Category Archives: tabletop RPGs

Dungeon Days: The Haunted Manor

Prince of the Apocalypse, one of the official campaigns for 5th Edition D&D,  has a side trek wherein your party travels to an abandoned house to negotiate with a black dragon. Cool, right? Well, in theory. When your adventuring party has eight people in it, “talking to a black dragon”, no matter how big it is, translates to “killing a black dragon and taking its stuff”. There was no amount of spooky foreboding that was going to divert this party’s urge for big-game hunting.

So, I had to redesign the encounter. In fact, I redesigned it on the spot. It helped that I had finished reading through Kiel Chenner’s The Hell House Beckons a few days before. Today, I went back to my notebook, transcribed what I’d written, cleaned it up a bit, added some stuff, and redrew the maps. Here’s the result.

Rundreth Manor was once a grand estate—a little remote, but when you’re wealthy, a little remote goes a long way. Something horrible happened here, though, and the manor fell into disrepair. Here’s how it stands now. All doors are made of wood and unlocked unless otherwise noted. Areas 6 and 12 through 16 are pitch-dark unless characters have fallen into them. Other rooms are lit by daylight.

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Books in the Wizard’s Library, Volume 1

Books in the Wizard’s Library (some translated into Common by the Society for a Vernacular Zenith)

1: Trans-Substantiality in Theory and Practice, by Sylas McCobun (important early book on astral projection)

2: A Treatise on Exospatial Psionics, Book I, by Hoexithrask Ith, trans. SVZ (rare text on inborn mental ability and its metaphysical source)

3: Second-Wave Necromancy: A Retrospective, by Parko “Bloodskull” Malgura (noted half-orc warlord-turned-sage)

4: Lost Gods, Ancient Pacts: The Vestigial Condition, by Aluzech the Weathered (burned at the stake by a lawful church)

5: Guards and Wards: A Beginner’s Guide, by Zaiger Jarnak, 2nd ed. (a well-loved book, worn from many readings)

6: An Angle Perpendicular to Everything: The Architecture of Fasil-Umbar, by His Harmoniousness Pelshai Quvanek

7: Secrets of The Philosopher Race, by The Comte S. Werthen (an unfinished work, prefaced by Faelis the Unborn)

8: A Millenium, by Yurogulvashenzugastriatanezareth, trans. Eluasha Tristavi (a bronze dragon’s memoirs, in Elvish)

9: Concerning the Curious Apotheosis of Taen of Melgranad, by Bodillo Vortivesk (avant-garde historical fiction)

10: Evocation for Fun and Profit, by Buskin Underhill (full of bad puns, someone has defaced every page in red ink)

11: A War on Two Fronts, by Lagazi Simreesh (tiefling ranger details battles with his heritage and with titan slaver)

12: My Will Be Done: The Art of the Well-Worded Wish, by Orestia Traenor (old, heavy clasp, describes efreeti & djinn)

13: The Manifold Self: The Psychological Effects of Spell-Induced Shapeshifting, by Piero Salazini, with Brek Fulaskis

14: The Red Scrolls of Ahm, by Ahm Alrashid, translated and compiled by Simon (exhaustive codex of demonic lore)

15: Mishaps in Resurrection: A Pathology, by Faelis the Unborn (itself an astral entity “resurrected” onto the Material)

16: Familial Religious Affiliation and Its Impact on Spontaneous and Learned Arcane Practice, by Sunali Moyangoko

17: Magical Vehicles Ancient and Contemporary, by Shoshana Wintergard (from personal flying machines to juggernauts)

18: A Practical Guide to Gem-Cutting for Maximal Effect in Ensorcelled Brandishables, by Olbrecht Dorvastengrad

19: Effects of Verbal and Somatic Variations on Common Pyrokinetics, by Kyroth Vyzaltar (founder of the Silver Legion)

20: The Book of Black Earth, by the Wardens of Sallowseed Grove (one-of-a-kind source text in original Druidic)


Look for more installments of Books in the Wizard’s Library in the future.  -ð

The Last Adventure of Red the Firbolg

I just played through my favorite character exit I’ve ever seen in person, and I’d love to tell you about it. It might brighten your day.

A local friend kicked off a 5th Edition D&D game a while ago, set in a Dark Souls-style dark fantasy setting. The other players were playing an orc hardboiled detective, a tiefling warlock whose familiar was a best-selling author, a kor cliff-acrobat, and, for some reason, a shifter monk who was basically the robot gorilla from the cover of the FATE Core Rulebook. I decided to play counter to the tone of the setting a little bit and made a firbolg druid, exiled from his forest home for political reasons. Firbolgs (which in 5e are blue-skinned forest-dwelling demi-giants, like how an elf might picture a giant) don’t have names, but the party ended up calling him Red, after his red hair. Red loved nature. Like, really loved it, with giddy enthusiasm. Think Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec with none of the organizational skill. He was the party’s two-hundred-fifty-pound medic and chef (he took the Gourmand feat), who could talk to animals and plants and be understood, but couldn’t receive a response without further magical aid. His spellcasting focus was a live squirrel. I decided to roll for my ability scores instead of doing point-buy, and ended up with pretty fantastic stats in everything but Intelligence. Red knew how to use every plant he’d ever seen, but had no idea what any of their names were. Firbolgs don’t have names, y’know?

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