Friday, December 31, 2021

1d12 carousing mishaps for pirate campaigns

Happy new year, everybody, carouse responsibly!

Here's a table of 12 carousing mishaps I wrote up for the current naval/pirate themed leg of our LotFP campaign. We are doing Curse of the Emerald Sea. Our Referee "crowdsourced" the carousing table, so each of us players wrote a bunch of entries. These are mine:

  1. You wake up with a treasure map tattooed on your body. Roll d6 for location: 1 buttcheek, 2 forehead, 3 shoulder blade, 4 back of the head, 5 “tramp stamp”, 6 chest. The Referee secretly rolls two d6’s. The first d6 shows if the place is marked correctly on the map (1-2 yes, 3-6 no). The second d6 defines the treasure (1 pirate booty, 2 ancient prehistoric artifact, 3 time-capsule from the future, 4-6 already taken).
  2. You are now wanted by the Royal Navy. Your portrait (50% chance it actually looks like you) is plastered on walls in all ports, inns, even some villages. Trouble with the authority, but “street cred” with anti-establishment types.
  3. You become lovers with a mermaid or merman. At the start of every session, save vs Paralyzation or you are -1 to hit (naval sex is exhausting). If you fall into the sea, there is a 5-in-6 chance your lover saves you from drowning.
  4. You gamble with the Devil. Both you and the Referee roll 2d6. Lower number wins. If you lose, the Devil collects your soul upon your death (you are marked as the Devil’s own while alive, -2 on Reaction from children, sensitives and animals). If you win, you get a gold-plated violin. If the Devil rolls snake-eyes, he takes your soul instantly and leaves you a soulless zombie. If you roll snake-eyes, the Devil is bound to serve you for one day at a time you summon him.
  5. You befriend a pack of rats. They warn you if the ship you are on is about to sink. On the flipside, you now always smell of rat piss.
  6. Take a card from the Deck of Weird Things. Before reading it, designate a PC or NPC as the receiver of the card’s effect. You cannot receive it yourself.
  7. One of your body parts gets stuck in a giant clam, you cannot get it out until the end of the session. Roll d6: 1 right hand, 2 left hand, 3 right leg, 4 left leg, 5 nose, 6 [redacted].
  8. You take part in a coconut throwing contest. Make a series of ranged attack rolls. The first roll is against AC 12, then AC 14, 16, 18… Keep going as long as you hit, and count the hits. At the end, you gain 100 sp for every hit. However, if you miss the first round (vs AC 12), you are ridiculed and unable to use ranged attacks this session.
  9. You get a terrible “hangover”. Which actually means that you wake up hanging over an active volcano or a tribe’s cooking fire. Save vs Paralyze to break free, on a failure take d8 damage.
  10. You anger the gods. There is a terrible thunderstorm, lasting d4 days.
  11. You fall in love with a beautiful person. Turns out, it’s a ship’s figurehead. The love is still real and now you want to steal the statue from its place.
  12. You are challenged to a duel over something absolutely stupid (like preferring rum and coke over rum and gunpowder). Roll d6, the fight is: 1 to the death, 2-4 to the first blood, 5-6 to disarming. You are too drunk to gauge your opponent’s skill, but they might be lower or higher level than you. If you refuse, you are a coward and Reactions to you are at -2 in this town. If you agree, roll initiative and fight the challenger (Fighter [carousing character’s level+2-d4], AC 14).

Monday, November 22, 2021

Fifty more 21-word dungeon rooms!

I wrote fifty more short dungeon room descriptions (see the original ten here)!

All 60 rooms in a single PDF!

11. Mush-Room

Cavemen lurk behind row of giant mushrooms that split the room in two areas. Enemies shake fungi to release hallucinogenic spores.

12. Arena of the Phoenix-Spider

Great oval hall, knee-deep layer of ashes. Gold banners from 100’ tall ceiling. Arachnid monstrosity rises to challenge all two-eyed creatures.

13. Oozey Oozebornes Bedroom

Small and cluttered, rare alchemic manuals and implements everywhere. Domesticated ooze lives under bed, obeys simple verbal orders (“fetch!”, “engulf!”, “sit!”…).

14. Tidal Chamber

Long, narrow room, floods/empties every 6 hours. Blueprints of experimental submersible vessel engraved into granite walls. Sluice leads to underground sea.

15. Spider Theatre

Contrast between total darkness all around and cone of light projected at smiling mask on pedestal. Giant spiders drop from ceiling.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Ten dungeon rooms, 21 words each

There's a contest in an AD&D group on Facebook, everybody is to write a 21-word description of a dungeon room. It's a pretty fun challenge, so I entered two into the contest (#1-2) and wrote eight more. Could make good minor "Specials" for random dungeon stocking on the fly as well, I guess?

1. Library of Dark Wisdom

Gloomy hall, ceiling 40', labyrinth of 30' tall shelves, extra exits on top. Loud sounds trigger Silence spell. Undead librarians wander.

2. Shrine of the False Serpent God

Columns carved with intertwined snakes. Gigantic statue of god, hollow on the inside (priests fake miracles). Sacrificial dagger on blood-caked altar.

3. Trick Crypt

Eight stone sarcophagi (filled with harmless black sludge), arranged in star-shape. North-east one has false bottom, leads to secret underground passage.

4. Machine Room Orphan

Narrow space, cogs & gears, bursts of hissing steam. Lost child cowers in corner, amulet of the Witch King around neck.

5. Underground Cathedral of the Monster Hunter

Backlit stained-glass windows in alcoves depict famed monsters; if broken, glass shards animate, but can be used to create monster-slaying weapons.

6. Rainbow Room

Seven doors, each painted one color of the rainbow. Illumination cycles through spectrum, only the door with the current color openable.

7. Impractical Garage

Ornate chariot; entrances to narrow for it to pass. Pair of invisible horses neigh. Gilded weapons & tools hung on walls.

8. Draconic Gauntlet

Like a dog agility course, but for young dragons (tunnel, seesaw, hurdles…). Training manuals on shelves. Torn dragon harness on ground.

9. Creepy Anatomical Theatre

Horseshoe-shaped auditorium. Semi-dissected body on slab looks just like player character, but with animal features. Mad teaching assistant armed with scalpels.

10. False Chasm

Rickety rope bridge over chasm. Actual depth only 30’ – masked by illusion of void, tunnel to treasure vault at the bottom.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Solo science fantasy hexcrawl - Session #2

Read previous installment here. This short session is the resolution of the combat that began at the end of the last...

Day 5 – continued [investigation in 1707, plains, favorable weather, random encounter in the afternoon]

Posidonios is ensnared! The wires cut into his flesh – and, alerted by his screams, the inhabitants of the place crawl forward… Four grotesque, goblinish figures, their wrinkly sky parchment dry and spotted. Some are emaciated and skeleton-like, some are potbellied. Dry and twisted, like the plains around them. In fact, they seem to have emerged from the barren ground itself.

Duke Seneb and Eucarpus, who are scavenging nearby, also hear the scream, but don’t come running just yet… They approach cautiously, behind the cover of the wreckage. They split up, Seneb circles to the right, Eucarpus to the left, weapons at ready.

The four creatures move closer to Posidonois. They aren’t in a hurry, and savor the kill. “What do have us here?” one of them whispers in a raspy tone. “We have us here some fresh meat,” the others reply in unison. They bare their pointy teeth. Posidonios screams.

“Get away from him!” shouts Eucarpus and rushes forward, brandishing his scimitar. The creatures are startled, and turn towards the fighting-man. “Well-well-well…” intones their leader. “Say, intruder, if you like our place so much, why don’t you just… stay with us? F o r e v e r . . .” The creature’s yellow eyes light up with an uncanny suggestive force. The mind of Eucarpus bends to the demonic will. “Y-yes, I wish to become one with the dust,” he mumbles.

Duke Seneb jumps out from his cover and mutters a string of syllables in an alien language. A cone of clashing colors erupts from his outstretched left hand. Eucarpus and the four monsters cry out in pain, cover their eyes, and fall to the ground. Duke Seneb runs over to Posidonois and tries to free him, but the wires of the snare are hard to cut. Knowing that the duration of his spell is limited, Seneb instead starts slashing the throats of the unconscious monsters. The ground swallows the black ichor instantly, without a trace.

But one of the creatures regains consciousness and raises up, blood splurting from its neck. It lunges at Seneb, but misses. “Get him,” he gurgles, and, to Seneb’s surprises, Eucarpus, who is by now also conscious and standing, charges Seneb. Seneb deflects the blade at the last minute and starts backing away. Posidonios, although his movements are hindered, tries to throw himself at Eucarpus, but the wires pull him back and he falls. Seneb faces two enemies alone – and one of these enemies used to be his comrade. “Snap out of it! It is me, Seneb,” he shouts as he tries and fails to hit the monster. But the charm is too strong, and Eucarpus cannot overcome it. “Must… kill the intruders… the sacred place must not be polluted,” he mumbles and buries his blade deep into Seneb’s body. Posidonios manages to free one of his legs, and kicks Eucarpus – who loses balance and also drops to the ground. This gives a bit of space for Seneb, and the Duke delivers a final blow to the last remaining monster.

“What happened?” gasps Eucarpus. A terrible hypnotic weight lifts from his mind with the death of the last creature. His two comrades are bleeding or bound. The bodies of the four monsters rapidly desiccate before their very eyes.

Duke Seneb shrugs, and tries to staunch his bleeding. Then together they free Posidonios. “Creatures of dust, the very soil of this wretched land,” Eucarpus verbalizes the weird phrases that still echo in his head. Then he points at a hole in the ground. “This is their burrow…” The underground hole hides a small hoard of 4,000 copper scales and a silvery metal diadem. This last object buzzes slightly when touched, and arcane glyphs light up on its inner surface. None of the adventurers feel up to the task of trying the diadem on… so this artifact will have to be identified at a later time.

For now, they set up camp in the cover of the wreckage and wait for the night to fall…


Notes: the generator gave me "spotted Dryads" with a Reaction of 2 - Hostile, so this is where I took it. Murderous barren plain dryads.

To be continued!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Solo science fantasy hexcrawl - Session #1

I played a ~2 hour solo hexcrawl session today, set in my weird pulpy science fantasy world. Every detail of the world is generated from a gigantic Inspiration Pad Pro file - it's over ten thousand lines, I've been working on it for a long time, adding new items, expanding word lists, etc. You might recall the settlements I posted before - they were sourced from this generator.

"Red Dward" by JustV23

So today I did a hexcrawl, with four random characters:

Duke Seneb, hungry professional drunkard (Magic-User 1)
Sappho, heartbroken merchant (Fighter 3)
Eucarpus, exquisitely dressed archivist's husband (Fighter 2)
Posidonios, hideous servant of jeweler (Fighter 1)

Here's the write-up! Raw output (for comparison) in the comments.

Day 1 [entering hex 1309, plains with settlement, weather is neutral, no random encounter]

The story begins on the red salt-encrusted plains in the middle of nowhere. The village of Apollonia ad Rhyndacum stands here, a stop on the long north-south caravan road. A small community (pop. 170), clustered around a foul-smelling power plant (used to refuel any motored vehicles, but hated by locals) and a reconstructed caravanserai. Most buildings are of concrete. All of them are covered by a bright orange fungal infestation.

The exhausted party heads to the caravanserai’s bar. Their every movement is watched by the scary-looking human-shark hybrid bouncer. “Don’t cause any trouble here, fellas,” warns the barman, “Djed over there bites and is the best shot in town”.

Duke Seneb orders the cheapest, vilest drink, downs it, and orders two more.

The rest of the team consumes more cautiously. Sappho, who is currently unarmed, checks if there are any weapons for sale. The flamethrower on offer is too pricey, so she settles on a simple polearm.

Eucarpus inquires about the local situation. “Ask Pediamun,” says the barman and points towards a person who just entered: an older gentleman with unruly hair and haunted eyes, with a dirty puppet on his left hand. He immediately launches into a long-winded paranoid rant about how the orange mould is an alien organism and must be stopped. The only tool to stop the spreading is located in an ancient tech-orchard, some 30-40 miles to the north-east… and offers 800 silver shekels if the artifact (an occult microscope) is brought to him. Eucarpus agrees in the name of the party, then they drag Duke Seneb away from the bar and tie him to a bed upstairs in a rented room.

Day 2 [travelling from 1309 to 1408, jungle with ruins, unfavorable weather, no random encounter]

The party sets out towards the north-east first thing in the morning. Duke Seneb is hungover, so Eucarpus takes on navigational duties and pushes into the jungle that borders on the plains. The density of the vegetation, coupled with the slightly acidic rain makes the journey a nightmare. They don’t encounter hostile wildlife – or any wildlife, for that matter. An eerie silence sits over the jungle. By dusk, they arrive at some overgrown ruins. A collapsed gatehouse and explosion craters tell the story of a past conflict. The silence is deafening. And in the middle of all this – a pitched tent, intact, recent! Duke Seneb sneaks forward to inspect… after a minute of anticipation, he opens the flap – and finds the tent unoccupied! A large sack filled with stuff lies abandoned in the corner. Seneb rummages through it and finds some assorted adventuring equipment, but also a strange object: a discus, some 10” in diameter, made out of a diamond-like material. Seneb greedily grabs it – the discus flashes once – and Seneb is left with a weird sensation that something now is missing from his mind, or maybe not? He just sees that he is in a tent, which probably doesn’t belong to him, but who are these three people that rush in shouting “Seneb, what happened? What was that flash?”

Friday, November 5, 2021

[Review] A Groats-Worth of Grotesques - a baroque bestiary


Full disclosure: I bought this in PDF when it came out, because it’s a historical bestiary and it looked right up my alley! Then at some point the author got in touch with me and offered me a free copy. I told him I already had the PDF, and he was cool enough to send me a complementary physical book! Thank you, G. Edward Patterson III, good sir.

So, here’s an overview/review of this thing!

A Groats-Worth of Grotesques, by G. Edward Patterson III (2021) sets out to bring the fantastic world of baroque bestiaries to the gaming table.

Overall, it contains some 120 grotesques. Each gets an illustration or two (curated from period sources), a description, and a simple stat block (HD, AC as equivalent to armor type, speed “as human” or “as horse” or something similar, brief description of attacks). The descriptions are in a flavorful, baroque style, whimsical, and often give hints on how to use these creatures in-game. There are notes on the margins (in italics, but, luckily, in “printed font”, none of that unreadable “pseudo-handwriting” nonsense).

There are classics as old as ages (Catoblepas! Leviathan! Wildmen!). There are weird creatures, based on partial descriptions or illustrations, supplemented by the author’s whimsical fantasies. Some are “imported” creatures, for example the Haunted Umbrella (at least I think it is an adaptation of the kasa obake). There are “natural” but exotic beasts (Ostriches, Elephants). The “common” beasts like Cats and Dog are given some little twists, as the author retells superstitions of legends connected to them.

There are also a couple of NPCs: Clerics, Fighters, Magi and Rogues. These entries are great, as each class gets a handful of flavorful “subtypes”. The Fighters also stand in as ruffians, for example the Damned Crew are carousing, rapier-wielding bastards. The Chartumim subtype of Magi are “reasoners or disputers upon difficult points in philosophy who have become enchanters and conjurers”, and often serve as advisors to local nobles. There is a baker’s dozen of Rogues. This is VERY GOOD stuff! Instant story seeds & hooks and great for that historical flavor.

The physical book is softcover print-on-demand, pretty easy to use, especially how each monsters gets a separate spread. My only minor complaint is that the digital version is a 600+ megabyte unoptimized PDF – but at least this way you get good quality images and can delight in every cut of the historical engravings.

Overall, I think this book strikes the perfect balance between being an atmospheric and authentic in-setting text, while maintaining actual gameability and content you can utilize when running your campaign.

If you run Lamentations of the Flame Princess – pick this up. If you need some classic (as in “going back to antiquity”) beasts and some weird, interesting monsters for your OSR game – pick this up. It is a delight and a good source of inspiration.


It's $4.99 for the PDF, so, I guess, that's the exchange rate of a groat? Anyway, these Grotesques are definitely worth a groat.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

[Dungeon] Cave of Trials, a prehistoric initiatory adventure!

I put together a stone age Cave of Trials! Survive and become an adult member of your tribe!

13 rooms, one page with the map, another with the key, so you can print it on a single sheet if you like.

Download PDF with map & key!

There is also an unlabeled players' map in the folder. The adventure is pretty much system-agnostic, run it in your favorite OSR or whatever system.

These uncooperative a-holes will NOT survive the Cave of Trials

Have fun!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Three science fantasy locations for weird sandbox settings

Three locations for science fantasy hexcrawls/sandboxes. These are based on output from the generator I put together in Inspiration Pad Pro. I just took the results and fleshed them out a bit, to make more sense. This whole thing took about 15 minutes (and the many hours poured into creating the generator ahahahahah). I will include the original output of the generator below in the comments so you can compare.


Village, population 150

Ruled by a noble family, the Turquoise Clan

The village used to be surrounded by a stone wall, which is now in ruins. The only part left standing is an archway above the main road, but it isn’t maintained either: the locals think it is a dread memento of an ancient horror, walk around it (never under it), and soil it with garbage and obscene graffiti.


  • The Atomic Abode of the Electronic Red Dragon, a lively tavern surrounded by standing stones


  • The village is plagued by swarms of robotic mosquito – actually blood-collecting nanobots emerging from an ancient laboratory buried under the nearby swamps
  • Nefertiry of the Turquoise Clan (a very religious person) is telling everybody that Orges, her identical twin brother, disappeared – actually she killed him because she was afraid that he might replace her completely



Town, population 700

Ruled by council of elders

A heavily fortified settlement, with four prism towers that can fire deadly lasers at each corner. The streets are patrolled by the local militia, the Corcyra Rangers. Despite the dry ground, most buildings are on stilts, so that the inhabitants can pull up the ladders at night for extra protection.


  • Smithy. An ancient laboratory that was repurposed as a workshop. Mostly produces regular tools and weaponry, but for the right price the blacksmith (Lightning Ape is his name) offers equipment made out of the weird alloys that remain in the laboratory’s repository
  • Corcyra Rangers’ Station. A seedy-looking building, stinks like a gym, this is where the local militia hangs out and trains new recruits.
  • Church of the Giggling Goddess. This temple is almost in ruins now, as the worship of this deity is discouraged by the council & militia. A single priestess (Thelma) struggles to keep the church in shape.
  • Fane of the Awful Goddess. This temple is favored by the council members. “Yes, the Awful Goddess is Awful, but only an Awful power can protect us in these troubling times!”


  • Trechus the sell-sword wants to burglarize the rich rat-catcher’s mansion (Oeobazus the rat-catcher is a council member and has monopoly on vermin control).
  • It is rumored that there is a sealed-off dungeon under the Fane of the Awful Goddess, where the essence of the deity resides – the rumor is true, but the Awful clergy tries to suppress it.




City, population 2250

Governed by Gotarzes, Bastard of Uhhaziti, a prominent & paranoid merchant

Clouds of fumes emerging from rotating chimneys hang ominously above the city. The main industry is a bunch of chemical factories, most owned by Gotarzes or his associates. Many of the locals are poor and suffer from the poisonous fumes emerging from the factories. The city feels crowded and is full of seedy establishments and dark back alleys.


  • Temple of the Blazing Cape. A radiant piece of cloth, which belonged to the mythical founder of the city, is venerated here. Worshippers who spend many nights kneeling before it attain a phosphorescent glow (they are known as the Brotherhood of the Blazing Cape).
  • The Hexman Sisters’ Mortuary is the best place to get a proper burial; and ask about their family discounts!
  • City Library. And old establishment, with stacks as dark, labyrinthine and smelly as the city’s back alleys.
  • Sleaze & Heal Music Hall. A popular establishment with live music and deadly drinks.



  • The most popular person in the city is Paris, the hairy wrestler, undefeated champion. Many would love to see him leading the city in Gotarzes’ stead…
  • Ex-crime lord nicknamed the Pro-Consul is hiring assassins to kill Gotarzes. Pro-Consul used to be an important man, but the current mayor’s machinations led to his downfall and the gang war left him shell-shocked.
  • The Brotherhood of the Blazing Cape want to embark on a sacred mission to a ruined castle. They think the soul of the city founder is imprisoned there.
  • Some say there are valuable books hidden between all the trash in the City Library.

Art by Rich Longmore

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Reading the Mazes & Minotaurs Creature Compendium: "C"

Form a shield wall and approach the third letter of the Compendium: "C"!



We open with a couple of chaotic "C" monsters. The Cacodemon (basically a catch-all term for malevolent spirits) is a poltergeist, immaterial and with a bunch of psychic powers. It's an interesting enemy, because it awards relatively few Glory Points (experience points for Warrior types) but a BIG BUNCH of Wisdom Points, so Sorcerous types can benefit greatly from defeating this arcane menace.

Capricorn Horror


Flesh-devouring chaotic horror... Good for the depths of the underworld, but not very Greek- or mythical flavored.



Ancient psychic turtlefolk. Wise and benevolent. What makes them interesting is their role in the default setting: their once prosperous civilization was destroyed by the Serpent Folk, so they are sworn enemies. Mazes & Minotaurs, as I've mentioned before, places a strong emphasis on such factions.

Carnivorous Cloud


I'm not too keen on this one, but I like the added detail that it is a fungoid creature! Only usable for aerial adventures. For those, I guess, it's a good choice. Gives me an interesting idea though: maybe a region suffers from dangerous spore rains, so the adventurers have to get airborne and defeat the clouds?..

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Amazing Inspirational Animal List (a cheap trick, detailed)

One of my refereeing "tricks" is to use a list of animals as an all-purpose inspirational source. I have a couple of such lists (e.g. the hybrid beast generator from The Gardens of Ynn, or the DMG) and alternate between them. But here's a consolidated d30 list. I think it has a good range, covers different types of creatures with a range of possible connotations, symbolism, powers, features, appearances, habitats...

  1. Ant
  2. Ape
  3. Bat
  4. Bear
  5. Buffalo
  6. Chameleon
  7. Crocodile
  8. Deer
  9. Eagle
  10. Eel
  11. Elephant
  12. Frog
  13. Gecko
  14. Goat
  15. Horse
  16. Jellyfish
  17. Lion
  18. Octopus
  19. Owl
  20. Peacock
  21. Porcupine
  22. Rat
  23. Salmon
  24. Scarab Beetle
  25. Shark
  26. Snake
  27. Spider
  28. Toad
  29. Vulture
  30. Wolf
And some examples, some more obvious/on-the-surface, some based on primary or secondary free associations:
  • NPC quirk: relies heavily on body language (Ape), always in motion (Shark), sniffs and snorts (Porcupine)
  • NPC behavior: controls a lot of pawns (Octopus), lounges while others do the hard lifting (Lion), creates very symmetrical art (Spider)
  • Monster power add-on: scaly armor (Crocodile), see in the dark (Owl), camouflage (Chameleon), hive mind (Ant), long jump (Frog)
  • Hybrid beast: a flying monster that creates cloud-like webs (Eagle + Spider), giant ape with paralyzing tentacles (Ape + Jellyfish), nocturnal toad with big creepy eyes (Owl + Frog)
  • Object: ivory comb (Elephant), bat-shaped belt buckle (Bat), soft transparent acid sack that explodes on impact (Jellyfish), shaggy hat (Buffalo), net coated with poison (Spider), chitinous helmet (Ant), coat-of-arms: three stylized golden horns on a green field (Goat)
  • Spell ingredient: giant spider eggs (Spider), last breath of a wolf (Wolf), peacock feathers, one of each pattern (Peacock), blood of a person gorged by deer antlers (Deer)
  • Location: Quill Canyon (Porcupine), The Webbed Forest (Spider), Bat Hill (Bat), Rainbow Bridge (Peacock), Twisting River (Snake), Eagle Creek (Eagle), Brass Tower (Scarab Beetle), Phantrin (Elephant), Shimmering Sewers (Rat + Peacock)

Die drop table!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Ten more cheap tricks for Referees

It's not a bandwagon, it a stagecoach of fun and sharing! Phlox started it, with these cheap tricks, and there are already many more, so here's my list:
  1. A list of twenty animals is a great all-purpose random generator. I use it to quickly generate random NPC quirks or appearance (fidgety like a mouse / proud like an eagle / lion-maned / walks like an elephant), generate random mutations or powers (acquire tiger stripes / wolf fangs / octopus tentacles), roll twice or thrice for chimeric monsters (antlered snake / winged bear thing / lizard-scaled chicken that hides in a snail shell), create a place name (Fox River / Gerbil Mountain), random visual details (lion-shaped knocker / snake-shaped dagger), spell ingredients (eyes of bat / scales of catfish) and so much more.
    Edit: here's my list.
  2. An oldie but goodie: have a list of names. I’m bad at coming up with names on the spot. Do not just cross off the ones you use: make a not next to them about who is called this way (“Wank Hilliams – blacksmith the players are super obsessed with for some reason; snake-like in appearance”).
  3. Ask the spellcaster what their Magic Missile spell looks like. Is it a purple flash of lightning? Is it a tornado of teeth? Does it leave behind the smell of sulfur, ozone, or rosewater?
  4. Little dream sequences for characters can be fun (“I can say it again: ‘Some ideas arrive in the form of a dream’”). Especially lucid dreams. Recurring lucid dreams, where the character explores something step by step is also cool, but maybe it’s too much spotlight on just one person.
  5. Create quick maps by taking an existing place, rotate it by 90°, stretch in one direction by 150%, done (very good for natural looking coastlines).
  6. “I owe you one” is one of the best rewards an NPC can give to players.
  7. Describe food a bit, even if it’s just a simple tavern meal or some campfire cookery. Tubers, roots, mushrooms and wild herbs make for great detail. A meal with an unusual ingredient can be like a rumor or hook (“yeah, we use this herb to flavor our food, but some say it can also cure blindness”).
  8. Keep a commonplace book, record miscellaneous ideas and shower thoughts, plots from stories, interesting images, anything. If you number the entries, it is also a random table…
  9. The 2d6 reaction roll/morale check is one of the greatest tools given to humankind. I use it for all “psychological” things: does the guard fall for the player character’s lies ? Is the captive intimidated by the threats?
  10. and are pretty useful resources!

* I was asked about how I adjudicate the reaction roll for deception. These are my guidelines:
2 - NPC absolutely does not believe the lie, either sees through the lie or just gets upset and hostile
3-5 - NPC does not believe the lie, and probably knows that the character tried to lie
6-8 - NPC is indifferent, might try to seek out confirmation or denial of the fact lied about
9-11 - NPC believes the lie, accepts it as fact
12 - NPC believes the lie completely, and might even change their initial opinion on the matter (esp. if the roll goes over 12)
Bonuses/penalties might apply (for outstanding Charisma score, or the way the players are describing their lie).

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Reading the Mazes & Minotaurs Creature Compendium: "B"

The divine quest continues!!


A swamp creature, vaguely reminiscent of the Creature from the Blue Black Lagoon. The description is short but pretty evocative, I like that: "often hide
under the surface to leap at their surprised victims before tearing them to pieces" - gives a good idea for an encounter.


A classic! I can't say anything bad about the basilisk, and not just because I'm petrified of being petrified. And I like the fact that it's kept as a middle-sized monster ("wolf-sized", to be precise). There are many bigger serpents, but this cunning fucker is awesome in its own right.

Bears: Brown, Cave, Great Hyperborean

Bears are good to have around. I wonder if the OSR's beloved "Just Use Bears" strategy is applicable to M&M --- to a certain extent, maybe, you can take one of the Bears as the baseline "burly monster" statblock, and add in one of the "modular" monster powers the Mazes & Minotaurs Maze Masters Guide has on offer.
But on the topic of proper bears in the context of Mazes: perhaps they take a second (or even third) place to such beasts as lions, wild bulls, boars.
The Compendium offers two "standard" types and a polar bear.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Reading the Mazes & Minotaurs Creature Compendium: "A"

People are reading the D&D monster books like the Monster Manual and the Fiend Folio, rating and commenting on each creature, a format I quite enjoy. So let's read the Mazes & Minotaurs Creature Compendium! Like all M&M books, it's available for free. Like all M&M books, it's equal parts silly and fun and playable.

Mazes & Minotaurs, by the way, has a pretty good way of creating new monsters, a modular system that lets the Maze Master pick special features from a list, sum it all up, and then calculate experience rewards. It's not a quick system, but overall quite interesting. It is detailed in the Maze Masters Guide. So generally if you can't find the monster of your dreams in the Compendium, you can try and create it using the guidelines.

The Maze Masters Guide is also important, because that is where all the monster special powers are explained in detail. This is maybe a bit of an oversight :( Because unless you remember how exactly a power, say, "Crushing Missiles" works, you have to find it in a different book. I made a print-out for myself for quick reference, maybe I'll post it at some point.

But let's get down to business... All the creatures beginning with alpha letter "A"!

Sunday, August 29, 2021

[Spell] Bloody Communion

A quick homebrew spell, before the summer ends...

Bloody Communion

Level 1

Duration: 1 + 1 turn/caster level

A group of 2-7 targets (which might or might not include the caster) enter into a blood pact. Each participant pours 1 hit point worth of blood into a chalice, then each participant drinks from it. Afterwards, for the duration of the spell, they can communicate telepathically, regardless of distance. To send a message to one or a select few participants, the sender must concentrate (which counts as an action); message heard by the whole group do not require concentration.

Each participant must also save against Poison, or possibly suffer a malady (d10). The spell works as intended, regardless of the save’s result.




No effect.


Bad Blood. The character loses the ability of natural healing for 1 week/caster level. Magical healing still works.


Weakness. The character’s total hit points are reduced by d6 for 1 week/caster level.


Involuntary Thought-Projection. The character is unable to shield their thoughts from the others. The communication network suffers from a constant “noise” emanating from this participant. Every time somebody sends a message, there is a 1-in-6 chance the message gets drown out by noise. The chance is cumulative if more participants get this malady.


Unmasking. One of the character’s secrets is disclosed to all other participants.


Bloodlust. The character is cursed with vampirism and must drink fresh blood every day to function properly. For each day without sating this urge, the character loses a hit die.

Some say the spell will even work if the blood of a recently deceased person is added to the mix…

Friday, August 6, 2021

[Monster] Tarot-based weird encounter generation

Captain Ahab's Leg posted a wonderful evocative system for generating unusual encounters based on Tarot cards. I love random content generation, I have a Tarot deck, so... here we go!

The Form: Eight of Pentacles

A craftsman chisels pentacles on golden discs – perhaps these creatures (because there are several of them) are constructs.

The Human: The Fool

Perhaps these monsters can be underestimated at first…

The Inhuman: Death

…but then they present a significant threat. The image shows Death as a mounted knight. A high priest in a tiara stands on the ground before the knight. Maybe praising him, but maybe trying to barter with him. In any case, the knight towers above him, subdues him just as he’d subdued an enemy previously. So perhaps the creatures have some sort of awe-inducing mind control power.

The Cycle:

The Larva: Six of Wands

The wands are carried, not mobile on their own. In their initial state, the creatures need an outer force to propel them forward. Maybe tumbleweed? They roll in, surround the enemy, and then build up into something unified and bigger.

The Pupa: Queen of Swords

Majestic and bellicose… But the Queen sits upon a throne, doesn’t fight. She towers over the enemy, and prepares to unleash the final attack.

The Imago: Nine of Pentacles

Pentacles again, but at a higher value than the Form, so I interpret this as a growth in power. The image shows a falconer, so maybe the great monstrous attack (the “awe-inducing mind control”, see above) is a swift, targeted thing.

The Encounters:

First Encounter (Eight of Pentacles, The Fool, Death)

An abandoned workshop, eerily silent, dead bodies lying around it – no evident cause of death. Inside lie eight golden discs with pentacles engraved on them. A priest kneels in the middle of the room, mumbling “please don’t hurt me, oh most magnificent one… please don’t hurt me!”

Second Encounter (Six of Wands, Queen of Wands, The High Priest)

The priest suddenly snaps out of the condition and starts arranging the discs in a specific shape.

Third Encounter (Nine of Pentacles, Ten of Wands, The Judgement)

A force of magnetism starts pulling together the discs, they gather, lift up from the ground, and form a sphere mid-air. They shine gold and bright, majestic… And now one person of the party is struck with awe – they must serve the sphere.

Monday, July 5, 2021

[Dungeon] Bloodsoaked Gem Caverns, OSR adventure

Wrote a small adventure today! It's set in an old mine, which is sort of a classic trope, but there are also a couple of interesting rooms and twists and whatnot. And the group might end up with a potentially lucrative mining operation (rules for running the business included). For low-level characters (2-3-ish). Stats are generic "OSR-isms", so you can basically use it with any system that has hit dice. 8 pages, 16 rooms...

I used Michael Raston's wonderful "Generic Room Stocker" tables for the title, one of the monsters and to get started with some of the rooms, then the rest really just wrote itself. It was fun.

In hindsight, I should have made the dungeon map less dense, space out the chambers a bit more, give them some breathing room... but then, at least it fits on the page nicely :) 

Download PDF directly

get it on (free/PWYW)

Monday, June 28, 2021

Demons & Diabolists: alternative Magic-User class and infernal entities for weird historical settings

I expanded the demonic True Name generator. Now you can roll domains of power, spells, and unique physical manifestations for the entities! And I wrote up a Diabolist class (for LotFP) that calls up and binds such demons (they basically act as the spellbook of the summoner).

The project is loosely based on The Lesser Key of Solomon, but instead of the high-level Dukes and Marquises of the demon kingdom it concentrates on the "footsoldiers" and "officers", the ones that a diabolist has a chance to summon AND control. I tried to strike a balance between evocative historical flavor and playability.

Download the PDF

(Prints as a nice little 8-page booklet)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

True Name Generator

Here's a random generator of infernal True Names™, for weird/occult historical games!

Also available as an Inspiration Pad Pro file.

Update: now also available as a Perchance online generator, thanks, Redwood!

Structure of the name (d20):


Two syllables


Three syllables


Four syllables


Five syllables


One syllable, followed by a syllable repeated twice


The same syllable repeated twice, followed by another


Two syllables, then the first syllable repeated


The same syllable repeated twice


The same syllable repeated three times

* insert apostrophes, hyphens, sanity-shattering glyphs as needed

Roll for each syllable (d5 for column, d100 for row)





























































































































































And here's twenty of them:





















Abracadabra, suckers! Let's get goetic!