Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Update on Things

"Hot weather opens the skull of a city, exposing its white brain, and its heart of nerves, which sizzle like the wires inside a lightbulb. And there exudes a sour extra-human smell that makes the very stone seem flesh-alive, webbed and pulsing."

― Truman Capote, Summer Crossing

Things have been quiet around here since the summer started. With the weather in 100+ F (40+ C) it’s tough for me to want to sneak away to the garage to work on things. I much prefer my AC on full bore. I figured it was time to provide an update on what I have been working on since last I shared.

I spent a few months writing up code for a random dungeon generator. The basis for this is the tables from the AD&D DMG Appendix. I then enhanced it with things I have found scattered around the internet and some basic design principles garnered from first person shooters and my own experience. That project is near completion, with my first few dungeons getting drawn up Dyson Logos style. If you are unaware of his work check him out over here. He has a patreon campaign with some nifty bonuses and his map work is top notch.


In addition, our family OSR campaign sputtered out. We are rebooting with 5E, I am not too sure how I like the rules yet. Even the Basic free PDF from WotC. I did pick up the Starter Set: Lost Mines of Phadelver. I will share my experiences with the ruleset as the 5-6 week campaign progresses.

Speaking of the Lost Mines, I am just wrapping up a PDF GM Aid I am using for my own campaign. In my read thru of this module it became glaringly obvious that the motivations of the factions involved are extremely thin and cliché. I felt that some of the motivations of NPCs needed enhancements for my own understanding of what was going on. Also the information is so scattered about the thing I felt I needed to group specific data together for ease of use. I really focused in on the Who? What? When? And Why? of the various factions and NPCs. Whenever I found them lacking I added more detail. The other bit that got my dander up was the typical WotC style where the NPCs and Villains are frozen in time waiting for the PCs to blunder into them. This isn’t my preferred method. I like for the PCs actions and decisions to count, and for the villains to alter their own plans based on the PCs actions. I therefore created or enhanced some components of the adventure to help with this. Lastly, I didn’t want my PCs to not have options. Ie slay everything and take the treasure should not be the only method. This module has some good places for alternate solutions, but I rounded out the main antagonists so that they could be manipulated for information, bargained with, misled, and questioned without resorting to the threat of violence. This gives my players more options. I also ensured that if the players do kill every NPC and monster the adventure doesn’t stall, as written some interrogation is a must have.

Here are a few examples of the work I have done. My additions are in italics.




Factions - The Antagonists


Black Spiders

The Black Spiders owe their escape to their leader, a drow by the name of Nezznar. They are extremely loyal to Nezznar and most will do anything asked of them. Currently he intends to gain power and return to the Underdark to have his revenge.


· Gather power from any source possible

· Eliminate anyone that stands in their way

· Keep the local powers off balance

· Exploit the weak

· Never be enslaved again


Black Spider – aka Nezznar

Sex/Race: Male Drow

Description: Black leather armor, under dark robes, a wooden staff with a carved obsidian spider on top.


Lts: Vyerith, Vhalak

Subordinates: Mosk, Grol, Klarg, Targor Bloodsword

Cragmaw Goblins

Allies: Glasstaff & Redbrands

Enemies: Rockseeker Clan, Undead of Wave Echo Cave

Languages: Common, Elven, Goblin (Elvish and Undercommon)

Social Skills: +3 CHA(diplomacy) (None)

Facts: Nezznar is a 4th level wizard. He has a natural curiosity and a substantial memory. Even though he intends to kill the PCs he will engage in false promises to achieve his aims. He is fully intending to eliminate his allies once they are no longer useful, and the PCs would be no exception.

Nezznar is aware of all his Allies schemes.

History: Nezznar was born into the matriarchal Drow society. He trained at the wizard’s academy in Menzoberranzan. Seeing the fruitlessness of his future, Nezznar corrupted his watchers and slunk away in the night. Knowing the dangers of the Underdark well, he chose to free a handful of Drow slaves to protect him. The bugbear and hobgoblins currently serving him are those same slaves. Upon reaching the surface Nezznar overheard that the Rockseeker clan had found the entrance to Wave Echo Cavern, a fount of magical power. He dispatched Vyerith and Vhalak to follow them. When Nezznar met Glasstaff he immediately saw him as a kindred spirit. He took the mage on as his apprentice and an alliance was formed. Needing a human face to transact with the world above, Glasstaff was the perfect pawn. His creation of the Redbrands further gave Nezznar a means to raid the town and keeps its officials from looking into the disappearance of the Rockseekers. The former hobgoblin and bugbear slaves proved invaluable in raiding caravans and pressing the local goblin tribe into service. The funds and manpower from these exploits were utilized to start clearing the debris and undead from Wave Echo Cave.

RP Quote: "It seems I must deal with you myself, a pity it must end this way." "If only there were some way that we could benefit each other, I wouldn’t have to eliminate you myself. Mores the pity."


Sex/Race: Female Drow (Doppleganger)

Description: Appears as a female drow in dark robes, long white hair


Master: Black Spider

Allies: Vhalak


Social Skills:

Facts: Nezznar sent the two dopplegangers to track the Rockseeker Clan

Vyerith is encountered in King Grol’s quarters haggling with him over the price of Gundren and the map

If she escapes she will return to Wave Echo Cave

Vyerith is aware of all the Black Spiders schemes and can lead PCs to Wave Echo Cave or Cragmaw Castle

History: The two dopplegangers were assigned by the Drow Matron of his house to keep tabs on Nezznar. He succeeded in corrupting their loyalty thru manipulation of their secrets. They were vital in his escape from Menzoberranzan. They are his chief lieutenants now and fully loyal to the Spider.

Roll two dice (red-hostile, green benign)

If either comes up 17-20 then roll on table below, if both come up 17-20 then Red is attacking Green etc

Day Roll

Night Roll

1 to 2

1 to 3

Stirges (1d8+2)

Blood Suckers, Drawn to Campfires



Ghouls (1d4+1)

Nocturnal, hunger for flesh

3 to 4


Ogre (1)

Looking for a kill

5 to 6


Goblins (1d6+3)

Know location of Cragmaw Castle, carrying 1d10 cp each

7 to 8


Hobgoblins (1d4+2)

Know location of Cragmaw Castle, carrying sketch of 1 PC, 25 gp for head symbol of a Black Spider
If before King Grol would hear of Lair destruction, Redbrands looking for Thief PC

9 to 10

7 to 8

Orcs (1d4+2)

Raiding party from Wyvern Tor


9 to 10

Wolves (1d4+2)


11 to 12

Owlbear (1)

Hunting prey following PC scent

Day Roll

Night Roll




Traveling to or from Mine depending on time of day



Farmers, local

Traveling to or from Farm



Orchard Workers

Traveling to or from Orchard




On the road to somewhere else (Neverwinter etc)


4 to 5

Dragon Sighting I

See Dragon high up circling, may mistake for bird



Dragon Sighting II

See dragon picking up food. If with Hostile encounter. Dragon picks up monster to carry off to eat