The dungeon is dark and full of dangers – as it should be. That said, it’s a good idea to sometimes offer your players a place for their characters to rest. Give them just a glimpse of safety and comfort in contrast of the horrors they face in the underworld.
The grave of the unknown paladin is such a site. It is the final resting place of a noble paladin who sacrificed herself for her companions. Her party were unable to carry her body to the surface, so they laid her to rest deep in the bowels of the dungeon, and before leaving her the fighter thrust her magic sword into the headstone (carved by the dwarf) and lit a single candle (made permanent by the wizard).
No monsters come here. The air is soft and warm and smells like a summer meadow. Wounds heal at double the speed of normal. Food and water doesn’t spoil, and camping adventurers often leave rations and drinks for whoever might need it in the future (considered to bring luck to the expedition).
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This illsutration is free to download for personal use (but not for publishing without my consent). Feel free to use it as you please in your dungeon adventures.
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Apparently there’s this thing called #swordtember, where artists dedicate the month of September to drawing sword. Well, count me in – I love swords! I’m also a mapmaker though, so I just couldn’t resist drawing a fitting dungeon for this entry.
Standing guard over the ancient, shattered sword is a demonic statue. The room also hosts six plain stone plinths, each with a heavy stone bowl containing rusted iron residue. In the southern part of this dungeon section there’s a round room with a large half-sphere made of the darkest black obsidian, and covered in mystic symbols. What secrets can this strange vault hold?
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The Bazaar of the Sun and the Moon is usually a deserted place where commerce is just a whispered memory. However once per month, under the full moon, the ghosts of the merchants rise and peddle strange and peculiar goods. Here are a couple of magic items that can be found at the bazaar.
The Vulture Scimitar is a magic +2 scimitar which provides it’s wielder with the ability to detect (through scent) corpses and cadavres over large distances. Whoever carries the Vulture Scimitar can accurately point out the direction to any corpse or cadaver (dead or undead) within 1000 feet. There must be some flesh still left on the corpse, i.e. skeletons cannot be detected through this ability.
The Shieldof the Sun and the Moon is a magic +2 shield. It is sturdy, but weighs next to nothing.
If used as cover from sunlight the shield keeps it’s wielder comfortably cool (not subject to envornmental effects).
If used in a simliar fashion under moonlight the shield is inhibited with the Conjuring light effect as per the Light spell. It needs to be “charged” by moonlight for one hour, and will provide light for eight hours after fully charged.
In “The Return of the King”, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
“Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden! Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter! Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!“
It is a mighty rallying call, but did you know it is (probably) inspired by the old norse Vǫluspá (Prophecy of the Seeress)? In verse 45, the Vǫluspá states:
“Brothers shall fight | and fell each other, And sisters’ sons | shall kinship stain; Hard is it on earth, | with mighty whoredom; Axe-time, sword-time, | shields are sundered, Wind-time, wolf-time, | ere the world falls; Nor ever shall men | each other spare.”
The verse describes how the world plunges into chaos before the great end of everything – the apocalyptic Ragnarök.
I’ve always loved norse mythology, as well as the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and I wanted to pay tribute by illustrating this part of the poetic Edda. The text reads Skeggǫld, skálmǫld,skildir ro klofnir, which translates roughly to the iconic: “An axe-day, a sword day, shields are splintered”.
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!
300 dpi print version
Here’s a version of the drawing that is suitable for print (click image for full size):
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!
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Most vigilant among the King’s guardsmen was Ernest Spudfield. His watchful gaze was unmatched, and his loyalty was fierce. Three times he thwarted attempts on the King’s life, and three times he refused to be knighted for his service. Ernest was a humble man who cared little for fame and glory: all he wanted in life was to keep watch.
The king asked the dwarves to craft a masterwork halberd and on it mount the royal seal, and so they did. The Queen tied her scarlet ribbon to the halberd’s shaft. All knights of the realm cut their palms on the weapon’s edge to acknowledge it as well as the man who wielded it as the prime protector of the royal family.
And so it was presented to Ernest Spudfield who gracefully accepted the reward. He carried it for the rest of his life, and over the decades of service his zeal was infused into the halberd. At his death the weapon had become magical, even though no wizard had ever touched it.
Properties of the halberd (rules for D&D B/X or Old-School Essentials)
This +2 halberd grants the following abilities:
Hypervigilance: 2 in 6 chance of being alerted when a hostile creature is within 100 feet
Wakefulness: the wielder of the halberd only needs to sleep once per week
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 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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I wasn’t going to write anything about this drawing, but I had to, as the word “flänsklubba” (the old Swedish word for this type of mace) doesn’t return any decent results on Google. There are two Swedish words for this type of weapon, actually, and they’re both really cool:
Flänsklubba translates into “flanged club”
“Hjälmkrossare” translates into “helmet crusher”
In any case, I don’t draw a lot of characters, but it’s something I would like to get better at, so I just recently started practising it. This fellow is supposed to be some type of grizzled mercenary veteran. You could use him as a hireling or NPC in your games. I hope you enjoy the drawing!