Sunday, September 24, 2023

1d10 pirate rumors and superstitions

For weird nautical and pirate campaigns!

  1. The blood of a sea serpent can be used to create an infallible compass.
  2. Commander Noland’s treasure is buried under the breeding ground of the man-eating crabs.
  3. In calm weather on midsummer day, the reflection of your ship is real and you can climb over there to find all the treasure that was stolen from you.
  4. Captain Kate “Ruthless” Hawk ascended to the night sky and became a patron saint. Pray to her every day, and she shall send down a mist to cover your escape route.
  5. Patch up your sails with captured flags and ride the winds twice as fast.
  6. The old pirate king is still alive, imprisoned in the Imperial fortress! The new pirate king is illegitimate!
  7. Some shanties are nasty enough to dislodge nails from wood.
  8. Every ghost ship has a heart. Steal it to claim command over the vessel!
  9. The pearl divers of Taboo Island can talk to fish.
  10. You can capture thunder in a brass bell. But beware, you can only keep it imprisoned for a week!

Monday, August 21, 2023

1d6 carousing mishaps/random happenings in the jungle

Wrote these for our Isle of Dread game.
  1. Stumbling through the jungle, you fall into a spike pit. Seriously, who digs all these? Some people are just mean. Take d8 damage, save against Paralysis for half.
  2. You are finally invited to the cool kids’ party. Turns out, the cool kids are necromancer cannibals. They are about to do a sick ritual. Peer pressure is strong. If you agree to cut off one of your fingers and eat somebody else’s, you gain the ability to cast a random spell (of levels 1, 2 or 3) once per day.
  3. You find a cannibal recipe book. Don’t ask what the parchment is made of. A day of studying the book teaches how to extract the double amount of rations from a human body.
  4. You find a valuable golden idol. However, a handsome fellow in a hat holds you at gunpoint and takes away the idol, saying that it “belongs in a museum”. At least you steal his whip from him.
  5. A giant ape takes fancy to you. The next time when an attack would kill you or knock you out, the ape swoops in and takes the damage instead. After this, it loses interest in you.
  6. A giant flying creature picks you up and takes you to its nest. After some struggles, you escape, with (d6): 1-3 a lot of scratches, d3 damage, 4 an unhatched egg, 5 a bunch of shiny colorful feathers, 6 a gem worth 100 sp.

Friday, August 18, 2023

[Dungeon] Oracle of the Laughing Prophet - a small OSR location

I ran my procedurally-generated science fantasy hexcrawl over the weekend. The party happened upon a cave in a jungle hex, surrounded by psychic echoes, so we took a small break and I came up with a dungeon. Now I'm sharing it with y'all.
So if you need a small 6-room lair to put down in your hexcrawl, feel free to use this! It has a mad prophet and a Green Dragon in it...

Anecdote: we had a near-TPK (3 dead, 1 unconscious), because they made too much noise and the Dragon woke up... So the group continued the game playing as the Deep Ones, and eventually managed to leave with the loot!


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

[Solo] The Magnificent Adventuring Circus, Session 5: The Wolfman’s Turn

Introduction and links to other sessions can be found here.

The cast of characters:

  • Julia Maxima, the Bearded Lady (Dwarf Cleric 1). Stern leader and cook of the circus.
  • Pointy Kid, the Knife Thrower (Halfling Thief 1). Sly acrobat with a pipeweed addiction.
  • Callisto, Master of Illusions (Human Magic-User 1). Archmage of the Highest Order, Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge. Obviously, he has a creepy ventriloquist dummy.
  • Sheila, the Odalisque (Elf Fighter/Magic-User 1). Exotic dancer and all-around cool girl. She won’t agree to be sawn into two halves.

Day 6 [travel from 3508 to 3408 (barren hills on west bank, lightly forested hills on east bank), weather worsening, no random encounter]

The terrain on the east bank of the river becomes less rugged, more of a hill than a mountain. The weather, however, becomes worse: the first cold of Mid-Winter sets in. The first snowflakes also appear – early scouts of the oncoming storms and impassable roads. So, the Circus tries to pick up speed.

They get their hopes up when they see the outlines of buildings in the distance at the bend of the river – but as they get closer, they notice, that there is no smoke rising from the chimneys. It is just the ruins and remains of an abandoned hamlet, half a dozen empty, dilapidated buildings. Most are beyond repair. Some might be restored to livable conditions.

The deserted place gives everybody the creeps. It’s that uncanny feeling, when a place that should be “lived in” instead stands empty. “I feel like we are being observed,” shudders Callisto, and glances backwards, but can’t see anybody. The party decides to not search the buildings, and instead roll on towards a hopefully populated settlement.

+ [travel from 3408 to 3509 (barren hills on west bank, densely forested plains on east bank), weather worsening, random encounter: the Lycanthropes, party not surprised, creatures surprised)

The terrain on the east bank evens out, but the forest gets thicker. The snowfall intensifies. The branches of ancient trees look like skeletal arms outstretched against the gray, clouded sky.

Pointy Kid drives the wagon. Griswold volunteered to be on watch – which means sitting on top of the wagon – not the most pleasant position in the winter. The others huddle in relative “comfort” inside the cabin.

“I tell you, I don’t like this Griswold fella,” Callisto grumbles. “His words are pleasant, but his eyes are just not right. I recognize this type… He is a liar and a con-man, that’s what he is.”

“Birds of a feather, aye?” Julia pokes him in the side.

“First of all, I’m not a con-man, I’m a con-artist, and a master of illusions, not a liar. But yes, I’ve seen people like him before. I bet that tale about his traveling companions getting killed by monsters is a great big lie. They are either following us, or, hell, for what we know, he killed them himself and will do the same to us! And why did he volunteer for watch duty?! In this damn cold?”

“All right, all right, I’ll check on him, just stop nagging me!” Julia Maxima gives in.

A little trapdoor built into the ceiling leads to the top of the wagon, the “sentry post”. Julia Maxima climbs up the ladder, and emerges from the hatch, but not completely yet. She looks around.

Griswold kneels on the roof of the wagon, with his back to the trapdoor. And he is… waving? Gesturing? Signaling to somebody in the distance behind the wagon! Julia Maxima barely makes out three figures trotting after the wagon. Three dark figures… Wolves? WOLVES!

Julia drops back into the wagon and secures the trapdoor below.

“You were right, Callisto. I’m sorry. To arms, everybody! There’s a pack of…”

Her words are interrupted by a blood-curdling howl from above --- which is answered by a choir from the distance.

“…wolves. Or something worse,” Julia Maxima finishes the sentence and starts donning her chain shirt.

There’s another howl, and the sound of claws scraping against the roof of the wagon.

“POINTY! Pointy, look out! Behind you!” Sheila screams, hoping that her voice will penetrate through the wall of the wagon.

Pointy Kid turns around just in time to gaze into the gaping maw of a gigantic wolf perched behind him over the driver’s box… Instinctively, he hits it with his only weapon at hand – the whip! The leather strap would scare any other creature – but this monstrosity doesn’t even flinch – and it lunges forward – and misses! The sudden movement brings the creature dangerously close the edge, but it stays on top of the wagon. Pointy throws the reins and stands up to face the monster. Bamboo the horse needs no urging by this point, as she feels the horrible smell of the werewolf. She strains to go as fast as possible.

Meanwhile, below in the wagon Julia Maxima is still struggling with her chain shirt. Sheila grabs her scimitar. “I cannot let Pointy fight that… thing… all alone!” She opens up the back window of the wagon, crawls out, and pulls herself up onto the top. As a trained dancer, she manages this little acrobatic feat alright… But she also sees that the three wolves are gaining. Callisto watches in horror at the pursuers and tries to come up with a clever idea.

Up top, the monstrous wolf prepares for another attack. But first, Pointy Kid lashes out with the whip once more – this time he tries to hook it around the creature’s leg, but only causes some mild annoyance. Luckily, he doesn’t lose his balance. Griswold (or rather, “Griswolf”…) charges again – but Pointy Kid sidesteps, and the wolf jumps straight off the carriage!!

Callisto tries to use his only trick, and “throws” his voice, towards the approaching wolves. On a hunch, he imitates Griswold’s monotone speech: “Fall back! This prey is no good!” And, to the Grand Illusionist’s great surprise… the trick works! At least, the three pursuing wolves stop and look around in confusion.

Sheila and Pointy look below and try to find the wolf.

At the same time, Griswolf “resurfaces” from under the speeding wagon and snarls at Callisto (who is still standing at the open back window). And then the monster jumps, tries to latch onto the vehicle – his vicious claws miss the window just by a couple of inches.

Pointy climbs back into the driver’s box and takes up the reins. Sheila stays on top of the wagon to see how things unfold.

Griswolf snarls angrily, shakes himself – and turns back into a person! “You haven’t seen the last of us, carnies!!” he shouts after the wagon, then, butt naked, runs off into the snow-covered forest to find his pack.

Julia Maxima finally finishes putting on her chainmail. “I’m never taking this off again,” she says.

The wagon speeds on, pulled by the panicking Bamboo, in an unknown direction…

Cool Michael Stroganoff wolf encounter diorama by Taipeh

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Dirt simple 2d6 weather roll

Here's a short entry for this month's Blog Carnival: Terrain, Seasons, Weather!

By now using Reaction rolls to adjudicate, umm, everything and anything, has become an OSR staple, and I'm here for it! I think I first stumbled upon this idea over at Talysman's The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms blog. Since then, this little table has been on my DM screen/binder. 




Worst possible, anomalous, no travel


Very bad,
travel speed halved


Normal for season, regular travel


Advantageous, bonus travel speed


The best possible, bonus travel speed and morale

I like it, because it gives me a baseline, from which I can improv the actual conditions. If I'm stuck, I use the old "Dolmenwood Hex Crawl Procedure" document (no longer available on Gavin's blog, but pdf's hosted in other places are still around), which has a very nice 4xd8 table of possible seasonal weather types.

Giorgione, you rock.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

[Solo] The Magnificent Adventuring Circus, Session 4: Carnies in the Mist

 Introduction and links to other sessions can be found here.

The cast of characters:

  • Julia Maxima, the Bearded Lady (Dwarf Cleric 1). Stern leader and cook of the circus.
  • Pointy Kid, the Knife Thrower (Halfling Thief 1). Sly acrobat with a pipeweed addiction.
  • Callisto, Master of Illusions (Human Magic-User 1). Archmage of the Highest Order, Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge. Obviously, he has a creepy ventriloquist dummy.
  • Sheila, the Odalisque (Elf Fighter/Magic-User 1). Exotic dancer and all-around cool girl. She won’t agree to be sawn into two halves.

Day 4 – continued [camping in 3507 (river flowing from north-east to south-west, swamp on northern half, barren mountain on southern half), weather worsening, random encounter: Lycanthrope: Werewolf, party not surprised, creature not surprised]

Cold Fore-Winter rains make the life of the Circus worse. Pointy Kid is on lookout duty, Callisto cooks, Sheila and Julia Maxima work on the broken wheel. The party has the tools and some spare materials, but lack the expertise. It quickly becomes obvious, that even if they manage to finish the work today, they have to camp here in the wilderness.

Dusk sets in. The wagon is complete, but it’s too late to move. The troupe huddles around the fire.

“Somebody’s coming!” Pointy Kid points towards the rocky slope of the mountain.

“Greetings,” the approaching person waves from a distance. “Can a weary and unfortunate traveler warm himself by your campfire?”

The characters exchange a couple of words, then invite the stranger over, as it has been the way of Circus-folks for centuries. Only Callisto eyes the stranger with some slight suspicion.

He is a middle-aged fellow, with greying unruly hair, torn dirty clothes, a sword on his belt and just a small bundle of stuff. “My name is Abil Griswold,” he introduces himself. “I was traveling with three companions through the mountains, but we were ambushed by monsters – I was the only one to get away.” He speaks in a monotone voice. Grieving his companions, Sheila thinks.

“Where are you headed?”

“To Tabriz first, then Turachow,” Griswold explains.

“Come travel with us, it would be safer. Of course, you’ll be expected to contribute something to the performance or the running of the circus – that’s the Circus custom – do you have any talents?” Julia Maxima asks.

“I might have a couple of tricks up my sleeve,” says Griswold, and for the first time his voice becomes lively. He even smiles a little. “I can imitate the sounds of wild animals. Children love it,” he says, and does a pretty good growling dog impression.

“We could use that as the sound of the troll, too, what do you think, Sheila? Maybe in Tabriz, he can play the monster instead of you,” Julia Maxima offers.

“Yes, I guess I could become a monster,” Griswold nods. “But let us rest now…”

Watches are set – the night passes uneventfully.

Day 5 [travel from 3507 to 3407 (river makes a bend, barren mountain on east bank, lightly forested hills on the west bank), weather neutral, no random encounter]

In the morning, a light mist blankets the area. Callisto is almost sure that he spies a couple of shadowy figures in the mist… But perhaps that’s just his imagination running wild, or a bit of contact high from Pointy Kid’s morning pipeweed.

The Circus (with new temporary member Abil Griswold) continues its journey along the river. The swamp on the other bank ends and the river now runs in a valley between lightly forested hills and mountains.

The wheel holds – although one particular bump gives the whole party a scare – but nothing scary happens. Investigating, they find that they ran over a slab of stone, half-sunk in the ground: an ancient grave marker… Now this sends some chills down their spines, especially that the mist hasn’t lifted yet. The name is unreadable.

But these small things don’t hinder them much.

The river takes a strong bend towards the east, where more lightly forested mountains loom.

+ [travel from 3407 to 3508 (lightly forested mountain), weather worsens, no random encounter]

Further progress is hindered by cold rain. The troupe soldiers on. Just before darkness, they happen upon a cabin – built atop a tall tree! There are no lights in the windows, nor smoke from the chimney. Nobody answers their calls. So Pointy Kid throws up a grappling hook, then climbs up to the little platform at the cabin’s entrance. Knocks – no answer. He opens the door. A small living room: all furniture and implements cozy and halfling-sized, but covered by dust. There are books and scrolls, all of religious and philosophical content. Most of them are signed by a certain Glomol Glomolkan Glomolklari – the owner of the cabin. A little silver sea-shell is displayed in a prominent place: proof that the inhabitant of this cabin made the pilgrimage to the holy site of the Birth of the Goddess, far up to the north-east [5001]. Glomolklari must be a hermit. But where is he?

Pointy Kid doesn’t want to disturb the stuff of a hermit, so instead he just climbs down and reports to the others.

They park the wagon under the tree, and camp. Julia Maxima rations the food pretty strictly tonight: with an extra mouth to feed (Griswold lost his bag), the Circus is running low on supplies…

The night passes uneventfully.

To be continued!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Parallel Dungeons got a review + a cool new series of dungeon deep cuts

Parallel Dungeons, my dimension shifting adventure, got a small write-up by Rowan over at the Dododecahedron blog! He just started up a pretty cool little series called Dungeon Deep Cuts, where he reviews under-the-radar adventures. Sounds like a good way to learn about small, but interesting projects. He is also taking submissions, so, upcoming authors, take note!

Sunday, July 16, 2023

[Dungeon] The Bleak Corridors - an OSR adventure

I made a dungeon today, in about 90 minutes. The Bleak Corridors: a 15-room factory complex with a dark Victorian/steampunk vibe.

Download here!

It includes a 2-page PDF with the room descriptions, the DM's map, and a players' map with the secrets and traps hidden for use in VTTs (the grid size is 70 px, the standard for Roll20).

There are stairs leading down to a deeper level - just erase those or use something else... Like the Bloodsoaked Gem Caverns!

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

[Solo] The Magnificent Adventuring Circus, Session 3: Wheels & Waterfalls

Introduction and links to other sessions can be found here.

The cast of characters:

  • Julia Maxima, the Bearded Lady (Dwarf Cleric 1). Stern leader and cook of the circus.
  • Pointy Kid, the Knife Thrower (Halfling Thief 1). Sly acrobat with a pipeweed addiction.
  • Callisto, Master of Illusions (Human Magic-User 1). Archmage of the Highest Order, Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge. Obviously, he has a creepy ventriloquist dummy.
  • Sheila, the Odalisque (Elf Fighter/Magic-User 1). Exotic dancer and all-around cool girl. She won’t agree to be sawn into two halves.

Session 3: Wheels & Waterfalls

Day 4 [travel from 3606 to 3507 (river flowing from north-east to south-west, swamp on northern half, barren mountain on southern half), weather neutral, no random encounter]

The Circus leaves Abazar early in the morning. Nobody begs them to stay for another show… The plan is to follow the course of the river until they reach the town of Tabriz. A sound plan, but who knows what dangers await along the way?

The weather is… fine. A bit cold, but most importantly it’s dry, so the circus wagon rolls at a slow, but steady speed along the river. By midday, the party exits the dense forest, and enters an equally wild, but very different terrain.

Here the river runs in a valley. On its north/north-western bank, the swamp continues. On its south/south-eastern bank, stands a tall, barren mountain peak. Even this late in the year, water flows off the peak. It forms a magnificent waterfall, almost 500’ tall, and connects into the river in the valley. An awe-inspiring view!! But also, a hindrance for travelers: coming down this direction, one must either cross the fast-flowing stream, or circle around, wasting possibly many days among rocky hills.

Julia Maxima, the de-facto leader of the troupe, hands out ropes and commands everybody to prepare for crossing. Julia herself and Pointy Kid remain on the wagon – the stream is definitely too deep for the small folks. Sheila and Callisto begrudgingly tie themselves to the wagon, and take point, leading their horse into the ice-cold water.

They slowly make the crossing. In the middle of the stream the two adventurers are almost up to their chests in the freezing water. Callisto curses, Sheila suffers silently. The worst part is that they cannot see the bottom under the fast flow, and there are rocks everywhere. They pull through, and the wagon’s front wheels are already out of the water, when suddenly…


Treacherous underwater rocks! The vehicle slumps backwards. Pointy Kid and Julia quickly jump down, and everybody starts pulling --- and they manage to pull the wagon out from the stream, but realize that a spoke on the wagon’s right back wheel is broken! It must be repaired before they can proceed!

To be continued…

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

[Solo] The Magnificent Adventuring Circus, Session 2: Well- or Ill-met in Abazar?

Introduction and links to other sessions can be found here.

The cast of characters:

  • Julia Maxima, the Bearded Lady (Dwarf Cleric 1). Stern leader and cook of the circus.
  • Pointy Kid, the Knife Thrower (Halfling Thief 1). Sly acrobat with a pipeweed addiction.
  • Callisto, Master of Illusions (Human Magic-User 1). Archmage of the Highest Order, Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge. Obviously, he has a creepy ventriloquist dummy.
  • Sheila, the Odalisque (Elf Fighter/Magic-User 1). Exotic dancer and all-around cool girl. She won’t agree to be sawn into two halves.

Day 3 – continued [downtime in 3606, the settlement of Abazar]

On the third day of the journey, the Magnificent Adventuring Circus reaches the Abazar. They are received neutrally – the Abazarians natural grimness is mitigated somewhat by the presence of Julia Maxima (a Dwarf). The garishly painted circus wagon parks in the main square, next to “The Sleeping Ogre” tavern, and is converted into a makeshift stage by opening down one of the sides. Torches are lit when the evening comes, and a small group of 20 tired lumberjacks gathers around.

The Show

The show usually opens with the sword dance of Sheila, but the troupe decides that a semi-naked Elf lady swirling around with a sharp scimitar might aggravate an all-Dwarf audience… So Julia Maxima takes the stage first, with the stand-up comedy routine she practiced along the journey. At first the audience needs to time to adjust to Julia’s mountain dwarvish dialect, but gradually they warm up, and laugh wholeheartedly at the mining terminology puns and a couple of mandatory “elves smell!” jokes (Sheila allowed Julia a grand total of three). Next, Sheila puts on a “troll costume” (a dusty crocodile-skin and googly eyes) and prances around on stage. Then Pointy Kid bursts in, dressed as a knight. The two of them dance around a bit and put on a mock fight, as Julia Maxima narrates the events. On the one hand, the audience laughs at the Elf-Troll, but on the other hand, the troll is a very real danger around these parts. The lukewarm reception of this number makes Callisto very nervous, and he stutters while doing his Ventriloquism act. The audience boos and two out of three rotten tomatoes hit Callisto. Julia Maxima tries to save the situation by inserting a few jokes on the stuttering illusionist’s expense, but the evening is ruined.

The hat is passed around, and returns disappointingly light. Tough audience! But at least the troupe is treated to a free meal in the spirit of the approaching Harvest Festival.

The party retires into the wagon for the night. They would rather not carouse in this hostile town. Their plan is to reach a bigger, human-dominated town by the day of the Harvest Festival, and cash in on the festive mood of the populace… Julia Maxima goes out for a bit to mingle. She learns that there is a town called Tabriz on the river, about 30 miles southwest. Abazar sells lumber to them. This is where the Circus will head next.

Quick house rules: 

The circus is in town! List the numbers that the troupe puts on (3-4 will suffice). Describe them.

For every number, make an Audience Reaction roll.

Keep a running total of the numeric value of the rolls as well, and at the end of the show, that total x 50 is the base amount of copper coins gathered when the hat is passed around.

As a circus show is like a fight with the audience, experience points are gained as if the party has defeated every fifth member of the audience.





Outright hostility

Make a Reaction roll at -2 to see if the audience attacks or just tells the troupe to get out of town. No money gained, obviously.


Dislike, heckling

-1 to next Reaction roll


Lukewarm reception



Success, warm reception

+1 to next Reaction roll


Standing ovation

Number must be repeated, might override future performances. Double the amount of money earned.


1st number: Julia Maxima’s Dwarven standup comedy [Reaction roll: 10]

2nd number: mock fight between Pointy Kid and Sheila (dressed up as a troll) [Reaction roll: 7+1=8]

3rd number: Callisto’s rope tricks and ventriloquism number [Reaction roll: 4]

2200 copper pieces

20/5=4, 100 experience points

Friday, May 19, 2023

[Solo] The Magnificent Adventuring Circus, Session 1: The Road to Abazar

Introduction and links to other sessions can be found here.

The cast of characters:

  • Julia Maxima, the Bearded Lady (Dwarf Cleric 1). Stern leader and cook of the circus.
  • Pointy Kid, the Knife Thrower (Halfling Thief 1). Sly acrobat with a pipeweed addiction.
  • Callisto, Master of Illusions (Human Magic-User 1). Archmage of the Highest Order, Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge. Obviously, he has a creepy ventriloquist dummy.
  • Sheila, the Odalisque (Elf Fighter/Magic-User 1). Exotic dancer and all-around cool girl. She won’t agree to be sawn into two halves.

Session 1: The Road to Abazar

The Magnificent Adventuring Circus sets out to chart a new route between Treble Cliff and the Dwarven hamlet called Abazar. Julia Maxima thinks that they might put on a show there and earn a couple of coins. She is preparing a special standup comedy act in Dwarvish.

Day 1 [travel from 3907 to 3806 (plains, grassland), weather favorable, no random encounter]

The trip starts out quite peacefully. The garishly painted circus wagon slowly rolls through the grasslands to the north-west of Treble Cliff. Large patches of purple orchids bloom here: Julia Maxima weaves a couple of flowers into her beard, while Callisto presents a floral wreath to Sheila.

+ [travel from 3806 to 3706 (mountain, grassland), weather worsening, no random encounter]

After lunch, however, the going gets harder. There is the occasional drizzle of rain. The terrain becomes steeper as the circus travels into the northern reaches of the mountainous area. Ominous, crudely carved totem poles dot the landscape. They seem to depict a stork-beaked evil deity – perhaps set up by the goblins of 3707?

As night falls, the party sets up camp. They warm by the fire, then retire to sleep in the wagon, with a single 2-hour watch for each of them. Luckily, no monster wanders by during the night. Julia Maxima prays to Yucla, “the small and grotesque god of laughter”.

Day 2 [travel from 3706 to 3606 (dense forest & swamp, river, the settlement of Abazar), weather worsening, no random encounter]

Dawn brings heavy rains. The circus wagon gets stuck in the mud, and it takes many hours, all the strength of Julia Maxima and all the slyness of Pointy Kid to get it moving. Callisto fakes indigestion so that he doesn’t have to help. Sheila stands on watch, but it looks like monsters hate this weather as well and remain in the lairs.

However, the party definitely doesn’t want to stay in this area too long, and a forced march is ordered to at least get down from the mountains. By nightfall they reach the edge of the dense forest, but they are too tired to go through it in the darkness and set up camp. The rain stops, and there are no nocturnal encounters.

Day 3 [travel inside 3606 (dense forest & swamp, river, the settlement of Abazar), weather favorable, random encounter: the Troll that lives in this hex (party non surprised, monster surprised)]

After an early breakfast, the circus rolls out – the ground is no longer muddy, but the trailless dense forest is a challenge to traverse for the circus wagon. There is the smell of decay and rot in the still air. Bamboo the draught horse neighs with disgust. Julia Maxima tries her best to find the way towards the river and Abazar. Pointy Kid is on lookout, and sits atop the wagon. From this vantage point, he manages to spot a large, putrid gray creature. The monster is busy feeding, hunched over the half-rotten carcass of a deer… and, luckily, doesn’t notice the wagon at first, and then doesn’t pay attention to them. The circus gets away this time!

Around 4 o’clock, they finally reach the hamlet of Abazar, and plan to put on a show in the evening… 

To be continued!


[Hex 3606] Abazar, Dwarven hamlet, population 49. Sits on a river, dense forest on one side, swamp lands on the other side.

Industries, locations, shops: dock, boatwright, lumbercamp, butcher, tavern (“The Sleeping Ogre”)

Community of river dwarf woodcutters and raftsmen. Gruff, unfriendly folks, especially to non-dwarves.

Known dangers: a Troll lurks in the nearby swamp and forest.

[Solo] The Magnificent Adventuring Circus: Introduction

In 2021, I played a solo game, focused on the (mis)adventures of a travelling circus of adventurers. It was a part of a shared sandbox game, The Pit, where participants all played their own solo sessions, then updated the global hexmap with new features. It's a great setup, because you create your own stuff, but also crosscheck the existing map and you can visit stuff that other people generated. You can follow up on rumors that others posted. I don't participate any more, but the game is still going on, and you can join if you are interested! Here's the invite link (Discord server), it's a nice and welcoming community.

Like most people on the server, I relied on
I went into the game with no particular expectations. Just rolled up a party of four 1st-level characters, picked a starting point and a destination a bunch of hexes away, and travelled. New hex - check for weather - check for feature - check for encounter, rinse and repeat...

But here's the beauty of old-school play: from this baseline procedure, a cool story emerged! I played 10 sessions altogether, took notes, wrote reports, shared them with the others. It was a lot of fun! 

As I still have these reports, I thought I would share them here on my blog as well. So from now on I will be posting it in installments. 

This is the intro post and "table of contents".

The Troupe:

The Magnificent Adventuring Circus! Their shows are re-enactments of their daring adventures that totally happened. They ride around on a garishly painted stagecoach (still paying off the debt on that one…).

Julia Maxima, the Bearded Lady (Dwarf Cleric 1). Stern leader and cook of the circus.

Pointy Kid, the Knife Thrower (Halfling Thief 1). Sly acrobat with a pipeweed addiction.

Callisto, Master of Illusions (Human Magic-User 1). Archmage of the Highest Order, Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge. Obviously, he has a creepy ventriloquist dummy.

Sheila, the Odalisque (Elf Fighter/Magic-User 1). Exotic dancer and all-around cool girl. She won’t agree to be sawn into two halves.

...and their adventures:

Monday, May 8, 2023

My phased combat sequence house rule

I LOVE PHASED COMBAT! Yes! Behold, my phased combat sequenced that I use in certain games. It's based on OD&D/Chainmail/Delving Deeper, but modified according to my experience of running phased combat in Mazes & Minotaurs.


Each side rolls d6 for initiative, higher is better.

Each round, we go through the following steps:

1. Morale checks (for monsters & NPCs).

2. Declaration of intent, in reverse initiative order (so the faster side can react to the actions of the slower).

3. Action phases; all sides complete each phase in initiative order, Referee adjudicates sequence of actions as needed:

A) Missiles, Movement & Miscellaneous actions

  • Stationary characters with ranged weapons at-the-ready can fire twice (or fire once and reload crossbow)
  • Non-stationary characters with ranged weapons at-the-ready can fire once, with a -2 (elves ignore this penalty)
  • Ducking in-and-out of cover counts as movement
  • Firing into melee is allowed, attack rolls that miss their mark are checked against the nearest friendly participant of the melee
  • Spell-casting starts in this phase; caster must remain stationary

B) Melee

  • All in melee range (10’) can attack or be attacked; performance is determined with a single attack roll (against 1 (or less) HD enemies, fighters and monsters can opt to do multiple attacks [a number, equal to their HD])
  • Sequence of attacks is determined by logic (e.g. longer weapons strike first on the first round, but last on subsequent rounds) or initiative
  • Grappling/overbearing: each participant rolls their HD, higher wins; grappled character is immobile until held, or even knocked/choked unconscious (save against Paralysis applies)

C) Magic

  • Spells begun in phase (A) go off
  • If the caster took damage in the previous phases, they must save against Spells/Magic or the spell is interrupted and lost


Referee trying to adjudicate phased combat, by Francisco Goya

I'm too lazy to write up an example of play, but maaaybe in the future.

Monday, May 1, 2023

The Golem Master's Workshop - translated into Russian

I checked my blog stats and found out, through the referral links, that there is a Russian translation of my short adventure, The Golem Master's Workshop!

It is appended as an example to a translation of Tristyn's guidelines for 10-room/30-minute dungeon, my favorite lightning-fast dungeon creation method.

The Golem Master's Workshop, Russian PDF:

Ehh I should *really* update that map...

Science fantasy campaign with floating islands, quick notes

Floating islands are cool. I want a science fantasy campaign, a big hexmap, with, like, five islands floating above it, each with its own quirks and behavior. Of course, there is Skyrealms of Jorune, I'm intrigued by it, but I cannot use settings so dense (and I envy Samwise who can grok it and runs a BRP Jorune campaign!).

Anyway, in this campaign I envision, the Referee would have to track the movements of the floating islands, which could be a hassle, but perhaps could be done in weekly turns. 

The islands would be like wildcards, most of them moving around randomly. Due to the randomness, they could crash into each other, into the ground, or tall mountains. And some islands would have environmental effects. Obv. all of them would be adventure locales with ruins and dungeons and treasure and conflict and peril.

Something along these lines:

Floating island



1, Inhabited by monsters


Weird weather magnet.

2, Inhabited by sentient beings, split into two warring factions

Controlled by dominant faction, 1 hex/day or 30 degree turn/day

Mostly functioning tech and ecosystem.

3, Inhabited by monsters

Erratic, roll 1/week

Corruption field. If the island stays on the same hex for more than 1 week, the hex becomes Corrupted.

4, Inhabited by a single sentient being and a bunch of monsters

Continuous, roll 1/week

Transporter beam. Every midnight, a 30’ diameter column of red light projects from the lower tip of the island, stays for 1 minute, then teleports everything in its reach to the island (incl. a hemisphere of ground below).

5, Inhabited by sentient beings

Continuous, roll 1/week

Crumbling. There is a chance of either a rain of small debris or a large chunk falling down from it.

Movement types:





Turn clockwise


Descend 1000’


Move 1 hex

Move 1 hex




Ascend 1000’


Turn counter-clockwise

Bonus Lin Carter quote: