Sunday, 8 April 2018

Cavern Generator, Part 1: Underground water, flooding, lakes and rivers.

Here is a basic cavern map generator, designed for when the party bashes through the dungeon wall and finds them selves subsumed within the larger underworld/stumbles across a cave opening in the overworld. 


Further, here is a list of d8 types of cavern that will lead to a further d40 table to generate what type of cavern has been mapped using the table above.

Cavern types, d8:


1.     Underground water, flooding, lakes and rivers.
2.     Abandoned underground dweller architecture
3.     Underground vegetation
4.     Minerals and rocks
5.     Mud, death, blood
6.     Underground humanoid habitation
7.     Underground animal habitation  
8.     Underground weirdness


1) Underground water, flooding, lakes and rivers

1
2
3
4
1
Soft, soothing drizzle leaks from the ceiling in a constant rain.
Perfectly square cut geometric canals, feet wide, turns the dry components of the cavern into a maze of walkways.   
Pools of clear water, illuminated from below by glowing multicoloured ores and minerals.
Large still pools, fungal lily pads floating atop surface.
2
Damp, vaguely muddy, recently drained or emptied cavern lake bed.
Shimmering curtains of water flow in sheets from the ceiling.  
Some hidden wind tunnel billows water from leaking roof, an underground squall.
Steady leaks pour through ceiling like heavy rain.  
3
Small puddles, dripped slowly from the ceiling.
A large pool of perfectly translucent, crystal clear water.  
Incredibly high moisture content in the air, everything dripping but seemingly no source.   
A slightly green hued pool, drinking the water has the mildest of restorative effects.
4
Cavern lake employed for a very long time as a wishing well. Filled with bizarre coins and baubles.
Cavern is a waste high pool, filled with surging, throbbing, brain like coral.
A red and black ichor choked pool filled with corpses of local fauna.
Iridescent shimmering pools that give perfect reflections of those that peer in. Sometimes the reflections act differently to those being reflected.  
5
A nigh perfectly circular ring of water rims the cavern, the center of which has become an island.
Crushingly powerful waterfalls erupt from the ceiling. They will pummel and pulverise those caught in its torrent.  
White steaming pools/lakes, roll a d4:
1) Slightly stings skin, but miraculously removes all dirt/stench.
2) Will melt flesh but perfectly clean metals.
3) No physical effects but removes magic effects from person.
4) No physical effects but removes magic effects from item.
Glooping and bubbling field of quicksand like sinking mud.
6
White translucent vines and ferns explode about the edges of several clear pools.
The visage of some enormous beast or monster is crudely carved into the rocks, the maw of which is a waterfall or lake.  
A clear fresh pool surrounded by a grove of spongy, fungi ferns. A collection of the less monstrous local fauna lap peacefully at the pool.
Rock is mutated and warped into a biological looking mass of fountains, natural spouts and pools. At times appears to breath.
7
Bubbling, steaming and salty thermal pools.  
A deep dark lake, in which some cyclopean ruins dwell. Great, ill formed pillars peak above the water line.
Swirling whirlpool, greedily pulling those that enter it deeper down into the underworld.
A small, somewhat hidden pool, fed by a stream that flows backwards from some crevice. Drinking it gives visions of the future in dreams the next time the drinker sleeps.
8
A deep, dark lake, The shore is slimy with muck and filth. Something foul lurks at the bottom of the water.
A lake so huge and wide it could be considered an underground sea.
The water in this cavern is glue like and viscous, whether it is slowly sludging down the walls or sitting still in a pool, pudding like.
The stone is a porous limestone. Flooding is rotting the stone and it is falling apart in deep fissures and pits.
9
A stream or river that plunges over the side of a bottomless pit or cliff in a thunderous waterfall.
Boulders, small and larger, rumble and splash downstream from somewhere higher in the cavern complex, linked by stream or river.
A Lake or pools in this cavern are covered with thick layer of craggy scum that give the appearance of other rock in the cavern, camouflaging the water.
The cavern houses some ancient aqueduct system, overflowing and decrepit, of some long dead underground civilisation.
10
Some deep electrical current surges through the water of the cavern pool or lake, causing damage to those that enter it. It glows faintly blue.
Ancient moss and mould covered cyclopean stones have dammed up the cavern stream entering the cavern. One exit out of the cavern is the now dry water course.
The water of the cavern pool/stream/lake/river is fouled with some ink like substance. It runs black and stains all it touches.
A poisoned, diseased pool. Dead rotting bodies of local fauna surround body of water. Drinking either causes instant death, a disease, or long endured poisoning.


Some wet cavern inspiration images: 







If needed here is a generic stocking table for filling those caverns with additional things:

d4 d12
1
2
3
4
1
Empty, place of rest.  
Empty, place of recreation.
Empty, place of physical work.
Empty, place of physical storage.
2
Empty, place of sleep.
Empty, place of ornamentation.
Empty, place of ritual and worship.
Empty, place of waste disposal
3
Empty, place of eating.
Empty, place of lavatory.
Empty, place of mental work and research.
Empty, place of mental storage
4
Empty, place of bathing.
Empty, place of mechanics and machinery.
Empty, place of growing.
Empty, place of secrets.
5
Foe, sleeping or resting.
Foe, conducting relaxation or recreation.
Foe, physically toiling.
Foe, hidden and watching.
6
Foe, eating or drinking.
Foe, indisposed through sickness or misadventure.
Foe, conducting ritual or worship.
Foe, mentally toiling.
7
Foe, ignoring treasure.
Foe, indulging in treasure.
Foe, transporting or protecting treasure.  
Foe, searching for known of treasure.
8
Treasure, subsumed in location.
Treasure, out of place and unusual.
Treasure, focus of work or worship.
Treasure, hidden.
9
Trap, natural hazard inherent in environment.
Trap, set by nearby foes, evidence of their work.  
Trap, obvious and menacing.
Trap, hidden and deadly.
10
Foe, trapped in natural hazard of environment
Foe, using traps to their advantage against interlopers.
Foe, vaguely aware of trap, but not knowledgeable of specifics.
Foe, unaware of trap they may be about to trigger.
11
Device specific and inherent to environment, expected but intriguing.  
Device external and unusual to environment, out of place sourced from elsewhere.  
Device used in regular work of environment, mundane but effective.  
Device with obscure, secret use that belies a shadow use of environment.
12
Foe, using device to conduct relatively mundane activity.
Foe, puzzling over the way in which a device is used.
Foe, using device effectively to halt interlopers.
Foe, using device for a dark, devious and deviant purpose.



Friday, 6 April 2018

The White Isle, Released but Incomplete

"The White Isle" was my first attempt at putting together  a module. It never worked out, but the art I commissioned is really nice. I finally had the resolve to compile the project into some sort of cohesive whole. You can download a copy of "The White Isle" as a PDF here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1B8Qzk1TCjfu346LIl-_BbIThmyvEG0eZ/view?usp=sharing


From The Introduction: 

The White Isle started as an adventure for some friends who had never played dungeons and dragons before. It exists scribbled down between two notebooks. I very much enjoyed running it and the friends had fun.

I then had the grand idea of attempting to turn it into a module for others to use. I planned out what else I needed to write, commissioned some very talented people to create some art, and bugged some other people for advice on the process (shoutout to Jez Gordon).

The art came back looking fantastic. I felt like I had a solid plan for finishing the project and was very excited to tackle my first serious DIY module. Then, life got very busy all of a sudden and The White Isle got stuck in semi limbo. Then the hard drive in which I had the art stored stopped working, so I lost all the art for the first time. The White Isle was well and truly in limbo at that point. Then, my ISP irreversible wiped all of my emails (including the digital copies of the art). With the art lost twice I more or less gave up on ever finishing The White Isle.

Somewhat ironically, considering the dead god of time central conceit of the module, The White Isle was stillborn and rotted away to nothingness.

That was about four years ago.

Two years ago I managed to get access to the dead hard drive and recovered all the art. It sort of just sat there, teasing me for not finishing what I had started, for a while. Then a day ago I thought, I should just whack together whatever I have extant in regards to The White Isle and release it out into the world. The project was sort of haunting me, and it would nice to get it off my back - albeit in unfinished form.

So here it is, unfinished. The White Isle is basically some ideas, some not so great writing and some really good art.

Thanks for checking it out, I hope you like something within it. The text is transcribed directly from my hand written notes, so is very rough. I have included some notes, like editorial comments, for fun, and maybe to remind me of some things if I ever return to properly finish The White Isle. The dungeon maps are just scans of my notebook and are probably next to useless for any one other than me, sorry about that!

It bears noting that one of the artists, Steve Zieser, has since passed away. He did the illustrations in the Labyrinth Lord book. I learned to play D&D using Labyrinth Lord and I very much like “the vibe” he brings to that book. I loved the art he made for me for The White Isle and I am disappointed I never finished the project so he could see how his art fit into the project.

Mario and Matthew also did fantastic art for The White Isle and I’m sorry that I never got my shit together and finished this thing but at least some people will see their illustrations now!

Some images to whet your appetite and set the scene: 





Friday, 16 March 2018

3 Monsters from The Level 1 Creature Generator

I recently released a PDF on RPGNow designed to generate relatively interesting lower level creatures. It is called 'The Level 1 Creature Generator" and can be found for purchase here: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/235018/The-Level-1-Creature-Generator

Details from the RPGNow product page:

"Never stock your dungeon or hexcrawl with a boring 1hd goblin ever again!

The Level 1 Creature Generator has 64 000 possible combinations of weird and deadly monsters. It creates lower level beings appropriate for dwelling within entry levels of dungeons or in ruins, caves, caverns and forests nearby to the safety of a village or town. 

The unknown is both deeply terrifying and alluring to the human psyche, use this generator to populate your campaign with unique beings to instill equal parts wonder and dread in your players." 

Following are three monsters created using the generator, described and illustrated by myself. The 3 box table after the name of each creature is the raw results from the three d40 tables that the generator is composed of. 

Golden Gluttonsnake: 

Description: 
Appears in nesting groups of d4.  

Corpulent and fleshy man-sized snake, rolls of bulging golden brown colored scales. The gluttonsnake's body is tailed by a snakeskin leather sack filled with d10x5 partly digested and slime covered gold coins. This causes the gluttonsnake  to distinctively "jingle" as it fatsquirms about.  

Due to their jingling, Golden Gluttonsnakes prefer to ambush prey, often disguising their enormous open gullets as part of their surroundings. Unsuspecting and smaller sized adventurers may stumble directly into the maw of a gluttonsnake and find themselves quickly being digested. If they are unable to trap victims directly into their mouths, gluttonsnakes will use their magical ability to pilfer as much currency as possible, then wriggle away to some hidden hole. 

Because of their preference for trapping, ambushing and hiding, Golden Gluttonsnakes tend to infest abandoned structures that are overflowing with filth, detritus and debris. They are also fond of natural regions choked with weeds, brush and mud - ideal for hiding and burrowing. 

Shrikebeak: 
Description: 
Appears in gangs of d6. 

Shrikebeaks are twisted slags of living metal, contorted into the shape of a long, needle beaked flightless bird about the height of a dwarf. They exist to devour the corpse and abandoned weapons/armour of defeated warriors. Shrikebeaks will appear several days after a battle in which the bodies of the slain are not appropriately tended to.

Shrikebeaks will haunt untended battle grounds, those left to rot and choke with corpses by the battle's survivors. Some say Shrikebeak infestations are sent by the gods as punishment for ignoring proper funeral rites.

After their charnel feast (which may take months), they will stand solemn guard over the abandoned battlefield for several years, ultimately collapsing into a pile of metal spike like feathers. Up until that point, Shrikebeaks will be ferociously territorial of their feeding ground, flaring their terrifying plumage as a warning to any that come within their sight. Those that get closer thant that are generally disemboweled by a several foot long beak. 

Holy Ape: 
Description: 
Appears in congregations of d4. 

Apes of a golden, shimmering, ethereal hue - ever glowing and emanating the most calming of ecstasy inducing rays. An abandoned relic, hidden in a forgotten jungle temple, has slowly mutated these primates into their current transcendent form.

The holy apes will lounge peacefully, curiously watching all those that enter their blessed home. They will serenely punch and choke to unconsciousness any who bring themselves to attack the monkeys. Those brought to unconsciousness will awaken at a later point, outside of the forgotten temple or lost deeper in the jungle. The holy apes will also take the same approach to any who get too close to their holy relic.  

Generate your own monsters right now by going to: