Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Dungeons for Sale?
I've gotten a few inquiries already on buying dungeons. I'm planning to sell more of them soon. I just need to take care of a few little infrastructural matters. It won't happen this week however, as I've been blessed with an abundance of work! Probably over the weekend I'll set up some Paypal stuff and then make some more dungeons available for anyone who wants to buy them.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The Princesses Dungeon
Friday, March 26, 2010
Demon of Wrath
The land is rent asunder, raw lava flows forth in a rising cone, the capitol itself is threatened.
A lover's dying curse threatens everyone with the terrible revenge of the demon of wrath.
A useful artifact in the guise of a simple object offers clarity in a skein of madness.
A condemned criminal, the recipient of dangerous information, finds an opportunity for acquital in the shape of a deadly quest.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Dungeon Mastery Principles
I’m still working on figuring out what my ideal dungeon mastering approach is. To that end I’ve cobbled together some essential principles. These are the things you do when you play that aren’t rules or even exactly techniques.* They’re the things I want to think about when I’m not sure what to say next, or when I want to make what I say next as striking as possible.
I’m not competent or even particularly good at most of these yet, but it’s a target to shoot for.
Channel the dungeon
Use your intuition of the dungeon world to good effect, so that when the PC’s do something, you can come back at them with twisted environments, hair-raising situations, and exciting turns. This is about keeping a heap of dungeon-flavored stuff, smells, situations, and descriptions on hand so you can wield it with authority when needed. Make the game real and interesting.
Aim the game at the characters
Make the game real and interest for the characters. Address the characters by name paint a picture of their situation. Put them in the world.
Aim the game session at the players
Don’t forget that this is about friends having fun together. Don’t neglect the food, environment, music, small talk and horsing around that’s part of a game session.
Put the dungeon in the imagination
Lead with cool imaginary stuff and put rules stuff second. Make it so that you can literally see the current situation in your mind’s eye. Convey that to the players. Then use rules stuff to make sure everyone understands how that situation impacts dice rolls and things like that.
Don’t get precious about “my stuff”
Players will mess up your plots, kill your villains, mock and ignore your PCs, tear up your plot, and meet your well-laid plan with indifference. Let them, but make it fun. On the other hand, if you absolutely need them to go on a particular mission or talk to a particular guy, just tell them. That’s game session stuff, not character stuff.
Give stuff names and make it act like it deserves that name. Make it up. Write it down. If a character asks who built the dungeon, make up some cool ancient civilization. Give the barkeep a name and a personality. Provide an interesting history about the +2 dagger when it’s needed. Also, give the monsters an opportunity to act like people, when that’s needed. Or even better, make the monsters act like totally twisted alien strange deformed things when it will cause the characters maximum consternation.
Whenever appropriate draw connections between all that named stuff. Connect the +2 dagger with the lost civilization, the barkeep with the hireling, and the twisted monster thing with the dewy-eyed priestess at the temple. Draw those connections back to a character. So the forgotten god of the ancient civilization doesn’t just enervate the magic dagger, but it whispers tantalizing secrets to one of the PCs in her dreams.
Keep the world lively and alive even when it’s off screen – just enough to make the character’s lives interesting. So when the characters come back to a previous area, maybe it has new denizens. I was listening to a podcast yesterday where the party kept abandoning dead hirelings around the place – until one of them came shuffling up to them in full ghoul mode. That’s thinking offscreen. If the characters find the evil temple where the ritual is in full swing, and decide to retreat back out of the dungeon instead of interrupting it, think about what that ritual just did to make their lives more interesting.
Realizing that these are the principles I want has been pretty good for me in terms of evaluating my own dungeon mastering style. A simple list of priorities is really helpful to me. It helps keep me from going off on my own creative tangent instead of concentrating on what will make the game great. This is just a tentative list. There’s probably stuff missing, as well as stuff I left out, that other people really want on their own list.
* I’m taking principles (again) from Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World, with some repurposing for myself. In that game, the principles are those things you think about when you’re the GM and it’s your turn to speak. They inform what you say. Some of Vincent’s principles are specific to his game, and some are night universal. I’ve stolen from Vincent freely. Sorry, Vincent.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I am not a Zak S fanboy, really I'm not. It's just that everything he says on his blogs these days seems to go right into the D&D place in my brain and resonate with every single thing in there.
His post on the G monsters is pretty awesome.
"When Dante wrote the The Divine Comedy he wasn't thinking "Hey I'm making up a bunch of stuff about Heaven and Hell so I guess I'm risking blasphemy, but whatever, the Church is pretty laid back about these things, especially these days," he was thinking "I guess I want to write about the details of Heaven and Hell because God is telling me through the medium of my imagination what all is in there," only he was thinking it in Italian and in terza rima."
This is right where I'm at about dungeons. Maybe a given dungeon has a naturalistic explanation and maybe it doesn't. But all the dungeons in my world have a connection with something alien and weird and not at all friendly. If they don't they're just caves.
Also, Zak makes a defense of the Gas Spore that wholly makes up for his defamation of giant beetles.
Rothgnar's Fishing Hole
When a priceless artifact turns up inside the Abbot's fish dinner, a village fisherman receives unwanted attention.
An unscrupulous diplomat hot on the trail of a discovery that spells no good for the ruling faction
An abandoned temple built by a noble race... abandoned for a good reason
A fiendish predator, undeterred by pain or threat
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In the Mines of Khunmar
Tuesday night, Phil and Gabe and I decided to throw off our monthly pool game and kick back at the pub for a game of D&D instead, and we were joined briefly by Brandon. I was psyched because I was itching to run an old-style dungeon crawl. Because I had some ideas I wanted to try out, we played a homebrew mashup of AD&D and Apocalypse World.* I also got to pull out the Mines of Khunmar, a pdf megadungeon I’ve been wanting to try out for a long time. *Spoilers Follow*
Phil made a fighting man named Karl, Gabe rolled up a thief named Ebag, and Brandon created a Dwarf Cleric named Stön. These three foolhardy souls were joined by two retainers named Rumsfeld and Griswold.
After circumventing a pit, they stumbled into an ambush of Antlions, cunning ant-like humanoids with a penchant for ambushes and trickery (turns out they can also stick to the ceiling, as Ebag discovered to his chagrin). The antlions underestimated their foes, however, and after a short fight, the party had a clear passage across the plank bridge over the raging underground river chasm to the Antlions hideout. Stön had heard that the Antlions had an illusionary treasure horde to fool interlopers, but that a real stash could be found a secret room nearby so they forged onward.
After the obligatory humanoid slaughter (where Griswold met his demise), there followed a tense struggle where Ebag surprised the Antlion king on his spinning secret door throne, pinning the king’s hand to the throne controls with a dagger at a crucial moment. The heroes extorted the king into revealing his true treasure horde. They failed, however, to extract a promise of safe passage, and the king sprung the treasure’s protective trap on the adventurers, a flooding room. The evening ended with the party trapped in a rapidly flooding room with the King mocking them with mad laughter as they all prepared for an evening of drowning. I do like a cliffhanger.
Hopefuly we’ll get to pick this game up again, because I really had a blast running it, and I think the players got into it too. We might play somewhere quieter next time, though, because the ambient sound at the pub really made it hard to get my DM-ing mojo on. Writing this blog has given me a real desire to play more D&D, and I rarely do, so this was a very nice treat.
* Apocalypse World is a game of Vincent Baker’s that I’ve been playtesting. It’s got some stuff that seems very unusual, but at its core it’s more old-school than anything else. I found it surprisingly easy to mash it together with AD&D.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Guild Hall of the Illusionist Cult
As featured in Fight On! Issue # 8!
Monsters trained to use powerful illusionist magic have started turning up in local dungeon and wilderness locations. An obscure cult of illusion, mystery, and dream has set up a lair nearby, trading magic for treasure and influence. If someone doesn’t deal with this sect soon, it’s going to become a very serious problem.
A hodge-podge group of adventurers are drafted to hunt down an obscure cult.
A devout cleric begins to suspect his mission is not all it seems.
Guardian monsters seem well-informed on the party's capabilities. Is there a mole in the group?
Seriously, check out Fight On! They've managed to put together eight issues of high-quality old-school adventure goodness with no end in sight!
Friday, March 19, 2010
D&D Audio and Video Actual Play
In my quest to really dig into the game of D&D I've been listening to (and watching) a lot of actual play lately. I can listen to it when I'm doing light editing and research work without it being too interruptive. Here's what I've found lately:
Expedition to the Ancient Academy is a raw recording of an OD&D campaign. I'm about half way through, and it's completely unedited. Expect 40 minutes of dice clattering sounds and muttered numbers as they make characters. Nevertheless there are some great moments of old-school fun.
Wil Wheaton, the Pvp guys, and the Penny Arcade guys play D&D. I haven't listened to this yet, but it has been billed as a great look at 4e.
I Hit it with my Axe is the new video show of Zak's D&D group (from Playing D&D with Porn Stars) playing. They're porn stars, but at the end of the day they're just a D&D group. That's pretty cool. Episode 1 OK, but I expect it to get much better with the upcoming episodes.
What do Role-Playing Games Give you to Beleive in?
What values do you find to believe in through your role-playing? I find:
- Imagination: RPGs allow you to exercise your imagination in a way that's different from any other activity I've ever encountered. Getting the party past a 20' wide pit is more than just a game challenge. It engages your imagination and brings other people along on that imagining.
- Creativity: RPGs engage creativity by inviting people to make up cool stuff and describe it to other people.
- Friendship: Sitting in a basement (or a bar, or a living room, or wherever) with your friends, eating waffles, and pretending to be 200-year-old Elves is bound to build a certain kind of camaraderie.
- Culture: I don't really give much of a damn about gamer culture; I'm talking about taking the culture that surrounds you, making it your own, and expressing it in new forms. Did you ever base something in your D&D game that you got from a book, movie, myth, story, or picture? That's expressing the value of culture.
- Do-it-Yourself: Make your own fun. Share it with others.
Anything to add?
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Saint or Aint
The PCs find themselves dropped into a bizarre dungeon environment with no apparent exit!
A laughing spirt mocks the adventurers, while hiding a private sorrow of its own
A hodge-podge of rooms and dangers, arranged with no logic, or with a mad logic of their own
A self-absorbed medusa, dangerously unstable, but with an intense desire for personal contact and interaction with others
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Dungeon Dressing: Mildew
The sage Emmerline classifies mildew as being any dungeon mold that is non-carnivorous and non-motile. Mildew is omnipresent in dungeon environments where moisture is available. Typically, mildew is little more than a nuisance, but there are notable exceptions.
Mildew can form a dangerous slippery scunge in hazardous areas. Uncertain footing can spell disaster near a chasm, underground river, or in a combat situation.
Some rare species emit a natural light, making it possible to navigate in complete darkness. Unfortunately, attempts to remove this species from its natural environment invariably destroy its luminous properties.
Mildew is occasionally edible forming the base of the dungeon food chain. Adventurers should only use this food source in desperate situations, however, as mildew may accumulate poisons or magical contagion in the surrounding area. Areas with mildew deposits are known to harbor an unusually large number of mutant denizens.
Mildew can also spell utter destruction for books, tapestries, and other perishable loot left unattended for long periods of time where no magical protection is employed.
Labels: dungeon dressing
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Exploring the Wildwoods
The Wildwoods region is rich in history and adventure. While the inhabitants of other regions often look on its inhabitants as backwards hicks with quaint ideas about farming and nobility, the people of the Wildwoods live in a world steeped in myth, folklore, and history.
The Wildwoods is the home of my current online Dungeon Squad game, and the subject of a poster map that I'm making right now. This is a little preview. I'm looking for a printer right now. Does anyone out there have any experience sending posters in the mail? I'm concerned that the posters could get mashed in the mail, which would be very sad.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Journey to the Membranous Labyrinth
I find that a good dungeon comes from an act of inspiration, drawn from the persistent ideas that I just can't otherwise get out of my head. I never expected to find a literal expression of this idea, but I have.
Squidman's Membranous Parasitic Dungeon is a micro dungeon literally inspired by an infection of the membranous labyrinth the Squidman carries in his own head (don't worry, I think that's just health-mage speak for an ear infection). I am terribly jealous.
The Labyrinth is a very serviceable little dungeon with a good hook to fit it into your campaign and the potential to bring an interesting change to that campaign in the future. It has a mix of encounters which can be approached in a number of different ways. There's also lots of scope for creepy mystery and suspense.
Mad Library of Boujark
A collection of tomes, some not meant for mortal eyes, hidden in a pocket dimension
In the Library of Boujark, sometimes book reads you!
A demon of endless hunger, in the guise of a common theif, travelling in a company of fast friends
A statue with empty eyes that whispers insidious secrets to the unwary
Friday, March 12, 2010
A truce amongst once rival factions threatens the status quo
Fearless of law or retribution, a crime lord flaunts his power
False rumors set a populous on edge
The scion of a wealthy family, eager to collect his inheritance
Infernal potions, brewed with spite and flavored with malice
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Dungeon Dressing: Fine Porcelain
Fine porcelain is often more an item of treasure than of storage. Depending on lineage, provenance, and age, such a piece may be a simple curio or an extremely valuable treasure possibly warranting an entire expedition all on its own. An expert thief can easily identify the less valuable types, but exactly determining the value of the rarer objects requires specialized knowledge. The biggest challenge with such plunder is transporting it out of the dungeon. Highly fragile, these objects become worthless once shattered. Nagas are said to be particularly fond of well-made porcelain.
Labels: dungeon dressing
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Since Google forced me to migrate off of FTP publishing and move this blog to http://blog.microdungeons.com/ instead of plain-old microdungeons.com, I've lost 200 subscribers. This has made me unusually discouraged. 200 people aren't seeing my dungeons any more. I started using Google services because I wanted services I knew would stick around. This is a fail.
Better Fantasy Maps
@allenvarney tweeted this excellent article by Ken MacLeod making a plea for fantasy maps that at least reflect the variety of real world medevil maps.
When we look at the ancient and mediaeval worlds, we see if anything a greater diversity of forms of rule than we see today. In fantasy, where we might expect a wide play of fancy, we see nothing of the kind. There are good monarchies, legitimised by prophecy or ancient artifact. There are evil empires, usually in the east. There are barbarian tribes. Here and there, if we're lucky, there are city states ruled by merchant princes. There are plenty of exceptions - Pratchett, Gentle, Pinto, Mieville - but that's the rule.
This is a really great article, and I can't think of anything to add except to solemnly swear that I will do my best to give the world better fantasy maps.
Beyond the Domed City
A hidden chamber filled with secrets under the eyes of a watchful guardian
A doomed settlement, it's city fathers blind to the threat before them
A ribald sailor, full of tall tales
A young man, bold and ambitious, a heretic against his cause
The members of a dark cabal, ever plotting amongs themselves
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The AD&D Monster Manual is Awesome, A to B
I worked a bunch of exhausting 12-hour days this week, and to celebrate it's end I went up to my favorite coffee shop to read the AD&D Monster Manual and bring Read an RPG in Public Week to an end in style.
I'm trying to read this thing with new eyes and see what's really there, rather than what 20 years of gaming habits tell me is there. And the verdict is: I'm really amazed at how awesome the Monster Manual is.* Every monster is designed to bring something interesting and potential unique to an encounter; I'm not just talking about Beholders and Dragons, but the normal stuff that people often dismiss.
Consider the Aerial Servant: "if they grasp any creature it requires and 19 strength to have any chance of breaking free." Here's a monster than can potential seize any character in a nigh unbreakable grasp. I can think of about a hundred ways to make this awesome.
I love the behavorial tidbits that make each monster different. Baboons: "...if the home territory of a tribe is invaded the baboons will attempt to drive the invaders off, but it is 90% likely that the tribe will flee if faced by determined resistance." The power to run away sounds like a pretty lame power, right? But this detail shows that Gary knows what he's doing. It's a little piece of fiction (with a mechanic attached) to help the GM make this monster interesting and real for the players.
Boring beetles are pretty... well, boring!** Except for this: "...it is rumored that groups develop a communal intelligence which generates a level of consciousness and reasoning ability approximately that of the human brain." So Gary is saying that if you have a bunch of boring beetles and a big enough piece of wood (Giant Giant Sequoia? World Tree?), you've essentially got an insectile superbrain with beetle tunnels as analog circuitry and beetles as bits. So next time the blind druid directs the PCs to the "wise old tree" for information they PCs are in for a surprise. I wonder what quest the alien symbiotic hive mind will ask in return for that information.
Another thing: ever notice how many monsters can perform a valuable service for the PCs? Giant Beavers are massive builders. Brownies can fix stuff. I think this is a clear flag that talking to monsters ought to be at least as interesting as slaughtering them.
Basilisk can turn you to stone if you meet their gaze. How does this happen? There are no rules to tell you if, when you walk into a room with a basilisk in it, you meet its gaze. Some call this an incomplete game, I call it a golden opportunity to role play.
* These are the bad gaming habits I mean. 1E D&D: thinking that every monster's deadliness is it's first and only attribute of importance. 4E: thinking that the only thing about a monster that matters is what it's powers are. I've been guilty of both.
** This whole post is really just a response to Zak's post where he calls beetles boring. Shame on you Zak!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
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Making the Dungeon World Real
I said earlier that making the world real is one of the fundamental jobs of the DM in the dungeon mastering approach that I’m trying to develop.*
Part of making the world real has to do with the consistency and believability of the dungeon and the imaginary world it inhabits. Part of this is about the immediate verisimilitude of what happens in the dungeon. Part of it is the bigger issue of a consistent believable world. I'm going to focus on the first of these.
Making the world real entails a host of immediately decisions on the dungeon master’s part concerning what happens. Consider a tactical situation:
The party has fled from a band of hungry ghouls and barricaded themselves in a room. What do the ghouls do next? Something ghoulish, obviously; could be any number of things. Maybe the start battering down the door for the food they can smell so close by; maybe in their mindlessness they wander off in search of other prey; maybe they go inform their wererat overlords in room #12.
Each of these options is tactically believable in some circumstances, but terribly different in how the PCs are impacted. In one case the ghouls directly threaten the characters, in another the characters get a lucky break, and in the third the reason for the ghoul’s behavior may be entirely hidden from the characters.
Choosing between these kinds of options is a big part of the dungeon master’s job, and the dungeon master might call upon any of a large number of tools to do this. There are books, blogs, and podcasts full of random tables and other techniques to help do this better. Making the dungeon real usually involves a mix of intuition, planning, and improvisation. It's an art, but it’s one you can improve at.
Making the world real has a really interesting relationship with being the eyes and ears of the characters. You’re often doing both at the same time, but with subtly different requirements. When you’re being the eyes and ears, you want to be very clear about the risks and challenges that the characters are investigating. But when you’re making the world real, you want to be disinterested about how it challenges the players.
Sometimes making the world real might mean visiting a really punishing challenge on the player characters. Maybe the demands of reality indicate that the player characters just blundered into an unfavorable encounter with an Ogre Magi who’s likely to kick their ass ten ways from Tuesday. As their eyes and ears you have the opportunity to make it clear to them what the parameters of this encounter are (i.e. they could very easily die). This opens up the floor for the players to look for options that don’t involve a drastically unfavorable fight (“is there an escape route? Maybe we can bribe him? Do we have a spell that would work here”). When the players ask one of these questions, that’s your cue to be their eyes and ears again. The idea here is NOT to remove the danger, it’s to make sure that it’s in the open and nobody’s surprised by it.
* I’m stealing this phrase almost directly from Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World, though as usual I’m adapting it a bit for my own purposes. Vincent's description of this job and how it works in his game is pretty brilliant.
Friday, March 5, 2010
When you Enter the Room, The Post is Sleeping...
I've been really busy this week with family and work-related stuff, so I don't have a post ready this morning. Sorry! I'm working on something, I really am.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Under the Volcano
A horrific legend, about to impose its terrible truth upon a frightened people
Three comrades on a desperate mission to right an injury that calls out for justice
A glowering idol full of dark intent and cruel machinations
A deed of bravery that lives on to inspire in song and story
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
"Explain to me why we're on this mission again?"
The wizard chuckled. Long experience had taught him that abstract thought was beyond the fighting class, but he did not mind indulging them. He flattered himself that an easy condescension was among his virtues.
"Some years ago, the wizard Azxerkak foolishly allowed himself to be encaptured by a certain magical tome prepared as a prison by his rival. That rival, fearing discovery, stashed the book away in a library contained in this very dungeon until he could safely return at a later date."
"So this wizard's caught, like in a cage?"
"And the cage is a book."
The fighter thought about this for a long moment. "So this wizard's caught in a prison, that's really a book in a library. So how do we know we're not caught in an even bigger book in some bigger wizard's library and he's reading that book right now?"
The wizard shook his head. "Tut, tut, my boy. The very idea is patently ridiculous."
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The Eyes and Ears of the Player Characters
I'm trying to work out my own approach to running dungeon adventure RPGs. A big part of this is being the eyes and ears of the player characters. It’s the job of the dungeon master to be the eyes and ears of the players.
This idea is central to what I think of as dungeon mastering. It’s crucial to engaging the players and winning their buy-in to the game. If the players can’t see and hear the dungeon clearly, they can’t live in it or have adventures in it. The players also have a job here, which is to ask questions for the game master to answer. I’m not going to talk about that much now, but it’s important.
A lot of people equate being the eyes and ears with providing description of the dungeon and the things in it with a certain level of gleeful embellishment. This is part of it, but there’s more to ‘eyes and ears’ than a judicious use of adverbs. it’s at least equally important to be crystal clear and fair about how what they’re seeing and hearing intersects with the mechanics of the game you’re playing.
Here an illustration:
The party comes to an icy crevasse that blocks their way ahead. One of the party wants to try skirting the crevasse on foot.
How do you, the game master, indicate to the player the potential risks and rewards of this action? This is part of being the eyes and ears. There are a lot of answers to this question, and almost all of them are appropriate in some combination of system, group, and encounter.
So one answer to this suggested action, phrased in Dungeon Squad terms might be “It’s pretty slippery. You’ll need an explorer roll with a target of 6. If you fail, you run the risk of slipping into the crevasse.”
With this answer you’ve set some parameters. You’ve said what the player will have to roll. You’ve indicated that there’s a risk to failure, and described it in general terms. There’s some leeway here, and it should be set by the habits of the group. Should you also quantify the risk of falling into the crevasse on a failed roll? Do you need to tell the player how much damage that fall would cause? That’s a matter of taste.*
The point of all this is to give the players a very clear idea of where their characters stand in the fiction so they can act like heroes and adventurers and tackle the challenges of the dungeon or even fall victim to them confident that the system and the game master aren’t using underhanded techniques to trip them up.**
Probably some people are shaking their head right now, thinking that there are many times that a game master is compelled to withhold information from the players. That’s part of the being the eyes and ears as well!
There’s a remhoraz lurking in the crevasse. Am I obligated to sow hints of this into my description of the crevasse somehow? In no way is the dungeon master compelled to warn the players of the threats and risks of the dungeon.
Now another consideration: a player asks if he can see into the crevasse, or asks how deep it is, or just tosses something in, waiting to hear it hit the bottom. This is clearly a way of asking the game master for more information about the crevasse. An appropriate response might be to say “you can’t see very far into it. You don’t know what’s in there”, or even, “there could be a monster in there for all you know.” This clearly indicates that there’s some risk associated with a crevasse you can’t see into, even if that risk is vaguely stated.
Being the eyes and ears is a conversation you have with the players. Like any conversation you’ve got to give and take, listen, and try to respond to the questions you hear fairly and clearly.
* I’m a strong believer in the idea of ‘free and clear’ declaration of actions. This means that before any action is taken, everyone at the table has a chance to talk about it, understand its potential consequences, take it back, suggest something else, and so on until everyone has decided what they’re doing. As far as I know, the term ‘free and clear’ comes from Ron Edwards’ Sorcerer RPG, but it’s something many game groups have done since long before Sorcerer.
** This whole idea is heavily informed by Eero Tuovinen’s discussion of challenge-based adventuring, although I’m adapting it somewhat to a more specifically dungeon-based approach.
Monday, March 1, 2010
An old feud between monstrous neighbors creates an opportunity for a band of mercenary adventurers
An ill-tempered Ogre whose violent demeanor masks an insightful intellect
A family of goblins, stubborn and set in their ways
A doubting cleric, uttering platitudes whose veracity he doubts
A young warrior unacquainted with the world eager to make his name and fortune