Monday 20 May 2019

What I learned running Tomb of the Serpent Kings

My group has been exploring the TOMB OF THE SERPENT KINGS, Skerples' trainer dungeon for OSR-type play. Zero casualties so far and lots more interesting places and people to find. It's been great, but exhausting!

With 38 of 52 rooms explored by my players, I feel confident in writing up not a review, but some lessons learned. Some details of the dungeon slightly changed because my players do read this as well.

TotSK play reports: 1 and 2.


  1. My players are careful and frightened little mice. They'll avoid any loose step in the hallway, heroically spray a pile of sleeping goblins with burning oil, but one mention of a wagon-sized basilisk that turns torch flames to stained glass and they cower around the corner. Almost no traps triggered, no skeletons awakened, no golems fought. Am I describing them too tough?
  2. I need a bigger working memory. Keeping the environment in my working memory as the group moves through the complex takes quite a bit of juggling of paper and attention. 
  3. The overview map is almost perfect to run the dungeon from. But some of the abbreviated room descriptions gloss over pretty useful details, such as the de-petrification fungus growing in one of the goblin caves. I had completely switched to the overview map by that point. Which means my players now have no way to bring Basilisk victims back to life. (They haven't met Xixi yet, so easiest thing in the world to have him whip something up.)
  4. Parts of the dungeon are barren. By which I mean little interactivity with NPCs, and all dangers come from what the PCs do to themselves, such as reaching into burning pits or running across pressure trigger hallways. Not really the module's fault, I think. My players selected a path through quiet areas and lucked out so they didn't encounter roving monsters. I did add scenic sounds of inhabitants to the encounter table (Xixi's clacking when he moves around; Annabelle's singing), but see point (1) my players are frightened mice and took these sounds as something to move away from, not toward.
  5. There's quite some conflict-free rooms. This comes in handy when I want to add details from my home campaign ("you find a dead nun under a collapsed bookshelf"), or extra connections. Of course improvising without thinking ahead ("seems like the goblins circled behind you"), may sometimes lead to inconsistencies ("so there must be another way forward besides the golem and the basilisk!") that take quick thinking to resolve ("'re right! You guys find a crawlspace into the darkness"). Fun to do, and TotSK provides you with useful overview maps where you can note these kinds of changes. 
  6. I want to expand this dungeon now. Where's the living quarters? Doomful libraries? And so on. One more level and I'll quit, I promise.
"Who you calling frightened, mister?"


We take a break, when one of the players comments that running this module looks like hard work for me. He's right, but I'm enjoying TotSK a lot: it's giving me a decent structure to riff off of and make it fit into my home game. I'm improvising and adding to the module during play and there's space for that.

I should start by saying that although I've been DMing for 22 years, I have little experience running published modules or large dungeon complexes. Which is why this post is impressions, not a proper review.

So what do I know?

Bigger than I'm used to
Why do I want a module to be concise? Because I would've drowned in a wordier dungeon.

Most of my games run off of brief notes, scribbled monster stats and 3-7 room maps that I mostly draw and always stock myself. I do have writing experience as a science communicator, and when I read TenFootPole's module reviews I agree that a module should be both flavorful and to the point. But only after running TotSK do I appreciate why it is so important to keep a module focused on what's usable at the table.

Compared to my usual haunts, TotSK's 53 points of interest were a real step up in difficulty to run. Not just because there are more locations to serve up. When I run my own dungeons, 75% of the details are in my head instead of on the page. Of course a module needs to write out all of the stuff I'd normally keep in short term memory or improvise - and then it needs the DM to absorb all that written info for play.

Running TotSK was a good learning experience, which is the module's stated intention. During the delve I was constantly moving my focus between the chatter of the group discussing their options, checking the map so I could describe the local environment, reading detailed room descriptions for when they dug into an area. Having, of course, to speed read it all because I didn't want to break the flow of the session. Luckily, TotSK didn't try to cram a novel down my optic nerve when I was looking up the contents of a room, so we had no trouble making it to the end.

(I'd have liked to have more info at my fingertips without having to flip pages, but then I am lazy. See Mappery, below.)

Brief, but with everything you need
TotSK's writing is compact, text blocks short enough to scan in a couple of seconds. Descriptions are brief - highlights only, so you both can and should improvise additional descriptions for areas. As a Dutchie playing with Dutchies I translate and change English descriptions anyway (rules terms are used as-is), so I much prefer these brief prompts to extensive read-aloud blocks.

Where the text has no space for an extensive description, page numbers are provided; I'll add that I would have liked internal links in the PDF as well (for instance between the Basilik descriptor and every room it can see you from).

I'm ambivalent about the use of mini maps throughout the module. When I was reading the module I thought these maplets would help me visualize the surrounding area, but during play I thought they showed too small a section.

Distances between rooms are very short, so that players can move from room to room quickly. I wanted to have a few-room overview to keep ahead of them and detail what exits and sensory info they picked up in a new area. That's why during the game I preferred the module's big overview map with callouts to abbreviated room descriptions - less flipping back and forth required to get (most) of the info required to run a room.

If I can write down one suggestion, it is to provide slightly more room information on the overview map so you can really run the dungeon off that map. Perhaps win space by cutting up the map of the full dungeon into the different areas of the complex. Or, approaching this from the other direction, have larger overview maps on one page and the descriptors on the page opposite.

Whatever you do, don't turn this mini map into a holy cow for next edition. It tells me...there's a hallway somewhere? [TotSK 4.0 edition, p12]

Same page, much more useful mini map - this gives me local geography. Although I wish I could zoom out slightly and see even more of the area. [TotSK 4.0 edition, p12]

Friday 17 May 2019

More Necromancy

I started writing up new 5E necromancy spells because regular death magic is so bare bones. Previous batch here.

Bare bones necromancy, get it?


Take a discarded bandage, curse someone from the comfort of your secluded mansion. Drawbacks, sure - you need fresh body parts of their intended victim, burn twice as many spell slots, and will need a lot of time to cast high level magic. On the plus side, you get to channel all their hate into a high gothic ritual with chanting and candles and skulls. Too bad those attract meddling hero types like flies. I see this spell being used in two ways: one, as a simple range extender to harrass too-powerful opponents; and two, as an evil working by an enemy wizard that the party will have to thwart. 

You have five days to find the necromancer before he turns the princess to stone! (Or takes over her mind via Magic Jar...)

Level 1 Necromancy - warlock, wizard
Casting time: special, components: VSM (fresh body part)
Target: someone you have a sample of flesh or blood of
Range: special

Toe nail clippings, a hair follicle, a drop of blood - enough of the soul remains in these to forge a link with the greater body. Bloodlink lets you harness that link and send another spell across it. This spell consumes the body part used to make the Bloodlink.

(Which is why cursecraft and scrying is so much easier with some fresh blood on hand. Which is why many experienced wizards never cut their nails and epilate all their hair. Freaks.)

What Bloodlink does for you
Bloodlink lets another spell  with a single target ignore the distance to the target - see the "at higher levels" section for the range. Bestow Curse yes; Fireball or Cloudkill no. If the spell requires an attack roll, you roll this at advantage. The body part must be fresh; generally, no longer than a day old. Gentle Repose can help out here. Undead flesh comes pre-preserved - liches are extra careful with lost body parts, and extra vindictive if you try to target them this way. Constructs or Elementals have no souls.

You need to power Bloodlink with a spell slot at least equal to the level of the spell that will travel across it. Want to Vampiric Touch someone at range? Pay an extra 3rd level spell slot or higher.


How to defend against Bloodlink
Targets can sense Bloodlink by a growing sense of foreboding; an Arcana roll (difficulty 20) by themself or another makes it clear that there is a Bloodlink being formed.

These feelings of unease happen once every [largest lower category] of time remaining, so a ritual taking 1 hour to cast would give a warning every 10 minutes, then once per minute, then once per round. A year-long ritual first pings every season, then every month, week, day, hour, and so on.)

Scrying attempts by the target on the caster of Bloodlink work as if they were very familiar with them. If the target is in a Magic Circle powered with at least the same spell slot as Bloodlink, they gain advantage against any saves and the attacker rolls any attack at disadavantage. At higher levels, counter-striking via scry/teleport becomes viable.

Casting time per spell level:
L1 - 1 round. L2 - 1 minute. L3 - 10 minutes. L4 - 1 hour. L5 - 8 hours. L6 - 1 week*. L7 - 1 month*. L8 - 1 season*. L9 - 1 year*.

* 8h/day; can cast take short breaks and cast other spells during this period, maximum 10 minutes between stopping this spell and picking it up again.

I've been fiddling with a way to lower the casting town of higher level spells down to a full day, but got hung up on pricing. 10% of total character wealth (I used 1 XP --> 1 gp) sounds not unreasonable for lowering the casting time all the way, but XP progression is nonlinear and I didn't want to calculate polynomials at the table.

At higher level:
level 1-3: range 1 mile/level
level 4-6: range 10 miles/level
level 7-9: range anywhere on same plane

Again, I was tempted to tack extra effects onto the spell, like higher levels ignoring saves or even resistances. In the end I decided that this was turning Bloodlink into the one tool every wizard would want to use for getting rid of rivals - no save against Disintegrate cast from 100 miles away? No thanks. You'll get a week's worth of premonitions to prepare. Either scry for the person attacking you, or sleep in a warding circle.

The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse (1886)


Let's do a simpler spell. This is basically Alarm, but more freaky and useful as an early warning system against torchbearing mobs. Of course it means hiding bird bones all around your house, which may raise the kind of questions that lead the mob to form in the first place.

Level 2 Necromancy, wizard / warlock / druid
Range: jackdaw bones touched, 1 mile range from central skull
Duration: 24h

A good host is always prepared for guests - especially those of the torch and pitchfork persuasion. While Skullsight helps to spy on the mob from afar, Bone Chimes lets a necromancer know they should start paying attention in the first place.

Bone chimes enchants the bones of a jackdaw, which can then be hidden around a necromancer's abode. Each bone functions as the centre of an Alarm spell (range 20ft from the bone). The jackdaw's skull will caw the name of a triggered bone. The caster can enchant one bone per level of the spell slot used (so 2 bones minimum).

Once the bones are hidden, recasting the spell means visiting them all with the jackdaw's skull in hand. Individual bones can be included and excluded at each casting.

More creepy precautions. "Ribcage! Wing bone! Spine! Ankle!" Also works with monkey skeletons or fishbones, for necromancers in other climes.

Totally inconspicuous. From.


Quite the opposite of subtle necromancy, this is a last all-out strike before you die. Put the fear of the Authority in the witch hunters that decide to come after you.

Level 3 Necromancy - cleric, warlock, wizard
Range: 30 feet

You die without any hope of resurrection. A Wish or Miracle can maybe rebuild something approximating you, but there will be clear personality changes and memory gaps.

That's the bad news.

Interestingly, your corpse cannot even be animated as an undead - this spell shreds every last part of your soul as you die in agony.

Or you can try and use Death Curse to overclock a Passwall spell. Who am I to judge. From

Good to know you won't come back to haunt people, I guess. So what's the good news?

Death Curse is lightning fast and releases enough energy to power a hefty geas or curse. The standard spell functions like Bestow Curse, but if you have other curse-like spells prepared (see below), you can use those instead.

This spell is fast enough to cast as a reaction (5E) to something that would kill you; a fatal wound, an incoming fireball, a deadly axe swipe, a dragon landing on you. Can use this after you hear how much damage you will take, but otherwise has to be used right away or not at all.

You can target anyone within 30 feet with your Death Curse, up to the number of targets allowed by the spell effect. Make an attack if the spell effect calls for one, and targets make any save to resist the spell at disadvantage. If you only target the person who kills you, they do not get a save at all.

Can you make every spell a Death Curse if you're undead? I'd rule no, but my players don't need to know that.

Powering this spell with a higher spell slot lets you unleash more inventive curses. Spell effects last for 1 day per level of the spell slot unless permanent (i.e. death spells).

Good spell effects for Death Curse are:

(3rd level slot) - Bestow Curse, Fear, Slow
(4th level slot) - Confusion, Polymorph
(5th level slot) - Geas, Nightmare, Modify Memory
(6th level slot) - Eyebite, Otto's Irresistable Dance
(7th level slot) - Etherealness*, Sequester, Symbol
(8th level slot) - Antipathy**/Sympathy***, Feeblemind, Maze****
(9th level slot) - Imprisonment, Power Word Kill

Obviously these spells need some ruling to make them work well as ongoing curses. Here's my take on things:

* target becomes ethereal -a ghost- for the duration. Does not need food or drink.
** "may you never know love"
*** "may you smell delicious"
**** target still needs food and drink for the duration. Escape checks rolled once per day, not per round. Planar travel spells should also work, or try Banishing yourself to your home plane.

A death spell? You'll wish it was a death spell. Now Otto's Irresistable Dance forever.

Monday 13 May 2019

Belswick session 2 - more tomb raiding

Last Friday, we played session 2 in my Belswick campaign, a delve into the Tomb of the Serpent Kings. Clever questions about the map and smart tool use by the players. Also, the Cleric stole a fungal goblin sprout.


Our heroes live in the hamlet of Crossroads. After an attack by goblins and an owlbear:

  • the local hedgehogling lord Haine Kerjules offers a bounty of 100 gp for the owlbear's head, and the return of the swanling Dinadan's servant Guy.
  • the goblins seems to come from an unexpected direction: the out of town herb garden of Annabelle the potion maker. The innkeeper Orbat the hawkling is very interested in learning why and Orbat offers 100 gp for Annabelle's secret. Those goblins burned down his inn and he wants to know why.
  • Dinadan confesses he was carrying a triple-locked chest as a secret package on his way from Mount Gale (the direction of both a small mine and the legendary cursed castle of Dread Sir Ulric). Dinadan offers 50 gp for the chest returned safe and unopened.

In their first outing, the group manages to kill the owlbear and almost themselves, and find a tomb complex under the hill that sits right on the border between domains Kerjules and Cullfield. They investigate Annabelle's herb garden and shed and liberate some potions, one of which makes you shrink.


  • Aju - a fishling herbalist and barbarian. Carries a keg of fresh water so he doesn't dry out.
  • Tilbørd - a human cleric of the Authority's Order of the Scroll. Careful; out here for info not healing.
  • Lomin "Call me Mr. Mor" Mor - an elf gambler and rogue affiliated with the neighbouring Lady Olga Cullfield.

Not there for the session:

  • Guy - a human diviner wizard of the Lodge. Finds thieves and smugglers for his lord Haine Kerjules.
  • Mike - a midwifeman*, human* fighter* and local hero* (we assume for heroic midwifery). Animal lover.
* all rolled randomly: midwife profession, race, class and background.


Just when I wanted to write a session log, whatsapp came alive with one of the absentee players asking how the session went, and there the log was! I translated the discussion from Dutch to English and added my comments in between.

MIKE: So what did Mike have to miss out on yesterday? He had to feed his animals. And yeah, that's more important than helping the party :')

AJU: A lot happened.

For instance 10 mins discussion on which local lord to ply with the taxes on the loot they found, then deciding to just stash the finds in their hut, and 10 mins more discussion on who goes first in the marching order.

Then a quick look at the terracotta statues in rooms 2-4. Lomin opened one from a distance and got just a whiff of poison gas. Didn't look inside, didn't pry off the tempting magic golden ring from the sorcerer statue in room 4. At least they have enough torches and ration.

AJU: We went back into the dungeon. Remember the last chamber with the water? Where you almost chopped off all my limbs. It had a hallway down that we followed to a big room with a big living stone statue. When we were in the doorway it held up its hand and said STOP.

"THIS WAY IS SHUT", in the necromancer language Du'van. Which Tilbørd speakscould somehow puzzle out because he's a cleric of the Order of the Scroll, praise the Authority, move along now. Tilbørd also tried to hack the golem's instructions but didn't get far. Even the name of the complex's lord Xiximanter, found on a scroll in room (15), didn't help. At least the thing can't get out of the room it's in.

The party then reasons that if the goblins can't pass here either, and they can't cross the basilisk room, how did the little assholes circle round? Good thinking!

AJU: Went back up, found a secret corridor that the goblins use to get from the collapsed room back to their lair. Followed it, got chopped by an axe trap from the ceiling, ...

I had previously narrated how the goblins came out of both exits to TotSK, and added a narrow squeeze between (16) and (34) for extra gobbo mobility in the dungeon. Party followed, found and left behind weird carved stone eggs in the meditation room 34, with Du'van script again that said "Comfort, Protect". I've changed these things from the hot water bottles they were in canon TotSK, but no-one read the inscription out loud..

AJU: ...chopped up goblins, then set a whole bunch of them on fire and smoked out their lair. Found a heap of treasure and saved little Guy!

Including picking the difficult lock to the treasure room (29), then having to improvise with unwieldy barrels and chests to move the 500 gp of treasure. The shrinking potion came in handy when they had to move the barrel of treasure through a narrow crawl to the surface.

Encountering 20 sleepy goblins could've turned deadly really fast, but Aju improvised with lamp oil and a torch to make a huge smoking fire that drove out the goblins. Then set everyone coughing. Little Guy they found trussed up on a throne with a woven crown: king of the goblins, at least until full moon. Then he'd have been dinner.

MIKE: Nice job! Aju needs to learn to leave trapfinding to fighters :')

AJU: Tried to, and I have great perception, only there was a basilisk on a chain that I wanted to get away from.

So weird. You describe the thing as wagon-sized, with a gaze that turns torches to stone and their flames to stained glass, and suddenly the party is afraid to go near! Smart. Also hinted that the basilisk is lonely, curious and quite willing to get scratched and fed. Tilbørd was trying to get it to heel in Du'van, which seemed to work.

AJU: Oh yeah, and at the end there was a revolving door [leading up from the gobbo lair to rooms 43-46, not explored yet...] with nasty spear traps.

MIKE: Bwahaha

TILBORD: The fighter wasn't there so we used the barbarian as trapfinder and doorstopper.

After 15 more minutes of debating who would go through the door first... Behind the door they found a staircase, at the top was the basilisk room again and a series of rooms with bubbling noises, weird lights and the sound of lots of bones clacking on the tiles. They did not explore.

MIKE: You didn't send the cleric?

AJU: Our cleric is a bit of a pussy.

I don't blame the cleric. My random encounter table (bottom of post) dished up no monsters, but lots of signs: a woman's singing from unexplored rooms to the east, the clacking of bones, goblin chittering, weird gusts of lifeless air or fungal stench..

TILBORD: Cleric received 0 damage, as it should be. Also dealt out 0 damage and 0 healing, of course. I'm not the Order of the Lead Mask ;)

But did find out that the basilisk is focused on smells (it knows Tilbørd now) and can't petrify you in the dark.

LOMIN: While one of these two was shopping for a new pet and the other was juggling torches and axes, yours truly was looting everything he could get his mitts on. It was a beautiful evening...

MIKE: Right you are. (y)

Every gp brought home safe is 1 xp, is the rule. We decided to share all XP evenly, so even people who can't make it don't get left behind. Ditto for the actual loot, except for stuff explicitly stolen by one PC such as the GOLDEN CROWN OF THE SERPENT KINGS. Right, Lomin?

Also, Tilbørd finds a room filled with filth and fungus...that is slowly shaping itself into Even More Goblins. Rather than hauling in oil and flame as I expected, he plucks a juvenile fungus goblin and packs it away carefully with some crumbs and wet soil. The cleric wants a pet.

TILBORD: The barbarian got frustrated and took it out on the environment, the rogue kept back and took care of looting in and out of combat, the cleric amused himself reading a book, chatting with goblins, a ghoul and a basilisk. Typical.

At the start of the session, the group chose to spend the night and got visitors. Tilbørd chatted with goblins who promised to bring out Guy, their new king. (Too bad: the "Guy" that showed up was just two goblins on each others' shoulders, wrapped in a cloak.)

A bit later, there was the smell of rotting meat and grave dust when a local Ghoul popped by to ask what all the fuss was about. If you ever want to get in contact, track down the nearby gravestone of famous cook Jacques Corbieres.


The party recovered valuables worth 897 gp and xp.
Previous session: 698 gp and xp.
Total: 1595 xp = 319 xp each --> enough to gain level 2!

Rooms 2-4
Cursory glance. Lomin breaks one statue, gets whiff of poison gas. Does not inspect other statues. Golden ring on sorceror statue's finger still sitting there.

Room 11 -> 12-14
Party looks at and shies away from: soft electrical crackling behind door 12, raging skeleton with greataxe behind half-collapsed passage to room 13, and acid bubbling noise behind door 14.

Room 34
Lomin finds three carved stone eggs with Du'van inscriptions. Leaves behind.

Room 33
Not entered

Room 30
Blazing fire of marsh gas in central pit, skeletons on spikes show that it was sacrificial. There are gems down there. Left them to stew until someone learns Mage Hand.

Room 29
Treasure hoard, total value: 500 gp. Gems, jewelry, statuettes. Prize piece is a great silver drinking basin with ornamental cups hung on the rim. Gems and fine craftmanship make this a precious piece of art.

Room 49/47
Found Guy, the merchant's boy, and the merchant's wares! 100 gp in reward waiting at Crossroads.

Room 48
Tilbørd recovers a juvenile fungal goblin. Value 50 gp to a collector of eldritch oddities.

Room 50
Another treasure trove - the goblin garden, full of discarded golden cups, coins, silverware and even a crown. Total value recovered: 347 gp.

Thursday 9 May 2019

Neural network spells

Awesome. Coins & Scrolls and Throne of Salt have harnessed the unfathomable power of AI to generate gameable content. I shall now board their band wagon by asking for new versions of old spells.


From the Talk to Transformer site:

Adam King built Talk to Transformer as an easier way to play with OpenAI's new machine learning model. In February, OpenAI unveiled a language model called GPT-2 that generates coherent paragraphs of text one word at a time.)


Vance gave us the model for Vancian spells. Let's see how TtT finishes this famous bit of text:

Turjan found a musty portfolio, turned the heavy pages to the spell the Sage had shown him, the Call to the Violent Cloud. He stared down at the characters and they burned with an urgent power, pressing off the page as if frantic to leave the dark solitude of the book.

The book was then turned over and over again until there were only pages left, until there was nothing left but a memory that seemed to haunt him more than life itself."

"The book I was given, the one I kept staring at, was the secret key to everything I needed to know. If it was the Book of the Thousand Names, if it was the Book of the Spells...if it was written so that the soul was trapped in a perpetual cycle of killing and resurrection, then I would find it easy to manipulate that.

For I knew that, no matter what I did, the soul was always waiting, waiting to be used by someone who could understand it."

Wow. Self-disappearing book that tells you the secrets of soulcrafting? I wants. Fits in with my necromancy post, sorta.


Sheesh. Starting from the AD&D spell table:

When this spell is cast, it acts as if it were a magical armour upon the recipient.

As well, it renders the recipient invisible, immune to magical effects including those of divine wrath or hexes, immune to effects that target the caster with disintegrate or disintegrate undead (such as the spell disintegrate sphere) and immune to the effects of all of the save DCs granted by the spell. The recipient receives +10 per caster level on any saving throws allowed by the spell. This invisibility effects last until the spell ends or the recipient is no longer affected (at which point the invisibility lasts for 24 hours or until the recipient loses interest in it), whichever comes first.

I'm astounded that TtT was fed enough game text to produce this paragraph! Reruns of the generator produced Magic the Gathering-like rules. Also, this is some protection spell. Hefty immunities, save boosts, and invisibility? Sign me up.

Upon casting a Speak With The Dead spell, the cleric is able to ask several questions of a dead creature

(in this case, a goblin, or a troll), asking how the creature is doing, and if the creature is friendly, hostile, or unhappy. This can be used to determine what actions the cleric can take while casting the spell or during combat. A dead creature may answer questions about their current actions, the creature's past actions, and how the cleric wishes to deal with such. As long as the cleric is conversing with the creature, he can decide during each round that he has a free action for each question he asks or action he takes. The same is true for spells such as the spells detect spirits, detect undead, or locate objects. The cleric may choose to use this free action for any such questions at a later time, or he may take other actions as necessary.

Ok, so I need to harvest the head of a goblin or troll, but then it'll give me cool advice all the time? Useful, but no DM would miss the opportunity of making the head a foulmouthed hooligan. Which is extra awesome.

There must, of course, be sticks or similar pieces of wood (such as torches, spears, etc.) to turn into snakes.

That's where it gets interesting and I think one of the reasons is that they can use things such as torches to cause the snake to be lured to a spot where he can get some food or something.  Some snakes are able to bite a snake with their teeth and these snakes don't care how they are trained to do that. That being said, there are lots of snakes that don't bite at all and therefore are very dangerous, even if they aren't venomous.  I don't like snakes that bite, but there is a big difference between bite and venomous venomous. A lot of snakes also bite and sting, especially venomous venomous snakes.  The type of venom to bite someone will depend on many factors, one might include how close you are to the snake and which area the bite

Reads like tactical advice. Which frankly I could use for this spell.

When this spell is cast by a druid, it brings forth a large flaming chariot pulled by two fiery horses which appear in a clap of thunder amidst cloud-like smoke.

The chariot makes an impressive roar as lightning streaks from its feet and tails, the thunder claps soundlessly from the back of each horse, and two enormous thunderbolts appear and smash directly into the ground, striking the ground.  This creates a thundercloud, which falls over everything in its path.

When this spell is used in conjunction with a fireball , the thunderclouds around the chariot are enhanced, giving it greater resistance to magic, magic-based attacks, and spells of 3rd level or lower. These cloud-like clouds can be thrown as though with a simple thrown weapon and produce sparks on impact, burning anything within 20 feet with a single blast

Awesome spell, so full of flavour. In fact...yes, need to work this into my Belswick game.

Copper coins can temporarily be changed to gold pieces, or brass items turned to solid gold for the spell duration by means of this dweomer.

This spell has no effect over the land. If an area of land that can produce gold is destroyed by water, the magic of a gold item created there immediately ends.

Similarly, a gold item that is dropped or placed in a void causes the surface to sink to the nearest level below the surface of the surface, and the gold item itself is returned to its creator (with no further effects).

...whut? Looks like these magic coins can dig into the earth and raise water levels. Very much an OSR-type tool. This AI is wired right.

The colours and effects of the Prismatic Sphere, as well as what will negate each globe, are:

Wartoad Description: This sphere is the most powerful of the three. Like the Shield Sphere, it contains an unknown type of spell power that is always there. The only way to use it is by casting something other than magic. Also unlike the Shield Sphere, this magic power does not dissipate and is constantly on the field. What will do is increase the accuracy and damage of a spell used within it. As the colour of the sphere is yellow, this sphere is a good choice for most of the maps. However, the Prismatic Sphere does not provide protection from Magic. Instead, it can be used as a powerful tool to weaken enemy characters. of the spheres is Wartoad? Say no more, good mage. This spell is AWESOME.

Red - Frostbite
Black - Claw/Noxious Shell
Blue - Ember (which can also have a effect of the White Orb), or - Chaos Orb
Green - Shadowbolt
Red - Shockwave
Silver - Poison
Light Blue - Ice
Gold - Vizier. You can only have one Prismatic Sphere in your possession in the round that ends each turn. Note that on first turn the Prismatic Sphere can only be placed in your hand, on second turn it can be placed anywhere (except your Deck) in your graveyard, and so on. However this can be used to create a new Prismatic Sphere before your turn comes around, if that's not something you're used to. However as your turn comes around you can remove your Prismatic Sphere so that you can bring it to new hands.

As a player, I would worry about a spell that produces a Golden Vizier. But as a DM, I'm very much fine with it.

Sunday 5 May 2019

My paper army, let me show you them

Busy week at work, little energy to finish a post on Demigod Marketing, so you get a different post this weekend.

Over the past few months I've been printing and cutting and glueing veritable hordes of paper miniatures. End not in sight, but pretty happy with the result so far. I like how they're hugely affordable and take a bit of effort to put together (which also gives the freedom to modify them a bit - check out the 2.5D minis of trees, ropers and barrels below).


There are many paper mini makers out there - here's the two I've used material from so far.
  • has swarms of minis - many for free, some reskins for a couple bucks per month on patreon. 
  • Paperminis' patreon takes a bit more searching for the freebies, but has pretty little gems in there.


Need some way to store these light-weight little bastards. (Makers advise sticking washers on the bottoms, will make a trip to the hardware store at some point...)

Egg cartons for storage

I've posed these guys in A vs B battles. Here's a bunch of witch friends (trolls and ogres) going up against a snake cult.

Troll ambushed by snake cult
Which is also taking on an ogre
...but reinforcements on the way: three witches get involved
with a rat army

and spiders

and so. many. wolves.

Next up is a horde of goblins and their barghests getting surprised by a bunch of bandits.

I like how the trees turned out: take two copies of the same tree, cut vertical slits at the top and bottom, slide into each other and mount on a base.

One sheet of paper gives you a nice hordlet of goblins. I didn't stop at one sheet of paper. You always need Moar Gobbos.

Meanwhile, in the tap room...

Printableheroes does cool props as well, like these cupboards, tables and barrels. I took one side of left-over barrels and made them into bases for a 2.5D effect.

Tired of fighting cults? Then get them to fight each other. Here's a bunch of fire worshipers harrassing ice culties during a big summoning. Note the cool little props again. The Krampus "mini" makes an excellent ice demon.

Like that fight with your office mate over how high to turn up the heating.

All hail the lord of Air Conditioning.

Whoops, forgot to showcase the pack of hell hounds. Here we go. I thought the city watch looked a bit out of their depth going up against a bunch of demon summoners. Luckily two summoners staggered out of the tavern to help out with an angel and an elemental:

Check out the dead-eyed freak front right. This is how I imagine our party cleric.

Next up is two kinds of things-that-shouldn't be. The fae lady Sister Autumn rules decay and corruption. Big on fungus and oozes and slimy things. Which of course messes up the tidy tomb complex that these three liches have going:

Keep the noisome glooping down, will ya? Fun detail is the purple Grasping Hand model on the right. Zoom in for a look at the liches - two of them are from Paperminis. These guys have a lot of energy!

Again, it's the little things that count: like this flock of disgusting stirges. The roper (had to make it 3D like the trees) and oozes are nice and goopy. I love how dynamic the Aboleth model (in the back) is. Will definitely reskin and use as a water spirit.

Finally, look at this guy leading the ghouls and zombies. A dried out mummy with a fiery sword? He's got to be crazy. Stay clear.