Saturday, May 21, 2022

About the Misted Dome

Scale: 10 ft.
Click HERE for a PDF version of this adventure!

Suitable for 4th to 5th level.

A little keyhole icon means the door is locked.
A little "S" through the door means the door is secret.
The other icon - which is supposed to look like a muscly arm - indicates the door is stuck and must be forced open.

Z - Dome and Gauntlet

Z1 - Entry

A stairwell leads out of (or into) the dungeon in the central part of this space. In the center of the room, each facing inwards, are four statues of chimeric creatures, their faces - an alligator, a lion, an eagle, and a skull with a hat - contorted into grotesques. 

Any character which walks between the four will be targeted by four beams of light originating from the grotesques mouths and asked a question (answers in parentheses) by a disembodied voice originating from one of the four statues, determined randomly:

  1. My many legs reach to the wet,
    while limbs are dry and free;
    I do not walk, but instead wait
    for earth will come to me.

    (mangroves, or other knob-kneed coastal trees)

  2. Rolling and writing, this ocean is dry:
    waves without fish where no swimmer can drown.
    Gold! Gold unceasing - but no need for a pale
    nor a pick nor to delve in the ground.

    (prairie grass)

  3. A lake, am I, but inlaid in no earth:
    and to drink, I deign to un-dam.
    My girth spans horizons, my height many miles,
    yet lighter - freer - than air, I am.


  4. My oceans, my seas: no water within;
    my beaches, my deserts: no sand.
    My cities, no people; my roads, no wheels:
    no rocks nor soil in my land.

    (a map)

If the character answers correctly, they will be illuminated - developing a subtle glow for the next 1+1d4 hours. While in Z2 under the influence of this aura, 45 feet is illuminated clearly, the glow cutting through the mist: while in any other space, the glow is almost imperceptible: but comes off as an unnatural pseudo-violet lapped by yellow when viewed with infravision.

Characters that answer incorrectly are blinded for 1+1d4 turns.

Z2 - The Under-Marsh

The floor rapidly falls away into wet depths - six to eight feet deep in stagnant, dark water. A pallid, starchy blade plants rise from the water - obscuring it but from a character expressly seeking - and slowly wave as the heat of the party's bodies and light sources disturb the cool. Fog fills the chamber - limiting visibility to 15 feet. Rising above the grass - three feet from water's surface and almost flush with the tips of the pond grass - is a narrow wooden path. It is moist, spongy to the touch and supported by thick pylons at roughly ten foot spans.

At points indicated by the T on the map, the wood is rotted through: a character or characters moving over that spot has a chance of falling through.

Wandering monsters encountered in this space should be limited to fliers and swimmers: fliers encounter as normal, swimmers may follow the party surreptitiously through the grass or under the boardwalk. 

Marsh; Alphonse Legros

A - North-West Corridor

A1 - Rest Station

Furniture - benches and some cushions - have been repurposed and dragged into this room by 5 adventurers, detailed in the appendix, who are resting here after having explored section A2: having found it via the secret door to the north-west. The door is activated by a mechanism behind a yellow hanging, lined with orange, on the north-west wall. The south-west and north-east walls are likewise adorned by hangings.

A2 - Forgotten Kings

Against the east and west walls, two thrones sit facing each other. The rest of the room has been ransacked: with antique equipment and broken pottery littering the room.

A3 - Juxtaposition Room

Inlaid in the floor is a mosaic in octagonal pattern to mimic the shape of the room. In the center, to the west, can be seen the profile of a face; to the east, the profile of a reptile's head.

The eyes of each are touchplates. If the eyes of the reptile have pressure applied to them, the plate in the eyes of the face will loosen: allowing a character to remove it. Beneath the face's eye-plate can be found a pull-chain which opens the secret door to the North.

A4 - Hammer Temple

In the center of the north-east room is a huge anvil sitting on a concrete slab, waist height. It is flanked on either side in the room's wings with chains dangling from the ceiling like wind chimes. The walls are crossed by wrought iron: and the cardinal facing walls (North, South, etc.) are curtained by a sheet of chainmail rings. The locked door marked as Secret is hidden behind the mail curtain.

A5 - Fisherman Lookout

An old corpse - dwarfish - in antique scale mail sits with fishing equipment against the north-east corner in this room. On the dwarf's person is a handful of emeralds worth 600 gp. In the north-west corner sits a chest, locked, in which can be found 7,000 silver pieces.

B - North-East Corridor

B1 - Morbid Decor

Hanging from the ceiling are five sets of manacles - high enough that one hung from them would, if of average height, be forced onto their toes. One of them has a skeleton hanging from it - the bones showing some sign of damage; one leg having also fallen to the ground. If the party interacts with it, it will fall apart into a heap.

B2 - Rebuffed Vanity

Two statues - one, a woodsman by the look of it; the other, a falcon - stand opposed by two mirrors in this room: the statues to the north and south flanks of the secret door on the east wall, the mirrors on the west wall. If the view of the falcon is obscured - the mirror covered, the statue blindfolded, etc. - the secret door in the west wall of B3 will open; if the view of the woodsman is obscured, the secret door in the east wall will open.

B3 - Spider Lair

Rocky detritus has piled up in several places on the floor. Three rhagodessa (X38) have made a lair of the room: 1d4 of them will, when the party enters, have climbed up the walls, hidden from view when still outside the door. Thus, if a 1 is rolled, two of the rhagodessa will be visible; where if a 3 or 4 is rolled, all three will be on the walls or ceiling.

The secret door in the west wall can be detected by a skillful seeker, but cannot be opened except via B2.

B4 - Jewel Thief's Wage

Four Giant Weasels (X42) are feeding on a corpse - now unrecognizable - wearing leather. The corpse is carrying a pouch filled as follows:

  • 1 small agate (10gp)
  • 1 oblong pearl (50gp)
  • 2 azure cut sapphires (500gp)

...and is wearing a highly decorated (but apparently functional) helmet. The helmet is, in secret, a Helmet of Alignment Changing (B50).

B5 - Bear Laboratory

Ruins of an alchemical or arcane laboratory lie smashed. Four angry, hungry Owlbear (B40) are actively rummaging for an egress from the space.

C - South-East Corridor

C1 - Map Hologram

The hall to this space is adorned by a blue pattern on the floor - an observant character may note that, as the party moves along it, the pattern glows faintly at their presence. At the termination of the hall, there is an inlaid circle of the same color. If the party enters the circle, it will spring to life around them, launching a hemispheric hologram into the air. At first, it appears to be a pattern - perhaps decorative - but if a character studies it: 1+1d4 rounds, less the character's Intelligence modifier - they will note instead that it is a map of room Z2.

C2 - Knight's Chamber

Against the west wall is a statue of a man in armor. On the floor, a decorative mosaic - angular in its pattern. On the north corner, several empty or broken amphora rest. The room is otherwise empty.

C3 - Knave's Chamber

Against the north wall is the statue of a dwarf in armor. On the floor, a decorative mosaic - cubic in its pattern. Flanking the stature are two halberds and two shields stuck into holes in the floor. The weaponry is mundane.

C4 - Wraith Room

Along the north-east and south-west walls, a row of stone cabinets - doors missing, three feet in height and 18 inches deep - run the length of the room. Blood - old blood - is spattered on the north side. Two Wraiths (X42) are hovering around the stain.

The secret door is a sliding one, arched to a point. There is a lever hidden in the stone cabinet directly beside it.

C5 - Forgotten Fane

Soot on the floor indicates a carpet that has been since removed once stood there. Some shreds of carpet - and the ruins of wooden furniture, are scattered about the main space. The Hall of Heidelberg Castle; Georg Primavesti & Peter Speeth There is a gaping hole in the ceiling - which leads to blackness. Curled up in the space are three Caecilia (X28). A skeleton is crushed up against the south-east corner of the rear space: on its person is 1,000 gold pieces and a diamond cut into the figure of a woman worth a further 1,000 gold pieces.

C6 - West Cell

Three men are imprisoned behind a set of bars with no visible door. The men are each pudgy - but well muscled: irritable and shifty, but also quick to beg for help - claiming to have been imprisoned by an armored pair of adventurers. In secret, they are Wereboars (B38) - and were imprisoned to protect others from their curse.

C7 - East Cell

A stone box protrudes from the wall on the northern side of the cell. It is empty, save for a lone Grey Ooze (B36) which is hiding about it.

C8 - Prison Hall

The floor is cold stone. To the south, an oblong shape is separated from the main hall by bars - spaced to prevent egress, but not so far apart as to prevent reaching. Two levers are embedded in the center; five feet (so, beyond arm's reach for a human) from the bars. The levers correspond to the two rooms - C6 and C7: pulling the lever closer to C6 will open the way for C6; the lever closer to C7, for C7.

D - South-East Corridor

D1 - Hanging Hall

An antique but decayed rug leads into this space, clinging to the floor in the hall leading in. On the walls to the north and west hang faded tapestries. A spectral troupe of guards stands near the secret door - which is hidden behind a tapestry portraying a female figure. As the party enters, they will look to them and disappear.

D2 - Study

A mildewed carpet adorns the floor. To the west, a bookshelf - empty and damp. To the south-east, a square spot on the rug - colors slightly more vibrant. A character rolling back the carpet in the north side will find a hidden trapdoor in the north-east corner. 

Tunnel Metro Darkness Old; Peter Lutz

Appendix - Adventuring Party

Level 8 Dwarf
AC: 3 (plate mail + shield)
HP: 48
Attacks: 1 short sword (1d6)
Movement: 60' (20')
STR 9 INT 10 WIS 9
DEX 6 CON 13 CHA 10
Items: Spell scroll (purify food and water,
silence 15’ radius, hold person, speak with
animals, sticks to snakes), heirloom watch with
crystal facing (500gp)

Level 4 Halfling (Female)
AC: 3 (plate mail)
HP: 19
Attacks: 1 polearm (1d10)
Movement: 60' (20')
STR 11 INT 9 WIS 8
DEX 11 CON 13 CHA 10
Items: Boots of Levitation, 3 black opals
(200gp each)

Level 7 Dwarf (Female)
AC: 6 (chainmail)
HP: 31
Attacks: 1 polearm (1d10)
Movement: 60' (20')
STR 14 INT 11 WIS 11
DEX 8 CON 9 CHA 10
Items: Crystal ball with Clairaudience, Potion
of Fire Resistance, Spell scroll (detect magic
(Magic-User), levitate, clairvoyance, wall of
stone, haste), diamond diadem (100gp), 8
platinum pieces
Level 6 Thief
AC: 7 (leather armour)
HP: 21
Attacks: 1 sling (1d4+1) or 1 dagger (1d4)
Movement: 90' (30')
STR 8 INT 11 WIS 10
DEX 9 CON 14 CHA 4
Items: Ring of Spell Turning, Sling +1, 9
platinum pieces

Level 9 Dwarf
AC: 2 (plate mail + shield)
HP: 50
Attacks: 1 sword (1d8+1)
Movement: 60' (20')
STR 15 INT 8 WIS 9
DEX 10 CON 15 CHA 14
Items: Potion of Clairvoyance, Ring of Fire
Resistance, Sword +1 (+3 vs Undead), 90 gold

Public domain and open license artwork retrieved from the National Gallery of Art and Pixabay, respectively, and adapted for thematic use. Attributions in alt text.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Waste Dragon

Choking ash refused to settle - perpetually buoyed by vents and super-heated currents born of fissures, variable in their size, cracking the plain: themselves born of a vicious undercurrent of flame and rock. Lava flows that had followed a belching, petrifying cloud - making casts of men and freezing them forever into their final horrid moments - were cooling: black shells over red rivers, daring a fool's foot to mistake them for a road.

The group of men tread carefully, the soles of their sandals smouldering despite careful avoidance of looser clay - where the ashen soil had not yet hardened into concrete. Six of them came - some with their ceremonial spears, one with the grand headdress and and the barley offering - but all holding their courage. None knew if the Plains Lord still slept - or where it might have been: if it had been found in the periphery or in the path when the cataclysm had come.

They approached the old totem cautiously - a silhouette, broken and leaning: black against the gray. Then, beneath it, a heap - a berm - sparks and embers: a campfire left to dwindle...

...and then motion. The Plains Lord! It yet survived! And yet... 

The doppelganger leaps up. Strings of smoke follow its limbs, cracking and creaking, torturous and irregular - but swift! Listing to one side it bites; falling over itself, it swipes: a deafening sound and a thousand burrs bite into the skin.

The beast beats its wings - air filters through a dozen holes and cracks in the connecting membranes - two beats, three, a fourth on the right to match the time with a slower left... and away.

Six dead men added their blood to the soil - life essence coagulated into the slowly settling ash: settled, dried - dark brown cement to add to the black caps over glowing red riverbeds.

Flying Monster; Robert Caney

Lords of the Ash Waste

Waste Dragons are the tormented cousins of the Grass Dragon: their scales having gone hard, coated in salt, and their tendrils having largely gone heavy and limp - some emitting smoke from ever-smoldering veins.

Encountering Waste Dragons

Waste Dragon
Armor Class: 2
No. Appearing: 1-4
Hit Dice: 8
Save As: Fighter 10
Move: Std: 90' (30')
Fly: 210' (70')
Morale: 10  
Attacks: Claw / Claw
Treasure Type: ~ (H)
Damage: 1-6 / 1-6
Alignment: Chaotic
Frequency: Rare Chance In Lair: 15%
  • Chance of Talking: 35%
  • Chance of Being Asleep: 25%
  • Spells by Level (1/2/3): 1/1/0

The Waste Dragon is not territorial - and only partially intelligent - driven mad by the changes in their biology resulting from the corruption of their sustaining energies. They speak little or none - apart from the eldritch incantations, memorized by rote rather than intention, associated with the magic at their control. They roam the badlands and burned places in a mix of loping walk and awkward flight, engaging whatever they see according to the whim of the moment.

Waste Dragons are difficult to see coming in fogs, mists, or dust storms. Thus, a Waste Dragon which is encountered outside its lair has a 3-in-6 chance to surprise. If the dragon is asleep, there is a 5-in-6 chance that the party will not notice it at all: thinking it a mirage.

Breath Weapon

  • Template: Cloud
  • Range: 40' x 40' x 20'

The breath weapon of a Waste Dragon is a cloud, 40’ by 40’ by 20’. A vortex erupts, filled with brick-a-brack of dead foliage: kernels, grains, rocks, and stems. Any character affected by the breath attack must, after 1d6 hours, Save vs Poison. On failure, they feel sickened, taking a -1 penalty on all rolls for 1d4 days. At the end of this period, they must save again – and so on, indefinitely, until they save successfully: at which point the effect ends. 

Remove Curse, Remove Disease, or other similar magic can end the effect prematurely. 

Lairs and Treasure

Looking Into the Crater; Unknown Artist
Waste Dragons build their lairs in craters, under lahars - hardened to concrete, or in crevices and breaks in the earth. They have an affinity for the soil: to which they feel a primal connection - unconsciously seeking rebirth, renourishment for the living plains surrendered to desolation.

Waste Dragons will hide or destroy treasure that they find in these underground places - concealing it or defacing it - in order to create separation of the artificial (cut gemstones, jewelry, specie, and the like) and the natural: again, a failing hope hidden beneath layers of impetus to cause equilibrium to return. The impact of potential vandalism to the value of treasure, or to its accessibility, is at the behest of the referee, complimenting the environment in which the hoard is encountered.

Resistances and Immunities

Waste Dragons are immune to Poison and resist Cold and Ice - taking half effect therefrom.

Waste Dragons cannot be subdued - their crazed demeanor prevents it: the cognition required for cowardice eluding their tortured psyche.

Spoiler Alert!
The Deeper Lore section contains some notes to help a GM (me) to run Waste Dragons in a way consistent with the archetype they are supposed to fill and some of the inspirations behind their creation. If you play in (or want to play in!) a game GM'ed by me, beyond this point will ruin some of the mystery for you for both Waste Dragons and for most of the sentient races: having some impact in the game world that isn't immediately available outside of player character discoveries.

Deeper Lore

Waste Dragons are the grizzled survivors of a total collapse of the grassland ecosystem, but sustained - reborn, almost, a dragon's equivalence to undeath - by the echos of that destruction. Grass Dragons have a kindredship to them - they recognize this corruption - and they have been known to react strongly: trying to excise the ash - and in failing, to execute for the sake of mercy. Such events as volcanic eruptions, meteor strikes, or dramatic change in the local climate resulting in the rapid desertification of a formerly lush space can cause a Grass Dragon to become one of the Waste - a fate that is more likely to befall one sleeping through the event than one waking: as flight is preferable over remaining.

As such, there are no young Waste Dragons - only old, grizzled veterans: strong enough to survive the change. Eggs subjected to the same conditions will often turn to granite spheres: prized by warlocks for their esoteric properties. Likewise - Waste Dragons have a limited life span: as the echos that sustain them, over time, will grow weaker and weaker. Sometimes - if the ground can be healed - the dragon might heal with it, its scales growing more supple, its tendrils sprouting and growing again: but the mind of the dragon can take much longer to recover than its body - and some have been said to go catatonic for years: some never again waking up, but not succumbing to death: instead becoming one with the earth and the healing steppe. 

Mount Hekla, Unknown Artist


Public domain art retrieved from the National Gallery of Art and and adapted for thematic use. Attribution in alt text.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

An Interview with Josiah Mork of Hoodwink Games

An Interview with Josiah Mork of Hoodwink Games

(Or on YouTube!)


Sixty minutes of hot Sumerian action! Join me as I sit down with game designer Josiah Mork of Hoodwink Games and we talk about his current Kickstarter campaign: Early Empires - a modular supplement focused on bringing the Biblical Levant to life at your table. Open for pledges until May 25!

Interested in this content, or content like it?
Or feel the need to tell me I suck?
Tell me on Anchor!

Theme music by Michael Ramir C, courtesy of (

Show Notes

  • 00:00:00 - Theme
  • 00:00:30 - Introducing Josiah Mork!
  • 00:01:28 - What is Early Empires?
  • 00:04:24 - The Kickstarter
  • 00:05:20 - Researching the Region: Why Canaan?
  • 00:09:24 - How came you to gaming?
  • 00:12:05 - The ethos of Hoodwink's Basic And Generic RPG System
  • 00:15:32 - Scout's Honor
  • 00:16:25 - Previous Successful Crowdfunding
  • 00:18:58 - Fulfillment Plans
  • 00:20:45 - Illustration, Design, and Artwork
  • 00:22:20 - Stretch Goals: Unlocked and Aspiring
  • 00:26:34 - Gods of the Fertile Crescent
  • 00:30:54 - Burning your Children? (The Tone of a Bronze Age Levant)
  • 00:35:15 - Related BaG Product: Suburbville - Undead City Crawl
  • 00:38:50 - Mass Battles and Conquest in BaG and Early Empires
  • 00:40:42 - BaG: Free Edition vs BaG: Core Rules
  • 00:42:26 - On Usability in Other Game Systems for Early Empires
  • 00:43:44 - (Taylor Hints Which Game He's Using)
  • 00:44:30 - Reward Tiers for BaG: Early Empires
  • 00:45:41 - The Global BaG Community
  • 00:49:53 - Did, or How Did, Faith Influence the Project?
  • 00:54:11 - On Implementing Real Religions in a Game
  • 01:02:00 - Final Notes on Early Empires and Parting Words from Josiah


Early Empires Kickstarter (
Hoodwink Games (
Hoodwink Games Twitter (

Christian Nerd's Unite - Interview with author Brian Godawa
    Part 1: {{link}}
    Part 2: {{link}}
Modern Explorer's Guild (

Early Empires Kickstarter Again! (

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Bumping Thief Skills by Level

Entering Stahlstadt; Leon Benett

Another "fix" for Thieves!

Moreover, referencing my recent post regarding Thief Skills for Non-Thieves, it dawned on me - in the same call-in episode to the Red Dice Diaries that I had called into, so also had my friend Rob C. of the Down in a Heap podcast called in with his own house-rules for "fixing" the Thief skill progression. He seemed to have a similar line of thinking to other refs with whom I have played before - advancing the skill chances to succeed according to level, retaining the table but making it a little less punishing - and he did so in a simple form: so, if you're still looking to make Thieves more effective early on, here is what Rob C. does (or, at least, my take on it)!

Accelerated Thief Skill Success Chances

A Thief character, when tabulating their chances of success at a given Thief skill (optionally excluding Hear Noise, at the behest of the referee's sense of verisimilitude), is treated as a level of experience greater than themselves equal to the ability modifier of their prime requisite ability, Dexterity. Thus, for a 2nd level Thief - for example - attempting to Move Silently:

  • At a Dexterity of 12, or +0, have a 25% chance of success.
  • At a Dexterity of 17, or +2, have a 35% chance of success.
  • At a Dexterity of 8, or -1, have a 20% chance of success.

A character cannot go below 1st level when determining the effectiveness of their skills.

MS Found In A Bottle; Hermann Wogel

The Specialist Thief (Optional)

In addition to the above, a Thief may choose to specialize in one of the six percentile-based Thief skills. In so doing, the Thief gains an additional increase of 2 effective levels: further increasing their chances of success in their chosen specialty. So, if the same 2nd level Thief from before were to specialize in Move Silently, their chances would change accordingly:

  • At a Dexterity of 12, +0 from prime requisite and +2 from specialization, have a 35% chance of success.
  • At a Dexterity of 17, +2 from prime requisite and +2 from specialization, have a 45% chance of success.
  • At a dexterity of 8, -1 from prime requisite and +2 from specialization, have a 30% chance of success.

In fairness, I think Rob's rule is a bit less generous - in that he grants a +1 only at a 16 or above - but I'm a magnanimous DM, aren't you?

But this has me thinking...

While jotting this down, it made me think - how much does this differ, in terms of Thief effectiveness, from adding their Dexterity directly to the modifier? Specialization excluded - as that was not a part of the original houserule, a quick break-down using Hide in Shadows looks as follows; with "Bump by Modifier" referring to boosting level according to Dexterity modifier (this houserule) and "Bump by Score" referring to boosting the percentile directly (the previous houserule):

    Bump by:  
With Dex Of: R.A.W. Modifier Score Delta
For a Thief of 1st Level
8 (-1) 10% 10 1 18% 3 -2
12 (+0)
10% 10 1 22% 3
16 (+2) 10% 20 3 26% 4
For a Thief of 3rd Level
8 (-1) 20% 15 2 28% 5
12 (+0) 20% 20 3 32% 5
16 (+2) 20% 30 5 36% 6^
For a Thief of 6th Level
8 (-1) 35%* 30 5 43% 7 -2
12 (+0) 35%* 35%* 6 47% 7 -1
16 (+2) 35%* 55% 8 51% 8 +0
For a Thief of 9th Level
8 (-1)
65% 55% 8 73% 10 -2
12 (+0) 65% 65% 9 77% 10 -1
16 (+2)
65% 85% 11 81% 11 +0

* Technically, B/X has a 6th level Hide in Shadows at 36%,
    but as far as I know, this is widely accepted as a typo.
^ On the nose, as far as typos are concerned!

Comparing the delta - bumping the Thief's effective level for the purposes of skill percentages, excluding the Specialization skill, is less generous than adding Dexterity to the percentage, as a whole. We knew this - or, could have inferred it easily - regarding the lower Dexterity scores: the former method applies a penalty for negative Dexterity, while the latter is always beneficial to the Thief. However, an interesting trend - the higher a character is in level and the higher the Dexterity score of the Thief is, the more closely the two align. 

Lady Showed Up Without Fail; Albert Robida
At the lower bound, there is as much as a three-level difference between a dexterous Thief and a sinistrous one; however, looking at the higher level thief - this shrinks to 2 levels for the clumsy Thief, but is down to even for a Thief of respectable Dexterity - going one higher, if the Thief were to have rolled an 18 - the increase by bonus rule would actually outpace the flat bonus by score: offering a 9th level Thief the equivalence of 12 where the 82% chance granted by Dexterity only would still truthfully only be approximate to an 11th level character. Further - to compare percentiles alone, the bonus by modifier actually does outpace the bonus by score in terms of raw success chance: with both our 3rd level and 9th level characters benefiting more from a +2 Dexterity modifier than a 16 Dexterity.

So to conclude: this version of the Down in a Heap suggestion benefits higher level characters equivalently or better than does the CWR suggestion of two weeks ago - however, the CWR suggestion benefits lower level characters much more generously. 

What kind of experience do you want to create with the Thief? 

Once you've decided, pick your poison!

So Kudos!

Kudos, Rob - over at Down in a Heap: thank you for the rule and thank you for getting my brain running on the subject again! Kudos, John - of the Red Dice Diaries - well played in your Thief episode, getting a bunch of folks thinking on the subject with you! And kudos, readers, for bearing with me on yet another Thief fix post. Surely, with the sheer volume of houserules regarding Thieves, we definitely haven't run out of appetite for mechanical comparisons and new ideas yet.

Delve on, readers!

Public domain artwork retrieved from and adapted for thematic use. Attribution in alt text.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

System Conversions with Jason

System Conversion with Jason

(Or on YouTube!)


I spend about 40 minutes with Jason, talking through our experiences learning games, playing games, and then converting the resources of those games into others. Then - I announce the first periodic Clerics Wear Ringmail call-in charity contest! Listen through to find out more!

Thoughts? Observations? Give me a call! !

Theme music by Michael Ramir C, courtesy of (

Show Notes

  • 00:00 - Introduction and Apology!
  • 01:32 - Theme
  • 02:02 - A little ado...
  • 02:34 - On Translating Adventures and Converting Modules
  • 04:29 - Introducing: The Lichway
  • 06:48 - Statting the Susurrus! (Spoilers)
  • 09:30 - Traditional Mechanisms to support Multiple Systems
  • 14:34 - Chesterton's Fence and Creating a Type of Experience
  • 16:51 - An Example from the Lichway (Spoilers)
  • 18:51 - Roleplay prompts work for any system
  • 19:38 - How do you use modules?
  • 21:30 - Taylor Confesses to Spoilage (no spoilers)
  • 21:59 - Learning DCC running Portal Under the Stars (sortof spoilers: taglines, at least)
  • 27:43 - The Importance of Reading Adventures
  • 29:05 - Learning DCC through Play
  • 32:46 - How much (and what kind of) experience should you have before converting?
  • 37:48 - A Tangent on Usage Dice
  • 40:10 - Tying it Back Together
  • 43:01 - Announcement: Clerics Wear Ringmail Summer Contest!
  • 45:37 - Theme and Legal


Nerd's Variety RPG Podcast:

Cerebrevore Podcast:

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Sepulchre of the Grave Robber

Behind a maze of stone, hidden within the caverns, a tomb from a forgotten time - built to heap forgotten praises - hides the riches of a resting hero. Some have braved the catacomb: and many have not returned! Have those who returned bled the cavern dry? Are there yet jewels and gemstones - perhaps wisdom or lost magics - hidden yet amongst the rubble. Who will it be to find the lost hero's hoard - and who else will perish, an added corpse to a growing graveyard!

Scale: 10 ft.
Click HERE for a PDF version of this adventure!

A little keyhole icon means the door is locked.
A little "S" through the door means the door is secret.
The other icon - which is supposed to look like a muscly arm - indicates the door is stuck and must be forced open.

Suitable for 3rd level characters.

C - Caves

C1 - Spike Trap

Three corpses - dry and skeletal - sit against the walls: two against the north wall of the passage running west, one against the north wall. Their breastplates have been punctured with a wide hole: the cadaver against the north wall is pierced through the heart; the others, pierced through the liver and stomach regions: fatal wounds, surely, but not immediately so.

If characters continue north, there is a tripwire which releases a spiked log that is positioned slightly south. A generous referee may allow a character to note its presence if they look up and back, towards the exit. When tripped, any character within 10 feet of the north tunnel must Save vs Paralysis - again, a generous referee may allow a bonus to the roll proportional to their armor class - or be struck by the swinging log: which deals 3d8 damage on failure, or 1d8 damage on success. In either case, the affected characters are pushed against the north wall, near the corpse.

The trap, after triggering, slowly resets itself over 1 dungeon turn.

On the two corpses to the south can be found 200 silver pieces and a Cat's Eye worth 10 gp.

On the corpse to the north can be found a set of keys: keys which will open the locked door marked #2, and also the door marked number 3 OR 4, randomly determined.

C2 - Hidden Blade Chamber

A breeze, fresh air, comes from the southern passage at this point. A character which walks into the southern passage comes up to brush and bracken: well lit - as though in a grove. Passing through, they are teleported to a location outside, not far from the dungeon. The teleport is one-direction: if they seek to return, they will find only bushes and must trek back to the entrance of the complex.

A character which closes their eyes while walking through will not be teleported: instead finding the rear of the chamber. Inlaid in the wall is a stone anvil, around which can be found 100 silver and 300 gold pieces, and in which is laid a Sentient Sword +1: Blade of the Oracle. The sword has the following characteristics:

  • Intelligence: 11
  • Ego: 3
  • Communication: Auditory (Lawful)
  • Alignment: Lawful
  • Powers: Detect Slopes, Detect Shifting Architecture, Detect Magic

The Camp; James McNeill Whistler

The sword will release itself from the anvil to any Lawful character or to a Neutral character on a positive reaction. It fancies itself a discerner of truth and respects honest characters.

C3 - Ruined Camp

The ruins of a camp - with several human-made mundane articles, cookpots, tents, bedrolls, etc - slowly decays here. There is nothing of special value - but perhaps an enterprising party may make creative use of the folderol.

C4 - Echo Chamber

Characters passing through this area can hear distant conversation - as though between friends. If the party is passing northbound, the conversation will be jovial, about the treasure they intend to find; if southbound, the conversation will be panicked, about a wounded comrade. There is a 2-in-6 chance that if the party stops to listen, a reference to the secret door to T4 will be made.

These echos occur only once: fading to silence after the party leaves the area.

C5 - Altar Nook

In a nook to the south of this bend has been placed a Chaotic altar - a lead pan sitting beneath a woven shield: tassels made of suspiciously stained hair coming down from the shield in seven equidistant points on the rim. Both altar and shield are mundane.

C6 - The Find

Tool marks mar the surface of the stone-hewn walls to the north, though only shallowly: the make of the geometric wall being much harder than the natural cavern. There are scuffs on the floor - as though things had been dragged around it - with some preference to the northern pass.

C7 - Spider Corner

The entire space is lined with spider webs; though the closer one approaches the east corner, the thicker they are. Three Black Widow Spiders (B43) lie in wait to prey on passers-by.

C8 - The Breach

A puncture has been made in the walls of the tomb, rocks and debris having fallen haphazardly into the next space. The breach is small, however - and any party in heavy armor (unless the armor-wearers are small in stature) will take a full turn to successfully navigate through it.

T - Tomb

T1 - The Hollow Watcher

To the north-west, a large statue in somber pose shows signs of damage. It has been hollowed out, with bits of carapace scatter around, signs of damage done to an insectoid. Under the statue in the hollow space, evidence of the mouth of a tunnel going down has been obscured: filled in with sand and rubble to block whatever is on the other side. On closer investigation under the statue, 6 gold nuggets of varying sizes can be found, amounting in value to 1,800 gold pieces.

To the north, the secret door is concealed only by the bulk of the statue; a character which edges behind will find it: however only one party member at a time can squeeze through, as the space is constrained by the stone.

Six Driver Ants (B34) are exploring the room, pecking at the blocked tunnel mouth.

T2 - North Chamber

Four large sarcophagi - ten feet by five, each - are aligned to run parallel to the walls, south-west to north-east, in the room. Two blank panels - as might hold a piece of art - can be seen on the north-east wall. In the center of the room - bull's-eyed by a cross drawn from the corners of the sarcophagi - is a lamp stand with eight candles.

Of the secret doors:

  • The door to the north-west is a sliding faux wall, disguised to look like the stone. It is activated by pair of touchplates on the floor - one beside it and one four feet distant - that must be pressed simultaneously to open them.

  • The door to the north-east is hidden behind the more southern blank panel. It is activated by a switch concealed in the nearest sarcophagus.

  • The door to the south is an illusory wall. If half of the eight candles are lit - one on, one off - then the smoke therefrom will tend towards this door as though carried by a gentle current and the wall, itself, will become partially translucent and navigable: posing no barrier to entry or exit. Extinguishing any of the flames - or allowing the candles to burn out (which will occur naturally after 6 turns) - will cause the wall to re-solidifiy.

T3 - Forgotten Store

Broken wood and stone litter the floor. Amphora - mostly empty, some few sealed and containing oil - can be found by the south wall. The room smells vaguely of burial spices: though none are yet present. A Halfling adventurer (Lvl 1: B10) armed with plate, a shield, and dagger is prowling in the room, examining its furnishings, having come from the breach to the east.

T4 - Tomb of the Champion

Stechzeug - Jousting Armor; Viollet-le-Duc, Eugene Emmanuel

A huge suit of armor - stature of a man over eight feet in height - sits against the south wall. If investigated, it is filled only with dust. Atop the helmet sits a crown, laced with silver and webbed with gold. The crown is worth 1,300 gold pieces.

Against the east wall is collected a great hoard of treasure, accounting to the following:

  • 2,000 sp
  • 1,000 gp
  • 1 small topaz (10 gp)
  • 2 circle-cut rubies (50 gp)
  • 1 rough diamond (500 gp)
  • A diadem sized for a normal human (600 gp)
  • A scepter with a quartz pommel in the shape of an owl's head (1,000 gp)
  • A pair of bracers, encrusted with tourmaline (1,600 gp each)

T5 - Abandoned Pool

The foundation of a pool - keyhole shaped, with a stair down to get in at the north-east face - is inlaid, drained and dry, in the room's floor. The depth to the flat side, on the north-east, is four feet: the circular section to the south-west forms a gradual bowl, descending to eight feet total depth below the floor level.

A solitary Tiger Beetle (B31) is in the room, with a 2-in-6 chance it will be about the perimeter or a 4-in-6 chance that it will be in the pool's recess.

T6 - Hall of Robbers

A row of skulls 2/3 sunk into the stone - arranged as a wainscoting rail - lines both walls of this hall; rib-cages protruding from the corner created by ceiling and wall form arches in the hall every 15 feet. Halfway up the hall, 4 Robber Fly (B41) wait, hidden among the skeletal architecture. A torn cloth pouch on the floor - 17 silver pieces spilled before it - betrays their location.

T7 - Hall of Wilting

Carved skeletal faces face downward, mouths open, from a high point in the center of the walls in each cardinal direction. In the center of the room is a ring akin to a compass rose - which will slide if stepped on or forcibly moved. It is pointing at one of the three doors to this space: determined randomly when the party first arrives.

If any of the three doors is opened when the "north" icon on the spinning floor compass is not pointing at it, a yellow light flares from the mouths of each of the skeletons. All characters in the room when this occurs must Save vs Spells or be aged 2d10 years.

T8 - Skull Hall

Oriented south to north, a relief depicting a helmeted skull has been carved into the floor. On each of the corners, a torch-holder extends; the holders are empty.

T9 - Memorial

In the northern section of the room, a statue of a large knight stands with an equally imposing sword jammed into an anvil in front of him. Cut flowers - desiccated and some decayed - line the floors leading towards the statue.

The room is unusually comfortable - compared to the rest of the complex: which may be cool or damp. A party which rests in this room will be doubly invigorated by it - requiring rest again after 2 hours (or, the 12th turn) rather than 1 (or, the 6th turn).

T10 - Thorned Hall

Sharp Thorns; Wilhelm Jordan

At the end of each hallway is a potted plant - a black, thorned thing sitting before a wall. A character which moves the plant will find underneath it a dial, which can be turned to unlock the secret door to which they are adjacent. 

The plant is toxic: if touched intentionally or accidentally (chance according to referee's discretion, but proportionally lower if proximity to the plant is avoided), the toucher must Save vs Poison: on a failure, the character falls into a coma and will die after 1d4 turns if not saved with appropriate medicine or magic; on success, the character becomes nauseated - unable to cast spells or use skills and suffering a -2 penalty to hit and damage in combat for the next 1d4 turns instead.

Public domain artwork retrieved from and the National Gallery of Art. Attributions in alt text.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Sparring over Houserules!

Sparring over Houserules!

(Or on YouTube!)


Ruffled some feathers with house ruling! Today - quick information session about where Clerics Wear Ringmail is, in terms of goals and objectives, and then an extensive exchange on houserules, when to houserule, and where.

Want to get in on the call-in action? Drop me a message on Anchor: !

Theme music by Michael Ramir C, courtesy of (

Show Notes

  • 00:00 - Welcome
  • 00:11 - Theme
  • 00:41 - Intro
  • 01:39 - State of the Household: Where am I?
  • 05:18 - State of the Game: What am I up to?
  • 09:15 - Call In! Randy of Biggus Geekus on Houseruling
  • 11:17 - The Jason Show beings: Clone No More?
  • 17:41 - More Pendragon: A Starter Set?
  • 21:08 - Funky Dice
  • 22:44 - Houseruling Virgin Soil
  • 24:57 - Houserules Vs Playing it Wrong
  • 26:33 - Collaborative Houserules vs Tyrannical Houserules
  • 29:19 - How Long before it's a Different Game?
  • 32:03 - In Defense of Purpose-Built Games
  • 34:43 - And the Cliffhanger Ending!
  • 35:54 - Theme and Legal


Biggus Geekus (

Nerd's Variety RPG Podcast (


The History of the OSR (

Chis Gonnerman on BFRPG and Iron Falcon (

Spikepit! (

The Grognard Files (

About the Misted Dome

Scale: 10 ft. Click HERE for a PDF version of this adventure! ...