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Trapmaster: The Woodpile

The Woodpile Reaching out to grab the handle of the axe, Mira sighed and thought to herself, “This is why I left the farm. I never did much enjoy morning chores…”  A 35-ft.-long tree trunk rests on the ground in the middle of a 15-ft.-by-55-ft. chamber, a whirring saw-blade spinning four feet above the felled timber. A woodbin just inside the door holds twelve split pieces of wood. A similar bin on the far side of the room...

Howling Tower: Cardtography, a Simple Dungeon

A Simple Dungeon The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate why playing cards are such a potent choice for generating our environment. We didn’t choose cards as our randomizers because they’re somewhat room-shaped. That’s a happy coincidence. The real reason is because they have information embedded on them, and we can use that information in all sorts of useful ways. A playing card has two obvious bits of information: suit (clubs, diamonds,...

Midgard Notebook: March of History

March of History There’s a sense in some fantasy campaign settings of being entirely encased in amber, and with good reason: players want the world to remain familiar and useful for play. Removing dragons from Dragonlance or advancing a timeline 100 years in a world of your own invention without consulting your game group… well, you would be taking rather a big chance. Change can be a dirty world in the relatively serene halls of fantasy...

Memoirs of a Lich: Drama

Dear Osvaud, This is Osvaud. We have a flair for the theatrical. We’ve even been (fairly) accused of overdoing it on occasion. For example, if someone was to discover and read this diary, I wouldn’t stop it from happening. Where’s the fun in that? Heck, I would probably patiently watch, observing them through divinations or hanging out somewhere close by invisibly. That way, I can wait for them to read this very sentence and...

Alternative Adventures: The Diplomatic Mission

The Diplomatic Mission Most parties are no strangers to diplomacy. Whether they’re trying to get a better bargain for the swag they’ve hauled from their latest dungeon crawl or attempting to convince the guards that no, their friend was really just joking about splitting open their skulls, adventurers are all familiar with using words over steel. It is fairly rare, however, that a campaign’s entire purpose is geared toward a...

Actual Play: Corpse Mound in “The Last of the Direwish”

What have we done? The following is a dramatic reenactment of actual play. The role of the corpse mound was played by the corpse mound from the Tome of Beasts. No actual players were harmed during this session, though both PCs and NPCs gave their lives. The half-orc Zazuk stared before the party as they exited the boundaries of the forest, looking at the devastation before him and feeling the weight of his soul crumbling beneath him. The party...

Your Whispering Homunculus: 50 Treasures of the Southlands, Part One

“Well?” “Well, what, your domeness?” “You’re covered in dust—explain.” “Ah, the dust. Yes, well, I was under the Great Stair and—” “You are not to go under-stairs, ever. You’ve only been briefly in my employ and would do well to remember the last homunculus that pried too deeply into my affairs and property.” “Yes, master. I was drawn by the curious red leather tome with its ankh...

Magic & Munchausen: Mythical Items from Classical Literature

Magic & Munchausen The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe (1736-1794) is one of the most widely known examples of proto-fantasy. In the book, which narrates the astounding and weird deeds of the fictional German adventurer, we can find a lot of elements familiar to tabletop RPG players, including monsters, space travels, fantastic places, and, yes, magic weapons. Stats for two of them are provided below. The...

Midgard Notebook: Villains and Corruption

Villains and Corruption One of the great elements of Midgard since the earliest days has been its villains and cults. These draw their power partly from their magic and secrets but also from the flaws of each heroic race. In particular, cults and villains thrive because humans are especially susceptible to corruption, such as by devils, ancient shadows, and simple greed, fear, and wrath. That theme continues in the revised Midgard Campaign...

Heroes of Nuria Natal: Feats of the Southlands

Feats of Nuria Natal Oh, the lands of Nuria Natal! Today, you bring us dread feats of the forgotten sands. Where gods walk and men think it nothing to seek immortality. Where riches abound and fortunes are to be made in markets and in ancient tombs. Where the dead walk and the sun bakes. Nuria Natal is a land of wonders, whether you are a native or just passing through. Contained herein are options for characters who would explore Nuria Natal...

Memoirs of a Lich: Spellbooks

Dear Osvaud, This is Osvaud. The worst part about being an ancient wizard is daily preparation. As time marches on, the list of magic we’ve learned gets longer and longer. We end up with a library of known spells and have to create a filing system to track them all. By comparison, the number of spells we can prepare in a given day doesn’t ever get much longer. Daily versatility is nice. I mean, we could be a sadsack lich sorcerer...

Howling Tower: Cardtography

Cardtography: The Basics Since the introduction of computer RPGs, randomly generated dungeons are everywhere. Software developers prefer to call them procedurally generated rather than random because they aren’t truly random; they’re created according to a rigid procedure. Developing a procedure that spits out satisfying dungeons is a popular problem among programmers, and the web is full of fascinating blog posts about the many...

Out of the Frying Pan: Loyalty Beyond Death

Loyalty Beyond Death Encounters have consequences. Every slain bandit has friends who will want revenge, and every devil banished back to the Eleven Hells reports its failure to its Dark Lord. What happens when the PCs’ daring deeds come back to bite them? The following encounter chains are more than just random encounters. Each conflict flows organically into the next, sometimes without even giving the PCs a chance to catch their collective...

Ask the Oracle: Cellphones

Dear Kobold Oracle, The newest player in my group is constantly checking their cell phone despite that I’ve mentioned more than once that we don’t usually use electronics at the table. On top of that, the rest of our party uses real dice, but he insists on using his cell phone for die rolling, so there’s no way to know if he’s cheating. I’m also convinced he’s looking up the stats for monsters we encounter and using them to decide character...

Midgard Expanded: The Travels of Lucano Volpe, or Parthia’s on Fire

Part 5, On Parthia and the Fire-Worshippers of Atashkala Upon leaving Tabur by barge, it’s a twelve-day journey upon the Lumeta River. We fended off centaur raiders twice before reaching the eastern edge of the empire at the fortress town of Kazan. An impressive fortification, the town rests on both sides of the water and features a wall stretching beyond the bounds of the settlement to the horizon both north and south. The Gorgan...

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