Saturday, August 18, 2018

OSR Commentary- A More Mythologicial Approach To The Doppelganger For Your Old School Campaigns

I'm trying to recall when I first stumbled upon the original Dungeons & Dragons Doppelganger? I know that way back in 1980 I had a PC wizard snuffed out by his double in a lonely little dungeon room. The knife was wedged between the vertebrae of my character what a gusher. The Doppelganger was first introduced in Greyhawk (1975). But it was in the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual that we were formerly introduced when my fighter Hans Gurm bit the dust at the shape shifting claws of another doppelganger. But there are far more to the mythological origins of this alien shape shifter including a deeper & far more deadlier Hellish creation by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy.


So let's dive right into the deep end of this mysterious double with its mythological origins according to Wiki;

"

English-speakers have only recently applied this German word to a paranormal concept. Francis Grose's, Provincial Glossary of 1787 used the term fetch instead, defined as the "apparition of a person living." Catherine Crowe's book on paranormal phenomena, The Night-Side of Nature (1848) helped make the German word well-known. However, the concept of alter egos and double spirits has appeared in the folklore, myths, religious concepts, and traditions of many cultures throughout human history.[6]
In Ancient Egyptian mythology, a ka was a tangible "spirit double" having the same memories and feelings as the person to whom the counterpart belongs. The Greek Princess presents an Egyptian view of the Trojan War in which a ka of Helen misleads Paris, helping to stop the war.[citation needed]. This is depicted in Euripides' play Helen. In Norse mythology, a vardøger is a ghostly double who is seen performing the person's actions in advance. In Finnish mythology, this is called having an etiäinen,[7][8][9] "a firstcomer".[10] The doppelgänger is a version of the Ankou, a personification of death, in Breton, Cornish, and Norman folklore."
The concept of the Ankou, a personification of death, in Breton, Cornish, and Norman  
mythology that we will concern ourselves with. The  Ankou  is a personification of Death from the negative material plane. Ergo the doppelganger as a monster is a literal a piece of the angel of death ;
"There are many tales involving Ankou, who appears as a man or skeleton wearing a cloak and wielding a scythe, and in some stories he is described as a shadow, often atop a cart for collecting the dead. He is said to wear a black robe with a large hat which conceals his face.[1] According to some[who?], he was the first child of Adam and Eve. Other versions have it that the Ankou is the first dead person of the year (though he is always depicted as adult, and male), charged with collecting the others' souls before he can go to the afterlife.[citation needed] He is said to drive a large, black coach pulled by four black horses; accompanied by two ghostly figures on foot.[1][2]
One tale[citation needed] says that there were three drunk friends walking home one night, when they came across an old man on a rickety cart. Two of the men started shouting at the Ankou, and then throwing stones; when they broke the axle on his cart they ran off.
The third friend felt bad and, wanting to help the Ankou, found a branch to replace the broken axle, and then gave the Ankou his shoe-laces with which to tie it to the cart. The next morning, the two friends who were throwing stones at the Ankou were dead, while the one who stayed to help only had his hair turned white. He would never speak of how it happened."




Dante Gabriel Rossetti, How They Met Themselves, watercolor, 1864
"This character is reported by Anatole Le Braz, a 19th-century writer and collector of legends. Here is what he wrote about the Ankou in his best-seller The Legend of Death:
The Ankou is the henchman of Death (oberour ar maro) and he is also known as the grave yard watcher, they said that he protects the graveyard and the souls around it for some unknown reason and he collects the lost souls on his land. The last dead of the year, in each parish, becomes the Ankou of his parish for all of the following year. When there has been, in a year, more deaths than usual, one says about the Ankou:
War ma fé, heman zo eun Anko drouk. ("On my faith, this one is a nasty Ankou.")"
'Every parish in Brittany is said to have its own Ankou.[1] In Breton tradition, the squealing of railway wheels outside one's home is supposed to be Karrigell an Ankou ("The Wheelbarrow of Ankou").[4] Similarly, the cry of the owl is referred to as Labous an Ankou ("The Death Bird").[4] The Ankou is also found on the baptismal font at La Martyre where he is shown holding a human head.[5]
In Ireland the proverb "When the Ankou comes, he will not go away empty" relates to the legend.[1]
The seventh album of the Spirou et Fantasio comics series, named L'Ankou, also relates to the legend'

"It is said that the Ankou is a death omen that collects the souls of the deceased. The Ankou is the last person to die in a parish during a year. The last deceased person will assume the duty of calling for the dead. They describe the Ankou as a tall, haggard figure with long white hair. It is also perceived as a skeleton with a revolving head able to see everything everywhere. The Ankou is said to drive a cart and stops at the house of someone who is about to die. It knocks on the door, this sound is sometimes heard by the living, or it could give out a mournful wail like the Irish Banshee. The Ankou has also been reported as an apparition entering the house, it takes away the dead who are then placed in the cart with the help of two ghostly companions"

In Hell there are the soul doubles of living people so evil that there are demonic soul reflections already being tortured. Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy has several examples of these. There are also such beings with reflections within the Underworld of Hades.

The realm of Perdition is going to be one of the realms of these doppelgangers. They are merely a  facet of the larger being of Death. The monster is another alien life form going about its existence & its presence & function can be found within the description of the thing;
"In Dungeons & Dragons, doppelgangers have long, gangly limbs despite their above-average strength and agility, and pale gray skin. Their eyes resemble those of an octopus, yellow with slitted pupils, and they have no hair on any part of their body. Their facial features appear to be half-developed. They are cunning and patient, and will wait as long as it takes for an opportunity to present itself. They have the ability to Detect Thoughts, which helps them to mimic their target almost flawlessly by imitating their mannerisms and discovering information that only their target would know. Because of this, they are feared and regarded as natural spies and assassins. " Below the surface of society there is going to a large amount of secret societies & cults because these monsters know all kinds of secrets because of their strong association with Death. 
Cults of chaos & their necromancers are going to be summoning these monsters for their secret & forbidden knowledge. They are shape shifting around the halls of power & these monsters are constantly forced to take advantage of their natural resources. There is a deep connection to the Celtic Otherworldusing one of the classic pieces of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy  as its background we find ourselves with a wholly different monster whose fangs will not be consuming my adventurers likeness anytime soon. Used carefully the Doppelganger is one of the most dangerous customers that the PC's could run into on any world. A simple monster  summoning spell can in fact create destruction for a classic old school campaign.

Retro Campaign Commentary - X4 Master Of The Desert Nomads By David "Zeb" Cook For Expert Dungeons & Dragons With A Clark Ashton Smith Campaign Twist

 
If you were playing Expert Dungeons & Dragons back in Eighty Three then one of the more dangerous modules to get your PC's embroiled in was the  second sword and sorcery style adventures that came from the pen of David "Zeb" Cook. X4 Master of the Desert Nomads. This adventure puts your PC's right in the cross hairs of two armies on their way to defeating 'The Master'.


"Everything seems to start off with a war and the PC's are caught right in the middle of the action in the Sind desert.
 

"To arms! To arms! The battle lines are drawn as desert men and inhuman tribes wait poised to strike on the fertile and rich lands of the east. The call has gone out through the civilized lands. The armies have been raised to match the invading foes from the west. Nobles and peasants have joined swords to greet the foes.
But Fate or Chance has decreed another role for a small few. No glorious banners will wave on their march. No squadrons of knights will charge at their word. Instead, they will fight the war through stealth, secrecy, and cunning. The risks they will take are great, but the fates of both armies lie with them.
It begins one night for your party far from the fighting. Suddenly you are entrusted with the most dangerous missions of the war. Can you cross the Sind Desert, occupied now by enemy armies, to find the Great Pass? Can you find the one known only as The Master? What will you do if your do find him?""


But how can this classic be adapted into a fully functioning campaign adventure, we'll with a bit of help from Clark Ashton Smith its a perfect vehicle to open the door to a whole cloth Sword & Sorcery  campaign set within Zothique or the far future of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. But why Zothique at all? According to a letter written to Clark Ashton Smith himself described the Zothique cycle in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp, dated November 3, 1953;
" Zothique, as I conceive it, comprises Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, parts of northern and eastern Africa, and much of the Indonesian archipelago. A new Australia exists somewhere to the south. To the west, there are only a few known islands, such as Naat, in which the black cannibals survive. To the north, are immense unexplored deserts; to the east, an immense unvoyaged sea. The peoples are mainly of Aryan or Semitic descent; but there is a negro kingdom (Ilcar) in the north-west; and scattered blacks are found throughout the other countries, mainly in palace-harems. In the southern islands survive vestiges of Indonesian or Malayan races. The science and machinery of our present civilization have long been forgotten, together with our present religions. But many gods are worshipped; and sorcery and demonism prevail again as in ancient days."
This sounds exactly like the sort of desert weirdness that the PC's encounter in Master of the Desert Nomads. The master is simply another in a long line of cult leaders & lost kings who have come across the trackless wastes of the Diamond Desert erm the "immense unexplored deserts" which bound Zothique to the north. As per usual I've already heard from friends that Empire of The Necromancers is a perfect frame work in which which this classic of the B/X era should dropped into? Actually X4 fits the campaign frame work of CAS's The Weaver In The Vault.  The idea of the ruined kingdom with  mercenary scouts doing dirty deeds in the desert fits the rough & tumble ideals X4. It fits the sardonic humor of CAS.
"Three of the king's roughest henchman began losing their nerve as they descended into the dark catacombs of a long-forsaken, earthquake-ruined burial site in Chaon Gacca. Their assignment, to recover the remains of an ancient king, was detestable enough. However, nothing could compare to the horrific sights and sounds....of the weaver!"




X4 The Master Of The Desert Nomads is one of those adventures where the classic wilderness crawl is full effect. The PC's can wander where & when they need to within the frame work of this hex crawl as the adventure take them. The village on the border of the Republic of Darokin there is a priest  looking for scouts to seek out the Master a mysterious figure who is uniting the various tribes of humans and humanoids in the Sind desert.
  1. The PCs are presented as mercenary scouts in almost but not quite Robert Howard Conan fashion in the X series. This is a perfect set up for adventurers & fits the rough & tumble nature of Sword & Sorcery adventures. 
  2. The wilderness crawl presents the opportunity to introduce other side quests for the party & allows the DM to customize X4 as their own. 
  3. The various desert locations are the perfect place to add in the adventure locations of  necropoli, abandoned ruins, epidemics & more that  fit the  far distant future of Zothique. 
  4.  X4 is the perfect vechile for the that typical CAS vivaciousness! 
  5. Master of the Desert Nomads has a bit of that Pulp weirdness we love already but with a bit of a push can be inverted into a hard core campaign. 
  6.   Because the set up is a classic sword & sorcery adventure the X series of modules could be used to frame work around the Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes as a lost world style mini campaign. 
 

Within a pseudo historical setting X4 Master of The Desert Nomads could be used in an alternative dark fantasy Egypt or North African style adventure set around the Fourteenth or Fifteenth century. The dungeon master might want to draw from the Robert Howard well of dark fantasy literature with Solomon Kane and “The Fire of Asshurbanipal". This adventure will also work on the Chinese Gobi desert style Silk Road setting  which pulls from the Oriental and Middle Eastern mythological traditions. This plugs directly into the ideals of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique & yet keeps the adventure from becoming overly stale.
X4 remains a very different feeling adventure with its encounters wrapped around the central wheel house of  dark fantasy encounters, odd supernatural encounters, dangerous pieces of old school sword and sorcery action. This was one of the adventures that I've run over and over again with PC's coming face to face with weird monsters and becoming hooked on the desert series.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

1d15 Random 'Witch Fated' Treasures & Relics of Occult Power Table

"I utter in words my thanks to the Ruler of all, the King of Glory, the everlasting Lord, for the treasures which I here gaze upon, in that I have been allowed to win such things for my people before my day of death! Now that I have given my old life in barter for the hoard of treasure, do ye henceforth supply the people's needs, — I may stay here no longer. Bid the war-veterans raise a splendid barrow after the funeral fire, on a projection by the sea, which shall tower high on Hronesness as a memorial for my people, so that seafarers who urge their tall ships from afar over the spray of ocean shall thereafter call it Beowulf's barrow."
Line 2795 of Beowulf

There are relics & treasures that have fallen from the hands of kings that they are wreathed in destiny. Songs are sung of their stories but they have gone into the claws of dragons, demons, & monsters in lairs under the Earth. These relic are the lost pieces of another age claimed by monsters. PC's who find these treasures are often caught into the skein of fate & may find themselves on an adventure regardless.


Any of these  items  often of legend & myth find their way into the claws of some seriously dangerous dragons or monsters. They are often 40% chance cursed or worse 'witch fated.' Witch fated relics & treasures bare the mark of  occult power or supernatural influence. Covens, cults, & groves of witches of the most dangerous stripe desire these items. They are often part & parcel of the complex supernatural relationships that arise between dragons & covens of local witches. Any time that one of these items of power leaves a hoard there is a 70% chance that a cell of witches or their agents with the 'sight' will seek the person who has possession of it.


There is a 20% chance of these items having some odd supernatural quirk or power that has been soaked up over the hundreds of years laying next to a sleeping dragon. Consult the appropriate type of dragon for possible powers or abilities of these items. Dragons may go on the war path to recover such a minor relic because it has gone missing. Villages may burn, crops turned to ash, and places of power may feel their Hellish wraith.
Those possessing such items may be troubled by horrid dreams & visions of impending doom & depravity. The dragon may supernaturally become aware of the owner of the item through their dreams & may be able to track them across the Astral planar dreamscape.


1d15 Random 'Witch Fated' Treasures
& Relics of Occult Power Table
  1. The Golden Cup of ARA - This cup has been carved of golden wood & has an interior of gold overlay. The cup is a sacred relic & able create a healing drought for 1d6 people every new moon. The goddess ARA watches over the relic but its been missing since a dragon stole it after having infiltrated a coven to claim it as their own. The cup is worth a cool thousand gold pieces to the right collector. 
  2. The Ring of the Doppelgangers - This ring now belongs to a treasure hoard of a powerful witch whose been cursed to become a red dragon of the most dangerous aspect. The ring allows one to summon the fetch of another & the evil soul twin must answer any questions put to it truthfully. The ring was originally used for an ascension ceremony of power within a local coven. But its been missing for over two hundred years.  Worth about 600 gold pieces to a local lord who wants it for  nefarious reasons.
  3. Eye of the Chaos Goddess - This strange crystal gem allows the owner to gaze into the nearby dimensions & planes. The eye will allow one to know the names of power of these creatures making summoning them far easier. The owner has an 80% chance of summoning them depending upon planar weather conditions. Originally this was a military item used in a war on the forces of law. But the coven to whom it belonged to was ransacked by a dragon of incredible occult power. The goddess has been trapped within for centuries. 
  4. The Wands of The Fetches - This wand allows one to summon their shadow self from the plane of death & allow it to show the pathways to hidden destinies & treasures. The wand originally was used by a dragon to test the occult potential of new witches & wizards in its area. The wand was stolen by an evil witch who used it to amass a hoard & turn herself into a dragon of unstable power. Since then it has not been seen in three hundred years. 
  5. The Golden Plate of Ra - This plate of purest gold comes from the depths of Fairyland & allows one to gaze into the pits of the Old Gods where Ra was trapped during his death cycle. The plate allows one to find the occult paths of power allowing a witch or wizard to cast one level higher spells their PC's actual level. The plate has a price in the form of a temporary wisdom point each day which take the form of gold tears. The plate has been in the hoard of a dangerously evil wizard who has a pet dragon with the plate as the centerpiece of his hoard. The witches of Ra want it back however. 
  6. The Casket of Power & Destiny - This casket contains the soul of a powerful witch & her occult power. The casket can be used by anyone to create 2nd level witches spell like abilities but its real power is the ability to heal even the most grievous injuries each full moon. A dragon has been guarding it for two centuries until the chosen one comes. 
  7. The Puzzle of Tears - This set of finely wrought puzzle pieces allows one piece together the soul of a person whose had their soul torn apart. The puzzle must be used by a 6th level witch in a place of power under the waxing moon. A swamp dragon has been guarding it against a local group of dangerous witches who belong to the goddess of black tears. They will pay handsomely for it. 
  8. The Hand of Despair - This ancient withered & decaying piece of flesh once belonged to one of the white witches of Fairyland until she was cursed by a dragon of dire aspect. The crone that resulted was a hag of the first order & rampaged across parts of the countryside. Her evil was contained in her hand after a knight cut it off. A dragon of power took the hand for safe keeping but recently she has returned as an undead demonic thing & has begun killing mystics trying to track down her hand. The hand allows one to use many of the minor abilities of a hag but the owner must kill every seven days. 
  9. The Agates of the Gods - These jewel encrusted stones are the gem covered gal stones of a dangerously murderous dragon taken from his gut by a witch whose husband slayed the beast. They are said to have the power to kill a minor god. But they are very pretty items & worth 60 gold pieces each. There are ten of them each of them pertaining to the ten fingers or miracles of the minor gods. Only the witch's coven knows their secrets & they will murder the owner to get the stones back! 
  10. The Crown of the Ancient Swords Woman - This strange crown once belonged to a minor princess of Fairyland & it allows the owner to harm demons when wielding a sword. The crown was used to slay an ancient demon after it was taken from its owner by a dragon. He seduced its previous owner & enchanted it with the ability to once a day create a door into Fairyland. The ancient Coven of the Swords Woman has been trapped in Fairyland ever since. Now they wish to return home. They have a small treasure to give the party who saves them. 
  11. The Glass of Looking - This ancient mirror allows the owner to gaze into nearby occult realms of power & triple the effects of any spell they cast while tapping the mirrors power. The mirror however holds an evil  dragon within its depths & it is currently owned by a coven of witches who use to plan the kidnapping of local children to sell into slavery in Fairyland. The parents of one of the children wants revenge on them. 
  12. The Knife of Decay - This occult relic of power is often used to cut the cords of the soul allowing the owner to experience the realms of death without dying. They can visit with the recently deceased one last time and find out some vital piece of information. But the knife is currently owned by a death dragon of dire aspect. She has twelve witches of Death after her & they will do anything to get the knife from her clutches. The knife can also cause anything it touches to decay & melt when struck by it within 1d8 rounds. Death itself would also like the knife back but is amused by the antics surrounding it. 
  13. The Casket of Is - This casket contains the soul of a demon called 'Is' a creature of no great importance whose name is used to keep it trapped within the relic. The relic allows the owner to access its power to see twelve possible visions of the future. Each vision is governed over by the soul of a witch but every twelve visions a dragon astral stalks the owner to eat their souls. The casket is currently in the possession of a dying witch who wants to pass it on to another but her circle wants it. The demon on the other hand will send 1d6 minor demons to torment the PC's because it can to attract their attention. 
  14. The Ark of Lu - This ark once belonged to a witch goddess named Lu whose power was vast & dangerous. Lu used her abilities to steal the souls of the newly dead for her spiritual slave ship of power. The gods found out about her project & locked her away in the ark where she waits & preys on any covens foolish enough to own the ark. She now has a dragon in her clutches who is in human form to find the Ark. The ark allows the owner to access the deep magicks & can take on some of the goddesses power for 1d8 hours. The owner gains the ability to charm, cast 1st level spells, & has access to the witch goddess clerical magic. The owner however will want & become addicted to the ark's power. 
  15. Splinter of the True Coffin - This strange piece of wood drips with the blood of a moon goddess whose power comes from her true coffin. The coffin now holds her undead remains & it allows the owner to find her. A dragon is after the splinter & his witches want the power of the moon goddess for themselves but a cleric of Law is after them. The splinter will find the PC's & involve them in its tapestry of blood & mayhem. There is a 600 gold piece emerald in the top of the coffin.


OSR Commentary - Classic Dungeons & Dragons Player Character Races With A Mythological Twist

I take a far more mythological progression with the iconic Dungeons & Dragons fantasy races in my home campaigns. There are far more to them then meets the eye & its actually a form of rebellion on my part against the usual Dungeons & Dragons expectations. When dealing with many of the OSR worlds this approach has been far more rewarding by allowing the players to have more of a hand in their characters.



Let's start with humanity is the single greatest occult resource for the supernatural & occult world. The abundance of the human race means that its going to be widely available for millions of years to come. But its also the race that provides the greatest number of heroes. This could be form of occult natural selection or simply that this race provides its own supernatural immune system in the package of adventurers. The sheer variety of humanity provides an endless supply of food & amusement for the occult powers. But it also on occasion provides their death as well. 
Neither the Dwarves nor the Elves seen in Dungeons & Dragons are the true powers or royals of those semi divine breeds. The Dwarves of my own home campaigns are taken straight from Germanic & Norse mythologies & their pivotal to humanity's future;
:The modern English noun dwarf descends from the Old English dweorg. It has a variety of cognates in other Germanic languages, including Old Norse dvergr and Old High German twerg. According to Vladimir Orel, the English noun and its cognates ultimately descend from Proto-Germanic *đwerȝaz.[2]
Beyond the Proto-Germanic reconstruction, the etymology of the word dwarf is highly contested. Scholars have proposed theories about the origins of the being by way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, including that dwarfs may have originated as nature spirits, as beings associated with death, or as a mixture of concepts. Competing etymologies include a basis in the Indo-European root *dheur- (meaning 'damage'), the Indo-European root *dhreugh (whence, for example, modern English dream and German Trug 'deception'), and comparisons have been made with Sanskrit dhvaras (a type of "demonic being")"
The Dwarven peoples that we see in various settings are in fact the Dweorg, races created by the Dwarven 'gods' eons ago to survive the harsh conditions of various planes & worlds for mining, & other worldly activities.



Elves or huldra ("hidden being") are in fact humanoids bred to be the slave race of wizards & gods from the magical rich chaos laden realm of Fairyland. These beings have for millions of years been used as labor, military, work force, etc. in our world. Many ancient other dimensional gateways still exist under mounds & other historical sites of occult importance. Elven gods & powers are some of the most evil & dangerous beings that players can run across. Humanity once worshiped these beings but rebelled in ancient times before the Biblical flood.


Half Elves were a latter development for magically deleted environments & for use as traders with humanity often where valuable resources  & occult sites of power are still found. These beings look very human but display a wide variety of mythological racial traits that sets them apart. These beings often have individual tribal or racial identities depending upon the region or country they are found in.





The half orc has a deep & abiding connection to Orcus & the classic Underworld of Greco Roman mythology. The half orc is a product of war & chaos due to the influx of the Orc warmachine from from the Underworld. The Underworld is the passage of warfare between the gods of Hell & humanity. The half orc is a product of its background of violence & hatred but many rise beyond it. These beings are rare but not unheard of throughout Europe & the known world. Orcs, goblins, & ogres are far too common it would seem.

"Old English glossaries record the word orc corresponding with Latin Orcus (deity of the Underworld), and synonymous with þyrs/ðyrs "ogre" (cognate to Old Norse: þurs), as well as "hell devil". The Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal defines ork in the very closely related Old Dutch language as a verslindend monster ("devouring monster"),[3] and points at a possible origin in the Old Dutch nork "petulant, crabbed, evil person".[4]
The Latin: Orcus is glossed as "Old English: Orc, þyrs, oððe hel-deofol"[a] as given in the first Cleopatra Glossary (10th century), and on this entry Thomas Wright wrote, "Orcus was the name for Pluto, the god of the infernal regions, hence we can easily understand the explanation of hel-deofol. Orc, in Anglo-Saxon, like thyrs, means a spectre, or goblin."




With a bit of mythological adjustment a dungeon master can mold the classic Dungeons & Dragons player character  races to suit their players & their own needs for a campaign. The DYI nature of Dungeons & Dragons allows the dungeon master to take full advantage of the blank spots left in early editions of the; grand game.' Old & tired races that players have seen a million times can take on a far more 'Weird Tales' aspect with a bit of research & time.



Ten Reasons Why A Mythological
Twist Works For PC Racial Classes 
  1. Each of the PC races mentioned in this blog post have some strange connection with Alchemy & this can easily be exploited by the dungeon master for all kinds of harrowing mayhem. 
  2. The classic Greco Roman depiction of Hades & his connection with the creation of the orc  race is never used in adventures. 
  3. Elven gods are dangerous & the Elven races connection to its Fairyland origins points to a far more alien view point then we traditionally see in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. 
  4. Dwarves have often been the lynch  pins in the affairs of the gods & should be exploited often. 
  5. Half Elves are the perfect stand ins for many 'lost world' races in campaigns. They can be exceedingly rare. 
  6. Don't count out humanity for being the perfect ancient plot device for old school adventures. 
  7. Don't be afraid to make up stuff as needed to bridge gap your home campaigns when it comes to the cracks in mythology. 
  8. The Underworld is a dungeon master's friend & a crack in the Earth is the perfect excuse for a PC to simply show up in an adventure. 
  9. Screw with player expectations! While many gamers are familiar with the classic Dungeons & Dragons books. They often are not that well versed in the actual mythological  origins of their favorite monsters leaving plenty of room for dungeon master customization. 
  10. Use mythology to breath new life into classic old school adventures using mythological resources. Play the unexpected and don't be afraid to exploit it for the game.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

1d10 Random Strange Caravans & Weird Merchants From Beyond Table For Your Old School Campaigns

 
In a lost land, that only dreams have known,
Where flaming suns walk naked and alone;
Among horizons bright as molten brass,
And glowing heavens like furnaces of glass,
It rears with dome and tower manifold,
Rich as a dawn of amarant and gold,
Or gorgeous as the Phoenix, born of fire,
And soaring from an opalescent pyre
Sheer to the zenith. Like some anademe
Of Titan jewels turned to flame and dream
The city crowns the far horizon-light
Over the flowered meads of damassin ....
A desert isle of madreperl ! wherein
The thurifer and opal-fruited palm
And heaven-thronging minarets becalm
The seas of azure wind....
(Note: These lines were remembered out of a dream, and are given verbatim.)
The City in the Desert  (1922)
by Clark Ashton Smith


They come from out of the wasteland sands on alien creatures changing & metamorphosing to fit the local time & space. There are so many names but they all have come to sell their wares. The merchant princes, the queens of the road, the travelers, & many others. They come from all walks of life & places unknown. The folk are an amalgam of many of the exotic, the alien, the unwanted, & the list goes on. But they are also the dreamers & the dream. There are powerful half blooded Elven princes among their ranks & dreamers of the first order. Assassins of 2nd level guarding the wiles of  alien escorts of the most dangerous & erotic aspect.
When these caravans come to call the merchant princes will come to call on the rulers & authorities of the local cities. Ancient contracts promising horrid curses are sited & pacts made every two hundred years are shook over a small pile of gold pieces.

He is not what he appears to be

Ilusionists are some of the most valuable members of these mysterious caravans providing cover, creating distractions, & providing shows that attract people by the hundreds. This in turn provides the caravan marketplace with lots of customers. Wares are traded, soul pacts are made, & hundreds of pieces of dreams flow into the golden vessels of the caravans. The ancient powers of the Elves continue to ply their trade as they do in the modern day.
Going to a caravan market place may provide a party with a key book, occult treatise or other rare supernatural item forty percent of the time. There are certain forbidden tents where the erotic & exotic arts perform. But there are one or two 'special tents' that have late night or early morning performances at 'the hour of the soul.' These performances will drain one point of wisdom per customer & are by invitation only.
The merchant princes use these pieces of the human soul to perform black miracles back in their own lands far beyond the realms of dream.



There are often opportunities for adventurers to hire on to such caravans are paramount with them offering one  gold piece a day for grunt work &  six pieces for guard, military, & cargo duties. But there often powerful spirits & other supernatural predators among the 'acts' of these merchant princes. Those who hire on can be seen as potential fuel as well & should regard their tenure among these caravans as temporary at best. But there are valuable 'fairy gold' to be had & many an adventurer has been tempted by rumors of it. There is only death waiting for them however unless they are very careful. There will be a 20,000 to 2,000 gold piece treasury used by the caravan but there will be a efreet or genie guarding it of the most vile aspect. These 'treasures' will often turn to leaves or other debris when the characters exit the holding wagons. Changelings are often exchanged for strong human children who are considered a valuable treasure in their own right.
The various princes are often huldra ("hidden being") Elven blooded beings able to exist in the human world while powerful Elven wizards equip their caravans from Fairyland. These are seen as investments by their masters for the power of pure human souls is a value among the supernatural powers of incredible occult potential.
These caravans move across time, space, & dreams taking the relics from a million worlds but they are seldom what they appear to be.


1d20 Random Strange Caravans & Weird Merchants From Beyond Table 
  1. Prince Albrus & his cohorts are a merchant train of incredible potential that is looking for a heir to a throne in Fairyland. His ties to the court of Hell allow him to sell medical miracles & occult secrets from across the planes. He is sardonic & very vein however & this can be used to the advantage of adventurers but his wraith is very dangerous. 
  2. The Princess Truse & Prince Rous The Justice are two of the most devious & dangerous of the merchant princes. Their caravan is the cover for a Fey thieves & assassins guild of the most vile kind. Every two hundred years they follow a route that allows them to snatch & grab human babies for  changelings. Assassinate heads of state & then for good measure steal candy from children. These two however sell a wide array of occult components & artifacts to royalty from Fairyland. 
  3. The Caravan of Wonders - This traveling troupe of magicians & performers is actually the cover for a lawfully aligned group of Fey & Elves who are hunting down the pawns of Hell & Chaos. They have many among their ranks who act as illusionists & wizards while their knights & paladins move across the land. There are twelve ranks of thieves who spy & steal from the wealthy patrons of cults & temples of depravity. 
  4. Deacons of Depravity & Malice this caravan offers many different medical cures & a wide array of pleasures of the flesh. But in fact they have among their ranks some of the most dangerous necromancers ever to walk out of Fairyland. They seek the souls of the unwary and trade them for magick and illusionary treasures.
  5. Trades of Nature is a group of traveling druidic priests & priestesses who help farmers & the like with crop issues & problems all the while being a cover for Fey. These spirits of the Earth actually are looking for an ancient temple of theirs across the planes but help farmers. Occasionally they trade for the soul of a child to help restore a particularly bad area.  They use the miracle of the Wicker man to restore the land.
  6. Those Who Restore The Balance - This large caravan trades minor occult miracles, shows, & odd relics as they repair farm implements, address crowds with minor farming information, sell seeds, & are greatly regarded. These merchants are looking for a minor chaos cult whose sins have caused a disruption in the fabric of time. They have made a deal with an Elven wizard to sell his wares for the right of murder when they find them. That was two hundred years ago & they continue to travel. 
  7. The Seekers of Lom - A troupe of traveling druids & seekers of wisdom who often come to predict the coming harvests & crop rotations. These traders are actually monster hunters and seek the abominations of Chaos to root out & destroy. They trade in information & seeds for their services while providing cover to seek out the destroyers of their master Lom. Occasionally they will take on an apprentice & use a changeling his or her place. 
  8. The Caravan of Ull - This troupe of Elves is one of the most prolific in Europe & uses a wide variety of circus & faires to cover their activities. They serve the ancient Greek Muses & are often used to seek out aspiring artists to take with them back to Fairyland & the Underworld. 
  9. The Tattered Ones - A Fall troupe of traders & acrobats whose performances hide the activities of one of the most dangerous occult witch hunters seen from Fairyland. Their hatred of covens & other pagan cults is widely known but their agenda is not. They leave a tattered doll after a hunt & murder of a coven at the site of a grove. There are rumors of twelve assassins guilds offering them up a child or two for apprenticeship every seven years. 
  10. The Dark Ones in Shelter - This Spring group of Dark Elves comes to trade with human settlements in the most remotest corners of the world. They offer wisdom, food, farming advice, medical help, & worship. They are actually dark Elven paladins & knights who travel among humanity searching for the Devil's cults to murder & after centuries have gotten very good at it.

Monday, August 13, 2018

OSR Commentary - A Very Hellish Take On The Lich For Your Old School Campaigns

I've been thinking about 'The Divine Comedy' which for me is one of the seminal & cornerstone  works of Dungeons & Dragons. "The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia [diˈviːna komˈmɛːdja]) is a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321 The Divine Comedy (Italian: Divina Commedia [diˈviːna komˈmɛːdja]) is a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun c. 1308 and completed in 1320, a year before his death in 1321. It is widely considered to be the preeminent work in Italian literature[1] and one of the greatest works of world literature"

Artwork from the official Dungeons & Dragons coloring book with artwork by Greg Irons (Illustrator) whose artwork is great in this book! Love this version of the lich.

So what does the Divine Comedy have to do with lichdom?! Well a bit of everything in the original Dungeons & Dragons rules the lich was quote, " lich introduced in its first supplement, Greyhawk (1975).[2] It is described as a skeletal monster that was formerly either a magic-user or a cleric in life. The lich was further developed in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (1976)."'
The soul of any priest, wizard,bishop,etc  is destine for Hell & to gain the occult or supernatural wisdom of those who came from before end of the age of mythology & legend takes some very cunning means. Lichdom is one such route. Since Dragon Magazine #75 with Ed Greenwood's article 'The Nine Hells' the planes of Hell have always been a bit static. But Dante added in the planes of  Perdition  & Purgatory respectively which puts a whole different spin on the alignment issue. For me being a young player & playing in an old school  campaign with mythological focused this was a big thing. The plane of Perdition  had undead, demons, devils, fallen angels, & lich kingdoms. Purgatory had angels, demons, & devils just waiting to kill off  PC's stupid enough to make the quest to claim the souls of their friends for resurrection by the spider goddess cults.

But we're really given a wide variety of options in the Seventies through Nineties when the varieties & options on liches  were expanded. 'In AD&D 1st edition, the lich appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977),[3] where it is described as having been created with the use of powerful and arcane magic, formerly ultra powerful magic-users now non-human and non-living."
"Len Lakofka's article "Blueprint For a Lich," in Dragon #26 (1979), describes a formula for transforming a spellcaster into a lich." "The D&D Basic Set included its own version of the lich, in the D&D Master Rules (1985), in the "Master DM's Book".[7] It was also later featured in the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991).[8]"

Its not simply Hell nipping at the heels of clergy  & wizards. The race for wizards to gain lichdom makes perfect sense especially if you begin seeing the price of magick in Dungeons & Dragons & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. All of those wonderful magic items have a price & are completely dangerous for a wizard to create. The sheer cost of those items on the wizard's age, health,etc. are all within the rules that no one uses especially in AD&D first edition. Lichs help to spread magic practices far & wide in the world as they can. Because they often enslave hordes of wizards to help in the production of magick items,relics, & more. for their own exploration of  'the Other World'.

Could the AD&D Hells, evil planes, & the Abyss merely be the smaller stages of  Dante's 'Inferno?' I think that these planes also include Perdition & Purgatory. The Underworld connects up with both planes respectively. And where are souls of these various liches in the Inferno? They're roasting uncomfortably in the tombs of the Sixth circle. Quests for certain witches, wizards, etc. are going to be some of the most dangerous & difficult that a group of players can undertake. Note that this whole campaign commentary is very Europecentric & its supposed to be. After all its using one of the classic pieces of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy  as its background.




Ten Unexpected Occult & Dangerous
Supernatural Adventure Connections to a Dantian Lichdom
  1. A lich hires the PC 's to journey into the Otherworld & retrieve a magic item of legendary importance. A rival lich has other plans however as another party of adventurers comes to call. The powers of Hell watch from the background taking bets on the outcome.
  2. Death is not mocked & hires the PC's to assassinate a lich but the kingdom is actually growing & prosperous under the rule of this undead king. 
  3. The Scholomance is taking on pupil & one of the party's wizards is up for recommendation by the local lich. Can the PC's save the soul of their friend & get rich in the process?
  4. A succubus hires the PC's to break the soul of a lich out from Hell so it can come back  part of minor plot of Hell. 
  5. A minor relic is secreted on Earth & only a lich knows its significance to key member of the local church. How good are the PC's bargaining skills? 
  6. The Devil willing to cut a deal with the PC's for the soul of a very nasty lich but the gods have other plans & it looks like a trip into the Underworld might be on the books. 
  7. The party is hired to take letter to minor official in a local village. What they actually have is a diabolical contract for the soul of said official from Hell. He's been murdered & only the powers of a local seer ( the lich) can help find the murder. 
  8. A damned soul has escaped Hell & a group of demonic bounty hunters is on his trail. He's heading straight for the local powerful prince of the undead. But now the party has to deal with the other things coming out of Hell.
  9. The ten treasures of Zeus have been stolen by a lich in his quest for godhood but the unholy imbalance has caused a local dragon to awaken! Now the PC's have to find a powerful relic & stop this monster from waking up! 
  10. One of the PC's is the perfect soul vessel for a lich to transfer his essence into it. The Devil has other plans for the party.


All artwork is used without permission, this is not an attempt to violate the copyright or trademark of these works. All artwork is the trademark of the owners. All commentary is the copyright & trademark of Dark Corner productions.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Old School Review & Commentary The 'Pay What You Want' Adventure - Nick LS Whelan's The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile

I was doing some research for a short, brief, but solid adventure today after work. After getting the usual beer & OSR local town chatter at my favorite watering hold. I was surprised that Nick LS Whelan's The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile adventure slipped right past my radar. Damn it this is actually a solid & very well constructed ten page dungeon. Anyone that really knows me knows that I love liches & undead of all types. Velkis isn't the usual lich however & comes across as your favorite uncle or the friendly old man whose a bit nuts next door. If next door happens to be a small pocket universe with a number of weird secrets.


Tightly written adventure doesn't do this module justice & the brand of vile weirdness going on here is very dangerous to a party of inexperienced adventurers. Velkis could become a major NPC power in the course of a campaign & he's got a lot to offer in such a small package. Don't turn your back on him for an instant because he's got a lot to offer the dungeon master willing to put in some time with reading between the lines of the NPC. The cartography is good in this module but the rooms & the tricks & traps are better.

Head of old man in a coverlet. Marble. Mid-1st century B.C. Rome, Vatican Museums.
The picture is by shakko but this what Velkis looks like in my imagination.

There's advise on running Velkis & using him effectively, surprisingly its actually good advise & with a bit of work on the dungeon master's part this could become a down right dangerous semi immortal NPC. He's the kind of villain that would fit perfectly into any Lamentations of the Flame Princess game, a Weird Tales themed campaign or even a Sword & Sorcery game. The thing is that he's surprisingly effective for a first through third level challenge. He's effective, dangerous, down right insane, & the kind of villain that if done right will have the players talking for years or he'll be stalking their PC's for years to come.
This adventure is effectively a monster lair as  adventure location with lots of hooks, bells, & highly dangerous whistles. Played right & this adventure could have player's PC's playing or dying to Velkis's tune. He's had some of the angles of immortality figured out before he went completely & utterly insane. There's lots of indications of his power through the various treasures & objects d'art within his pocket dimension. Make sure to have a few PC's on hand though because Velkis has the power potential to end a multitude of PC's lives. He's a very serial like murderer going about his business because he has to. He knows what he is & the most effective way to deal with PC's.
All in all I was really happy to find this adventure & have it shoved my way with a beer or two.

Velkis is a perfect sort of monster to drop into any number of OSR settings. I can see him as being a great fit for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. He's a hold over from another era. He's got great potential for a setting such as Greyhawk or even Blackmoor or the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.
I can also  see using this complete adventure as a funnel for Dungeon Crawl Classics or even as a side quest for an on going campaign of Lamentations of the Flame Princess's Europe.
This is not surprising considering that this adventure was specifically created for that system.


The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile adventure  could be used as a starting point for any of the B/X Dungeons & Dragons systems. Mystara could actually support the module for there are fare number of Gothic horror themed places within that old school setting.  I give this one a five out of five for simple, effective design, a tightly constructed adventure, & a fantastic NPC worthy of your attention as a dungeon master.

You can grab a copy of

The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile adventure right here. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

1d20 Random Strange & Dangerous Occult Sacrificial Treasures & Relics Table

Cries of blood soaked fury cloaked night & echoed off of the distant mountain ridges!
Bran had come up the ancient hillock & saw the smoke first. But his men saw the gold's glow sputtering off of the fires. That glow was unmistakable to desperate men & women but Bran saw the cloaked priests & their obsidian paddle swords laying in wait.
He tried to stop them but it was too late the spirits had them quickly & his hireling warriors picked up in the flea bitten hole of Pesi died in agony.
Bran had learned better to seek the easy gold of the cults of darkness. His real warriors shifted uneasy having watched those fools run afoul of the forces from Outside. Bran's grandfather knew all to well the hidden spirits of Moloch & Baal. Bran continued his quest for the family's hearth stone in the 'Old Quarter'.
But as he rode away something made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end!





The ancient rites of many deities are carried out on the fly out in the wilderness & wastes where adventurers roam. This is often done out of necessity by cults with strange agendas & weird ceremonies that must be conducted on the run. But is there something that's been left behind or treasure for adventurers to profit from at the sites of such occult rights?!


Strange trinkets, golden beads, odd bits of silver, as well as semi precious stones are only some of the bits & bobs left behind by various cults of Sword & Sorcery black gods & cults. Often this iniquitous pieces have precious metals that can be melted into more valuable fare. There are certain classes of adventurers who make it their business to seek these sites out. Vultures are adventurers who seek out sacrificial offerings & treasures to profit from them. There is a 80% chance of a major curse being visited upon the offenders & violators but often there will be a major occultist or dark wizard on retainer who can ease the burden of such curses. They are seen as merely doing business in 'the black trade' as its called.


There is a 30 % chance of the manifestation of a special type of 'holy spirit' that will seek out & destroy any such seekers & thieves of their gods. These manifestations will be of some of the most dangerous undead available from the Outer Darkness. Another possibility is for a holy warrior of the religion whose treasures have been taken to seek out & murder any such thieves. The worst case is where a demon of the god who has been offended & a holy warrior to work together to kill the entire party for their offense  to the dark gods. These holy warriors are often of 4th or greater level fighters, barbarians, or knights.


1d20 Random Strange & Dangerous Occult Sacrificial Treasures & Relics Table
  1. This weird bronze portable altar has the remains of thirty two young women. The skulls are adorned with jade head pieces worth 30 gold pieces. These head pieces can be used in a rare demon summoning spell if gotten within 48 hours of the sacrifice. The whole affair rings with the dark occult power of the sacrifices. 
  2. Bloody, burnt, still smoking this make shift alter contains the charcoaled remains of five victims. There  are the half melted gold coins worth 20 gold pieces & a single jade napped knife used for cutting throats worth 30 gold pieces to a black wizard. 
  3. Twelve bodies have been arranged in a weird pile with a single stone carving under all of them. There are twelve semi precious stones of red crystal placed in the mouth of each victim. The stones are red diamonds used to summon the spirits of the death goddess whose cult made this mess. 
  4. A single carved metal & stone head contains an actual human male head. The eyes of the head have been replaced with two large emeralds worth 100 gold pieces each. The head will begin mouthing the words to a demon summoning spell if the emeralds are removed. A demon will gate in 1d8 rounds later. 
  5. A large cage contains the burnt up corpse of a man whose limbs have been removed. The head is a strange demonic thing & there is a chest in the cage containing the remains of a dark wizard's spell book & wand of magic missiles. The thing will spring to life if the chest is disturbed but the monster has the gift of prophecy and will give one character a day a dark & prophetic prophesy. 
  6. Two chest have been left in the middle of the ground. One chest contains 10 heads of men rotting & decaying. The other chest contains 200 pieces of gold coated wooden sticks worth 60 gold pieces because they are sticks of summoning & prayer. These sticks can be used in ancient mystic rites of demon worship. 
  7. An altar is made from bone & living muscle within it are flesh pockets containing the golden tears of a black prophetic seer. These tears are worth 100 gold to a rival cult & they can be used as bargaining tools with demons & black gods of the Abyss. 
  8. A giants head has been made into an altar box, there are twenty two compartments within the still semi living head. The head will bite someone for  1d6 points of damage. There are ninety nine golden coins secreted away in the head & it knows a spell for summoning imps & other minor creatures. 
  9. The hip bone from a giant sperm whale is actually an altar to the dark aspects of Dagon. The god will come to claim the blue alien gold hidden within a compartment within the altar. There is a 50% chance of the fish god trying to kidnap the PCs and drown them. He may curse any violators present when he appears within six rounds. 
  10. This strange box like altar contains the head of a black saint & its an unliving vampiric relic. It contains within it 100 gold pieces and a scroll of cure light wounds but it will try to bite for 1d6 points of damage. The head will sing the praises of the vampire god who may 40% appear to the PC's & try to destroy them. 
  11. An ancient rod altar that folds into a cubic gateway into the Outer Darkness. There will be 1d6 demon women warriors waiting for the PC's to warn them about the gateway. 
  12. An ancient two foot long box of ivory & gold that contains the essence of a unliving soul.. There are over five hundred coins waiting for the right adventurer 
  13. A giant stone slab with 12 hidden compartments across the face of the stone that contains gold, diamonds, etc. all for the sacrifice of the love of his life. 1d6 wights will appear to punish the PC for an unholy union. 
  14. Bronze box made by the hands of a demon, this box contains the sacrificial fingers of past victims dipped in gold. The figures are worth 80 gold pieces and can be used to summon a pig demon for the character's bidding. 
  15. This strange stone slab contains evidence of a time traveler that a demon of the Outer Darkness is after. There is a demon bounty hunter asking questions & now after the PC's. There is a lot of stuff used in demon summoning around in the area including about 40 gold pieces. 
  16. A statue of a goddess contains over 10 gold pieces and apparently the enemies of mankind are seeking one of the PC's for a sacrifice on the table nearby. 
  17. The body of a thief lays at the foot of a strange goddess altar and has around it twelve sets of foot prints including one set of a minotaur tracks who wants to murder one of the party because their scent reminds them of their former lives. 
  18. A round stone pentacle contains seven pure diamonds worth eight hundred gold pieces but there a shadow demon lurking around to kill any one who tries to claim the diamonds. There is the corpse of a thief nearby with strange blue green claw marks on the neck of the victim. 
  19. A strange tabernacle contains the mortal remains of an unholy warrior & she wants to come back. The tabernacle contains over 10 victims of this cult. There are over 100 gold coins in a secret compartment which also contains a dozen blood red scorpions waiting to strike. 
  20. An ancient druid cult used this golden series of disks worth over 400 gold each but there is an invisible curse upon them. The druids will try to scare off the PC's if this doesn't work then the druids will summon a minor demon into the wizard's body

1d6 Random Sword & Sorcery Side Quest Adventure Locations Table For Your Old School Campaigns



Bran had survived the worst that the Underworld had thrown at him & his party. He made his way down the old game trails the mules in tow. There wasn't even a sound around the forest as he made his way home. The unnaturalness of the silence unnerved him & he looked around him as the sun filtered through the dense trees. No birds singing,no bugs in the air, the wind was even quiet & silence became something alien. You could cut it with a knife. Then the cold began to be felt on his arms. The hairs stood up & his breath was forming fog as he breathed. The 'unnaturalness' was here again his hand automatically had reached for his father's sword. It slid easily on the scabbard's metal with an oily & dangerous sound. Yet he held it waiting for the next move of the 'other world'. He didn't have long to wait as woman in archaic armor appeared in the blink of an eye.
'You have the air of destiny about you Bran' her common tongue was precise & practiced. 'I have need of you & your band' for there are things following on your heels that you are not aware of.
The first of Hade's goblins swarmed out from behind several of the trees around them & they passed through the misty image of archaic woman warrior. Bran would have to wait to see his grand father's kingdom but then he saw a door in the side of a nearby rock where seconds before there was none. Yes this was going to be a very interesting day indeed.


Sometimes the very dungeons that adventurers uncover can shift the balance of occult & supernatural power along the ley lines of a region. These shifts in the astral energies can cause ancient locations to be uncovered as well as monsters of horrible aspect to come forth. But these events are often opportunities to adventurers for there are often adventure locations uncovered by these diggings in the dirt. There is a 40% chance that these locations may not even be related to the current adventure. Destiny has an odd way of working adventurers into her plans.


Locations such as these are often related to isolated regions of the Underworld that have been cut off or are not easily accessed by the rest of these locations. Wandering monsters often see these places as locations where easy prey might be had. They will often follow adventurers to such spots to pick off any stragglers or weak targets. Such prey has a 10% chance of rewarding the adventurers for helping them or rescuing them. But beware for the gods often use such adventure locations to snare adventurers into their own affairs & games of fate.

1d6  Random Sword & Sorcery Side Quest Adventure Locations Table 
  1. An ancient crack in the ground leads to an ancient Dwarven workshop, there are 1d20 maggot like dwarves toiling away around several iron workbenches. They are working on several treasures & ancient relics of the gods. There are 1d4 magic rings that are nearby but these 3rd level Dwarven warriors will attack anyone stupid enough to try and steal such rings. The fact is that these nasty Dwarves will rob any PC's of any gold that they have for their projects! These Dwarves may curse the PC's for their troubles & interference in their work! 
  2. A strange patch of stone work leads to an ancient maze work within the PC's find several skeletons dressed in archaic warriors garb & missing their heads. There are 200 copper pieces scattered around them. The PC's find that they are in a strange ancient maze works & they can hear the bellowing of a Minotaur nearby! This is one of the fabled minotaur's maze temples! There will be 1d6 minor relics here but the undead cult of the minotaur will wish to sacrifice the PC's for the cannibal feast! 
  3. In the center of the forests stands a stone anvil with an iron hammer & anyone approaching it will feel its occult power. There are 1d6 druids nearby who will approach the PCs & tell them that they must not strike the anvil! They have recently comeback into the world from the 'Other Realm'. The party will hear the telepathic cries of a young girl and she screams to be free within their minds.
    What is happening is that there is group of 1d6 Elven knights ready to slaughter the PC's for there is the soul of an evil demon trapped within the anvil. But they are forbidden from telling the PC's about this by the demon's curse. 
  4. The PC's will find a nearby settlement  slaughtered by what appears to be an undead knight on a nightmare. There is blood & gore everywhere and the wreckage of homes scattered about. But no matter how the PC's attack the knight will not fight them.
    A group of damned cannibal spirits  has come from within a fissure within the ground about  forty feet from the settlement after being released from the underworld. The knight has been charged with taking them back but needs help from the adventurer for there is a necromancer in one of the homes near by. He can offer a 200 gold piece reward but it will be in underworld gold. This gold carries bad luck of all kinds and the dead will be drawn to the PC's. 
  5. Weird lights & strange glowing balls of unnatural light will harass the PC's & they will want the PC's to follow them back to a strange Roman like temple. Inside an old wizard tends a skeleton & beckons the PC's closer. He is the last in a noble line & needs the PC's to take the skeleton of his wife & him to the local entrance to the Underworld. He will offer 100 gold pieces but a necromancer & his cannibal helpers wish to torment the wizard & enslave the spirits of the couple. 
  6. 1d10 strange & twisted mutated animals are rampaging through a nearby village. They will fight to the death against any PC's & slaughter any NPC's they can. Recently a strange rock & brass doorway was found in the side of a hill two hundred feet from the village center. A large gold ring was set into the door & it was taken to the village mayor's office. But now a strange fire elemental being stalks the countryside and the thing burns with unnatural fires creating & twisting monsters from the local wild & farm life. I will take the semi magical ring back go back to the forge of the unknown gods where it came from. But should the ring not be returned 1d6 fire elemental beings will come forth by sunset.