Lonely Vampyre

With my previous post you could think I don’t like The Ruins of Undermountain but that’s not the case, there’s a lot of clever stuff in its pages.

One location/encounter in particular reminded me how much I like unlikely allies as a DM. I’m not talking about factions (which are nice too) but monsters or seemingly evil characters that, under certain circumstances, can bond with the PCs. I like it but I also know from experience that Players are absolutely thrilled by it!

But here’s the one I’m talking about here (1991’s spoiler I guess):

This vampyre was once a female human merchant of Waterdeep, Spadreera Omarkhont. She now appears as a slim, svelte, beautiful (but dirty) creature clad only in ash-covered tatters, her eyes glittering with red fire and much of her hair all burnt away.

Yeah, she’s a fire vampire.

Spadreera is lonely, more than anything else. She’d like to chat and gossip about Waterdeep regularly, with someone she could regard as a friend and will try to befriend any beings who survive her initial attack, and cease hostilities when she offers to. PCs who befriend Spadreera never need fear attack from her again. She will not accompany PCs out of the dungeon, and is reluctant even to leave her lair but she will meet PCs at agreed-upon places elsewhere on this level, and even aid them against encountered monsters. She does not appreciate being used, however PCs would be wise not to try to dupe her into fighting every other monster on this level. Spadreera will plead to any befriended creatures for visits as often as possible! In return, she can guard treasure for PCs, give them all the (sadly outdated) information she knows about the intrigues and secrets of Waterdeep, and give them advice on trade (she was a very shrewd merchant). Her lair can become a hideout and safe house for PCs, if they conduct themselves in the right manner.

She’s still a monster in some way but:

Spadreera’s alignment and tendencies are overruled by her loneliness; she will look for prey and opportunities to unleash her cruelty elsewhere, among the monsters that roam this level, and never harm PC friends. She will even nurse injured PCs faithfully back to health without attacking them!

What an interesting NPC!

Do you know of any other cool unlikely ally?

The Wizard inside a Stuffed Beholder

I was skimming through AD&D Ruins of Undermountain, just to see how it compares with 5E Dungeon of the Mad Mage, and I stumbled upon this:

Old Xoblob’s shop

The shop is named for the stuffed, eyeless beholder that hangs from the ceiling inside. Aside from being a curiosity in itself, the beholder conceals a hired wizard who can fire a wand of paralysis out of the dust-covered eye tyrant’s mouth.

I chuckled to myself when I read this. Just picture the poor guy, hidden in a stuffed beholder, twiddling his thumbs ALL DAY LONG!

Adventurers won’t steal from Xoblob’s shop so easily.

Dandalus will trade with whoever comes through the gate. He makes no enemies, he merely charges more for services to those attackers or doublecrossers. Dandalus always takes the following precautions: he wears a ring of spell turning, a ring of free action, and a greenstone amulet; he always carries two potions of extra-healing, an elixir of health, two iron bands of Bilarro spheres, and six beads of force in his pockets.

The shopkeeper will charge more for services to attackers…

A magic shop, a wizard bored out of his mind and a shopkeeper that EXPECTS to be assaulted by his usual clients…

Hilarious nonsense.

Spelljammer – If I did it

My Ruins of Chult campaign has been sputtering for a while (curst ye thrice gloomhaven) and now is on hold with summer finally upon us (time for garden luv). I say there’s nothing more pathetic in life than a campaignless DM.

Alone. Adrift. Aimless.

And so:

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Hey, that’s out of the blue, isn’t it?

Well, not totally (for me, at least) as I read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun a few months ago and it struck a swordsspaceships chord I didn’t know I had.

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Anyway, loosely based on a few themes mentioned on this book (it’s so packed with amazing ideas, it’s incredible!):

  • there’s only one spaceship, of unknown origin and it’s absolutely gigantic
  • it sometimes encounters other spaceships
  • they’re, in fact, alternate, and sometimes very weird, versions of the one spaceship
  • because the spaceship can go beyond the speed of light, as a result, SPACE AND TIME ARE BADLY FUCK*D UP AND WEIRD SHIT HAPPENS (I mean, who cares)

The main idea is that the PCs (humans, elves, dwarves and whatnot) awaken, pandorum-like, aboard the eternal spaceship and, you know, proceed to explore, or die trying. Once in a while, the spaceship temporarily halts its mysterious course, as it crosses the path of an alternate, different (subtly or not) version of itself, and, well, things get interesting…

The best thing? All the weird monsters I never use (looking at you intellect devourer)? You bet they’d be there!

Of Stickers and Unlocking (for D&D)

 

My ongoing D&D campaign is set in the jungles of Chult. I have the Tomb of Annihilation adventure book and while I don’t use its main plot *shudders*, I love the setting. I mean, I could very well have done the same thing with the old Isle of Dread module, but I didn’t know of its existence when I bought ToA. Anyway, I feel like ToA grafted a sandbox to something that wasn’t exactly meant for it. The PCs must find a specific location (the tomb duh) and have no real incentives to explore the fantastic locations on their way (not that there’s much of it tbh). More so, the players have this bigass map with the blanks… well unless you have a really dedicated cartographer player, it doesn’t see much use in my experience. Which is a shame.

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In retrospect, what I would have liked is stickers. I’ve discovered the fun of it in my recent experience with legacy-type boardgames (gloomhaven, betrayal legacy).

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From Cephalofair’s Gloomhaven

You’ve found/unlocked a location! Put a sticker!

Nah, really, it’s a thing. I like it.

Myconids belong to the Surface!

27. sovereign basidia (2015) - out of the abyss

I don’t think I’ve ever used myconids, but that’s something I want to remediate soon enough. However, if I were to stick to D&D canon lore (which I won’t), myconids are supposed to be found exclusively in the underdark, the subterranean world home to the iconic drow. This was set in stone, so to speak, by Gary Gigax’s D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth (1e), which of course, borrowed heavily on established hollow earth fiction (Jules Verne’s Voyage au centre de la Terre). More to the point, Gigax also borrowed the myconids, which were created in the earlier module  A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, which was an underground adventure (mostly) but in no way deep in the bowels of the earth.

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Leaving the myconids out of most of the more typical (surface) encounters is both sad and needless, in my opinion. Put in any setting, the potential is just mind-blowing…

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Deathbloom Thallid (MtG), perfect for a Chult campaign conversion

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