). During the search, the shattered and rusted remains of a crossbow might be found. If examined, it will bear similar runic designs to that of the quiver; the whole set once belonged to a horse khan of the dreaded Fire Raiders, who swept out of the east several centuries ago, destroying at least three civilisations in the process. They are reputed to have hauled large quantities of slaves and loot back to their homelands where they buried their wealth in huge, booby-trapped kurgans. The runic designs may give clues as to the locations of at least one kurgan, although it is in an area where the Fire Raiders’ descendants still roam.

A glass bottle enclosed in a gold clasp that keeps its lid on. It was once a perfume bottle but was later recycled as a container for a Potion of Climbing. It should be noted that prolonged storage in that container has led to a slight contamination of the potion, with possible (20%) side effects (1d8) which include

1. The arms of the drinker will grow by 50%
2. The fingers of the drinker will acquire a sticky coating that will prove impossible to remove
3. The drinker will acquire the scent of the perfume originally stored in the bottle.
4. The drinker will find him/herself able to leap up to 300% higher than normal humans, although the %ge will vary on each attempt (d30 x 10)
5. The drinker’s skin will become covered in a mass of wiry black bristles, akin to those of a spider
6. The drinker’s skin will take on the colour and texture of peach satin.
7. The drinker will become irresistible to female birds of prey
8. The drinker will gain the ability to walk on walls but find it impossible to use floors