Whispers of the Dead

Early readers of this blog will know that I favor undead as a monster type, largely due to their psychological versatility. I also like that—even more so than still corpses—their mere presence and nature can go a long way to tell the story of a dungeon, ruin, or other area.

That’s why I wrote Whispers of the Dead: Undead Do Tell Tales. It is a document detailing the creation and behavior of 7 broad varieties of storied undead. It includes new stories, details, and examples for the Exhumer and the Praxist, as well as 5 new creations: the Vigiler, the Processioner, the Ashern, the Water Phasm, and the Haunt. WhispersOfTheDeadCoverEach of these undead has a creation condition that fits into any fantasy campaign world where such things as zombies and ghosts exist, but they come with traits that speak to their origin and tell a story of what is happening in the world. If you like using undead, love subtle narrative, and need more tools to meet those desires, Whispers of the Dead is for you!

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Durlag’s Tower Level 2-CPNR

Before you watch the video below, you should take a look at the Extra Credits series introducing the CPNR method of dungeon design by applying it to level 1 of the tower. I don’t do anything to explain the purpose like they do in their earlier videos.

How can using the CPNR method improve your dungeon design?

Traps in Baldur’s Gate are a haphazard form of puzzle, my article on the aesthetics of traps might help you think about how to use traps better.

Need help delivering narrative through combat encounters and rewards? Whispers of the Dead and Who Would Just Leave This Stuff are resources designed by me to help insert storied undead and flavorful loot into your campaign world. Let’s face it, GMs are game designers on a tighter time frame; no one will begrudge you using a couple toolboxes to make your job easier and better.

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Biweekly Monster-Praxist

“Let us take tea in the garden,” Maravin offered, signaling the party into the manor. They passed into the gardens at the rear of the building, amazed that the reclusive sorcerer was so willing to meet with them. They sat at a small table and Maravin soon joined them with a tray of elegant dishes.

Maravin served them one by one and nodded toward a gardener as he emerged from the hedges to water the flowers nearby. “Don’t mind Shane. He’ll go aboPraxistut his work, but please don’t speak to him or he may be useless all day.”

Gilbren glanced toward the gardener, then took another long look. “He’s an undead?” He asked, keeping most of the disgust from his voice.

“Yes. He simply didn’t notice when he died and attempts to convince him of it only fluster him.” Maravin sighed. “But, he is still a good gardener, and he doesn’t mind his cottage falling apart.” Continue reading

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Madman’s Vale

“Well, how can we continue Eastward if neither your tribe nor the Axebrawn will allow us to pass through their land?”

“Neither tribe claims the Madman’s Vale, it divides our claims.”

“Can you point us that way?”

“Of course, best of luck.”

Continue reading

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Biweekly Item-Tactical Flying Cape

Morgan and his band of rovers surveyed the battle from their hill behind the battle lines, about 80 yards from where their first line had formed. The skirmishers beyond were falling back, as planned. Suddenly, a column of cavalry appeared rounding the flank of the enemy force. The skirmishers would be overtaken and the lines disrupted. This was his purpose.

Morgan signaled his unit and they leaned into a sprint down the hill until they reached break-neck speeds. As one they flung their capes outward, leaping into flight from the hill side and continuing to accelerate toward the battle. They passed low, but still above the waiting spears of the veterans in the rear lines. Soon they were descending on the horsemen, firing arrows into the column as skirmishers fled to the lines.

Morgan and his men drew swords and struck the flank of the cavalry unit, unhorsing a man or so each before disengaging upward and out away from the battle. The horsemen wheeled after them as they landed, running away from the battle on hasted feet.

Mission accomplished.

Continue reading

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Play Report-Incurring the Wrath of Lolith

Having vanquished an invisible assailant in the the antechamber of the Temple of the Bones, the party decides to follow the line of red carpet leading down one of the many departing corridors. Benquil goes first, hugging the left wall. Soon the wide corridor makes a slight turn to the right and widens further to 25 feet wide, forming a vast hall with statues lining either side. Continue reading

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Why Traps?

The purpose of this post is to finish working through my thoughts on what purpose traps have in tabletop RPGs. I started the process with a rambling video a couple weeks ago, and this week I mean to say some of the same things, but with more precision and meaning. My analysis revolves around the aesthetics of play from the MDA Framework. This Extra Credits video on the subject is a good summary. The core aesthetics of tabletop RPGs I consider most relevant to traps are Narrative, Fantasy, Challenge, Discovery, and Fellowship (some to a greater degree than others). Continue reading

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Biweekly Monster-Mage Imp

ImpMagesImps poured from the dark portals ringing the room as Baylik entered. He braces himself to cut them all down when they charged and was astonished to see a myriad of spells cascading upon him.

Behind him Valta returned the favor with a spell of his own. Battered, Baylik rushed in to bring the fight to a footing more favoring his mighty sword.

Since when did imps cast spells?

Continue reading

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Play Report-Into the Underdark

Having ended a war and collected a great reward from the king for their efforts, the party makes preparations to enter the underdark. They have cloaks enchanted for invisibility custom made by an illicit enchant contact in Requiem. The cloaks are made from firesilk imported from the gnomes, which blocks infrared that might be seen by the drow. They also purchase an shadow rope, invisible in low light, of the kind used by circuses and street performers. Leo and Match obtain rings like Lamila’s that will allow them to see in the dark undetected. Lamila also buys a belt like those used by servants of the very wealthy to remain silent except when speaking is absolutely necessary. It should muffle the sound of her armor enough for her to sneak with the others. Continue reading

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Castle Uknyer

“Welcome! The people tell me you’re willing to help with our beast problem. You will stay in my home and have anything you need from me at your disposal.”

UknyerThe Uknyer family rose to prominence when they amassed the resources to build a coastal fortress on the Glass Sea to protect the local peoples from gnomish raiders. The task was great, but their efforts were effectual and soon raids head all but stopped in the area. When Vardor founded his kingdom to the South, he was eager to have a hold on the Glass Sea and reached out to the Uknyer rulers to the North, offering them shelter in the kingdom in return for their support. Continue reading

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