Monday, March 29, 2010

Another Tomb in Horsehead (adventure)

Another Tomb in Horsehead is a small underground adventure, in the same spirit as its predecessor The Tomb in Horsehead. The zipped archive contains the adventure as a single PDF, along with various maps and the original Word 2003-document if you want to tinker with it and change anything (e.g. fill in the statistics for your system of choice).

It is system neutral.

It's released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Get the archive here (1.15 MB, ZIP).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spellbook parasites (monster)

Thomas Althorp, the owner of Horsehead's only antique shop and one of Billobi's friends, was equally known for selling strange, magical items as dealing with strange, peculiar people that visited him from time to time. One of these was lady Lamport.

Billobi only met lady Lamport once, but he remembered it for the rest of his life. He was passing through Horsehead and decided to pay his friend Mr Althorp a visit, and came into the shop just when she was about to leave.

"Hang on a second, Billobi", Thomas said and went into another room behind the counter.

"Why, hello there", said lady Lamport and waved at Billobi. She wore a pale, oversized gown, that made her look thrice as big as she probably were. Her hair was tied in a firm knot in the back of her head, that seemed to pull her face backwards. She wore a pair of glasses, ornamented with colourful pearls, that lacked actual glass. She held out her bare hand to Billobi.

Billobi, who were no stranger to etiquettes, walked up to her, gently took her hand and touched it with his lips. "Good day, madame", he said and smiled.

Right about then, Thomas came back with a worn book that he handed over to lady Lamport. He wore white gloves, which he immediately pulled off and disposed in the stove next to him.

"There you are, m'lady. I'll see you next week then?"

Lady Lamport nodded, first at Thomas and then at Billobi. She then left without a word.

"Who was that?" asked Billobi.

"That, my friend, was lady Lamport. One of my most valued customers. She helps me cross-pollinate my 'special' spellbooks. There are quite a lot of 'special' wizards out there..."




"She grow parasites at home. I borrow them sometimes for cross-pollination."

Billobi felt a cold chill running through his spine. "She grows...parasites?"


"...fetch me a glass of water, please. A clean glass!"

Spellbook parasites are tiny, tiny creatures that lives on the alteration of magic, most often found in spellbooks. They do not consume the magic of the spells in the books, since that would make it harder for them to survive. Instead, when a wizard reads from his book in order to memorize a spell, the parasites nourish on the magical link between the reader and the spell on the page. When fed, the parasites produce a by-product of that original magic that the wizard will memorize along with some of the original spell.

The by-product is an small alteration of the original spell, so the reader will not notice any difference; they will memorize a spell by that same name - only slightly modified.

The by-product or modification differs greatly, and seems to depend on the age and origin of the parasites:
  • Very old spellbooks, infected by the parasites a long time ago, tend to have spells go much, much slower through the air, as if the ageing of the parasites directly affects the speed
  • If infected near a swamp or any other damp and wet environment, the spells will almost certain create water splashes on impact - or even cause a extremely local rain
  • Wizards have been known to shoot flowers when their spellbooks have been infected by meadow parasites
Since this is not a curse per se, any attempts of removing them with dispelling magic will fail. The only known ways of getting rid of these parasites is to either put a new spellbook next to the infected one during the night (there's a 25% chance that half of the parasites climb over to the new book, but only 5% that all of them will), or simply burn it.

The parasites are harmless to humans and animals.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gemstones of absorption (magic item)

In the middle of the town of Horsehead lies an old antique shop, one which Billobi frequently visited throughout his lifetime. It was owned by one of his old friends from school, that - just like himself - never paid much attention to what the teachers said. His name was Thomas Althorp, and the only thing he was worse at than casting spells, was selling old things. "It's a wonder", Billobi wrote in one of his many journals, "that my dear friend Thomas hasn't a) blown something up, b) had to sell his shop, or - which is more likely - c) blown his shop up".

Thomas Althorp had a keen eye for strange and magical items, and always seemed to get his hands on the most spectacular things. Unfortunately, he never got a hang on putting the right price tag on these rare objects. One of his more famous quotes is: "I mean, it's just a rod. It's like a fancy stick! You can find them everywhere in the woods. Except, those aren't magical, and can't bring you back to life with just a touch of its tip. But otherwise, they're the same! I mean, who'd pay for that?"

One of the more strange objects in his antique shop was a small, transparent gemstone.

"Look at this strange fellow", Thomas said and threw the gemstone carelessly to Billobi. "Looks ordinary, yes? A clear gemstone, probably worth a lot, judging from what other's had to say about it. Thing is, nobody buys it."

"Overpriced?" Billobi asked ironic.

"Watch it, or I'll make you buy something! No, the thing is, I'm most certain it's magical."

"Magical? How?"

"I have no idea. All I know is that when I bought it, it was blue as the sky on a sunny day. A young fellow sold it to me, out-of-towner I suspect. Said he needed the money to buy a book for his magic studies, or something. Anyway, it was a beautiful piece, and I sold it the next day to one of them fancy ladies up the street."

"So...what is it doing here?"

"Well, she came back the day after, in tears and completely devastated. She told me that she'd awaken in the middle of night to the sound of all her finest porcelain crashing into the floor. According to her, small rays of light - or missiles, as she called them - shot out from the small gemstone, and hit whatever it pleased. She had to take cover behind the kitchen door - what a sight!"

"I guess she returned it then?"

"Not only that, I had to buy it back! She was convinced the stone was cursed, since not only had it wrecked her home - the colour was gone too! Of course, by now everybody in town knows of Thomas Althorp's cursed gemstone, and avoids it like the plague."

Billobi inspected the small gemstone, and threw it back to Thomas. He said: "Do you think you'll be able to sell it?"

"I don't know. I'm still waiting for the colour to come back..."

Gemstones of absorption are small gemstones, in various sizes, that will absorb one spell from the nearest magic-user during sleeping hours. They aren't restricted by spell level, and can contain an infinite number of spells. Since the spell is absorbed, the magic-user will feel as if he or she never prepared it (e.g. it disappears).

It's impossible to determine the number of spells contained in a gemstone, other from when it's empty. A gemstone of absorption that hasn't absorbed any spells are transparent. Brightly coloured gemstones may contain one or a hundred spells.

It's futile to try to extract the contained spells, since it will just release all of them (equivalent to rolling a 1 or a 2 on the table below).

The colour of the stones doesn't seem to reflect the nature of the spells.

During sleeping hours, the gemstone (if close to a magic-user or any other caster of spells) will do one of the following:

Die roll (1d10)
Release all contained spells at random
Absorb one spell of any level
Do nothing

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cult of Leithris (map)

One time, on a trip to the southernmost parts of the country, Billobi came upon a band of soldiers in the middle of the green Ogrebelly forest. They wore grey outfits and carried short swords, and had a large emblem on their chest that depicted the trunk of a tree - the symbol of the guards of Ogrebelly.

When he came closer it was obvious that the guards had surrounded something, and - judging from the looks of the men - something truly terrifying. Billobi presented himself for the nearest guard, who immediately hushed him.

"'Tis them cultmen!" the guard whispered. His eyes were the size of plates, and his forehead sweaty. "Crazed people, I've heard they eat mud in the moonlight! But we've got them surrounded..."

The guard pointed at something in the distance, and when Billobi looked up he saw a regular but somewhat misplaced outhouse. It looked completely harmless, and way too small to house a cult of any sort.

"So..." Billobi said with a low voice. "This cult..."

"Schh! Stay here and keep quiet, we're bringing down this cult right now!"

The guards nodded at each other, and walked up to the outhouse. One after one disappeared inside - and never came out. Billobi hid completely silent on the same spot for almost an hour before running away. He never saw the guards again.

Anyone spotting a lonely outhouse in the middle of nowhere can be completely certain it's a passage to the underground cult of Leithris. A ladder leads down into the darkness and the monstrous beings contained therein.

All lairs of the cult lies next to the same underground lake, which connects them and provides means of transportation for the cultist.

Statues of their foul deity can be spotted almost everywhere, luring anyone foolish enough to touch them. The consequences of these actions are unknown.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Old nanna's yarn (magic item)

Young Billobi never understood why anyone would live in Badgerbrough. Despite being one of the larger towns on a large trade route that went straight through the country, nothing exciting seemed to happen. Yes, travellers from far away came to the taverns and told stories of bravery and fighting and underground cities inhabited by squid-like men - but, that was just the point: all things exciting happened far away from Badgerbrough. Although he suspected his head master to be a monster in disguise, that didn't really qualify. He needed to explore the country, not just his father's bakery or the school's detention room.

One particular cold winter, Billobi was sent out to buy some yarn for his mother because by some strange divine intervention, Billobi's mittens always seemed to be "somewhere else"...

"If you lose this new pair I'm about to make you", she told her son, "I'll tell your father to bake you a pair of gloves so you'll never lose them! Now go!"

Halfway to the general store, he met his friend Tristan "Hum" Beadle. Or, Tristan hit him actually - with a snowball. They spent some time declaring war on each other, tossing snow back and forth, until Billobi finally remembered his mother's words. He told Tristan about how his father would make gloves out of bread, with his hands inside. They agreed that it would be much better to head on to the general store instead.

After a couple of minutes they turned a corner and found themselves standing in front of an old building they'd never seen before. A wooden sign above the entrance had a rough drawing of a ball of yarn, with two crossed knitting needles underneath. Since the boys were tired of walking, they decided to enter.

The store felt much smaller on the inside. The walls carried loads of yarn in different colours and thickness, all stapled on primitive shelves that seemed to be an inch from collapsing. Next to the window - the sole light source in the room - an old lady in a rocking chair greeted them with a nod. She knitted intensively.

"Hello boys", she said kindly with a voice that sounded like an old hinge. "Did you walk into the wrong store, 'haps?"

"No madame", Billobi said and took off his hat. "Mum told me to buy some yarn."

"Did she now?"

"For my new mittens. Or else father will make loafs of bread of my hands."

The old lady laughed with a high pitched sound, until she had to cough.

"This is what you need", she said and tossed him a ball of yarn. "Don't want your little hands to become scones, do we now?"

"Thanks madame, how mu-", but Billobi was cut short when a tall man stormed in through the door.

"Cursed hag!" he cried, with his clenched fists up in the air. "Rid me of these cursed gloves, now! I demand you to!"

"Ah, I remember you. The prizefighter! Did you know, a long time ago I had a customer just like you. Dear mister Culver his name was, a promising prizefighter too. Disappeared into the woods, did he, but that was a long time ago... Handsome fellow, he was!"

"I don't care about your stories, witch! Remove these cursed gloves or I'll..."

"Who won the fight, young prizefighter?" she said with a mellow voice, without looking him in the eyes. "Who?"

"Me, of course! But-"

"I did what you asked for, did I not? Young man" - she turned to Billobi and smiled - "tell mum that's a gift from old nanna. Now, off you go! All three of you!"

Billobi thanked the old lady, grabbed Tristan by the arm and got out of the store under wild cursing from the tall man.

When he got home he told his mother all about the store, the free ball of yarn and old nanna. After hearing this, mother Rustfoot took the ball of yarn and threw it in the fire as quickly as possible. She made Billobi promise never to return to that store, and never accept anything from anyone calling themselves "old nanna".

Yarn sold by old spirits that call themselves "old nanna" can be found in any major city. They take over empty buildings, set up a store and sell knitted caps, gloves, and so on, or just simple balls of yarn. After some time, they disappear for a couple of years - or even centuries - only to suddenly reappear and start all over again.

Old nannas are never hostile.

The things they produce are cursed, and the most famous thing of them all is the Prizefighter Mittens. These knitted gloves look and feel just like regular gloves, with the distinct difference that they will grant a vast combat advantage to its wearer (both on to-hit and damage dealt).

The downside is that they will force the wearer to tie his fists, making him unable to pick up or grab anything at all as long as the gloves are on (which they will be until someone dispels the curse). This is how the gloves got their name; anyone seen with these kind of gloves looks like they're ready to pick a fight.