As Dungeon Master you’re responsible for making up interesting and rememeberable non-player-characters (NPCs). It’s easy to focus on the most exciting ones – evil villains and mighty heroes. However, I think it’s really important to also present mundane NPCs to your players.
Creating some friendly and likeable townsfolk can really bring another layer to the adventure. Give the player characters something to protect. Not all adventures needs to be about finding gold and treasure (although that is certainly important as well). If you can get the players to feel for the common folks they will get more invested and put themselves in harm’s way to keep them safe. Can you get them to embark on adventures without any other reward than the gratefullness of the village?
The Spudfields are just those kinds of NPCs. Warm and welcoming, truly friendly an honest people. They don’t have anything more to offer than their friendship and a warm meal – but sometimes that might be just what the adventurers need.
In early editions of Dungeons & Dragons (as well as in many of their modern day OSR clones) one of the goals of the game is to advance in power and wealth to the point where you can build a stronghold. The type of stronghold your character can build depends on his class; clerics build temples, magic-users erect towers, thieves establish guilds, etc.
In D&D B/X from 1981 (as well as in it’s outstanding modern clone “Old-School Essentials“) the fighter is the only class save the halfling without a level restriction for establishing such a stronghold, although they still need to raise the funds somehow. This is my vision of a typical fighter keep, this one located in secluded Dunkelmoor which is a backwater part of my campaign world.
For more information on strongholds, check out the system reference document for Old-School Essentials.
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The holy water sprinkler is a mace-like weapon that can be used to sprinkle holy water when fighting undead monsters like zombies, vampires and ghouls.
In real medieval times there existed a mace-like weapon called the “holy water sprinkler” because of it’s resemblance to the aspergillum used in the Catholic Mass. It was of course just a club, but I wanted to pursue the concept a bit further (although I’m sure I’m not the first one to think of this).
This fantasy version of the holy water sprinkler has a hollow mace head with a screw-on lid. It can be loaded with a vial of holy water that breaks on impact, splashing (or rather sprinkling) holy water on the target.
One vial contains enough water for three strikes, however it will deal a little less extra damage for each hit as the water is dispersed (1d8/1d6/1d4). Base damage for the weapon is the same as a mace (1d6 in B/X). Reload time is three rounds.
This is obviously the perfect weapon for anyone on the hunt for the undead. It even comes complete with a zombie-dispatching brain-spike on the top!
For more weapons, check out my complete illustration of the weapons of D&D B/X.
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For some reason I’ve never outgrown weapon illustrations in roleplaying games. As a youngling I usually flipped right to the equipment chapter when picking up a new game, fantasizing about gearing up for adventure.
Some of the early versions of D&D (as well as some of it’s modern clones) sadly lack weapon illustrations. Therefore I took it upon me to hand-draw a chart for dungeon masters to print and hand out to their players.
I hope you will enjoy this onepager, illustrating all the weapons in the equipment list of D&D B/X, released in 1981. Of course it should serve as inspiration for any quasi-medieval fantasy roleplaying game. I myself intend to use it for Old-School Essentials which is an amazing B/X close.
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Forget the romantic idea of thieves as roguish scoundrels, daring swashbucklers and charming tricksters. The townhouse of the thieves’ guild is a sombre place, it’s labyrinthine hallways filled with tragedy, deceit and greed.
There is no honor among thieves, only ruthless ambition and a long trail of suffering. Sooner or later this trail always lead to the House of Withered Flowers.
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The Blacksand Bastion is the main stronghold of the Emerald Edge mercenary company. Experts at desert survival, the Emerald Edge is the only free company in the Ossuan desert. They are regularly employed as guides and caravan guards by rich merchants. The company are also able to muster larger battlefield formations when such a contract is secured.
The stronghold of the Emerald Edge is named after the region of the desert where it is located. Blacksand is a stretch of desert known for it’s coarse, volcanic sands and rocky terrain. It is an almost lifeless wilderness and the Blacksand Bastion is located on top of one of the few sources of water. While the Opal Trail runs through Blacksand, few caravans stop here to make camp unless absolutely necessary.
The Blacksand Bastion consists of two main structures: the keep and the tower barracks.
The keep houses the leadership of the Emerald Edge company; the Ra’id (major, company master) Abbad, his chief lieutenant Hazem and the master-of-arms Salman Salim. The company train new soldiers in Blacksand so there are usually around 20-50 recruits stationed in the ground floor of the keep. The keep also houses the company armory, commonly refered to as “the thousand spears”, as well as kitchen, library and treasure chambers. There is a large bath house in the keep cellar.
The fifty men of the elite Qalb unit is permanently stationed in the tower barracks. They are lead by veteran lieutenant Sol-Zaluum nicknamed “the Scorpion” by the Emerald Edge and “the Death Stalker” by their enemies.
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Barzoum – or the “Ghoulshaft” is an infamous dungeon located off the Opal trail, deep in the Blacksand region of the Ossuan desert.
The tombs of depraved aristocracy
A place of great evil, the ancient burial place of Barzoum is constructed vertically and descends almost a mile into the black earth. Here rests sleepless the souls and corpses of the depraved and murderous noblemen, priests and necromancers of the old Koparan empire. The minds and acts of the Koparan aristocracy was wicked beyond comprehension during the years of the empire, and their ill deeds finally led to the destruction of the great city Amun-Shar – the jewel of the east and the capital of the empire.
The Ghoulshaft today
Over the centuries, the surface structures of Barzoum have withered and crumbled in the strong desert winds. Left are only gaping mouths, and winding stairs descend into the inky blackness of below. Alcove-tombs pepper the walls, some contain monetary as well as occult treasure. Others contain curses and undead abominations. While some of the alcoves are shallow and houses only a single grave, others stretch further into the desert bedrock forming vast catacomb labyrinths. An example of such a catacomb is the SVART GRIFT, or “Black Grave” of the dread necromancer Khamul.
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“The eccentric, but rather successful, merchant Arthur Cobblesworth died a few months ago and was buried in his mausoleum. Since then there have been reports of Arthur “howling like a bloody banshee” during dark nights. The townsfolk are afraid that Mr. Cobblesworth will wake the other dead in the cemetery, and want the player characters to go and put him to sleep again.”
Please go to sleep, Arthur Cobblesworth is a free one-page dungeon adventure by Niklas Wistedt. It can be used with any early version (or modern clone) of the classic fantasy roleplaying game.
Download the adventure pdf
Please go to sleep, Arthur Cobblesworth is free to download and print for personal use, but please do not publish it online or in print without written consent by the author.
Version 1.1 of the adventure includes a second page with an unkeyed map and illustration of the mausoleum.
Travelling along the Opal trail under the scorching sun of the great Ossuan desert is not pleasant business. The route stretches along hundreds of miles of rolling dunes and there are few places where one can seek shelter from excruciating heat and relentless sandstorms. Still, there are such places; the Far Oasis inn being one of them.
The Far Oasis inn is located in the valley of devils (named after it’s population of desert lizards, not actual devils!) by the dry riverbed of the old Kazuun river. It provides rest and shelter for many caravans as well as the occational adventuring band in search of ancient tombs to explore and rob.
The inn has a reliable water source and is surrounded by some vegetation, earning it its name. The innkeeper Khameer took over the establishment from his father many years ago. Khameer’s wife Aala and the couple’s seven children take great pride in providing the best possible service for weary travellers and their beasts of burden. The Far Oasis inn has an excellent reputation.
Since the inn is all but crucial to anyone crossing the desert, patrons are usually very well-behaved. Getting banned from the Far Oasis could have severe impact on future expeditions.
There are two rooms for hire, however most visitor’s bring their own tents. The food is excellent, and Khameer is famous for his cold, sweet cactus-wine. Spending the cool desert evening at the terrace, sharing a keg of wine and a hookah is something travellers long for.
The Haunted Cloister is a short (3 pages) module containing a three level dungeon map, a short background and a random table of curse effects. It is not a fully detailed adventure, and there is lots of opportunity for the referee to add her own ideas to the dungeon.
What happened in the monastery?
The monastery is located in a secluded mountain area. It was the monastic home of the monks of the chalice. A century ago a disguised hag snuck a curse into the well of prayers, bringing doom to the cloister.
Today, the darkened halls echo with ghastly whispers. The monks haunt the monastery as vengeful apparitions.
No one goes here – treasure may still be found.
Download the Haunted Cloister pdf
The Haunted Cloister is free to download and print for personal use, but please do not publish it online or in print without written consent by the author.