Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Monday, 27 September 2021
Thursday, 5 August 2021
The stem-bridge bounced precipitously as Kennett scurried across it towards the shouting. A deep voice was calling out, its challenges interspersed by strange sucking noises. The red bowl ahead contained shops and the homes of craftsmen – but this ruckus sounded more like the arena!
Saturday, 3 July 2021
I've written another adventure or locale for Dolmenwood - my third! This time we go to Faery, specifically the Gladding-Gloam, Lord Gladhand's autumnal realm. This is a wilderness adventure with 9 locations, including a settlement and a mini-"dungeon", and 10 new monsters, as well as a passel of new magic items. The Orchard is a place of magical fruit, creeping all-consuming Blight, and a painter who really...captures her subjects.
Find the map below, and the adventure here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/18ug1xJ0z1y39il1zMgBhKs4BY-nNtrID/view?usp=sharing.
Tell me what you think!
Friday, 2 April 2021
The “Dungeon Adventure” is the adventure in a closed environment, with fixed and fully mappable geography, where the 10-minute Exploration Turn makes sense. The environment constrains player decision and focuses them on effective and intelligent exploration. This could be a 10-level megadungeon or a 19-room one-session wonder – size is not the determinant. Geography and format are.
The Wilderness Adventure operates as an exact opposite to the Dungeon Adventure – it relies on the sense of vast space, of geographic confusion, of “natural” environments now being disturbed by the adventurers. The groundscale of the Dungeon is in the low square miles; the Wilderness Adventure is nearly always in three figures at least.
Finally, there is the City Adventure, which is perhaps harder to describe than the former two. This is partly because it is a hybrid – a vast space in which many Dungeon Adventures may be located; an enclosed space, too, with set limits and standards. A further complication is that simply being set in a city does not make an adventure a City Adventure! Sea of Blood is largely in a Sahuagin city, but it is only at points resembles the sort of Adventure I have in mind. Its dynamic is usually to frenetic and bloody for our purposes.
Sunday, 28 March 2021
Print Status: Only in Dragon.
Comments: By Ed Greenwood. A 9’ wide bird with a friendly chuckling cry, but which tricks prey by making baby noises and joyfully kills creatures it doesn’t want to kill, just for fun? Yes, please. Much better than a Giant Eagle of whatever else – profoundly unpleasant and disconcerting, especially for those scarred by Hitchcock. Good combat notes, too. Number Appearing is only 1, but seems reasonable to increase that in some circumstances to get a nasty swarm effect (or you can give them 1d4 1HD-1 young with two attacks at 1-4/1-2).
Print Status: Only in Dragon. There’s a weird pseudo-adaptation in a Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium Appendix, under “wiggle”.
Comments: By Ed Greenwood. A Narnian import, because the Sind is also known as a “marshwiggle”, and they “tend to be dour, cynical pessimists but they also stubborn, pragmatic, good-natured, and sensitive”. You get the picture. Even before seeing this, I had once inserted a Marsh Wiggle into my big 5e D&D game, so I’m predisposed to like this. These are definitely a distinct spin on Puddlegum, though – with 30% of mature Sind gaining imprisonment once a day, and all being immune to a variety of mind spells (like charm, sleep, etc). They have a demigod who has a 10% (!) chance of turning up to help any threatened Sind colony. They make friends with Lizardmen. I find this a really rich concept, though grant “rich” can be a pejorative when it comes to food.
Print Status: Only in Dragon.
Comments: By Roger Moore. Slightly odd, though fun. A very intelligent blue whale-type creature who projects itself to the Astral from whichever Prime Material it dwells upon. They’re super-telekinetic, and have a fairly nasty defensive mechanism (with one round Psionic prep, they have a molecular shock field for four rounds, which has a chance of disintegrating any non-living object touching it, or causing 4d4 damage to any living creature and potentially destroying all that they carry). But honestly, this doesn’t much fit as a normal combat encounter – you could get players hunting it, of course, but they’re much better fitted as an ally to seek out. Perhaps they could help the players travel safely through a dangerous part of the Astral, or join them in an attack on some lich’s lair. Literally and metaphorically both unwieldy and awesome.
Print Status: Also in 2e Monstrous Compendium Red Steel Edition. A different monster of the same name appears in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary.
Comments: By Roger Moore. An odd treasure-seeking Tarteran fiend, with a lion-like head and a scaly body. There are two ways to conceive of this guy in 1e terms – either as a hefty, dangerous combat for fairly competent high-mid-level adventurers, or as a negotiation. In the former case, you’re looking at something with 3/day of each of teleport without error, fear, create darkness, and 12d6 lightning bolt; 1/day symbol of discord and control weather; and 1/week cause disease and polymorph self. That’s not accounting for 3 attacks at 4d4/4d4/3d4, and -2AC. If a party does some of its homework, or is just extra-cautious with bringing magic to the battle, that’s a fun battle. On the other hand, the Utukku’s at-will suite of utility abilities mean that a party could wrangle a deal (everything from survival up to lots of magical assistance), if they can somehow source treasure whilst it is visiting the Prime Material. However, the implied behaviour and the likely dynamics do point to the combat route. A fun design, if specific.
Print Status: Possibly some kind of official Pathfinder version; certainly several 5e Homebrews.
Comments: By Roger Moore. I like Giant Plants, as you may have picked up. This has an interesting ecology/combat description – lots of 80%-likely-to-be-hidden jaws trying to swallow Small-sized targets or latch on to larger ones. It’s really a passive ambush predator, then, but much less dangerous than your typical slimes. This feels like it could be a memorable encounter or a fairly quotidian random roll. Decent, not as strong as the other Giant Plants in CC1
Print Status: Only in Dragon.
Comments: By Ed Greenwood. Another weird Greenwood marine predator, and all to the good in my view. This one is a weird one with a giant set of jaws and a fairly slim body – so fairly distinctive-looking (it’s nicknamed the “giant gulper”). There’s obviously an issue with getting the party to deal with it – it is said to sometimes threaten shallows and harbours, so that’s easy, or you could use the hint of Locathah informants to send a high-mid-level party underwater with to help the friendly fishfolk. Solid if unexciting entry.
Print Status: Also 5e Monster Manual.
Comments: By Roger Moore. Suitably savage and cunning, including the insane danger implied by Number Appearing 5d8, excluding juveniles who can also attack. They sneak under ice, drag people into freezing waters, etc. Oh, some of them are psionic too. These guys seems overmighty, but there’s something incredibly appealing about using them nonetheless. If a party (foolishly?) heads into the arctic zones of your world, this is a great random encounter risk. Random encounters are part of the risk calculation for parties, both in terms of material risk and resource drain; a pod of hungry orcas are very much on one end of that risk range, but it’s something the human whalers or penguinfolk could reasonably warn a party about. If you want to tread out over the ice sheet to reach the Spire of Blue Ice, to rescue to Frost Elf Princess and loot the hoard of the interdimensional raiders, go prepped for the nastiest beast in the cold seas. This works very well for that.
Print Status: Only in Dragon.
Comments: This is a “quest creature”, but undoubtedly a cool one. Levitating horses with Manoeuvrability Class A – so casters can perform spells of any kind except those requiring glyphs! This is top-drawer player-bait. They’re also hilariously intense in an anime manner. Their gaze is so intense they are immune to gaze attacks! They can break the grip of Aerial Servants at a 40% likelihood! They are immune to wind-type damage! They cohabitate with pegasi! They are sometimes led by varicoloured, seashell-patterned specimens who can cast suggestion! Those who hate the Haughty Fantasy aspect of D&D will hate these guys; of course, the haters are wrong. THIS IS AWESOME. It’s specific, with only a few viable contexts (you’re out to tame them, there are loads of local griffons and you need allies), but it’s a great monster.
The most reliable set I’ve reviewed so far. Of the whole of Creature Catalog I, there are two undoubted duds – the Corkie and the Fachan – but there are real classics, too: the Glasspane Horror, the Killer Whale, the Wind Steed, and above all the frankly disturbing Giant Shrike. There are a few good Demihumans/Humanoids too, in the Amitok and Sind. Finally, notable that a big theme of CC1 is marine and plant monsters – the former a neglected area, the latter an obvious source of environmental/wilderness colour. There is a lot here for the creative DM. Recommended.
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