Monstrous Humanoids vs Beastmen, more Chaotic Chaos

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Joined: 2013-06-05 15:49

Let's make a dungeon. I'll be rolling randomly as much as possible, and then just Forge The Narrative as much as possible to make it coherent.

First, we roll 1d20 to determine the overall type. 13! It's a ruined manor. I think it'll have thirteen rooms too, because that's an unlucky number.  Roll some dice and we get...

  1. Monster
  2. Unique
  3. Unique
  4. Unique
  5. Empty
  6. Empty
  7. Empty
  8. Empty
  9. Unique
  10. Empty
  11.  Empty
  12.  Empty
  13.  Trap
  14.  Empty
  15.  Monster

Wow! This is going to be a very weird dungeon. That's two monster rooms, four unique, one trap, and eight empty. Let's check for treasure now. No treasure in any of the empty rooms or trap rooms! Jeez, what a rough place. I think this is a dungeon for the later game, so I'll declare that it's all Level 3. Rolling for my two monster rooms, I get Ogre and Werewolf. The ogres are... *not* in a lair, but the werewolves are. There's eight werewolves, with treasure type J.  Here's what the werewolves possess, as per the generator on this site:


Werewolf Lair: Eight Werewolves (Seven Normal, one Pack Leader)
Approximate Treasure Worth: 6,060 gp

1,000 Electrum
1,000 Silver

3 crates of armor and weapons, worth 225gp each (10 stone each)
6 crates of terra-cotta pottery, worth 100gp each (5 stone each)
2 bags of loose tea, worth 75gp each (5 stone each)
9 jars of lamp oil, worth 20gp each (6 stone per jar)
7 bundles of fur pelts (such as bear, beaver, or fox), worth 15gp each (3 stone per bundle)
35 rolls of garishly dyed cloth, worth 10gp each (4 stone each)
78 animal horns worth 20gp each (1 stone per 5 horns)

1 brass trinkets (40 gp)
1 brass trinkets (90 gp)
1 brass trinkets (120 gp)
1 porcelain trinkets (700 gp)
1 wrought silver trinkets (800 gp)

Potion of Speed

Crossbow Bolts +1 (Quantity: 8)


Wow. These are some eccentric werewolves. They love garish cloth, animal horns, and pottery. They also have a supply of tea. They seem very sophisticated. Perhaps they're fashionistas, preparing fabulous outfits and viking hats for some purpose?

There are also five ogres in the house. They don't live have a lair, so they travelled to the lair for a reason. They're either there for one of the Unique things, or they came specifically for the werewolves. Do they want to fight, or are they there on business? I just rolled a Reaction Roll for them, and got a 10. That's pretty positive. I think the groups know each other fairly well, and the ogres have come to make some kind of deal with the wolves. But what do they want?

Maybe the ogres want to buy garish cloth for rituals. Perhaps the ugly patterns are actually runes that honor Nehr'Zul, their lich-god. Somebody has to make all those unholy scrolls and cursed tapestries, after all.

Maybe the ogres *brought* the cloth, and need the werewolves to perform some service for them. Perhaps one of the Unique rooms has a magic mirror or something that ogres can't enter.

Hmm, I can't think of one being obviously superior. Let's introduce a little more information by rolling on this chart.

A 69! Number of prophets! "Prevent Event." Interesting. What events would ogres be against? Well, in my campaign setting, ogres come in two flavors: Zaharan Ogres, who are still part of the "empire" and in contact with other ogres and actively working to regain control of the world, and Survivor Ogres, who have been cut off from society. Humanoids hate ogres, so Survivor Ogres have to hide in caves and dark places, lest they be hunted down. I think these are the latter kind- They have a lair nearby, and their main motive is self-preservation.

What events might threaten them? Humans! They've heard that someone is thinking about building a settlement, and they want the werewolves to murder the surveyors. They can't do it themselves because if anyone comes to investigate, they can't afford to have ogre tracks found.

So that's their motivation. They brought garishly dyed cloth because they're descended from a master wardrobe stylist and the making of dye has been passed down for generations. They're determined to stay "civilized."

Lycanthropy is a physical corruption, not a mental one. The human brain stays intact, it just shares a body with something bestial now. Werewolves often feel bad about what they do, and are afraid of losing their humanity. The cloth is a fine bribe, because pants and fine dresses are very human. They're not 100% on board with murder yet though, so the ogres have been in the manor for a few days dropping by from time to time to say Emperor Palpatine stuff. "What loyalty do you owe them? The ones who cast you out, beat you and cut you with silver? You're different then them. You think they won't come here with spears and torches next? That they will ever let you rest? Humanity is the most violent race there is- they have even weaponized guilt, driven spears of it through your limbs so you can't even struggle as they come cut out your heart."

So now we need four unique rooms. First, let's check how we're doing on treasure- We want about 4 times the XP value of all the dungeon's monsters. That's 700 for the ogres, and 1080 for the wolves, total 1780, so "by the book" there should be  about 7000 gold of treasure. We've got 6000 right now, so we can add a little more to the unique rooms.

So, when I wrote "dresses" awhile back I realized there could be some lady werewolves. In fact, what if this manor is actually a church/monastery thing, and the werewolves are nuns? I think the story of this place is that it got attacked by werewolves, and although they fought the wolves off (holy water being in abundance, after all) they only had a 5th level cleric for their Mother Superior, so she couldn't Cure Disease the survivors. Instead, she encouraged them to kill themselves to preserve their purity. Six of them chose to live, and two uninfected sisters chose to infect themselves (as werewolves risk uncontrollably murdering humans, but can co-exist with other wolves just fine.) Since then, life has more or less gone back to normal.


The Mother Superior's ghost haunts the manor, and espicially the podium in the chapel, where her skeletal remains are slumped. Sometimes she manifests to preach hellfire and brimstone and encourage the werewolves to kill themselves. She's really pissed. Near the podium is a large stone basin containing ten gallons of holy water. If the party appeases her or banishes her somehow, she'll let them take it, although they'll have to bring their own consecrated containers, which makes the financial viability of this limited, so I'm not going to count it as a thousand gold, even if that's the actual value.


Library! This room contains a number of uninteresting, boring books. The interesting ones are a log of the monastery's history, written by the Mother Superior, as well as a couple rare books, worth 200 gold and 100 gold respectively, entitled "Conquering Regret and Moving Forward: A Guide To Spirtual Fortitude, by Zebatrus, Inventor of Owlbears" and "An Abridged Reference Guide to Snow Demons." The history book can be sold to the church for 500 gold.


This is a lot of dungeon, I'll finish it later. Still, I'm pretty proud of it so far-


Let's check Goblin Punch's Dungeon Checklist real quick:

1. Something to steal (Big pile of fabric!)
2. Something to kill (Ogres!)
3. Something to kill you (Werewolves!)
4. Different Paths (This'll have to wait till I actually draw rooms)
5. Someone to talk to (Werewolves AND the ghost!)
6. Something to experiment with (Well, there's our next Unique thing)
7. Something the players probably won't find (There's our last Unique thing, I think)


I think we're on track for a good dungeon though!

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Joined: 2013-06-05 15:49

So, after much thought, I think this is a neat little scenario, but there's not enough going on for it. A 5th level party isn't going to be very happy if their entire expedition to the Spooky Manor on their map yields less than 2k each. Also, the party may well choose to negotiate with the werewolves and thus deny themselves most of the 6k there, so let's not punish the players for being reasonable.



So let's throw in the Tomb of the Grumpy Saint. Hoarder would probably work best for things found in a tomb. How much should it be worth? Well, personally, I'd say that as a player, I like progression, and I don't trust games to last a long, long time, so I'd say that if I get less than a quarter level's XP on a given session, I'm unhappy. So depending on whether I'm 4th or 5th level, and what class I am, that's somewhere in the ballpark of wanting my share  to be 2000-5000. If we're a party of four with no henches, that means total treasure should be between 8000 and 20,000. If we're a a party of six, 12,000 and 30,000. If we're a party of six with a total of twelve henches, then 24,000 to 60,000.

Thaaat's quite a variance. I don't think this method is gonna work. Screw it. Let's just go triple N.

We get: 

(One chest of gems and coins containing 8,665 worth)
2,000 Gold
1,000 Electrum
1,000 Silver
1 beast parts jewelry (15 gp)
1 chalcedony (75 gp)
1 jacinth (1,000 gp)
1 turquoise (25 gp)
1 wrought silver jewelry (400 gp)
1 crystal (50 gp)
1 silver studded with turquoise jewelry (4,000 gp)
1 wrought silver jewelry (500 gp)


12 pieces of ivory (1 stone per 100gp value), each worth 72gp
1 barrels of fine spirits or liquor, worth 200gp each (16 stone each)
1 rich fur coat (1 stone each), worth 1,000gp
3 statuettes (1 stone per 1d3 statuettes), each worth 1,000gp
19 pieces of ivory (1 stone per 100gp value), each worth 94gp
400 monster feathers (1 stone per 25 feathers), each worth 5gp

and then in the magic item department: 
Potion of Invulnerability

Cursed Scroll (Inflicting: One random ability score suffers a -4 penalty)
Scroll of Arcane Spells (Written in Common): Dispel Magic (3rd lvl)
Scroll of Arcane Spells (Written in Draconic): Magic Missile (1st lvl), Charm Person (1st lvl)
Scroll of Ward against Undead
Scroll of Arcane Spells (Written in Dwarven): ESP (2nd lvl)
Scroll of Ward against Magic
Scroll of Ward against Elementals
Scroll of Ward against Lycanthropes
Treasure Map (to 1d6 gems, 2d10 jewelry)
Treasure Map (to 2 magic items)
Treasure Map (to 5d6x1000gp)

Potion of Heroism
Potion of Extra-Healing

Sword +1
Sword +1, light 30' radius
Sword +1, light 30' radius

Helm of Alignment Changing

Well, there's way too many scrolls here not to include a caster monster. They're all arcane, too, so it's apparently a mage. I propose that this monastery was built to protect the Tomb of Saint Avandaryl, a powerful mage who fought for his country until he fell afowl of a Helm of Alignment Changing. Randomizing Alignment sounds stupid, espicially within the cosmology I've set up, so this is actually just a Helm of Corruption. Also, since a wizard put it on, it probably doesn't look like a helmet. Therefore, this is a Pointy Wizard Hat of Corruption. It is blue with stars and crescents. 

So, Avandaryl will manifest as Lesser Lich, a being whose soul is bound to an phylactery, but who can't reform their undead body, so once they're slain, they're just an intelligent item. In this case, the hat. For stats, I'll do normal wizard, but give vampire immunities. With all those swords, it looks like he has three Skeletal Knights to defend him, as well as probably a number of regular skeletons. Gotta let fighters Cleave!


Now, that's the tombfight itself, which is one room. We've still got another Unique room, which I think needs to be some kind of tricky puzzle to access the tomb. I'm thinking animated statue that gives riddles sort of thing, but riddle-games are so binary. I need to think about that end more. I'm also contemplating a magic pipe organ, for obvious reasons. (they're great)

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Joined: 2013-06-05 15:49

Random Idea: 


Reverse Bootleg DVDs: Organized Magic, while incredibly shady and problematic, does agree that necromancy is a bigger problem. The arrogance and cruelty of the powerful is insignificant compared to actually bringing raw evil into the world to make corpses into murder engines. 

Thus, the Wind Mage of the North is charged with stopping the spread of necromancy in his domain, where it's most problematic. He doesn't have the manpower to police every hedge-wizard, so he begins a disinformation campaign. Suddenly the black market is full of necromantic tomes, just lousy with them. None of them work. Some explode when read because of curse traps. Some are very nearly the correct ritual but not quite. 

The Wind Mage also suspects that ordinary books are being used to transmit secret messages, so he starts printing those, too. He builds a gigantic magical printing press called the Untruth Engine and it churns out every book imaginable, but broken and changed in subtle ways. Some suspect that it is adding its own secrets; but then again, statistics assures us that randomness will often look planned. 

Adventurers get hired to find particular volumes; maybe destroy them, maybe retrieve them. For high level play, the Engine itself is a target. 

Twilight Jack
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Joined: 2013-05-14 02:57

I love this idea, and can offer only this in response:

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Joined: 2013-06-05 15:49

I think I had the wrong approach the last time I tried to make a dungeon. A dungeon is, very technically, a bunch of rooms, but humans are also very technically a bunch of cells, and trying to write a human cell by cell would be pointless and bad. 


I think it would be better to think about the dungeon in terms of its One Unique Thing, to steal phrasing from 13th age, and how that impacts its ecology. I think OSR dungeons are fundamentally about "ecology" and the interaction of neighbors, right? 

So, what's special about this dungeon? I think the centerpiece of this dungeon is that it has an ancient evil shrine that some cultists were trying to repair. They schismed, and half of them became skeletons and were exiled, while the other half are hanging around worshipping the shrine.

The skeleton home base is on the other side of an underwater tunnel, since they don't need to breathe this gives them easy access to a number of places in the dungeon. 

I think the shrine contains a particularly corrupt fire elemental, bound to this realm for all eternity and trying to make the best of it but also furious about it and prone to rages. Actually, if he created the skeletons, they probably have sweet burning eye sockets, and die if their skulls are submerged in water. They still use the underwater tunnels; the leaders have glass jars they use to keep their heads dry; the ones lower on the totem pole have to use buckets. 

Since now we're supposing a large, underwater network, that means that this dungeon is either very poorly maintained and largely flooded, or it just has a sweet sewer system. Let's do the second. It's a dwarven vault! And no dwarf fortress is complete without a dumb megaproject. What were these dwarves up to?

Let's see... how about 
1. Breeding giant spiders for silk and homeland defense.
2. Drilling into the earth's core. (Hence the bound fire elemental) 
3. ??? I think there's room for one more thing, since the other two seem kinda mundane and dwarfy.

So, large portions of the vault are full of giant spider webs, who prey on... something. Macro-creatures in an underground biome is always a bit weird, this can be cleaned up. So here's where this is going: the party has reason to believe that there's a big pile of gems at the end of the portion of the dungeon now known as the Spider Caves. The shrine is sitting just next to a big shortcut that doesn't include spiders. There are probably a few more wrinkles to add complexity that I'll add in a day or so, but for now I'm pretty happy with thi-

I HAVEN'T MAPPED IT AT ALL YET AND THAT'S THE HARDEST PART FOR ME augh dang it I really thought I was getting the hang of this. I'll be back next post with a map I guess. 

Joined: 2015-05-05 18:43

i usaly take a map of another dungeon and then adapt it to my idea, its hard to tink good labrynts, but easy to adapt the work or others more skilled. 

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Joined: 2013-06-05 15:49

I should really just start a blog at this point, does anyone have a personal favorite? Would anyone follow it?

This week, I'm thinking about crime. Most crimes seem more opportunity-based than long-term sustainable; you can only blackmail the baron so many times. Smuggling seems like the best bet for a long-term operation, and real-world crime cartels bear this out: bootleggers and drug-dealers are the most powerful crime organizations, while the League of Organized Pickpockets is basically unheard of. 

So I think most of the criminal organizations in my game will default to being smuggling-based, with thieves, assassins, and... extortionists? (Is there a better word for Blackmail Jerks?) being occasionally-used tools available to the crimelord. 

The question is, what gets smuggled? Historically, four broad categories emerge: 
1. Illegal things. Drugs/Booze, weapons, chemicals used for making drugs/weapons.  
2. People. Criminals, refugees, sex slaves, regular slaves... 
3. Legal things that are heavily taxed or regulated: In the present, this probably means things like cigars, alcohol, maybe some medical drugs. (If you're buying tylenol in canada for half price and bringing it across the border, for example.)
4.  Four is three again, but the special case of things you wouldn't expect to be taxed. A couple years ago, I saw a story about norwegian garlic smugglers, who were making bank because there's a 10% tax on garlic plus an extra thousand euros per ton. 


How does this apply to fantasy? Well, #4 means that pretty much anything is viable for smuggling. You can just declare that there's a weirdly high tax on cats and have cat smugglers be viable and common. #3 means that anything particularly expensive is worthwhile to smuggle, so gold, silver, spices, gems, etc are all viable. #2 carries over to fantasy with no need for modification, besides the possible addition of "virgin sacrifices for cults" as a shadow industry. 

#1 is what piques my interest, because I don't know what kinds of weapons would be illegal in ACKS. Crossbows? Flintlocks? Gun-running sounds exciting if you're into that. But ACKS appears to be sorely missing in magical drugs, so that's today's post.


1. Chinese Medicine: Obviously there's a nonwizard market for monster parts. If a wizard can boil bull hearts to make a gelatin-shot of strength, then just chowing down on bull hearts should have some effect.  It's probably not as potent, and you have to know what you're looking for to get one that actually works, but there's no universe where it's commonly known that animal parts are genuinely magic and there's not a massive amatuer market. (NOTE: Potions of giant size are made from chicken eggs, which are sometimes imbued with a little leftover energy drawn from the small residual part of the chicken's DNA that remembers it was once a dinosaur. If when you're a lad you eat four dozen eggs every day it'll help you'll get large, and if once you're a man you eat five dozen eggs, you'll be roughly the size of a baaaaarge.) 


2. Rimeglass: In the wilderness of the far north, up where the gnolls live, there's a portion of their great ice planes that is actually a Deep Wellspring of Elemental Water, which manifests as a massive complex of ice caverns. Every year, humans are forced into the caves to search for the rare crystalline growths known as Rimeglass. Those that succeed will be fed and sheltered until they've recovered, and then sent in again, repeating the process until they manage to die. Their pain, fear, and struggle will seep into the ice, and eventually accumulate and precipitate out as Rimeglass. When consumed by a magic user, Rimeglass's elemental power greatly enhances magic and intellect for a short period of time (I'd say magic gets boosted for a day, giving one additional spell per day of every level available, plus all spells are Empowered and have any mechanical effects boosted 50%, and you also get, say, a +3 to research throws for that week? I'm hoping my PCs aren't dumb enough to use this so I don't really need hard numbers. (They will though. Of course they will.)) Multiple week projects require multiple doses.) but at a terrible price. Physically, the user often feels the physical pain of the glass-miners, and may immediately suffer sympathetic injuries as parts of their body contort to match the soul-fragments they've just imbibed. In extreme cases, whole limbs may be lost to sudden frostbite. Spiritually, the user's soul is ravaged, with wildly unpredictable effects. Roll a pair of saving throws against (Poison and Spells?) and if failed, roll on Mortal Wounds and Tampering with Mortality, respectively. 


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I should really just start a blog at this point, does anyone have a personal favorite? Would anyone follow it?


Would refresh page hourly.