Monday, May 22, 2023

What happened to #Dungeon23?

Lots of people are still creating and enjoying the Dungeon 23 challenge issued by Sean McCoy. (Challenge may be too strong of a word for it; creative exercise would be better.) Many have gotten lost in the grind. I am ... oddly in the middle. I have maps for every month so far, and at least liner notes for each room. So I guess I'm caught up. However, I'm torn. Part of me wants to give up forward progress at the end of this month in order to go back and make what I already have richer – and publishable as a zine or in hypertext format. Oddly, every time I tell myself it's perfectly fine to give up, I quickly catch up my notes and press on. 

Who knows. But here are the sketches of the dungeon levels to date.

If you are reading this and crave more detailed comment, let me know in the comments. 

Also, I have put the first level and part of the second in a cool web format that is a direct extension of Obsidian! You can essentially run the first level + from your phone with it.







Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Painted Blood Bowl teams

I painted up a few Blood Bowl teams in the last 5 months; thought I'd share. Click on each to embiggen.

Old school Chaos Dwarves

Resin-printed Skaven "Lab Rats"

Old school Orcs

New school Halflings

Thursday, February 23, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 8

This week's entries are done in journal form, but haven't been typed up. I found my concepts evolving as the stuff was grinding out of my pencil barrel, but basically the second level holds a tribe of amphibious people whose sacred grounds were scorched by the lava worms from level 1 (and a future deeper level). On this level, their continued presence is seen as creatures in skeletal form that appear "backward." As the species evolved, things rotated around, like a flat fish. Instead of having arms that faced their belly, their arms reached up around the spine. Something like that anyway. 

After drawing the skeleton doodle in the journal below, I remembered an old drawing that I did which is perfect for the zine. That drawing appears at the end of the string of images. It's one of my favorite drawings from around 2018. I distinctly remember starting it as a horizontal drawing with that skull shape and then turning the iPad to give the whole thing a twist and make it cooler.

This level of the dungeon seems to have three main parts. Part 1 is the bird folk and the Conservator (top third). Part 2 is the fish folk upper levels (their lower/submerged levels will be in a future issue). Part 3 is the mini maze and hall of the bull-cultists, which will lead to the Deep Labyrinth in the next issue. 

My memorable NPC for this level is going to be a time-stuck wizard that lives in the chasm. He knows lots of ice spells and stuff. (I just realized I am cribbing off the Winter Warlock from the old Rankin Bass Santa Clause is Coming to Town! But also a bit from the time-obsessed new year show from the same line. Hmmm. Could we see islands lost in time? A giant buzzard named Eon? And no I'm thinking about the Ice King from Adventure Time as well.) 

I have to say, it has been a slog this month (not Dungeon23 really, but other things that have shaded the month) and I feel like just now, two-thirds the way through, the ideas are heating up! I look forward to typing them out for the zine and making them richer. Thus goes the creative mood cycle. The important thing is, of course, to work through it all and let some days be less brilliant than others. If you stop working, you might miss the good stuff. So every day I try to put pencil to paper and move it around. If the muse is there, the ideas fly. If not, it's like unsatisfying sex.

BTW, I uploaded a new version of BSD1 today. You can get it at The changes were cosmetic: new color cover, improved monster stat blocks (more close match OSE formatting), and the dungeon spread was moved to the center fold. 

Hope your own #Dungeon23 projects are going well!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Rufus says:

Back in Zinevember (dear God, I still have like four of them to send out!), fan of the podcast Joshua Skelton made this awesome graphic to help me choose a zine for the undecided entrants. I just love the pixel drawing, as much as, or maybe more than, I love my own version. 

Joshua's Rufus 2.0

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 7

[Direct from my zine-formatted rewrite/draft.]

Sub-level Name TBD

0208 The Fishing Hole

A large, buxom, and somewhat oafish looking woman, Large Marge, is squatting precariously on a three-legged stool, wearing a fuzzy orange cap and holding a fishing pole. She is concentrating on a bobber in the middle of a 20’ diameter well, so she may not hear adventurers coming  down the stairs from 0123 if they are especially stealthy. A brace of frogs as big as geese lie to one side of her stool, obviously bludgeoned to death with an old stained and scarred wooden bat lying nearby. She will offer to cook for the party, but her true desire is to simply cook them, as she is always, always hungry. Given that she will probably be well outnumbered she will try to lure individuals away and quietly break their necks if she can. Large Marge is, in fact, an ogress in a Cap of Disguise.

Large Marge: AC 14, HD 4+1, Attack +4 club 1d10 or fist 1d8, Move 90’(30’), SA 4, Morale 10, Chaotic, XP 125, NA 1, TT C (see 0209).

Cap of Disguise: (random chance of appearance, table of various humanoid looks, clothes don't transform?)

What’s on the line? (D8 table of things to catch in the well - fill in later)

  1. Sock Eel
  2. TBD minor curio
  3. TBD exotic fish
  4. TBD exotic fish
  5. Nothing - the hook and bait are missing
  6. Giant frog
  7. Very unhappy fishman
  8. Flame Salamander!

0209 Marge’s Boudoir

This crowded room is filled with a strong perfume that almost overwhelms a kind of pervasive, funky body odor. Clothes of all types and sizes are tossed around the place, which seems a bit odd (unless you know how the hat works). Marge has been here for several months, trying to make a comfortable nest for herself. She has learned quite a bit about her surroundings and will trade information for her life, if it comes to that. Under a heavy barrel of pickled eels is a hole in which she has stashed 2,000sp and 2 gems (250gp each). 

0210 The Effigy of King Runemazer

Opening the door to this hallway (any hallway leading into this intersection) adventurers see a winged lion gazing intently at them! It is wearing a crown of gold nestled in its glorious mane. This the effigy of King Runemazer, a statue, though it moves from time to time, swishing it’s tail, licking it’s chops, or even leaving the pedestal to wander a bit. It does not talk. It is not aggressive. It just observes.

King Runemazer: (use a sphinx/stone golem stats)

0211 The Lesser Maze

This fairly easy to navigate tangle of corridors has four gems set in odd corners. Stepping on them causes them to glow blue, yellow, red or green (each is different0. If/when all four are lit a secret door opens leading to the Deep Labyrinth. Each gem stays lit for about 10 minutes.

0212 Flooded Hall

The southern fork of this three-way intersection quickly slopes down into cloudy water. There is a chance that a Locathath raiding party will run into the party while emerging or submerging here. (See next issue for their underwater chambers.)

0213 Melted Menace 

In the center of this room is a pile of melted stone that may have once depicted a scaly creature with at least one claw and a huge eye. What’s left of the eye seems to follow you as you walk around. 

GM Notes: This altar is a recent casualty in the ongoing war between the Laval worms (BSD1) and the Locathaths.

0214 Happy Spawning Grounds

The walls of this room are covered in a colorful mural of fish people cavorting under a full moon. A female squats over a nest of eggs, one cresting under her uplifted tail. Several males stand around spraying love juice all over the eggs and each other. A slightly funky odor pervades the warm, moist room ... or is that just your imagination? The room is empty - a bore hole on one wall leads to a lava-fall. The dimpled tunnel walls are recognizable by anyone who has been through the lava worm diggings above. 

Friday, February 10, 2023

#Dungeon23 working on covers

 Just a quick show-and-tell. I'm working on some neat covers for the #Dungeon23 zines I plan to publish.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 6

[Direct from my zine-formatted rewrite/draft.]

What Came Before

This issue of Beneath the Sea of Dust depicts what lies below the map from issue 1. In that issue explorers would have discovered the Sun Spire, a strange faceted tower that lies in the Sea of Dust. Beneath it they might have run into an incursion of lava worms as well as the remains of a mysterious cult of three-armed, blue, not-quite-dead priests and their otherworldly prisoners. 

There are several “in-roads” to this level that would allow characters to explore the contents of this issue first. However, be aware that they might easily find their way out as well, leaving you in need of other issues of BSD or having to make it up on your own.

Level 2 The City of the Conservator

0201 A Wall of Iron

This cavern is connected to levels above (0127) and below by a roughly round shaft, dug by a tribe of lava worms and the living-engines they warp to suit their needs. Two exploratory tunnels were dug sideways in this area, the one to the south is blocked with rubble. The north tunnel, however, ends in a formidable looking iron wall with no door. If one listens closely to it, sounds will be heard from the other side on rare occasions – rumbling carts, whistling, maybe even dwarves talking.

This door connects to a “deep road” constructed and kept, but rarely used. by a community of dwarves. They sealed off the cavern after lava worms dug into their tunnel. Anyone breaking through to the road will see tracks leading (in a perfectly straight line) off into the darkness on both sides.  Dwarf road wardens working in pairs sometimes come through on a handcar to assess any damage. They will not make repairs, but rather report back the need for them. 

GM Notes: this is also a possible way into BSD. Dwarves could hire players to deal with the lava worms. The way down will lead to a future lava-filled level of some sort. If you want to curtail travel that way, just have it end in a lake of lava for now.

0202 The Sand Pit

A spiral iron staircase leading up to 0119 ends in a circular iron grate, allowing any sand from opening the hatch above to pass through. The grate is divided into four sections that can easily be removed to reveal a 30’ deep conical pit. The sloping sides of the pit are covered in small bits of debris: a partially-buried helmet, an axe, and a curl of leather that might be the top of a boot. 

At the bottom of the pit, sharp eyes might be able to detect two thin “sticks” sticking up through the bottom point of the inverted cone of sand. They resemble a dead bush, but they are in fact the mandibles of a Giant Ant Lion.

Giant Ant Lion: AC 17, HD 3, Attack +3 pincers (3d6) or Special, Move 120’(40’) or Burrow 60’(20’), SA 3, Morale 9, Neutral, XP 65, NA 1, TT C. Special: sand blast targets one character on the side of the pit (or one leaning over it). A DEX check is required to avoid sliding to the bottom and suffer an immediate +5 pincer attack. Those who are hit by the pincer attack take an automatic 2d6 crushing damage as the ant lion slams them back and forth against the walls of the pit. Kill the ant lion or make a STR check to break free.

0203 The Huts

There is no light source in this cavern. Even without light one can tell it is huge because of the echoes. The walls are clammy and slick. The Ceiling is filled with a slowly roiling mist that obscures everything except the occasional stalactite tip. Clusters of five-sided, stacked stone huts with figured tapestries for doors house Bird People. Their wings have atrophied into quiet, fluttering capes and they use hand signals for language (they make no noise at all) and create abstract drawings on the cave walls. The drawings depict the bird folk and their huts alongside three-armed humanoids, one of whom wears a horned helmet. 

Many of the huts are empty. The bird people await the return of the Custodian, but many no longer believe in him, or if they do they think he has left them as he has not appeared for decades.

Bird People:

0204 The Gathering Space

Stone pillar-shaped constructs contain a hollow on one side with a basin and a downward facing cone. They will dispense a grayish-purple glob that sustains a person for a day (see 0115). The tinkling of a fountain heard can be heard throughout the area. Its slender tower of five tiers dribbles clear, cold water into a ten-foot diameter, two-foot deep pool. Around the fountain is a well-worn circle in the stone, as if the bird-folk have marched around it for centuries. 

If visitors rekindle the belief in the Custodian, the bird people will do their slow, ritualistic dance around the fountain. If they wait long enough, the “Hopeful One” (0205) will appear and perform the dance alone.

Two cyclopean bronze doors are covered in a bas-relief, depicting the three-armed beings walking out (toward the viewer) through a portal filled with stars. Within this carved portal, a pair of stars loom larger than the rest and are of obvious importance. The doors have no handles, locks, hinges, or even any visible cracks. They open outward and must be pushed open from the inside.

GM Notes: I saw a player once use the spell floating disc to open doors like this. They cast it forward/on the other side of the door, and walked backwards. Clever, that.

0205 The Hut of the Hopeful

An uncharacteristically upbeat bird person lives here. They have an ornamental, curved dagger tucked into their belt (NEVER to be used in violence). They also carry a hollow horn-like object of shell in one hand. This is a magical Ear Trumpet that they use to listen through he door to hear the breathing of the Conservator. Thus they are the last true believer. Even so, they haven’t thought to coax others into listening along with them. The bird people, in general, lack imagination. 

Ear Trumpet:

0206 Hall of the Conservator

A three-armed blue humanoid sits immobile on a large throne of emerald. They wear a massive helm with ornamental horns or vanes sticking out of the sides. The throne seems to be either carved from an unbelievably large gem or perhaps somehow constructed of fused emeralds. A large and intricate clock (?) with exotic hands and numerals occupies the back of the throne. The throne’s worth is unimaginable, but it would take a feat of engineering to get it out of this place and across the Sea of Dust to civilization. 

The person on the throne is The Conservator, a member of the priesthood. The Conservator’s job is to wake up the other priests when the stars align to open the gate (see 0207). Sadly, they have either missed the alarm or the alarm has failed to sound, for the time of the gate is at hand. Once the doors are opened, the Conservator will come to life in d8+2 turns. At first they will be sluggish and confused. (Turn 1: they speak gibberish in an unknown language with an intent but erratic gaze. Turn 2: they stand up and speak sense, but in the unknown language. Turn 3: they try other languages, or become violent, depending on player actions.) 

Behind the throne is an illusory section of wall that is in actuality a doorway. 

The Conservator:

0207 Star Portal

A carpet on the floor woven with strange glyphs can be deciphered by a wizard with Read Magic or an intelligent thief. If so, the runes tell of a people from the stars in search of knowledge. A glittering curtain of gold light occupies a large frame in front of the far wall. This is the Star Gate. It is not currently open; if someone walks through it they will simply run into the back wall. However, it will open soon! Every time explorers return to this room (assuming some hours since the last visit) roll a d8. On an 8 they find the portal open or witness it open. It turns from sparking, swirling gold to a field of stars. 

What happens when they step through?

GM Notes: This is the start of another campaign – perhaps one obsessed with planar travel and politics. It will not be detailed in BSD. If someone steps through the open portal and you don’t feel like launching a whole new world, have them appear again in the place they last called home (or failing that the city of their birth). This could serve as an easy way out – back to a city base for the campaign.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Fiendish Friends

Fiendish Friends is an enjoyable read and a useful tool for spicing up campaigns or launching new and unusual ones. 

FF details 18 "fiends" in two-page spreads as playable classes for Old School Essentials (aka Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert sets, c. 1981). While the fiends are mostly familiar fodder, like goblins, trolls, skeletons, and lizardmen, the author breathes new life into each with captivating class abilities and level awards. During the read through I was anticipating the direction each new fiend would take, and was never disappointed. Some of my favorite bits were the domain cues at the end of each entry that told me a lot about what "success" looks like for one of these monsters and informed how I will play them in the future. 

Absolutely worth the money and I wish I had a hard copy.

The art is reportedly all taken from public domain. Specifically, it is work that appeared in the pulp magazine, Weird Tales. Some of the images have been altered, I believe. I'd like to know more about some of the pieces honestly. A caption indicating the issue in which each appeared would have been great. An artist credit (if one was available) would have been the icing! There is also no table of contents, though there is an index at the very end that would serve as one, and no author credit! Who wrote this awesome thing?

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 5

 Month one in the books -- or should I say, in the zine!

Beneath the Sea of Dust 1

Beneath the Sea of Dust is a revised, re-organized, and even play-tested compilation of my Duneon23 journal. In this first month's 20-page zine you will:

  • Joust against tiny knights on lizard-chickens
  • Meet a wandering minotaur composing her death poem
  • Expand your mind in a dialogue with a (the?) star entity
  • Do battle in a psychic arena with a chief of the lava worms
  • Pet two-tailed mummy cats

And more!

Get it here:

Thursday, January 26, 2023

#Dungeon23 week 4

This one is about process!

So here it is the 26th and I have finished the month. I'm telling myself I can't crack February yet - gotta wait. Pace myself. But here is where I'm at and some things that helped me gather so much energy/productivity.

1. One Room a Day. I take the one room a day thing seriously. On three occasions I did "paired" rooms - two rooms that are kind of mirror images of each other. For instance, two storage rooms (same shape and size on opposite sides of a hall) one containing slippers and the other robes. But generally, it's one room per calendar day. 

2. One Day at a Time? Not so much. If I feel like doing two+ rooms, I do. But I work ahead in the calendar not sideways. (Rule 1 still applies, I just time travel so that I'm writing ahead a day, but still only doing one room for each calendar day.)  I try to stop short so that I leave something to do with the rooms on the following days, but it's hard. Sometimes working ahead means I just sketch the room in the map and quit, without recording any words. Other times I do the opposite; I write a title or a few key words down and leave the map for later. This week, however, I was working on the "zinification" of my journal and I got carried away in the rush to make a complete draft.

3. Generating Content. I have avoided lots and lots of tables. I feel like those are useful when you want to generate a ton of content at once, but for one-room-at-a-time development, I have lots of ideas and don't need many tables. I started out with a simple one like this.

I should probably go back to this at the start of February to make sure I don't fall into a rut. 

For room shapes I close my eyes and plunge a finger down on one of these grids, pasted into the back of my journal. They are from Lizard Man Diaries. The top one is for dungeons. The bottom two are streets (left) and domiciles (right), but I don't really think about that; I just use them for inspiration. And half of the time my fat finger lands between several options, giving me some choice. In other words, I use the generators, but not slavishly. I transform and interpret, or even just ignore it and pick one or close my eyes and point again. It's a useful creative crutch. Crutches are bad if both your legs are good, but they really help when you have a sprained creativity ankle!

4. Back and Forth. Making a zine out of it was driven by 1) the impulse to formalize, 2) the impulse to clarify/extend, and 3) the impulse to share in a useful way. Regardless, going back and forth between journal and typing has fed energy into the project. At times it has taken me too far away from the physical experience of the journal. When that happens I go back and re-draft entries I've already written in the zine doc. I've probably written-erased-written-erased-and-written most of my entries. They started out in print and now they are in cursive (because I wanted to practice cursive and can write it smaller/denser than print, oddly), but stat blocks are still oddly in print. I guess I can't imagine writing things like "AC 12" in cursive. I really want to be able to run the dungeon from my journal because it's like a book already, but the zine format is probably more practical. I try never to write a day first in the zine - I always try to put them in the journal first. But I have failed at that three or four times. It's a process. Maybe not the best one or the most coherent, but it's working.

5. Drawings. These also go back and forth. Usually I sketch something in my journal and then send a pic of it to my iPad and work over top of it in Procreate. Most of the drawings from my last post were done that way, and it makes me wonder if you can pick out the ones that started on the iPad rather than in the journal. If anyone is curious, I'll specific which began where.

This week, week five, was mostly spent on the Ithikites – evil lava worm people – and their organic-tech, the Kjhiki – some poor creature that they mostly use now as genetic putty for their conveyance/work engines. In fact, those creatures and their digs should finish out the month and the level. 


Monday, January 23, 2023

#Dungeon 23 week 3

I could subtitle this a tale of two maps. This week I got really into re-organizing and illustrating parts of my dungeon. The process of turning things into zines and literally working back and forth between digital and physical media creates an energy loop for me. I even erased all my journal entries and re-wrote them in cursive because a) I wanted to practice my cursive, having not really used it in years and b) I wanted to make the entries more abbreviated but also more dense. If that makes sense. (It doesn't really. It's Madness.) Anyway. Here's my map from my journal and the illustrated version. I renumbered the illustrated one somewhat to make the descriptions sequence a little better. The top-level summary below refers to the illustration. 

0101 The Sun Gate - faceted tower in the Sea of Dust. Gate unlocks in direct sun only. Trapped wind elemental. Solve magic mouth riddle to open door.

0102 The Joust - dust knights joust on lizard-chickens for/against you.

0103 Nugget Room - prism* turns sunlight into gold nugget.*
* denotes treasure.

0104 Alitrah Iron-Skull - weary, bejeweled* minotaur bellows death poem and looks for a good place to die.

0105 Pool - cool water is refreshing.

0106 Contemplation Cells - zen gardens that lock you in.

0107 Stone Sisters - animal-women statues conceal a door.

0108 Four Faces - four locked doors with emotional faces that shift.

0109 Auditorium - tiered amphitheater. Buttons play illusionary lectures that make you smarter* and/or insane.

0110 Glittering Hallway - non-parallel walls lead to a locked lead door.

0111 Star Entity - pulsing star entity answers questions but may bind you to a knowledge quest.

0112 Star Food Cache - dangerous star food and drink. Pool hides potion.*

0113 Demon Gaol - three demons locked in by lava/runes.

0114 Bridge Over Troubled Lava - fire imps hurl lava at you.

0115 Library - Books* and comfy chairs. Wandering mummy cats, gaunt priests, and bone servitors get in the way.

0116 Shrine of Xizcolaquamn - make an offering to an ugly demon statue and get a warm feeling. Secret treasure* room.

0117 Observation Lounge - watch the imprisoned demons cavort and eat purple porridge.

0118 Priest Quarters - search to find good stuff* and maybe a carrion crawler.

0119 Perambulatory - stairs lead up to hatch or down to iron grate. Watch out for falling sand from above.

0120 Hypostyle Hall - hall of painted columns marred by hole. Stairs down.

0121 Cloak Rooms - collect fire-retardant robes/slippers* here.

Gray rooms on map are unlit.

I'm leaving the longer descriptions as seen in previous posts for the zine, especially since I've reworked the old ones as well as adding new. 

Also, I did some new illustrations to round out the zine: 

Cover Draft

Star Entity

Statue of Xizcolaquamn

Friday, January 13, 2023

#Dungeon 23 week 2

[Direct from my zine-formatted rewrite/draft.]

0108 Auditorium

No light source. This empty, half-circle chamber descends toward a central dais by means of tiered benches. Sound carries exceptionally well in this room. Three stone buttons are on the wall behind the dais. Pushing them in any combination plays back an illusion, recreating a stored lecture. A three-armed blue humanoid pontificates in an alien language. If deciphered, a listener gets +1 INT after one minute. (A character only gets this benefit once, and the message/effect can’t be interpreted for others. It’s too complex.) The subject is a higher form of mathematics. The listener will see glowing shapes drawn in the air by the blue hands. After 15 minutes of watching, any character who understands the words being spoken must make a WIL check. On a fail, they are filled with a uncontrollable rage and will attack anyone in sight with whatever is in their hands for three turns or until they take half their hp in damage.

Level -1a Grotto of Higher Mysteries

0109 Glittering Hallway

No light source. An angular tunnel of dry, glittery, sandstone leads to a locked, lead-covered door. All the walls in this area (through 0111) are the same and none are parallel to any other within sight! 

0110 Star Entity

A pulsing, crystalline form hovers at one end of the room over a circular black void/hole. The hovering crystal is vaguely star-shaped. When characters enter, the star speaks loudly (!) in their brains: “Those who seek knowledge need only ask!” Conversing with the entity works like a Contact Higher Plane spell (plane 7). If a character goes “insane” it means they slavishly do the star’s bidding. The star will place a geas on them to seek out some esoteric bit of knowledge. Characters may Save vs. Spells once a month to try and shrug off the star’s influence, but until they do they must follow up on any clue that presents itself re: their star-given quest. Example quests: discover the three means of trapping the demon Ventrifurniculus. Tell me what lies at the bottom of the bottomless starry pit. What are the blue mummy’s last words? These questions shouldn’t mean much to players - but clues might be uncovered as the delve continues! If a player manages to find an answer, it is immediately transmitted to the star, which then vacates their brain.

0111 Star Food Cache

One of these rooms a) contains a number of silver globes 8-14” in diameter. They feel solid, but are too light to be actual silver. They are the star entity’s food. Hammer strikes (or similar) will cause them to break open and spew a glittery dust all over the room. Save vs. Poison or have CON reduced by 1 due to having these particles in one’s lungs. Room b) contains a small pool of swirling, opaque gold liquid. It smells like baked apples with hint of cinnamon. This is the star’s drink. It works like acid on flesh (d6 external, d10 if swallowed) but will not dissolve inorganic material. At the bottom of the pool is a glass vial containing a potion of three wishes.

0112 Like a Bridge Over Troubled Lava  

A stone bridge arches smoothly over a running river of lava. There is a 1-in-6 chance that fire imps are cavorting in the lava. If so, they will hurl flaming balls at any who cross and cackle with glee. The fairies can’t be killed but can be driven off with cold or by some other clever means. Hurl fire +3, d6 fire damage and a 1-in-6 chance of catching a resource on fire (e.g. arrows, backpack, cloak, etc.)

Level -1b Priest Dormitorium

Beyond the bridge all walls are of red-glazed brick. Any wandering monster encounter should use this table:

  1. 1d6 Expired Priests (9 total, keep track). These strange three-armed beings are silent, gaunt, three-armed figures with taught bluish-gray skin. They look undead but aren’t - they have just moved into some sort of walking hibernation from which they may or may not be able to recover. They will ignore interlopers until attacked or their things are disturbed. They will not engage in physical combat, but rather cast spells appropriate to the nuisance caused by any campaigners. Flavor their spells as psionic attacks: for instance, Cause Fear should feel like an overwhelming sense of dread and the priest’s milky-green eyes will suddenly seem large and locked onto the player.

    Expired Blue Priest: AC 13, HD 6*, Spell attacks only, Move 90’, Save as Cleric 6, Morale 7, XP 10. Spells: Darkness, Cause Fear, Silence 15’, Hold Person, Cause Disease, Cause Serious Wounds.
  2. 1d6 Bone Servitors (9 total). As skeletons. They are cleaning and moving things around, or just standing in wait. Will not attack unless messed with (e.g. preventing them from putting a thing back in its place) or if the campaigners become unruly and disturb the peace of the dormitorium.
  3. 1 Cleaner Blob (1 only). As gelatinous cube. Actually distorts itself so as not to contact the priests, servitors, or cats.
  4. 1d4 Mummy Cats (9 total). These two-tailed cats are wrapped in stained gauze. They are harmless unless attacked, but their meowing may draw other monsters — roll twice as often when they are in the vicinity of the party. If they are petted, as long as they are petted, they will purr quietly. After a couple turns of petting they will tire of being petted and scratch anyone holding them to get down.

    Mummy Cat: AC 10, HD 1, Scratch 1hp + 1d3 hp per day rotting damage (Save vs. Poison to avoid/end), Move 90', Morale 11, XP 10. They just want to be loved … until they don’t.
  5. 1 Carcass Crawler (1 total). As carcass crawler. See also 0116.
  6. Interloper. Use a monster from elsewhere on this level, improvise, or use another wandering monster table of your choice. 

0113 Library

This hallway ends in an oddly shaped, buy cozy library. Two ever-burning torches light the place with an even, clear light. They can be removed. In fact, one of them has been, leaving the farthest corner from the door dimly lit. There are four bookshelves and a number of cushy, high-backed chairs in small alcoves. Many of the books are written in strange languages, but a few are in languages the PCs will know. Each volume taken is worth d10 x 20 gp. Some exceptional titles include: 

Ratuga Twisken’s Guide to Flim-Flammery: +1 to CHA after a month or more of study, requires an annual refresh.

Sminky’s Spellbinding Solutions: recipes for brewing potions at reduced time/cost: control human, control plant, growth, healing, levitation, speed, treasure finding.

Crumm’s Excellent Exercises: physically-demanding meditations for clerics that, when performed during the daily preparations, grant one extra 1st level spell at the cost of d3 hp.

0114 The Shrine of Xizcolaquamn

In one nook of this room is a statue of a bulky, demonic figure - something like an ostrich with an elephant head and beaver tail, but also not like that at all. It is seated, cross-legged, with it’s eyes shut. In front of the statue is a bowl of flaming lava. If something of worth is thrown into the the lava, the stone eyelids of the statue roll back to reveal glowing green gems that regard the giver. Any item so sacrificed is magically transported to the chest that lies in the secret room opposite the statue. The petitioner is suffused with a warm glow feeling for d6 minutes, but there is no other benefit. (Don’t tell players that though, let them speculate as to how any following events were the result of, or were influenced by, this bit-of-fluff blessing.)

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Monster Football tokens

TLDR: Get some free tokens

I finished my "Monster Football" tokens project. You can download the images for free on my page if you want 'em: 

Previous post: Blood Bowl in a Bag

Friday, January 6, 2023

#Dungeon 23 week 1

[Text pasted from the zine-formatted revision of journal notes.]

Design Notes

  • This dungeon is keyed for Old School Essentials, using ascending AC. 
  • It is a 12 level mega-dungeon, per the Dungeon23 exercise as proposed by Sean McCoy). 
  • There is no real theme other than a mythic underworld (see Philotomy's Musings) and a good dose of "weird." Content and form were developed in an emergent fashion and heavily influenced by random tables as well as any media I was consuming at the time of writing a section. Influences are noted in context. 
  • No level or balance requirements were considered. My gut says a party should start at level 3-5. But even a level 1 party could survive a few forays with extreme caution.

Level 0 The Sun Spire

0101 The Sun Gate

Beyond the Sea of Dust, stands a faceted, asymmetrical tower. In it's northern face is the Sun Gate, which has no door, but is nevertheless "locked" when not in direct sun (avg. 6 hours a day, but varies by season and weather). 

Inside, the howling wind and ever-present dust of the sea without abruptly ceases. The roughly trapezoidal but irregular vestibule behind the gate is empty, aside from two things. Directly inward from the gate is an alcove, in front of which a Magic Mouth opens on the floor. The mouth identifies itself as Cacalion the Forgotten and without waiting for a response utters a logic problem. If solved, a Secret door opens inside the alcove. 

Additionally, a wind elemental has somehow found it's way inside and is trapped in the vestibule. At first it is unseen/at rest. Roll a d6 to determine its state on a scale of 1: exhausted from trying to get out, to 6: infuriated at being trapped.

Tiny Wind Elemental: AC 15, HD 3**, Buffet +3: d6, Fly 120', Morale 10, XP 65, Special: additional d6 damage against flying creatures or if throwing someone into a wall at least 10' away (STR save to stand firm). Once the elemental attacks the first time, everyone in the area not wearing eye protection must Save vs. Poison or be temporarily blinded.  The elemental is undetectable if at rest.

0102 The Joust

A highly irregular chamber, c. 80' in diameter and 90' tall. All surfaces are mildly reflective, like mica, and echo light from a massive crystal set in the tip of the tower. Ledges jut out at 20, 40, and 60’ heights. A Trapdoor lies in the center of the floor, and a potion rests on the lowest ledge by door. When characters enter the room, two Dust Knights (3' tall humanoids completely covered in outlandish armor) appear on the highest ledges. They are holding lances, and riding Lizard Chickens

Potion of Shrinking: causes anyone taking a swig to shrink to half size for 15 minutes. If they do, a third lizard-chicken and lance appears on a high ledge. There are three doses in the bottle. Oddly, only a character’s height and weight are reduced, not other stats.

If characters watch for a while, the ridiculous knights will joust, flying from ledge to ledge and trying to knock each other off of their mounts. If a character drinks the potion, the knights will pause/wait for the character to climb (easy) up to the ledge where the third lizard-chicken is and join in the joust. Don’t forget falling damage! The lizard-chicken will refuse to serve as a mount to anyone much over 3’ tall. If characters try to open trap door without watching a complete match, they are attacked. 

A very thorough search will reveal a 3" clear pyramidal shape in the floor behind the central pillar of mica. This is the top of the magical deck prism found in area 0103.

Dust Knights: AC 18, HD 1, Lance +0 d6 Charge, Move 60' or as mount, Morale 9, XP 15. If defeated or gravely injured, dust spills forth from the armor. There is nothing else inside.

Lizard-chicken: AC 13, HD 4*, Beak +3 d6 or Breath 2d6 (30' cone, 4 turn recharge), Hop 20', Fly 90', Morale 7 (without rider), XP 125. Mulish disposition. Will only breath fire if spurred/kicked hard.

Flying combat: climbing (increasing elevation) costs double movement: e.g. 20' of movement to rise 10’. Decreasing height is free, but the character must move forward at least 10’. Lances do double damage if the attacker charges at least 30' from an equal height or "falls" on an opponent from any higher elevation.

[Influenced by the arcade game, Joust, and the Dragonlance board game (1988).]

Level -1 Conservatory of the Blue Priests

0103 Nugget Room

A ladder descends 15’ from the trap door to a 50 x 50' octagonal chamber with exits to the E, W, and SE. In the center of the room is a pedestal on which rests a gold Nugget d4+1" in diameter. It is lit by a focused beam of light from a magical deck prism in the ceiling. The prism focuses sunlight and slowly transforms it into gold. It will fashion a 1" gold nugget in about 3 months. Every inch of nugget after that takes twice as long, with a max size of 5" (6 months = 2", 1 year = 3", 2 years = 4", 4 years = 5"). If someone tries to chisel the prism out of the ceiling it discharges a blast of sun energy for 3d6 damage to the chiseler, and 1d6 to everyone else in the chamber, leaving behind temporary blindness (from the flash-pulse) and an ozone smell. It takes many days of sun to recharge this defense, however.

0104 Alitrah Iron-Skull

Alitrah Iron-Skull is a weary, wandering minotaur looking for a good place to die. She is thinking of walking out into the Sea of Dust and so is headed to the surface. She will be heard before seen as she is loudly composing her death poem (in Minotaur) as she walks. She has put on her best jewelry for her death (an opal ring 800 gp, sapphire necklace 1,200 gp, and heavy arm-band of chased gold 1,200 gp). She will not consent to be killed or part with her valuables without a fight, though she is not consciously seeking death in battle at the moment, as she doesn’t think this room is ideal for her repose.

Note, some of the drawing shown is from week 2.
I forgot to scan a pic of the dungeon as it existed in week 1.

0105 Pool

Mica walls give way to blue-glazed brick. This octagonal room has only one feature, a low-walled, half-circle pool fed from below by a spring with cool, fresh water. In the Sea of Dust, this is practically a miracle.

0106a/b Contemplation Cells

No light source. These two angular rooms feature abstract mosaic patterns of brilliant color. The floors are covered in white “grooved” sand (more coarse than the Sea of Dust stuff). Smooth-sided dark rocks of various sizes break up the eddies of the flowing raked patterns. A wooden rake leans against the wall in each room. The stone doors open easily, but one minute after entering they shut and magically lock. They will not open again of their own accord for 23 minutes, or until everyone inside the room has a blank mind - whichever comes first.

0107 Demon Gaol

This room is almost unbearably hot and bright. A river of lava runs through the floor, which seems to be made of obsidian - as are the walls and the ceiling. Three 10’ x 20’ cells on the other side of the lava contain hideous demons of terrifying and confusing visage: their forms are roughly a vulture-catfish, a fly-frog, and a three-headed cow-lizard. Glowing runes are visible all over room’s surfaces. The demons will promise anything to be released (cover/destroy runes). 

Demons are as Lesser Efreeti, but with no powers, including flight, as long as the runes are visible.