Dunsany & Dragons: Adventures from English Literature

Adventures from English Literature Lord Dunsany’s (1878–1957) works have been cited as sources of inspiration for the most famous fantasy roleplaying game since its first edition in the late 70s. His short tales, in particular, are really “fantasy” in the modern sense: most of them follow the “hero’s journey” model, involving young brave adventurers involved in situations dealing with magic swords, monsters, spells, and...

Writing a Better Homebrew Campaign: Linear and Nonlinear Worlds

So you want to create your own campaign for your players? You want to craft adventures with thrilling action, compelling characters, and rich plot hooks? With cliffhangers and twists, treachery and redemption, complexity and surprises around every corner? A living, breathing world to explore with your friends? We want to help you do just that. Part 3, Linear and Nonlinear Worlds An understanding of linear narrative structure is something many...

The Egg Thief: A Sidetrek

The Egg Thief: The Purloining Pernicious Platypus While visiting a provincial festival, an eccentrically dressed man wearing a leather helmet and goggles approaches the PCs. His name is Halm Hogarth, and he takes the PCs aside, saying he needs their help with an investigation. A large number of chicken eggs have disappeared from several farms east of town. Worse, he is also missing two hippogriff eggs. When the PCs arrive at the hamlet, they...

The Far Side of the Table: The Frying Pan or the Fire?

The Frying Pan or the Fire? Welcome back to the table. In this session, the adventurers accidentally found their way into a nest of 6 vampire spawn that I had prepared for later in the story. The adventurers were all level 3, each vampire was level 5. My players were destined to lose. What do you do when an encounter is too hard? What adjustments can you make in the middle of combat to scale the scene down to more reasonable odds? Wednesday...

Medieval Urbanism: The Labyrinthine Realities of the Medieval City, A Designer’s Primer

The Labyrinthine Realities of the Medieval City City planner and historian Lewis Mumford famously recognized the essence of medieval urbanism in “the secrecy and the surprise, the sudden opening and the lift upwards, the richness of the carved detail.” It is that very essence, along with the mysteries fantasy tradition has constructed within it, that makes the medieval city a great environment to roleplay in, and a constant source of...

Midgard Expanded: The Travels of Lucano Volpe, or Captured by Monks

Part 8, Captured by the Monks of Leng Woe and calamity! Imagine the worst that might befall a traveler, and that thought pales in comparison to what has happened to Agosto and I! Desert duststorms drove us Northward for three more days in clouds of choking grit and sand. But on the fourth day, the sky cleared, and it was then that we saw the black city lurking at the base of the cliff-like mountains. We stopped to refill our waterskins at an...

Writing a Better Homebrew Campaign: Different Ways to Tell Your Story

So you want to create your own campaign for your players? You want to craft adventures with thrilling action, compelling characters, and rich plot hooks? With cliffhangers and twists, treachery and redemption, complexity and surprises around every corner? A living, breathing world to explore with your friends? We want to help you do just that. We’ve looked at where ideas might come from. Now, it’s time to think about how to tell...

Streets of Zobeck for 5th Edition Now Available

A Collection of Dark and Daring Adventures What happens when adventurers become the owners of a brothel? When a roguish associate asks them to attend an oligarch’s masquerade in his place? What lurks in the Cartways besides kobolds? And what will you say when another thief tells you the only way to find a treasure is to become hunted by the Praetors? Dark dealings, my boys, and a knife in the guts might be the price. Whose guts? Might be yours...

Medieval Urbanism: A Fantasist’s Introduction

Medieval Urbanism and Geography The medieval city in all its multitude of forms and guises has been a staple in contemporary myths, storytelling, and fairy tales, and has profoundly influenced fantasy RPGs. The instantly recognizable civic styles of Tolkien, the Forgotten Realms, and even the Witcher do after all draw their inspirations from places like as San Gimignano, Prague, and Carcassone. To actually design intriguing imaginary...

Howling Tower: Cardtography and the Wilderness

The Wilderness The cardtography method can be used to lay out a wilderness area just as easily as a dungeon. All that’s needed is an encounter grid tailored to your particular wilderness. Creating the grid isn’t much more difficult than building a table of random encounters since that’s essentially what it is. A wilderness area is a good place to use the option for determining the lengths of connections between areas, as...

Howling Tower: Cardtography and Multi-Level Dungeons

Multi-Level Dungeons We’ve covered the basics of how to lay out the cards, how to connect the cards, and how to decide what each card represents in a simple dungeon. In this installment, we look at ways to create a more involved, multi-level complex. If we’re talking about a dungeon (and for the time being, we are), then all that’s needed is a way to locate some stairs or ramps down to the next level. The simple and obvious...

Out of the Frying Pan: Fugitive of Hammerfell

Fugitive of Hammerfell 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...

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,...

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...

Alternative Adventures: The Escape

The Escape Black Gate is not just any prison: it’s where the kingdom holds its most powerful lawbreakers. The Shadow Man, a noted assassin who was little more than smoke and rumor until he faced off with a contingent of the king’s own. The Devil’s Daughter, a woman who had truck with fell powers and whose sorceries left a nation in dread. Even The Deacon, a priest of gods so foul it would curdle the tongue to speak their names...


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