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:

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 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: 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.

Friday, January 24, 2020

CollaboDungeon 02

#CollaboDungeon Number Two!

So CD01 was THE MOST COMMENTED on post I have ever had here at the blog, in six years (here on Blogger, and another 3 or 4 over on Wordpress before I moved here). So, I will mark that as successful, thus I shall continue with these as long as people are interested in collective creative.

For CD02 I went big with 23 freaking rooms, I wanted to really challenge you folks and see what you come up with. I left this one a little more bare inside so you were not forced into a certain angle. I also added some shadow as well, to spice up the map a little. If you don't like that sort of thing, I included a straight black and white - perfect for printing.

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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Adventures in Scaldwater Bay, session 01

I started running a new game last week using Old School Essentials (OSE), figured I might post about the game here and there. This session was the first and so a good amount of exposition on my part and most chatter between players and NPCs. All the characters are first level and coming this way for various personal reasons, we assumed they became acquainted prior to boarding the boat (because that is usually some boring as fuck role-playing).

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


We joined the group a few days after they left a large port city known as Longshank Bottoms, a city on the western shores of The Kingdom. The trip from Longshanks to Scaldwater Bay typically take four to six days, depending on the severity of the storms along the way. They hit a strong storm on the second day, which pushed the trip to a full five days, most of the trip spent below deck to be out of the strong, biting winds and the cold rain.

We discussed a few tidbits of information they learned while speaking with the crew (some of this information was given to players in the form of a pre-game handout to seed character knowledge of the area prior to the game):

  • Scaldwater Bay is very small, barely a hamlet, on the edge of an unexplored island in the chilly waters to the northwest of civilization. While they are a ‘free city’, the hamlet is a chartered city, which means the man who funded its establishment is the unofficial ‘ruler’, Lord Bertolucci.
  • As the island is a five-day boat ride east and a seven-day trip west, supplies are few and far between. 
  • A ‘grumpy cripple’ named Chomper runs a sort of inn on the southeastern coast inside a rickety old boat. 
  • The Weary Wench is the only place in town to get a drink and the owner Stavos is a good, trustworthy guy. Stavos acts as a sort of ‘unofficial community- selected leader’.  
  • Sheriff Rolloc is the official leader of the community, and Lord Bertolucci’s man.
  • Rumors are that a quarry started two years ago has been emptied of workers because an opening to underground tunnels was opened. Now, people are saying it is a cursed place, gaining the name The Red Quarry, supposedly because ‘blood will run’ or some such nonsense. 
  • North of the bay lies the ruins. Some people claim this is the remains of a Black Abbey (another called it the Abbey Bleak), the reputed training complex for monks of Moloch, an ancient and vile sect of child sacrifices
  • The forests and hills west of the Bay are rife with orc, goblins, bear, and a host of other creatures
  • The coast is dangerous, with the bay being one of the few safe passages, and the coast surrounding the bay is littered with wreckage from previous explorers.

When their boats arrives and they are about to leave, H'Qha realized the person next to him, some adventurer, has died in the night. He quickly removed a satchel and a dagger from the corpse. He would later open this to discover a map (to an area south of the hamlet, along the coast, with a large red X) and a small vial with four clear, marble-like objects. Inside the marbles appear to be liquid of some sort with small shiny flecks that float around when the marble-like objects are shaken.

The character disembarked, grumbling about the heavy rains. Moving uphill to a covered area outside the Weary Wench (1 on the map), they encountered a few important people from town: Stavos, Tamalaud Breig, and Sheriff Rolloc. The Sheriff gave them a quick once-over, rolled his eyes, and uttered under his breath "Adventurers..." Tam is a little more friendly and introduces himself as Lord Bertolucci's man in the wilds here, he purchases treasures the adventurous recover, sell adventuring gear, and can order special equipment from the mainland. Stavos invites the party into the Weary Wench, offers a free, welcoming, drink and provides wonderful clam chowder.

As they eat and talk, two people enter, Bronn Tussle and his teenage son Galan. Bronn is clearly half-orc and politely nods to H'Qha. Steve has H'Qha make a secret half-orc 'gang' symbol....which we all discovered looks exactly like 'The Shocker'. Hilarity ensues and the table laughs uncontrollably. - GM note: I am sure this will become a long-lived thing in the campaign now. - Bronn speaks with Tam and Tam make a suggestion to the party. If they are wanting to get started immediately, Bronn is headed out to a natural orchard a couple of miles west, and more importantly inland from the hamlet. He has a covered wagon and could transport the party out a few miles while allowing them to stay having a few swords on hand in case they run into trouble would not hurt either.
The group agrees and we had to end it for the night.


  • I think the session went well, especially since it has been at least nine to ten months since I ran anything. 
  • I am using the Old School Essentials it! By far, the best version of the B/X rules I have seen.
  • I was thinking of using adjusted Advancement Tables to get rid of the annoying plateauing effect of BX, but then opted not too. I want this to be simple, straightforward, and fun. Messing with rules just complicates things.
  • I also let the players use the race & class option in the OSE Advanced Fantasy rulebook. 
  • I think I have a decent group, if anything they will likely show up most weeks and that is important for a game to exist and grow. I can handle a single player missing here but I need a stable group of a couple of players to have a campaign, otherwise it is simply a bunch of unconnected dungeons....boring!
  • We start early (for me!) because all the players are Eastern Timezone and ran for about two, maybe two and a half hours which ends up being 10-10:30pm for the easterners. This is actually pretty nice for me because it means we end at 9:30 y time. I can walk the pups and still get in bed before 10 to read a little before nodding off.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

CollaboDungeon 01!

#CollaboDungeon Number One!
As I stated on MeWe:
An idea that came to me while walking my pooches just now. A dungeon and collaboration between all of us to to make something, just for fun. The CollaboDungeon!

I post a new map, you blokes and I turn it into an adventure.

Those who contribute are free to use the map (and any text they write) for whatever reason they want: post on their blog, write and sell a full adventure on Drive thru, put on a t-shirt, or print out a poster.

With that out of the way, I give you, CollaboDungeon #1!

A quick note, there is no 'ownership of a room' so even if someone else already has fleshed out room 7 but you have a great idea for it, post it! The idea is that we do not end up with a definitive dungeon, but instead a decent map (least I hope so) and tons of cool, fun, and creative ideas that any DM could grab and use.
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 Godzilla's wrath upon thee.