Monday, January 23, 2023

ARTHUR'S STAR, PART 1: Merlinspire

This is the first part of a potential three-part series, depending on the reception of this post.


Three disclaimers:

  1. This adventure is fairly gonzo, generic fantasy with a coat of Arthuriana paint slapped on top. I did that because of the pre-built mythopoeic weight that specifically Merlin carries, circumventing my need to deliberately set up the mad wizard as a worthy foe. If the incongruities in tone between this adventure and the Matter of Britain don’t sit easily with you, either change the names and run it as generic fantasy or find/write an adventure that more suitably manifests your vision.

  2. This world makes two assumptions, without which the premise of the adventure falls apart: one, that there is a robust, diverse cosmology a la the Great Wheel or ICRPG's multiverse, and two, that magic comes from manipulating the lifeblood a distant imprisoned star. This world also assumes that the four types of magic are ash, glass, raven, and moon, but that's not necessary for the adventure to function.

  3. Given that this was written as a one-shot, there aren’t many points of adventure-changing choice throughout the sequence, and it is designed to take the heroes from beginning to end without a break. If you’re running this adventure as part of a campaign, or as a one-shot with players used to having more freedom in their adventures, be sure to telegraph these features as best you can.


--

LONG AGO, a dwarf star whose lifeblood powered the magic of mortals and monsters was sealed away in the gelid Stellar Oubliette for its crimes in the far reaches of the cosmos.

YEARS AGO, the Round Table finished its crusade against the giants, leaving Ysbadaden the Fallen to abandon his terrestrial home for one where man-steel could never pierce his flesh as it had his kin.

MONTHS AGO, Ysbadaden settled on the Stellar Oubliette, and his excavations thereon began to reawaken the imprisoned star therein.

DAYS AGO, the night-terrors of the star inspired fearsome madness in a growing number of terrestrial thaumaturges.

HOURS AGO, King Arthur received news that Merlin had reportedly fallen to this mysterious ailment, locking himself and his apprentices in Merlinspire, his tower and home.

MINUTES AGO, Arthur summoned you to the Round Table to task you with finding out what fate befell Merlin, and how to amend this magic plague.


STAR-SICKNESS. All of the world’s magic-users are slowly succumbing to this disease, whether they know it or not. The disease’s three symptoms are eyes that glow white with burning starlight, irregular bursts of magical energy, and an unquenchable hatred for life in all its forms. Unfortunately, that first symptom sets in about an hour after the latter two. Each day, there’s a chance any magic user contracts Star-Sickness, or every hour within a place of great magical power, as all of the locations mentioned in this adventure-sequence are.


WORLD I: MERLINSPIRE

In the middle of a clearing stands an ivy-clad tower, steepling stone-gray and shingle-red towards the gathering thunderheads above. Nothing is remarkable about it, and it strikes you that nothing is remarkable about it precisely because it is the standard against which you judge what is remarkable- it is the Ur-Tower, the very first and the very best. Between the first and second floor, a line of fire runes carved into the side of the tower emit about the same amount of heat as a furnace as a precaution against climbers. (The ivy has inexplicably adapted to withstand the heat.) There is a set of double doors at its nadir, serving as the tower’s only ground entrance. Touching them in any capacity causes them to swing open as Merlin’s voice booms an echoing “WELCOME!”; there is no surprising its occupants now. 



(Map here)


I) THE STRANGLING PIT. In the middle of this room is a 15ish foot deep sinkhole, at the bottom of which is a shallow pool of mild acid. Hidden under the acid sits a cleaned skeleton with a Ring of Jumping on its finger. Nooseweed vines grow down the walls of the sinkhole to water level, attempting to wrap around the throat of anyone who touches them. Stuck to the ceiling is a chain imp, a lump of misshapen flesh with four long, chitinous tentacle-tendons resembling rusted chains.

  • Two of these chains have hooks on the end, and are used to cut into the skin, pulling the victim off their feet, perhaps dragging them short distances in the process.

  • The other two have blunt ends, but have the strength and fine control to wrap around a target and carry them distances. 

  • The imp can use each chain once per round, and will try to get as many victims in the acid pit as possible (using the hook chains on those at the pit’s lip and the blunt chains for the more cautious) before using the hook chains to slash at whoever is most vulnerable.


II) THE DEMENTED APPRENTICES. A bookshelf on the wall contains a number of elementary to intermediate occult texts, one of which contains a spell scroll being used as a bookmark. An everburning candelabra hangs from the middle of the room, its candles easily removed. 4 star-sick, telepathically-linked apprentices of Merlin sit in the middle of the room, silently playing patty-cake until the prime opportunity to strike.

  • Chow, clad in gently smoking russet robes, can create concussive jets of wind from their hands.

  • Luna, with a tattoo of a crescent moon on her forehead, reverses a person’s gravity with her touch. This effect is automatic and otherwise as irreversible as any curse.

  • Morde, with black wings sticking haphazardly out their back and talon-like fingers, is a half-crow abomination. He flies and mimics with shaky proficiency.

  • Shard, clad in a kimono of shattered mirrors woven into tapestry, can grow simple glass sculptures out of the ground. He can have two manifest at a given time; excess crumble to dust.

They will not willingly allow access to the 3rd floor, and stake their hold with extreme tactical cunning and foolhardy tenacity, even following interlopers upstairs if they must. Their ideal strategy is to lie in wait until they can split the party, at which point Shard creates walls of glass to block both doors and Chow blows unsuspecting victims into Luna, who’s seated directly under the candelabra. At that point, Morde can attack anyone on the ceiling or fly someone out a window and drop them, and Chow can blow air through the candelabra to create a sort of flamethrower. Get crafty.


III) THE GOLEMANCY LAB. There are three decorated doors in this room: the bronze one leads to the ersatz circle (IV), the silver one leads to Merlin’s sanctum (V), and the gold one leads to the tidal hoard (VI). In the center of this room is a wood and metal operating table. Cables run from this table across the floor and up the wall to connect to a lightning rod on top of the tower. Lying on the table is an inert golem Merlin has named “Vyrmfud” (worm food). It animates upon any attempt to open a door, attacking anyone not stricken with star-madness. While it may be painfully slow and stupid, its fists swing with the force of sledgehammers. Merlin wears its control amulet.


IV) THE ERSATZ CIRCLE. On the floor of this room is a crackling magic circle. It’s a teleportation circle on the fritz, pulling in magic from the Pentahectate’s broken engine and flooding the room with palpable, harmful magical radiation. On the ceiling is another chain imp (see I), save that it uses its chains to pull people into the circle and teleport them to the deck of the Pentahectate (this will be in the next post).


V) MERLIN’S FANE. This room is bigger than architecturally possible, piled high with occult bric-a-brac and magical items of all varieties, though it’s in a state of even greater disarray than normal. Insert oddities, details, and artifacts freely to your taste. Merlin himself occupies this sanctum, feeble and star-mad but still formidable.

  • Merlin knows a random selection of powerful arcane spells, and can cast them any number of times. Any spells he knows that it would have been wise of him to cast in advance, he has.

  • Merlin wields his spellbook in one hand and the Monkey King’s Staff in the other, utterly indestructible and capable of being expanded or collapsed to most any size.

  • Merlin has animated objects to fight on his behalf.

    • His broom tries to sweep people off of their feet, and can serve as a flying mount for a quick getaway.

    • His chest tries to lock itself around the head or torso of the burliest combatant it sees.

    • His candelabra tries to burn anything it can get at, from an ostentatious cloak to a spell scroll halfway through being read.


VI) THE TIDAL HOARD. The floor is covered in gold! Gold up to your ankles! Each time you describe the gold, it gets higher. Gold to your shins! To your knees! Should anyone stay too long, they’ll find themselves unable to wade through the gold fast enough to escape before it rises above their head and they’re crushed under the weight. Hanging above the window is a magical black-iron blade by the name of DEVOURING BEGETS DEVOURING with properties of your choosing. Easily spotted in the pile of gold against the right wall is a necklace with three pieces of Turkish delight hanging from it. The red piece doubles your size, the blue piece halves it, and the green piece makes you incorporeal, at least for a short while.


Let me know if you want to see more. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The Seven Arts of the CHURCH

 An ACOLYTE is any member of the CHURCH intending to become an INITIATE, the title for someone trained in one of the 7 Clerical Arts. It takes a year of dedicated study under a High INITIATE mentor to consider oneself proficient in a given Art. One can be granted the title of High INITIATE after successfully practicing their Art for 13 more years. There are six types of INITIATE, from First Circle to Sixth Circle. Each Art you have studied raises you a Circle. (For example, a High Third Circle INITIATE has mentored in 3 arts, and has practiced at least one for 13 years.) There is no such thing as a Seventh Circle INITIATE, as 7 is the forbidden number; such a position is held by a HIEROPHANT, of which there are only ever 3. Below are short descriptions of each Art, and the title one receives upon having completed their mentorship.


ACOLYTE [Make the world better] d6. Institutional protectorate (assaulting an acolyte is a heretical offense).

INITIATE [Serve the CHURCH] d8. Institutional protectorate, unshakeable will (mental state cannot be magically swayed), Art practitioner (see italics below).


(Pb now has a minimalist stat format! NAME [Impulse] VD. Special abilities. SOMA is twice the max value of the VD, WD are listed next to any abilities that use them. That new terminology will make sense when I publish the next version of NEW AGE.)


A Cantor practices Binding. This is the easiest Art to study, and generally the first that the average ACOLYTE pursues, as it’s oriented around ceremonies whose intricacies are tedious but not complex. The three primary ceremonies of Binding are the Mystery (in which the CHURCH recognizes and sanctions the promotion of a clergymember), the Wedding (in which the CHURCH recognizes and sanctions the crystallization of a romance), and the Indictment (in which the CHURCH recognizes and sanctions a declaration of heresy). A Cantor can freely change anyone’s emotional state by speaking to them for a minute, or by touching them for a High Cantor.


Many who learn the vulgar rites graduate to learn rituals yet graver.


A Celebrant practices Internment. The Celebrant deals with the dead, officiating funerals and executions with equal gravity and vindictive zeal. Children who rip small animals limb from limb and snap their bones inside their flesh are often introduced to their local Celebrant in the hopes of a future apprenticeship. A Celebrant’s touch takes up to a year off of your life, or up to a decade for a High Celebrant.*


Those who must deal with heresy’s aftermath often seek preventative approaches.


An Abjurer practices Abjuration (called Apotropaia when practiced by a heretic). When holy ground must be consecrated or spirits from beyond must be exorcized, these tight-lipped, cerulean-clad nomads slip in, work their artifice, and silently vanish as mysteriously as they first came. Hunting down a High Abjurer mentor is part of an ACOLYTE’S training. An Abjurer’s glare quells magic, and paralyzes for a High Abjurer.


When salt and script fail, often steel and sinew succeed.


A Bulwark practices Crusade. Crusade is the only act of CHURCH-sanctioned violence, and is to be exerted only against heretics and existential threats to the CHURCH and its holdings, at least on paper. Bulwarks traditionally use blood-polished shillelaghs grown in an ankh shape; part of their training is to find a suitable staff and crack enough skulls with it to get a good claret stain. Bulwarks have a d10 VD, or a d12 for a High Bulwark.


The old wisdom is to avoid breaking what you cannot mend.


A Chaplain practices Healing. Is their miraculous artifice the result of divine providence or the cutting edge of learning? None can be sure, but none can argue its near-preternatural efficacy. However, the CHURCH does not practice mercy-killing; many cripples in its care commit heinous sins just so they may be finally made free from agony’s shackles at a Celebrant’s hands. Chaplains can replenish 1 SOMA through their touch, or WD (d6) for a High Chaplain.


Those who suffer supplicate to their superiors so they may soothe their spirits.


An Augur practices Augury (called Divination outside of INITIATE practice). The means by which an Augur tells the future is a sort of regional dialect; be it by animal entrails, rune stones, cards, or cloud formations, be it under the star-speckled sky or deep within the earth, be it to conjure the whispers of the dead, visions from beyond, or metered glossolalia. Through these nuances, a knowledgeable Augur can watch another’s technique and know who their mentor was mentored by, and so on all the way back to the first practitioners of the Art. With an hour’s ritual and an appropriate sacrifice, an Augur receives a divine answer to a binary question, or an open-ended question for a High Augur. 


Those who know history are doomed to see it repeated.


A Counselor practices Cataloguing. The duties of a Counselor are eclectic, including overseeing confessionals and musically accompanying services, but their first is as the CHURCH’s living library. Their training involves memorizing large swathes of the Codex Periodicum word for word, and reading countless other folk fables and historical treatises to boot. It is for this reason that ex-Counselors, of which there are disproportionately many, are considered among the most dangerous heretics. With a glance, a Counselor knows everything you’ve done in the past day, or in the past year for a High Counselor.


*If you need a character’s expected lifespan in a pinch, 10+4d20 feels right to me for a medievalish setting.


(DESIGN NOTES: The strength of this design is that temperament = title = stats. For example, take a Second Circle INITIATE in Internment and Crusade. Not only does that diegetic title alone inform a complete stat block, it tells us a few things about their personality and background as a character. We can guess that they’re young, given they’re not a High INITIATE, and that they likely have a sadistic streak. This means that you the DM can encode a lot of information that might be expressed in redundant ways very succinctly, freeing physical and mental space for more interesting prep, and the players can access it through color heraldry and NPCs being addressed by their titles.)


Pb NEW AGE revision coming as soon as I have to get it finished in order to get this new game up and running. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Dungeon fantasy's traditional/archetypal spells

 This is an effort to create the resource I’ve been wanting to see. Whenever I’ve been creating spell lists, especially minimalist ones, I’ve always worried that I’ve left off something necessary or oft-expected. To solve that problem, I’ve gone through my library of fantasy RPGs and recorded all the spell effects that recur enough to be noteworthy. The ultimate thesis I came to is this: these are the 10 categories of magic that most frequently recur in medieval fantasy dungeoneering games, and as such a well-rounded spell list should have at least one of each type of spell to feel like it covers all the bases. Below, each category is expounded into its relevant tropes and archetypes for an individual designer to adopt or reject at their leisure. If I forgot anything, please let me know in the comments. I want this to be as complete a resource I can make it (for very selfish reasons.)


ARCHETYPAL SPELL “SCHOOLS”:

1 Elemental magic

2 Enchantment magic

3 Social magic

4 Summoning magic

5 Divine magic

6 Health magic

7 Illusion magic

8 Sensory magic

9 Movement magic

10 Dungeon magic


ELEMENTAL

  • HARMFUL ELEMENTAL
    • Elemental damage (prominently fireball, lightning bolt, and magic missile)
    • Gas cloud, obfuscating and poisonous
    • Weather control/magical weather (particularly ice storms, earthquakes, and insect plagues)
  • UTILITY ELEMENTAL
    • Elemental wall (prominently fire and stone)
    • Elemental resistance
    • Elemental form
    • Produce/destroy water
    • Manipulate earth


ENCHANTMENT

  • OBJECT ENCHANTMENT
    • Mending
    • Invulnerability
    • Ensorcel item (particularly weapons)
    • Create item (particularly food/drink and magic items)
  • BODY ENCHANTMENT
    • Stat boost
    • Size manipulation (particularly plant hypergrowth)
    • Shapeshift (particularly into animals)
    • Incorporeality


SOCIAL

  • CHARM
    • Make friendly
    • Single-word command
    • Long-term command
    • Induce confusion/insanity
  • NONVIOLENCE
    • Read/speak language
    • Compel truth
    • Induce sleep

SUMMONING

  • NATURAL CREATURES
    • Familiar
    • Beast/swarm/steed
    • Monster
  • SUPERNATURAL CREATURES
    • Elemental
    • Demon
    • Angel/hero
    • Exorcism/banishing
  • EXOTIC SUMMONS
    • Animate objects
    • Invisible servant/familiar

DIVINE

  • INFLUENCE
    • Turn of fortune, good and ill
    • Manifestation/summoning of spiritual entity
  • DIVINATION
    • Question, binary and open-ended
    • Conversation with spiritual entity


HEALTH

  • WEAL
    • Heal wounds
    • Heal ailments (diseases, curses, handicaps, etc.)
    • Raise from dead
  • WOE
    • Inflict ailment (diseases, curses, handicaps, etc.)
    • Necrotic/vampiric touch
    • Reanimate as undead (particularly zombies and skeletons)


ILLUSION

  • GENERAL
    • Monosensory
    • Polysensory (particularly terrain)
    • Obfuscation (particularly darkness, invisibility, and silence)
  • SPECIFIC
    • Appearance modification/disguise
    • Manifestation of a target’s fears
    • Clone, real or illusory


SENSORY

  • SHORT-RANGE
    • Sense magic
    • Sense “evil”
    • Sense “traps”
    • Read thoughts/telepathy
  • LONG-RANGE
    • Remote seeing/scrying
    • Locate (particularly objects)


MOVEMENT

  • MUNDANE
    • Speed/jump boost
    • Exotic mobility (climb, swim, etc.)
    • Flight
  • INSTANTANEOUS
    • Portal use (circle, doorway, tree, etc.)
    • Extemporaneous teleportation
    • Recall to safety
    • Interdimensional/interplanar teleportation
  • RESTRICTION
    • Restraint (particularly ropes/spider webs, paralysis, and petrification)
    • Extradimensional prison (particularly with physical totem, i.e. soul jar)


DUNGEON

  • DUNGEONEERING
    • Produce light (particularly sun/moonlight)
    • Un/lock
    • Telekinesis (particularly with spectral hand)
    • Disintegration
  • ANTIMAGIC
    • Block/undo magic
    • Ward (particularly against weapon use, magic, and “evil”)


I hope this proves as useful to you as it hopefully will for me. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


Saturday, December 31, 2022

Pb: Three Truths and Five Principalities

House cleaning on the new and improved Pb, coming sometime early next year. If you've been keeping up with the setting, not much here is a revelation. But I do have a map now, which is more than I could say at any other point in this setting's development. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


THE FIRST TRUTH. The landscape is no unbroken mass of endless earth. Rather, it is composed of floating motes of land held in place by titanic chains plunging down into the luminescent, eldritch Æther below. The largest cohesive land mass, the AGGREGATE, was a work of deliberate artifice from the earliest civilizations, the product of lashing countless motes into a patchwork. No sun nor moon hangs in the star-spackled sky.


THE SECOND TRUTH. The AGGREGATE is ruled with an iron-gauntleted fist by the EMPIRE and its right hand the CHURCH (or perhaps it is the other way around). The CHURCH teaches the doctrine of the Warrior-Poet, who compiled the stories of the Saints, mythopoeic personifications of the chemical elements, into the Codex Periodicum. Whispering adherents venerate, for example, Saint Gold the Witchfinder General or Saint Iodine the Mysteriarch.


THE THIRD TRUTH. The OLD WORLD was the age of the Saints, when human civilization was still in its infancy. When the first great human congregation, known to historians as the CONQUEST, crafted the AGGREGATE, it ushered in the NEW AGE, marking the decline of the Saints and the beginning of an age of stability and growth only interrupted by the insurgency of the Warrior-Poet’s successors. As order waxes, magic wanes. The UNDREAMT WILD surrounding the AGGREGATE is still in a tumultuous, hypermagical state of nature, making the AGGREGATE a fragile bastion in a sea of undifferentiated OLD WORLD.



To allow for ease of administration and to alleviate ethnic tensions, the EMPIRE is divided into 5 major principalities, the domains and influences of which are broadly safe from politic’s fickle maneuverings.


IODINIA. The heartland is littered with the EMPIRE’S most bountiful jewels. Raz Haruungar, the greatest city of this or any age and the capital of the EMPIRE, lies beyond the ensnaring hyphae of the Mycelion, a colossal fungal forest-organism. Iodinians have fair or lightly browned skin and eyes in any number of unnatural prismatics, a holdover from the physiognomic tinkering of the CONQUEST.


SACCHARINIA. The closest thing this imploding dynastic power has to a holy book is Machiavelli’s The Prince. Massive spires of sugar-crystal grow out of the sweetened soil of the Sugarspire Flats, into which the Saccharinians carve palaces and dance halls silly with decadent splendor. Saccharinians are known for exaggerated bod-mod, from bleaching their whole body in vibrant pastels to piercing anything that isn’t bone to elaborate full-body works of tattoo artistry.


BURSINGR. The cold here is so bitter it will cut the skin right off your back if you’ll let it. In the shadow of Zenith Mons, king of the motescape’s mountains, glacial fjords thich with piracy cut through the gelid landscape. Bursingi are built thickly and pale, bristling with red hair and marked with spiraling tattoos, breathing tapestries of genealogy and reputation.


GOLGOTH. This is where the old faiths still live, and they don’t mind the heat. It is named for the Golgothan Edifice, the cliff face upon which the first painting of the human form was painted. Golothans are barely unified by their bark-brown skin, hair, and eyes; each clan has developed its own conventions and aesthetics over the centuries.


CHURLIA. Here, the EMPIRE is ripping the riches from the earth’s singing hands. Churlia is dominated by swathes of rolling grasses, in which are littered the rusted ruins of OLD WORLD wars, and its native tribespeople find themselves in the crosshairs of the EMPIRE’s expansionism. Leather-browned and olive Churlians integrate beadwork into their oil-stained overalls, sewing their aviator hats out of Yeabu pelt and woven grass.

Friday, December 30, 2022

The COMPLICATION table, or, reactive random encounters

    After some playtesting, I find myself wanting to make some tightening revisions to NEW AGE. One of the revelations I had recently is that the primary reason I wasn’t utilizing random encounters is because of the extra cognitive load of tracking dungeon-time, which was necessary to ensure that there would be regularity to when I checked for an encounter. That, plus the possibility that a random encounter would possibly coincide with and as such interfere with a planned encounter, made them a tool I didn’t often use- except, that is, to check what happened when the players tried to take a rest in dungeon-time.

That made me realize that what I needed was a reactive system of random encounter checks, not a proactive one. Me rolling for a random encounter wouldn’t be at my will, but in response to the players wanting to take a rest or undergo something with a high time cost. This concept of reactive random encounter checks, my want for tools that I could use for multiple purposes, and my love for the d12 led to the below rules, which I’ll bring to the table with NEW AGE 2e or whatever. This is the absolute first draft, so phraseology and language are subject to change, particularly in the realm of getting closer to succinct, natural language, but I think the concepts have legs.


BREATHERS AND RESTS. If you take an uninterrupted hourish to nurse your wounds and eat a snack, you regain [WEIRD]* SOMA. This is called a BREATHER. If you spend a peaceful night in a warm bed with a full belly, you regain all your SOMA. This is called a REST.


*I’m calling [MAGIC] [WEIRD] in the new version for the same reason I call HP SOMA.


COMPLICATIONS. If you undertake an action that lasts more than a half hour in a dangerous place, like a BREATHER or an excavation, the DM can at their discretion check for a COMPLICATION, which might be mitigated by precautions you take before your undertaking, like barricading.


The Great Generic COMPLICATION table:

1 ENVIRONMENTAL INTERRUPTION. This should be a light annoyance, but enough to interrupt any action requiring the duration to check for COMPLICATIONS.

2 WEAK HOSTILE FORCE. This is a creature that is by default violent, but doesn’t pose a threat to the party, serving mainly to interrupt them and marginally drain their resources or strain their creativity to come up with an alternate solution.

3 FRIENDLY FORCE. This is a force that is actually helpful for the players, be it an environmental effect and a creature.

4 NEUTRAL FORCE. This is a creature whose motivations are such that their interaction with the players could go either way. If it turns to hostility, this creature usually poses a fairly serious threat/resource drain to the party.

5 HOSTILE FORCE. This is a creature that is by default hostile and is a fairly large threat/drain.

6 OVERWHELMING THREAT. This is something with the potential to wipe the floor with the players, environmental or animate. The challenge then becomes circumventing it safely, not necessarily encountering it head-on.

7-12. Nothing happens; the action goes through. [The first 6 entries can also be used as a d6 table for whatever nefarious purposes a wily DM may devise.]


COMPLICATIONS for a volcano dungeon or some shit it’s late:

1 GEOTHERMAL GASSES. Hot sulfur pours up from subterranean chambers. Roll TNCT or go blind for d6 hours, sweating like a pig and being incapable of resting on a success. [Cracks in the ground spewing yellow smoke.]

2 DRIP. Lava drips on a character, causing d10 damage and destroying a random piece of equipment. [A fresh crack in the ceiling starts to glow.]

3 HARDEVOIR. A dwarvish architect doing research on the natural design of the caverns. He knows a good chunk of the place by the back of his hand. [The tapping of his cane against the volcanic stone.]

4 TARRANAX. A red wyrm navigating the caverns in search of the Blueflame Blade, once a part of its hoard. Will do or say anything to retrieve the blade, then attacks as soon as it’s back in its scaly clutches, or if its ego is not sufficiently stroked. [An illusion of trumpet fanfare Tarranax projects before it enters any room populated by smelly apes.]

5 OBSALAMANDER SWARM. Living within the igneous rock, these elemental carnivores manipulate the cavern walls, floor, and ceiling to pin victims in place and drain their blood, even flowing into metal implements when struck. [Swimming patterns in stone, like ripples in water.]

6 PYROCLASTIC FLOW. Lava floods the room over the course of ten minutes, destroying anything short of fireproof therein. [A sudden increase in the room’s temperature, plus the glow of flowing lava if applicable.]


Three things to notice: one, the 7-12 is implied; I just write it as a d6 table so a cunning DM’s instinct becomes to repurpose it in a pinch. Two, I’ve also included a way to foreshadow each COMPLICATION, so that the players have a moment to react to whatever’s being telegraphed, which is just good practice. Three, I've built the generic table so that a DM in a pinch or converting on the fly or improvising could use the generic table on its own to inspire an extemporaneous encounter or in conjunction with another random encounter table that isn't structured as the COMPLICATION table is.


Alright, time to get back to the rest of the NEW AGE overhaul. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


ARTHUR'S STAR, PART 1: Merlinspire

This is the first part of a potential three-part series, depending on the reception of this post. Three disclaimers: This adventure is fairl...