A Dragon

Suddenly, in my campaign, I needed a dragon. I use them rarely, but now the players would eventually meet one, and even though I doubt they will come to blows with it I felt it necessary to at least have some sort of stats for it. It got me thinking a lot about how stats for a dragon ought to look. For one, they should all be unique, at least I feel that way. They’re magical beasts, the worst adversaries, not common beasts. I did want a standard, red fire-breathing dragon though. An old warrior of his kind, a majestic, proud and greedy creature. This is what I wound up with.

Dragon-Hoard_web

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

IRONAX DRAIGHTUR

20 HD Ancient Dragon

HP 118; AC 18
Move as unburdened man
Flight is faster, but poor maneuverability

Fort 4; Ref 6; Wil 3
Magic Resistance 50%

2 Claws @ +10 (2D8)
Bite @ +10 (3D8)
Tail @ +5 (2D6, sweep, knockdown)

Fire Breath in 100’x100’ Cone, deals 6D8 Damage (Ref ½), D3 Rounds to recharge, replaces other attacks

Dragon’s Voice, SUGGESTIVE WORDS or POWER WORD: STUN at will.

Dragon’s Gaze, ESP or FEAR at will if gaze is met.

Dragon’s Nose, DETECT MAGIC or DETECT GOLD at will.

Dragon’s Blood, a non-dragon mortal may be bound by a GEAS (if willing).

Dragon’s Ears, 4/6 chance to detect invisible creatures, surprised 1/12.

Encounter activity

There are a lot of tables describing the activity of a random encounter out there, some of them really good, but I went ahead and put one of my own together anyway.

I like to have a balance between a reasonable number of different results, some room for me to improvise around the results and also a curve that averages towards more “reasonable” results. A bit boring, but I like how it creates a believable dungeon and it also means the players’ can intuit something about the dungeon and make smart choices based on this.

This one is also weighted to provide a separate result for mindless undead, which is really handy when running the Barrowmaze.

Roll Encounter activity
2 Running from other creature
Roll for hunter, on higher Lvl chart if necessary
3 Returning to lair after fight
Random number of creatures @ D8x10% HP.
4 Just passing by
Less inclined to fight, on different errand.
5 Setting up camp or lair
Noisy, most likely guards posted
7 Fighting another creature
Roll on same table. Noisy, easily detected.
8 Defending territory
Looking for invaders, hostile or -4 Reaction
9-11 Hunting or exploring
Wary. Party might be dinner and/or marks.
12 Chasing other creature
Roll for prey, or use Giant Vermin (D6)
Roll 2D6, OR D6+6 for mindless Undead
UNDEAD: Also roll D30 on “What’s up with these Undead?”

A fashion statement

My players are still plunging into the depths of the Barrowmaze, and as is typical for that dungeon they keep running into a LOT of undead. My “What’s up with these Undead” table does provide flavor now and then, but I use a D30 on it to avoid making the encounters too strange. Also, one of my players has the habit of asking what the creatures look like or are wearing, since they met a group of them in priestly robes who all had valuable holy symbols…

Sure, I could think on my feet as I have so far, but why not a table instead. Nothing too meaty, just something to give me a starting point. Find a suitable row on this – there should be one, most of the special undead types will slot nicely into one of these. Column seven feels like it might be “one use”, at least for some of these entries, but I’ll see when I get to use it in play.

Fashion_trends

Sorry for making this an image, but the tables formatting in WordPress is just too much of a hassle. I’ve provided a PDF for better usability and printing, if anyone should want it.

What’s up with these undead?

I’ve been running Barrowmaze with one of my groups recently; they’re venturing into its depths looking for a cache of Elven Spell Gems needed to use a magical portal, but I wonder if they’ll want to leave even after finding that cache considering all the treasure they’ve found so far.

This module is really good, and it mostly contains everything you need to run it. I’ve been making use of my recent Spicing up Randomness rules for random encounters, but even with foreshadowing there are still a lot of encounters with “generic” undead in the catacombs (especially considering how thorough and noisy my players are), and I wanted to use something simple to spice up some of the “1D6 zombies” encounters. Thus, I’ve created the table below. The way I use it is to roll a D30 on it, with 13-30 meaning nothing out of the ordinary, but that’s really just a matter of taste.

Some of these refer to rules here on the blog (such as the “treat as Lung Sickness” bit) but they are probably fairly self-explanatory and you should probably be able to make a ruling on the fly.

1 An Enchanted Weapon is either (mindless) stuck in or (intelligent) wielded by one of the creatures (GM’s choice what weapon).
2 The creatures are Armored, or more heavily armored than usual if they normally wear protection. Treat their AC as two steps better. The actual armor is rusted, rotted or worn and can be of any specific type.
3 The creatures are stalked by an entourage of 3D6 Giant Rats that devour the scraps they leave behind. They will fall upon and devour any fallen PC’s, and possibly attack the party after combat if the PC’s appear sufficiently weakened.
4 A Lesser Demon is bound in one of the creatures (quite visibly, the creature has a large red pentagram painted on its chest). If the pentagram is disturbed, such as by slaying the creature (except perhaps using called shots or similar), the demon (6 HD, AC 15, 2@+6,D8, Fire Breath 3/day, 20’ cone for 2D8 dmg, save for half) will be released into this plane. Roll Reaction at -4. An intelligent creature marked in this way will use it to threaten the party and attempt to make them release the demon, and then flee to escape its wrath.
5 The creatures are dressed in Clerical Robes and wear gilded holy symbols of an appropriate lawful deity. They possess no special powers. Each holy symbol is worth 50 SP.
6 A number (2D4) of Giant Centipedes live on or in the creatures in a symbiotic relationship. These centipedes will remain on the creatures until brought into melee range, and will then attempt to scurry onto opponents and paralyze them with their venom.
7 One of the creatures has an Arrow of Dragonslaying stuck in it.
8 The creatures are, for some reason, chained together. They make a lot of noise while moving around, they move slower than normal and the chain can possibly cause them any number of practical problems. Intelligent undead will know to minimize these problems, and perhaps even use the chain to their advantage.
9 The creatures are dragging a small cart along. Mindless undead will simply drag it behind them, set on some ancient task now probably pointless. Intelligent undead will use it as a mobile food supply, and in it can be found random valuables worth 500 SP along with a lot of bones and disgusting bits. The cart itself is rickety and worn, but functional.
10 One of the creatures is exceptionally large, at least 7’ tall if the beings are of human size. This creature is hung with decorative bone jewellery, and automatically has maximum HP.
11 The creatures carry a Fungal Infection which has covered them in strange growths. This has granted them an extra HD each. Spores release in a 5’ radius cloud on a successful hit which causes physical damage (i.e. not fire, cold or the like). Those caught in a spore cloud must make a Fortitude save (one per round) or begin to choke (-4 to all activity for a Turn) and become infected with a Fungal Rot (treat as Lung Sickness, but accompanied by growths which spread infectious spores as per above).
12 Someone has hung a string of bells on one of the creatures. Mindless undead will announce their approach from far off and cannot surprise anything. Intelligent undead will attempt a diversion, hiding in ambush while one of them skulks around in a room while wearing the bells.

Undead_Archer

In Sickness

I’ve created a quick document for my current campaign which details a number of generic diseases; I love the basic D&D approach which usually boils down to “will be fatal in X days”, but I also like a bit more flavor both to the mechanics and the descriptions of the disease’s progress.

The basic concepts are that the GM determines which type of disease to use and its severity, although this should be fairly evident depending on the source (Giant Rats feels like the Raging Disease (which is always Deadly), whereas the Heucuva of the Barrowmaze my PCs are about to encounter cause Severe Infectious Rot).

The optional “infectious” rules would mean those who travel with an infected person might be forced to Save at the same time they do, or contract the disease. This can quickly lead to disaster for a team of adventurers, of course, and might also mean a bit more of a hassle than it’s worth. I don’t think I’d apply it except in special cases.

Have a look at the document here, or download it from the Library.

frontis

Lindrain, a Windfare Dale adventure

I’ve been too busy to write anything for a long time, but I finally managed to finish a short interlude adventure and location description for my campaign; Lindrain Fortress.

This module describes an old elven ruin, currently inhabited by a gang of bandits called the “Blackfeet” which have featured heavily in my campaign so far. It is also the site of a hidden outpost of the fallen Elven Empire, with several very deadly traps and a portal to the fabled Teliandrin where the three fallen High Elven Houses once dwelled. The portal could really lead anywhere, though… into the belly of a megadungeon, to another planet or campaign setting perhaps (Carcosa springs to mind). Thus, I decided to put the adventure out here; it could be a nice start if you want to run a campaign where the characters are transported far from home for some reason.

This adventure really lacks hooks, but I doubt anyone who wants to use it will have trouble supplying their own. It should be said that I have provided no leads in the location for how to access the underground areas; in my own game, the players have already found this information elsewhere and will be heading here primarily to find the portal. They have already found one elven Spell Gem (out of the three needed) for the portal, and they have scried out the location of the ruin, but they have also enlisted the aid of an elven ambassador who knows the pass phrase and is backing their attempts to find the necessary keys. The presence of the Blackfeet is what will surprise them. Other possibilities might be to have the bandits possess information on the portal, but either be too afraid to use it or perhaps awaiting some sort of magical assistance after having lost one or more men to the traps below.

The adventure includes an Elven Spell Gem; you can read more about those here on the blog.

The maps for the adventure were made by the incomparable Dyson Logos. You can download the adventure here, or in the Library.

What’s in your mind?

Meet the Cerebrix. It’s actually not larger than four inches or so, but that probably feels like a lot when it’s fully grown and nesting inside your brain case.

dustmite

Who would let this thing inside their skull? Why, a Magic-User, of course! You just have to spice up the offer with some arcane secrets and watch them debate who’s most worthy.

Touching on my post about Specialists from earlier this week, I present the Secrets of the Cerebrix.

Foulest Waters

Finally…

I’ve spent a lot of time fidgeting with this adventure, but at last i feel it is at least ready enough for showing it here and hoping I get some good feedback (or constructive criticism, or just a beat-down). It’s a free product, so use it and abuse it however you like. Rip out the bits you like if you want, or twist it to suit your needs. If you are in the mood to give me some input on what you liked and didn’t like, things that you feel should be added or taken away, then please feel free to contact me or leave a comment here! But, of course, all that is optional.

For some things referenced in the adventure, such as the Anmunak (wildmen) and my takes on attribute checks and other things, some of my other blog posts here and the material in the Library might be useful, but generally speaking all these things are very easy to replace with whatever interpretation you  prefer yourself. I also use the “silver standard”, for those who might wonder.

The adventure can be downloaded here or in the Library.

1024px-John_Constable_-_Stonehenge_-_WGA5203

Guild of Thieves

This time, it’s the rouges’ turn!

Thief

The organization known in my Heartlands setting as “The Fingers” is nevertheless a rather generic take on a Thieves’ Guild which might give the rest of you some good ideas.

It’s tempting to make a guild like this into a supremely powerful criminal organization involved in all sorts of activities and also a power-player in local politics, but I’ve tried to steer clear of that; PC:s who elect to stay out of the guild should have a fighting chance at surviving as independents, or this kind of organization risks stifling the creativity of the players.

Mechanically, I’ve tried to give this guild the same focus as many thief players – money. The possibility to store your wealth (both stolen and dug out of dungeons) away from the prying eyes of the law should appeal to most rogues, and of course the organization will also both supply a service and make an income on dealing in stolen goods.

My rules for the Thieves’ Guild can be downloaded here, or in the Library.

Guild of Mages

Continuing with my musings on Class Guilds, I turn my attention to magic users. To me, a mage’s guild is a gentleman’s club of sorts, where wizards and their ilk can meet on somewhat neutral grounds despite being in fierce competition otherwise – a place where disputes between individuals who wield enormous power might be defused before they spill into the general community and hurt all wizards or start witch hunts.

Another issue arises with the introduction of the “Aesoterium”, a store for buying magical items that is open not only to guild members but (at increased rates) even to non-members. I know there are a lot of opinions about whether magical items should be for sale at all, and if so how and where. I strongly believe so, as long as the game gives the ability to formally create them in some way which has a measured cost.

For scrolls, potions and similar items there is an easily discernible cost – the money invested by the mage on creating the item, the resources that were spent making it and a premium for the time and risk required simply to learn how to perform this feat. I see no reason why wizards would not supplement their income and fund their experiments by brewing potions and making scrolls and selling these – and so, in my campaign world, they do.

I don’t usually allow sales of items that are not one-use, however. These items should have a more unique feel, to my mind. Of course they are both bought and sold; everything is, as everything has a price. It’s just that I think this is more about having them commissioned or private deals away from prying eyes. Also, my permanent magic items commonly have severe drawbacks or involve some sort of rather dark magic, which means they often need to be sold covertly.

My rules for the Mage’s Guild can be downloaded here, or in the Library. To clarify, a laboratory or library is used in LotFP to create potions or scrolls during downtime.