Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Salutet and Environs

In the Beetle Sands, the sands give way to gravel, then to rocks, then fist-sized polished stones. Then, all at once, all the stones are beetles. And they're hungry. That's how it goes in the Beetle Sands.

In the sinkholes, you can find all sorts of things: sulpherous pools useful in summoning spells, nesting swarms of firesnakes, hidden bandit loot, and the bodies of adventurers who came here, just like you, looking for something valuable.

Lookout rock isn't a place you go to look out for things. It's a place where somethings on the lookout for you.

Salutet's a pretty nice town though; friendly people, good food, pleasant markets. You should go there.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Atlas Dungeon

We all feel like this guy once in a while.

This is one of my favorite dungeons, though I'm not sure what you'd do with it. Maybe you have to get into the dungeon and get something before it all falls apart. Or maybe while you're in the dungeon, this titan guy carries it somewhere else.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Cyanites

The Cyanites have a way of turning up every time I create an urban adventure environment. They're the guys in robes who process through the neighborhood at night with little brass bowls of cold blue fire, chanting quietly to themselves in a lost tongue. The PCs have never heard of these guys before. What they're up to has nothing to do with whatever business the PCs are currently engaged in. But if the PCs are curious enough to follow or dig deeper, they'll discover a secret that's at once strange and compelling. I haven't figured out exactly what that secret is because I've never had to. For one reason and another, my PCs have never run into the Cyanites. They remain that bit of prep that I've never needed to use. Some day.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I am very busy right now. With all the thinking and preparation around actually hanging my art in coffee shops and the like, it has been hard to focus on the dungeons, hence the lack of posts this week. And it's only going to get worse. There are a number of large writing assignments looming for October-November at work, not to mention continuing progress on The Purple Worm Graveyard. And then there's Go Play NW 2011 to think about. Also, I have more dungeon compilations from Nick to post! But I'm going to try and keep posting. After all, there are only a few months left in the year!

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Stone Head

The poltergeists are particularly pernicious in this dungeon. They are not particularly dangerous creatures on their own. Although some form of magical assault is probably necessary to harm them physically, they disdain combat and only use it to embarras foes who are unable to bring them to grips. Their preferred way of humiliating would-be tomb robbers is to steal mundane but useful items and spirit them away down the west corridor at a speed just faster than what the quickest party member can achieve, leading incautious delvers to fall into the traps beyond. The most likely items stolen will include ropes, spikes, and other objects useful for traversing and descending pits.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Grinding Dunes


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I don't know who lives there, but I'm pretty sure Stonetown is nothing but trouble. It looks so white and pristine next to the dark pleasures of Salacious Alley. It's got it's own well and it's built like a small fortress. Someone could hold out there for a long time against determined attackers.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Ball of Confusion

Ball of Confusion, that's what my life is today. But on the plus side, we have a new hot water tank.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Game Chef 2010

Game Chef 2010 starts tomorrow! Game Chef 2010 is a game design event that runs from Sept 11-19 and is run by Jonathan Walton. Here's what Jonathan says it's about:

showing that everyone can create games, supporting participants in experimentation and practicing design as a skill, and not assuming that all projects or designers are aiming for the same outcome.

Having participated a few times, I can say that it's great fun, and also a great way to meet people and learn about some cool games, especially (but not exclusively) if you're just starting out on game design.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

PAX Wraup

So I went to PAX! Actually, just PAX Friday. One day is definitely not enough for a convention of PAX's scale. I had just enough time to do a reasonably thorough sweep of the convention floor and play some games before going home to crash into bed.

Dungeon World was the highlight for me. John Harper ran a foray into a sunken temple for me, Brandon, Will, and Craig. The Dungeon World rules are really coming together! It's a hack of Apocalypse World and D&D by Adam and Sage with moves from my own Apocalypse D&D project. I also got a demo of Dresden Files in with Ogre. Thanks Ogre!

Some of the stuff I saw on the Floor:
  • Torchlight 2 looks encouraging

  • End of Nations could be great. I hope the developers have played and learned from Shatered Galaxy.
  • And I bought Hegemony: Philip of Macedon on the spot. So far it lives up to the promise. It's like Empire: Total War, but with the focus on good grand campaign play. Tactical combat takes a back seat, but still presents enough options to be interesting.

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Crackwood's a no-nonsense town perched on the edge of a howling wilderness. The locals are used to putting up with adversity: wolfbears prowling the town at night, wendigo attacks on the stagecoach, the hooting of apes in mating season, and the disturbing unearthly lights that hover around Star Rock.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gorefrog Lake

When the PCs pass through the Lake District a second or subsequent time, roll 1d6:

1. The back wall of the monastery of Saint Insouciance has fallen into the expanding lake. The sisters don't seem to be too worried about it.

2. A group of suspicious figures, including an NPC known to the party is loitering around the statue, muttering to themselves. The NPC pretends not to know the PCS no matter how much they insist.

3. Girgal's house in on fire. Girgal is desperately shouting for help rescuing his golem from the blaze.

4. It's "plague of frogs" season. Everybody is indoors, windows barred, doors locked.

5. Lighthearted music wafts from the monastery. Most of the residents have been invited to a party in the cloister. The PCs are not invited.

6. The Beast of the Lake is hunting and picks a PC as its next victim.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Underground Arena

Guess who's coming to dinner? 20 random people in the City of Nightport:

1. Endurance trainer for a mid-range gladiatorial house
2. Bright-eyed farm boy, looking to sign on as a competitor and win fame
3. Professional adventurer, here for the dungeons, thinks gladiators are putzes
4. Wizard, specializing in scrying and inter-team espionage
5. Manager of a gladiatorial team, sends crews into the dungeon for intense training
6. Scholar, looking for the lost under-arena
7. Promoter, always ready to pay coin for live rare beasts from the lower caves
8. Pack of rabid fans from an outlying province here for the annual tournament
9. Old, one-eyed retired gladiator, now makes a good living as a "consultant"
10. Halfling cook to a prominent former champion
11. Four-armed desert warrior, works a good "barbarian" act, but quite civilized
12. Scarred paladin, looking to recruit a party to retrieve remains of last party
13. Local merchant stocking exotic and magical weapons for arena and dungeon
14. Angry enchantress preparing her long-awaited revenge on another random NPC
15. Short-tempered duellist, very deadly but down on his luck
16. Maintenance worker responsible for keeping dungeons sealed and arena standing
17. Vampire masquerading as sport medicine specialist
18. Former champion gone to seed, slumming it and drunk, but still dangerous
19. Tourist with a ready sack of gold coins
20. Ghost of a former adventurer, doesn't know he's dead

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Ready for PAX

It was about Wednesday morning when I realized this is PAX week! I'm only going for Friday, but I still have a lot to do to get prepped.

Sage LaTorra (of Dungeon World fame) has corralled some indie RPG fans to run stuff at PAX. We'll all be hanging out in room 304. If you come by and ask, I'll give you a microdungeon. I'm bringing Apocalypse D&D/Dungeon World and Apocalypse World. I may also bring a giant pad of paper in case anyone wants to play supersize How to Host a Dungeon. Apocalypse World, How to Host a Dungeon, and a bunch of other awesome RPGs will also be available at the Dreaming Booth, #1440.

See you at PAX!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Map of Laelith

Today I discovered a map I had never seen before which deserves the title of one of the most spectacular fantasy city maps ever made: Patrick Durand-Peyroles's map of Laelith. Odhanan presents the map, with a good high-quality scan of the entire map, in an Enworld thread Map of Laelith, the Holy City.

What do I love about this map? First of all it's hand-drawn to a very high bar of quality. Hand-drawn isn't everyone's bag, but you've got to respect the attention to detail. For example, note the white calligraphy title, the artistry on the water details, and the hand-hatched contour shading. There are tons of city detail too, calling out for adventure. Notice the torturous winding path down the lower left-hand side of the map leading to a lonely structure, then off the map.

But what I love most of all is the architectural palimpsest effect where the new city is obviously laid over top of an even more ancient (and, one suspects, more spectacular) city. There's the ancient temple on the left, bisected by a steep ravine, hinting at some past disaster. The upper half of the city is divided by what is apparently the remnant of an ancient grand avenue, not transformed into a maze of ad-hoc streets. It reminds me intently of Rome, where the streets and squares still have the shapes of vanished monumental buildings.