Sunday, May 31, 2020

Morning Map: Crypt in a Cave

Scale: 10 feet
Click here for a PDF version of this adventure!

The inspiration for this one: an inconspicuous cave, one which might tempt a wilderness traveler to take shelter in from the rain, turns out to open into a bigger space that houses and hides old magic and older bones.

Also, I'm trying to be more brief in my written descriptions - in part to make the thing more readable; in part because, as a DM, a brief description is going to give you more leeway to be more evocative and to more readily integrate into your game.

Plus... everyone knows how to describe room shapes; I trust you don't need my help figuring out how to say, "20 feet, north to south, by 30 feet east to west, with a door in the center of the east and south walls."

A - Entrance

A wide cave mouth, 8 feet in height by 40 feet wide, quickly opens into two tunnels - one, to B, curving slightly downward; the other, leading to C, curving very slightly up, but rapidly increasing in ceiling height.

B - Grotto

The room is wet and the walls slimy. There are mushrooms and moss on the floor. The mushrooms can be harvested and are safe to eat - there are enough to feed 1d4 human-sized party members. If a character spends more than 1 hour in this room, however, they must save versus poison or start coughing from the spores: which will prevent natural healing for 1d4 days.

C - Three Pillars

The ceiling in this space is very tall - roughly 50 feet. In the center of the cavern, three massive natural pillars extend into the darkness.


A pair of Crab Spiders (B43) lurk in the shadows above. On the west wall, there is evidence of worked stone - and a stairwell leading up to a double door, ensconced in thick iron bars, to G.

D - South Cave

The ceiling of this natural stone cave is around 20 feet in height. On the east side, there is a worked hall leading to a sealed stone door. Guarding this door are 2 Skeletons (B42) who will only act defensively - if the party leaves them and the door alone, they will stand silently.

E - Workman's Crypt

Inside this space are eight simple stone sarcophagi, sized smaller than a man, but larger than a dwarf. Between the lot of them, inside can be found 25 silver pieces, 14 electrum pieces - placed on the eyes of seven of the dry corpses, a gold chain worth 20 gold pieces, and a signet ring with an unknown symbol on it worth 10 gold pieces.

F - North Cave

The ceiling of this natural stone cave is around 30 feet in height. 12 Goblins (B36) have taken up temporary residence here along with three Dire Wolves (B44). Between them, they have 80 pieces of electrum as well as some traveling gear suited to their size and taste. The goblins are unaware of the ledges to the north and south.

On the north wall, there is a ledge roughly 15 feet in the air. An exit leads to K and three large amphora can be found on the eastern extent, wedged between some stalagmites. They contain parchments detailing a manifesto from the entombed occupant of K; they are worth 100 gp to a collector or museum.

On the south wall, there is a ledge roughly 20 feet in the air. Near the center is a leather sack containing 300 silver pieces and a locked chest containing 600 gold pieces.

G - Vestibule

This stone worked space contains a circular carpet in the center of the room - over which is a wide antler chandelier. The carpet is surprisingly rich in color and has a slick touch to it - like film atop pudding. A character who walks on the carpet must save versus Paralysis or get stuck in - as with quicksand. It will take 1d4 rounds for the character to sink entirely, at which point they will start to suffocate.

The doors to the east, west, and south are locked; the door to the north is stuck.

H - Tomb of the Sunset

The center of this room - defined as a sub-shape of the room, itself, where the edges of the center are 5 feet from the wall - is recessed 8 inches into the floor: with an altar near the western side and an iron plate in the floor between the altar and the door. On the altar is a femur, an empty pedestal - similar to as would be used to display a trophy, and three long-desiccated chrysanthemums.

If the bronze sun from room I is placed on the slot, it will cast a barely-visible glow onto the iron plate and the center of said plate - where the glow touches - will become mostly transparent. Characters can freely reach through this space: inside which are 9 pouches containing 100 silver pieces each and a gold laurel wreath - heavier than it appears - worth 400 gold pieces sitting atop a pile of 200 gold pieces in coin.

If the iron plate is removed by other means, underneath instead are found 4 Pit Vipers (B42).

I - Tomb of the Sunrise

The center of this room - defined as a sub-shape of the room, itself, where the edges of the center are 5 feet from the wall - is raised 8 inches: with a likewise raised altar platform near the eastern side. On the platform is a bronze emblem resembling the sun, a skull in the center, a goblet to the left, and a bowl with ashes to the right.

J - Winter's Crypt

The door to this space is sealed. When it is opened, a chill passes over the party, as though the room were much cooler than the hall. Inside, the east and west walls are lined with evergreen shrubs - oddly healthy; the center contains a bed of hard soil roughly 8 feet north to south by 3 feet east to west. If the party digs into the ground, they will find a layer of ash. It is ringed by poinsettia.

Cones with seeds in them can be taken from the shrubs. The seeds will, if planted under a new moon, grow into tall conifers overnight; the seeds will, if exposed to sunlight, turn to soot.

K - Crypt of the Mason

The door to this space is stuck; it looks to have been sealed, but the seal has been broken. The edges of the floor, up to 5 feet from the walls, are a greenish stone; the center is marble - on the northern side, large tile; on the southern side, a random mosaic pattern the grouting of which appears to be stained a deep brown. If the party looks up, they will note the ceiling has a different texture above the mosaic; close inspection may reveal a seam.

A coffin is propped up on the south wall at a 60 degree angle - to its left, an end table with an unlit candle slightly behind the extent of the coffin's foot; to its right, another end table - knocked on its side in the corner. The coffin is open - a withered corpse staring blankly to the north west. It holds a tubular map case - which is attached to a hidden lever running behind the coffin into the wall. If a character attempts to move the map case, the ceiling drops - a massive solid block - and anyone standing on the mosaic must save versus Dragon's Breath to evade. On a failure, the character is crushed and killed. The map case is empty if successfully retrieved; the trap will reset itself after one round; sliding slowly back into the ceiling.

There is a hole in the floor near the south wall, just under and east of the coffin, damage from the trap having been set off in the past, which can be traversed to the north ledge in F.

L - Crypt of the Mirror

Opening this unlocked door, the party is immediately confronted by a treasure trove: inside is piled 900 silver pieces, 600 gold pieces, three gemstones - a golden-star sapphire worth 100 gold pieces and two tourmaline inlaid with electrum worth 250 gold pieces each, and single scroll containing the spell Protection from Undead. However, they are looking at a mirror - one around three feet in from the door and slightly larger than the door, itself.

The mirror is magic and will allow a character to step into it. If the party steps into the mirror, they will find the treasure - in addition to a dozen or so corpses that have been piled onto either side of the room, just out of vision before. Looking west, to where they came in, characters inside this space will see a mundane mirror, one which they cannot step through, looking back at them - behind which is a solid stone wall.

Any party members who have not stepped into the mirror space can see, but not hear, party members who have stepped into it.

If the party steps around the mirror into the room, there is a blank space - with a granite slab on the floor - eight feet east to west by three feet north to south - smeared with soot. Six rhodolite garnets are inlaid into the walls, casting an eerie purple glow; they can be pried out of their sockets, at which point their glow fades, and are worth 25 gold pieces each.


Public domain art piece, Man and Woman at the Mouth of a Cave, respectfully pilfered from the National Gallery of Art on May 30, 2020. Attribution in alt text.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mid-Level Lair: Dungeon for the Week

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

Started out planning to draw a small dungeon for Wednesday - a dungeon designed to be a middle level: with ways to get in from above and a way to get out below. I've since decided, after three days of on and off keying, this turned out to definitely, at least, be a medium dungeon instead...

A - West Prison

A1 On the north-east corner, a hallway opens into the main space. The northern space is 60 feet east to west - 20 feet north to south for the first 20 feet, then tapering off to 10 feet for the next 20 feet, remaining at 10 feet for the rest of the space. The southern space is open to the northern space and runs 50 feet, east to west, from the western wall, and is 20 feet north to south. Along the southern wall are cells - 10 feet north to south by 5 feet east to west, 9 in total: closed off on the north side by barred portcullis and separated from each other by solid stone walls. The first three cells from the west wall are separated from the northern space by a staging area - 10 feet north to south by 15 feet east to west: with the north face being walled off by iron bars, the east wall being stone. The next three cells are likewise separated from an identical staging area. There is a door between these two staging areas and between the eastern staging area and the open part of the room: only one of these two doors can be open at a time due to some hidden mechanism. The final three cells are open to the northern section, albeit separated by 10 feet of space, north to south. In this space are Ogres (B40). The remaining 5 feet east to west of the southern space is a hall, 5 feet east to west by 10 feet north to south, with a door at the end. The door is crudely barred and barricaded.

Of the Ogres mentioned, there are two, and they are laughing jovially, sitting and rolling and generally enjoying themselves in a small pile of treasure. The pile is 1,000 gold pieces. One ogre is juggling two cut rubies, each worth 100 gold pieces, and a topaz worth 50 gold pieces; the other ogre is wearing a golden torque worth 50 gold pieces as a bracelet.

A2 The northern wall of this room is 15 feet east to west with a door on the western side. The west wall is 10 feet north to south. From the south west corner, the wall runs east 5 feet before cutting north at 45 degrees, closing off the triangular space at the north-east corner.

One Ogre (B40) angrily pouts in this room. He was tossed in and trapped by his fellows in A1 and will be grateful to be released. The room is otherwise empty.


B - Warden's Rooms

B1 In the hallway leading away from the stairs, a Carrion Crawler (B32) is prowling the ceiling. The area is cut gray stone - sweating in the cool humidity.

B2 Along the south-west curve of this hallway, there are six small busts, around eight inches in height, made of a silver alloy and worth 10 gold pieces each inset into small alcoves. However, one of the six - rolled randomly - is on a weight-sensitive plate. If removed, a blade slides down within the alcove, dealing 1d4 damage and - unless a successful save vs wands (or DM discretion) is performed - severing the hand that removed it.

B3 The room is square, 15 feet east to west and 20 feet north to south. A door on the north wall, near the north-east corner, is locked, but can be unlocked with a simple mechanism from the southern side of the doorway. There is another door on the east wall near the south east corner.

The ceiling is a pockmarked metal grate of tight weave. In the center of the room is a reinforced wooden chest suspended roughly five feet in the air by chains running into holes in the four corners of the room. Beneath the suspended chest is a drain. If the equilibrium of the chains is disturbed - that is, if the chest is tugged, cut free, or otherwise the weight of the chest is altered by 400 coins or more - a clack can be heard and the disturbed chain or chains loose, going limp and falling to the floor: at this point, acid starts raining from the ceiling onto anything in the room. This acid deals 1d4 damage per round the character is exposed and an additional 1d4 damage per round for 1d4 rounds once the character has escaped - save versus Dragon's Breath for half initial damage and negating the ongoing damage. Once triggered, the trap will continue to rain acid for 1 turn (10 rounds) - after which point it will reset itself after 1d4 turns - the hidden acid cistern refilling through unreliable mechanisms.

Inside the chest can be found 200 silver pieces, 200 gold pieces, and a +1 Sword (+2 vs Spell Users).

B4 The northern wall runs 20 feet east to west, as the western wall runs 20 feet north to south. Conversely, the south wall extends only 10 feet eastward - as the east wall extends only 10 feet southward - before they cut towards one another at a 45 degree angle, rounding the corner and shaping the room like a gemstone on its side. Exits are on the north wall to B2 and the west wall to B3; inside, a nest of 4 Harpies (B36) sit like bower-birds atop 4,000 electrum pieces, scattered about the nests. Propped to one side, apparently discarded by the creatures, is a scroll case with a Scroll of Protection from Lycanthropes in it, as well as a single Potion of Levitation.

C - North Warren

C1 This 10 foot east to west by 15 foot north to south chamber has two exits: a hallway, five feet wide, in the center of the western wall, and a door on the east wall, near the south-east corner. In the north-east corner is a pile of broken crates. Nothing remains therein.

C2 This room is 20 feet by 20 feet, with a 10 foot long (east to west) by 5 foot wide hall leading from the north-west corner to a door to C1. On the north wall, near the north-east corner, is a double door. On the east wall, near the south-east corner, is a locked door.

The room itself is furnished with lavish, velvet furniture - a heavy sofa, a heavy ottoman, and two matching chairs. Six Dopplegangers (B33) occupy the space.

C3 The room is an oblong octagon - 20 feet north to south and 20 feet east to west, where the cardinal walls (north wall, south wall, etc) are 10 feet long each. A double door dominates the south wall; a second single door on the southern half of the east wall.

Against the north wall is a sarcophagus - 9 feet east to west by 5 feet north to south - with an adornment atop carved of stone, shaped like a muscular humanoid: the body is a muscular, picturesque human male; the head is a nondescript blankness, like a mannequin, which has horns facing down. The sarcophagus is empty - albeit some bone fragments and dust - but if the lid is moved, the floor in front of the sarcophagus opens - anyone within 10 feet must save or be dropped into a pit of filth-coated spikes: taking 1d6 damage from the fall and 1d8 damage from the spikes. Additionally, any character taking at least 4 points of damage total must save versus poison to resist infection: which will incubate for 2d4 turns before manifesting a fever and halving the character's Constitution score. It will heal normally at a rate of 1 point per day of rest.

C4 The hallway, 10 feet east to west by 30 feet north to south, has two exits - both on the west wall: one by the south-west corner and one near the north-west corner, inside a five foot deep alcove. The east and west walls have alcoves as though to hold statuary, carrying what appear to be urns. Two Harpies (B36) are crawling about the space - breaking the urns open. Inside are cremains - but in addition, the harpies carry 1,000 silver pieces and inside the urns - between all of them, are another 500 silver pieces and 5 trinkets, each worth 10 gold pieces.

C5 This hallway is 10 feet east to west by 20 feet north to south. A pair of doors face each other in the east and west walls, five feet from the north wall; a third door - locked - leads south. On the north wall is a tapestry - eight feet tall by four feet wide - of a muscular humanoid - the head having horns and its face nondescript, like a mannequin, but with piercing black eyes. Any character which examines the tapestry is drawn to the eyes, which force perspective of the remaining physique to be larger and more intimidating - at which point the examiner must save versus spells or shrink to 6 inches in height, as with a Dimunution effect.

The tapestry can be rolled up and removed - weighing 100 coins. The magic does not dispel and can continue to be used, but the victim gains a +4 bonus to the save if outdoors or in an otherwise appropriately spacious area.

D - East Prison

D1 The main section of this space is 30 feet north to south and 40 feet east to west, excluding the north-east corner, which is rounded off, such that the northern wall is only 30 feet east to west. In the north-west, an open hallway leads off and a door is visible to D2. Another door, locked, leads to C5 near the north-east corner.

In the southern section of the room are isolation cells - 10 feet north to south by 5 feet east to west, with the north-facing sections walled off by barred iron portcullis and the other three walls made of stone. Inside each are manacles or other instruments of captivity - excepting the second from the west, which is clear, and the third from the east, which contains broken crates. The first three from the west wall, out to 15 feet from, are open to the main space; as are the last two from the east wall, out 10 feet from. The remaining 15 feet and three cells are contained behind a 10 foot north to south by 15 foot east to west space - the east and west walls made of stone, extending from the stone partitions of the cells - and the north face made of iron bars. A door to this space, barred, is accessible in the north barred wall, near the north-west corner. Inside both of the non-standard cells are faux panels in the south walls - four feet by four feet - that can be removed to lead to H1 or a hallway to G7, respectively. The hallway has another secret door leading to G7, but the secret doors are both obvious from the other side.

Inside this space are two crystal golems - stats as Living Statues of Crystal (B37) - standing atop two pedestals - one of silver, the other of brass. They can speak without moving their lips and will ask the party of the mystery of captivity: the answer, according to the statue on the brass pedestal, is that in order for the many to be free, must the few be held captive; the answer, according to the statue on the silver pedestal, is that only in captivity - were our needs are provisioned and our minds thereby freed from bodily decisions - is one truly free.

The statues will not willingly relinquish them, but if they are offed from the pedestals, inside the silver pedestal is 1,000 silver pieces; inside the brass pedestal, 600 gold pieces.

D2 The north wall of this space is ten feet east to west. The room proceeds 10 feet south, then curves to the west, another 10 feet southward and five feet to the east: looking on a map much like an opening quotation mark. In the north-west corner are three skeletons that appear to have been clawing at the wall. In the five foot alcove on the south-east wall are shelves with buckets, brooms, and other supplies. There is one exit - a door in the north-east wall. It is not locked from the outside, but has no handle or obvious mechanism to open it from the inside.

The alcove is trapped. If a character interacts with the shelving, it will shift, causing the door to slam shut. The room is airtight - with 12 hours of air total: one human-sized adventurer consumes 1 hour of air per hour; a torch, if lit, will likewise consume 1 hour of air per hour. A lamp, lantern, or halfling will consume 1/2 an hour of air per hour. When the air runs out, any flames will extinguish and any characters trapped inside with asphyxiate.

E - The Bath

E1 The main space in this room is 50 feet east to west by 20 feet north to south. On the north face, there is a concave section - the north wall proceeds north-east for 10 feet, east to west, turns due east for 20 feet, and then turns south-east for another 10 feet, east to west, connecting to the main space's northern wall. On the east side, the room extends another 10 feet from the main space, but curves north, such that the actual east wall is still 20 feet north to south, but is offset, its northern and southern corners 10 feet north of the northern and southern corner of the main space.

There is a pool in the middle of the main space - ovaloid, 20 feet east to west by 10 feet north to south, where the western extent of the pool is 10 feet from the western wall of the chamber and the southern extent of the pool is 10 feet from the southern wall. In the center is a statue of justice - a female figure, blindfolded with scales: the scales have stones on one side and a few copper pieces on the other - the scale is tipped in favor of the stones, but will adjust if weights are added or removed. Inside the pool are an abundance of fat tadpoles which will follow a light source around. If a character waits and watches the tadpoles, they will begin to whisper to said character: they barter in secrets and truths - if a truth is told to them in confidence, they will in exchange whisper something true of equivalent value. What constitutes "value" for secrets is at the discretion of the DM.

Exits are as follows:
  • South, to E4 - locked - near the south-west corner.
  • South, to F2, near the south-east corner.
  • North, to E2, in the middle of the northern wall of the concave section.
  • North-east, to E3, in the angled wall connecting the northern wall of the concave section to the main space.
  • North - secret - a stone panel that will slide out of the way if a weight is placed in the statue in the pool's hourglass that balances the scale - 10 feet west of the exit to E2. It is easily identifiable, not not easily opened, from the other side.
  • East, a double door - quite heavy: opens as if stuck - to F1 - in the southern section of the eastern wall.
As the party enters, two Thoul (B43) are carrying a chest between them, exiting the door to E2. The chest is locked, containing 3,000 copper pieces.

E2 In what appears to have been an octagonal crypt, 15 feet in diameter with one exit in the south face, 3 Ogres  (B40) lounge on pilfered pillows and rugs. There is a sarcophagus, but the lid has been removed and broken, its contents replaced with food items, like a buffet.

E3 This oddly shaped space is comprised of two main areas - on the northern half, a hexagonal space - the faces 5 feet long; on the southern half, a square space angled south-east, approximately 7 feet deep. Exit is through a 5 foot wide by approximately 5 foot deep hall leading to a door facing south-west to E1.

In the square space are two bunks and an end table. They look infrequently used.

In the hexagonal space are 200 silver pieces strewn about the floor; five silvered figurines, six inches tall and worth 10 gold pieces each; a necklace of pearls worth 25 gold pieces; and a necklace of electrum worth 25 gold pieces.

E4 The room, from above, is shaped like stairs: the south and west walls are 30 feet long, where the north wall is tiered, 10 feet each, "descending" south at right angles by 10 feet at the end of each tier. The floor is a checkerboard of tile - blue and black in a diamond pattern - and has a suit of plate armor with a halberd in the north-west and south-west corners. The floor is trapped - if a character moves to examine the armors, they may step onto a trigger plate (any blue diamond in the western-most 10 feet of the room) which causes a volley of barbed darts to launch from the northern wall across the affected area. Targeted characters may save against dragon's breath to avoid - at a +2 bonus if standing 10 or more feet away; +4 bonus if standing 20 or more feet away. A character struck by darts takes 2d8 damage. It takes one combat round for the dart launcher to reload itself.

Exits are:
  • North, locked, in the second northern wall "tier" to E1.
  • South, locked, in the center of the southern wall, to E6.
  • East, in the east wall of the lowest "tier" - close to the south-east corner.

E5 This room is 20 by 20 feet square - the floor has a large circular rug on it, which appears to have been dyed at one point, but wear and time has obscured the image. Empty torch sconces line the walls. A door to F2 is on the northern-half of the east wall; a door to a small hallway leading to another door, stuck, to E6, is on the west wall by the south-west corner, and a double door on the northern side of the west wall leads to E4.

E6 This room is octagonal - five foot to a face. In the center of the room, a spiral staircase leads down. Exits are on the north face (locked) and the east face (stuck). A lone Tiger Beetle (B31) scurries up the stairs as the party enters.

F - The Great Hall

F1 This room is shaped like a shield - the south wall 10 feet east to west, expanding to 30 feet east to west over a 20 foot northward run, then continuing another 20 feet northward at that width. In the center of the room is a square grated surface on the floor - 10 feet east to west by 20 feet north to south. It covers a shallow drop - angled, perhaps as a drain, away from the center - and a warm moistness seems to emanate from it.

On the south face is a double door leading to F2. On the west wall, just beyond the 20 foot mark, is a double door leading to E1. In the north-west corner, a 10 foot wide hallway leads north-west.

F2 The east wall of this space is 20 feet north to south. It continues westward at this width for 30 feet before the north wall curves north - the south wall continues 10 feet further before curving north, such that the west wall is also 20 feet north to south, but 10 feet more north than the east wall. A double door 10 feet from the east wall leads to F1 in the north wall. A double door, barred - treat as stuck, near the south-east corner leads east. A door in the west wall, near the south-west corner leads to E5 and a door in the center of a 10 foot flat space on the north wall near the north-west corner leads to E1.

G - South Warren

G1 This room is an oblong octagon - 30 feet north to south, 20 feet east to west, with the cardinal faces (north, south, etc.) being 10 feet each. On the north face is a double door; one door is stuck, the other can be pushed open easily. Strewn about the cavity created on the east and west sides of the room are silver coins - 1,100 of them. Additionally, under the stairs leading up at the south face can be found a Scroll of ESP.

G2 This hallway is patrolled by 5 White Apes (B30). Strewn about the floor in the first 30 feet or so of the hallway are 600 silver pieces and 200 gold pieces - as though the apes had flung them about for sport.

G3 This room, 30 feet east to west by 20 feet north to south, contains wooden furniture; some of which is broken, some of which is not: chairs and a dining table. The walls are lined with square wainscoting. A door to the south is in the center of the south wall. On the north-east corner, one of the wainscoting panels gives way, a secret door that leads to H3.

G4 An Ochre Jelly (B40) rests atop a sarcophagus in this octagonal room, 15 feet in diameter and 5 feet to a face. One exit, a stuck door, in the north face. The sarcophagus is empty - its contents presumed dissolved by the jelly.

G5 This room is an octagon, 15 feet in diameter, with a sarcophagus on the south face. If the party opens the sarcophagus, there is a 3-in-4 chance it opens into the underside of one of the other sarcophagi - in C3, E2, or G4 determined randomly. One in four, it is simply empty. If the party climbs through, the teleport bi-directional until the lid is placed back on the sarcophagus in G5. A new roll is made each time the lid is opened.

G6 The north wall of this space is 30 feet east to west, the south wall 10 feet, with the corners of the south wall running north-east and north-west, respectively, at a 45 degree angle such that the room has a vaguely triangular shape. A fountain with a carving of a Medusa atop it protrudes from the center of the north wall. If a character drinks the water, they must save versus petrification or be turned to stone; conversely, if it is poured into the throat of a petrified character, they may save versus petrification to turn back to flesh - getting it into said throat will be the tricky part.

There is a door to the south and a door to the north-east. A secret door - faux stone obscured by green algae - leads to H3 in the north-west.

G7 In this room is a candelabra with ornate crystal carvings. Light sources shining through it refract on the far side of any light source. A character may roll to hear a humming noise that emanates from the crystals. Any character caught in the refracted light must save versus wands or suffer a consequence based on the color they come into contact with:
  1. Red (Decrepitude): target ages 2d6 years immediately.
  2. Orange (Circumspection): target doubles their rate of trap detection, but moves at half speed - both exploring and in combat - for 2d4 turns.
  3. Yellow (Malady): target loses 1d4 points of Constitution. Save again in 24 hours or damage is permanent.
  4. Green (Matriculation): target, distracted by minutia in the environment, becomes doubly likely to be surprised, suffers a -2 penalty to reaction rolls, and cannot maintain eye contact. Save again in 24 hours or condition is permanent until removed with Remove Curse spell.
  5. Blue (Probity): target is unable to speak falsely, engage in deception, or utilize abilities leading to misdirection until they have had a full night's sleep.
  6. Indigo (Hallowing): target becomes incorporeal, unable to interact with the physical world, but still visible, for 1d4 hours.
  7. Violet (Enigma): target may not use class abilities for 1d4 hours.
  8. Missed! The target is untouched this time...
One door in the south-west corner leads south to G6. A secret door which can be dissolved if exposed to Red, Orange, or Yellow light from the refractoring candelabra leads to D1.

H - Vault

H1 This room has several divans, an ottoman, and a lush rug - all thick, soft, and vibrant. Two Medusa (B39) relax in this space - 10 feet east to west, 15 feet north to south, with a hidden faux stone panel leading to D1 in the north-east corner, a door - locked - leading to H2 in the center of the west wall, and a double door - locked, via a key held by the Medusa, in the south wall. The Medusa are wearing jewelry worth 2,000 gold pieces and drinking wine that has an oddly saline taste to it.

H2 This room contains a statue of a powerful looking man, but its head has been broken off and the base has been used for storage. In this room can be found a pouch of 12 lodestones worth 50 gold pieces each, a crown of emeralds worth 100 gold pieces, two chests containing 2,000 gold pieces each, another 1,000 gold pieces spread about the floor as though there was not enough space to fit them, three scepters - one with a white head, the others with midnight blue - each of which are worth 250 gold pieces, three necklaces worth 200 gold pieces each, three diamond rings worth 150 gold pieces each, four gold bands worth 100 gold pieces each, and a golden figurine of a bull, eight inches tall by ten inches long, worth 100 gold pieces.

H3 Secret doors, obvious from this side, lead to G3 and G6 in the south-west and south-east corners, respectively, of the south wall of this 5 foot wide space. On the north face is a double door which a Medusa (B39), as the party enters, appears to be unlocking with an iron key.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Tomb of Tunnels - Small Dungeon Map with Key

Scale: 10 ft.
Click here for a PDF version of this adventure!
Small dungeon, keyed using B/X tables - level 1 for squared off spaces, level 3 for the irregular cave spaces. The dice were atypically ungenerous for treasure - so I may have added in some extra loot to make it at least a consolation prize for the time taken to explore the space.

A - Foyer

Nine sprites (B43) dance about in this chamber of worked stone. Between them, they carry 38 gold pieces. To the north, a concave space terminates in a five foot wide iron fence with a locked door in the center. In the north-east corner, the floor appears to have fallen out from under the wall, leading into a tunnel. To the south, stairs leading up.

The door is trapped. If the players manage to open the door, the corridor leading to B slowly fills with an odorless gas. Any characters moving north are affected on 2-in-6, saving versus paralysis or falling limp, unable to move for 1d4 hours.


B - Statuary

This room, 20 feet east to west by 30 feet north to south, has four statues - two on the east and west walls, respectively, on the northern and southern sides. The visible entrance is to the south, where a five foot wide, 8 foot long corridor connects to A via the gate.

Each statue is heavy, but will rotate if forced by a strong character or several characters working together. A statue rotated to face away from the center of the room will reveal an entrance beneath its base into a secret tunnel in each direction. Statues can be forced around from beneath, as well - but it is more difficult due to the angle and cramped confines of the tunnel.





C - Fish Folk Shrine

A tunnel leads west from B; approximately 15 feet in, there is a small rivulet of water, slowly creeping north. It runs south approximately ten feet before it becomes too small for an adventurer to fit; it runs north to the whirlpool in B.

The main space, about 7 feet from the far side of the rivulet, is potato-shaped: its main space being a 20 foot by 20 foot space with two protrusions - one on the north-west corner lumping a ten foot radius circular area and one on the western half of the south wall, a approximately five feet deep nook. One egress leads back east.

The main space is dominated by a platform with two columns of sculpted marble fish-folk. In the center is a dais of green liquid - its texture thick and slimy, its odor somewhat akin to rosemary. The liquid, if applied to the neck where the gills are on the fish-folk statues, will bestow the ability to breathe water on the drinker for 1d4 turns - however, the drinker must also save versus spells or be unable to breathe air (i.e., outside of water) for the duration. The liquid, if drunk, tastes fine - but the texture is revolting: characters drinking it will receive the benefit as though it had been applied to the neck, but must save versus poison or be sickened for 1d4 turns. The magic is persistent; thus, if the characters can carry out flasks of it in glass or other alchemically safe material, they can harvest up to 2d6 does of the stuff.

The northern protrusion contains burial niches in the wall with oddly inhuman skeletons therein.






D - Gelatinous Tomb

About 8 feet into the tunnel, a space of approximately 10 feet diameter opens to the south. In it, the floor drops out into a pool that slowly spirals. North and south egresses are under water, but visible. The south stream leads to C; the north stream leads to H.

At the end of the tunnel, oval-oid space - approximately 20 feet north-east to south-west by 10 feet north-west to south-east - has burial niches carved into the walls. Inside are dissolved, old corpses; a couple have metal items on them, but nothing of particular value. A gelatinous cube (B35) is stuck in this space and, depending on its positioning at their entrance, they may walk directly into it. The only ingress/egress is east.

E - Mausoleum

A winding tunnel runs west from B; approximately 35 feet in, there is a pool of water, ankle deep. At the end of the tunnel is a chamber of carved stone.

The north wall of this chamber is 10 feet wide. Running south, the width expands symmetrically over 20 feet to 20 feet wide, then contracts back to 10 feet wide over 5 more feet south - making the net north-south length of the room 25 feet. Along the walls are empty sconces; on the south wall is a large sarcophagus. Inside is a corpse with a rusty sword. Under the body, the slab it is on is faux: covering a tunnel leading to F.

F - Spider Cavern

This cavern space is shaped like a rough parallelogram, its north face offset to the west. The space is 20 feet north to south and averages 25 feet east to west. It is laced with sticky spider webs. Inside hide 2 Tarantella Spiders (B43). In the webs can be found the corpses of a couple ill-fated adventurers: between them, they carry 13 gold pieces and a pouch with four deep-red, smooth-cut gemstones: valued 100 gp each.

Exits are west, a tunnel leading to A; north-west, a tunnel leading to B or G; and north-east, leading to E. In order to the sarcophagus in E.

G - Crawler Nook

This stunted nook contains a Carrion Crawler(B32) feeding on what appears to be the corpse of a Dwarf, partially concealed by stalagnates.

H - Resting Chamber of the Map Bearer

A cold, almost imperceptibly slow-flowing stream bifurcates this space east to west. On the south side, an open stone platform, 10 feet north to south by 30 feet wide (east to west).

On the west side of the platform, two chests sit locked. Inside are 500 silver pieces each. On the east side of the platform, four barrels are crammed into the corner. Inside is slime and cobwebs. In the center of the platform, a throne sits with the skeleton of a bugbear in armor. In the bugbear skeleton's hands is a map case containing a map keyed in Goblin which leads to the supposed location of an enchanted Mace (+1). However, the skeletons arms are on trigger plates - if the scroll is removed, the arm bones will fall, causing the plates to rise - if this occurs, spears jab out of the ceiling, rolling to hit any character in the center 10x10 section of the platform: THAC0 15, 2d4 damage.

North of the platform is an irregular space, roughly oval-oid - 15 feet north to south by 35 feet east to west. The stream takes up approximately 10 feet of the north-south breadth, exiting underwater both east and west. The west channel leads to D or C; the east, the channel peters out into several tunnels too small for a character to traverse.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

D is for Delvers; That's Good Enough for Me

Podcast Name: The Delvers
Where I Listened: BurnedFX.com
Where It's Available: iTunes, Sticher
System:Labyrinth Lord
Leather (With Shield)

Thoughts and Review

The Delvers, one of the O.G. actual play podcasts of the OSR, follows the adventures of the Dungeon Master's family through a 2013 romp in the Barrowmaze using the Labyrinth Lord ruleset. It is family friendly, faithful to the genre, and commonly recommended to newcomers as an entry point to old-school actual plays: being exemplary of how the movement felt and played at its genesis.

What I Like

First, I like the DM Notes. At the start of each episode, there is a brief moment where the DM talks about the episode, how the play evolved versus what he expected, and how what could have gone differently would have affected play. Additionally, on one or two occasions, there are Q&A episodes talking about the game and the players that provide an exposé on the ecosystem that is the Delvers' home game. These segments - and these episodes - are a great resource for fledgling DMs, or DMs looking to understand how an OSR game would maintain tonal fidelity to its roots. Where in most actual-plays, the viewer is assumed to either know the motives or to derive them based on outcomes, in this podcast, the DM feeds it to you in a concise and easily digestible snippet at the beginning of each show. It makes me wonder if the players ever, listening to the podcast, changed up how they approached the game in subsequent sessions.

Second, each player tends to operate several characters over the course of the series. I had initially thought that this indicated they ran a stable "with a main" rather than a single character, but by the end of the series, I believe it is more indicative that they ran a character with hirelings and occasionally, when running one-offs, ran a character other than their primary character. In any case - this represents two under-utilized aspects of old-school gaming: initially, in the original decade of the game's existence, it was common to have multiple characters - a stable, if you will - to run, depending on what the adventure to be undertaken implied; additionally, hirelings! The use and adjudication of hirelings is a quintessential part of old-school gaming - especially if you are running fewer than a dozen players at a time, as 99% of gaming tables do and trying to run an adventure module written for the period.

Third, the procedures that the party follows to check for and get around traps is exquisite. Although there is rolling involved, the party interacts with the environment, having a back-and-forth with the DM to produce the necessity of those rolls: the back-and-forth being a favorite part of my personal table's experience. The fluidity of delivery in the Delvers combined with the natural mastery of established procedures leads to a smooth illustration that, though most OSR games are highly lethal, it is not impossible to walk away unscathed as a talented player.

Last, I like that it's a podcast. Most of the actual-plays I watch these days are just that - watched. The visual streamed medium has taken over as the dominant form of play, and although replays exist to accommodate people like me with hectic or irregular schedules, the video-centric nature of a streamed actual play places emphasis - intentionally or not - onto the visual elements: meaning that the experience is lessened if you're trying to listen to it in the car.

Note, it's not a bad thing to be video.
The most highly rated actual play (by me) that I've experienced is video.

But I don't still don't watch it in the car.

This is true for a couple other audio actual-plays that are out there and I have been exposed to - so it's not unique to the Delvers - but I felt the need to put it out there and this is a good segue.

What I Don't Like

The audio of the Delvers is intentionally crafted to feel like it's the 80s again: the editing feels like you're recording something off the radio onto a cassette tape, there are cultural references appropriate to the era embedded; by and large, the podcast does this artfully. However, in order to maintain length and focus on the adventure, a session of 3-4 hours is condensed down to 20 minutes - tops - with the notable exception of their Tomb of Horrors episode. This editing means that the action in episodes can be hard to follow - especially early in the series, before the publisher really got into the groove. Additionally, the publisher includes sound effects - some of which in early episodes can distract from the game rather than enhance it. By about the 1/3 mark, the sound effects are fairly seamless - again, as the publisher got into his groove - but the editing, its jumpy nature specifically to highlight specific elements of the session, force the listener to pay close attention in order to get the full gist of what's going on.

What I'm Undecided About

Overwhelmingly, episodes of the Delvers are short - running between 15 and 20 minutes. On the one hand, this is very convenient: one commute worth, one trip to the store, and you can consume the whole episode. Additionally, in being as short as it is, it's very condensed - so you have a lot of material thrown out there very quickly to pick up. On the other hand, however, the shorter runtime means that some of the babies get thrown out with the bathwater in the interest of time, as detailed above: and because the podcast focuses on the adventure, a varied amount of content is cut out: thus, no two episodes are the same length. Part of me wants there to be more consistency - but the other part recognizes that, in order to maintain fidelity to the intention, that consistency in length and substance becomes less of a priority. Being as old as it is, it is also entirely possible that the runtime was a byproduct of the age - how long did videos / podcasts actually run when this was released?

The second element that I am undecided on is the propensity of the podcast to skip over both combat and town RP. The focus of the podcast is on the adventure - on the delving process - and admittedly, combat can be a bit boring in an audio-only sphere (or even a visual one, if not done properly!) in the more bare-bones systems common to the OSR. On the downside, the elimination of combat precludes the exposition of a significant section of the rules - combat being one of the few elements of B/X and its clones that is universally heavily codified - and the elimination of in-town activities, specifically acquisition of supplies and negotiation with merchants, etc., likewise precludes exposition of a significant section of the experience: that is, player skill - one of the key tenets of OSR gameplay - includes the ability of the players to adequately procure supplies that they anticipate they may need in the game. Chalk, chalk dust, pitons, spikes, and poles - these kind of things are used by the party, but we don't actually know that they have them until it comes up: so it's obvious that the acquisition is occurring - it simply occurs off-screen. So - on the positive side - we do see it occur, and thus a new player will be inspired to think about what they may need and will be inspired to play outside the box to solve problems; similarly for combat, a focus on the dungeon, on the adventure, and on the puzzle aspect of the game will help to spotlight the expectations of the playstyle: you're there for gold, not for glory.

Further Reading

The Delver's Campaign Journal - a text format of some of their other adventures - is available at http://thedelvers.com/. On the "B-Side" link - to Burned FX, where I listened to the podcast series - are a handful of links to other podcasts and other actual-plays. I have not verified the links, but it may be fun to tread these uncharted (by me) waters if the Delvers had posed something you enjoyed.

In Conclusion

I burned through the Delvers podcast in two days. It was my background noise while working and it was my entertainment during breaks. It is quickly addictive - its quirks becoming endearing and its shotgun delivery fitting perfectly into a disjointed listener as I tend to be while trying to work at the same time. Additionally, the DM is a fairly talented DM and handles the game well - something that may be augmented by the fact that they are in fact his family - promoting creative thinking without being unduly soft on the adventuring party.

The Delvers is worth a listen - and is of particular value to fledgling DMs due to the accessibility of the format. For that reason, I rate the Delvers Leather with Shield. I debated between this rating and Chainmail - as I enjoyed the podcast, the Delvers themselves, and I find myself wishing that they had come back from the indefinite hiatus that seems to have ended the story - but the key to the rating is educational value for aspiring OSR enthusiasts: the podcast is very enjoyable and worth listening to while presenting about 2/3 of what an at-the-table experience will feel like.

In any case, keep on gaming!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday Slog: New Map

Scale: 10 ft.
Click here for a PDF version of this adventure!
Some traps, mechanisms, and elements lovingly plagiarized from anonymous contributors. Public domain artwork respectfully pilfered from the National Gallery of Art on or around May 3, 2020. Attributions in alt text.

A - Gallery

This space is 13 feet wide, extending approximately 70 feet north-east. There are sconces on the wall, as though to hold torches, but they are long vacant. A double door marks the entrance on the south-west wall; doors flank the hall - six in total, three heading north-west; three heading south-east - at 15, 35, and 55 feet into the space. All but the second on the north-west and the final on the south-east walls are locked; the remaining two are stuck and must be forced open. At the end of the room is an grated iron fence. The gate through hangs loosely on one hinge.

B - Flesh Corridor

From a door facing south-east, a five-foot wide corridor turns quickly north, running for 60 feet. The walls are a mosaic of bone - skulls, shoulder blades, long-bones all arranged to form a pattern. Around the 20 foot mark, there appears to be some dried flesh still clinging to these bones. By the 40 foot mark, flesh clearly still hangs off of each - dripping - as the occasional eye blankly stares at the party. At the northern extent of the corridor, there is an iron door, locked, leading east.

C - Prize Chamber

Fantasy of an Antique Tomb with Fragments of Architecture and Sculpture, Carl Schutz
This space is an octagon, radius 30 feet. There is one entrance/exit, in the south-west, where the octagon's shape is interrupted to accommodate the end of a hallway. On the north side of the room is an altar, bedecked with six candles - two each on the north-east and north-west corners and one each on the south-east and south-west corners - as well as a bowl filled with jewelry on the west side, a locked lockbox with poison needle trap in the locking mechanism on the east side, and in the center, a raised lazy Susan housing a single canopic jar. In the center of the room, an oblong inner hexagon - 20 feet east to west by 10 feet north to south - is cordoned off by floor-to-ceiling iron grates. Inside are visible 3d4 ghouls - who slaver and bark at the party as they enter.
  • The jewelry in the bowl is comprised of a heavy necklace worth 300 gold pieces; two bracelets with emeralds ensconced worth 140 gold pieces each; three rings - one with a red garnet, two simple bands - worth 30, 20, and 20 gold pieces, respectively; and an gilded inkpen and ivory inkwell worth 80 gold pieces.
  • Inside the canopic jar is mostly ash, but also a mummified mandible. Additionally, a character rummaging through the ash will find a nondescript rosary, clean - untouched by the ash - that smells vaguely of cedar. Any character carrying the rosary is invisible to undead.
  • Inside the lockbox are 120 platinum, 240 gold, and 140 electrum pieces, plus two rubies worth 30 gold pieces each and a signet ring of a forgotten house worth 15 gold pieces.
If the characters touch any of the treasure elements, a mechanism will lift a section of grating, releasing the ghouls:
  • The jewelry bowl, north-west face
  • The lockbox, north-east face
  • The canopic jar, south face
If the party lights a candle, a section of the iron octagon will be obscured by a descending wall of stone as follows:
  • The south-east candle, east corner
  • The south-west candle, west corner
  • The outer candle on the north-east corner, the north face
  • The outer candle on the south-east corner, the south face
Conversely, if a candle is extinguished, the wall will slip back, exposing the ghoul cage.

The two added candles on the north side of the altar - closer to the treasure than the corner candles - are a ruse: if either one is lit, there is low rumble sound. While they are lit, a portion of the south face stone wall will not close.
  • The east ruse, the bottom half of the wall
  • The west ruse, the top half of the wall
Thus, while the ruse candles burn, the ghouls will still be able to escape if their cage is lifted. If a ruse candle is lit after its corresponding correct candle on the north side of the altar, the corresponding correct candle will go out. Any candles can be re-lit after having been extinguished.

D - Watchers of Bone

A hallway narrows to five feet wide and proceeds 10 feet east before opening up into an octagonal space, 15 feet in diameter. On the east face, the five foot hall continues behind a set of iron bars. On each of the non-cardinal faces (north east, south west, north west, and south east) stands a skeleton wearing an aged tabard and armed with mace and shield. The hall behind the bars extends 25 feet before terminating in a wooden door.

E - Greenhouse

A five foot entrance opens up over five feet into a larger space, 15 feet east to west by 25 feet north to south. Inside are four stone troughs - four feet in height by three feet wide by eight feet long, laid long-ways north to south - filled with dirt. One of the four troughs, if examined thoroughly, has a skeleton of an unknown humanoid buried in it. Growing in all four troughs are large mushrooms. The mushrooms in the three troughs sans corpse are healthy - the mushrooms in the trough with the corpse are psychotropic. The mushrooms count as standard rations, if harvested: enough for 2d8 days - weighing half as much as normal rations for the same duration.

Memento Mori, Dutch 17th Century

F - The Keeper

A hallway turns north, 5 feet wide by 10 feet long, and opens into an oblong octagon: 15 feet east to west by 20 feet north to south. In the non-cardinal corners are standing skeletons wearing faded tabards, armed with spears. On the north face is a large ornate desk with large ornate chair - at which sits a large skeleton, eight feet in height, wearing a beard and a helmet of antlers. On the east and west faces, framed mosaics of bone: depicting a fractal pattern.

The spear skeletons are inanimate, but the large skeleton - the Keeper - is not. If the party comes within 30 feet of him, he will look up and accost them in the language of Law, asking what their business is. If engaged in combat, the Keeper fights as an Ogre, using a two-handed sword. In the desk are keys to 1d4 of the alcoves in section J, alongside parchments with faded lettering only the Keeper can read, in addition to two scrolls: one of Floating Disc, one of Continual Darkness.

G - Visitor's Center

The narrow hallway turns north and opens into an octagon, radius 15 feet. There is nothing on the floor, but hanging from the ceiling are six sets of manacles: four of which are occupied. One hangs a male human corpse, decayed beyond personal identification; one hangs skeletal hands - the skeleton itself, having crumpled to the floor: gods know what holding the hands and one shoulder-blade in place; and in the final two are living women - shrieking and shrieking: as though driven mad. They are clad in the garb of the merchant class and will recover, but will experience a fugue surrounding their experience with this place.

H - Reliquary

After a short hallway bending south-east to east, the space opens into an oblong hexagon - 20 feet east to west by 15 feet north to south. Along the north and south faces are cubbies arranged in three rows - 9 on the top, 8 in the middle, 9 on the bottom rows: for 52 total cubbies. In each of them is a random article - ranging from daggers to dining utensils, none of which appear of any value - and behind each random article is an urn. If a character opens an urn, roll 1d10:

1d10Urn Contents
1 - 2Poisonous spiders! Save vs poison or lose 1d4 Constitution to the venom.
3 - 8Dust, perhaps an unidentifiable nick-knack.
9Dust, plus 2d4 silver pieces.
10Dust, plus a ring. If worn, the ring allows the wearer to cast a single randomly determined level 2 MU spell weekly. Only one of these may be found.

On the east face is a pedestal with a small door and a pillow on top. Above the pedestal, a shield emblazoned with a sunset in chipping paint hangs on the wall. On top of the pillow is a string necklace, bejeweled with teeth. Inside the door are more poisonous spiders: but, being easier to evade, any exposed player may re-roll their save to avoid damage if they fail the first time.

Grave Marker, Edward White

I - Spire

After a narrow hallway which curves east, the space opens up into an octagon, radius 15 feet. Along each wall - about a yard off the stone - are kneeling benches. In the center of the room, a spiral of teeth is embossed into the floor. The ceiling rises in a smooth spiral - like the inside of a cone snail's shell - to a height of 30 feet. Hanging from the ceiling is a chandelier, suspended halfway between floor and ceiling, with six glowing red spinels rising in a circular pattern: they do not glow if removed from the chandelier, but are worth 100 gold pieces each due to their size and cut. In the center of each face at approximately six feet from the ground is a reflective plate, highly polished. There are seven in total and can be removed with some careful force - chance of breaking ruled based on the method of extraction - and can be sold for 30 gold pieces each.

J - Museum

This room is square, 30 feet to a side. The south-east corner is cut off by an iron grate housing the only entrance, a gate hanging loosely on one hinge. On the north and east walls are three concave alcoves each, three feet deep at the center and 10 feet across at the face, each with a locked window. From the north-west alcove, proceeding clockwise, they contain:

Design for the Tomb of Dr Joseph Warton, John Flaxman
  • A suit of scale mail armor (as chain mail, with +1 AC to piercing attacks), helmet, and spear
  • A wooden chest and chair. The chest is empty, appearing to have been broken into.
  • A shelf containing several clockwork homunculi. They are not intelligent, but will perform various tricks when their spring is wound up. (4d6 gold pieces each, representing the interest level of the buyer. Re-roll each sale attempt, but don't let the players know it's being re-rolled.)
  • Dust and cobwebs.
  • A tapestry depicting the god of death in the center, flanked by two obsidian skulls worth 50 gold pieces each.
  • A brass bell with a clapper shaped like a skull. The bell weighs 300 pounds - but if rung, will cast Darkness around itself with a radius of 30 feet: where the ringer is unaffected by the dark.

Inside the room in a space randomly determined (1d8, any 10 foot space excluding the half-space with the entrance) is a Gelatinous Cube. Inside the cube are floating 2d6 silver pieces, 1d8 copper pieces, and the keys to 1d4 of the six alcoves, determined randomly, among some useless metal detritus.

Red Tree Hollow

Click HERE for a PDF version of this adventure! ...