Temple of Craith

CraithMapTaren gasps as he feels the ground at the peak of the hill collapse from beneath him.  The thick turf and earth falling with him breaks his fall, but he lies still, trying to catch his breath.

“Taren, you alright?” Mable calls down, concerned.

Taren coughs, “I think so. Some kind of chamber down here. Too dark to be sure, but looks like passages leading off.”

“From up here it looks like you’re standing on some kind of map.” Continue reading

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Biweekly Item-Pool of Earth

Garduh considered the pots of earth on the shelves behind the pool. He ought to pay a visit to Hanulla, and he was fairly certain their pool was still intact. Garduh took a pinch of dirt from the pot and turned, casting the pinch into the water of the pool. Others might have seen him vanish from the room, but to him it was the room that vanished, leaving him standing in a field. He assumed the huts and curling smoke just visible over the knoll to his left were Hanulla. Maybe he would take a new sample to update his supply.

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Play Report-More Locked Doors

Having finished their lunch in the raided record room, the party readies to get moving. Benquil hears a sound in the hall and throws his firesilk cloak of invisibility over himself and gives silent pursuit. He sees the door to the classroom closed and heads that way. As he eases it open he hears the door opposite close. He starts running, hitting the door hard to continue pursuit. As he hits the door, he yells for the others to pursue. He sees a drow figure running away from him down the hall. Continue reading

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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.”

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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.

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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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