Tag Archives: dungeon

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Four, Second Session

Samaritha the Serpentfolk

Samaritha the Serpentfolk

Second Session (18 page pdf) – “A Birth and a Death in Riddleport” – Samaritha finally comes to term serpentfolk style and the crew entertain themselves by fighting in Zincher’s arena, but then they find one of their long-time crewmates murdered!

That’s right – Samaritha, Serpent’s wife, who got pregnant back at the end of Season Two, finally gives birth!  Well… Lays an egg, really, she is a serpentfolk. I think Golarion serpentfolk are supposed to do live birth but I’ve admixed the Freeport serpentfolk in instead and they definitely do the egg thing. Quite the milestone! So the first half of the session basically revolves around that. I’m really happy our campaign is in-character roleplay enough that a PC getting married and having a baby is absorbing for all the players.

Clegg Zincher

Clegg Zincher

And how better to celebrate than violence. But it’s not even the PCs’ violence! No, instead they get to watch Mase and Gareb, two of their crewmen, fight fish-men in the arena. They lose, but live through it.

Then they hatch a “clever” plan to hand off their captive Ulfen to the orcs, so that they don’t garner White Estrid’s revenge should she track them down. They wisely decide not to provoke the monkey that comes along for the ride – last time they provoked a monkey in Riddleport someone came close to losing a nose. Word to the wise. (It’s kinda like Costa Rica in that way.)

And then – beloved crewman and second mate Little Mike’s body is found on the streets of Riddleport. BAM! Downbeat and cliffhanger for next time.


Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Three, Twenty-sixth Session

Twenty-Sixth Session (16 page pdf) – “The Cursed Earth” – The group hacks their way through frisky vegetation and use the druidic shrine to regenerate everyone’s missing parts! And then their relations with the local werewolves break down. But in the end… It’s back to Riddleport!

In the dungeon, they muse on their spectacularly bad luck – Sindawe hasn’t admitted that he killed Jaren and got his curse, but he does allow that “he was around when he got killed and maybe it jumped to him.” After mulling that over, it’s into a festival of bizarre vegetation the irate shrine is growing.

Mase says, “My mother used to make a dish called ‘blood sap’. It was awful.”
Not to be outdone, Serpent replies, “Samaritha’s people made it from slaves.”
The other pirates fall silent and stare at Serpent, waiting for a punch line, because they don’t know that Samaritha is actually a serpentfolk and her people probably did convert human slaves into  exotic dishes like “blood sap”.
Sindawe covers by saying, “That’s Ulfen pillow talk, you guys. The snow men are a weird bunch.”

Serpent’s player insists that he never casually gives away clues as to his wife’s true monstrous identity.  You be the judge.

Anyway, they reach the altar.  Bloodsuckles!  Canopy creepers!  Time for me to pull out all the new plant monsters no one’s ever heard of! And like last time, it reanimates the dead, in this case Peg-Leg Pete. Lefty, Orgon, and Bel all just about buy it.

But they finally calm the shrine and regenerate everyone!  Huzzah!

When they leave, Mythra is waiting for them – just to betray them!  Actually, it was a doppleganger, the escaped sister of the doppleganger they killed on their last visit.  This ploy works beautifully; the enraged pirates blindly follow her into the forest and attack all the werewolves; they get jacked up so bad they break off but won’t believe Mythra’s protestations of innocence. They announce a cease-fire and hole up in the shrine until the ships return.

Sindawe sees his crew safely aboard the ships and then bravely heads back to get the curse removed, with every expectation that he was going to get killed instead. She removes his curse “like in the deal.” He is grumbly about it. They bury Peg-Leg Pete at sea and sail to Riddleport!

That night in their cabin, Serpent and Samaritha indulge in a little pillow talk involving “squeezing the slaves” for “blood sap”.  In the next cabin, Sindawe buries his head further under a  pillow.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Three, Twenty-fifth Session

beeeeeeeeesTwenty-Fifth Session (13 page pdf) – “Wrath of the Lost” – It’s deeper in to the shrine to regenerate people’s lost parts. The pit of flesh-eating locusts they bypassed neatly last visit becomes quite the encounter – think Nic Cage from The Wicker Man. “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!”

Things start to get complicated in the dungeon.  The shrine a) stimulates growth of all kinds and b) is very sensitive to emotions. Having a bunch of wrathspawn around is doing it no good, hence a shambling mound coming from the remains of the cave bear they killed last time they were here. They finally take it down during a fighting retreat. They ignore another overture from a talky raven that lives here (it wants them to kill the dwarf – it wanted that last visit, too). An ambush on some sinspawn using the “Han Solo gambit” goes well.

Then it’s time to cross a rope bridge. This went fine last time so the swarm of flesh-eating locusts went undisturbed.  Not so this time – in fact this becomes an hours-long fight, capped off by Wogan summoning a fire beetle with the thought that it must, you know, have fire or something. They don’t, of course. “STUPID FIRE BEETLES!!!”

Finally they come across the main wrathspawn arena area and decide to just bring the pain. It’s an epic battle – the pirates they brought with, since they’re all crippled, aren’t as effective as they are usually but they fight with heart. It’s vicious and Peg-Leg Pete is slain in the combat; most everyone else is felled at least once and brought back by timely healing from Wogan. Next time – the Season Three finale!

One Page Dungeons

I just came across this cool contest, the “one page dungeon.”  (Courtesy Zak.) Check out some of these, they are great handouts!

Like Rough Night at the Dog and Bastard – it’s not a classic dungeon, it’s a (very prettily done) relationship map.  Or Operation Eagle Eye, an espionage dossier.  I like Old Bastard’s Barrens as a great example of old school hexcrawl with a new school almost Wired magazine-esque presentation.

They have the winners listed but you can download a big ol’ zip of all 81 MB of them!

Using Random Dungeons

Recently, I came across Dizzy Dragon Games’ online random dungeon generation tool.  I’m not a big old schooler, so at first I considered it a novelty.  But I watched it roll up a cute little map and it got me thinking.

On the one hand, a purely random dungeon is lame.  No rhyme or reason to rooms or monsters.  Piles of treasure sitting out loose.

But on the other hand, it has done a lot of the work for you.  It’s easier to edit than to create from scratch.  And in the real world, not everything always has obvious reasons and is tied up in a nice coherent little package.  (Hell, there’s rooms in our office building at work that we puzzle over “what in the world was this supposed to be for?”)  Also, a lot of modern dungeons are too “full.”  They have something in every damn room.  With this autogeneration, you get a more realistic largely-empty abandoned complex with some knots of critters in it.  Bonus.

I was going to run an adventure (Showdown with the Arm-Ripper) that had a pretty small dungeon – some very cursory work, mainly about one big awesome room and setpiece battle.  I needed more time to work on the next leg of my adventure.  So I thought, let’s see what this random dungeon can do for me!

Here’s the one I generated. The format’s pretty rough, but the map is nice, and there’s loads of dungeon dressing and stuff.  I think he’s doing something clever with the monster generation – it tends to add more of the same monster, so my dungeon had repeats of hell hounds and owlbears and stuff.

I wish I could show you my edited version – but because of the site’s output format, I pretty much had to print it and mark it up with pencil – I would love it if they added a more editable format.  But I can walk you through what I did – and in the end, the PCs enjoyed the dungeon and it seemed organic and not thrown-together.  The session summary detailing the first half of the dungeon crawl is up, the other one will be up within a week or two.

The dungeon I needed was an old overgrown ruined shrine.  This made it easier to have an incoherent dungeon – this place was all jacked up.  Original furnishings, most of the doors, any decorations or murals or whatnot – all gone.  They’ve had plenty of other dungeons where the purpose of every room was writ large, so I figured this would help mix it up.  Also, part of the plot was that the pirate Black Dog had used the place for caching treasure, which explains the unguarded loot bundles (each one got hidden and trapped by me.)  In fact, the dungeon’s randomly generated “Baneful Depths of Demons” name was just a colorful sobriquet he used on his maps to scare off the rubes.

The first thing I did was break it up into zones.  There are natural choke points that largely divide the complex up into coherent areas.

First, the northwest zone.  I moved the minotaurs from room 38 into the all-secret-doors room 7.  They consider the whole NW zone theirs – they don’t like the trolls in room 15 but have trouble killing them, and besides they’re a good buffer against intruders from the entrance.  Sure enough, the party went there first but the fake poison gas in room 5 scared them off.  You will note by careful observation that the entire western edge of the map is only accessible via secret doors (layers of them, in some cases).

Next, the central zone.  From the natural-cave entrance all the way down to room 65, it’s pretty much one big open area.  The “dungeon dressing” of breezes and air movement made sense through this zone.  The rust monsters in rooms 42 and 34 I kept – I made the central area of rooms 33-63 there their nest.  All the doors were rotted out and long gone from age, and I added a doorway between 32 and 62.  The PCs were dicking around in room 37 and that attracted the ones in area 42, an d then later they were trying to ambush some hell hounds and the rest in 34 swarmed them.  (Since the party’s heavy hitters are a monk and a druid, they were not as terrified of the rust monsters as you might think.)  The dopplegangers in area 72 became “Celia” and “Rhody” (named after the rhagodessas and caecelias that were in the dungeon…) , hapless women adventurers.  The illusion of 9 adventurers in area 65 became all the Pathfinder iconics, which was entertaining.

Then I did the southwest zone.  The hellhounds in 59 were actually in the midst of ravaging that area – they don’t lair there, they got sent in to hunt down a pesky paladin.  Several treasure caches got converted into Black Dog-trapped chests.

Next came the southeast zone.  The most important thing was eliminating the door between are 36 and 47, meaning you have to traverse the whole SE section to get up into the northeast, and that only via the secret door in area 73.  There were a number of owlbears here, so I decided the whole area 70/80/73 area is a big owlbear lair.  In fact, that’s what the locals think the cave is, just an owlbear lair, not a big ass dungeon.   The PCs got guided in here by the “girls,” and most of the owlbears had already been slaughtered by the principals of “Arm-Ripper”, except for ones in 70 and 73.  An owlbear fight later and they looked for and found the secret door into area 74.

Finally, the east/northeast zone. From area 74 on most of the doors were still in good repair.  The PCs went right by the NPC adventuring party in room 79 – I decided they were in there on a quest (looking for Gilmy the ettin actually, long story) and had blocked themselves in there to rest and regain spells.  I added some doors to the block of rooms in the middle east section and moved the dire bear to comfier quarters in room 50 –  three of the PCs snuck in and coup de graced it!  That was fair enough, because if it had heard them it would have torn them a new one.  They all rolled really high on their Stealth checks, and then the bear made two natural 20s on its saves vs the coup de graces – but sadly failed its third one.

I turned the doors between areas 43 and 44 into huge barred doors, and those curtain walls were all arrow slitted.  It was a very obvious hard point and the PCs didn’t chance it.  They just went north, and I basically cut out the random dungeon at room 19 and segued it into the druid shrine from Arm-Ripper.

In the end, I just scooted some doors, monsters, and treasure around, and came up with reasons and motives for the critters that were there, and voila – a randomly generated dungeon that suddenly makes some sense!  It’s a big ruined sprawling place, lightly populated with coherent sets of critters that all have some kind of reason to be there.

So thanks to Dizzy Dragon.  I won’t use random dungeons a lot, but with some care and feeding they can be judiciously used even in a campaign that values realism.  If the tool got changed to have better, more easily editable output- just the rooms and stuff would have been nice, but even better the map…  It’d be hell on wheels!