Eyes of the Stone Thief, the megadungeon campaign for 13th Age Roleplaying Game, is now available to pre-order! Order your copy here and you can download the PDF immediately.

Trapped InGodTick_project_1 The Stone Thief

To the Stone Thief, people are the irritating meaty grist in the delicious cities it consumes. Most of the unlucky souls swallowed by the dungeon are crushed to death, or fall victim to one of the many monsters that lurk in the depths. Some survivors, though, still wander the endlessly shifting corridors within the living dungeon. Here are seven NPCs that your players might meet in the Stone Thief. Use them to foreshadow future perils, or to give the players an informed choice about which parts of the dungeon to tackle next.

Beka Salander

She’s human, about eight years old, and she’s survived longer in the dungeon than most adventurers. The Stone Thief ate her village – she doesn’t know what happened to her parents, but they’re probably dead. Everyone dies down here, sooner or later. If the monsters don’t get them, the walls do.

The adventurers encounter Beka close to wherever she’s been hiding all these long, horrific months. Maybe she’s taken refuge in the Chapel in the Ossuary (p. 133), or in the pig caves outside Deep Keep (p. 174), or in the ruined monastery in the Grove (p. 151). If the adventurers show her any kindness – and, more importantly, show her that they can slay the monsters – then she adopts one of them as a foster parent of sorts. She knows how to survive in the dungeon, about the important of Sanctuaries (p. 21) and can describe the biggest threats near her hiding place.

Three-fingered Arix

If you’re desperate and greedy enough, then willingly entering a living dungeon in search of treasure might seem like a good idea. Arix is a former lieutenant of the Prince of Shadows, and he’s heard that the Prince is somehow able to smuggle consumed treasures out of the Stone Thief and back t the surface. Arix hoped to grab a share of the action for himself; now, he’d be happy to escape with his remaining fingers intact.

Arix turns up early in the dungeon, maybe in the Gizzard (p. 80) as a prisoner of the orcs, or slumped at the bottom of the Well of Blades (p. 52). He can tell the players what little he knows of the smugglers in Dungeon Town (p. 98) and that the Prince has an agent among the Orcs of Deep Keep (p. 176). He’s also heard stories about the Stone Thief’s treasure room (p. 277).

Ashbless, the Talking Tree

Ashbless is a magical talking tree – a previous High Druid (or Elf Queen) woke him up long ago. Now, unfortunately, he’s stuck in the dungeon and can never leave. His roots have sunk deep into the tainted mortar and stone, and it’s having a deleterious effect on his mind. About half the time, he’s sane enough to welcome and aid the player characters; at other times, the hatred of the Stone Thief rises through him like hot sap, and he’ll trick or mislead them. Thanks to his root network of spies, he can tell the player characters about nearby parts of the dungeon in great detail. He’ll aid fellow servants of the High Druid freely; other adventurers may have to prove their worth by carrying a cutting of Ashbless back to the surface.

The obvious place to plant Ashbless is in the Grove (p. 137), but he might equally have been shunted to some small lightless room in the Gauntlet (maybe the harpies on page 60 nest in his branches) or transplanted to the Pit of Undigested Ages as a curiosity to be toyed with later (p. 208).

Kalaya the Philosopher

Kalaya seeks to brew a potion of enlightenment, a consciousness-expanding draft of concentrated wisdom. Her experiments in esoteric alchemy proved dangerous, so she left her home city of Horizon and built a laboratory on a small island in the Midland Sea. The Stone Thief swallowed the island, laboratory and all, and she barely escaped with her life. She’s not an adventurer – when encountered, she’s being chased by some dangerous monster that the player characters must slay.

Kalaya can be a useful ally for the player characters, if they set her up with a suitable laboratory. Her old lab is at the bottom of the Sunken Sea now (p. 102, although the players could drain the sea from the control panel at the bottom of the Cascade on p. 121). Possible replacements include Myrdin’s Snail (p. 99), the Blind Spire (p. 145), the Ritual Chamber (p. 236) or the Serpent Temple (p. 210). Once set up in a place where she can work, Kalaya could make healing potions and oils for the adventurers, or set them on the quest for way to poison the dungeon (p. 354, probably involving a Koru Orchid, p. 152, and some Koru Ichor, p. 321).

Facecleaver the Orc

Even monsters aren’t safe in the Stone Thief. Facecleaver’s an Orc from the fortress of Deep Keep who got cut off from the rest of his warband and is now lost and alone. He’s wounded, exhausted, and willing to make a deal with the player characters when they find him. He should be encountered above Deep Keep, perhaps trapped in the Ossuary (p. 123) or the Sunken Sea (p. 102).

Facecleaver’s a follow of Greyface (p. 179), and in his grumblings about Fangrot’s laziness, Grimtusk’s greed and the growing belligerence of the Stoneborn Orcs, the player characters can piece together the complex politics of Deep Keep (p. 160) in time to come up with a plan. For an orc, Facecleaver’s an honourable sort – he’ll murder the player characters once he’s sure he can survive without them, but he’ll tell them that he’s going to kill them first instead of cutting their throats while they sleep.

Crossbow Ben

Like Alix, Crossbow Ben’s another former associate of the Prince of Shadows. In fact, Ben was one of the original gang of thieves who stole the Eyes of the Stole Thief (p. 313) and blinded the dungeon. Unfortunately for Ben, he got left behind when the furious dungeon slammed all the exits shut, and he’s been stuck in the depths ever since. After many years of torment, all he craves is sunlight on his face and maybe a little bit of cheese. Maybe he made it to Dungeon Town (p. 98), but more likely he’s trapped in the Pit of Undigested Ages (p. 208) or even lost in the Labyrinth of Darkness (p. 247).

If rescued, he tells the player characters all about the Prince (as filtered through Ben’s not-especially-lucid recollections) and the powers of the Eyes. He’s also managed to squirrel away a cache of magic items that might be useful to the adventurers.

Rani Silverhair

Rani is a diplomat from the court of the Dwarf King. She was part of the retinue of Lord Sunhammer (p. 235) on his visit to the Artalins of Marblehall (p. 227). Fortunately for her, she stepped outside to take a breath of fresh air during the feast, so she wasn’t placed under a curse by the Witch of Marblehall. She knows she’s trapped in a living dungeon, but has no way to escape it.

The adventurers might meet her in the Pit of Undigested Ages (p. 208), where she can tell them of the importance of the Lost Treasury (p. 216), or maybe she’s making her way up the Maddening Stair (p. 189) in which case she warns the PCs about the duplicitous Maeglor (p. 204) and the dangers of the Shifting Stairs (p. 200). Either way, she begs the PCs to rescue Lord Sunhammer in the name of the Dwarf King, and to slay the perfidous witch who dragged both the dwarves and her family down into this hellish dungeon!

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13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Dice imageIf you are interested any of these games, please email me with the game you wish to playtest in the subject line.

 

 

Battle Scenes

System: 13th Age

Author: Cal Moore

Deadline: January 31st

Description:

Iconic Battles Scenes consistent of 39 sets of themed encounters, one Adventure, one Champion and one Epic level for each icon. Go white water rafting with orcs, face a demonic circus and clean out a crime lord’s HQ. You add the story elements and slot them into your campaign.

Each adventure takes around two hours to play out, more if you play every scene and include a lot of linking story elements.

Worldbreaker

System: Esoterrorists 2nd Edition

Author: Robin D. Laws

Deadline: January 31st

Description:

As they investigate what appear to be disparate mysteries, the team slowly uncovers a conspiracy to rip open the membrane in a single global panic event. We’ve had separate adventures, and a two-parter, for The Esoterrorists, but never a linked series of scenarios, or a globe-spanning campaign book that tips the hat to Masks of Nyarlathotep. This book fills that gap.

Except for the last installment, these scenarios take place in any order. Appendices show you how to link them. Additional scenario hooks show GMs how to expand the campaign with even more related episodes, if desired.

The Mysteries of Interpretative Dance

System: The Gaean Reach

Author: Jim Webster

Duration: One to two sessions

Deadline: January 31st

Description:

For reasons entirely of his own Quandos Vorn does occasionally need to be contacted. He also wishes to keep open lines of communication to his past. Thus and so, chance has placed at his disposal Tris; performance artist, poet, and artist. Could Tris be the way of getting to Vorn the players have been looking for?

Shards of the Broken Sky

System: 13th Age

Author: ASH LAW

Deadline: January 31st

Description:

Imagine YOU are the Archmage. A big part of your job is eliminating terrible threats that could destroy the Empire, or at least severely damage big chunks of it. But some of those threats can’t be destroyed, only suppressed. So what do you choose?

Option A) Stash the suppressed threats in hiding places all over the map, each protected by smaller wards.

Option B) Create one super-powerful warded area and dump a steady pile of the threats you can’t quite deal with under that ward, damping them down and keeping them hidden from everyone else.

If you answered Option A, you are not this campaign’s Archmage, good luck in all your future endeavors!

If you answered Option B, welcome to Shards of the Broken Sky!

This sandbox adventure for characters of all levels dumps the player characters into the mess left by the destruction of the Archmage’s super-ward. What was a peaceful valley is now a conglomeration of resummoned monster armies! What’s left of the Archmage’s wards falls upon the valley as half-ruined magical dungeons! Are you going to clean up the mess, or just loot it? And will the plots of the evil icons give you enough time to decide?

Shards of the Broken Sky contains multiple adventures and dungeons for every tier. Depending on how much of the material you decide to use, and when, you should be able to use it twice in separate campaigns and face all-new adventures.

Playtest note: Playtesting in a straight shot through every adventure probably isn’t possible during a normal campaign because some of the choices are meant to lead away from each other. Choose your path, play as you like, use as much as you can and tell us about the path you chose.

 

 

 

by James Semple

Having recently completed the 13th Age Suite I was interested in writing something more contemporary again. While music for the Night’s Black Agents Dracula Dossier is on the horizon, I felt it had been far, far too long since I’d last written anything for The Esoterrorists. I remember that ever since I’d read The Esoterror Fact Book I’d had an idea for some music which I never got around to writing. Now I had a moment of spare time I thought it was time to revisit this idea!

The first thing I realised was that it was important to differentiate the music of The Esoterrorists from the music of Night’s Black Agents. After all they’re both contemporary action dramas with strong elements of the occult. It would be easy to end up with fairly interchangeable music between the two. With that in mind I reviewed the music I’d written for both and then drew out a list of elements that were specific to Esoterrorists and distinct from NBA.

Stylistically I felt that The Esoterrorists has a heavier focus on action and less on tension. The music is a little more muscular with overt nods to military snares and heavy rock guitar. Perhaps almost a sense of New World confidence in contrast to the more world-weary European quality of NBA. There’s definitely an action movie quality there. This is particularly emphasised on tracks focusing on the Special Suppression Forces.

Another important aspect is the usage of musique concrete and reversed sound design to represent the Membrane, particularly highlighted in the track The Membrane. This felt like a very useful colour to again help differentiate the Esoterrorist sound.

Finally I have also been wanting to write music for the Ordo Veritatis itself. I have many ideas for this going around but there’s likely to be something in the style of brass chorale and perhaps something with choirs as well. Maybe a hymn or even a march. There is a definite sense of noble duty I’d like to capture.

Anyway having suitably established my Esoterrorists sound I decided to crack on and write the track itself. It’s called Irrawaddy Landing and is the first scene in Operation Whirlwind Reaper, the scenario in The Esoterror Fact Book. As soon as I read this scene I wanted to write music for it.

Imagine rice fields in Myanmar at night … peaceful and calm. Suddenly a military plane comes into view. We see the Special Suppression Forces getting ready. There’s a brief quiet moment of noble duty and then they jump. Cue the hero music! Finally they land and the music gets more creepy as they begin sneaking into dangerous territory. I’ve written the music as though I was scoring this scene but of course you don’t have to use it in this way.


by Scott Dorward

A Poison Tree, which was announced late last year, is an epic campaign for Trail of Cthulhu. This takes the form of a generational saga that spans the globe and 350 years of history. Matthew Sanderson, Paul Fricker and I have been developing it for the last 18 months, and we are now well into internal playtesting. While this isn’t the first campaign we have co-authored, it is the most ambitious in size, scope and structure.

The campaign is made up of seven chapters and eight vignettes, beginning in rural Wales in the seventeenth century, passing through settings as diverse as revolutionary-era Massachusetts, the Welsh settlement of Patagonia, France at the tail end of World War I and Berkeley in the full psychedelic throes of the 1960s, and culminating in world-changing events in the present day. If our playtesting is any indication, this will take around 50 three-hour sessions to play through.

The varied time periods and the strange abilities of the family whose tainted bloodline drives the story have demanded some minor tailoring of the GUMSHOE mechanics. These new options should provide some entertaining twists, even for experienced Trail of Cthulhu players.

A Poison Tree is the fifth book that Paul, Matt and I have worked on together. The fact that we all live within ten miles of each other helps greatly with our collaborations. This allows us to meet in person for regular planning meetings, usually at Buskers, our favourite café in Wolverton.

We divide the writing between us by each of us taking ownership of individual chapters and vignettes. We brainstorm these chapters at our planning meetings, but the owner of each is ultimately responsible for its content.

We also meet weekly to record our podcast (The Good Friends of Jackson Elias) and use this opportunity to discuss how playtesting is going.

Playtesting is the foundation of our development process. We all run the entire campaign for our own groups, making copious notes. This gives each of us a second chance to shape the content of each others’ chapters, based on what we have learned in play. Some of our best ideas come from moments of improvisation at the gaming table. This proves especially useful when one of us discovers a new way to link parts of the campaign together in an unexpected manner. This process means that every part of the campaign is a collaboration between all three of us.

Based on previous experience, by the time the campaign has been through all this planning, testing and honing, actually writing it up will be straightforward, although time-consuming simply because of the sheer size of the project. Once we have done this, it will be ready for third-party playtesting, followed by rewrites based on this feedback.

Growing this Poison Tree is not a fast process. It will be at least another year before we finish our own playtesting, and then another few months to write it all up. The feedback from our internal playtesters has been encouragingly positive so far, and we believe that we are creating something quite unique. We can’t wait to share the fruits with you.

 

As the song goes, it’s beginning to look a lot like fishmen, and we’ve got a big haul of seasonal freebies for you, including new music from James Semple for The Esoterrorists, great resources for the DramaSystem by Jon Cole, bonus characters for Bill White’s adventure The Big Hoodoo, a new blank agent dossier and a German translation of Matt Breen’s awesome Night’s Black Agents character sheet. As well as this, we’ve got all the 13th Age PDFs you’ve been waiting for – 13 True WaysShadows of Eldolan and The Book of Loot. KWAS subscribers will get the properly awful Hideous Creatures: Rat-Things, and the Fear Itself/Owl Hoot Trail Weird West edition, Vendetta Run, is now available in the webstore.  Happy holidays!

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castleonedgecolortestloresEyes of the Stone Thief, the megadungeon campaign for 13th Age Roleplaying Game, is now available to pre-order! Order your copy here and you can download the PDF immediately.

If your ongoing 13th Age campaign doesn’t have a place for a gigantic megadungeon like the Stone Thief (listen! Can you hear its plaintive earthquake-like whimpering as it begs you to let it rampage through your game?), then the thing to do is get out your shiny +3 Axe of Book Dismemberment and chop the dungeon into its constituent parts. With a few choice hacks and a little sewing of plot threads, the Stone Thief’s thirteen interconnected levels become thirteen regular dungeons suitable for an evening’s delving.

 

The Maw

The Maw, together with the Gizzard, are actually the two hardest levels to convert – they’re both tied to the Stone Thief’s schtick of eating bits of the surface world, which doesn’t translate neatly to a stand-alone dungeon.

For the Maw, drop the Chasm encounter entirely, so the players have to enter via the Front Door. They make their way down past the Ghouls and Spear-Fishing Bridge as normal (optionally, sub in a standard fight scene for the Goblins). Leave the Stolen Palace as a cryptic side quest, then have the Doorkeeper’s door open onto the Gates of the Stone Thief, so the PCs have to surf down a landslide of rubble (that runs under the Spear-Fishing Bridge) to get to a final encounter of your design. Maybe…

  • it’s the lair of an orc shaman with elemental earth powers (explaining the churning landslide, and the orcs)
  • A natural gate to the plane of elemental earth has opened, and must be sealed before it turns half the world to stone
  • A swarm of monstrous subterranean beetles are digging their way to the surface, and the hive queen must be slain before they undermine the city. The orcs and ghouls are opportunistic scavengers, drawn by the anticipation of carnage.

The Gauntlet

The Gauntlet’s easy to convert. Drop the Giant’s Causeway and the Belfry encounters, and you’re left with a killer dungeon in the ruins of an ancient dwarven temple to the gods of the forge. The objective of the dungeon is to recover Grommar’s sword from the body of the fearsome minotaur who killed the dwarf master-smith. The party enter by the Falling Stairs… and well, if they survive the traps and trials of the Gauntlet, they deserve a death-slaying sword. You can reskin the Mad Butcher as Grommar’s vengeful & insane ghost if you want to make the place even more dangerous.

Alternatively:

  • Grommar’s buried library contains some fabulous treasure, or lost secret of the dwarven smiths that must be recovered
  • It’s a race against another party of rival adventurers to get through the Gauntlet and recover the sword
  • The Gauntlet is a prison used by the Dwarf King to punish those who have really offended him
  • It’s a competitive dungeon-arena under Axis where teams of adventurers race to complete the course as swiftly as they can

The Gizzard

The Gizzard best pulled apart for parts. You can use Jawgate and the Slaver Camp as part of some other orc-themed saga. The Halls of Ruins and the Gizzard chamber itself could be presented as a weird dungeon where a crazed wizard, the Architect, tries to build a patchwork city out of the ruins of past Ages – the Stone Thief writ small, effectively.

The Ossuary

The Ossuary’s a self-contained crypt dungeon, and requires next to no changes. You might wish to rewrite the imprisoned Gravekeeper as another undead – maybe the Gravekeeper is an emissary of the Lich King, charged with protecting this ancient tomb complex, and the Flesh Tailor is an arrogant, upstart necromancer who’s taken over and is endangering the balance between the living and the dead.

  • The Flesh Tailor can be a recurring villain in your campaign – start off with the PCs encountering his masked undead spies, then they track the necromancer down to his lair and slay him – and only then does he come back in his augmented undead form.
  • Move the Ossuary to Necropolis, and you’ve got a tale of intrigue and body-snatching among the nobles of the Undying Peerage, where the Flesh Tailor stole the palace of the Gravekeeper.

Dungeon Town

Dungeon Town is best pulled out of the dungeon entirely. Reimagine it as a settlement of castaways and survivors – maybe they’re shipwrecked on a monster-haunted island, or trapped on a flying realm, or on the back of a Koru Behemoth, or stuck in some extradimensional plane. The Wild Caves become the perilous landscape just outside this little fortified community of survivors.

If you’re making Dungeon Town the centre of an adventure, then you may wish to make the Provost into more of a villain – perhaps recast him as the Jailor, who deliberately trapped the other survivors here for some mysterious purpose.

  • You can drop Dungeon Town into some other dungeon of your design. Maybe the people aren’t trapped – they’re drawn to the dungeon by the promise of wealth (the dungeon’s a gold mine) or power (it’s a well-spring of magical energy, or youth, or it boosts spellcasting ability) or devotion (it’s a temple taken over by monsters, or a holy site).
  • Alternatively, rework Dungeon Town as a criminal stronghold – a thieves’ city underneath Glitterhaegen, perhaps, or a pirate port out in the Spray.

Sunken Sea

Drop the “sunken” part, and you’ve got a perilous archipelago of mystery instead of a flooded cave network. Swordapus, the sahuagin and their demonic temple don’t need to be changed at all; neither does the wreck of the White Dragon. The Lonely Tower gets teleported here by accident instead of being eaten by the dungeon. The biggest change is to the Cascade – obviously, it doesn’t lead to an exit from the dungeon or to a control room, so you’ll want to put something else at the bottom of that slippery staircase. Maybe:

  • It’s an arcane version of the Bermuda Triangle, and the magical relic at the bottom of the Cascade is what draws all those ships to their doom.
  • It’s a magical lighthouse, built by a former Archmage, and it needs to be relit to re-establish his spells to tame the Middle Sea (or, if the PCs are allies of the High Druid or some villanous icon, it needs to be quenched to free the wild waters).

The Grove

There are two obvious ways to approach this dungeon – make the Elf Tree the centre of events, or put the Breeding Ground as the core encounter. (Or make it into two separate adventures!) If you make the Elf Tree the main encounter, then clearly the High Elves tampered with Things Men (And Elves Too) Were Not Meant To Know, and the Breeding Ground is a hideous magical accident that can only be stopped by closing the magical portal in the observatory. In this set-up, move the Elf Tree so it’s in the centre of the Grove.

If you want to make the Breeding Ground central, then obviously it’s the rest of some evil druid’s machinations, or demonic perversion of natural magic, or the Crusader trying to turn druid magic against demons – whatever works for your campaign. The monsters from the Breeding Ground drove the Elves out of their tree.

When converting the Grove to a stand-alone dungeon, drop The Castle With Your Name On It encounter, and make the Herbarium less of a mysterious ruin – turn it into a ruined Elf stronghold, or a druidic temple. Hag Pheig can be left unchanged, or cast as the villain of the dungeon. Maybe she’s trying to gain control of the Druid Circle, and the horrors of the Breeding Ground are her sins made manifest.

Deep Keep

Drop the Secret Sanctum encounter, and describe Deep Keep as a captured fortress instead of a weird patchwork castle, and you’ve got the front lines of the Orc Lord’s armies. They’ve taken an Imperial fortress and enslaved the population – now you’ve got to take out their leaders and organise an uprising against the invaders!

Take the Giant’s Causeway from the Gauntlet, and Jawgate and the Slaver’s Camp from the Gizzard, and use them as encounters on the way to the castle. Replace the Vizier with some other evil advisor – who’s the Orc Lord working with in your campaign?

  • If you want to keep the deep, so to speak, then make it a subterranean dwarf fortress
  • Introduce a different divide between the orc factions – maybe Grimtusk’s followers want more loot, while Greyface’s are all about honourable conflict. Alternatively, perhaps Greyface is secretly possessed by the ghost of the former lord of the castle, and that’s why he’s willing to rebel against his warlord.

Maddening Stairs

In the Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign, the Maddening Stairs sets up lots of plots related to the Cult of the Devourer and the ultimate fate of the dungeon. If you’re using it as a standalone adventure, then you’ll need to give Chryaxas and Ajura the Dreamer and Maeglor the Apostate something else to pontificate about. Perhaps the Alabaster Sentinel is an Icon from a previous age, an avatar of justice that once brought unyielding, merciless law to the lands until it fell into this pit and became trapped. Maeglor seeks to restore order to the Dragon Empire by resurrecting the sentinel – Chryaxas argues the case for fruitful chaos and freedom, while Ajura might want to trick the PCs into stopping Maeglor, or perhaps she believes that the resurrected Sentinel will bring about the end of the Age when it decides that the Archmage is too unpredictable to be tolerated.

  • You can also use the Maddening Stairs as a perilous journey – maybe it’s the stairs into Hell, or up to a flying realm in the Overworld

Pit of Undigested Ages

The Pit really doesn’t lend itself to conversion into a stand-alone dungeon. By its very nature, it’s an eclectic collection of weird places from across history. Don’t even try to come up with a linking story – instead, use each encounter on its own. That gives you a buried dwarven treasury, a lost temple of the serpent folk, the ruins of a magical library and a gnoll death cult. The First Master is probably too closely tied to the Cult of the Devourer to make sense on his own, so take him out and drop him into the Onyx Catacombs instead.

  • The dwarven treasury fell into the Underworld during an Age-ending cataclysm. Finding it requires descending into the lightless tunnels and battling past hordes of eyeless monsters.
  • The temple of the serpent folk is somewhere within the jungles of the Fangs; the Black seeks it, with the intent of stealing the primordial magic of the serpents and adding it to her own arsenal.
  • Quillgate was protected by magical wards; when the quake struck, it vanished from this world. It’s out there, somewhere, in the planes of existence. Step into the Archmage’s Faultless And Unerring Dimensional Projector – it’s sure to work this time…
  • And it’s well known that only the Hellpike can slay certain powerful demons. If one of those infernal lords rises to threaten the Empire, then the Hellpike must be found, and found soon

Marblehall

Marblehall’s best used as the result of a magical experiment gone wrong. Instead of getting embedded in the Stone Thief, it’s…

  • Adrift in the skies as the newest flying realm
  • Turning into a Hellhole
  • Spouting elementals
  • About to become a Living Dungeon in its own right

Whatever happened, the Witch and her weird experiments are too blame. Can the adventures save the Artalin family from their own wayward daughter?

Onyx Catacombs

If you take the cult out of the dungeon, then you should also take the dungeon out of the cult. Instead of being a bunch of dungeon-worshipping apocalyptic lunatics, make the Cult of the Devourer into a bunch of <insert-dire-noun>-worshipping apocalyptic lunatics, and redecorate their hidden city to match. Maybe they’re demon cultists, or shadow cultists, or wolf cultists, or poison cultists, or tentacled alien god cultists, or discordant-music-that-ends-the-world cultists. Turn their dungeon level into a mysterious lost temple in the depths of the jungle, or in a dimensional fold, or across the wastes of the Moonwreck, and you’re good to go.

Heart of the Stone Thief

Like the Pit, this level’s too tied to the concept of the Living Dungeon to make sense as a stand-alone adventure, so it’s best stripped for parts. I’m sure your campaign can find a loving home for a volcano, a crypt of undead adventurers, or a fabulous treasury of epic-level wonders…

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13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Page XX logoThe latest edition of See Page XX is out now! Featuring a pre-order for Eyes of the Stone Thief, and PDFs of The Gaean Reach, The Gaean Reach Gazetteer and Mythos Expeditions. KWAS subscribers will get the December edition, Vendetta Run, on their order page this month, and meanwhile, non-subscribers can now buy Hideous Creatures: Byakhee as a stand-alone product in the shop. There’s also the usual round-up of articles, and more details about the Dracula Dossier Kickstarter.

Pelgrane Press, ProFantasy Software‘s sister company makes tabletop RPGs, and as such has a burning need for cartographic resources, so of course we take advantage of the connection. We’ve collaborated on a number of projects in a number of styles – styles we’ve then bought to our users. The latest such collaboration will be The Dracula Dossier – a Kickstarted project featuring spies versus the greatest vampire of the them all, for which Ralf will be creating maps. Back it here.

So, here are some of the other projects we’ve worked on together.

The Modern Journeys Style

Created by Pär Lindström and designed for the the Pelgrane Trail of Cthulhu adventure collection Mythos Expedition the style lets you depict the itinerary and visited locations for journeys or expeditions as would be found in horror or pulp adventures.

“>

“>13th Age Style

The September issue of the Annual 2012 contains a new overland style based on the gorgeous world map of the upcoming role-playing game 13th Age by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. The style was developed by Lee Moyer.

“>

“>1930s Street Maps

The December Annual 2011 brings you a companion style to April’s 1930s floorplans: city maps in the same Baedeker travel guide style for your modern horror and pulp-style games. Pelgrane Press used this in Arkham Detective Tales Extended Edition.“>

“>The 13th Age in CC3+

Ralf Schemmann recreated the 13th Age map in the Mike Schley overland style included with the forthcoming cc3+.

The Dragon Empire

Shadows of Eldolan

Pär Lindström created a city map and floorplans for the 13th Age city adventure Shadows of Eldolan using CC3, City Designer 3 and the Symbol Set 4: Dungeons of Schley style. He did some post work on the city map in Photoshop

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As December approaches our thoughts turn to the Dragonmeet convention here in London and the gathering of the Pelgranistas. We will be discussing next year’s releases, International PelgraneCon 2015 and celebrating the outcome of the Dracula Dossier Kickstarter.  Money will change handswhose hands give and take depend on the outcome. There will be tears, laughter, drunkeness and stupor, and that’s just Ken. Rob Heinsoo will be running the legendary Friday night game – thie time allegedly a mash up of Feng Shui and Day After Ragnarok.

This month sees the release of  Eyes of the Stone Thief for 13th Age in glorious full colour and PDF releasees of Mythos Expeditions for Trail of Cthulhu, The Gaean Reach and The Gaean Reach Gazetteer together with the latest Ken Writes About Stuff.  Hideous Creatures: Byakhee.

Night’s Black Agents

The Dracula Dossier Kickstarter, as of the writing, sits at £60K, with a host of stretch goals still left. Thank you backers! I’ve seen others (including Dracula Unredacted in colour, Trail and Eso tie-ins and others I am not permitted to mention) which I’d love to see, but I do not know if we’ll get there. But that’s the excitement of Kickstarter!

13th Age

But the 13th Age has not been forgotten – on the contrary – welcome to  Eyes of the Stone Thief! Welcome to the vastest colour book we have ever done. Delve deep into the Living Dungeon, come back to the surface barely alive and delve again, until you or your indomitable foe sucks in their last breath.STONECOVER

  • Three issues of the 13th Age Subscription have been approved by Rob Heinsoo for layout.
  • Cal Moore has delivered a polished first draft of Battle Scenes – a huge collection of loosely linked adventures and encounters to plug into your 13th Age game. We’ll set the scene, you add the story. It’s available for playtesting here. I’ve played it myself.
  • James Semple’s amazing music for 13th Age has been mastered, and there will be a world premiere video in the Pelgrane seminar at Dragonmeet.
  • Gareth has began work on Demonology, which includes a new class of his devising.

Trail of Cthulhu

  • Until the physical releases, Dreamhounds of Paris, a campaign of the Parisian surrealists’ adventures in the Dreamlands, and its diaristic companion volume The Book of Ants, are available as a bundle – a choice almost every purchaser to date has quite sensibly made.
  • Explore the globe and go mad with Mythos Expeditions – now available as a PDF.
  • Gareth Hanrahan has delivered the extra material for the Cthulhu Apocalypse print collection – existing purchasers of the PDFs will get a discount. I expect to see it out in February.

Esoterrorists and Fear Itself

  • It’s the Esoterrorists turn to get a campaign, with the first draft of the horrifying Worldbreaker ready for playetesting. It’s not for the fainthearted or coulrophobics.
  • We play tested Matthew Sanderson’s follow up to Seventh Circle for Fear Itself at IndieCon, featuring his usual highly developed characters, props and solid research. I’m looking forward to the manuscript.

 

 

a column on roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

Trail of Cthulhu maven Tony Williams asks, regarding Dreamhounds of Paris:

I would be interested in Robin’s opinions of surrealist art. Does he enjoy it? What does he think of the major surrealists movers and shakers as people, having researched them so thoroughly? Are they all insufferable poseurs or do some transcend that with what they produce?

I’m glad you so ably set up a column topic for me, Tony.

First of all, I feel a deep connection to the art, film, decorative art, and fiction of the surrealist movement. This fascination started in an eighth grade classroom, when our teacher, improbably and no doubt improvidently, screened a copy of Un Chien Andalou for us. Young teenage mind blown!

I first got the idea that eventually turned into Dreamhounds of Paris visiting an exhibition of surrealist decorative art at the Art Gallery of Ontario a bunch of years back. Looking at the paintings, so many of them struck me as entrancing nerd culture fodder sealed behind the wall of high culture awareness. The works’ horror and dark fantasy imagery in particular seemed like an obvious vein to mine as a gaming influence. Looking at the imaginary landscapes of Max Ernst or Yves Tanguy, they jumped out to me as a mutant evolution of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.

As far as I’m concerned the word poser doesn’t apply to any of the surrealists. They all believed intensely in what they were doing. They didn’t earn anything resembling widespread praise for making work that freaked people out, confronted them with disturbing images, and challenged ideas of what art was for. There was certainly no money in it for them during this period of their greatest innovation. A few became popular later, but not at this point. Posers appear when creative efforts become fashionable, lucrative, or both. Somebody today who follows in Marcel Duchamp’s footsteps by making art installations might or might not be a poser. But these guys (and a select few gals) were the real thing, on which later posers would model themselves.

If poser simply means an intellectual interested in ideas and art, well, that describes me, too.

Many argue that Dalí wound up bastardizing his art by milking his celebrity. That starts at the end of the Dreamhounds period but becomes truly egregious decades afterwards. Even at that, by making his own persona more important than his art, and the media his canvas, Dalí was doing something that summed up contemporary life way more than any abstract expressionist ever did. When he did it, it wasn’t a cliché, it was a thing he invented. To work his magic the trickster must also be a charlatan.

That said, other surrealists, like the movement’s autocratic “pope” André Breton, would be the first to deny him that slack. Breton called Dalí by the anagram Avida Dollars, and decried the chattering Spaniard’s commercialization of his psychic revolution. Breton genuinely thought his movement would change the world, literally altering human psychology.

It’s the utmost seriousness with which Breton regarded himself that sets him up as an inviting target for satire. Other members of his circle certainly mocked him when they fell out of favor with him, Dalí most effectively of all. (See the book for his famous night of many sweaters.)

His bullying makes Breton the hardest of the bunch to like. The book treats him as an antagonist figure, and tweaks him by describing him as lacking the imagination to enter the Dreamlands. I certainly can’t admire Breton’s habit of launching physical attacks against his aesthetic adversaries. On the redeeming side, however, Breton earns props for being the first major French leftist intellectual to see through on Stalinism, at the time of the 1936 show trials. With the benefit of historical hindsight that might not seem like a perceptive breakthrough but in the context of the era and milieu it’s a big deal. By contrast, many top names in the French art scene remained hardcore Stalinists well into the 40s and 50s.

As far as the rest of the Dreamhounds cast goes, I view them as richly complicated people. They led messy, interwoven lives, over which a year or so of research makes me no kind of judge. They’re certainly realer, as you would expect, than the fictional characters we’re used to playing in RPGs, most of whom bend toward wish fulfillment. I’d even stick up for the figures art historians vilify.

Many accounts treat Gala Dalí, previously Gala Éluard, as a lascivious, money-hungry monster. Yes, she absolutely was hunting for a meal ticket, which she found in Dalí. But then her brother died of starvation during the Russian revolution, so it doesn’t take deep Jungian analysis to see what was going on there. And Dalí, a brilliant man-child barely capable of crossing the Paris street on his own, benefited from her hardheadedness. Slut-shaming pervades so much of the writing about her, but she treated men the way figures like Picasso and Ernst treated women. Granted, she didn’t paint Guernica, but neither do most of us.

Likewise Jean Cocteau gets a lot of stick in the various biographies as a preening climber. For a climber he left behind a crazy large legacy of creative work in forms from theater to illustration to film to the novel. When he made a fool of himself seeking acceptance he was wearing his heart on his sleeve. We need a new biography for him that doesn’t feel the need to treat his sexuality as a matter for nudging and winking. He was the original out gay icon, a heroic role to adopt at the time.

The Dreamhounds PC most like me would be René Magritte: quiet, composed, happily married, uninterested in the drama Breton constantly generated. Players may gravitate to him for that reason, as he makes for a solid contrast with the others. But if the surrealist circle was made up only of unassuming, reasonable people, there would be no point writing a sourcebook about them. Or playing them when they go off to surreally transform Celephaïs and later deal with the repercussions.

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