Friday, March 24, 2023


DIMENSIONAL FISHER, fishing for condiments: Armour 14 (as leather), Move 0’ (at least in our reality), 6 Hit Dice, 27hp, spiky leg (1d8) x3 plus grab, Morale 7, Number Appearing 1. Only half there, good at surprising, almost-instant kill.

The DIMENSIONAL FISHER is something like a crab or spider; it’s not clear because people have only ever seen the legs. If they are legs. The DIMENSIONAL FISHER lives in lower dimensions but hunts in ours, grabbing prey and pulling it into Dimension F -- not the actual name -- where the local conditions turn the victim into a tasty nutrient jelly, ready for eating. It manifests as a set of three fuzzy, indistinct let’s-call-them-legs, emerging from overhead, sometimes from an object or surface, sometimes from thin air!

The DIMENSIONAL FISHER makes three leg attacks and if all three hit a single target, it is grabbed; the next Round the victim is dragged to Dimension F, where they are killed by the hostile conditions.

The DIMENSIONAL FISHER is only half-present in our reality, so surprises victims on 1-3 on 1d6, and odd attack rolls always miss as the strikes pass through the creature. If the DIMENSIONAL FISHER is forced to make a save, it is unaffected on an odd roll, even if the result would be a failure. Generous Referees may allow weapons with phasing qualities to hit as normal.

Opponents can target the DIMENSIONAL FISHER in general or can attack the individual legs. Each limb has a quarter -- round up -- of the DIMENSIONAL FISHER’s total Hit Points; it is presumed that the body has the remaining quarter, but no one has seen that and lived so (shrugs). If one of the legs is crippled or severed, the DIMENSIONAL FISHER must make a Morale roll or retreats to Dimension F. If it stays, it can only grab immobile or unresisting prey with its remaining limb(s). The DIMENSIONAL FISHER’s legs can heal and even grow back, at a rate of 2 Hit Points per day, and once all three are at least at 50% of their total, the DIMENSIONAL FISHER can hunt lively prey once more.

DIMENSIONAL FISHERS ignore constructs and other unfleshy beings, and have a particular taste for halfling meat.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Fantastic, Yes?

To celebrate the Death's Head cameo on the cover of Fantastic Four #700 -- although he's probably in fact on the cover of the following issue, but it's a two-in-one connecting thing, so whatever -- the birthday of Simon Furman, and of course #DrawDeathsHeadDay, the most wonderful day of the year, here's DH trying on a new costume.

Death's Head is wearing the Fantastic Four costume from circa 1989 to 1990, when the freelance peace-keeping agent bumped into Marvel's first family a handful of times.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Dungeon23: 052-082

I'm trying something different with this #Dungeon23 update, fewer but more meaty entries, so I'm not spamming you with a handful of rooms. I'm not sure if it's better.

Anyway, here's the first half(ish) of Level Two!

52. This was some sort of dressing room for cult priests. A pair of BLUEROBES noodle around in here and may try to hide among the rags if they hear the characters approaching, getting their full 1-3 surprise chance. Three of the cultist outfits are in much better repair than the rest, made of some sort of special material that resists decay; each is worth 300sp.

53. Cultists would wash here before donning their sacred robes. Stone basins contain nothing but cobwebs and dust.

54. One GREENROBE and two YELLOWROBES pootle around between here and 63.

55. The door is locked and fortified with metal bars, so it takes two very noisy Turns to bash down. Inside are two chests, one containing 408sp and one containing 40gp.

56. Three chests contain the cult's real treasures, and four ARISEN TEMPLE GUARDIANS that attempt to prevent any entry to the room. One chest contains 676sp, one contains 304gp, and the last contains five gems of varying size and value; a ruby worth 500sp, a pearl worth 100sp, and an amber, amethyst, and opal, each worth 50sp.

The thumb-sized ruby has a vague hint of magic about it, although it seems to have no specific enchanted properties. It is one of the missing gems from the CROWN OF ETLUZ PEQZUS.

57. What looks like a ball of multicoloured cloth, about 3' in diameter, spins and wobbles in the centre of the room, about 4' from the ground. Every sunset, it spurts out a random *ROBE, complete with weapon.

The sphere has the equivalent of 126 Hit Points, takes half damage from bludgeoning or crushing weapons and double damage from fire, and saves as a Level 14 Fighter. If destroyed, no more *ROBES will appear in the dungeon.

Interfering with the ball draws the attention of the *ROBES from 52, 58, and 74.

58. Four REDROBES and two BROWNROBES pay zero attention to the faded murals of serpents and trees that decorate the walls.

59. Three ARISEN TEMPLE GUARDIANS stand here, motionless. They attack if an attempt is made to open the door to 55.

60. A very confused ARISEN PRIEST shambles about in here, bumping off the walls and muttering in its extinct language about "whippersnappers". It is easily surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. The wretched old thing is naked aside from a bejewelled silver holy symbol -- a tree with a serpent entwined in its branches -- worth 510sp.

61. This room is empty and featureless. Searching always reveals the southern secret door first, unless a deliberate effort is made to search the north wall.

62. A DIMENSIONAL FISHER lurks in the ceiling here, waiting to pounce. It ignores *ROBES because they are not meaty enough to eat.

63. This room is empty aside from dust and debris. Tiny whirlwinds of dust form now and then from the breeze coming via locations 66 and 73.

64. The first time a character steps off the spiral staircase from 18 a deep voice booms "BEWARE!" Characters feel the voice in their minds, rather than hear it, and each understands it in their mother tongue. Henchmen and retainers should make a Morale test to avoid fleeing.

65. The north wall is decorated with a life-size carving of a humanoid with a serpent head. Searching reveals a lever inside the serpent's mouth; the lever opens the secret door, but also triggers the jaws to clamp shut and trap the hand of the, er, manipulator? Releasing the lever releases the hand, but also closes the door. There is no way to open the door from the other side.

66. A YELLOWROBE, a GREENROBE, a BROWNROBE, and a BLUEROBE stand guard here, watching the bridge. Five small decorative alcoves line the top of the north wall, about 8' up. In the fourth alcove, concealed by centuries of spider webs, is a metal box containing 1000sp.

67. Two BROWNROBES lurk here, ready to chuck fireballs across the chasm.

68. A 3' statue of a six-armed holy warrior is propped in the south-east corner; the base and three of the arms are broken and the statue seems to have been dragged here from elsewhere. It is super heavy, counting as two Oversized items. This is because it is made of silver and is studded with gems, all of which is covered with a layer of plaster. Anyone with Architecture 2+ recognises that there's something fishy about the statue. It is worth 470gp.

69. An old meditation room, with small wooden benches, the dusty remains of pillows, and fragile, ragged strips that once were curtains.

70. Another old meditation room, in similar condition to 69. A hidden space under a flagstone contains a jewelled collar worth 10000sp. Another space under another flagstone conceals a pendant worth 12000sp. Wow!

71. A dusty but grand secondary temple, with statues of figures recognisable as versions of those in location 02, except their features have a hint of the... reptilian to them. A stone altar at the western end of the room has been split in two by some great force.

72. Three small -- about 2' square -- windows look out over the dark chasm. The wall around the central window has become weak with age, clear to anyone searching for a Turn or succeeding on an Architecture roll. Anyone peering out should save versus Paralysation to avoid the structure collapsing; on an even failure they are pummelled by falling blocks, taking 1d10 damage; on an odd failure they fall into the chasm, for which see XX.

73. This stone bridge has collapsed. Lit torches can be seen at the other end.

74. The remains of some sort of office or study. A BLACKROBE chills out in here, accompanied by a GREENROBE. Scattered amongst the wreckage are eight fancy scroll cases; the contents are long gone, but the cases are worth 100sp each. The BLACKROBE has a +2 two-handed sword callled EYEKILLER.

75. A 2' deep depression in the floor may have been some sort of baptismal pool at some point, but is now full of dust and spiders.

76. Underneath a small pile of rubble, worryingly close to the edge, is a Bluestone Key.

77. A glowing blue circle carved into the floor radiates teleportation magic. A character entering the circle is zapped to room 78.

78. A glowing blue circle carved into the floor radiates teleportation magic. A character entering the circle is zapped to room 77 and perhaps develops a feeling of deja vu.

79. The lower level of the library (location 35). The books and scrolls here are all rotten and useless, and there is a thick layer of damp moss over the floor and what's left of the furniture.

80. The secret library, accessed from locations 36 and 38. The door is locked, the key long missing. Four ARISEN TEMPLE GUARDIANS stand motionless around a stack of seven stone tablets; they attack only if an attempt is made to take the tablets, and are relentless in pursuit of thieves.

The tablets are the original texts of the cult that built the temple and although the content is more or less identical to that written in their holy books, the tablets are in the original language of the cult, and the entire text has survived the centuries, unlike the paper copies. Each tablet is worth 100sp to a historian, surviving member of the cult, or other weirdo with niche interests. The language is not spoken by anyone alive today.

81-82. A PINKROBE, two GREENROBES, and four REDROBES patrol between these two old and ruined store rooms.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Greater Spotted Beakie

Cyberdyne Warrior, Commodore 64, 1989.

Scale creep was always a problem, apparently, even back in 1989. Look at the size of that Beakie in comparison to the player sprite at the top!

See the game in action below, and perhaps note that the chunky marine isn't the only bit of IP borrowing going on.

That ending music sounds quite familiar too...

Tuesday, March 07, 2023


CLAWED BASTARD, will **** you up: Armour 18 (as plate), Move 90’, 5 Hit Dice, 18hp, claw/claw/peck 2d4/2d4/2d4, Morale 10, Number Appearing 1, thank the gods. Difficult to surprise, infravision 60', immune to charm and similar effects, heals through necrophagy.

The CLAWED BASTARD is some sort of unholy mix of reptile, bird, and a box of butcher knives. No natural process could have led to the development of such a horror, and most sages agree that the CLAWED BASTARD must be the work of a wizard even more misanthropic than usual.

Excessively violent and aggressive, the CLAWED BASTARD attacks on sight and is relentless; it seems to enjoy killing for no other reason than the act itself, although it has been observed eating the corpses of the fallen. If the CLAWED BASTARD fails a Morale roll it does not flee, rather it stops to eat any nearby dead. Or wounded, it’s not a fussy eater.

The CLAWED BASTARD takes a single Turn to consume a body, and in doing so restores Hit Points up to a maximum of the body’s original Hit Points, or the CLAWED BASTARD’s original Hit Points, whichever limit is reached first. The CLAWED BASTARD does not like being interrupted during lunch and will immediately spring back into violent action. Wise dungeon delvers learn to run away as fast as possible while the CLAWED BASTARD is eating.

Culinary habits aside, the CLAWED BASTARD is not stupid and will retreat if in actual danger. It has infravision out to 60’ and despite only having a single eye, does not seem to have any problems with depth perception. The CLAWED BASTARD is difficult to surprise (1 on 1d6) but its aggression -- and its incessant screeching -- makes it easy spot, so it never surprises opponents. The CLAWED BASTARD is so belligerent that it is immune to spells that calm or charm or otherwise reduce aggression.

No communities of CLAWED BASTARDS have ever been seen, so it is unknown how or even if they breed. Most scholars hope that they don’t.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Le Stat d'Dump

Charisma Carpenter May 2015
There seems to be some discussion going around about good old Charisma and its -- mostly unjustified -- reputation as a useless statistic in Dungeons & Dragons-likes. Here's a blog post by Richard about it, that I saw about two days after a Discord group was also discussing the matter. I assume there's some blog or video somewhere that kicked off people's interest, but I'm not hip enough to know where that is.

In the aforementioned Discord group I pondered for about 20 seconds, then blurted this nugget, or something like it:

Charisma represents your character's strength -- small s -- of personality, which among many other useful functions, also manifests as bloody-minded tenacity. When you reach 0 Hit Points, instead of collapsing into unconsciousness, you can fight on for a number of Rounds equal to your Charisma score before dying.

And there you have it!

EDIT: In hindsight, this is ridiculous, and not in the way I tend to like either. So maybe this is better:

Charisma represents your character's strength -- small s -- of personality, which among many other useful functions, also manifests as bloody-minded tenacity. When you reach 0 Hit Points, instead of collapsing into unconsciousness, you have temporary Hit Points equal to your Charisma score. Once these have run out you are properly dead.

That's a bit better. Charisma still has an effect, but doesn't make you invincible for 3-18 Rounds.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Dungeon23: 039-051

I started a new day job last week. That's my excuse for missing Megadungeon Monday. I'm not sure I'm convinced.

Still, here's some #dungeon23 content bringing us up to date, and (gasp) completing Level 1!

39. A small room full of old candles, a single rotting wooden desk and an even more rotten stool. A bone scroll case has rolled under the desk, and contains a beautiful -- and well preserved -- illuminated text that finally resolves a centuries-long academic dispute between rival schools of historians. One group will pay 300sp for the scroll, but their rivals will offer 400sp to "lose" the scroll instead.

40. Single occupancy monastic cells.

41. This cell is packed floor to ceiling with TERROR MOULD. Somewhere in the middle of the fungal blooms is the corpse of a dwarf; good luck getting to it!
The unfortunate fellow was carrying a pair of rusty daggers, and a sack containing 456sp and a magical potion of healing. The problem is that the potion originated in the Opposite Universe and in fact does 1d6+1 points of damage to anyone drinking it, unless they also come from the Opposite Universe.

42. A locked brass gate -- itself an Oversized item worth around 150sp -- blocks access to the outside world. Or the inside world if you're coming the other way. Two 8' statues of generic holy warriors guard the room and pierce visitors with their stony gaze... but are just statues. One's shield features a tree motif, while the other's features a coiled serpent.

43. Through the bars of a heavy -- and locked -- iron gate can be seen a large metal wheel set into the floor. The mechanism is ancient and stiff and turning the wheel requires an Open Doors test, with a +1 bonus if anyone thinks to apply oil. The mechanism activates the watchemacallit in XX.

44. A large but simple dining hall, with huge tables for swashbuckling atop.

45. An old kitchen with all manner of improvised weaponry, and also a nest of seven SKULLBUGS, munching happily on the Terror Mould, to which they are immune.

46. The secret door is small, about 2' by 2', and at ground level. It is concealed from both sides.

47. Four very old wooden chests sit empty and in a state of rotten near-collapse.

48. A weird orange goo drips from the ceiling in this area; save versus Breath every 10' to avoid the drips. The goo is quite sticky and difficult to remove, but is otherwise harmless. It tastes both sweet and sour.

49. A pair of GREENROBES lurk, paying most attention to the corridor to 50.

50. A very fancy spiral staircase, decorated with an elaborate carving of a serpent, leads down to XX. If the carving could be somehow removed -- it is part of the staircase so good luck with that -- it would be worth 10000sp.

51. One YELLOWROBE and three REDROBES loiter here, looking for something interesting to do/kill. A secret panel in the north wall hides a rusted iron box containing 470sp.

Sunday, February 19, 2023


GREENROBES, so healthy: Armour 14 (as leather), Move 120', 2 Hit Dice, 7hp, two-handed sword 1d10, Morale 9, Number Appearing 1d3. Half damage from bludgeoning or crushing weapons.

GREENROBES are, guess what, malevolent -- possibly fey -- spirits that take the form of floating, ragged monk-like robes. Cruel and mischievous, they delight in capturing and murdering sentient beings. They favour large two-handed swords, as they think they look cool. They have no physical form beyond the robes themselves; as such they are very quiet -- they surprise unaware opponents on 1-3 -- except when they communicate with each other, which they do in howls and moans.

A GREENROBE can, instead of attacking, touch another being and heal 1d4 hit points. GREENROBES can, um, touch themselves.

GREENROBES are not undead, although they seem similar, and are intelligent and spiteful enough to pretend to be in order to trick, for example, clerics into wasting their turning abilities. Bastards.

GREENROBES obey the howling, moany, commands of higher-ranked *ROBES, and can order REDROBES and YELLOWROBES about.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Unboxed Terror

If you were curious about what's in the Big Terror in the Streets box, then ponder no longer as Martin of Daddy Rolled a 1 unboxes the, um, box here:

Martin plans to do a lot more video content, so why not give him a Like and a Subscribe, as the kids say.

The adventure is available in print in Europe here and in North America here; the fancy boxed set version from Martin's video is only available from the European shop, alas, but they will post to Not Europe. A pdf version is available here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023


Well, it can't all be Dungeon23 content!

I got this book for Chrimble and have been thinking about it ever since. I think I'm ready to put those thoughts down in words. Maybe. Ish.

Published over 11 weeks in sci-fi-mostly anthology comic 2000AD in 2009, Cradlegrave looks very much like an entry in the "Hoodie Horror" genre, and it sort of is, but the cover is a bit misleading. I'll go into more spoilery discussion below, but if you want a brief non-spoilerific review: it's an effective and interesting modern(ish) horror story, with clever writing and excellent art, and it is much recommended.

And now, the meaty bits...

Aside; Hoodie Horror: Former Prime Minister and pig-botherer in chief David Cameron appealed to the middle-classes with his vision of "Broken Britain" in which THE POOR -- gasp! -- were waiting, with hoods and knives, to rape, stab, and steal from good honest hard working Britons and, of course, only a Conservative government could prevent this, mainly by freezing or starving the poor to death, a shameful policy that continues to this day.

This vision spawned a brief mini genre of horror film in which hooded youths became the faceless monsters in the dark, lurking on their estates, ready to pounce. These films were sometimes supernatural, more often not, but were almost always conservative in tone, disgusted and horrified by Britain's "underclass". Eden Lake (2008) is perhaps the most famous example, Harry Brown (2009) the most offensive, and Attack the Block (2011) is a notable inversion or retort, to which we will return.

For more on the genre, there are excellent brief introductions here and here.

So, Cradlegrave then. What we have here is a horror story set on a housing estate somewhere in sunny Lancashire. Ravenglade is the official name, but the locals call it "Cradlegrave" because no one ever escapes; you are born there, you live there, and you die there. Social mobility is a myth told by the rich. Our protagonist, Shane, returns from a stint in a Young Offender Institution intent on making a fresh start and not falling into old habits with old friends, only to find that there is something rotten at the heart of the estate. Something alien.

"Lovecraftian" is the obvious description, and it is superficially so, with a horrible gribbly thing spurting out "black milk" like Shub-Niggurath itself, and even a nascent cult forming around the creature, but I suspect old Howard would have recoiled from the portrayal of the youths as misunderstood rather than irredeemable scum. Like Attack the Block -- I said we'd return -- Shane and his friends are petty criminals who drink and smoke and take drugs, but -- crucially -- that doesn't make them bad people. Their lifestyle is very much presented as a response to the deprivation of their surroundings, almost an adaptation to things they cannot themselves control. There is no judgement; this is all bad, but it's the way it is, and it's not always their fault.

In fact, the real horror turns out to be the nice old couple down the road, Ted and Mary, who just wish for things to go back to the way they were in happier times, before the estate -- and, one suspects, the people -- sprang up around them. Literal "old ones", but perhaps not in the way Lovecraft would have intended. Mary is, or has been physically co-opted by, some sort of entity and begins corrupting the estate; Ted helps her at first, but when it becomes clear that the thing in the bedroom is no longer his wife, escapes in the only way he can. As the corruption spreads and what little social order there is breaks down, it is up to Shane to take action, which he does through a firebomb, reprising the crime that put him in prison in the first place.

It's a bleak, dark story. Edmund Bagwell's art is both mundane at depicting the realities of life on the estate and gruesome when presenting the alien body horror of Mary's transformation and how she, um, "interacts" with the locals. There is little sense of hope. You get the feeling that the estate falls under Mary's sway as much because it's something to do as any overt alien influence. Shane escapes and leaves the horror behind, but while he perhaps "wins", it's clear that not only does the horror continue in his absence, but his fresh start was a, um, non-starter. And of course the larger social issues remain unresolved; you can lob a Molotov at a monster, but you can't burn down decades of deprivation and lack of social support, you can't burn down a class system that is stacked against the poorest and most vulnerable.

(Unless you're French, probably.)

The only way to win is to burn everything down and run away. That's bare bleak, bruv.

Cradlegrave is a greasy, prickly, unpleasant little horror story, and I mean all of that as a compliment. It's deep and fascinating and I wish it was more well known. While Hoodie Horror is perhaps of its time, I think Cradlegrave still has things to say -- alas the poor are still demonised under the Tories -- and is still effective and relevant, like all the best horror stories.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Dungeon23: 034-038

My gosh, Megadungeon Monday is on time this week! Sort of! Ish! It's a #dungeon23 miracle!

34. A single statue of "T" -- see room 02 -- with arms crossed and a stern expression on their literally stony face.

35. The upper level of a library, shelves lined with scroll tubes. The wooden walkways -- marked with RW -- are rotten and weak. Two REDROBES patrol the room.

Roll 1d6 each time a character uses a platform; on a 6+ it collapses, dropping the character 20' to the floor below -- room 79 -- taking at least 2d6 damage. Add +1 to the roll for every additional character on the same walkway; *ROBES are sort-of-but-not-really weightless so do not add to the roll.

Most of the scrolls on this upper level have rotted away, but six documents remain; they are mundane accounts of everyday occurrences from centuries before, but are worth 10sp each to a historian.

36. Stairs down to the secret library in 80. Searching reveals a loose stone in the eastern wall, behind which is a sack containing 480sp.

37. An old scriptorium. Wonky wooden desks collapse and half-finished scrolls crumble at the slightest touch. A Turn spent sorting through the debris will turn -- ho ho -- up an intact and quite beautiful scroll, which appears to be some sort of epic poem. Any character with an Intelligence of 12 or higher discerns a hidden meaning in the text; spending 1d4 days studying the poem uncovers directions to a buried treasure somewhere else in the campaign. The treasure consists of 600sp.

38. Spiral stairs down to the secret library in 80.

Sunday, February 05, 2023


BLUEROBES, reflective gits: Armour 14 (as leather), Move 120', 3 Hit Dice, 11hp, two-handed sword 1d10, Morale 8, Number Appearing 1d3. Half damage from bludgeoning or crushing weapons.

BLUEROBES are, yes, malevolent -- possibly fey -- spirits that take the form of floating, ragged monk-like robes. Cruel and mischievous, they delight in capturing and murdering sentient beings. They favour large two-handed swords, as they think they look cool. They have no physical form beyond the robes themselves; as such they are very quiet -- they surprise unaware opponents on 1-3 -- except when they communicate with each other, which they do in howls and moans.

BLUEROBES reflect spells and magical effects directed at them. Spells cast by a character of first or second level are relfected back at the caster; effects directed by a caster of third level or higher rebound if the BLUEROBE saves versus Magic.

BLUEROBES are not undead, although they seem similar, and are intelligent and spiteful enough to pretend to be in order to trick, for example, clerics into wasting their turning abilities. Bastards.

BLUEROBES obey the howling, moany, commands of higher-ranked *ROBES, and can order REDROBES, YELLOWROBES, and GREENROBES about.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Dungeon23: 028-033

Oh dear, the #Dungeon23 schedule has gone utterly; I think I'm supposed to have moved on to Level 2 by now, but I still have some ideas for Level 1 that I want to explore. Onward!

(But not downward, apparently. Not yet.)

28. A breeze flows into this room from 29, as well as the sound of birds fussing.

29. The room is dominated by a pool of dirty water, and statues identical to those in room 2. Oh, and big piles of guano from a flock of weird, striped, big-headed birds that have nested in here, having gained access through a 2' hole in the ceiling.

The birds are harmless but the *ROBES find them intimidating and try not to stay in this room if they can avoid it; any *ROBE on its own will need a Morale roll to resist a backwards furtive shuffle out of the room.

The pool is about 1' deep and the water is opaque with filth; in the south-east corner, covered in centuries of grime, is a silver crown, with four empty sockets where thumb-sized gems should be. This is the CROWN OF ETLUZ PEQZUS, a powerful magic item, but without the gems - found in locations XX, XX, XX, and XX -- is just a draughty metal hat, albeit one worth a handsome 900sp.

The statues do nothing.

30. The passage here has collapsed. It can be cleared, but will take tools and probably days. Beneath the rubble is the skeleton of an unfortunate adventurer, who almost made it to the surface with 58sp and 4gp.

31. Four REDROBES are on high alert and twitchy -- surprised only on a 1 -- guarding a circle carved into the stone floor. The circle has a faint blue glow, and appropriate investigation reveals that it is enchanted with teleportation magic. It is a one-way teleport circle, from location XX, but there's probably no way for the players to work that out from here.

32. Some sort of meditation room, from the large but now quite rotten cushions scattered across the floor, and the numerous bells and chimes hanging from chains of various lengths. Sneaking through the room without disturbing a chime requires a Stealth roll, or a save versus Paralysation, if your game doesn't have Stealth rolls. You'll work it out.

In the smaller room beyond is a large and tarnished bronze gong, and a BLUEROBE, just chilling out. The BLUEROBE tries to alert its allies by hitting the gong, then rushes to attack. The gong is decorated with serpent and tree symbols, is Oversized, and is worth about 500sp.

33. A sturdy and relatively new wooden table holds a large leather-bound book containing lists of numbers. This is an accounting of the creatures the *ROBES have killed and fed to the grub-thing in 13. There is a 50% chance that there will be a REDROBE in here, adding to the ledger.

Thursday, January 26, 2023


YELLOWROBES, floaty gits: Armour 14 (as leather), Move 120', 1+1 Hit Dice, 5hp, two-handed sword 1d10, Morale 8, Number Appearing 1d10. Half damage from bludgeoning or crushing weapons.

YELLOWROBES are also malevolent -- possibly fey -- spirits that take the form of floating, ragged monk-like robes. Cruel and mischievous, they delight in capturing and murdering sentient beings. They favour large two-handed swords, as they think they look cool. They have no physical form beyond the robes themselves; as such they are very quiet -- they surprise unaware opponents on 1-3 -- except when they communicate with each other, which they do in howls and moans.

YELLOWROBES seem to have a cheering effect on other *ROBES within 30' and increase their Morale by +1. This is already included in the YELLOWROBES' own Morale score.

YELLOWROBES are not undead, although they seem similar, and are intelligent and spiteful enough to pretend to be in order to trick, for example, clerics into wasting their turning abilities. Bastards.

YELLOWROBES obey the howling, moany, commands of higher-ranked *ROBES, and can order REDROBES about.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Dungeon23: 017-027

Sorry for the delay; my computer decided that it wasn't having any of this "internet" business yesterday. To make up for it, I've done a couple of extra #Dungeon23 rooms.

17. A locked Bluestone Door, carved with tree designs. Don't worry, I will explain Bluestone Doors in a follow-up post.

18. A spiral staircase down to 64. Carvings of serpents line the walls all the way down.

19. The walls are covered with faded, but just about legible, graffiti in an ancient language, spoken by no one in centuries. If deciphered, the text mostly concerns an individual called Emlaan and the various sordid activities they are alleged to conduct with livestock.

20. A dusty but empty room. After a few moments, a frail, croaky voice whispers for help. It seems to be coming from the south-west corner but beyond that there is no evident source. The "voice" -- characters will hear it even if they somehow block their hearing -- is a mystical projection from Haaker in room XX and it is too weak to hold a conversation at this distance, but can at least instruct adventurers to go "below".

21. The *ROBES have no idea that this secret door exists.

22. The tunnel goes on for about 800 metres before emerging from a hidden panel in the floor of a ruined hut. A mouldy sack at the hut end contains 20sp.

23. The alcoves contain the mummified remains of priests and other personalities important to the temple in ancient days, standing upright as if to attention. Loose coins totalling 60sp and 10gp can be found between the three rooms.

24. The floor, walls, and -- most worrying of all -- the ceiling are gouged with great scratches, very similar to those of the shaft at 5.

25. A couple of dwarven skeletons can be seen, overgrown with black Terror Mould; see below. Tiny spores dance in the air. One of the ex-dwarfs has a purse containing 40sp, but digging around to find it will cause spores to fill the room, not just the dotted spaces. The purse itself is made of some sort of strange rubbery material that is watertight and impervious to decay -- which is why it survived the Terror Mould -- and is worth 30gp to a sage or other dubious old geezer. The purse has a capacity of 87 coins.

26. This hidden chamber contains the preserved body of a high priest or other noble figure. Wrapped around its shoulders is the pelt of some fabulous creature, shining in a rainbow of colours that have not faded over the centuries. The mantle is worth 60gp.

27. This hidden chamber contains nothing of interest but looks like it probably should.

A creature roans between rooms 23, 24, and 25; the *ROBES were not able to deal with it so built barricades at 15 to at least keep it away. Let's call it the CLAWED BASTARD, and we'll do statistics and a nice picture in a day or so.

M: The dotted squares indicate Terror Mould. It covers every surface in a thick carpet of fuzzy death, and spurts deadly spores into the air; characters that breathe must succeed on a save versus Poison if they enter a Terror Mould square, or die in 1d8 Rounds of asphyxiation -- as their airways melt -- accompanied by horrible hallucinations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

But You Know That We've Changed So Much Since Then

Noisms asks about our first experiences of playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Mine was around 1996. We were at my friend Tim's house, which was this weird mini faux castle thing in the East Sussex wilderness. A truly odd building, it had crenellations and parapets, but was about the size of a largeish suburban dwelling. Anyway, irrelevant. Probably.

It must have been a weekend, or perhaps the school holidays, because we decided to pull an all-nighter, and despite being healthy young lads of 16 to 18, we chose not to carouse but instead to play D&D. We'd been playing Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, Star Wars, and countless other games for a few years by then, but this was our first time with the venerable father of role-playing games.

Image from the ever-useful
Tim had the Black Box edition of Basic D&D -- the one that was pretending to be HeroQuest -- and he ran us through a rambling and open-ended "adventure" that he was making up on the spot, and started in a shallow complex crammed with strange robed spirits armed with broadswords. I think we managed to explore the first level of that dungeon before being overwhelmed and retreating; we didn't return to try again and instead wandered off across the countryside in search of different adventures.

I have a vague memory of some haggling with a merchant caravan somewhere in there but our other exploits that night escape me, apart from the final excursion, which at some point involved a fighting pit in which a captured earth elemental was set against a group of unarmed paladins.

(I know now, of course, that there are no paladins in Basic D&D. How young and naive we were!)

(That was a joke. I don't care if you put paladins in Basic D&D. Do what you like, have fun!)

I remember that there seemed to be an endless supply of holy warriors to chuck into the pit, all of whom were smashed into paste by the elemental. What our player-characters were doing or trying to achieve while this massacre was ongoing, I cannot tell you. Soon after that, Tim's Dungeon Mastering became increasingly bizarre as he started to fall asleep, so we decided to stop playing. I think we made it to about 4am.

The Black Box got another outing about a year later, with a published dungeon -- perhaps the one from the box -- an all-dwarf party, and a TPK. Some time in 1998 there was an attempt to play second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and the Night Below campaign, an endeavour that lasted about an hour. After that I didn't play any form of D&D until 2008 or 2009, with the unfortunate fourth edition.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Dungeon23: 010-016

Week two of #Dungeon23! Crikey.

10. The ceiling in the shaded area is sagging. Poking, prodding, loud noises, and other dramatic activity will cause it to collapse, burying unfortunate spelunkers in debris causing 3d6 damge, or half on a successful save versus Breath Weapon.

11. Six 10' deep pits, each covered with a heavy stone slabs that require two average strength characters -- or *ROBES -- to move. Two REDROBES stand guard over the pits, which contain any prisoners of your choice, or the unlucky GEOFF:

GEOFF, stuck in a hole: Armour 12 (none), Move 120’, 1st Level Fighter, 4hp, no weapons, Morale 9. Geoff is an average bloke with a strong sense of right and wrong.

Discarded in one corner of the room is a muddy cape. Close examination reveals it to be of very fine make indeed and worth 500sp if cleaned and repaired. It was owned by a foreign prince who may still be alive, and may reward its return.

12. A huge pile of skulls, picked clean. One REDROBE noodles around, sweeping up any skulls that have rolled away from the main pile. A single YELLOWROBE stands nearby, "supervising"; if it's possible for a faceless bunch of cloth to look bored, it does.

The pile contains a high proportion of dwarf skulls, should anyone bother to catalogue them. Underneath the pile is a trapdoor leading to room XX; the *ROBES have no idea it is there.

The LotFP rules on excavations are weird, so let's say it would take one person 12 hours to clear enough skulls to access the trapdoor, and a full day to clear the entire room, plus the time taken to transport the skulls elsewhere. Playing around with the skulls invites haunting by disgruntled dwarven ghosts. Thanks to Calvin for the suggestions!

13. A huge grub thing slips and slides around in its own slime. Two REDROBES are feeding bits of prisoner -- from room 11 -- to it; the grub doesn't like skulls so spits those out, and they are taken to room 12. While huge, the grub is quite weak and more or less mindless. Treat it as being unarmoured -- Armour 12 -- and having only a single Hit Point.

14. This room seems to have been an office long ago, although it is now ruined.

15. These corridors have been blocked by barricades made of junk. Two REDROBES stand guard at each barricade, watching for... something.

16. A faded mural depicts the deities/heroes/saints from room 2, with the faces scratched away. The -- literal -- defacement seems to be recent.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Tuesday, January 10, 2023


REDROBES, floaty gits: Armour 14 (as leather), Move 120', 1 Hit Dice, 4hp, two-handed sword 1d10, Morale 7, Number Appearing 1d12. Half damage from bludgeoning or crushing weapons, immune to fire damage.

REDROBES are malevolent -- possibly fey -- spirits that take the form of floating, ragged monk-like robes. Cruel and mischievous, they delight in capturing and murdering sentient beings. They favour large two-handed swords, as they think they look cool. They have no physical form beyond the robes themselves; as such they are very quiet -- they surprise unaware opponents on 1-3 -- except when they communicate with each other, which they do in howls and moans.

REDROBES are not undead, although they seem similar, and are intelligent and spiteful enough to pretend to be in order to trick, for example, clerics into wasting their turning abilities. Bastards.

REDROBES obey the howling, moany, commands of higher-ranked *ROBES.

Monday, January 09, 2023

The Dungeon23 With No Name

The idea behind the #Dungeon23 thing is explained here, but in short it's to build a 365-room dungeon, one day/room at a time. I can probably do that, or something like that, anyway. It may not be a full 365-room dungeon; I may make a bunch of dungeons, and I see at least a couple of people are doing hex crawls. There are lots of options, but at least for now I'm keen to try the basic BIG DUNGEON concept, so we'll see how that goes.

One thing I will not be doing is posting a room a day. I don't want to clog the feeds of what few readers I have with such noise, so instead I'm going to try to post a week's worth of content every "Megadungeon Monday".

Rules and statistics will be in Lamentations of the Flame Princess format, just because that's what I'm most used to. You can find a free copy of the rules here, but it's basically -- ho ho -- B/X D&D.

In the words of Mario, here we go!

1. Stone doors, covered in moss and, underneath the moss, ancient carvings of serpents and trees. The doors are too heavy to move or open by normal means, but the left door has a crack large enough through which an unarmoured character can squeeze.

2. Six statues, each holding a stone dish. They are recognisable as local but ancient deities/heroes/saints, and each has a name carved into their plinth. The names begin with the letters A, C, E, H, T, and X; allocate names according to your own setting. A, E, and T each have a single silver coin in their bowl.

If a character places a coin -- a silver at least -- in each of the bowls of C, H, E, A, and T -- in that order -- they glow for a few moments then immediately gain a level -- set their xp to the appropriate number -- and all associated benefits. This works only once. If the players try anything dodgy like putting a single coin in C, taking it out and putting it in H, and so on -- also known as the Top Cat Manoeuvre -- or taking their money after receiving the reward, then it either doesn't work, they lose the reward, or perhaps something worse happens, like 1d6 BLUEROBES appear from nowhere and attack.

3. A toppled statue of E (see room 2), in a different pose and not holding a bowl.

4. Broken furniture and 3 REDROBES. One tries to flee to room 6 to raise the alarm. They are unaware of the secret door.

A small wooden box is lost amongst the broken furniture; it contains 88sp.

5. A smooth shaft leading down to room XX. Marks indicate that something with very large claws climbed its way up in recent times.

6. 6 REDROBES noodle around a vast hall full of rotten and smashed wooden pews, with a damaged mosaic in the floor, depicting a great serpent. A carving in the south wall depicts a god/hero/saint associated with gateways; the eyes are holes, indicating a space behind the carving. There is a hidden mechanism that spins the entire carving, allowing access to the space beyond.

The mosaic is worth 700gp if removed and counts as three Oversized items (Rules & Magic, p38; or about 800 coins in Old-School Essentials; it could of course be broken up and carried in more, smaller, chunks, but I leave the exact details to you); it will take at least three skilled artisans a week of work to recover the mosaic intact.

There are 30sp and 3gp scattered amongst the wreckage.

7. A spiral staircase, smoothed with use, leads down to room XX. Save versus Breath Weapon to avoid slipping and taking 1d6 damage.

8. Shelves hold ancient scrolls that crumble at the touch. In the corner huddles a humanoid skeleton wearing faded orange robes -- but not ORANGEROBES -- holding an enchanted staff. The skeleton is not human; the skull is elongated and the limbs are disproportionate.

The staff is either a Staff of Snakes, or whatever you like. If the scrolls are somehow preserved, they are ancient records worth about 92sp to historians.

9. Piles of tattered and torn robes in various colours. Feel free to have them shift a little in the breeze, but they are quite inactive as they are ROBES that have either been killed or are yet to be.

And yes, I know I haven't described the ROBES yet. Bear with!

Sunday, January 01, 2023

In Due Time

I asked the Magic 8 Ball if 2023 was going to be a good year...

Good luck everyone!