Sunday, June 24, 2018

Some OSR Ideas & Thoughts About The Lure & Lust of Hoards, Treasures, & Artifacts

"I, Satampra Zeiros of Uzuldaroum, shall write with my left hand, since I have no longer any other, the tale of everything that befell Tirouv Ompallios and myself in the shrine of the god Tsathoggua, which lies neglected by the worship of man in the jungle-taken suburbs of Commoriom, that long-deserted capital of the Hyperborean rulers. I shall write it with the violet juice of the suvana-palm, which turns to a blood-red rubric with the passage of years, on a strong vellum that is made from the skin of the mastodon, as a warning to all good thieves and adventurers who may hear some lying legend of the lost treasures of Commoriom and be tempted thereby."The Tale of Satampra Zeiros by  Clark Ashton Smith

Once again I was looking over some of the Grenadier advertising literature that I've collected over the years. The mid point product line of miniatures for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons miniatures & figures were all over the table top in '83.

Grenadier models Inc. were the go to line for serious AD&D players in my neck of Connecticut & my uncle often took me right down into the bowels of West Hartford. The sunny, quite small town New England bowels that looked like they came straight off of a Norman Rockwell painting at the time. My young mind was on the 'game' & what the dungeon master had cooked up for us that week. But what it was really about was treasure & the "gold stuff". But what the hell is treasure & where's it come from? Why is it valued by monsters, evil forces, & vile villains. Why are people risking their lives, their souls, & even their sanity in the pursue of this material? Like I said yesterday there are places that man wasn't supposed to go & yet dungeons call to these fools.
Dungeons are created & not build but that's another blog entry. Treasure defines the Dungeons & Dragons & marks the souls of adventurers with experience. Why!? Because there's a supernatural or occult aura about treasure similar to 'gold fever'. Just give an adventurer a taste of the favors, social position, & mental wealth that treasure can bring & their hooked. If they're really lucky then they retire & operate through proxy adventurers & hirelings. Treasure itself is a left over from the 'old world' or the cycle of ages preceding the 'current age'.
"Now Commoriom, as all the world knows, was deserted many hundred years ago because of the prophecy of the White Sybil of Polarion, who foretold an undescribed and abominable doom for all mortal beings who should dare to tarry within its environs. Some say that this doom was a pestilence that would have come from the northern waste by the paths of the jungle tribes; others, that it was a form of madness; at any rate, no one, neither king nor priest nor merchant nor laborer nor thief, remained in Commoriom to abide its arrival, but all departed in a single migration to found at the distance of a day's journey the new capital, Uzuldaroum. And strange tales are told, of horrors and terrors not to be faced or overcome by man, that haunt forevermore the shrines and mausoleums and palaces of Commoriom."

The Tale of Satampra Zeiros by  Clark Ashton Smith

But this isn't the only explanation about treasure & it goes much deeper into the gut of adventurers. The fact is that treasure is the root & spoke around which all of the dealings of Dungeons & Dragons adventures & campaigns revolve. I've a few thoughts as to why, how, & where these treasures come from & why they seem closely tied in with adventurers:

  1. Treasures are part of the spoils of war between the forces of light & darkness or Chaos & Law. That is to say that natural order of these multifaceted conflicts across the ages creates treasures.Many times this is to fuel the war machines for both sides & war costs money, time, & the spoils of conflict. The aura of fortunes lost & won gets imbued into these articles.  
  2. Monsters & alien  forces come to see that these items & artifacts have value to humanity & their gods. Since the dawn of time these forces have aped both the gods & man giving these items places within their own evolution. The occult forces of magick & chaos divines this as the cycles of ages continue. This has reinforced the aura & allure of these objects. 
  3. Old gods die & the cycle of adventure continues leading the gods to creature new treasures & artifacts so that they have material anchors into the world of men & monsters. 
  4. Supernatural auras change men & women in subtle ways maturing them, radically changing their life outlook, greed has its hooks in adventurers hearts & minds. Greed is the motivator for treasures & experience is the best teachers. Greed & lust for treasure is the engine for adventure! 
  5. Thieves move treasure & artifacts to spread the allure of these objects for the same reasons that magpies & crows are attracted to shiny objects. The occult power of these treasures grows & changes calling to monsters & men alike. This is the germ of dungeons & ruins of power. 
  6. Treasure equals power & wizards know this better then anyone. It is liquid asset for the making of war & campaigns for adventure. Wizards & dragons know the power of gold & treasure much of which comes from the elemental plane of Earth. The world of men & wizards is very different but the ability to move or wreck the economies of nations is true power. Power enough for the gods to notice & power enough for kings to murder wizards. 
  7. Treasure & the supernatural are tied together like the ecologies of nature. These hoards call for guardians & monsters of chaos for they are drawn like moths to the flame. 
  8. The aura of lust & greed is so strong around some treasures & hoards that it can call the forces of chaos or even open doors to Hell itself. These guardians are the worst of the lot & require their own blog entry. 

As I said yesterday I think that treasure has far deeper meanings & is closely tied in with war & violence. Why? Because these same supernatural auras never entirely leave these objects especially in old school campaigns. Can I prove my point here? We played in a long running hybrid AD&D,OD&D, & B/X campaign based on the
Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) opera cycle throughout the Eighties and Nineties. All of the above was taken from this old school campaign. Next time hirelings, thieves,tramps, & alchemists.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Some Thoughts On the Adventurers Lifestyle & Thier Place Within A Campaign Society

Looking through old Grenadier Models  advertisements for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons miniatures. These adds are full of memory & nostalgia for the middle part of the D&D product line for me. These miniatures held a lot of imagination & possibilities for the dungeon master's imagination.

My thoughts often turn to what types of men & women become adventurers. Desperate men & women trying their hand in the game of delving into the darkness of half forgotten tombs, places of legend, & possibly forgotten civilizations in some back water wilderness. These are places mankind wasn't supposed to journey into.
Here are six reasons why I think that adventurers are on the prowl  in ruins & dungeons:
  1. Adventurers are going to be lower echelon men & women of society  who crave adventure, quick cash, & the brotherhood  that the dungeon delve  life brings. The promising  lure of exploration & exploitation. 
  2. Adventurers have to be a dreg caste of society unto themselves looked upon the same way as actors, performers, and veterans of wars were in Europe. Directionless yet a necessary evil of society with back door admission into academia & governmental positions such as espionage. 
  3. Reputations of of the adventurer life style has to have legendary status within urban & polite society. Many boys & girls dream of it the same way that they might of war but the realities are vastly different. Bards are partially responsible for keeping these sorts of things alive among the populace. 
  4. The line between hireling & adventurer is a fuzzy thing at best in society. Many down & out adventurers & outlaws become hirelings but drift into the adventurer life style based on opportunity & circumstance. 
  5. Retired adventurers are often tomorrow's patrons living vicariously through others but exploiting the class & careers of others as needed. The cycle keeps the wheels greased based on the ploys. But monsters often become adventurers as wars & conflict create more ruins. These ruins are exploited by the forces of darkness. 
  6. The life of adventurer is a very dangerous one & circumstances often force disgraced nobles & mercenaries to try their hand at it. Again warfare & conflict the opportunity for the life of an adventurer to be inflicted upon a PC.

    Can one leave the adventurer life entirely? I'm reminded of late Roman Empire soldiers & generals talking about war campaigns. The marks that these left upon them & their lives is something that has an echo for me as a dungeon master. Do adventurers ever really leave the life behind them?
    Where do the hoards that are in the dungeon come from? Again I think that the treasure in dungeons are closely tied in with war & it has far deeper meaning than we usually know once its retrieved. We'll get into that in another blog entry coming up.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Six More Ways To Get The Most Out of David A. Hargrave's Arduin Grimoires For Your Old School Games

So the usual controversies have been brewing in OSR land & pretty much I'm getting back into reading through the original Dungeons & Dragons along side David A. Hargrave's  Arduin Grimoires again. This is going to be about the fifth or sixth time I've tripped through The Arduin Grimoire, Welcome to Skull Tower, and The Runes Of Doom.

The best way of handling this material is to look at the modularity Arduin systems. Then decide what your players want & need for the campaign setting. The rules set has a certain familiarity to those gamers who have delved into Arduin at their leisure. Gamers & dungeon masters know that a  complete, viable, and playable Old School game system is found in the original Arduin books. Accessing that system can seem daunting at times.


Don't get intimidated by the Arduin books or material, deciding what to use is the key to bringing the old school flavor into the game for the players.

So here are six ways of bringing more Arduin into your adventures;

  1. You are not David A. Hargrave & you don't have to run Arudin as he would. Gasp, yes that's right you don't have to bend over backwards to try & fill the shoes of another dungeon master. One of the keys to Arduin or even Gary Gygax's material is the accessibility of it. Find your rhythm & flow as a dungeon master when reading Arduin & then apply it as necessary. The players will often without realizing it give you the yard stick needed during conversation & play. 
  2. Adjust the weirdness & gonzo level as the game dictates. I can't stress this enough. There's a solid set of actual playable races, PC classes, etc. within these systems. Let the players guide the game through actual play & not 'adventure' script writing. 
  3. There's a lot of give & take within the Arduin magic systems so apply it as it comes when the wizard players start delving into it. Don't get discouraged & there's nothing wrong with going back to D&D's Vancian  spell system. 
  4. Monsters can be extremely lethal from Arduin because this system was from a time when it was players vs dungeon master. If the players want to play this way & I've been in a few of these games then more power too them. 
  5. Arduin systems are best used before & during actual play. The Arduin system & books are fun. They can & should be shared with players to get the most fun & utility out of them. 
  6. Arduin dungeons have a lot to offer but take them sparingly when mixing them with published TSR modules. There are two different approaches to game design when looking at the Arduin dungeons vs the classic TSR modules. The modules are formulaic in some regards & the Arduin dungeons are competition convention  modules unto themselves.In fact in many ways they form the basis for the competition or tournament style adventures. I've learned a lot from reading, studying, going through tournament modules. There's a lot of good stuff hiding within the Arduin adventures & dungeons.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Operation Middenlands - Marrying Jason Sholtis Operation Unfathomable & Monkey Blood Design's Middenlands Setting

So I've been thinking about the Advanced Labyrinth Lord  Kickstarter & playing around with using Swords & Wizardry adventures & settings with it. I read about Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design's bad news tonight; "Okay, so my pickup truck failed its MOT test.To get it through, the running total is now at £920 GBP. Holy shit! I've never had a failure that bad... and I need my truck.

It turns out this year was the wrong year to go freelance.
If anyone wants to empty their wallet buying MonkeyBlood Design stuff, or commission me (although I'm tied up for a few weeks at the moment), or just share this around, please feel free to do so and thank you in advance!"

But this also got me thinking about Glynn's Midderlands mini sand box setting which is really weird because its for Swords & Wizardry. But it takes very little to convert on the fly from one OSR system to other.
Part of the idea of the Midderlands mini setting is that the deeper down you go the further you get into the green tinged Gloomium & primal chaos of the setting. This idea of primal chaos also got me thinking of Jason Sholtis's Operation Unfathomable.

Seal's Midderlands has a completely different feel then Shotlis setting. The Midderlands is completely fantasy United Kingdom on acid with splashes of dark fantasy scattered throughout. While Sholtis's setting that has a mix of dark fantasy comic book meets high weirdness with touches of Lovecraft & they had  a dungeon setting love child. Operation Unfathomable is weird & bizarre OSR adventure.
There would seem to be very little in common between the two product's settings except for the fact that both have a miasma of chaos madness  tinged in the center of their respective underground worlds. 
Its in the dungeon underworld where the two settings can be completely hooked up. The Middenlands could be an isolated & comparatively idyllically stationed backwater of a campaign world. The rest of the world however is a stinking mire of  dark fantasy typical an old school or OSR game Europe.
There are a few ways that marrying these two settings can easily & painlessly done in my mind:

  1. The Operation Unfathomable world elements are on the other side of the campaign world. It takes a mounted expedition or two too get to the high weirdness. 
  2. The dungeon underworlds of both the Middenlands & Operation are deeply connected because of the strain of primal chaos seething through the core of the campaign world. 
  3. The solar system of this campaign world is of great importance to certain alien  factions in both  settings. They've been at war for a very long time & neither side wants to give up. 
  4. Neither of these worlds is cosmically important but the wheels were set in motion billions of years ago. The chess board has to be played out. 
  5. Glynn Seal's Demon Stones adventure   has several setting design options for bringing in Gloomium Outer Darkness goodness right out of a clear blue sky into a campaign. 
  6.  Lots of Operation Unfathomable's factions are ripe to exploit the chaos laden goodness of Gloomium especially those bastard mushroom scientists of Sholtis. 
  7.  The human race in both settings is completely & utterly expendable in the face of some of the factions in both books. They really do need heroes & adventurers to survive. 
  8.   There's something very uniquely unsettling about the thought that in some libarary in the Middenland  is a  book & map from a failed expedition to the dungeons of Operation Unfathomable. Mounting an expedition would take lots & lots of money, time, treasure, ships, resources, etc. The PC's are perhaps going to be a part of a much larger operation.
  9. The natives of  Operation Unfathomable are not friendly & should they become aware of the Middenlands Europe, then all bets could be off for those poor people. Or maybe they are aware of these folks & they don't care because their completely & utterly unimportant to their alien plans. 
  10. I keep thinking of a campaign world where the world is much weirder & far more dangerous then the provincial fantasy Europeans think it is. The expansion of the West into the lands of Operation are going to be an eye opening experience.
Stefan Poag's artwork from the Operation Unfathomable book  quickly illustrates the exact sort of a situation that I'm speaking of.
The above illustration shows an ‘Underworld ranger’ discharging his lightning pistol at a perfidious mind-bat while another ranger reels from the psychic attack they have already suffered — all creatures and situations from the dark corners of Sholtis’ fertile imagination."

I really can stop thinking about marrying this up with the back story of Henchmen Abuse's the Anomalous Subsurface Environment  ASE1 & ASE2&3 world.  Everything is completely in place for a massive campaign world. The factions, the science fantasy high weirdness, the world churning events, etc.
The whole affair would be massive undertaking with three or more dungeon masters handling the gonzo & completely dangerously insane world affair. This is why I'd run the whole thing with
Labyrinth Lord.
 The question is are the adventurers of the Midderlands mini sand box setting ready for the high weirdness awaiting them in the greater world or underworld?!

Highcastle Guard
Under the command of Sir Hestel Vinethorn of Brignorth.

I think that both OSR settings have a lot of campaign milage to offer the players & the dungeon master. This is a sweet little chaos laden campaign affair that could have players coming back to the table for many years to come!
 Next time back to Arduin on the blog tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

1d12 Random High Level Stone Age Supernatural & Occult Encounter Table For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Ajax scanned the horizon for a something, he wasn't sure why his palms felt weird. Those strange dreams had started again. There was nothing on the horizon & then suddenly out of the heat they appeared. Haggard, dressed in rags, & surrounded by a buzzing of flies a group of twelve subhuman warriors moved weirdly down the old game trail.
Ajax woke Evin with a start,'They're here about three hours ride away. We've got to get the horses, & break camp quickly'. 

'Right' Evin knew better then to run afoul of his blood brother's hunches. He drank the last of his Traesian cold tea & the ate his rations as he packed.
'Leave nothing behind, not a trace brother, for they belong to something else. I'd swear they were part spirit.', Ajax was nervous which made Evin even more wary. His sword felt heavy by his side for the second time this morning. The first was when his blood brother woke him. The air seemed heavy & pregnant with deadly possibilities. 

Adventurers on the road in Stone Age areas can run into the unexpected & the unexplained. There are those beings who cross the paths of adventurers that can alter their lives forever. These encounters are tinged with destiny & more then some horror. Adventurers should be very wary when encountering these wanderers of the wastelands.

These wanderers are hold outs, possible mutants, & others cast out from their various tribes for taboo reasons. There is more then a little fear surrounding these beings, for animals & monsters of 2 hit dice or less a low level fear spell surrounds these beings. There is a 20% chance when encountering them that this aura is active. Animals, small children, old people, & even other hardened adventurers will try to flee from these beings.

Encounters with such beings often seem to be surrounded by destiny & fate. There is a 10% chance that such encounters may be seen as life altering signs by shamans,wizards, clerics  & other tribal leaders.

1d12 Random High Level Stone Age Supernatural & Occult Encounter Table 

  1. Small cave man warrior has a spirit of hunger bound into his flesh. Anyone who who sees him will try to drive him away! Anyone attacking, pushing, or even taunting him with physical action will release the evil vrock spirit within his flesh.
    This vrock is a nasty spirit of chaos & evil. It has all of the standard powers & three times per day anyone within a 2o yard radius can be sent  into a  berserk state with hunger. Any PC's within the zone of evil must save vs spells or try to consume strangers, friends, or relatives. As they do this horrid act they will chant the dead gods spell of evil which has a 5% chance of summoning more of these horrors. Killing the poor possessed fool has a 60% chance of freeing the spirit to take possession of another. The demon spirit is then free to take on 1d4 more victims of its evil. An 8th level shaman can bind the demon to the flesh of another in a dangerous rite. The demon will be harmlessly bound into the living flesh of such a person.
  2. 1d6 strange tattooed  4th level warriors tainted with the 'plague of the ages' wanders from place to place seeking a good & honorable death. Those who engage them will age 1d20 years & become tainted with the occult power of entropy. Unless a save vs spell is made the weird entropic energies will infect PC's after 1d10 minutes. They will be slightly out of sink with normal reality making it difficult to understand them. These beings will no longer have to eat and food will turn to ash in their mouths.
  3. The Thin Ones there will be 1d8 of these warriors. These strange beings appear as normal cave men but in actuality they are beings whose outer form masks the alien hell worms within. Each one contains a larva as per the Monster Manual AD&D first edition. These things are small enough to force their way into the mouths of their victims. The victim is now under the control of the worm. These beings are damned souls who have escaped from the previous incarnation of the world & now seek to cause mayhem & chaos wherever they go. 
  4. A 7th level Stone Age black wizard who has fallen afoul of the Dark Forces now wanders with 1d8 warriors looking for the demon who has escaped him with his black soul. He is mad & very dangerous, he will promise anything to get the soul back but also is psychotically murderous. 
  5. A cave man whose eyes have been replaced by entropic eye implants he's escaped his master. This being can see into many alternative dimensions & worlds but also eleven possible futures. Once per day the eyes can create a blast with 2d6 points of damage in a twenty foot radius. His black wizard master will do anything to get this poor sap back.
  6. 1d6 undead foot soldiers of a black wizardess that seeks her dead husband. These undead are well preserved & can move around in daylight. They have the abilities of mummies and can lay a minor curse on those who displease them. 
  7. A lone cave man with 1d10 mutations that is caught between realities. The poor fool will infect anyone he comes across should he touch them unless a save vs spell is made. There are 1d6 versions of him that split from the main cave man after 3 rounds. These can be found with a 50 foot radius of the main person. They will reassemble after 5 rounds. This thing mostly whines, screams, & grunts.
  8. A 6th level fighter & hunter killed 1d8 years ago now a brutal undead killing machine that seeks someone but whom is unknown. The thing goes out of its way to slay anyone that crosses its path. The thing can and will regenerate as a troll. Its supernatural agenda is unknown. 
  9. A type III demon bound into the flesh of six cavemen that seeks to make war for eternity. This evil hive mind entity is a chaotic mess of a mercenary that will serve any black wizard able to meet its disgusting price. The cave men each have a small portion of the demon's abilities and are bounty hunters for black wizards of all stripes. These beings are cruel & very murderous. 
  10. A cave man that is actually a supernatural android for some unknown alien intelligence. This being is a cold & cruel hunter able to track anyone across miles of unknown territory. This thing seeks some unknown relic & yet will plunder any dungeon for treasure only to destroy it in frustration. The thing sometimes has 1d10 evil minions it recruits by implanting strange cybernetic occult implants. 
  11. An ancient alien bound into the flesh of a tribe of cave men seeks to find its missing relatives but its having a hard time. The alien takes the form of an infectious yellow mold like life form & its on a one man mission of murder & mayhem. There 1d8 yellow musk zombies that it uses as shock troops & a black alien vegetable wizard whose actually a form of yellow musk plant that works for it. 
  12. A whole tribe of cave people who are actually a fully functional cult of the demon god Orcus on a holy mission. They seek an ancient shrine while they pose as traders & merchants but they can't hide the unholy aura of evil that overhangs them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Tegel Manor Legacy - Ghostly Action,Giga Dungeons & Sword & Sorcery Strangness

"Tegel Manor, a great manor-fortress on the seacoast, is rumored to be left over from ancient days when a charm was placed over it protecting it from most of the ravages of time and human occupation. The hereditary owners, whos family name is Rump, have been amiss in their traditional duty of providing protection for the market village to the west. "

"Some have said that this failing and their bizarre eccentricities have led to their corruption. Many have found the manor and area to be a dangerous place to visit!"
Its been a long while since I dusted off my version of  Tegel Manor.The first thing I want to clarify is that Tegel Manor is not an old school adventure. Instead, Bill Owen and Bob Bledsaw's Judge's Guild classic Tegel Manor is a playing aid. So its basically set up to be a sprawling haunted house challenge for player's PC's. Its basically a 240 room giga dungeon adventure location & has all of the considerations including a village base of operations for the PC's. But its haunted house dungeon ecology isn't up to modern OSR code  like the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg  Nethercity's adventure going on Kickstarter here's a sample of what I'm talking about;
"the ecology of the Nethercity. The combination of the sewage flow from the collapsed cesspit (1a) with random traffic from the teleportation portal (12c) and the underground river (16) has created a strange and complex ecology within the dungeon. It works like this: 
  • Organic material from the refuse, animal droppings, and washed-in plants in the sewer sludge provides a haven for fungus and mold which feed on the material. Yellow mold, fungal creepers, green slime, ochre jellies, black puddings, gelatinous cubes, and similar growths in the waste are the most evolved of these “decomposers.” Yellow mold grows extensively in the huge deep cave (3b).
  • The herbivorous insects or vermin such as cavern locusts, tunnel prawns, and insect swarms of millipedes and cave crayfish feed on the decomposers and/or the sewer sludge. Such creatures are found close to the source of the sewer sludge, primarily in areas 1 and 3. 
  • The insectivorous and omnivorous insects and vermin such as giant beetles, giant rats, and rat swarms feed on the herbivorous insects and scavenge from the animal waste. For instance, a nest of bombardier beetles (in 3d) feeds on the nearby insect swarms.
  • The troglodytes (degenerate mutants made long ago by the elves from Thrassian stock) hunt the larger insects and vermin, and scavenge from the sewer sludge. They are found in the deep level caves (area 9) south of the central caves (area 3).
  • The giant ants in the abyssal caves (12) gather organic material from the sewer sludge to create fungus-farms in empty wall graves.
  • The white apes (cave-dwelling descendants of ancient ArgollĂ«an alchemy, precursors to beastmen) of the northern caves (13) hunt, steal, and scavenge from the adjacent farms of the giant ants. 
  • The larger carnivores and omnivores such as caecilians, carcass scavengers, giant carnivorous flies, giant pythons, giant rhagodessa, and pit vipers feed on the various insects, smaller vermin, and occasional troglodyte or ape. A caecilian in the central caves (3f) feeds on cavern locusts, while the rhagodessa of the lower level central caves (6n) prefer troglodytes. 
  • Giant crabs, giant leeches, and giant fish sometimes wander through the underground river (16). 
  • Skeletons, wights, and mummies wander or slumber in the ancient tombs, temples, and crypts. Incorporeal undead, the lingering spirits of long-dead Chthonic worshipers or simply attracted by the sinkhole of evil, plague much of the complex. Ghouls from the sewers are common due to the availability of carrion. Most of the Nethercity (2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, and 20) is given over to the undead.
Prior to 329 BE, when the cesspit broke open, the Nethercity’s ecology was much less complex. Only a few tiny groups of troglodytes and white apes – experimental subjects of the elves – survived the Nethercity’s fall. The apes and troglodytes fed on fish from the underground river and on whatever stumbled in via the teleportation platform (12c). Eventually, both groups discovered the platform itself and figured out that it could take them to hunting grounds outside the Nethercity. Some of the apes and troglodytes that departed on the teleportation platform never returned to the Nethercity, but a few continued to lair there even as they hunted on the surface.

Tegel Manor does something very different, it allows the DM to fit the adventure location into their own old school campaigns. Tegel Manor has a lot going for it including the outline here that it could be customized to the DM's haunt house specifications. That's been one of the tickets to using the supernatural elements of the Rump family. Customizing the weirdness of the Rump family. In the past I've used many of David A. Hargrave's Arduin supernatural elements & undead twists to give Tegel Manor a whole different adventure  feel.
Arduin's gonzo elements make Tegel manor feel like something out of a classic Eighties VHS horror comedy flick like Ghost Busters or the House series of movies.

Flip the adventure location over to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. Suddenly the adventure location becomes the perfect pre Green Death plague location. The Rump family did have survivors after the plague but many of them have become representatives of the various strains of undead found in classic Dungeons & Dragons. The whole adventure affair becomes very Clark Ashton Smith in nature echoing strains of Zothique &
the Averoigne stories. In fact the undead of the second edition of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea are ideally suited to running Tegel Manor.


"Tegel Manor vexes the Grognardia blog", well it didn't vex me at all. And in fact provided the ideal old school location to add in as a multidimensional adventure location that would move across the planes on its own. Tegel Manor & its village move from place to place causing havoc & mayhem where & when it went.
As one reviewer put it,"It must be said that there is a certain Castlevania-esque feel to the whole thing, which is a huge plus in my book."

The idea of the Castlevania-esque advantage of Tegel Manor is exactly how I'm going to use the adventure coming up!

Monday, June 18, 2018

1d12 Random Stone Age Gang Encounters Table For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Evin had seen the sign for 'horns of power' carved into the trees nearly a dozen paces back in the treeline. The subhumans had been trailing him for the better part of four hours now. These cannibals belonged to the witch 'Tarari The Poisonous' but Evin wasn't impressed. Ajax had wronged her back two years ago & the cold Hells hath no fury but a witch's fury was the worst. The subhumans were supposed to kill Evin but they didn't know that Ajax the half caste warrior had flanked them.
'Well we've finally caught up with you Ajax!' the snarling response was the stuff of nightmares for lesser men. 'Evin' the name was dropped from the warrior's lips casually with a lazy Northern drawl.

The gang of subhuman outlaws were confused & not used to dealing with foul ups.
'My name is 'Evin' & you've been trailing me for two full days.'
"We have no quarrel with you then our mistress only wants the other warrior's head"  

'That might be a problem then!'
That's when the subhuman warriors heard the twin sounds of Ajax's blunderbuss cocking & the gun becoming active. 

The subhuman's brain reacts fast & the words are out before he can think, 'Parley!?!'
'Good choice my friends' Ajax's words were cold as the flint in the weapon.

The game trails between worlds are often fraught danger & peril. Many times adventurers meet others who have strange or downright dangerous agendas. These beings often serve alien god like masters, seek dangerous treasure or even their own fortunes among the myriad realities. However they also pose some of the greatest dangers to others. These visitors from various Stone Age like cultures are some of the most dangerous opponents & NPC's that parties are likely to run across.

These NPC peoples  are advanced enough to have primitive horses or horse like creatures depending upon your home campaign.

1d12 Random Stone Age NPC  Encounters Table
  1.  The Demon Spider Gang
    A group of 1d6 second level cavemen fighters who are also cannibals on a holy raiding mission for their demon goddess. They carry slings, stones, & heavy spears for working large prey. These men also have sharp +2 flint daggers for their mission. 
  2. The Goddess's Claws
    A gang of mercenary women warriors whose men were wiped out by a murderous tyrant. These 3rd level thieves are on the road of Hell & seek to slay their tribe's killers. They ride primitive horses & are armed with war clubs & short bow & arrows. They've become very good at passing themselves off as traders to gauge potential enemies or allies. An aura of doom hangs around them & they are not to be taken lightly. 
  3. The Prey
    A gang of 1d6 half ghoul cavemen & women who are a bit more human & go about the land acting as scouts for their demonic master. They carry knives & arrows but will not attack unless provoked. They seek something of value for their master. 
  4.  The Fortunate Ones
    A group of 1d8 native Americans time lost who have banded together for mutual protection. They are armed with a wide array of weapons & there are 3rd level fighters & thieves among them. These people are seeking a home land for themselves after being stolen from various communities by a wizard. 
  5.  The Departed
    A dangerous tribe of 1d8 2nd level fighters who work for a local undead warlord, they are armed with slings, short bows & arrows, and +2 flint knives. They seek sacrifices for a demonic offering.
  6.  The Horde of the Dove
    A gang of cut throats & thieves 2nd level numbering ten whose outlaw ways have come to them after their tribe was driven from its lands. They have become corrupted by the wealth they have accumulated. They are armed with slings, long bow, and war clubs. 
  7. The Minions
    This gang of 1d6 half demonic cavemen & women travels around murdering & sacrificing others while posing as traders & farmers. They have three wagons filled with trade goods but also war clubs, slings, & spears. No one knows what demonic master they serve. They move from village to village. 
  8. The Vile Ones
    A group of  1st level cave men warriors who have been cursed with leprosy by a vampire. They seek to die in battle against a powerful foe. They have flint war swords & colorful shields marking them for what they are. Originally there were 10 but now they number six.
  9.  Those Who Fight
    A band of women warriors who have been touched by a goddess of war. There is a mix of 1d8 warriors of 2nd & 3rd level. They have spear, pike, bow & arrow, sling, & chariots among their ranks. They are mercenary protectors & skilled fighters. No one is sure of their agenda
  10.  Nuns for Og 
    A group of 1d20 warrior nuns whose convent was ravaged by a wizard. They have become blood thirsty fanatics for the cannibal cult of Og chaos god of death & war. These women have war carts, bows & arrows, spears, pike, and sling shots. They pose as healers, holy travelers, etc all of the while fully intent on murdering & pillaging any they run across. 
  11.  Fuller's Folly
    A band of 1d8 cavemen soldiers taught war by Colonial Joseph Fuller after he slipped through a time warp. The Folly as they are known are professional soldeirs on a mission to recover Fuller's  officer's sword. They move from battle to battle on their mission. They use Iron Age weaponry & equipment making them very advanced. But their numbers & knowledge die with each battle. This group claims it for the money.But many believe they battle because of an odd death wish. 
  12. Those Who Seek
    A group of 1d6 cavemen adventurers who have simply taken to the life of adventurers & they have among their ranks a 3rd level wizard of no small cunning.