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Creative Pursuits D&D News

Terror in Tosasth

Like the mummified corpse of a king long forgotten, lying dreamless in a tomb hidden by innumerable layers of sand, mysterious treasures lure the imagination of true adventurers. Men have not long settled here on the edge of wilderness, and few are those who recall the tales of their grandmothers. Yet, the other folk remember a time when elves and dwarves built kingdoms that rose up, clashed and tumbled down again. Offer a dwarf a mug of ale or flatter an elf and you may coax a tale of Tosasth (TOH-sosth).

Despite the benefit of longer lives, only vague details may be conjured from elven memory about the once-great city that now is little more than a graveyard teeming with the undead. “Stay away from that cursed valley,” they will advise. Perhaps the stories told by their fathers were parables only, myths meant to illustrate the folly of hubris, for among the various horrors professed to dwell in Tosasth, a curious mind will discover a singular theme. Long ago, elves and dwarves who grew from parallel limbs of the tree of life, made war that ended in terrible catastrophe.

The series of adventures in this tome offer thrilling danger, spectacular loot and the answer to the mystery of Tosasth.

Terror in Tosasth is a collection of adventures I wrote for my ongoing Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game campaign. I took my notes from the campaign and put them into the style used by the BFRPG community. There are 18 different adventures and procedures for running a city filled with undead.

Aside from all the writing, I felt the need to draw many images to fill in gaps in the pages. I thought I’d get away with recycling image from all the session reports. Nope. I had to draw at least 20 more images.

This material is all free under the Open Game License.

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News

OPDC: Molok’s Mummies

Molok’s Mummies is my entry into the 2021 One Page Dungeon Contest.

A hexagonal tablet, 25 feet across has risen from the soft earth. The grinning face of Molok adorns a trap door in the center. The old folk tell of mummified priests guarding vast treasures. Not even your DM knows how deep nor how dangerous this crypt will be. Will you escape with untold wealth, or will your living soul be consumed to sustain the undeath of Molok’s Mummies?

I built this considering the constraints of the contest, not just that it must fit on one page but also that it should be system-neutral. I minimized space given to art and the map because it’s hard to get the information density as high as can be done with text. I like to be surprised at the table along with the players. I could drop this into my Basic Fantasy RPG game without much preparation beyond copying monster stats into doc for reference.

  • Black Pudding AC 14, HD 10* (+9), #At 1 pseudopod, Dam 3d8, Mv 20′, Sv F10, Ml 12, XP 1390
  • Blood Shroud AC 12, HD 4, #At 1 whip or 1 blood spray, Dam 1d4 or special, Mv Fly 60’, Sv F4, Ml 9, XP 320
  • Bone Chimera AC 17, HD 2, #At 1 bites/2 claws/2 tails, Dam 2d6 bite/1d6 claw/1d10 tail, Mv 60′, Sv F5, Ml 12, XP 240
  • Bone Golem AC 19 ‡, HD 8, #At 4 weapons, Dam 1d6/1d6/1d6/1d6 or by weapon, Mv 40′ (10′), Sv F4, Ml 12, XP 945
  • Clay Golem AC 22, HD 11 (+9), #At 1 fist, Dam 3d10, Mv 20′, Sv F6, Ml 12, XP 1,765
  • Diabolus AC 14, HD 15, #At 1 bite, Dam 2d6+4 + ghoul paralysis, Mv 60’ Fly 20’, Sv F15, Ml 12, XP 3100
  • Flesh Golem AC 20 ‡, HD 9 (+8), #At 2 fists, Dam 2d8/2d8, Mv 30′, Sv F5, Ml 12, XP 1225
  • Gellybone AC 14, HD 2, #At 1 slap, Dam 1d6, Mv 40′, Sv F2, Ml 12, XP 75
  • Ghast AC 15, HD 2, #At 2 claws/1 bite, Dam 1d4/1d4/1d4 + paralysis + stench, Mv 30′, Sv F2, Ml 9, XP 125
  • Ghostcap Bloom AC 12, HD 4, #At 1, Dam 1d4 + special, Mv 0′, Sv F4, Ml 12, XP 240
  • Ghoul AC 14, HD 2, #At 2 claws/1 bite, Dam 1d4/1d4/1d4, all plus paralysis, Mv 30′, Sv F2, Ml 9, XP 100
  • Green Slime AC can always be hit, HD 2, #At 1, Dam special, Mv 1′, Sv F2, Ml 12, XP 125
  • Mummy AC 17 ‡, HD 5, #At 1 touch + disease, Dam 1d12 + disease, Mv 20′, Sv F5, Ml 12, XP 450
  • Shadow AC 13 ‡, HD 2*, #At 1 touch, Dam 1d4 + 1 point Strength loss, Mv 30′, Sv F2, Ml 12, XP 100
  • Skeletal Flayer AC 15, HD 1, #At 1 whip/1 claw, Dam 1d6 + 1d6, Mv 40′, Sv F1, Ml 12, XP 37
  • Skeleton AC 13, HD 1, #At 1, Dam 1d6, Mv 40′, Sv F1, Ml 12, XP 25
  • Spectre AC 17 ‡, HD 6, #At 1 touch, Dam Energy drain 2 levels/touch, Mv Fly 100′, Sv F6, Ml 11, XP 610
  • Vampire AC 18 ‡, HD 7, #At 1 weapon or special, Dam 1d8 or by weapon or special, Mv 40′ Fly 60′, Sv F7, Ml 11, XP 800
  • Wraith AC 15 ‡, HD 4, #At 1 touch, Dam 1d6 + energy drain (1 level), Mv Fly 80′, Sv F4, Ml 12, XP 320
  • Zombie AC 12, HD 2, #At 1, Dam 1d8, Mv 20′, Sv F2, Ml 12, XP 75

I should build this out for my One Dice Six plugin and put it up on the Empty Z generators.

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D&D Entertainment News

Secrets of Blackmoor Review

Dungeons and Dragons eludes complete understanding. Secrets of Blackmoor offers one step on your way to enlightenment.

Despite re-reading the 239 pages of the 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide as a kid, the game remained inscrutable. Despite this, I recall my first encounter with the game as effortlessly joyful. Though it was easy to catch on to the varied and vigorous opinions about proper play in The Dragon magazine, some force drove me onward, compelling me to re-read pages. Somehow, I aimed to solve the disconnect between the game as played by my friends versus the outlandish ideas in the books.

The written word, however erudite or evocative, can only suggest the experience of artwork. It cannot reproduce the feeling of gazing meditatively at The Starry Night. I thought if I could just decipher the jumble of thoughts in the rule books, I’d reach some nirvana of RPG mastery. Eventually I concluded, playing is a craft you learn by doing, hopefully with the guiding hand of a master, in the same way you learn to build a fence with your dad.

I have read Jon Peterson’s Playing at the World. It’s deep. It’s essential. And it illuminates a thousand other paths to explore. I’ve read Jeffro Johnson’s APPENDIX N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons. It inspires, offering additional twisting trails to follow. Two aspects of Secrets of Blackmoor make it uniquely compelling: the focus on Dave Arneson and the experience of first hand accounts.

The confident voice of Gary Gygax echoes across the years. Though sharing equal billing with Arneson on the original little brown books, the misconception that the D&D was his invention is easy to understand. By the time AD&D arrived, it was the Gygax name alone on the front cover. By the end of the 1980s, it’s as if he gave birth to the genre and all other games descended from his wisdom. Fortunately, historians are uncovering the complete story.

The more we learn from the originators, the better our play today. I am completely happy to spend weeks pouring over 720 pages of thick, comprehensive history. At the same time, I’m grateful for a 2 hour documentary I can share with my sons. It offers a concentrated impact to receive the legends related by the heroes themselves. It communicates an infectious passion for the hobby.

As this film is labeled as the first volume, I do look forward to a continuation of the series. The more we all enjoy this work, the more it will encourage and enable the creation of additional volumes in the series. As I write this, physical copies are still available from the Secrets of Blackmoor store. You can also stream the film from Vimeo or Amazon.

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Creative Pursuits Martinez News

The Martini Available in Hardcover

I published a hardcover book containing the play I wrote this year, The Martini. The blurb on the back is as follows.

Martinez Cocktail — Martinez Special — Martini: the libation universally celebrated as the quintessential cocktail enjoys no documented nativity. Despite aspirations of adoptive metropolises, the sensible historian recognizes a likely heritage that begins in Martinez, California. Yet, like the last swallow of gin, vermouth and olive brine swirling at the bottom of a glass, the veil of time obscures important details of this sought-after story. Now, inside this book, you will find clarity in a delightful martini tale, told twice. Illustrated prose encourages gathering close and reading aloud, while a second form provides a play in one act to be performed and enjoyed by a gathering of friends.

You will find The Martini for sale on Lulu.com for $19.79. On Amazon.com, The Martini sells for $21.99, with free shipping if you already subscribe to Prime.

You might purchase this book because your gift-giving skills rival those of the jolly old elf himself.

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News

Captain Walker, Unsung Hero of Martinez

This man has abandoned civilization, married a squaw or squaws, and prefers to pass his life wandering in these deserts; carrying on, perhaps, an almost nominal business of hunting, trapping and trading but quite sufficient to the wants of a chief of savages. He is a man of much natural ability, and apparently of prowess and ready resource. –Captain Philip St. George Cooke

I think the kids today would call Captain Walker based, very based in fact. This quote from Cooke describing Walker is more a confession of confusion than criticism. In modern vernacular, I imagine him saying, “I don’t get how this guy refuses to follow the rules yet constantly kicks ass.”

If you visit our Pioneer Cemetery, you will find the grave of Captain Joseph R. Walker. This hero of Martinez hardly gets the attention he deserves. Here’s some inspiration to take away.

  • He founded and named Independence, Missouri when he was only 21.
  • In his 60s, he was still exploring and performing secret missions for the U.S. Army.
  • In 1833, his group were the first white people to visit Yosemite.
  • He warned the Donner Party not to cross so late in the year and they called him an ignorant pike.
  • His policy with hostile Indians: negotiate or be punished. It must have worked well. In all of his adventures, he only lost one man.
  • He never let Fremont forget his cowardice at Hawkes Peak: “Frémont, morally and physically, was the most complete coward I ever knew. I would call him a woman, if it were not casting an unmerited reproach on the sex.”
  • After the dishonorable execution of Apache chief Mangas, Walker ceased helping the U.S. Army work with Indians, despite a track record of peaceful negotiations and trade.

You might enjoy my upcoming play, The Martini, because Captain Walker appears in the first scene.