Tuesday, June 2, 2020

I do not have words

After almost 23 years of service to this great country, putting my own life in danger three times, I am deeply depressed by what I see happening. 

I simply do not have words to convey how depressed I am by what is happening.

Sorry about that (suddenly I feel very Canadian).

Thursday, May 28, 2020

QA06 - David Bezio style map

I picked up David Bezio's latest release Gatehouse on Cormac’s Crag a few days ago and I really enjoyed reading through it, but something hit home with the maps. Not my usual style but man, did they ever make me think of the good old days of gaming. I used to draw maps, then take a Sharpie-style marker and outline the map to show where the dirt was, much like I do today with hatching.

Which got me thinking as I drew this. I do like hatching, it adds a certain feel to a map and makes it more 'art' if you will, and are willing to make the leap from RPG map to art. Which is great but frankly I have been drawing hatching maps since....the early G+ days, around the fall of 2011. Darn near a decade of the same style....don't people ever get tired of it? And yes, I am looking at you. I am kinda getting tired of drawing the same style all the time. 

This was fast, fun, and best of all relaxing for me. I like the amateur feel, how it looks like some kid drew lines on a piece of paper. Maybe it is nostalgia, but fuck it, whatever, I like it. You nu skoolers can go fuck off and play your silly little skill based tactical game with photo realistic maps and pretend you are playing D&D. blech. 😝

Also, check out Dave's adventure, it really is a great, old school adventure module and probably long enough for a handful of sessions to take your little meat bags through a couple of levels.



Saturday, May 23, 2020

QA06 - The Lower Septic

I picked up PunkApocalyptic-the-rpg (link) and one of the released adventures involves a location called the Lower Septic. Here is what the rulebooks says about Septic Tank:

A foul odor hangs over the greenish waters surrounding the city of Septic Tank. Divided into two areas, Upper and Lower, the people here make their living by trawling the foul waters for megatroutasses. Fisherfolk and outcasts live in Lower Septic Tank, a cluster of huts connected by floating platforms and crawling with leechcrabs—mean mollusks that feed on blood. Better living can be found in Upper Septic Tank, which has been built atop the ruins of an old bridge. Here, the rulers of Septic Tank avoid the filth and squalor of the lower city, while issuing edicts that make life for the poor who live beneath them wretched and torturous.

Septic Tank is divided into a lower (poor fisherfolk) and an Upper (wealthier people that live off the labors of those below). Lower Septic is a neighborhood of the poorest people of unfortunates who live floating on a sweltering, steaming, pond of waste, refuse, and unknown chemicals. They spend their lives sifting through the swirling muck to scavenge whatever they can find and fishing for the scrumptious megatroutasses those living above them will pay a high price for.

Lower Septic is truly a horrible place to visit and frankly, just the kind of place I want to take my players. Sounds like loads of fun. I took a little liberty with the place and opened it up a little, I want it to be sprawling and a good spot for a spread out fight or even chase.



Monday, May 18, 2020

Dördhöl, level three-a

To get to the third level of Dördhöl, one must head north up a steep and quite long stairwell. Anyone turning the corner below on the second level will immediately be struck by a pungent and horrible odor. You see, the current inhabitants defend their home in a unique way from the undead that haunt the second level. The mix their excrement with leftover from their hunting to produce a noxious and gooey slime that they pour down the stairs. The undead below are simply incapable to traversing the stairs in their current state. In fact, anyone attempting to climb the stairs will need to either plan very well to assist their climb, or make a Dexterity save every ten feet, on a fail they slide to the bottom and sustain d4+2 damage.

When the bugbears stumbled upon this little respite, hidden in the middle of the dungeon they were startled. Secure, spacious, a fresh water supply, room for their temples, access the bigasstrouts they love to dine upon, and best of all....no damn adventurers. Their leader, a sly bugbear named Duttan has turned his small band of followers into near fanatic worshipers of Chrarnonk, the metal god. The statue was here from previous inhabitants and Duttan convinced his people they had finally found their way with Chrarnonk providing this wonderful home for them.

One point of note, the cavern near the bottom, that the water plunges into is actually a large shaft that reaches upwards over one hundred feet and connects to multiple other levels of the dungeon. The bugbears have not realized this yet. After falling to the chamber below, the water seeps through concealed caverns and eventually makes its way back to level one and is the source of the river coming from the rocks.

PDF version:


Monday, May 4, 2020

Dördhöl, level two

The second level of Dördhöl, sitting just above the first level and accessible via a stairwell. Or, for those enterprising explorers who looked up in the chamber with the spring, one could also climb up to the second level and enter through two different balconies.

Patrons back at the Tub 'n Muck pub tell tales of horrible moaning coming from the balconies, but no one has stated they had the balls to climb up to check it out. Well, except for Liw Dlorna, he claims to have climbed up to a balcony with a brave band of fools. Alas, all but he failed to return and now he has become a legend in his own mind with the tales to match....but you know what they say about tall tales in the pub. Anyone spending a solid thirty minutes to listen to Liw's ramblings and dropping about 10gp on brews can make a INT check to try to decipher his drunk tales. Roll a d6 for every ten minutes they listen to Liw past the initial thirty.

Drunk Liw's ramblin's:
1 - There be dead people a wanderin' around the halls! If ye be quiet and can maneuver sans light sticks, you can pass by without pissin' 'em off.
2 - Old Queen Mariand Atoka is dead, trapped in a pit in one of the rooms. But let me tell ya, the bitch can climb!
3 - A secret chamber holds the Lost King's treasure, 'nough to need ten mules to haul!
4 - The benches on the balcony are soothin', careful or ye will fall fast asleep....easy prey for those dead fuckers! Course, the healin' that occurs while sleeping.....and the dreams! Weeee!
5 - The Lost King's son still plies the halls from his secret chamber. He's a tough one, not easily fooled, least ye a looker in the band. If ye catch me drift.
6 - The statues, hell, they ain't a happy bunch, leave a coin at their feet to pass safely by. Ferget this at yer peril!

PDF version:


Friday, May 1, 2020

QA05 - Join me in the Acid Bath

A little bit of a delay in getting this one out the door, been pretty busy with work and all. Plus I started work on the mega-delve I am calling Dördhöl, which by the way was attacked on Reddit for incorrect umlaut usage, but hey, whatever floats your boat (just keep your weird ass boat out of my pond).

Anywho, here you go, QA05. I thought it might be fun to add an acid bath into a dungeon.

[UPDATE] Vance took my map and suggestions and made a kick ass adventure out of it!

So here goes my pitch:
The Cult of Makris operates this temple hidden up in the crags and gorges. Makris is an underworld demon worshiped as a god by these silly fools, Makris also holds domain over the realm of the dead who were lost and never found. Those who are lost and never found are assumed to wander the domain forever in servitude to Makris. As a result the cult likes to abduct people, creatures, monsters, etc and sacrifice them to Makris. Thus, the acid bath.

The temple consists of a large temple with a huge 40' statue to Makris in all his muscular and winged greatness. The eyes are solid rubies the size of a human fist and worth an assload of gold. A large chamber is filled with cages that hold the upcoming sacrifices. A huge pool of acid with a long platform that reaches out over the pit serves as the alter for sacrifice. The left most portions below serve as the holy bathing chamber for the two priests that maintain this temple (Adso of Melk & Brother Maynard). A third priest (Father Brennan) used to work the temple, but something has happened to him and the others have secured him in his chamber until they can either cure him or safely remove him by other means.

Getting your players to the temple:
o Perhaps one of the friends/family has gone missing and rumors point to this temple that likes to abduct people.
o A pair of priests approach the band with requests to help them solve a problem with a third monk that lives in their temple.
o The Piss Off Joe method. Have the PCs be captured, stripped of weapons and magic and put them in a cage. Sit back and laugh at their futile attempts to free themselves.
o The temple has gold, right?

Prisoners waiting for their bath:
1 - Wilbub - a talking goat with a pure white coat. He can only say the words "Nip" and "Glrot". He will occasionally hum a tune that sounds familiar but you just cannot place it.
2 - Toric - a young farmer abducted from a nearby village as he worked the fields. He has a young wife and newborn child to care for. He has a necklace that belonged to his mother around his neck worth 40gp.
3 - Mit Strots - a old and wise kobold, still dressed in the sacred robes of his people. He was carrying his tribes latest sacrifice (a bag with gold coins and jewelry worth around 250gp) and a flash of holy blood when he was struck from behind and then woke up here. He is currently wailing about missing his love, another kobold named Yvi.
4 - Ecnav Reicalg - An elderly woman dressed in the style of high fashion, with nails perfectly manicured. Also in her cell are two men dressed in similar fashion, her servants. She is seen to be rather rude, constantly beating them with cruel words, and berating them "for letting her be abducted by these maniacs!" She has over 500gp in gold, gems and jewels in her purse and though she will offer the prize to help her escape, she will go back on the offer once free. She's basically an old naggy rich bitch.
5 - Hcemid Eoj - a large minotaur that has seen better days. He's a bit overweight, his right leg is bandaged, one black eye, and his right horn has been snapped off with about 2/3rds missing. Last he remembers he was on a bender back at SteveO's Pub, throwing back quite a few, canoodling with the cute elven babes who kept mumbling something about their master Makris and how much blow he has back at the ranch. He's currently suffering from a massive hangover and a weird rash that showed up about a week ago (after the incident and unrelated to the elven babes).
6 - Twenty-seven small, wingless fairies - these poor lads and lasses were captured after a rather fun night at a fairy rave. Hopped up on drink and fairy dust and incapacitated, they were captured and had their wings clipped by the priests. They are in various states of undress, suffering hangovers, and are basically feeling desperate and completely shitty. Nyarb Swodaem seems to be the only one of sound mind and working out a plan to get out of here.



Monday, April 27, 2020

Behold, Dördhöl!

Starting a new project here and I wanted to share the first map with you. I am going to be releasing these maps, all interconnected, so you can put together your own massive mega-delve in the unknown depths. I may actually flesh this out at some point, but as I told my friend Vance the other day, "Words are yucky, I prefer to draw maps." I may put these together into a PDF at some point in the future but as I have no idea how many levels Dördhöl contains, it may be some time before that comes to pass.

Each map will cover the area of the page below and be able to be put together to form a large dungeon. This first level is reached via a cavern entrance inside a deep gorge. Stories told by old-timers say there are at least ten levels that have been explored and that there are multiple entrances and exits. The way is dangerous and many have been lost to it's dark and winding tunnels. And yes, those stairs go up!

Behold level one of DÖRDHÖL!

PDF version:


Sunday, April 26, 2020

QA04 The Tombs -- refined

I had a request over on Reddit asking if I could remove the grid. While I feel this is sort of blasphemous, I thought "What the hell?" So I removed the grid and thought I might add a little usability for those folks out there, maybe a few lines for them to right up their own, quick backstory to these tombs. Image and PDF below.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

QA04 - The Tombs!

You traveled the gorge, met Tomlin and he mentioned that farther along the gorge there is rumored to be some tombs. So, being of sound mind, you decide to explore further.

He mentions one tomb is rumored to already be open, inside it is haunted but there is some sort of glowing archway that the old timers say used to whisk you away somewhere. Where? He has no idea, perhaps to a secret tombs locked away in the rock?

Another tomb is rumored to be in the same area, one for the three sister of Agmorda who prayed to the toad god Ptturib. It is said, around the drunken tables at The Dead Rabbit, that the tomb is home to a room littered with gold coins. So many that it would take multiple trips to remove them all. Course, the sisters aren't too keen on all their pretty coinage leaving their tomb, but hey, y'all are adventurers, brave and whatnot, right?

Stay safe out there.

I exported this as a PDF, in full color so you can get that real old school paper look! Enjoy.


Monday, April 20, 2020

QA03 - You write the adventure!

Another week in quarantine....sounds like the politicians are getting nervous and thinking of setting us all free again. In the meantime, how about I share a map you can print out and create your own adventure?

Stay safe out there.

I exported this as a PDF, in full color so you can get that real old school paper look! Enjoy

No color version for those of you too cheap to print in color. ;-)

Friday, April 17, 2020

QA01 - The Dead Rabbit

Good lord, what a week. I need a break from this 'stay at home vaca', I am working too many hours trying to get masks out of China for healthcare workers! Golly the Chinese customs are completely jacked at the moment.

Here is a little location, maybe you can use it. A quaint and cozy stop on any old country road. Mick and Penny will make sure you are happy with your food with a wide menu and a little ale under the table. Mick used to hit the mug a little too much so she made him swear off it. Today she allows a little cider ("It is made from apples after all,") but the hard stuff Mick brews out in the forest and hides under the boxes out in the barn and he will sell it by the case if Penny is not looking. Those who drink it gain an additional hit point per day but they suffer a -2 on all Dexterity based rolls because they are fucked up!

The pair also share a dark secret in the back stall of the barn, one they will kill for: Sweet little Albert.

 Stay safe out there.

Here is the PDF. Enjoy

Sunday, April 12, 2020

QA02 - The Gorge

Happy Easter, y'all!

I spent far too long getting the look of this one just right. I searched high and low for a old school paper texture that I liked, ended up buying some from a website (only to later discover they were in A4 size....damn Brits!), and then messed around with three maps before I decided I like this one the best. I wanted this too look like someone had grabbed their old school notebook and drawn up and colored a map maybe while they sat in geometry or chemistry class (yuck!) and trying not to fall asleep.

So here you go, I hope you enjoy it and I wish everyone a Happy Easter. Stay safe out there.

I am certain this one has some typos, but here is the PDF. Enjoy


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Herlock's Lair (quick adventure)

Over on Christian's blog "destination unknown" he lamented the fact that people seem to have left the practice of blogging. I have long been inspired by Christian's work so I figured what the hell, I will just sorta use what he is doing and make a quick adventure. Took a little longer than I liked as I was figuring out the layout and playing around with Affinity Publisher, but here you go!

Probably typos, misspellings, etc but hey, it's free. You get what you pay for.  ;-)

Saturday, April 4, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 8

Apologies all, I have been extremely busy lately trying to get face shields and masks to America!

It is good to know that Google still has jacked up the image display in Blogger, I guess they are at least consistent in fing things up....

Creative Commons License

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 7

Whew, wow this last week has just been insane. I work in the medical device industry and we are trying to get PPE here to our local community as they are starting to run out. Dealing with China sucks. I hope all of you are well.

*Edit  Well, apparently Google has updated the software for displaying images on Blogger and F'ed it all up. The original of this image is well over 2500 pixels wide, yet Blogger is showing it at 450 without the ability to change it without screw it up and pixelating everything. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 6

Yeah another week of work from home has started. I spent yesterday in multiple long phones calls, a FOUR HOUR long teleconference, and am basically already exhausted for the entire week after one day. Sitting at my (non-standing) desk at home from 630am until 8pm has ruined my back. I think I could need to file for disability now....

Yeah virus! Here's to surviving another day working from home! Yippie!
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Sunday, March 22, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 5

We got this! I am starting to see people in small groups walking around the neighborhood, it is our first nice day since we all started staying home, no rain, partly sunny, and not too cold. Maybe we will all be better neighbors after this all settles down? Who knows, but I have not seen people out being friendly and neighborly this much in a decade or more.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 4

I am on day 6 of my quarantine, tomorrow I pick up my daughter from school who has been to New York City and Washington DC for the last two weeks. No doubt she will soon be a zombie, I hope she isn't biting. Click the map to embiggun it.

Here is an old map I cleaned up a little. This map will also be included in the next volume of the Dungeon Masters Book of Cartography! Volume One can be picked up here.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 3

Sorry late today! Hopefully you slept in, drunk on your last few Mountain Dews, the last doobie, or the last row of Oreos and slept late. So in other words, I am not late, more like...timely!

Here you go, stay safe and keep calm! The government isn't coming for you.  ;-)
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Thursday, March 19, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 2

#CoronaCon continues! Join in the fun, make something instead of Netflix and Chillin' and share it online. Give the OSRisphere something cool to read or look at. You can help us all get through this.

I colored this one a little weird, but hey, we are all contagious so who knows what effects it is having on my mind. #WhereIsMyMind

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

CoronaCon! Map 1!

Welcome to the new normal! Like many people I know, I am now working from home and find this sort of weird. Anyway, I am working on the next Dungeon Masters cartography book here and there. I thought in a bit of solidarity with all my friends out there self quarantining, I would share some of the maps! Why CoronaCon you ask? You know how we used to (I think they still might but I am not sure) used to do the RPG blog carnival? I figure we are all closed up in our house, not showered for days, drunk on Mountain Dew and Doritos, if we all posted something to help all of those on forced virus vaca, it might pass the time. Thus, CoronaCon 2020!

Creative Commons License

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Zines! Lapsus Calumni, issue 1

Gods, time flies! Almost a decade ago my wife and daughters bought me an iPad as I was about to head back to Iraq for my second deployment. I had recently been reading some excellent blogs on the web, most notably Christian Walker's Destination Unknown and my imagination had been piqued. Using his style as a guide, I used the included apps to draw up a quick map, a task I found amazingly easy and wrote up a short bit of fiction to go along with the map.

With all the zine love going around, I figured I would share some of my many, many attempts at making a zine, so here you go, the very first one!

Click here to download the PDF.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Adventures in Scaldwater Bay, session 05

Macros (Joe) - human magic-user, character number 2 after Seemorph fell in a hole
Camatori (Tim) - a classic OSE elf, character number 2, Mitrum was slain by gooblers
Thorold "Danger" Hexenmeister (Steve) - human magic-user, character number 2 after he got hit by lightning and then fell in a hole
Get caught up:
Session 01.
Session 02.
Session 03.
Session 04.

SESSION FIVE: In which the new Magic-User goes insane

Recognizing that the DM was not playing around, the players decide they need cannon fodder to survive. After being directed to Chomper's Boat, a sort of inn built in the wreck of a boat on the eastern end of the hamlet, they quickly offer some cutthroats far too much money (3 coin a day!) to join them on an exploration back into the Grotto. They are joined by Mardric, Freaya, Harog, and Rathmax. The party offers to suit a few of them up in their former colleagues' gear (talk about heartless bastards). Now accompanied by some stalwart fighters with amazing armor class for Retainers, they head back to the Grotto, just two hours west of Scaldwater Bay.

Side note: Hirelings are the folks you hire to carry shit, clean your house, etc. Retainers are the foolish redshirts you hire to die instead of you in the dungeon! All my life I have been calleing them hirelings! According to the OSE rules, Retainers are: NPCs that are hired by characters to accompany them on an adventure. (NPCs hired for non-adventuring tasks are treated as hirelings, see Hirelings.) 

They enter the Grotto and enter the fog room again. A tense moment ensues when the party finally encounters the Will 'o Wisps that are trapped in this room. Steve has a tense moment standing face to face before the two shoot out of the dungeon and too freedom! Editor: I would have easily killed at least one Retainer or PC if a fight had began. W'oW are no fucking joke. The party easily scales the pit and climb back up to the far passage.

Up a flight of stairs and they come to an area with small alcoves on each side. Thorold is able to use his smart magics to decipher some of the ancient script:

A king named Adar Ek-Or ruled long ago, with his son Adarum Ag-Or at his side. The son had three brides Mashta, Lasa, and Byzu. Despite the son being beloved by all the kingdom, Mashta took a lover. When confronted by Adarum, Mashta rebuked him and ran to the arms of her lover. Adarum and the lover fought a lengthy fight with the lover eventually slaying Adarum (the text appears to imply the lover cheated, or had no honor). King Adar then slew the loved, and cursed Mashta. In sadness, the king then died of a broken heart.

Thorold decided to become rather bold at this point and ventured forward, turning left and encountering two large stone statues. These statues were crudely carved but stood eight feet tall and looked rather daunting. A large blue gem rested in the middle of their foreheads. He stepped before them and suddenly cracks began to emerge as the statues came to life! "Oh shit," squeaked the magic-user and he bolted down the passage....farther into the unknown! One statue clambered after the foolish magic-bender, while the other accosted the party.

Immediately Mardric suffered a tremendous attack, his head smashed against the dungeon wall by a massive stone hand. Brains oozed out of his ears, nostrils and he fell dead to the floor. The rest of the party braced to combat this new danger.

Meanwhile, deeper into the dungeon and alone, Thorold ran down a passage attempting to open a door he discovered. Locked, he squealed and turn to run farther down the passage, coming to right turn and another locked door. Perhaps finally realizing the path he had set his life down, he froze and waited for death to claim him. Editor: Yeah, we were all a bit shocked by this too. Who the fock runs away from danger by going forward into the depths of the unknown??? 3d6 in order buddy, this is not going to end well.

Back to the main party, the retainers open fire with arrows and one...Freya? I forget now...fires a silver arrow, landing squarely in the blue gem with a natural 20 roll. The magic that held him together is immediately shattered and the statue crumbles into a pile of rubble. Cam and Harog immediately sprint down the dark passage, looking for their foolish friend.

They turn the corner just in time to see the statue lunging for the mage. Fortunately for Thorold, it was not to be the statue's day, rolling a 1 on his attack. The statue completely bumbles the attack, plowing into the corner of the wall, smashing through it, and crashing into the metal door and partially bursting through it. Thorold, thankful to be alive, and without a thought, jumps over the statue and through the half-opened door.
Behind him, Cam and Harog go to work to save their friend. A few great shots and arrows pepper the statue, ending its magical life. The remainder of the party rushes to locate their strange friend, finding him safe in a room. A massive statue of a voluptuous fertility goddess stood near the entryway and two shimmering pools of clear water rested before a large stone sarcophagus. Sturdy shelves along the north and south walls hold dozens of smaller versions of the fertility goddess, ranging from an inch tall to six or seven inches. The group immediately recognize that these would be worth substantial coin back in town and especially to the right collectors.

Thorold fills one of the bottles he carries with the water from a pool. Then, again seemingly caught by a stroke of insanity, he takes a quick drink from the pool....



Wow, this went so far in the other direction from what I expected. I do not think I have ever had a player run into the unknown and distancing themselves from the rest of the party. I was very surprised.

  • I am a little bewildered how I never made the distinction between retainers and hirelings before. Not sure if this is a OSE thing or if it has always been this way. I have always lumped them together under the term 'hirelings'. Oh well, live and learn I guess!
  • I had thought these two statues would prove much more of a danger than they ended up being. I still killed one retainer but I thought they would have expended more of their resources, or even lost more of their retainers. No matter though, the dangers that await them will surely take their toll.
  • I have discovered that my players are using these as a bit of game notes to help them refresh their memory prior to the game. So, if you are one of my players and you read this, PM me for your prize. ;-)
  • I am beginning to think that my inclination to stick with OSE, and use it raw, was a good one. We are all familiar enough with the rules that we rarely have to look up rules. This session we looked up the retainer rules. I actually used the OSE SRD website to quickly do this during the game. I gotta say, I love these rules!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Magic Lab: Torpin's Spiral Portal

At first glance this is nothing more than a small, flat, and grey rock with a spiral etched into the most flat side.  The dull grey color belies it's true purpose: creating magical portals. The infamous mage Torpin 'The Dubious' of Longshanks created this magical item ages ago for a single purpose and once he was done, the stone passed into obscurity. Over time, some of the magic has faded from the stone, resulting in a less than trustworthy portal operation.

When through onto a flat surface this stone will disappear and will create a stone spiral staircase stretching in the direction perpendicular to the surface on which it is thrown. If thrown on a floor, the staircase will stretch downward. If thrown on a wall, the staircase will stretch horizontal to the ground. If thrown against a ceiling, it will create a stairway that reach upwards. Whatever the stone is thrown against must be a substantial solid object with at least ten square feet of surface. Throwing it into water will simply cause it to sink to the bottom and create the stairs under the water (and the ensuing chaos that will cause). The effect will remain in place for d66 minutes, at which point the stairs - and anything on them - will be destroyed. All that will remain is the simple stone, exactly where it was thrown. There will be no indication of the stairs about to close, one moment they will be there, and the next they will cease to exist.

Fiddly bits:
Stairs will reach in the direction they are created for d6x100 feet, any opening the stairs crosses paths with will cause an archway to appear. If a character is near an opening when the stairs begin to collapse, they are allowed a saving throw to leap clear. All other items or creatures, regardless of level or power are simply destroyed. To the right buyer, this stone would easily fetch 500 coin.

Dangerous add on:
Every time this is activated the DM should roll a d6, on a 1, something interesting happens. Instead of opening a simple staircase, the stairs end after two complete turns, coming to an archway that opens to a random plane of existence. This effect will last only half of the normal duration. If opened to a plane, the ruler of that plane may close this stairwell as they wish.

Friday, February 14, 2020

CollaboDungeon number 03!

#CollaboDungeon Number Three!

I took a week off from mapping to spend a little time with the family, but now we are back! Map #3 for collaboration! Now, get to work ladies and germs, flesh this puppy out!

Same plan here. I post a map. You flesh it out. If you contribute, you have full rights to use the map for personal or commercial use (see legalese below). Now, go forth and create!

Legalese: Matt Jackson allows free and unrestricted use, with attribution, of the above images even in commercial usage so long as they contribute to the CollaboDungeon effort by posting their creative work in the comments to this post, or link to them in the comments. "Their creative work" means you make up something for this dungeon. Failing to comply with the sharing of creative work will release Baby Yoda's wrath upon thee.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Zines! Ten Foot Zine, issue 1

Last year I got the itch to write (yet another zine) and I released it to my supporters over on Patreon. It began as a simple module for the purposes of exploration of The Black Hack RPG. I utilized the many excellent random tables found in the book to come up with many of the ideas in this adventure, which accounts for some of it's silliness. My patrons and players really seemed to have enjoyed this one, I had a great time just letting go and writing some silly, fun stuff. Perhaps you will enjoy it as well.

It also has artwork of the amazing Eric Quigley, check out his stuff here:  https://www.artstation.com/quigleyer

Download a copy:

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Adventures in Scaldwater Bay, session 04

Seemorph (Joe) - an elven ranger, he's got a think for ruins and the talk on the coast was this place had ruins....and lots of treasure
Camatori (Tim) - a classic OSE elf, character number 2 for Tim as Mitrum was slain by gooblers in session 02
H'Qha (Steve) - a half-orc, sent here by others but interested in the possibility that his background is somehow tied to this place

Session 03.
Session 02.
Session 01.

SESSION FOUR: The Doom that came to the Grotto

So we had the full group back together and after a little shopping in town. They made some coin and arranged to rent a house in town for a month.

They returned to the Grotto and entered, immediately turning to the left passage. A statue similar to the one down the right passage had a spear aimed at the door, except this time someone had placed a blindfold around the statue's head. In front of the door were piles of black ash. The metal door had a pattern of recesses on it, 4x4 slots, some of them occupied with octagonal shaped blue or white gems. Unable to determine a pattern, they turned their focus to the statue and immediately knocked it over. This spread the ash piles and exposed eight more of these blue or white gems.

H'Qha decided to investigate, much to the repeated discouragement of his pals. He picked one gem in the door and attempted to remove it....resulting in a powerful shock rocking his slim body. He took 5 points of damage and immediately rethought attempting to unlock the door.

The group moved through the metal door int he main entry room and pushed down the hall. They next came to a large room covered in a thick floating fog that obscured their view. Through the fog they spot a couple of floating lights, most assume these are more of the floating balloons they found earlier in the dungeon. This room has many passages, and the party is eager to explore....

Seemorph maddeningly walks into the room and soon discovers the floor is unstable. He jumps to another square, only to discover that it too is unstable! He makes his saves and finds a square that is not attempting to kill him. He pauses to gather his wits and thank whatever gods he worships.

H'Qha bravely (or stupidly, as he has 1hp at this point) plunges forward, immediately falling his checks and plummets to his death int he darkness below!

Camatori leans down and observes the space below, seeing many thin pillars holding up the floor. Some of these pillars are broken and have become jagged points, perfect for impaling explorers like H'Qha. He drops down to explore and see if H'Qha can be helped, he also spots a paraplegic skeleton crawling towards him, he removes the head of the skeleton and ends the threat. He also notices the partial remains of another explorer in the far corner. Cam moves over and starts to climb up to the first passage on the right.

Seemorph....I guess lonely...decides he wants to be with Cam and moves back to the stable ground near the entrance. Then he bolts for the landing Cam is standing upon. The DM warns him that he will need to make a check, he waves this off and subsequently plummets to his death, right next to H'Qha.

Camatori utters under his breath, "Fuck."
He loots the skeleton, and his two new companions, then heads out of the Grotto of Doom! and heads back to Scaldwater Bay.



Where to begin....
  • This session was just...wow. I mean I knew I made it deadly, but all of it was easily passable, within reason even! Remember all that 'old school caution' and shit I mentioned last session? Right. Out. The. Fucking. Window. Seriously, they were all so cautious and then in the fog room...maybe they had drank enough beer???....they suddenly went all 5e player on me. Four sessions, three character deaths! 
  • Well, I guess we will regroup this week. Rumor has it we are heading back to the Grotto of Death. This time with an elf and two human magic-users. Yeah, this is not going to end well...

Monday, February 3, 2020

Adventures in Scaldwater Bay, session 03

Seemorph (Joe) - an elven ranger, he's got a think for ruins and the talk on the coast was this place had ruins....and lots of treasure
Camatori(Tim) - a classic OSE elf, character number 2 for Tim as Mitrum was slain by gooblers in session 02
H'Qha (Steve) - a half-orc, sent here by others but interested in the possibility that his background is somehow tied to this place

Click here for game session 02.
Click here for the first game session.


We were one player down this week but the two other decided to continue onward and see if they could figure up what was going on in the grotto. Camatori and Seemorph began to explore the grotto, Camatori focusing on the statue while Seemorph's player was tricked by my dynamic lighting set up and began to search the right alcove for a secret door (see my end notes). Cam had noticed when H'Qha had shoved a goobler on the statues spear, the entire thing wobbled ever so slightly. He determined that the whole statue rested on a pivot and could be turned. When Seemorph's exploration of the alcove ended fruitlessly, he join Cam and together they turned the statue until a loud click was heard and the spear pointed at the left alcove. In a burst of dust, a secret door emerged. Cam spiked the door open, concerned it could close and trap them within. Smart. ;-)

They entered and found a small room with a large brazier burning a blue flame that gave off no heat. Ahead stood a large metal door. To the left and right were identical passages with statues. The right passage appeared more interesting as there was a figure held stuck to the door via two large spears in his chest.

Wandering down the right corridor for a better look they discovered another statue holding a spear, this time pointed at the door to the south. The two quickly deduced that this was some sort of sprung trap. They quickly managed to remove the trap's last victim and the spear stuck in the door subsequently disappeared.

Seemorph immediately searched the remains, which were well rotted and held nothing of value minus a fine looking part of boots and his ruined armor. Seemporph threw the boots on and began dancing around trying to activate the 'magical' boots without any luck.

Cam decided to try to open the door and narrowly  missed being skewered by a spear. Seemorph decided the best option was to destroy the statue. Cam helped, wrapping a rope around the statue's head and pulling from the front while Seemorph wedge himself behind it and pushed with his feet. They were successful in toppling the statue, but it nearly fell atop Cam. Luckily he was able to evade the falling statue with just a slight wound, 1hp. Following that, they were able to open the door.

A small room with wooden shelves, unfortunately the shelves were bare except for a single tome which rested on a stone pillar. The metal covered tome was quite interesting with what appeared to be sheets made from a thin-cut stone and gold colored lettering. The tome was written in a language neither could understand. Also in the room was an object floating in the upper corner, a large 2.5 foot wide white glowing balloon-like object. The round thing bobbled slightly and they quickly deduced this was some sort of large magic light, much like a balloon with a light inside. It was soft to the touch and floated upward when pulled down. Initially the two could not come up with a way to take the light with them and so they left it behind, it was perfectly round with no surface holds and frankly, it was large. Cam also noticed some runes or glyphs carved into the pillar, filled with gold. He quickly dug his dagger in and dug out the gold.

Suddenly they heard a door close back in the main room. The balloon was forgotten as fear struck the two and they prepared to defend themselves against whatever horrors may have entered the room.

Cam inched forward, weapon at the ready with Seemorph behind him, bow at the ready. They saw nothing and heard nothing. Cam inched forward, scanning the room....

...and the skeleton struck from its spot hidden in the corner! A solid hit that struck Cam and reduced him to near unconsciousness. Seemorph luckily was able to get a shot off, striking a second skeleton squarely in the forehead and shattering it's head. Cam rushed forward to avoid the next strike, one that could turn him into a skeleton! Seemorph, despite being slowed by his boots was able to move swiftly and notched another arrow, sending the second skeleton to their grave....again!

Cam was now grievously wounded (he had 1hp left and the party had no healing!) and with one man missing, the duo opted to head out of the dungeon, taking the slim treasures they had found, rest and return another day. Cam went back and grabbed the floating globe, hoping it would fetch a good price in town.



  • This session was wonderful old school gaming. The two players were very cautious and carefully aware that they could be outclassed in this dungeon.
  • I specifically put the cursed boots in the dungeon to tempt players. Tim was very much aware it could be a trick but failed to warn Joe. Joe put them on, then danced around the room. He tried to levitate, nothing. Tried to sneak around, nothing. It was great. Then when it came time to battle the skeleton and I instructed him that he received a -1 to his initiative Tim just began to laugh. He knew what was going on.
  • Knowing that players sometimes go meta and look for clue in the map and the digital tabletop, I will occasionally abuse this on purpose. In the image below you can see from the players' perspective they can see the hatching on the map in all the areas EXCEPT that right alcove (circled red below). Because I know certain players 😉 will meta here and conclude that there is likely a secret door hidden there, I purposefully drew hatching off the left alcove (circled in blue). This is where the actual secret door was. I plan worked perfectly and the player went over and began exploring the right alcove. Cheater. 😋
  • I have made a point of stating I would use the XP method used by Tim so the party is keen to recover anything of value in hopes that it would be worth something in town. I think this has worked out great thus far with Tim even digging the gold from the runes carved into the pillar. We will find out how well that works back in town during the next session.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Map and map symbols

A question came up today in one of the comments regarding the symbols I use in my maps. I guess it just shows how old I am because I sorta thought everyone would easily recognize the symbols as these were common back in the good old days of gaming, but with the advent and proliferation of digital mapping resources I guess they do not use the same symbols we are used to.

This is not my work below (maybe I should do my own) but I mostly follow these symbols. I do divert a little here and there. For example the "slide" symbol below I use for a "slope", the difference being a slide means a 'trap-type thing' to me whereas a slope is just a naturally angled downward path. You will also notice I put door handles on my doors, because.

All that said, while I put symbols on maps, I encourage DMs to use the maps as they see fit. If you don't like the that I put a statue there, don't say it is. Or if you think a trap door in the floor would be better, put it there.

Another great resource can be found here:
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2012/03/free-download-master-dungeon-mapping.html where you can download this fantastic key which is similar in many ways to the one above. New Big Dragon has a great blog and produce excellent gaming resources.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Adventures in Scaldwater Bay, session 02

H'Qha (Steve) - a half-orc, sent here by others but interested in the possibility that his background is somehow tied to this place
Seemorph (Joe) - an elven ranger, he's got a think for ruins and the talk on the coast was this place had ruins....and lots of treasure
Mitrum (Tim) - human cleric of the ancient god Moloch, a deity most noted for being pro-child sacrifice, he has heard rumors of ruins near Scaldwater Bay that might be related to Moloch

Click here for the previous game session.


Prior to this session, extensive conversation was had on the importance of the group name and it was decided Scaldwater Shockers was fitting for our merry band of ne'er do wells. I took it upon myself to quickly create a team logo. The group heartily approved of the logo and I believe Joe said he was getting put on his shield or armor. Good times. ;-)

We picked up immediately where we left off last week. The boys were in the back of Bronn and Galan's wagon, heading out to the orchard, about a two hour ride via a trail that traversed the winding hills west of Scaldwater. An hour in, Bronn was happy to announce they were now on the slack side of the storm and were heading into a reprieve. He stated that the storm would weaken over the next couple of hours and clear up for about twelve, before coming back down from the mountains. This was a battle between the sea bitch Ampherus and the mountain god Brugga, as Bronn explained.

Bronn alerted the group, riding in the back of the covered wagon, that something new had appeared along the southern edge of the trail. Off the trail about 100 feet were pure two white statues. From the trail, the group could see these appeared to not have been out in the weather. One squatted on one knee and the other was standing. Curious, the group dismounted and realized as they approached there was actually a third statue. This one was laying flat on the ground under a lean-to. The other two statues, a kneeling one holding a bow and the other standing but apparently having fallen over and was leaning precariously against a tree, had been exposed to the weather. They lacked detailed features, as if the hard rain has eaten away the details. The one under the lean-to still maintained the details: a hardy looking warrior with massive lamb chop sideburns.

The statues were made of some sort of soft, white stone, a pumice-like stone that rubbed off like chalk when touched. H'Qha kicked the leaning statue, cracking it in the torso. This revealed that the inside was not a solid...poured...shaped stones could be seen inside. While the group looked around for footprints, tools, equipment, etc they discovered an old campfire nearby. Mitrum twisted the head off the laid down statue, removed the top of the head, and broke off and crumbled part of the stony brain-shaped rock inside, grounding it down to a powered and keeping it safe in a leather pouch.

Deciding they had uncovered everything they could, the group opted to return to Bronn's wagon, as they did they spotted a small figure on the ridge above the wagon. Camouflaged in a green and brown cloak, the figure studied them a moment and then rapidly began moving away up the ridge. Seemorph and H'Qha aimed shots at figure but missed horribly. The figure moved up higher, eventually encountered two other being similarly dressed, conversed, and then disappeared into the forest. Frustrated but far more cautious, the group continued along the trail.
(map provided by 2 Minute Tabletop)

Seemorph's caution paid off. Walking ahead of the group, off the trail and among the trees, he spotted a cloaked figure waiting in ambush. He alerted the group and let arrows fly. He dropped a enemy. H'Qha and Mitrum took cover behind the wagon as arrows rained down the trail from atop the ridge and cliffs on the north side of the road. Mistakenly thinking he was covered, an arrow lodged in Mitrum back, in the shoulder area.
A moment later another one of these short bluish humanoids - Gobblers -  charged out of the bush and engaged Mitrum in deadly combat. Seemorph killed another in the bushes. H'Qha engaged the arrow shooters high up on the cliff. The fight was short, brutal, and unfortunately, deadly. Mitrum took a particularly deadly strike in the gut, felling him on the trail. A moment later and all the Gobblers were down.

map by me!
The heroes breathed a sigh of relief and Seemorph quickly pillaged the Gobblers and their late friend. He's a bastard. The collected gear was placed on Bronn's wagon. H'Qha noted the grotto on the north side of the road, something caught his attention.

Bronn stated he would travel up to the orchard, collect his apples, and return, promising to hold on to the gear for the group so they might sell it back in Scaldwater Bay. Tim, not to be saddened by the sudden death of Mitrum, rolled up a new a character, an elf. We decided he had been wandering along the trail in search of "Adventure!" and he joined the two surviving members of the Shockers.

The grotto was small, about 35 feet wide and twenty deep. On the left a large grey stone statue, clearly having been in this location for a long time, stood on a raised, round dais. He knelt in a battle stance behind a large shield and held a spear pointed forward, parallel to the ground. He stood over eight foot tall while kneeling. Before him were what appeared to be two benches, cracked and broken from decades or hundreds of years of neglect. Behind the benches were scattered the remains of a plaque, the group managed to piece together. Oddly, H'Qha could make out and understand some of the letters. He could not understand why he could read these, though they seemed familiar to him.



  • This session went very good. I think the group meshes well together, we are here for fun and a good time and everyone is in line with that.
  • I have always thought I had a 'loose DMing' style, using the rules as a base but adjudicating much of the details of combat, tracking, etc on the fly on the game does not slow down. I like DMing this way, I hope my players do. Example: Player says he will duck behind a bushes for cover but still keep an eye on the enemy he spotted. Enemy looks his way, does he see the character? Are there rules for this? Probably, but I am not looking them up. I decide he sees the character on a 2 in 6 and roll with it.
  • After being a player for a bit I decided I was not going to 'fudge' rolls at all for 'the story'. I would play the baddies like they mean it and let the dice stay where they land. Hence, Tim's character death. 
  • One cue I am taking from the game Tim runs is that characters will gain experience based on a few things, but mostly from coin spent. As a player I have seen first hand how this effects the game and I like it. SO I will be giving out XP for killing shit, roleplaying in excellent fashion, and being creative in your endeavors, but the bulk of XP will likely from finding stuff, selling it in town, and then spending coin.