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The Deepwood Lodge logger’s camp

I made this map for a short horror adventure I ran with my players. Deepwood Lodge is a logger’s camp and lumber mill located along the river in the the outskirts of Deepwood. The adventure was inspired by horro movies such as The Thing and Dawn of the Dead. It all started when a fungus infected, zombie-like lumberjack came floating down the river all tangled up in a timber raft, crashing into Fourtower Bridge.

The adventurers were tasked by Majken the cleric to investigate a remote logger’s camp called the Deepwood Lodge, about a day’s march upstream. At the scene they discovered the lumberjacks had been infected by some type of necrotic fungi, killing them and reviving them as undead.

I might write out the full adventure at some point, but as for now I don’t have an active InDesign subscription so that will have to wait. Until then, please feel free to use the maps with your own gaming group.

Maps of the logging camp:

I have prepared two maps for you. The first map has a legend to fit into the Fourtower Bridge campaign environment. The other map is without legend (and I have removed the dead body laying on the ground), so you can modify it to fit your own campaign. Both are free for personal use. Click the links below to download the maps as .png image files.

Overland map of Fourtower Bridge and its surroundings
An overland map of the Fourtower Bridge campaign environment

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The infernal monolith – isometric dungeon room

”Deep in the bowels of this forsaken labyrinth stands a strange monolith adorned with blasphemous runes. The stone whispers ancient curses in maddened voices. Its language is that of the Abyss – infernal and sacrilegious.”

Just a little bit of “dungeon dressing”. I’m imagining the monolith to be somewhat sentinent, so a player character with the right knowledge can communicate with it. Initially it would be very helpful and provide sound advice, but sooner or later it would require something in return. How far will the players go to please the monolith? What would they be willing to pay?

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Rubik’s Dungeon – a cube shaped, isometric dungeon map

Created in ancient times by the great (and sadistic) dungeon master Rubik, the cube is an artifact that can alter the layout of his underground lair. To attract victims, Rubik would intentionally spread rumours about great tresure hidden in the depths of the labyrinth. As adventurers delved into the dungeon he would use the cube to constantly switch rooms and corridors around until the spelunkers lost their way. As Rubik would place food, water and other supplies in the dunegon, some adventuring parties roamed these maddening hallways for years until finally perishing.

I drew this map mostly as an experiment to see if I could pull it off. While probably not very useful for using as an in-game map, it was a lot of fun to make.

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The Lost Library Dungeon Map

The Lost Library is a dungeon map I created for my Dunkelmoor campaign environment, however it is “generic” enough to fit well into most fantasy campaigns. Feel free to download the map and print it for personal use at your gaming table.

Rumours of an ancient, subterranean library filled with long forgotten knowledge and secrets should be something that piques the curiosity of most adventuring parties.

The idea of such a place fits well into many D&D campaigns, and it provides a great opportunity for the Dungeon Master to throw out hooks for new adventures. Spending some time with the dusty tomes could let players find clues to other hidden places in the world, such as the Ghoulshaft of the Ossuan Desert.

Download high-resolution image (300 dpi):


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How to create a D&D campaign world – a step-by-step guide

A wonderful and inspiring part of the roleplaying game hobby is worldbuilding, however many dungeon masters feel it’s a daunting task to create their own campaign world. In this guide I will do my best to outline my method of building fantasy worlds. I hope it will help you by making worldbuilding more inspiring and less of a chore.

My core worldbuilding philosophy: start small and expand

In my opinion the biggest mistake many worldbuilders do is biting off more than they can chew. If you create a huge world map and then try to fill it with everything that could possibly exist in a world you tend to either overwork yourself and lose interest, or stretch your imagination too far and end up with something quite bland “like butter scraped over too much bread”.

Not only does “starting big” risk draining your inspiration, it is also (most of the time) unnecessary. A typical adventuring party in a quasi-medieval D&D campaign won’t visit every far corner of the world, and even if they do this is not something you need to plan out years in advance.

A campaign world isn’t necessarily a “world”. It might not even be a country. It might start out as just a small town and its immediate surroundings. We could call it a “campaign environment”. It might or might not develop into a world but for starters let’s concentrate on what you need rather than what you might need in the future.

What you need is a playground for your players’ first few adventures.

A list of things that you probably need to know right now:

  • The overall theme or genre (high/low/dark fantasy, steampunk, etc.)
  • What monsters lurk in the woods just north of town
  • The name of the local innkeeper and some other important NPCs
  • The most relevant deity in your starting region, and how it is worshipped

A list of things you probably don’t need to know right now:

  • The name of the king in a neighbouring country
  • What lies beyond the sea or the mountains far to the west
  • Every significant faction in the country and how they interact with each other
  • Details on every organized religion in the world

Creating your homebrew campaign world – a step-by-step guide

Step 1 – the overland map

Create an overland map or get one online. A few (7-10 or so) hexagons of terrain will do. Each hex is 6 miles. Fill the hexes with the general type of terrain you want for your theatre. Woods, mountains, grasslands, hills, moor, swamps, etc. Add a few interesting landmarks.

Note: you don’t need to use hexes if you don’t like them. I find them really useful for making maps and tracking both travel and exploration in a campaign, but if you prefer to measure distance differently go right ahead and choose another method.

Fourtower Bridge Hex Map

Step 2 – the starting town

Create a small town and a handful of non-player characters (NPCs). Some of these NPCs need help with stuff, and they need adventurers to take care of their problems. The NPCs are some of the best roleplaying tools you have to shape your campaign and influence players/player characters.

Here’s a town you can use if you don’t want to create one from scratch: Link to Fourtower Bridge.

The Bulette's Barrel inn - isometric map
“Meet the locals” – the inn is often a central location for roleplaying in a fantasy campaign. A great place for the players to learn more about the world.

Step 3 – adventure sites

Make up a few adventure sites and connect some of them to the NPCs in town. A deserted mine, a desecrated temple, a ruined old tower, a brigand hideout, etc. Draw some simple location maps and mark the sites on your overland map. Place treasure and monsters.

Note: You don’t have to make up all of these adventure sites from scratch. There are plenty of free resources online, or you could buy short adventures from websites like DriveThruRPG.com. You can also find a lot of free maps and adventure sites on this website, for example The Haunted Cloister, that can easily be dropped into most fantasy campaigns.

Top-down dungeon map of a druid's cave
The druid’s cave is a small adventure site, perfect for an evening of gaming

Step 4 – build your world by playing in it

Start playing. The player characters are a bunch of adventurers in search of gold and glory. They arrive in town and have just enough money to spend the night at the inn. Drop rumours on them. Let townsfolk seek their aid. And then let them decide what to do next.

Breathe life into your little world but don’t plan everything ahead. Roll on random tables. You deserve to be surprised just as much as the players do. Between games always keep a notepad with you. Write down cool stuff you come up with. Inject it into your campaign. As you come up with new places to explore, draw new hexagons or add to existing ones on your overland map.

Ask the players what they want to do. Let them inspire you as you expand on the overland map. What do they look for, and how can they get it? What lies beyond the mountains in the west? What’s the origin of the strange idol they found in the abandoned mine?

Build as you go. Make stuff up. Allow yourself to get surprised. Use free stuff from the community. Work with your players. Build a world – not a story. You don’t need an endgame yet (if ever). You have a lot to discover, so enjoy the ride.

Bonus tools: random tables and rumours

Random encounter tables

Random encounter tables have been a staple of fantasy roleplaying games for many years. They are not just relics of old, but actually really good tools for worldbuilding that animate your world and make it feel more dynamic. By creating random encounter tables you define what creatures inhabit an area of your world and you make it significant. The probability of encountering a certain type of creature tells a lot about your world.

If there’s a high risk of encountering orcs in your campaign environment it should be reflected in the encounter tables, let’s have a look at an example:

Random encounter table – west moorland road

Roll 2d6

2-6No encounter
7-8Merchant caravan
9-10Orc raiding party (2d6 orcs)
11Troll
12 Hill giant

What does the above random encounter table tell us about the campaign environment? Well, first of all it seems commerce and travel is a thing in this part of the world – there’s a fair chance of bumping into merchants. We also learn that orcs seem to be the dominant non-human race in the area, and that they’re on the prowl making travel risky (but not risky enough to fully deter humans from travelling). There are also more powerful monsters (trolls and hill giants) lurking nearby, but apparently they’re not common enough to outcompete the orcs – perhaps they are allies? It’s just a simple table, but all of the above are important and defining elements of your worldbuilding.

Remember that you can have random tables for more things than encounters, such as weather and other types of events. For example, a random weather table tells a lot about the climate in your campaign environment. If you’re aiming for an occult feel to your campaign perhaps a table of mystic omens would make sense to create.

Rumours

The Internet doesn’t exist in a fantasy medieval world, and the adventurers can’t google “nearby adventure sites and treasure”. Rumours are perhaps the most common source of information and will play an important role in determining how the players will decide on what to do in your world. They do not know about the old tower ruin two hexes to the north unless you somehow tell them about it, so creating such rumours for them to pick up when interacting with NPCs is a good way of helping them learn about the world beyond the hex they’re currently exploring. Again: The NPCs are some of the best roleplaying tools you have to shape your campaign and influence players/player characters. Plant rumours to guide players without forcing them in a certain direction.

Not all rumours are (nor should be) true. Some have just grains of truth in them, and some are just nonsense. However all of them help bring your world to life.


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Hand-drawn character sheet for Dungeons & Dragons

Here’s a free, hand-drawn character sheet for use with Dungeons & Dragons Basic/Expert and its many modern OSR clones like Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord.

Feel free to download and print this character sheet, but please if you wish to share it digitally I really appreciate if you link to this page rather than saving the file and publishing it elsewhere.

Descending AC and THAC0 or Ascending AC?

The character sheet is avaliable in two versions. One for use with the the original rules where a low AC is better than a high one, and attack rolls are handled with THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class 0). The other verision of the sheet is for use with the optional rule of ascending armor class (AAC) which is more familiar to players of later editions of the game, and is perhaps the most widely adopted house rule in OSR games.

If you use descending AC and THAC0: Click here or in the image below to download the character sheet as a pdf-file.

If you use ascending AC: Click here to download the AAC version of the sheet as a pdf-file.

Dungeons & Dragons character sheet thumbnail
Click on image to download character sheet (pdf)

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More free resources

Old-school armory expanded – fantasy medieval melee weapons

I wanted to expand on the Old-school Armory with some weapons that are not in the original Basic/Expert edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The purpose of this illustration is to provide the Dungeon Master with some more visuals for popular medieval melee weapons to provide extra flavor to their campaign. Feel free to add suitable stats!

  • Morningstar
  • Flail
  • Horseman’s Pick
  • Falchion
  • Dwarven Spear

300 dpi print version

Here’s a version of the drawing that is suitable for print (click image for full size):

Old school armory advanced print version

Even MORE weapons!

As a little bonus, I’m adding a drawing of some grisly, primitive looking weapons. These instruments of war would be suitable for barbarians, goblinoids or orcs. Ghastly things!

Grisly and brutal troll weapons

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If you like my stuff and want to give me a tip to cheer me on, please click the button below.

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Retainer sheet for D&D B/X and Old-School Essentials

This retainer sheet is made for use with Old-School Essentials and other OSR games based on Dungeons & Dragons Basic/Expert. Please feel free to download and print it for personal use.

Note: if you use ascending armor class and attack bonus, just use the field for THAC0 to indicate the retainer’s attack bonus value.

The checkboxes doesn’t serve a specific purpose. I added them because it’s always nice to have checkboxes, right? You can use them to track rations, torches or any other type of relevant resource.

Looking for a full character sheet?

Check out my hand-drawn character sheet for D&D B/X based games here!

Support my work through Ko-fi (if you want)

Let me be very clear: the content on this website is free for personal use, and it will stay that way. That said, I sometimes get questions if there’s any way to support my work. If you insist on giving me a tip my Ko-Fi account is https://ko-fi.com/pathspeculiar. This will make me very happy, but is not expected!

The Spudfield Good Girl – free D&D adventure

The Spudfield Good Girl is a free two-page adventure for use with Dungeons & Dragons. It was made with the B/X edition of the rules from 1981, but can easily be adapted to any edition of the game.

The adventure is meant for a party of low level (1-3) adventurers but can be adjusted for higher level play by introducing tougher enemies. If you choose to make the adventure harder you should consider increasing rewards/treasure as appropriate.

The Spudfield Good Girl is a fantasy adventure with light horror elements, but nothing too gruesome.

Download the adventure

The Spudfield Good Girl - click iamge to download free pdf
Click image to download the adventure in pdf-format

Adventure background

Conrad and Eliza Spudfield and their five well-mannered children are in need of adventurers. Two days ago, when Eliza was about to bring up some potatoes from the root cellar under their kitchen she spotted a monster! An undead abomination peered at her from the shadows. She quickly escaped up into the kitchen and slammed the hatch shut. Eliza heard growling from below, and then everything went silent.

Conrad bolted the hatch securely and just to be safe they moved their large cupboard onto it. They need adventurers to go down the hatch and dispose of the monster so that they can gain access to their food supply or there will be no spuds for the children trickin’ and treatin’ on Olde Hallow’s Eve.

Free to download for personal use

The adventure is completely free to download and print for personal use with your gaming group. Please do not re-publish the adventure without my written consent. You may never sell copies of this adventure.

Would you like to translate this adventure?

Some of my previous adventures have been translated by other gamers to their native languages (for example Italian and Portuguese). Please reach out to me if you’d like to translate The Spudfield Good Girl into your own native language and I can provide you with the source material. E-mail me at niklas@wistedt.net.

In loving memory of Doris

This adventure is dedicated to the best friend I’ve ever had, who I miss so dearly. You were such a good girl.

In loving memory of Doris 2010-2020

More from my world

The Spudfield Good Girl is set in my own little campaign world, next to the small settlement of Fourtower Bridge. Fourtower Bridge is a town module that is also free to download, and can be used together with the adventure to provide more context for the player characters. Click here to read more about Fourtower Bridge and to download the module.

Support my work – buy me a Ko-fi (if you want)

Let me be very clear: the content on this website is free for personal use, and it will stay that way. That said, I sometimes get questions if there’s any way to support my work. If you insist on giving me a tip my Ko-Fi account is https://ko-fi.com/pathspeculiar. This will make me very happy, but is not expected!

GOBLIN RATING – how to measure lethality/difficulty in D&D

I came up with this silly little system to measure lethality in a D&D game. All editions are different in this perspective, as are all OSR clones. Dungeon Masters also have different approaches to death and dying. The GOBLIN RATING is a way of defining the lethality at your table. It is also a good way to make it clear to players what to expect by providing them with an example most of us can relate to by answering the question “how dangerous is a goblin?

How to define your GOBLIN RATING

To determine the goblin rating of your game decide how many goblins would it take to pose a serious threat (risk of character deaths, or even a total party kill) to a party of level 1 adventurers in a head on encounter. A high goblin rating indicates a more forgiving game than a low one.

Click here to view the GOBLIN RATING chart (opens in new tab)

GOBLIN RATING – the five steps

GOBLIN RATINGDESCRIPTION
1CATASTROPHIC – Avoid combat at all costs!
2FATAL – I have a very bad feeling about this …
3PERILOUS – We’re ready to negotiate to avoid conflict.
4THREATENING – We pick our fights carefully and only when at an advantage.
5RISKY – We’re here to kill monsters and steal shit.