Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nonmagical Mine Minidungeon

The Surface- a an obscure but impressive stone abbey lies near forested mountains. It is inhabited by clergy of a deeply religious nature.They do not speak, but have evocative gestures and if pressed, will write monosyllabic responses on slate chalkboards they wear around their necks and get visibly annoyed if they have to do this more than once per conversation. Out to lynch the man in the mines. Will hire mercenaries to take over if the players don't step up, but the mercenaries and monks are content to wait outside rather than risk the beast-haunted mine.

The situation- The head of a recently joined and recently deceased young nun, Goldie, has been stolen by a foreign musketeer. He was discovered halfway through, and fled with his prize into an abandoned and overgrown mine. The monks may show the headless body, and will make little effort to correct the obvious misunderstandings, though actual cause of death was a dagger to the heart, a suicide. Offer the magnificent steed of the musketeer(its stolen from a powerful lord actually, see the fiance mentioned in 6) as payment, and warn of wild beasts(a grimace with teeth bared and hands curled into claws, crouching down) and toxic gas within the mine (holding one's nose, then clutching one's throat)

Random Encounters (but not really)
1-Echoes of Noise like groaning chains, from 6
2-Wild Dogs, or just echoes of their barking if they haven't come to investigate
3-Foul smell preceding gust of bad air that will choke torches and men alike.
4-Collapse- only applicable if the players were mining or making a loud noise
5-Bat swarm flying confusedly about (night only)
6- Impatient but low-morale monks

1- The Overgrown Main Tunnel- roots from the forest above choke this tunnel, forcing one to chop through or proceed on all fours. Hidden by roots are side passages to 3 and 4.

2-Deep Shaft of black, sharp stone with ladder and one side covered in roots. Ladder is rotten and may break if climbed, roots are fragile and likewise, and ropes may be cut by the sharp stones if used to descend. It's perilous. Hidden behind the roots is an entrance to an old lava tube that leads to a bear cave in the mountains, where a huge bear slumbers.

3- Tunnel with sagging roof of earth, nearly collapsed. There are 3 sidepassages that lead to crossroads of mining.
a- root-choked walls are damp and strange creaking can be heard. One wall is thin enough to be broken through to 6 without much effort, though shovels and pickaxes are a must.
b- a support beam is all that prevents the middle of the tunnel 3 from collapsing. One must edge very carefully past this support beam (bonus if you take off packs and armor) as bumping it slightly will bring down the roof.
As for the actual intersection, there is a suspicious brick wall about the size of a door in contrast to the other paths of the T intersection.
Busting through the brick wall leads to a secret passage to the crypts of the Abbey, where the dead nun's body is kept. The passage itself comes out from the tomb of a past Abbot, though the tomb is empty.
c-another intersection. Walls are thin enough to break into 4.

4- Passage in reasonably good condition. Inexplicable steps ascending, then descending once the passage is clear of the secret tunnel in 3b. Ends in a thin, fragile brick wall that leads to the wild dog lair in 5 and the halls around 7.

5- Wild dogs have a den out in the fields dug in the side of a dry streambed, and it links to the mines. They view all the mines as being inside their den, so are more aggressive and territorial than one might expect. They only enter the mines if they hear loud noises like gunshots, collapses, or screaming.

6- A olive skinned man, Antonio, with hair like straw swings on a platform suspended by two chains over a chamber half-filled with water, with more chains and roots dangling from the ceiling, which could be brachiated across. He carries a rifle (or a crossbow if you don't have guns), a good two dozen shots, and is very skilled at swiftly reloading it. He also carries the severed head of Goldie(her hair is like molten gold and reaches the water which he hangs 4 feet above), and will shoot at lights he sees down the 6a hallway. He carries no light himself, and is suspended over the water a good 30 feet from shore, so reaching him or shooting back can be hard.

He claims to be the nun's lover who was thought dead at war, and furthermore that she never shared a faith with the monks and fled to the abbey to escape an arranged marriage. He is out for bloody revenge against her once fiance, who he blames for her death(though he blames the clergy of the abbey as well), and wishes to take her embalmed head across the sea back to her homeland for burial, a typical practice among his people. He has a platinum coin which he will offer as a bribe and claims to know how to break into the fiance's house for more ill-gotten loot like coins and fine horses.

He is irrationally protective of his lovers head and would die before parting with it.

There are 2 brick seals and a key at the bottom of this 10'deep pool, the key opening the secret chest in 11. Draining the water makes the key easy to find.

7-Locked rec room- where the miners of old would play dice and relax. Many old lanterns with no oil, pickaxes, shovels, buckets, and tables are rusting and rotting here. One corner is blocked off by a thin brick wall, behind which is 11.

8B- A sinkhole that the surface has not fallen into yet. Awful fumes of hundreds of years of guano rise from the depths, and bat swarms flitter about. The ramp built into the side has collapsed near the corner, and there is a corpse with the key to 11's chest lying on the far end.

The awful stench and fumes make flame gutter and sputter, and the bottom of the giant pit is meters deep in guano that swarms with flesheating insects (though not the sort that are a threat to live humans)

9- the three dams-two halls lead to water-leaking brick walls that keep the water in 6 held back. If broken, the water flows into 8b if possible, or will simply fill up the pit in 2 about 1/4 of the way if only dam 9a is broken.

11- The secret chamber where the iron strongbox lies, along with a list of names and who gets what share of the embezzled gold nuggets (4000GP worth). Clearly something went wrong, given the disparate key locations and abandonment of the mine...

Possible magical Complications that I left out because I wrote this for a nonmagical intro adventure contest by James Raggi but then forgot to submit it and then decided to salvage my halfassed notes for a blogpost.

The Abbot is a vampire who is exceedingly choosy about creating new spawn, and Goldie killed herself rather than become a vampire. Now the Abbot wants to retrieve the head, sew it back on, and revive Goldie via dark vampiric ichors

The bear is actually the 'missing abbot' from the secret tomb, who faked his own death and went to live as a mad druidic hermit for decades.

Goldie's head is alive and chatty for whatever reason. Maybe she's a dullahan and the clergy tried killing her when they discovered her heretical fey nature, maybe her fiance was a necromancer and can't die until she's properly married to him or maybe Antonio's the necromancer and he can't let go.

The bat-pit of 8b leads to a sinister poisonous lair of some dragon or other foul subterranean menace.

Design Goals- Secret walls that foreshadow later secrets, and also may encourage players to hack through thin walls on their own to bypass obstacles. Simple problem solving and monsters and social encounters that can be straightforward or complicated depending on how much the players engage. Meant to be an intro dungeon that can be finished in a single session, but has hooks to keep going from there.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Boulder Giant

The inspiration for this monster is not indiana jones' rolling boulder trap but actually me thinking bout lungfungus's cairn carriers and rolling around on my exercise ball for fun. Certainly not for exercise, I don't have the excess calories for that sort of tomfoolery.

Anyway, Boulder Giants or Boulgres are big humanoids who shape stone into smooth spheres with a diameter of roughly man-size. Then they fight adventurers with them. Look this ain't no culture and lore post, it's a gimmick monster.

So your Boulgs are 8-10 feet tall, the typical 4HD, AC 14 ogre stats sound about right. They can beat puny humies to death with their bare fists(d8 damage) but they much prefer to do shenanigans with their boulders, which do 1d20 damage on a direct crushing hit.

Boulgres are giants surpassing the height of 2 tall men. Probably 8HD and 16AC. Their boulders block off 5 foot squares and if they're behind one, you probably need a reach weapon to even have a chance to get past it. Their fists deal 1d12 and if something smaller than their boulder is crushed by a rolling or slammed boulder it  saves or dies (or takes 1d100 damage if an explicit damage value works better for whatever reason).

Boulgrests are 30+ feet and probably 12HD, AC 17 and their boulders are the size of a Boulgre. This is the sort of menace that can actually kill you with one finger and their boulders are 'save or get flattened' no damage required. They do 1d20 damage by default.

If they lose their boulder, they fail morale. That's just how it goes. On the plus side, being a giant mega-strong humanoid makes them pretty good at retrieving their boulder, wherever it may go.

Speak the Tell of their next action at the end of each round, so players may take action to avoid being crushed. Moves where the Boulg is using the boulder as a weapon always go last, but otherwise use normal initiative rules.

Basically, if a giant is making an attack roll, they do default unarmed damage even if they are swinging the boulder around. If a boulder is being used in such a way that it is crushing you against the ground, that's a save vs crushing. Most the crush attacks are telegraphed and will automatically miss if the player takes a turn simply getting out of the way, and the fast 'Drop' crushing attacks can't be spammed and the high stance variant could be interrupted by hitting the giant first.

That's actually a thigh intended to be connected to a calf, not a giant grey dong

 Low Stance-  the Boulg is resting their boulder on the ground.

50% to block ranged attacks if they can duck behind their boulder, but the boulders of the larger varieties are massive terrain that may prevent effective melee attacks from that direction as well. Low Stance is often used in hallways and to advance, using the boulder as cover (and potentially filling an entire hallway)

Roll Forward- They roll the boulder forward their movement, and god help anyone in their way. Save or d20 damage and crushed prone for the smallest spheres, save or be a dead pancake for the larger ones. Note that the players SHOULD have gotten a tell and been able to move out of the way so don't wuss out on the Save or be Squished.
Tell- The Boulg looks  straight ahead and braces itself against the floor, pushing the boulder slowly
Dragspin 90- They turn 90 degrees, rolling/dragging their ball to smash/crush anyone flanking them. Damage as Roll Forward.
Tell- The Boulg looks at (target) to its (left/right) and grasps the boulder tightly...
Rolling Tackle- leaping forward onto their boulder and rolling belly-first atop it. The boulder moves a distance equal to their height, crushing those who didn't move out of the way, and the boulg ends up prone with their feet atop or near their boulder, their body length added to the reach of their attack. Does damage as unarmed, and may allow them to grapple their target on a failed save, but if they aren't continuing combat in a ground grapple, it'll take em a round to get back up.
Tell- The boulg places their hands straight out atop their boulder and crouches, coiling up for a leap
Rolling Kick to Seated/180 low stance- As a half-range Rolling tackle, but they roll leg first and on their back rather than arms first on their stomach. No attempted grappling though, and they end sitting atop their ball or having turned 180 degrees and in low stance at the end of the motion.
Tell- the boulg kicks one leg onto their boulder, balancing on their side with 1 leg
Rolling Kick to Prone-As a full-range Rolling tackle, but they roll leg first and on their back rather than arms first on their stomach. Two blind kick attacks or a blind grapple attempt via scissor leg grapple tackle.Though inaccurate, they don't need a round to recover like the rolling tackle does.
Tell- the boulg clambers atop their boulder with both legs.
Rise to Mid Stance- Switch to mid stance, duh. No tell.

MID STANCE-The Boulg carries their boulder in front of them (or rarely, under each arm for Douboulgs)

A Boulg holding their boulder in front of them has an impenetrable sphere of stone blocking a good portion of their body. You can target their hands, feet, and head, but its not easy- they got AC 18 if you're attacking from the front. This mode is a bit more flexible than low stance and Boulgs will generally switch to it against enemies their own size or if fighting multiple foes.

Charge Forward- Deals regular unarmed damage to anyone caught in the line of their movespeed who gets hit. For small Boulgs, this is actually clobbering people with the boulder, but for larger ones, it's mainly trampling by feet.
Tell- The boulg bellows and begins to charge forward
Spin 180- Swing boulder in a wide arc for unarmed damage against anyone directly behind or in the wrong hemisphere of rotation (but NOT directly in front!), and change facing appropriately. Boulgrests have to stoop to do this against shrimpy adventurelets, and dropping prone is an easy way to avoid getting hit by this attack.
Tell-The boulg turns their legs 90 degrees and swings, bringing the boulder in a wide, slow arc at head level.
Drop to Low Stance- A swift move with no tell, they simply let the boulder fall on top of whoever is in front of them. This probably just smashes the toes for small ones, but is a save or squash when performed by the larger varieties.
Bowl- Heave the boulder rolling in any direction they please (range=twice height), dealing usual boulder effects.
Tell- The boulg turns to face (direction) and winds up the boulder preparing to send it rolling across the ground
Targeted Rolling Tackle/Kick- As Low stance, but they can roll in any direction.
Tell- the boulg turns and places their boulder down, then puts both hands/one leg/two legs atop the boulder.
Hoist High- Lifts boulder above head and go to High Stance.

High Stance- The Boulder is held above the head. The giant must save or drop back to low stance when damaged.

 Boulgs only go into high stance if they're pissed or showing off to other boulgs. This has the most mobility and the least defense, so when they assume this stance it is so they can chase down some annoying twerp in the back and squash them or take out a worthy foe with a worthy finishing blow.
Running Slam- The boulg runs and slams the boulder down on someone. Tracks and pursues, so just 'walking out of the way' is not sufficient to evade unless you can get far enough so that they can't reach you. Commonly targets pesky mages and archers.
Tell- The Boulgre eyes <target> evilly and begins picking up speed as it pursues them.
 Falling Tree- As Running slam, but the boulg falls stiffly, adding its height x1.5 to add that little extra distance if necessary. Those under the body take unarmed damage, those under the boulder take the usual ill effects. Ends prone and takes a round to get back to Low Stance.
Tell- The Boulgre eyes <target> evilly and begins picking up speed as it pursues them.
Trick Throw- The giant makes a hop and tosses the ball through the air to land atop an unlucky target within the move of the giant. This is generally reserved for if a running slam is impossible for whatever reason. Furthermore, the giant may choose whether the ball lands and craters, staying put, or if it rolls in a particular direction after landing.
Tell- The Boulgre eyes <target> evilly and readjusts its grip, spinning the boulder slightly.
Drop to Low Stance- A swift move with no tell, they simply let the boulder fall on top of someone near them- as opposed to the midstance version, they can let it drop behind or to one side. 1d20 for small ones, but is a save or squash when performed by the larger varieties.
Feint Stomp- A kick, followed by a Drop to Low Stance if the kick misses. Fighters recognize it as a feint.
Tell- Balancing on one foot, the boulgre rears back one leg for a kick, keeping the boulder ready.
Rest- Drops to mid stance and performs a move, but can renew High Stance for free at the end of the next turn if they so choose. 
Tell is as midstance move+ a big sigh

 TOP STANCE- save when taking damage or fall prone

Boulgres can roll around standing atop their boulders like trained circus performers at half speed. This is largely pointless for the smaller variants, but it may bring the larger variants entirely out of melee range as they roll around attempting to crush people, and can sometimes be helpful for reaching things in high places. It takes a round to turn 90 degrees.

Variants and situations
DOUBOULGS- Some show-offs carry a boulder of  1 size category smaller under each arm. This is just like a big bowling ball for the smallest variant though, so the point of having a giant rock as weapon would be lost and it isn't done.

SKULLBOULGS- Using giant skulls is pretty much the same thing, but spookier. Tombstones don't roll enough, but giant cremation pots could maybe work and spill out ashy skeletons.

GEODEBOULGS- So when they die, the geode cracks open and reveals LOADSAMONE

SNOWBOULGS- They can spend 1 round making snowballs that get bigger and bigger as they get rolled around, and are a lot more throw-happy.

KATAMARIBOULGS- Like snowboulgs but with sticky mud or tar and you save vs getting stuck to the ball and taken prisoner instead of crushed to death.

ATLAS- Isn't that just a way better name for these things?

PINCER MOVEMENT- So there's a T intersection in the dungeon, you walk through, and BAM! A heavy portcullis slides down behind you, and Boulgres start rolling huge boulders down each hallway towards you to squash you between 'em. Can use 1 hallway and 1 Boulgre, and pits, or fire, or whatever too.

CATCH-Multiple Boulgs that will position themselves then pass their boulders around. Could very well be some sort of sport that just so happens to be hazardous terrain for players to cross, or overelaborate attempts to confuse and squash adventurers.

GOLF- A puzzle 'boss fight' that involves the players trying to get a Boulg to dunk his ball in a pit trap or water hazard or something since a straight up fight would probably get them all murdered. Maybe the ball has something useful inside they want, like a legendary sword sticking out of it, or the 'Boulder' is like a giant hamsterball cage with a princess inside.

Anyway part of the reason I wanted to make this post was cuz
1- I wanted giants that feel weighty and ponderous and extremely lethal but can be outmaneuvered even by low level peeps.
2-I read a blog post about how hits from a monster should have a decent chance to merely scratch players and not be guaranteed average-high damage. So 1d20 damage rather than 3d8.
3- a bossfight that kills you dead if you just stand in one place trading blows, and instead encourages running around and punishing certain moves the giant makes.
4-Boss As Scene- with the giant stone ball, the bigger Boulgs bring their own scenery and complications that hopefully double down with the room furnishings they're in and triple down with relative positions of the players and give the battle a sense of spatial verisimilitude and presence rather than abstract number crunching in a blank white room.