Cave City – Draft

Work in progress

Sketch – Cave City

Been working on this idea for a city hidden inside of a cave, currently called “Cave City”. Apparently the people who live there aren’t very creative sorts. Maybe they spent so much time trying to squeeze in their architectural dwellings that they didn’t have time for clever words?

Some of the angles got a little wonky, especially the top swath of road. Some day I may see if I can improve on this digitally.

This was inspired by the quick sketch made for the Skirmish on a switchback trail.

Giant Skitters

Anyone else get twitchy and itchy at the mention of fleas? Nasty little buggars. They were my inspiration for a nasty monster called a “Giant Skitter” for my D&D 5E game. See below for the stat block.

One-on-one these monsters are pretty easy to kill. It’s the fact that more of them keep coming that almost got a TPK before the group figured out their fire vulnerability. This encounter was for 5 level 3 characters, though we ended up being down one character. Fortunately it wasn’t the character with healing abilities.

flea
a Giant Skitter (okay, really it’s a flea rebranded as a Giant Skitter)
My Giant Skitter stat block can be found in the homebrew monsters on D&D Beyond.

Skirmish on a switchback trail

Rough sketch of a switchback trail
The adventuring group encountered three Dire Wolves at the foot of this trail.

I needed an encounter map for the D&D 5E game that, due to COVID-19 and players’ locations, I’m running over the internet. I created this using the drawing options available on the Google jamboard app. Thought it turned out pretty good considering I was drawing it with a mouse. I mean … you can tell it’s a path and a mountain, right?

screen cap of the combat encounter map
Using Google’s jamboard for a combat encounter. The background grid options was useful for establishing 5-foot spaces. The players were able to move their character initials around to indicate movement. I used different colored shapes to indicate the Dire Wolves.

D&D Gaming Philosophy

I am starting a new D&D 5E campaign that will include some new players. I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some gaming tips.

Have fun. This is a game.

Love your character. Get into the story. But remember at the end of the day, this is a game. We are all coming together to have a good time. Sometimes the most fun comes from unexpected failures. Embrace them and make them work for your story!

Don’t be a dick.

Respect your fellow players and your game master. Find ways to work with your teammates and the story. While I as the GM might joke about plotting players’ demise, ultimately, I want to see you win. You are the heroes of this story.

Evil Player Characters Suck

Generally, I am not going to concern myself with your character’s alignment. I may inadvertently roll my eyes in exasperation at some character decisions because … Hey, I am human … despite what some may suggest! That being said, I have rarely seen an evil character that has been fun to have in a D&D party. Cruelty for cruelty sake is what the bad guys do. Buuuut … if you have a clever idea for a character concept, talk to me.

Do not hate the GM. Hate the fictional villains!

My job as a game master is to challenge the party and give you an exciting world to explore. We are writing this epic story together. I am on your side, even when you decimate my Big Bad in one round. I may cry a little on the inside, but if you are all happy dancing, then it was worth it.

Actions have consequences.

Whether you help the old lady cross the street or backstab the beggar boy, the people and the environment will react accordingly. For example, reputations can affect how NPCs help with information gathering or the cost of goods.

It is okay to run away.

Sometimes there will be adversaries that will kick your ass if you try to take them head on. Hiding, running away, negotiation, or surrender are all possible alternatives. Not all the bad guys are going to be level-appropriate combat encounters. Sometimes you may have to come back later and get revenge.

The GM will make mistakes.

Yup. I won’t always make the right call on a rule. I am going to TRY not stop the flow of the game by looking up rules, as I have in the past.  I will try to make a reasonable, fair call at the time. In the same regard, I ask that players not argue about the rules during the game. Let’s talk about it afterwards!

The GM will make mistakes but can improve with help!

If you feel that I am not being consistent or fair or am playing favorites, talk to me about it after the game. I might not ever realize it until someone (gently) points it out to me. Also, sometimes my memory is shit and I legitimately won’t remember something.

GM Ramble

My goal as a game master is for everyone, including myself, to have fun.

For me as a player, fun can be my character defeating a challenge in an unexpected way, being recognized by the locals for our heroic deeds, finally defeating that boss character that harried the group for so long.

For me as a game master, fun is seeing my players get excited when they defeat the big bad or cleverly solve some challenge I’ve put in their path. It’s having a story idea and seeing it fleshed out as the players explore and react to the story framework.

I like to reward my players for being clever. What I find gets boring is brute force approach to problem solving. Sometimes hack and slash is the answer. But not always. Sometimes it’s okay to run away. Sometimes you can befriend or talk your way out of a problem.

Those alternate “sometimes” that I as a game master hadn’t even considered are so cool. I’m not the best GM, I’ll admit. It throws me for a loop and I don’t always improv and adjust as well as I would like. I make mistakes … all the time. I need to get better at preparing less and improving more.

Since January, I have been taking some time off from running D&D games. Was getting burnt out running 2 games with other crazy goings-on in my personal life.

And now there is even more crazy in the world with the COVID pandemic, the Trump government that keeps ratcheting up the cruelty and inhumanity, and too many cops are killing with impunity. (To be fair, the police force has been doing a lot of bad shit to people, especially people of color, for longer the my privileged, middle-class suburban white ass really understood.)

Anyway … I kind of bullied players from either game into picking up the GM reigns. I hope they are finding it exciting, challenging, and rewarding like I did.

It has been strange being back on the player side of the table.

GM Notes: Dungeon of the Mad Molvei

Dungeon map sketched out on grid paper

Preamble

A battle rages for control of the walled city of Berlstrum. The hoard of necromancers, raiders, and undead intend to take over the strategically located town and create a permanent base on the material plane for Orcus, the Demon Prince of Undead. Fighting around Berlstrum has reached a fevered pitch. All of those with combat experience have gone to Berlstrum to provide aid.

Gorshank’s tale

With information provided from Gorshank’s recent experience and research done by two town scholars (Olmaree and Penster), it is possible we could turn the tide in this fight. 

Gorshank is a weak, withered old human barely able to sit up in bed. Gorshank tells of hunting near the coast when he spotted a small band (6) of the infamous Terken raiders. With the raiders was a tightly bound and gage captive hog-tied to a carrying pole. Thinking that he could finally prove himself a hero by rescuing the captive, he followed the raiders. When they made camp, he hid and eavesdropped, waiting to make his move. 

While eavesdropping he heard the leader of the group, a dwarf identified as Kednar, talking with a magic-y type in dark robes about the assault on Berlstrum. The other raiders complained of being away from the fighting. Kednar pointed at the captive and said that they had the last “low fruit on the Aheneus family tree” that they needed to secure Orcus’ passageway. And something about “those dragon bastards screwing anything.” Once they had it hidden away in the prison, Kednar promised that they could all join in on the mayhem and bloodletting in Berlstrum. 

Though he watched all night, Gorshank was not able to sneak in and free the captive. The next day he continued to follow the raiders, careful not to be spotted. Eventually they came to a cliff-side town long gone to ruins (the Ruins of Amara). The one in dark robes did some chanting while the small band went through the town. As Gorshank followed, he would occasionally spot something out of the corner of his eye, but it was gone before he could figure out what it was. The raiders descended a narrow path to a sandy cove. As he watched from above, he saw them part a curtain of vines and disappear inside. Two of the raiders stayed and guarded the secret entrance. 

He waited and watched for a while, but fatigue caught up with him and he started to dose off. He awoke to a feeling of bone numbing cold. Surrounding him were 3 transparent beings … ghosts … they looked angry and confused. In unison, they pointed at him and then at the cove below. He was terrified. He screamed.  This alerted the guards below, who started rushing up the long path to the clifftop. Deciding he was no hero, he ran. The ghosts followed, pulling at him, touching him, and draining his energy. Beyond that, he doesn’t remember much. Just running and running until he stumbled into this tavern. 

New intel

From Gorshank’s tale, Olmaree and Penster, two town cleric scholars, have been able to piece together several important details:

  1. Gorshank was in the haunted Ruins of Amara. Long ago, the town and 100s of folk were caught in the middle of a battle between 2 dragons.  A Protection from Evil and Good: Undead (1st level-10 minutes – CON) spell would keep the ghosts at bay. You must be very fast and/or very stealthy to get through the ruins to the cove below. 
    • Circlet of Protection – cast Protection from Evil and Good (PHB 270) – 3x per day; renews at dawn; last 10 minutes; concentration 
  2. Somewhere beneath the Ruins of Amara is the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei. The hidden entrance most likely leads into that dungeon, rumored to be filled with many lethal traps and inhuman guardians.
  3. According to one prophesy they found, a key ingredient to casting a permanent portal to the Abyssal plane are the souls of three decedents from the ancient bronze dragon lineage known as the Royal Court of Aheneus 
  4. They believe that the enemy has captured 3 such decedents and they are being imprisoned far from the fighting in the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei.  (a human, a dragonborn, and a dwarf)
  5. If the Aheneus decedents could be freed, it would put a huge kink in the Orcus’ followers plans and possibly stop the attack on Berlstrum. Give these amulets to the captives to keep them safe once freed:
    • Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location – Requires Attunement – While wearing this Amulet, you are hidden from Divination magic. You can’t be targeted by such magic or perceived through magical Scrying sensors. (DMG 150)

from Olmaree and Penster – Items collected by the town to aid in the quest

  1. 3 Amulets of Proof Against Detection and Location – Requires Attunement – While wearing this Amulet, you are hidden from Divination magic. You can’t be targeted by such magic or perceived through magical Scrying sensors. (DMG 150)
  2. 6 Potions of Healing (DMG 188) – 2d4+2
  3. 2 Potion of Water Breathing (DMG 188) – You can breathe Underwater for 1 hour after drinking this potion. Its cloudy green fluid smells of the sea and has a jellyfish-like bubble floating in it.
  4. 1 Potion of Speed (DMG 188) – When you drink this potion, you gain the effect of the haste spell for 1 minute (no Concentration required). The potion’s yellow fluid is streaked with black and swirls on its own.
  5. 1 Circlet of Protection – cast Protection from Evil and Good (spell PHB 270) – 3x per day; renews at dawn; last 10 minutes; concentration 
  6. 1 Boots of Striding and Leaping – Requires Attunement – While you wear these boots, your walking speed becomes 30 feet, unless your walking speed is higher, and your speed isn’t reduced if you are encumbered or wearing Heavy Armor. In addition, you can jump three times the normal distance, though you can’t jump farther than your remaining Movement would allow.
  7. 1 Flame Tongue Sword – Requires Attunement – You can use a Bonus Action to speak this magic sword’s Command Word, causing flames to erupt from the blade. These flames shed bright light in a 40-foot radius and dim light for an additional 40 feet. While the sword is ablaze, it deals an extra 2d6 fire damage to any target it hits. The flames last until you use a Bonus Action to speak the Command Word again or until you drop or sheathe the sword.
  8. 1 Chime of Opening – This hollow metal tube measures about 1 foot long and weighs 1 pound. You can strike it as an action, pointing it at an object within 120 feet of you that can be opened, such as a door, lid, or lock. The chime issues a clear tone, and one lock or latch on the object opens unless the sound can’t reach the object. If no locks or latches remain, the object itself opens. — 3 charges remaining.  After the 3rd time it cracks and becomes useless.

Ruins of Amara

1) entrance 

Ruins of Amara

Having navigated your way through the Ruins of Amira, you spot 300 feet below the cove you’ve been looking for. You follow a narrow, winding path down the cliff face to the cove below. The gusts of wind from the ocean are cold and wet; slick vines cover much of the cliff, offering questionable aid in navigating the path without falling down – DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Strength (Athletics) 

At the bottom, you have to squeeze between a couple of large boulders before emerging onto a soft, sandy beach. Lush green vines cascade down the cliff face, rippling in the blustery breeze. This cove continues in either direction for about a quarter mile (1300 ft) before ending. The crashing surf and the wet, packed sand are about 200 feet in front of you. The rest of the beach is dry sand (difficult terrain for movement purposes). Only footprints from flying sea-rats mar the sand. Driftwood, a few random boulders, seaweed, and the like litter the isolated stretch of beach. In some spots, the driftwood has piled up against the cliff wall.

The lush vines hanging down the cliff wall obscure a cave entrance. You part the curtain of vines and find a 3-foot wide (10-feet high) entrance. The cave widens to 30 feet across (50 feet deep). The soft sandy ground continues inside of the cave. The heavy curtain of vines blocks most of the light in here (low-light).

entrance and waterfall areas
Entrance (1) & Waterfall Cavern (2)

DC Wisdom (Perception) – Searching the back of the cave, you find a large hole (3×6) with complete darkness beyond. Even Darkvision fails to aid your sight. (Per Darkness spell PHB 230). Waving your hand inside the hole meets with empty space. You can hear the roar of a waterfall farther inside. 

This is a passageway that is covered by a Darkness spell (noted by the Xs on the map)

A Daylight spell can dissipate this area of darkness. The Darkness spell will return as soon as the Daylight spell is out of range.

The darkness continues (if not dispelled) for 60 feet; the sound of the waterfall gets louder and now you can also identify the sound of small waves washing over sand. 


2) Waterfall cavern

The darkness ends at the edge of surf gently licking over the sandy ground. The right wall and ceiling are covered in patches of strange, pinkish luminescence (upon investigation, a luminescent algae) providing spotty, dim light throughout the large, water-filled cavern. The ceiling soars beyond your vision. (~200’ high) The sound of waterfall echoing in the space makes hearing difficult. 

50 feet from the water’s edge, a small island rises out of the water covered in the same luminescent algae as the walls. A waterfall spanning most of the left side pours out from high above (~100 feet). The water spreads north and south to both beaches. Bubbles (whirlpool) to the right of the island suggest that the water exists there.  

The bottom of the pond starts with a gradual decline before abruptly dropping to 60 feet. 

Straining to see what lays beyond the island, you think there is a beach on the north end of this cavern, about 110 feet away.

Swimming in the water are 1d4 Swarms of Quippers (MM 338).

On the island

The island is a gentle mound rising 5 feet above waterline (20 ft. across). The ground here is spongy, but firm. On the island is a tidy pile of clean armor and an organized pile of random weapons. None are magical. Examples:

  • Ring mail with no rust nor broken links
  • Studded leather with no stains or tears. All the studs polished.
  • Splint mail looks good as new, as if it has never been worn
  • Warhammer with the handle oiled and smooth, the head clear of any dents or nicks
  • Spear with smooth, unblemished handle and razor-sharp tip

The quippers clean the fleshy bits from any intruders they catch. The drones collect any weapons and armor from the waters to keep the drain system from becoming clogged. They clean and repair these items, before placing them on the island for future users. Anything magical would be brought to the storage area for the master to inspect.


3) Post-waterfall cavern

post waterfall area
Post Waterfall Room Area (3)

On the other side of the water the soft sand continues. The walls of the cavern narrow to a 3-feet (12-feet high for 25 feet) before widening (10 by 15 space). Here the cave splits, continuing forward or to the left. 

Forward: The tunnel narrows again to 3 feet before turning widening to on open space (20×40 space). There is a passage in the lower left corner. A short ways further along, the wall to the right has a 10 foot gap of pitch blackness (an area of magical darkness, marked by X) or the tunnel continues 40 feet before ending in a cul-du-sac.

Down-Left: Curves to the right for a bit (40 feet) before narrowing (2 feet width for 20 feet}. Large people and people in heavy armor will have a difficult time squeezing through – DC 12 Dexterity (Acrobatics). Backpacks and weapons have to be removed in order to pass through. After 20 feet of squeezing, you come upon a wall of total darkness. (Blocked by a wall of Darkness).

Transitions to hard stone: The two paths join at the area of Darkness. Here the ground changes from soft sandy beach to stone tiles covered in a gritty layer of sand. Your feet grinding sand against stone becomes all you hear as the sound of the waterfall fades. No algae grows on these walls. So even if dispel magic and Darkvision are used, it’s still hard to see details.

A Daylight spell can dissipate this area of darkness. The Darkness spell returns as soon as the Daylight spell is out of range.

Approximately 15-20 feet into the area of darkness (if not dispelled), a stone is stepped on. You hear a soft CLICK seeming to echo down the tunnel in front of you, followed by a strange whirring sound. (The clicking sound was the trapped doors unlocking. Multiple stones dotted throughout the darkness area are trigger steps.)

The area of Darkness ends. You have entered into a space roughly 60 by 40. Each step you take echoes on the cobbled stones. 


4) Pits of despair

Pits of Despair (4)

In the southwest corner, the tunnel winds forward. The luminescent algae carpets the damp stone walls. 

First Pit Trap (A)

Ten feet into the tunnel is a hidden trap door,. The vigilant and paranoid may spot the seams of the trap door (Perception 12), 8 feet to the other side and wall-to-wall (20 feet wide) with no ledge. The clicking earlier was the locks on the traps disengaging. 

  • Perception 12 – Looking for traps – The vigilant and paranoid may spot the seams of the trap door
  • Perception 12 – Looking for switches – On the far side, you spot a bit of dried-out browned algae about 3 feet off the ground. Inspecting the brown spot reveals a rock that pushes inward, which locks the trap door back in place.
  • If the trap is inspected, it is all gears, pulleys and other mechanical workings. Nothing magical. The trap doors meet in the center, with the hinges at the front edge and back edge. A weight of more than 20lbs opens the doors.
  • Long Jump DC 8 or wall climb Athletics (climbing) DC 12.

“Long Jump: Move at least 10 feet and jump number of feet equal to your strength score. When you make a standing jump, you can only jump half the distance.”

  1. If trap not spotted: The drop is 30 feet = 3d6 falling dmg
    on a DEX DC 10-15 save half + poison spike 1d6 piercing + poisoned
    on a DEX DC 15-20 grab edge of the far edge with an Athletics (STR) DC 10 to pull oneself up, aid from another provides advantage.

A short way up the path you see a small alcove to your left and right. In front of you the tunnel narrows (to 3 feet wide). 

*Second Pit Trap: A little harder (B)

*optional, can skip this trap to speed things along if wanted/needed

  • Immediately after the junction with the two alcoves is the next pit trap, The wary, on alert spot the seams of the next trap door (Perception 10)
  • Spans wall-to-wall (15ft) and is 12 feet to the other side. 
  • Long Jump DC 12 or wall climb Athletics (climbing) DC 14.

If trap not spotted: The drop is 30 feet = 3d6 falling dmg
on a DEX DC 10-15 save half + poison spike 1d6 piercing + poisoned
on a DEX DC 15-20 grab edge of the far edge with a Athletics (STR) DC 10 to pull oneself up, aid from another provides advantage.

Rest of the details are the same as A) 

Past the second pit trap the tunnel widens (to 7 feet for 30 feet) before narrowing to a tight 2 feet width for about 5 feet. Then you have a choice:

RIGHT PATH

To the right the tunnels appear to stay around 4 to 5 feet wide for about 30 feet before opening up. 

  1. In front of you is an 30×20 space 
  2. To the right is another short (30ft) corridor that leads into a small cubby (10×10)
  3. Making a 270֯ left turn, the opening leads into another small banana-shaped space. On your left is a 10×20 cubby and on the right the path continues into a slight bend. 

Third Pit Trap: Double Trouble (C)

Immediately after the bend is the next pit trap, 8 feet across and wall-to-wall with no ledge (same as the first pit trap)

Perception 10– Looking for traps – On alert spot the seams of the next trap door
Perception 16 – Looking for traps – Spot the seams of a second set of traps doors immediately after the this one
Perception 15 – looking for switches – On the far side of the second trap door, you spot a rock that pushes inward, which locks the both trap door back into place. 

First One

  1. Spans wall-to-wall (10ft) and is 10 feet to the other side. 
  2. Long Jump DC 10; followed by an Acrobatics (DC 12) check to not fall into the trap door immediately after this one). There is a 1-foot space between the two traps doors.
  3. If 1st trap not spotted: The drop is 30 feet, 3d6 falling dmg
    – DEX DC 10-15 save half + poison spike 1d6 piercing + poisoned
    – on a DEX DC 15-20 grab edge of the far edge with an Athletics (STR) DC 10 to pull oneself up, aid from another provides advantage.

To jump over both trap doors would be a DC 26

Second one 

  1. Spans wall-to-wall (10ft) and is 15 feet to the other side. 
  2. Standing Long Jump DC 15; or wall climb Athletics (climbing) DC 16.

“Long Jump: Move at least 10 feet and jump number of feet equal to your strength score. When you make a standing jump, you can only jump half the distance.”

  1. If 2nd trap not spotted: The drop is 30 feet, 3d6 falling dmg
    – DEX DC 10-15 save half + poison spike 1d6 piercing + poisoned
    – DEX DC 15-20 grabbed the far edge
    – on a DEX DC 15-20 grab edge of the far edge with a Athletics (STR) DC 10 to pull oneself up, aid from another provides advantage.

The tunnel makes an immediate left after the double traps and goes a short distance (25ft) before coming to a T. The other narrow tunnel emerges into the same area. In front (or to the right) of you is a wall of darkness (approx. 35-40 feet across). Cautiously testing the space beyond the darkness, you feel no floor. 


LEFT PATH – The Squeeze

The left tunnel squeezes down to a foot or less in width. It twists and turns, so it’s hard to gauge how far down the tight space will last.

The tight corridor is tall (60 feet up) and 50 feet long. 

  • Large rocks litter the floor throughout the tunnel. 
  • About half way down, you spot the remains of giant rat. Their head is buried in loose stones with a dark stain spreading out from the pile. 
  • Acrobatics (DC 15 x?) to ensure that you don’t get stuck. Heavy armor would need to be removed and nothing can be carried on the back. 
  • Automatons wait on a ledge 50 feet up. They are motion activated and will start dropping boulders on any creature moving in the space.

Bulldrones
AC 16, HP10
Boulder toss: +3 to hit; range 80/320; 1d4+1 bludgeoning; DC 12 CON or stunned 1 round
Ramming: +3 to hit; range 5 feet; 1d4 bludgeoning; DC 10 DEX or prone/pushed 5 feet
Based on quadrones {MM  225)


Fourth Pit Trap: Doombringer

This is the biggest and deadliest of the pits. There are no doors over this pit, only the darkness spell. 

  1. Spans wall-to-wall (40ft) and is 25 feet to the other side. 
  2. Long Jump DC 25 or wall climb Athletics (climbing) DC 14 first 15 feet; DC 16 last 10 feet.
  3. The drop is 40 feet = 4d6 falling dmg
    on a DEX DC 10-15 save half + poison spike 2d6 piercing + poisoned
    on a DEX DC 15-20 grab edge of the far edge with a Athletics (STR) DC 10 to pull oneself up, aid from another provides advantage.

The magical darkness ends 10 feet beyond the edge of the pit.


Boulder bowling

The tunnel continues forward with a pocket area (20×50) off to the right. In front of you is the option to go right or left. 

Perception 10 – looking for traps: A large (10’) boulder hangs from the ceiling in the space in front of you. Dark rusty stains mar the smooth stone surface. 

Glancing to the left, you can see a large smooth groove in the stone floor that fades off into the distance. 

Perception 12 – looking for traps – Upon closer inspection of the boulder, it seems to be held in place by a large net. You hear the sound of wind whistling around the edges of the large rock. 

You spot a metal gleam in the crack around the boulder. Did it blink at you?!

The monodrone (MM224) will wait for someone to enter or cross the 10×10 space to make its attack. The attack is to push the release button on the net. There is another boulder in line behind the current one. It takes 2 rounds to “reload”. 

The Sphere of Doomage is a spherical boulder that almost fills the hallway. When the sphere drops, each creature in the hallway must make a DC 15 DEX saving throw (save half). On a failed save, a creature takes 2d10 bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage and isn’t knocked prone. Objects that block the sphere, such as a conjured wall, take maximum damage from the impact.

The corridor is 200 feet long with a downward slope. A new boulder drops every 12 seconds (every 2rd rounds).

The bolder speed increases by 10 each round: 40 (1st), 50 (2nd), 60 (3rd), 70 (4th). 

At the end of the hallway is a large hole that the boulder drops into and is teleported back to the queue at the top of the hall. There is a total of 3 boulders.

There is a secret door on the eastern wall about 40 feet above the hole where the boulders drop.

Dead End

Racing past the dropping boulder, you run forward and to the left into a zig-zagging passage. After 60 feet the passageway widens to the right. 

The area on the right quickly narrowing to a point somewhere beyond the thick tangle of webs. Peering out from the web are two large eyes and a row of smaller ones below. The spider seems to be watching you, but not moving.

The passage goes forward another 100 feet before dead ending. On the end wall are reliefs with a different creature carved into 3×3 grid: Dwarf (Dueragar), Elf (Drow), Bullette, Harpy, Kobold, Troglodyte, Bear, Spider, Worm (Purple). Dried blood smears several of the reliefs. 

Umber Hulk
(1d8+5) ChEvil

Giant Spider
(1d8+3) Unaligned

Bullette
(4d12+4) Unaligned

Harpy
(2d4+1) ChEvil

Kobold
(1d4+3) LawEvil

Troglodyte
(1d4+2) ChEvil

Drow
(1d6+2) NtEvil

Xorn
(3d6+3) Nuetral

Purple Worm
(3d8+9) Unaligned

skip the maze
and the flames
secret doors one, two
will get thy through

to open the way,
and survive this day
the relief unique
blood doth it seek

wrong cave dweller chose
their wrath doth arose
striking down the weak
thy only warning, you geek

  1. Looping caverns

Random teleport spots?

Roaming cleaner drone

Locker room

  1. Balancing Over lava (Dexterity)

Retracting walkways/platforms; riddle? Leads to secret door. (Ask nicely)

  1. Room of Intellect

Only prime numbers

Other numbers release poison gas when stepped on. 

  1. Hallway of Fear (Wisdom)

Only prime numbers

Illusion wall at the end

  1. Hallway of Desires (Charisma)

Frozen people (one wearing a necklace of fireballs)

  1. Mummy Guards Chess

A hallway lined with dead, desiccated warriors “shriveled and blackened with age” holding spears and pikes; bite from mummy draws life from the victim and revives the dead warriors. 

Midway down the long room is a door on left that leads into the kitchen

At the end, a locked door and a locked prison gate

  1. Control Closet

Locked; need to convince drone to open and turn off anti-magic field

  1. Kitchen

Drones preparing meal for prisoners

  1. Area of anti-magic

Several larger drones guard this area

Captives held here

Gallery

Map: Pillar House Tavern & Inn

Floor plan for a tavern and inn
The Pillar 3-Story Tavern and Inn with color coded levels. Scroll down to see the other iterations of this map.

Pillar House History

The Pillar House straddles a canyon where a tributary of the Irewrathe River rushes past 50 feet below. This is the narrowest spot to cross the wild Irewrathe River for many miles. This tributary was always popular with those wanting to avoid the main routes guarded by local constabulary.

The owner, Galspar the Delightful, built the original house as revenge for a mostly forgotten squabble. All right. You caught me. That is a lie. The story is a bit of a legend in these parts.

The squabble goes something like this … Four bandits demanded a toll to cross a rope bridge at this crossing and the wizard Galspar and his party of adventurers were not inclined to pay and killed those 4 bandits. The Bandit Master was not terribly happy about Galspar’s response and a mini war ensued. By the time the dust settled, only the Bandit Master and Galspar were still standing. An agreement was reached between the two, but little of the details are known.

At the spot where the original rope bridge stood, Galspar the Delightful crafted great pillars of stone jutting out of the raging waters. (There are rumors that a bargain was struct with a clan of earth elementals who guard and reinforce the pillars. But surely that is just a rumor?) The pillars created a deadly maze for anyone trying to navigate the river by boat. Atop these pillars, Galspar built his house and settled into retirement. Did he allow others to cross the canyon there? No. He did not. He and his house sat there like an angry, bloated toad. Travelers went around the long way. Somehow though, those affiliated with the Bandit Master (know thieves cant?) were able to safely get through maze of pillars in the river below.

After a few short years, Galspar the (Less than) Delightful, grew bored with retirement and sold the house to Dovilynn Warmdelver, an entrepreneurial dwarf who had grown tired of the smugglers life and had a great idea for Galspar’s place.

Dovi converted the house into a tavern & inn and named it the Pillar House Tavern & Inn. Past associates appreciated a place to quench their thirst and rest up. Though the law would occasionally raid the place, they were never able find any evidence that the clever dwarf giving shelter to wanted criminals or storing illegal goods. Of course, both were absolutely true.

There are several hidden rooms in the River Pillar House. One of the secret rooms has 4 beds for those the law is after. Another is for storage. And the third is the owner’s bathroom, because being a tavern owner means not sharing your damn bathroom with a bunch of drunkards. Two trap doors can be accessed from below if you know where and how to climb the right pillars.

Beneath the house, earth elementals (2-6) and water elementals (1-4) make their home. If a boat tries to navigate the pillars without the right Thieves Cant signals, they will attack. They get first choice on any of the items from the slain. The rest they leave in a cave for the tavern. If you DO have the correct Thieves Cant signals, the water elemental smoothly carries you through the pillar maze to the other side.

Eight beds for rent

The River Pillar House Inn & Tavern has 8 beds for rent to the public. All but one in shared rooms.

On the main level is a room with four regular beds in one, as well as one room that has an extra-large bed for larger bodies or who just like to sleep in groups. For the smaller folk such as halflings and gnomes, an optional bunting board can divide one of the regular beds into two smaller beds.

On the mezzanine is a room with three regular beds next to the shared bathrooms. The bathroom has three holes and a semi-private bathtub.

Hidden on the mezzanine level is a room with 4 regular-sized beds that the Thieves Guild rent when someone needs to stay out of the public eye. There is a second secret door from this room that allows the sneaky visitors quick access to the bathrooms, but they will still need to use their stealth to ensure that others in the inn do not spot them. Otherwise they can use the bed pans.

Map Iterations

Includes the maps showing all 3 floors labeled with and without color-coded levels, individual level maps with their secret rooms, and one with no text or furniture.

Image

Map: Hillsworth Crooked House

A fantasy hand-sketched building map for role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons (Dnd). I would use it in a D&D 5th Edition game, myself, ’cause that’s my jab. I’ve been drawing more floor plans of late and have a couple of more that will be coming along.

About Hillsworth

Calling this large, brick edifice a “house” may be a bit of a stretch. It has the look of a building that started out with the best intention and then had rooms randomly added on without much concern for square corners or aesthetics.

A large deck on the west side faces the Hespharla Stream. On the east side, low rolling grassy hills protect the house from the winds coming over the meadows.

Colored version of a building floor plan

Raw Sketch

Original pencil-sketch of the Hillsworth Manor. When I brought the file into Photoshop, I had the walls all cleaned up and straight, but decided that this house really wanted to keep it’s crooked personality.

Image

Map: Academy of the Anchor Accords

Here is the map of fictional Academy of the Anchor Accords, originally drawn in pencil and overlayed in Photoshop with some lovely straight lines and doors.

Academy Floorplan

Classrooms on the left and student dorms on the right. Admin and janitorial in the center.

Secret doors can be found throughout the Academy from staff wanting to avoid students, students wanting to avoid teachers, and everyone wanting quick shortcuts. There’s also a hidden room where the staff hide the good stuff! (booze? chocolate? magic items?)

Is this an abandoned building? An active school? You decide!

The Anchor Accords is part of an idea I’m toying with for a new campaign that involves time and space magic and what happens when one of the dimension’s anchors is removed by some foolish adventurers.

Academy of the Anchor Accords floor plan map

Academy floor plan, simple version without texture

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 8

Grid map of dungeon

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (Photo by me)

Chapter 8

Game Day 7/5/2019

Waking Up Is Hard to Do … When Your Friend is a Mummy

Fizzle and Tholin have had a long rest in the closet they were trapped in by now-mummified Kromnak. Looking around the small 10×5 space, they realize that they are in some kind of control closet with lights, and buttons, and unidentifiable mechanics.

They discuss their options and decide to try pushing a button. There are 4 buttons: Red, Magenta, Fuchsia, and Puce. Tholin gives Fizzle a boost to reach them and Fizzle pushes a puce colored one. Nothing seems to happen. 

Fizzle and Tholin listen at the door. [Fizzle perception: 22] They hear the sound of rotting flesh and Dora the Door sobbing. Tholin suggests we put Kromnak out of our, I mean, his misery and Fizzle agrees. The door, it creaks as we slowly push it open. We see Kromnak is a desiccated mummy standing frozen by the door. His shriveled hands grasp his sword “Flame,Flame”. He is a gruesome site! Fizzle is feeling he won’t be getting his guild deposit for Kromnak back. 

As Tholin has the only sword between them, it is decided he will dispatch mummy-Kromnak to a better place. With a mighty swing he severs Kromnak’s head from his shriveled body. We remove Dora the Door from the headless body and leaned her up against the wall. We recover the items Kromnak was carrying: the flame sword, 2 javelins, bull-horned helmet, belt pouch, 13 crossbow bolts, potion of climbing, 2 hand axes, and the circlet of protection. We leave his great axe and heavy crossbow. I bless the body, “He lived, he drank, he fought, he died.” 

Breaking In and Making Friends

crop of just the prisoner section of the dungeon

Tholin uses the chime of unlocking on the cell door and we push it open and enter. There is a hallway to the right and in front of us.  Some shelves on the wall to the left have personal items (like weapons, armor, bags)  in neatly labeled stacks. A cell door is visible across the hall on the right and more cells further down. 

Examining the stuff on the shelves it looks like there are possibly 5 prisoners in here. There is also an unlabeled set of black plate armor. For now, we leave the items on the shelves.  

Looking in the first cell, we see a modest cell with a bed and desk. There is a waterfall and pool towards the back. We see a fox, but there appears to be no other occupant. “Hello? Anyone there?” No answer. We move to the next cell. It is much the same but there is a lizard in this cell. Fizzle tries to communicate with the lizard. “Hello can … you … understand … me …?” 

The lizard turns into a pretty female half elf (Moora) and says, “You’re an idiot, aren’t cha?” We learn she is one of the components in The Spell, so is one of the people we have come to rescue. From Chapter 1:

Also the captive below the ruins seems to be the key to the whole Orcus plan.  The cave below the cliffs is the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei.  Legend says that a sacrifice of three from a specific dragon family line will make a bridge between the material plan and the abyssal one.  

From the diary of Fizzle: Chapter 1

We attempt to unlock her cell with the chime but the door doesn’t open. Suddenly the “wall” behind us comes to life and tries to subdue us. Tholin attacks with his sword, but it’s a wall. Fizzle attempts Sacred Flame and it fizzles. Magic seems unable to work here. Moora says if we leave the area the Stone Defender will quit attacking. Disengaging with the “wall” Fizzle and Tholin move back towards the shelves. The wall desists. 

Fizzle grabs a mace from one of the piles (to replace the one the kitchen golem destroyed) and goes to try talking with the fox. He finds out the foxes name is Ember and it wants to be set free. 

Deciding to look around a little more before attempting to free any more prisoners, they find a store room. It contains lots of robot parts in different bins and in the corner is a drone of some sort. It looks spider-like with lots of different attachments. Maybe a repair drone? There are spaces for more but they are currently empty. Tholin pushes the drones ON button. We talk with the drone. We can’t convince it to help us turn off the magic dampening field, but we do tell it about Dora and it goes off to put her back. 

Turn Off the Anti-Magic Field

Maybe the buttons in the closet affect the field? We decide to try them. Earlier Moora had told us that when the dampening field is off the black armor becomes animated and tries to kill intruders. So before we try the buttons we empty a bin in the store room and lock the armor inside it. Fizzle then casts “Light” on a pebble in the hall with the mummies. It  lights up, and as soon as it’s tossed into the prison section, it goes dark. He leaves it in the prison where he can see it through the door while Tholin manipulates the buttons. He pushes the red one and nothing happens. 

Looking up Tholin sees the repair drone from earlier is back and looking at him from the ceiling. We offer to take the drone away with us if he helps us shut off the magic dampening field. It takes some persuasion but he gives us the code, 32133. [Fuschia – Magenta – Red – Fushia – Fushia] Using that we see the pebble in the prison light up. The repair drone follows us. 

We release the fox and the “wall” starts coming for us again. We duck around a looping hall and come to Moora’s cell and unlock it. The Stone Defender activates and we have to battle it again. As we damage it the robot sees damage and jumps on the “wall” shutting it down to fix it. With the ”wall” disabled, we push it into Moora’s cell and lock it in. We take the drone with us and open the rest of the cells, releasing the prisoners and meeting a female elf ranger named Dalal Northwind  who had been hiding  in the cell with the fox. (She is a bit surly.) 

Moora says she was brought here through a teleporter and it sounds as if she came in through the store room so we decided to check it for hidden doors. 

Opening the store room door we come face to helmet horror with the black armor! Battle ensues and we are on the losing side. Fizzle suggests turning on the damping field again so the armor will go inert. The elf Dalal volunteers so, after giving her the code, she runs off. Soon the armor collapses. For good measure we lock the armor in the elf’s old cell.

We do find a hidden door in the store room and passing through find a teleportation circle. There are also some tables with different non-related objects. They must be teleport keys! There are: A boot, bucket, pebble, round spectacles (rose tinted), a skull inlaid with precious stones, and a wide gold belt with 12 fire opals. Fizzle puts the belt on, Dalal wears the spectacles, and Tholin takes the pebble. There is a small leather flask that has fallen off the table. Dalal picks it up takes a swig and tosses it to Tholin. We all step into the circle. Moora tells us there is usually a keyword to activate the key. Delall tries “Orcus” and we all pop out.

Arc Complete!

This completes the the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei! We get to level up to 5. Next time we start a new adventure. 

This was a lot of fun.

Grid map of dungeon
Interior prison area

Image

Map: The Town of Manifort’s Freedom

Fantasy hand-sketched city map for Dungeons & Dragons (Dnd) or other role playing game.

About Manifort’s Freedom

Manifort’s Freedom is a small, river town. On the east side, a sandy beach separates the town’s buildings from the raging waters of the Ogleri River. Rough mountains protect the north flank.

The original founder meticulously planned out the roads and neighborhood blocks, many of which have become crowded and dirty over time. To the West and South, orchards and farmland surround the tightly packed buildings.

A huge tower dominating the center of Manifort’s Freedom is an outpost for the Royal Troops and serves as a defense against potential attacks from the North or the East.

Manifort’s Freedom Modified in Photoshop

city of Manifort's Freedom hand-drawn map

Original sketch of Manifort’s Freedom

Sketch of Manifort's Freedom hand-sketched town

My ramblings

Between having a 4-day weekend and quarantine going on, this seemed like a good time to dust off my sketchbook and pencils and have some cartography fun. While this map sketch is a totally fictional town, it is based on an actual small town near where I went to college.

I tend to think of these maps as something I’d maybe use in a Dungeons & Dragons game someday. What else might this map be used for?

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 7

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (Photo by me – Penny and Sparky supervise the game board. )

Chapter 7

Game Day 6/15/2019

Kramnock has Dora strapped to his back as we continue through the door and down the hall. Dora the Door and Tholin the rogue flirt (ugh weird).

Passing through a door we find, of all things, a kitchen with a small robot making mutton and lettuce sandwiches. In the center of the room are four tables with a variety of fruit piled on them. The sink is full of dirty dishes.

The Dungeon Prison Kitchen – Hey! Those prisoners gotta eat. Note each square is 10 feet, not 5.

Kromnak tries to split the robot in two with his axe but misses. He tries to pass it of to the robot as trying to help him “Cut the mutton”. The robot expresses doubt as to his veracity.

Meanwhile Fizzle grabs a juicy pear and gobbles it down. Fizzle forgot that pears don’t do well with gnomish digestion! Oh how melodious are his cheeky toots!

Optimum Health

Tholin rifles through the cabinets in the room, and finding nothing of immediate interest, sits at a table. The robot gives Tholin a drink for sitting politely at one of the tables. The drink heals him up. Kromnock and Fizzle quickly sit down at a table too. Kromnock gets a drink but Fizzle’s farting seems to have put the robot off and won’t give him one. Fizzle cajoles the robot into changing its mind and finally gets a rejuvenating beverage too. The robot says it wants us all at “optimum health” before it locks us up. It still seems upset with Kromnock trying to hit it. Sensitive little bugger.

Fizzle, feeling picked on because of the issue with farting, gets up and “helps” the robot make some of its sandwiches. The robot doesn’t like Fizzle’s sandwich making efforts and remakes them. So he take a bite out of each of them just to fluster the talking kitchen accessory. Then Fizzle asks the robot to “Pull my finger”. It won’t, but Fizzle cuts a ripper anyway. For some reason the robot seems even less inclined to tolerate us now.

Tholin asks it to show us to the cages and it finally deduced that we are trying to break in. Now it wanted to kill us, way to go Tholin! Tholin suggests it might be more because of Kromnock and Fizzles behavior. “We’ve just been ‘helping’ it” we say.

Full Metal Golem

All the metal in the room went flying towards the robot and merged into it, becoming an angry giant metal golem. Fizzle pulls out his mace, who he has named Nancy. The golem promptly sucked that in too! “Nancy noooo” he yells and sliding between its legs casts sacred flame … which of course misses because Fizzle can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn from inside it. Tholin uses the enlargement scroll on Kromnock and giant Kromnock easily dispatches the golem but in doing so cut right through Nancy. Fizzle is crushed, and without a mace now.

We all search the room. Tholin finds the robots key finger. He also finds fresh food in a magic refrigerated cupboard. Fizzle finds a suspicious box with a red blinking light on it. He drops it down the sink drain. Kromnak tries the doors and finds them locked.

The hallway of the Cursed Ones

The Cursed Ones

After Tholin picks the lock on the double doors, we enter a hallway with a white and black tile floor. There are dozens of desiccated bodies (Cursed Ones) standing guard holding their weapons at the ready all down the long hallway. Tholin checks one of the bodies and it comes to life when he touches it. Fizzle casts turn the undead but it has no effect. Tholin swings with is sword and Kromnock with his ax. The undead thing bites Tholin and looks a little better for it. Fizzle tries his crossbow and Kromnock swings Flame,Flame. Both are hits on the undead. It bites Kromnock. Fizzle flings Holy water on it but the vile doesn’t break. Tholin throws a Fire Bolt for a hit and Kromnock finishes it with another hit from Flame,Flame. Poof up in smoke.

We continue down the hall, carefully avoiding touching the desiccated bodies. At the end of the hall past two bodies is a regular door and a cell door. To get to the doors, Tholin squeezes between two bodies successfully. As Fizzle tries to do the same he brushes one. It comes to life and takes a bite at Kromnock as he passes it (miss). Kromnock swings Flame,Flame at it (critical failure), misses and Flame,Flame goes out! Uh-Oh. Fizzle and Tholin join Kromnock in fighting the cursed one. The undead gains the upper hand and Kromnock is knocked out. Then Tholin is knocked out. Its up to Fizzle who has received several bites to save them!

Before he can get to him, Kromnock expires! Dead! Dead dead! Now Kromnock raises up as a Cursed One and comes after them. Fizzle manages to stabilize Tholin and using the finger key Tholin had opens the regular door and drags Tholin into a closet at the end of the hall. Undead Kromnock starts banging on the door.

After lighting his flame Fizzle sees the closet is 5×10 and contains some buttons. Before doing anything else Fizzle gives Tholin a potion of healing he finds on him. Both Tholin and Fizzle take a long rest in the closet.

[We advance to level 4]

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 6

https://www.worldanvil.com/i/30703

I had this post ready to go sometime last year, but had been waiting for my other group of players to finish the campaign before I posted the rest of Fizzle’s Diaries. And then I promptly forgot all about it, even after the other campaign was completed. So here it is … much delayed! … but here! (There will be a total of 8 chapters when it’s all said and done.)


Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (Under A Violet Moon by MegziePegzie)

Chapter 6

Game Day 6/1/2019


Riddle Relief

We continue forward with our hooded lantern and flame, flame as light. We see cobblestone floors and natural cave walls. We come to a wall with relief carving on it, it is a 3×3 grid depicting different creatures.

 I pull out my copy of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. (Oops wrong story). There is a riddle on the wall as well. 

Skip the maze
and the flames
Secret doors one two
will get you through
To open the way
and survive this day
the relief most unique
blood doth seek
Fear not my tread
to end thy dread
Wrong cave dweller choose
their wrath doth arouse
to strike down the weak
they only warning seek

-inscribed on the wall of the cave

Tholin investigates the reliefs and notices that all of the reliefs except the Harpy are covered in a thin layer of dust (rolled a nat 20). Kromnak cuts his hand and pushes the Harpy relief. His blood is drawn to the mouth and the wings flutter, a click is heard, and a door opens.

Crossing the Hallway is the Hardest Part!

Through the open door we hear the sound of stone grinding. It sounds a lot like the rolling boulders we heard earlier. That doesn’t bode well for us. As we look through the door, we see a large boulder roll by. This must be the other end of the corridor they were rolling down. One rolls by about every 6 seconds. Across the corridor, I spot a door ajar. We decide to cross to the door and go in. Kromnak runs across with ease. Tholin just barely makes it too. I’m laughing at Tholin’s clumsiness, and trip and fall on my face. Kromnak (ever heroic) runs back and grabs me but is laughing so hard at him he gets hit by a boulder. So I end up back on the original side of the passage. I, now, try to save Kromnak and fails miserably (Rolled a 1). Now Tholin saves my fallen gnome body and we are both back on the original side of the passageway. Boulders are still zipping by and rolling over Kromnak’s. He seems to have trouble getting his feet beneath him. Tholin and I try cross together and make it! Kromnak manages to crawl out of the way of the next boulder and joins us.

Ends the “rough” exterior of the dungeon.

The exterior section of the Dungeon of the Mad Molvei

Into The Interior Dungeon

Passing through the door we enter a tunnel and see on the left a smooth man-made wall. To the right is a natural cave wall. The tunnel leads east. We follow it along the smooth wall. The tunnel ends abruptly, but there is a narrow passage continuing around the corner. We squeeze through and continue on. Following along the continuing smooth wall we come to a door. Tholin checks it for traps and Fizzle runs into it when he tries to open it and its locked.

Tholin unlocks it and we all enter a man-made 10×15-foot room. We look around. To the left on the same wall as the door we came through is another door. The floor is cobblestone and very clean. Tholin checks the door for traps and gives the all clear. Kromnak opens it and looks in. He sees a hallway that ends at a corner. We continue. Around the corner the hallway continues, as do we. We come to another corner that turns right. I, Kromnak, and Tholin continue in that order. Around the corner we find a human body wearing adventurer’s gear. Looks like he died with a smile, weird. We relieve him of any useful objects that he was selfishly hoarding. We find:

  • Scroll of chill touch – Kromnak
  • 2 red potions of greater healing (4d4+4) – Fizzle
  • Scroll disguise self – Kromnak
  • Potion of climbing – Kromnak
  • Bag of holding – Fizzle (Fizzle also puts the healing potions in it)
  • Scroll of enlarge and reduce – Tholin
  • Mithral chain shirt (13dex 8lbs) – goes in the bag too
  • Long Sword – magik +1 – Tholin

Hall of Desires

Rounding the next corner…

I see a baby dragon, which I have always wanted.

Kromnak sees his beautiful moon bride.

Tholin sees a pile of gold and jewels.   

Unknown to us, we are seeing what we desire the most. We also see that the others are trying to take it from us! (GM note: The group unanimously failed their saves for the first 3 rounds. The Charisma save DC started at 15 and went up 1 each round.)

Tholin thinks Kromnak is stealing his treasure, so Tholin attacks him with his sword. Kromnak see Fizzle with his beautiful moon bride and tries to intimidate the gnome away from his lady. (Nat 20)

No one takes my baby dragon! Kromnak is hurting my dragon! I pull out my mace and whack him on the head really hard! Kromnak sees Flippy (The barbarian calls me Flippy, I don’t know why.) with his beautiful moon bride and goes after me with “Flame,Flame”. Fortunately for Fizzle he misses.

I swing and misses Kromnak with my mace. Tholin knocks out Kromnak and takes my dragon, gerrr. I get out the big guns know and summon my Pooh (spiritual weapon)! Tholin is in for it now… it’s a hit! Ha-Haa! Take that you dragon thief! Tholin hits me with his sword. Then he comes to his senses and realizes it is all an illusion.

(GM Note: This was at the top of 4th round and the save DC was up to 18. At this point, I was positive it was going to be a TPK. But we were all laughing so hard I think it wouldn’t have been so bad.)

I take another swing at Tholin with Pooh and miss. Tholin counters and knocks Fizzle out. He ties us up and gives us each a greater healing potion. We are still under the influence of this cursed space and struggle to get loose and attack. Tholin drags us down and around the next corner out of range of the illusion’s influence.

Tholin, being the only one to successfully resist the spell, goes back and collects our dropped sword and mace. We continue down the hall and up to the stairs. 

Dora the Door

I am suddenly frozen with an unnatural fear. Kromnak noticing Flippy has stopped comes back and snaps me back to my senses. 

(GM Note: This was the Hall of Fear that required a Wisdom saving throw. Failing this simply incapacitates a person. Only Fizzle failed the save but rolled a 19 on the follow-up.)

Meanwhile, Tholin finds the stairs ahead are trapped and will turn into a slide if sprung. He disarms the trap without breaking a sweat (Rolled 25 for disarm). At the top of the stairs is a 25×15 room. To the west and north are doors. Checking for traps reveal nothing. Opening the door on the west wall reveals stairs down. In the back of the room is a cupboard with linens, blankets, plates, cups, and other household items. We discover a blue bubbly Potion of Heroism (1hr 10hp). [Goes in the bag of holding.]

The door on the north wall leads to a softly lit room is softly with a cobblestone floor patterned with numbers in a grid. Across the room on the opposite corner is a door. Tholin deduces that there is a path across if you step only on the prime numbers. Kromnak just barrels straight across the room. We find stepping off the primes gets you zapped. Kromnack gets zapped a lot. We make it across to find a door. Tholin checks it and find the doorknob hot. We back up a little and Tholin opens it with Mage Hand. We hear a “Tee hee hee! That tickles!” as the door swings open. There is a face in the other (front) side of the door that greets us.

There is a 10×10 platform on the other side. Lower down is lava and flame. There are some ropes and cross beams to help, but it is very hard to cross. You’d have to be very agile or lucky to make it across! Kromnak is especially persuasive and gets the door to tell us about the room beyond. She is there to let the survivors out if any make it. She tells us the man with the pointy ears usually just floats across. Well we can’t do that! We give the door the name Dora and decide to take it with us. Kromnak removes the hinges and straps the door to his back.

Looking back the way we came, we see a door we missed hidden behind the open door that we came in through. We cross back to it (stepping on those prime number spots) and open it to find a 15-foot hall with a door on the right. Here we decide to take a short rest here. 

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 5

Indiana Jones running from boulder trap

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (screen capture from the film “Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom”)

Chapter 5

Game Day 3/23/2019

Pits of despair continue

We come across yet another trap door in the floor. As we are discussing what to do, Kromnak ties a rope to me, says, “let’s test it!” and pushes me onto the trapdoor. The trap springs and I dropped into the trap. I’m beginning to wonder whose side Kromnak is on. Tholin catches me on the rope and pulls me out. Checking the ceiling for anything useful and finding nothing, it’s decided that Fizzle should jump across. Jumping, I just barely make it, but twist an ankle on landing and fall back in (Rolled a 1). Once again Kromnak and Tholin grab the rope but not before I get stuck on a poison spike in the pit. Now instead of rescuing me they concentrate on how to cross the trap safely! I’m going to hire better help next time. (Will Fizzle survive? Tune in next paragraph on this same Bat channel.)

Kromnak tries sticking a javelin with a rope tied to it into the ceiling. It sticks but only a little, and when they test it, it dislodges, and they pull it back. Next they try throwing it all the way across. It sticks into the floor. They test pull it and it stays put.

Meanwhile back in the pit trap Fizzle is slowing sliding down onto the poison spike. “Help?”

Back up top Tholin makes it across on the rope to the other side of the trap. As Tholin starts looking for a way to disarm the trap, Kromnak remembers to pull me up with the rope tied to me. I’m saved!

Tholin finds a trick stone in the floor that disarms the trap. The trap closes with a click and we can cross (after Kromnak test with me again)!

Finding a crate, we break them open and find some vials with red potion in them. Looks like healing potions. Kromnak gives me one that he has tasted, but it does nothing of course since he tasted it. Barbarians ugh. I take one of the other vials and heal up some. We find 3 more vials in a second crate. Green underwater breathing potions (1hr). We continue.

Boulder bowling

Coming to a convex passage with a smooth groove in the center bearing left we see to the right a small ledge up a ways with a large boulder held back by a net. We can hear wind coming around the bolder and I see something blink up there behind it. We decide to investigate before going down the passage. Tholin attempts to climb up to the ledge; he gets to it but can’t find purchase to get up on it. He tries standing on Kromnak’s shoulders, as Tholin puts his head above the edge of the ledge something releases the net! The bolder plunges down and Tholin and Kromnak barely get out of the way in time. The boulder rolls off down the passageway in the groove and disappears. Another boulder rolls off the ledge 12 seconds later. I think we started something! 

In the gap between boulders Tholin boosts Kromnak up. He sees, over the edge of the ledge using his lit sword, a short passage with gears and a bolder lifting up at the end. Also a small alcove in the passage to the left with some sort of mechanical attendant. He jabs the attendant with his sword and jumps down out of the oncoming boulders way. After the boulder has passed Kromnak goes up and into the passage grabbing the mechanical attendant and throwing him in the way of the next bolder, which flattens it, while Kromnak is safe in the alcove. 

Back below Tholin hears something skittering behind him. He throws a firebolt at whatever it is, scoring a hit. 

Up top Kromnak smashes the control panel he has found in the alcove with his axe and the gears stop moving. Now a small squarish boxy thing crawls up out of the boulder delivery hole on spidery mechanical legs. It looks as if it is for repairing things. It doesn’t quite know what to do about Kromnak so it tries to poke him. It fails. Kromnak swings and slides the repair drone in half with his sword. Hearing the commotion below he jumps down.

Meanwhile Tholin and Fizzle have been fighting 3 more mechanical scouts. As Kromnak jumps down they are just finishing dispatching the last one. The floor starts to rumble, messing with the boulder machinery seems to have started a major breakdown. As we look for a way out, Fizzle spys a small gap. Running over to it is turns out to be a small passage. We take it the commotion.

The spider swarm

The passage zig-zags all over the place. Towards the end there is a lot of dust and cobwebs. I sign the wall with my chalk, ‘Fizzle was here’. We come out into a cavern with lots of cobwebs, many concentrated towards the back behind something large with glowing eyes. We think its a huge spider and attack! Tholin Firebolts the concentration of cobwebs we think is a nest, while I shoot it between the eyes and Kromnak slices it with his flaming sword. CLANG. Its metal, but Kromnak and I continue attaching. Tholin realizes it’s only a statue of a spider. He thinks it may be a distraction. We all consider this as I take the green eye jewels from the statue – after all – it doesn’t need them.

Spiders start dropping from the ceiling. Lots of spiders! Everyone is wounded, but I am overwhelmed and knocked out. Tholin gives me a healing potion and I regain my wits and cast sacred flames on myself in order to target the swarm of spiders crawling all over me. I succeed in killing some. They don’t like flames. Kromnak squishes many with the side of his axe blade. The swarm is down to half strength. I cast sacred flame on the spiders mobbing Tholin, but hurt him as well. Tholin is out. Kromnak continues squishing spiders on himself and knocks himself out. He’s down too! But, all the spiders are dead. I casts healing word on Tholin and cure wounds on Kromnak. Good thing I’m a cleric. With all of us conscious again, we take a rest.

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 4

spiked pit trap

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image (screen capture from Elder Scrolls)

Chapter 4

Game Day 2/23/2019

After our short rest, Tholin looks for any hidden ways to move forward. Finding none we decide to distract the fish and make a break for the far shore. Throwing some armor into the lake on the side we came from, we see the fish congregating around that area. We hastily head for the far shore as fast as we can. (Athletic Rolls: Fizzle – 15, Kromnak – 14, and Tholin – 2.) Kromnak and Fizzle make it, but Tholin gets only about half way when the fish catch up to him and attack! He gets chewed on, which spurs him on to an outstanding effort, and he makes it to the North shore to join us. He does have to use a potion to heal when he arrives.

Kromnak lights a torch while Tholin and Fizzle take a look around. Tholin finds something shiny and metallic in the sand. It looks a little like a cog from some machine. We find nothing else so we continue down the passage, keeping left; Tholin looking for traps, Fizzle, then Kromnak following. We soon come to another wall of darkness. We handle this one the same as the last patch of darkness with Fizzle exploring ahead on a rope. 

Moving forward by touch, Fizzle feels the floor transition from soft sand to flagstone. Someone has improved the floor in this section of cave. He briefly hears a click and whirring coming from the left ahead, but nothing further comes of it. Soon he comes out into another cavern that’s about 60’x40’. There is some light now from glowing moss on the walls. He ties the rope to a handy 40lb bolder and gives the rope the prearranged 2 (3 for help) tug signal for the others to join him. The rope and rock immediately disappear back into the darkness!?! Kromnak finding a rock on the rope instead of Fizzle and thinks he has disappeared. Tholin convinces him the tugs were the signal to follow. Fizzle can’t figure out what’s taking them so long. Tholin and Kromnak start after Fizzle, Tholin following the left wall as Fizzle did. Kromnak doesn’t know his left from his right and follows along the right hand wall. Tholin joins Fizzle, but Kromnak goes off in a long circle following the right hand wall and ends up back where he started. “It’s magic! They are gone.” He continues on around the loop again. Finally after another time around he hears Fizzle and Tholin yelling to follow the wall with his “wiper” (left) hand and he joins them.

Searching this cavern we find some large scratches in the wall about 10’ up. We continue on.

Tholin in the lead spots a trap in the floor of the passage we are following. It’s a trap door the full width of the passage and about 20’ across. On the far side about 3’ up the wall is a dry patch of brown moss or algae. Maybe its a switch. Before they can discuss it, Kromnak says “lets throw “Flippy” across!” and does. Fizzle yells “Nooo…” and flies gracefully end over end across the 20 feet and slams into the wall face first. Sliding down in a heap he takes 5 points of damage. Tholin and Kromnak jump across after. (With no damage.) It turns out the moss covers a button that disables the trap door. Fizzle recovers, muttering something about barbarians under his breath. The party continues on.

illustration of a spike pit trap in a dungeon
Spiked pit trap

Next we come into a cavern with small alcoves to the left and right. We each check one, finding nothing but algae on the walls, which reaches out and grabs Kromnak and Fizzle. “Not my wiping hand!” cries Kromnak. Tholin attempts to hack the stuff off Kromnak. but it is resistant to hacking. Kromnak tries his flame sword, which is very effective at burning the stuff up. Seeing this I use Sacred Flame and manage to make a dent in mine. Tholin and Kromnak both shoot it with bow and crossbow and it expires. All free again, we move on.

Tholin finds another trap in the passageway. This one is only 12 feet across. Tholin jumps it and Kromnak tosses me. Kromnak carefully trips the trap to see what happens. The trap door opens onto a 30 foot pit with spikes at the bottom. He jumped it easily and Tholin pushes the button to safe the trap and we continue on down a wider corridor into another chamber. Finding more algae creatures we kill them and settle in for a long rest.

During my watch I hear a noise which turns out to be a mechanical bronze scout on the ceiling. It drops down and attacks us. Tholin swings at it with his rapier and gives it a good hit. I cast spiritual weapon and manifest a large yellow bear in a red jumper (a Pooh Bear), but Pooh misses his swing. Pooh looks very cross. I cast enhance on Kromnak to give him more strength. He takes a mighty swing with his great axe. Whack! Tholin misses with a fire bolt and I manage to miss with both my crossbow and Pooh Bear. Then Kromnak hits it with his flaming sword and Tholin finishes it off with fire bolt. I cast cure wounds on Tholin and we finish our rest.

After resting we move on further. Tholin finds yet another trap! Tying a rope to himself as previously, Tholin jumps across only to land on a second trap door which springs open! He falls but we catch him with the rope, saving him from certain doom. Pulling him up with the rope Tholin manages to get up on the narrow section between the two traps. Fizzle spots the disarm switch on the far wall, but it’s too far to jump across both gaps and Tholin can’t get a running to jump from the narrow 1 foot section of floor he is on. We are discussing trying to shoot the button when Fizzle, having seen Tholin use magic before wonders if he can do “Mage hand”. He can, and uses it to push the disarm button and both traps lock shut. We all move across and are free to continue on.  

From Fizzle’s Diary: Chapter 3

Ghost Town by Iiandmrak

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


From the ongoing saga of Fizzle’s and his hired companions.
written by Fiznarthian Ooglenook (played David Pettit)
Featured image Ghost town by IIDanmrack

Chapter 3

Game day 2/23/2019

The next morning we eat some more of Kromnak’s goat, and prepare for our day.  This morning Kromnak manages to actually get up and stay on one of the horses. He names his horse, Horse.  Fizzle and Tholin share the other horse, Matilda, with Fizzle driving.  

Close up of
Ruins of Amara location on the Briarstone Map

We approach the ruins of Amara midafternoon. Tholin’s keen eyes discern possible movement on some of the ruined towers of Amara, so we vear to the west (inland) to some light tree cover.  There we leave the horses in a small clearing with plenty of grass to eat and Kromnak picks some wild garlic (which turns out to be dandelions) to ward off vampires. We move closer to the tree line to observe the ruins and take cover behind the trees, except for Kromnak whos idea of hiding is to pose as a tree.  Fizzle convinces him to actually hide behind a tree, where he amuses himself playing with his flame sword <sigh>. 

Hand-drawn sketch of the Ruins of Amara
The Ruins of Amara
(I drew this map in August 2018 and have been wanting use it in game ever since.)

It is about 50 yards from the trees to the broken city wall.  Tree cover is sparse near the ruins and the trees appear more and more dead and petrified the closer to the walls you get.  We can’t see much from cover so we decide to send Tholin in closer for a look, as he is better at stealth than Kromnak or Fizzle. After Tholin leaves Fizzle tries to get the concept of patience and waiting quietly across to Kromnak with some limited success.  At least he puts out his sword.

Tholin gets right up to the wall without being seen.  He peaks around a gap in the wall and has a good view of the northern section of the ruins.  He sees several groups (2-5) of ghosts roaming about in no discernible pattern. They don’t ever pass outside the walls, leading to the conclusion that the walls might be a barrier to them.  Returning to us, he passes on what he has learned. We decide to wait until nightfall to make our entry to the ruins, hoping to avoid detection. We take a short rest.

When night arrives Tholin dons the Circlet of Protection. We stealthily make our way to the walls of Amara. Before entering we peak around the gap in the wall and make sure the coast is clear.  It is. Tholin uses the circlet to cast protection on each of us which will last 10 minutes. We hope this is enough time to make it to the path down the cliff that the old man told us about.  Based on the map we have and the old man’s story we think the path down the cliff should be somewhere near the top of the cliff overlooking the only cove depicted, which is near the northern part of the ruins.  This is why we chose to enter at this northern gape in the wall.

A section of the hand-drawn map from the Ruins of Amara
Red line shows the adventurers’ path taken through the Ruins of Amara

Avoiding that ghost we see another group approaching and move down the row and into the end house before they spot us.  Leaving Kromnak Mor to watch the door, Tholin and I look around for anything that might be of use to us. All I find is a rusty knife in the kitchen, but Tholin finds a book of some kind and, in the bedroom of the house, a ghost of a girl child.  We all join him and Kromnak is able to persuade her to help us in return for the book Tholin found. She guides us across through another broken down house to the cliff edge, avoiding more ghosts along the way. There we find the beginning of a steep narrow path down the cliff.  Kromnak sends our ghost guide home and I cast some healing on Kromnak whose interaction with the ghost cost some health.  

We tie ourselves together to minimize the danger of one of us falling and begin our descent.  Fizzle in the lead and Kromnak anchoring the end. We make it down uneventfully. We make our way through some boulders (it’s a tight squeeze for Kromnak).  Tholin leads us as we sneak across the cove to a large boulder near where we think the entrance to the caves is, Tholin having heard some voices. We decide to have Tholin use the Chime of Opening to open the entrance to the cavern as we don’t know exactly where it is.  (This uses up one of our five uses.) The guards mistake the opening for their leader coming back, so we take them by surprise! (Also this might confirm the leader is out.)   

We take out the guards.  Ha. Thought I was going to describe it, didn’t ya.  Well I will. Tholin and I keep to cover and take shots with my crossbow and his bow while Kromnak goes in with a frontal assault.  He manages to miss every blow while taking every shot the two guards can dish out. I plug one of the guards full of bolts and Tholin fills the other with arrows.  Then Tholin moves in and finishes both of them with his sword. Kromnak is a pin cushion and down, so we use one of Kromnak’s healing potions on him and he comes around.

We enter the cavern which funnels down to a 3 foot diameter hole in the rear wall about two feet off the floor.  It is completely black and we cannot see inside. When Kromnak sticks his lit sword into it the light disappears. The same thing happens when I try a torch.  There is some kind of dark enchantment on the hole. Tying a rope to myself, I crawl into the hole and head straight back. Coming to the end of my rope without coming out of the darkness, I go back and tie on another length.  Heading back in I stay to the right this time, and eventually emerge from the darkness into a cavern lit by glowing moss or something. The cavern contains a lake with a waterfall and an island. The only way forward seems to be through the lake.

Pencil sketch of cave
David Pettit’s sketch of the waterfall cavern

Kromnak, of course, immediately jumps into the lake and starts swimming for the island.  Tholin and I look around a little first before jumping in and spy a ledge we want to check on.  We swim to that, but have a little trouble climbing the wall up to the ledge. We are soon surrounded by quipper fish, which want to eat us.  We climb the wall! On the ledge we find bones all arranged neatly by type, creepy, but nothing else. Kromnak having reached the island and found neatly arranged weapons and armor, throws us a rope, attached to a javelin.  

Kromnak, of course, immediately jumps into the lake and starts swimming for the island.  Tholin and I look around a little first before jumping in and spy a ledge we want to check on.  We swim to that, but have a little trouble climbing the wall up to the ledge. We are soon surrounded by quipper fish, which want to eat us.  We climb the wall! On the ledge we find bones all arranged neatly by type, creepy, but nothing else. Kromnak having reached the island and found neatly arranged weapons and armor, throws us a rope, attached to a javelin.  

I try to cross hand over hand on the rope and slip.  The quippers close in, and Tholin throws me another rope. Climbing back out with the help of the rope h, I manage to make it across on the second try, taking the end of the second rope with me.  Tholin ties the second rope around himself and crosses over too. Now we are all on the island. Kromnak throws a spear at the waterfall to see if its open behind it. It is not. We take a short rest.

Gallery

Obsidian Map – Improved Upon!

City of Obsidian

… now with shanty neighborhoods surrounding outside the city walls

map of the town of Obsidian

Took the hand-drawn map of Obsidian into PhotoShop and had some fun. (The original sketch of Obsidian is here.) Added the shanty neighborhoods outside of the city walls. Sat it on a black background and change the color pallette of the map.

Labeled City of Obsidian

City of Obsidian Map numbered with legend
This version of the Obsidian map includes a legend of various locations with the city walls

Map Legend

(most of the information below in the extended legend is a repeat of the information in the orignal post)

  1. The Frenzied Ferret Dance Hall & Eatery – wild dance parties, gambling, and talent contest. Great place for a bard to practice their arts.
  2. Salty Swan Retreat – Bathhouse and adult entertainment/companionship
  3. The Tipsy Unicorn Tavern & Inn – Cheap drinks & small rooms
  4. Dizzy Dragon Den – Nicer place for travelers to eat and rest for the night.
    Rooms 1gold per night; Stables 6 silver per mount
    Food Specialties: Dragon Pepper Poppers, Dragon’s Breath Ale
    Yahkle Arodite (Dwarf); talkative cheery fellow; closely shorn red hair; no beard nor eyebrows; happy to spin a yarn about how his beard burn off and how lovely life as a dwarf is without a beard
  5. Mayor’s Office – Mayor Kayrem O’Riley. Male gnome with greenish hair, vibrant blue eyes, plaid red/black suit with black button up shirt and matching pocket square.
    Glenarra, Mayor’s Assistant.  Female halfling, flaxen haired, tired rings under her dark brown eyes, horribly hung over from partying at the Frenzied Ferret last night.
  6. Military Barracks for Sovereign’s Troops – Colonel Bodo Mutah. Male gnome, gray & grizzled
  7. The Congregation of The Somewhat Virtuous  – a collection of chaotic good god kiosks; layout is a maze of cubicles that changes everytime you enter the building
    Calista. Seerer. Human androgynous. Royal blue; follower of Daghdha
    Cleric Zorbit (Cleric of Aphrodite). Halfling female, short bobbed orange hair; grey eyes
  8. Temple of Eternal Song
  9. Keepers of Balance
  10. Paragons of Pelor
  11. Sparks Refinery & Warehouse – Entrance to the diamond mine is inside the warehouse; most of the surrounding warehouses are also owned by VonBellor and used for processing the diamonds
    Buric VonBellor. 1/2-Elf male. Head honcho of mines – technically, the diamond mines belong to the country of Briarstone and the sovereign
    The mine tunnels below the town of Obsidian twist and turn, up, down, and back upon itself … who knows how far out or down this mines might go?
  12. The Pounding Hammer Smithy – Industrial and normal smithy (horse shoes, wheels, pipes, etc.
  13. Metal Mayhem – Specializes in basic armor and shields; some +1 magical armor and shields
  14. The Majestic Gray Blade – sells well-crafted bladed weapons; some magical
    Can do some custom work for the right price
  15. Berttle’s Bloody Blades – shadier magical items and slimy proprietor;
    Berttle is a angry, greasy gnome who bellows at his apprentice, Goffenmauker, but is cloyingly nice and ingratiating to buyers
  16. The Raven’s Maze – basic magic items (potions/scrolls)
  17. The Dapper Dandy – magical cloth items made to order (cost 2x normal)
    Also makes beautifully embellished sword sheaths and  quivers
  18. The Royal Yeti – fancy clothier
  19. Duke’s Castle – Not much is known about the Duke by the locals. The royalty here is rarely seen out mingling with the commoners
  20. Darkhallow Gaols – Prison for unruly minors and adventurers. Rumor has it that there are hidden levels of the dungeon where the Duke tortures keeps the vilest of his enemies
  21. Open Market – From fresh produce, meats, jewelry, and random other vendors that may change with the seasons
w = warehouse
T = guard tower

Game Master Ramble 2 – Soooo blue

ancient ruins

Sunday Group, Blue Dragons, and Rope climbing

I run 2 games, the newer group on Saturdays and the other group that’s been going for a while. The longer running group ran through the Champion’s Lost story arch has since moved onto bigger things… like setting a blue dragon loose on the city of Obsidian, though not completely on purpose. They did intend to stop it before it got loose.

Deadly encounter

What amazed me about that group during the last gaming session, is the deadliest part of the encounter with the blue dragon was not the blue dragon (that they named Azure). Nope. It was the 300 foot climb up and down a rope that almost caused a TPK (total party kill). Three of the five party members now have a fear of heights. Twenty 6-sided dice is a lot of damage to roll for a 200 foot fall. I am amazed that the dwarf fighter, Barbang, survived that fall by mere single digit hit points. Sturdy buggars. Before that the druid, Gozmeer, had fallen 100 feet. She was in the negative hit points, but not at the dead-dead level of taking more damage her maximum hit points.

Let me back up a moment and tell you how they got there.

The much longer story 

The Party consists of :

  1. Annabelle, Level 7 Cleric
  2. Kethra, Level 7 Sorcerer
  3. Aphodel, Level 6 Ranger/Level 1 Bard
  4. Barbang, Level 7 Fighter
  5. Gozmeer, Level 6 Druid (NPC)

… the quest

The party has been in the city of Obsidian, prepping for a rescue mission and a potential big boss battle. So they go shopping, hoping to find better protection and deadlier weapons. They find a vendor willing to take some cursed items off their hands at Berrtle’s Bloody Blade. The fighter of the group, Barbang, has bupkis magically speaking for his weapons. When they inquire as to what Berrtle’s Bloody Blade has for sale, he offers to forge Barbang a set of magical weapons if they can retrieve a rock from beneath the mines of Obsidian. (See Berrtle’s Bloody Blade quest in the Town of Obsidian post.)

The group disguises themselves in rags purchased from a family in the poorer end of town and sneaks into the mine warehouse entrance with other workers at a shift change. Once down in the mines, they follow the crudely drawn map provided to them by Berrtle. They only get lost a few times before making it to the end of the first section of map. (D) Dead end. No rock. They discover the hidden pressure plates on the four corners of the circular space. By pushing rusty plates at the same time, they are able to trigger the large aperture in the floor to open.

rough sketch of path through mines to Berttle's rock
Roughly sketched path to Berttle’s terrunium boulder through the diamond mines below Obsidian (Player Version). While the path looks flat, they tunnels are constantly slopping off in different up/down angles

Gozmeer drops a torch down the hole. The ground is 300 feet down. They cleverly tie together alternating ropes of climbing with standard rope to reach the ground below. There they find themselves in a huge, cavernous space and locate where the lower mine map continues. They get to a spot on the map with a little squiggle next to it, but no visible continuation of the tunnel. Eventually they spot a small hole in the wall about an inch tall and 1/4″ thick. After trying to poke many items into the hole, someone tries a platinum coin. This causes the hidden door on the side opposite to rotate open. Continuing down cobweb choked tunnels, they are jumped by 4 phase spiders. The 4th spider gets wise after seeing is 3 buddies destroyed and phases the hell out of there.

Reaching the end of the map, they find a collapsed tunnel. Between the mountain dwarf’s stone cunning (Barbang) and the druid (Gozmeer) wild shaping into a giant badger, they are able to dig through the rock and secure a hole for the others to climb through.

Here the space opens up to the ruins of an ancient fire giants’ city. It’s like being a mouse in maze with the high, crumbled walls and the ceiling for above their heads. Crystalized formations sprout from the walls and random tunnels completely composed of crystals erupt from the ground and cave walls. The party marks their path as they wonder through this huge, dead city. They fight off a pack of basilisk that trapped them on a land bridge over lava. Discover a flail snail chomping on the crystals (and wisely leave it unmolested). There they spot an area of “shiny new” crystals which they follow into a blue dragon’s nest, which has a large pile of gems and treasures that include a large boulder with streaks of iridescent metal (the terrunium rock they’re looking for). Through sheer charisma, flattery, bribery, and fast talking, they are able to convince the young adult blue dragon that they have come to worship at its feet. They also tell the dragon, dubbed Azure …

  1. that there is an entire world outside of this cavern for the dragon to explore and find things to play with, like undead armies
  2. that there is a horde of undead heading towards his domain (Spawn of Kyuss in the underdark)
  3. that the person that kept sending adventurers to steal from the dragon’s horde lived in the city above

They head back to the mines with the dragon burrowing a direct route to the collapsed tunnel entrance. They use 5 flying potions to get back up that 300-foot hole. Once back in the main mining tunnels, they have second thoughts about letting a blue dragon loose on world above. They coordinate a surprise attack and do an impressive amount of damage before Azure can react. The dragon fries them with his lightning breath before collapsing the tunnel around them.

It takes them a while to dig out, and by the time they do the dragon has an hour head start on them. Nearing the surface, they find destruction and dead minors marking the dragons passage. Aiding the survivors slows them down more. By the time they emerge in the town, much of it has been destroyed … especially the area around Berrtle’s (that the group had earlier described to the dragon). The dragon is nowhere to be seen. The adventurers help with triage before finding their way back to the Dizzy Dragon Inn and getting a long rest.

So where’s the TPK, you ask?

The day after the dragon runs amuck

The party awakes the next day with dreams of an unguarded dragon horde dancing in their heads. They return to the mines and are recognized as people who had helped with the wounded earlier, and are allowed through without question. They get back to the hole that drops 300 feet down.

Going down

Climbing down, Gozmeer fails on the 2nd climb check (DC 10) and takes 69 points of damage from the fall, not quite dead-dead but bleeding out.

Gozmeer is an NPC that helps the party with healing mostly. My hope being that by having a healer there, Annabelle the cleric would not feel pressured to heal. I forget that Gozmeer can shape change into animals that would be helpful in various circumstances, like climbing and burrowing. Because she’s an NPC, I try not to use her for more than the other players request of her. I don’t want to be one of those game masters.

They manage to stabilize Gozmeer before she’s a complete goner. Following such a traumatic fall, Gozmeer fails to make her wisdom save versus fear (DC 10) and now has disadvantage on climbing.

They get to the lower mine entrance only to discover it collapsed. Sending in the giant badger (Gozmeer) to see how far it goes, they discover that the entire lower tunnel structure  there has been collapsed. They aren’t able to return to the blue dragon’s horde of treasure. He had already collapsed the tunnels and moved it away by the time the group returned.

And back up

The frustrated party returns to the rope up to the main mine. Gozmeer refuses to go near the rope (having failed at that fear of height save). Kethra eventually convinces her to transform into a rat and hide her pockets. Kethra and Annabelle take the last 2 flying potions to reach the ledge above. Aphodel makes the climb, no problem. Barbang makes it up to 200 feet before slipping. He makes his dexterity save to catch himself and tries climbing that last 100 feet again. He rolls a a 1. He falls 200 feet and takes 75 points of damage. He’s not insta-dead by only a couple of points, but bleeding out. With only a few seconds remaining from the flying potion, the cleric flies down to heal the damaged climber.

Once healed, Barbang rolls vs fear of heights. (Rolls a 7 total). He ain’t climbing no stinking rope.

Clever Plan 1

Kethra and Aphodel come up with a clever plan to send Gozmeer down the rope (in Ape shape) with the Bigsby’s Fist glove and use that to carry up Barbang and Annabelle. Kethra does a really impressive job of convincing the terrified Gozmeer (persuasion 25) to climb down. Gozmeer starts down the rope but freezes after only couple of feet down. Gozmeer is pulled back up by Aphodel and Kethra.

Clever Plan 2

Kethra then suggests that Gozmeer become a horse and tow the others up. They secure the rope around Barbang and with the horse pulling and Aphodel guiding the rope, they are successful. They send back the rope with a seat looped for Annabelle to ride up in. Using the same method, they pull up Annabelle. Only part of the way up, the rope snags and breaks. Annabelle falls 50 feet and takes 15 HP of damage.

Annabelle rolls versus getting her own fear of falling. Her difficulty is much lower, not having drop as far. She rolls a critical fail (a 1). Enraged at being trapped below, Annabelle shoots 4 fireballs into the open space 150 feet above.

And that’s where we left things … with 3 players afraid of heights, one player stuck in the space below, one blue dragon running amuck, and no dragon horde.

As a game master, you just never know where a game session will take a story. At least I’m often surprised. It’s one of those things that makes running a dungeons & dragons game so much fun. And difficult.