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A Dated and Annotated Catalogue of Adventures

Did I Play An RPG Right?


Firstly, I’m going to navel-gaze for a bit:

 

Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine started life as an experiment in formatting my own prep notes (impression of the general area -> sensory/atmospheric information in BIG OBVIOUS TYPE -> everything else), which worked out great in my own game so I published it pretty much as-is, and the vast majority of feedback I’ve gotten is that it works great. For the most part you can just pick it up and go.

But something it DIDN’T do was use a lot of moving parts, or take into account where you came from; the descriptions all assume you’re following the most obvious route.

 

So moving on to new things, I could do what normally happens and make things more generic, get rid of the sensory build-up, so that you need to stop and reference the map to think about what order players see things/where they lie in front of them, OR I could do what I’ve done which is to write multiple entry descriptions for each area to cover every way you could get there including falling from the goddamn sky.

The experiment behind STEAL THE EYES OF YASHOGGHUH is seeing if I can make an adventure that’s just as easy to pick up and play as Feathered Swine, with the same atmosphere that builds when you can just keep going area to area, but with lots more moving parts that affect other areas of the map, tracked events, triggers, missing keys, possible NPC factions, all without being a nightmare to track. I want you to be able to flip to a page and just GO, I want all of the information you need to be there without having to stop and think.

Ultimately, the experiment behind it is to make a fairly complex and organic adventure that can not only be run easily by a brand new DM, without prep and possibly without even reading all of it beforehand, but be played by brand new players.

 

I want them to know that things are happening around them and that there may be unforseen consequences without it being overwhelming or frustratingly confusing, I want them to be able to solve problems without having to pixel-bitch across the whole map pulling levers and finding keys that give no indication that they’ve done the right thing, and shit, I want them to have a lot of fun.

 

WITH THAT SAID

 

FM Geist ran STEAL THE EYES OF YASHOGGHUH for her birthday and fuck me, the play report just makes me so happy, as does the feedback that keeps coming in from her players.

It also makes me exceedingly happy that she ran this while high from a PHONE, so I feel like I’ve done fairly well with those design goals.

ALSO she used my (new) magic rules, equipment packs, and NPCs, and the incident beginning with the removal of the golden spikes is the perfect culmination of everything I try to do with what I write.

Please, give it a read (then read it again, and again):

 

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In Space No One Can Hear You Squeal


If you’re reading this you’re probably well aware of Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine, my filthy cave adventure with the adorable cut-out map where nobody gets out alive/whole/without a suit of armour fused with their genitals.

 

Well Dan D of Throne of Salt ran it as an impromptu away-mission in a Spelljammer game and wrote a play report that made me stupidly, unendingly happy. Give it a read.

 

James Young also told me he ran it as a “Lair of a Gluttony Demon accessed via a sobbing obese bartenders’ mouth. Walls are his torn and warped throat, knee high in rotting food. Surprisingly easy reskin to make!” but there’s no play report of that one which is really disappointing I was so very wrong! Check comments below for James’ multiple play reports. The Gluttony Demon one in particular is sick.

 

It’s pretty old now but lots of people have been saying nice things about it lately including Jarrett Crader saying “It is one of the best intros to the old school mindset and it works for every system” so if you don’t have it you should probably change that:

 


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Why Yes I Do Own A Publishing House, What Of It?


So remember that cave map I donated to Matt Jackson, and subsequently all the wonderful things that happened to my players when they went inside it?

Well it’s now a little adventure pdf that you can take home to meet the parents.

 

It’s Pay What You Want, so if you’ve ever wanted to give me money for some reason here’s your chance, or alternatively you can take it for free and digitally spit in my eye, I’m fine with it either way as long as you enjoy it.

 

Click below to make all of your wildest dreams come true.

 

Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine Town Crier


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Playing D&D With Girls Who Work In A Tea Shop And Also My Brother


My brother Michael joined us for this one and rolled up a character while we wrapped up the giant spider murder situation.

Well actually first Sophie showed everyone her first set of dice and the adorable little suede bag she sewed for them, and we talked about Emma’s potential upcoming date but maybe not with a friend of a friend who legitimately “left his card” for her at the store (says Emma, “What’s dating? I don’t know how to date. I normally just get them drunk.”), and we ate some satay, and THEN we wrapped up the giant spider murder situation.

Rose: Damonallit Aspurta, enormous jangling Moorish Devotee of the Corpulent One and his recent convert, Obediah Duncaster the angry overweight drunkard.

Emma: Malatesta du Caddis, autistic murdermachine extraordinaire, and the fabulously feathered maleficar Thoth’mora Gnostos.

Sophie: Florian Voldaris, recently crippled Francish dandy still searching for his purpose in life while hobbling around on a silver candlestick peg-leg, and Sangr’all Humgha, Thoth’mora’s unidentical plump and “booby” twin sister.

Consumables: Rose got this “experience” gift card for being the tits at work, but all the “experiences” kind of sucked so instead we spent it on $200 of red wine, so we drank like two bottles of that and I’m obsessed with sarsaparilla right now and also there was a jam donut tower.

Cameraphone photos throughout taken by Rose.

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Welcome to Scenic Whereverthefuck, if you lived here, you’d be caught up in drama by now.


In my short, sharp review of Scenic Dunnsmouth at the end of the last post, I listed what I felt were its shortfalls when I was running it, chief of which was the lack of inter-NPC relationships.

Well instead of crying about it, what I did was start working on my own town generator using a set-up method inspired by Scenic Dunnsmouth, and it’s done now.

 

What you do is this:

 

  • Roll 20d6, 1d4, and a couple of d12‘s if you feel like it (I threw them in for flavour as an afterthought, like a final dash of paprika). Either do it on a big piece of paper or take a photo that you can pretty-up using a future box.
  • Remove any d6 that has a result lower than the d4, so that you end up with something like below (click on the pictures to make them bigger and better).

[Edit: Originally the idea of removing d6‘s lower than the d4 was to vary the size of the town, but I think a better use of it would be to vary how many groups have a Common Curiosity, to lower the chance of having an overwhelming amount of things going on at the same time. So, roll 10 + d10 d6‘s, and that’s the variable town size. Then, re-roll each lot of d6‘s with a result equal to or higher than the d4 and look up the result on the Common Curiosity table.]

 

  • Each d6 is somebody’s house!
  • Mark where all of the dice landed, then re-roll each lot of d6‘s that have the same number and look up the result on the Common Curiosity table below.
  • Re-roll the d4 on the table corresponding to its number for the most significant/interesting feature of the town. The group that matches its original number is the most closely associated with it.
  • Look up the result of the d12‘s on the Other Features of Interest table.
  • Then roll on Who’s In Charge Here? to find out who’s in charge here.

 

Re-roll d6'sCommon Curiosity
1Ostracised from the community, more than happy to help ruin the plans of others for good or bad.
2Were once caught in a compromising position with a well-bred member of large livestock. It brings everyone else great joy to ensure they never live it down.
3Have a surprisingly large assortment of goods for trade or sale.
4Incredibly friendly, attempting to summon an earth-shaking terror using an underground shrine they found, need help recovering the innocuous missing pieces.
5Fervent devotees to a known religion.
6Protectors of an ancient and terrible secret.
7Cannibals.
8Members of the same bloodline.
9Addicted to a strange and wonderful new drug they have discovered.
10Under the influence of a sentient plant growing in the area, its form depends on the number of homes affected:
1-2 Discoloured patches on the skin, small hidden sprouts.
3-5 Root clusters in the darkness at the back of their throats, speaking for them, a fledgling mother plant beginning to grow in the area.
6+ A large, established plant, protected by those given over more wholly to its symbiosis.
11Insect cult. If six or more homes are affected, a shrine containing a physical manifestation of their worship exists in the area.
12Aggressive/distrustful towards outsiders.
13Dress like demons and prance around burning pyres when the moon is full.
14Militant nudists.
15Share a psychic connection to one another that allows them to simultaneously experience everything that happens to each individual member, and grants them terrifying powers of the mind when their number exceeds fourteen.
16Extremely welcoming towards outsiders.
17Enthusiastic practitioners of a strange pastime.
18Speak in a dialect not used for centuries.
19Organic body-horror replacements from a fallen star in the hills. They smell of thyme and their flesh is all-too pliable.
20Will attempt to burn Magic-Users and Clerics like witches.
21Capture children of all ages as offering to the toad beast in the woods for the protection of the town. The sacrifices sleep curled within amber pus-filled holes in the hardened skin of its belly until they emerge as misshapen and fantastic children of the fae.
The rest of the town is oblivious.
22Their windows are dark and they do not answer their doors.
23Share a competitive rivalry over something quaint.
(Hunting, baking, growing large vegetables, needlework, gardening, offering sacrifices to their abhorrent god, etc.)
24Are afflicted by a terrible, undocumented ailment.
25Wash their dead in the creek and bury them beneath the silt, returning in a week's time to retrieve their bare, yellowed bones.
26Form the militia of the Blue Palm, adept in the use of paralytic poisons derived from local flowers.
27Incredibly eager to marry-off/apprentice their sons and daughters, will go to great lengths to prove the superiority of their children over their neighbour's.
28Summoned a melting pyramid-headed lady of unspeakable lust and terror as a plaything and instead became her emotional puppets. She can't hurt them but is trying damned hard to make them hurt themselves, she can't leave this plane of existence until they are all dead. She resides in secret at the home nearest to the centre of the group and she hates it here.
29Esoteric horticultural society, with a 3 in 6 chance of having access to any rare plant you care to mention and a high likelihood of losing their minds over any specimens of your own you'd like to share.
30+Recently welcomed the offspring of their god into the womb of a blushing bride on her wedding night, we're all terribly proud.

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“We Burn the House, Everyone In It”


Two of the girls Rose works with at the tea shop have been wanting to play some D&D, so we thought we’d have them over for drinks and a nice shipwrecking at Zzarchov Kowolski’s Scenic Dunnsmouth.

Now they’d never played an RPG whatsoever, so they got sent this email before the game:

 

So you’ll be coming to this place called Malles Vermald, it sometimes looks like this, and other times it looks like this, and sometimes it looks like other things entirely.

 

It sounds like this, and this, and this, and this, and this.

 

It tastes like a choc-chip mint icecream sundae served by a swamp bear on drugs.

 

The time period is kind of a nonsense 16th-17th century renaissance/era of enlightenment type deal, with conquistador-style exploration in vogue and science and anatomy starting to be a thing.

 

Most everyone has a bit of an air of frontier conquest about them but people have been living there for at least a few hundred years without ever having seen a native inhabitant, but historical documents only exist from the last hundred years for some reason.

 

The biggest and best city is Cörpathium, which sometimes looks like this or this or this or this, and was mostly already there when we found it.

 

There aren’t any elves or dwarfs or hobbitses but there are four major ethnicities.

The Moors are steeped in mysticism and have near pure-black skin, like polished ebony, with pupil-less white eyes and rich silk clothing dripping with jewellery.

Urgoths/Saxons are the pale mongrel children of might-as-well-be-Europe.

Francs are like their more effete olive-skinned cousins.

The Morgen are pale to the point of ethereality with epicanthic eyes and bullshit Lovecraftian names, when born they’re anointed to the sect of one of their hundred gods instead of taking a family name.

 

The animals are weird and awful and you’re probably going to lose bits and catch diseases and maybe die.

 

There aren’t simple ghosts and demons but there are things that operate on a different level of existence that might drive you insane or turn your flesh against you or both or something worse.

 

YOU CAN BE ONE OF FOUR THINGS!

Magic-Users aren’t lame old wizards they’re crazy weirdos who risk insanity and mutation and destruction.

Clerics aren’t noble holy men they’re delusional ritualistic heretics who worship things that might not even exist and have to please them to use their power.

Fighters like to hit things with swords.

Specialists have mad skills and depending on what you want to do could be assassins or thieves or trackers or librarians or whatevs.

 

If you super badly want to be any of those things let me know, otherwise we’ll make it up on the day, that’s what Rose always does.

 

And then I threw them on a boat bound for Cörpathium and we started things a little bit differently.

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A Tale of Sixteen Piglets


Here’s the other request I fulfilled for His Abysmal Jolliness, Secret Santicore.

 

 

The Request:

 

A random encounter which includes an ogre, a maiden, and a standing stone.

 

 

The next time you’re in a town near some woods, or in a town near a town near some woods, you start hearing things.

The main thing to take away from all this talk is that High-Father Flagellus, a priest of your chosen important religion, is missing his daughter. He claims she was taken from her room during the night a week ago, and the weak-minded fools of the town will do nothing to help. He has reason to believe she was taken to the woods, but when he tried to go there himself was turned back not only by the animals dwelling there but by the very woods themselves.

In payment for returning his daughter he will pay a handsome sum siphoned from the tithing box, as well as a massive IOU from the church.

 

 

The Talk About Town
1d10
1I do a bit of bird watching in my spare time, relaxes the soul you see. But this last week I swear they've been flying from all directions in a steady line straight into those woods, it's the damndest thing I ever saw.
2That crazy old woman that lives up by the woods keeps complaining she can hear screams echoing out at night. I told her that's just age catching up with her and she just tuts and shoos me away from the house. I love winding her up!
3Old Otis Bronte swore he'd dealt with his rat problem but three days ago a swarm of the furry brutes poured out of his grain silo. They let the other farms alone and ran into the woods though so no harm done I guess. Strange thing though, every now and then you'll see little packs of vermin coming in from the countryside, straight towards the woods..
4There's a grave in them woods with no name. Y'see years ago a woodcutter's wife carried on with a merchant that used to pass through, and every time he came he'd bring her a new trinket. Golden necklaces that would serve as well as a breastplate, rings cut from solid ruby, earrings made of the bones of saints! Well one day the woodcutter finds these treasures hidden beneath the stair, and he knows he's been dishonoured, and he spits and he waits. He waits until the next time the merchant passes through, who comes to meet the wife as usual, in the woods when the moon is full, and when their lips meet the trees themselves shake and all the trinkets rain down from the branches above their heads. Well the wife looks back up in time to see the woodcutter step out of the dark and bury his axe sternum-deep through her lover's head, and when she tries to run finds herself caught up in a snare with a slit throat. The woodcutter he buries them right there with all their pretties, and marks the spot with a bit o' half-buried sawn-off log.
Folks say they never did see him again, and to the best o' my knowledge he'd still be in them woods, still full o' bloodlust after all these years; only reason I haven't sought out the grave meself y'see.
5Don't tell anyone I told you but Marcy over at the dairy? Well butter ain't the only thing she gets paid to churn if you know what I mean.
6Virgil's sow had a litter of 16 piglets, the biggest litter we've ever seen. Well he was proud as punch as you might expect but a few nights back someone done stole them. Questions have been made about town of course but everyone's come up squeaky clean.
7High-Father Flagellus claims his daughter Meredith was taken from her room during the night one week ago, he claims he heard noises trailing off towards the woods and he couldn't catch up with them. No one has helped him thus far because it's more likely Meredith ran away to get out from under that calloused thumb of his. Silly old sod made a big song and dance of going into the woods himself though and came out screaming that the woods were possessed, says the animals forced him out!
8There's little men what live in the woods, guardians of it they are! You just mind not to scare them off if you go traipsing about in there.
9I heard the Father's daughter ran away with a farm boy to live a life of sin, but not into no woods that's for certain! Old Flagellus just can't handle the fact his precious little girl's turned harlot.
10I was once chased out of those woods by a giant stag of smouldering coal, with burning yellow eyes and the bodies of children hanging from its antlers. Mark my words High-Father Flagellus isn't crazy, there's evil in those woods, and I wouldn't face it again for the world.

 

Once the players decide to enter the woods, finding the clearing at the centre won’t prove too hard if they follow the rat packs and other animals running purposely through them, or keep track of birds flying overhead.

The woods are pretty big though.

 

 

Random Encounters in the Woods
1d10
1A rope trap that yanks you feet-first up between the branches of a tree, bumping into a hornet's nest as you go.
2A veritable plague of rats swarms around your feet in the same direction, uninterested in you for now but if they're attacked or stepped on that will soon change.
3A soft ethereal singing floats through the woods, it sounds like all that is pure and good.
4A huge female bear rears up and roars behind the players, showering them in spittle. Blood is on her claws but she actually just wants the players to get out of the way and if they do so quickly enough she'll pass by without attacking, followed by three adorable cubs of decreasing sizes.
5A small group of rats run straight over a patch of brown leaves that is actually a pit trap full of hallucinogenic puffball mushrooms. Any player that falls in spends the next d10 Turns believing they're a mole with a furious need to dig.
6A one-eyed owl hoots mournfully from an overhead branch and flies off in the direction everything else has been going. Expect a Gnoblin ambush in the form of disembodied insults, thrown stones, and fresh defecation lying along your path.
7You momentarily see a strange furry little face off to your right, but whatever it was quickly scatters off through the undergrowth.
8You find a piece of half-buried sawn-off log. That crazy townie was right! Well, maybe:
1. You dig into a large chamber of a jumping bull ant colony.
2. There's just bones here. Child bones.
3. You find strange looking charms and totems, real voodoo shit, as well as a note in a bottle pronouncing a curse upon the black heart of you who would seek to disturb the dead.
4. He was totally right.
9A line trap that triggers drawn-back bramble bushes to slap everyone square in the face, giving you lots of nasty little cuts.
10Branches break nearby and you see a deranged looking woodsman with a twig-strewn beard and wild eyes wielding an axe. He isn't the murderous woodcutter from the story though just a poor man that lives near the woods. Unfortunately, he can't speak very well and has an extremely nervous disposition that is likely to be mistaken for aggression.

 

CIRCLE OF PROTECTION

 

Just outside the clearing the players will be faced with a ring of vermin and woodland creatures 10′ deep blocking their path. How they get past this is a matter for themselves.

For their part the animals will start trying to scare the players away once they get within 30′, becoming violent if necessary, but will not pursue the players if they make it into the clearing.

 

The Ring of Woodland Critters

 

Within immediate reach of the players there will be:

d100/2 rats

d20 Bunnies

d20 Squirrels

d10 Foxes

d8 Owls

d6 Deer + 1 Stag

d4 Badgers

 

As well as various finches, sparrows, and other birds and tiny animals that are really cute. Voles and shit.

 

THE CLEARING

 

In the centre of the clearing is a ring of four standing stones surrounding a boulder, all faintly inscribed with what appears to be an obscure, ancient, and absurd language. Imagine symbols carved by a dyslexic bird with its beak; like that.

But before any of that, what the players will notice is the ogre.

Misshapen and grotesque, its teeth are large and overly-numerous, crowding each other out from its jaw. Its gnarled limbs look as if it matured while confined to a box; joints veer off at awful angles and horrendous knots bulge from its muscles, a stunted degenerate third hand protrudes from its humped shoulder and the hands it does have are marred by stiff, useless extra digits near to its wrists.

Oh and it’s suspended over the boulder, its arms and legs tied to the standing stones as if it were about to be drawn and quartered. Infected-looking welts and gashes criss-cross its stained yellow skin and streaks through the dirt around its eyes make it look as if it has been weeping.

 

THE CAST

 

The Ogre

Has no name because it has never had need of one. It has learnt rudimentary language from overheard conversations around campfires and the pleading of wayward travellers before it eats them. It will weep and sob and beg the players to free it, all it knows is that it was tricked and trapped by the nasty furry goblins and dragged here, where the lady brings it pain every night.

 

Meredith, the Maiden

Meredith has tired of the strict life she is forced to lead under her father’s roof, she wants something more. Goddess of the woods would do for now, and after that we’ll see about the rest of this wretched land. Meredith plans to raise the ancient Boar God of the Wood when the celestial alignment is right, using the ogre as womb and being the first living being present, for the Great Boar to imprint on as mother.

Of course she won’t tell the players this, thank heavens they’re here! She’ll tell them she was kidnapped by this terrible ogre and she only just escaped thanks to the help of these friendly little forest folk, who then tied the ogre up to prevent it from harming anyone further. She would very much appreciate it if the players could go find some men to deal with the ogre, she’ll wait here until they return to make sure it doesn’t escape.

If the players leave she’ll send a group of Gnoblins to kill them before they reach town, if pressed to leave with them she will assent but set a Gnoblin ambush, and if they try to kill the ogre then and there it is on, she needs that thing.

 

The Gnoblins

Funny furry little man-things of the woods, no higher than your knee, mystical beings somewhere between a Gnome and a Goblin. They live in burrows beneath the clearing, accessible by openings between the roots of a mighty oak at its perimeter.

The Gnoblins first set eyes on Meredith on one of her walks by the woods, one of the few liberties allowed by her father. They took her seeming innocence and fondness for the woods as a sign that she was to be the mother of the Great Boar, due so soon to be reborn. Of course when they appeared to her and spoke of all this the fair Meredith managed to convince them of a “better” way.
The players probably won’t even realise the Gnoblins can speak; Meredith warned them not to talk to any strangers and for the most part they’ll just sit around and stare, unless Meredith tells them to do something or the players try to free the ogre. If Meredith isn’t around though and you’re really funny the Gnoblins will tell you everything you could ever want to know about the Boar God.

The Gnoblins aren’t evil, they just want to see the Great Boar reborn so that the woods can live on, and Meredith is ever so convincing.

Of course, when you make them angry is when the teeth come out.

 

THE BIRTH

 

Every day when the sun begins to dip Meredith takes out her bramble whip and sings softly as she begins to flay the ogre with it, invariably building up in ferocity until the moon reaches its peak and she screams at it, “Squeal! Squeal like a stuck pig!”.

In a small cavern directly beneath the standing stones the Gnoblins have piled the still-squeaking sixteen stolen piglets. When the celestial alignment is right and the ogre lets out its thunderous squeal into the night, the lifeforce of the piglets will be drawn up through the glowing standing stones and into its belly which will swell and tear and release the fully-grown majesty of the Great Boar once more into the woods.

 

What Time Is It?

  • From midnight to morning Meredith sleeps in the burrows with the Gnoblins, with only a few sleepy looking Gnoblins on watch.
  • In the middle of the day she’s probably off picking berries and other wholesome activities.
  • In the afternoon she sometimes likes to dance around the sobbing ogre with the Gnoblins. They form a ring and wear flowers in their hair.
  • In the evening she cuts a fresh bramble whip for the night’s torture training.
  • When the players arrive the celestial alignment is due to occur that night, what are the odds?

 

The Consequences of Your Actions

  • If the Great Boar imprints on Meredith as its mother she will use its divine power and influence to extend the woods and, in time, lead an army of murderous woodland creatures across the countryside.
  • If the Great Boar is reborn but Meredith is not around, all will be well. The Gnoblins will rejoice at the return of their king and the woods will remain at peace with the surrounding settlements. Although they’ll probably still be pretty mad if you killed Meredith.
  • If the Great Boar is not reborn at all the forest will wither and die at an alarming rate, followed by streams of feral starving animals pouring into the surrounding towns.
  • If nothing else, Virgil would be really happy if you brought his piglets back alive.

 

Want it in PDF along with a buttload of other free stuff? Download it here love.


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