In this game, the party has been swallowed by a massive behemoth and have been encountering all sorts of strange flora and fauna. This ship is the latest of those things. This storyline, and this particular full adventure was created by me. Feel free to use it in your game - and if you do, please let me know!
The site the PCs are travelling to, known as Chiselgore, is actually a crashed alien spacecraft that has been swallowed by the behemoth hundreds of years ago. The craft has been torn open by the crash and by the behemoth’s natural internal efforts.
The entry to the ship is a long staircase with grated steps that 25’ down to a flat catwalk and then another 50’ down. The walls of the hallway are narrow (1 person abreast) and are flat with steel and large, strange lettering. The walls are a bluish gray colour and the markings are white and yellow. Occasionally, parts of the ceiling and walls are missing, replaced with cartilage, bone, and gooey tendrils that should be ducked under to avoid.
This room has flat, seamless metal walls. Engineering like this is beyond even the finest dwarf’s capability. On one wall are a cluster of three black rectangles with faint streaks of light that flash across them occasionally in the same strange writing as is found on the walls. Thick braided yellow and orange ropes are coiled behind each box and lead into strange receptacles. The rectangles react to touch. If one of the streaks is touched, it will expand into a series of concentric rings, each marked with the same strange writing. If it’s touched more, have the PC interacting with it roll percentile (NOTE: after it’s interacted with, the rectangle they touched goes dead):
00-20: the rectangle blinks and goes dead.
21-40: a blueprint-style outline of a room appears with a blinking message in strange writing. The room appears to have been damaged in some way.
41-50: the glass pedestal changes from glowing soft white to a bright red colour. It flashes 3 times, then returns to normal.
51-60: a compartment opens above and a clear bowl attached to a flexible cord drops from it. If held up, it hisses faintly and a light zephyr of air comes from it. If breathed in, nothing happens: it appears to be just normal air.
61-70: a terrible, low grinding sound can be heard from beyond the door.
71-80: the rectangle flashes a string of strange characters in bright red and a hissing sound can be heard as 3 canisters embedded in the walls release their contents. All PCs in the room must make a FORT save (DC10). Anyone who fails breathes in a noxious gas and is sickened for 15mins. A whooshing sound can then be heard and the gas leaves the room through vents in the floor.
81-90: one of the receptacles beneath the rectangle falls out of its socket, sending a bolt of electricity at an unsuspecting target. Randomly choose a PC. They make a REF save (DC10). They take 1d10 electrical damage. On a save they take half damage.
91-99: a metal seat emerges slowly from the floor, with shiny metal panels snapping into place as it rises. After 1 minute a shiny, squared-off metal chair comes to rest against the far wall and strange music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnPL5OXSBNE) blares throughout the room for a minute before it fades out. While the music is playing, the light around the central pedestal glows in time with it.
On the far wall is a large metal door, under which it appears that a thick black vein has been severed. Upon closer inspection, the vein isn’t organic and appears to be a flexible pipe of some type. There appears to be no way to open the door.
In the centre of the room is a 3’ high metallic pedestal with a ring of white glass around it. From beneath the glass, a white light slowly circulates along it, glowing faintly. The piece of glass itself can be rotated. When rotated fully, it responds with a click and the glass ring depresses into the pedestal. Ahead, the large door opens vertically with a hiss and thick clouds of moist fog billow into the room. The group is met with an awful smell of sulfur, blood, and freezer burned meat as the air grows cold and thick with fog. Visibility is low leading into the next room.
In this chamber is a larger black rectangle embedded in the wall, covered with broken glass. Faint streaks can be seen darting across its surface, fewer than earlier. It can still be reacted to.
(NOTE: if touched, use the same table as above to determine the result, removing whatever result happened last time from the table. If it hasn’t happened yet, initiating the the 91-99 result is recommended to give the PCs a sense of “WTF” and to confuse them)
Once the interaction is complete, the entire thing blinks a few times and then shows a series of points across a massive map, all interconnected via moving dotted lines. Each of them blinks 3 times and then the rectangle crackles and goes silent.
This room is colder than the last one and a pair of thick hoses lay on the floor of the room, belching out thick plumes of frigid air. One the floor in one corner of the room are thick pieces of broken glass and above them red lights rotate and blink noiselessly. A survival check (DC10) will inform the PCs that something appears to have broken out of some type of container (a roll of 20 or higher will inform them that there was more than 1 thing in the container) There’s no sign of it anywhere.
There is another large doorway nearby but it’s partially open to about 1.5’ off the ground. More cold air pours into the chamber from beyond the door. Inside the room has a blue glow and the floor appears to be covered in frost.
Vestige 1 is a chamber that’s in sharp contrast from the others the PCs have ventured through. This room is organic in nature and appears to be closer to that of the beast than whatever it was they’d just passed through. This space appears to be an unnatural opening in the beast. Large pieces of metal stick up from the floor between the frozen polyps. The air is colder than the last and the ground is very slippery. The room is illuminated by a pair of faint spotlights that cast an eerie blue light into the space. In the centre of the room is a large block of solid ice, inside of which is a metal cylinder that glows slowly with a constant red light. When approaching the cylinder, the PCs notice that small rectangle has a number of the strange runes on it from the previous rooms and below that is a gauge that appears to be filled only ¼ of the way with a silvery liquid (an alchemy check DC10 determines that it’s mercury).
As they stand there, have one of them at random make a REF save (DC 19). If they fail they are engulfed in a burst of extreme cold, which coats them in a cocoon of ice. A successful save means only their lower half is encased in ice. Both require a STR19 check to break free but partially-frozen foes can use their arms and other tools to break free.
When defeated the ice melts to reveal the freezer-burned, mummified remains of
Once defeated, the cylinder is available to be interacted with. Tapping on one of the displays causes a broken pipe sticking out of a nearby wall to begin pumping in warm air, melting the frozen floor, and revealing a large door that was encased in ice. Next to the door is another display with a white ring on it that glows faintly. Rotating it around causes a click sound and the door opens leading to the next chamber.
In this chamber there are 8 glass-topped coffinlike boxes, each connected to a large machine on the ceiling via a thick hose. One corner of the room has collapsed in on itself and two of the coffins have been crushed. Where metal walls once stood firm is now a wall made of fat, bone, and flesh.
Of the 6 remaining coffins only 1 remains closed. Inside it is the body of a humanoid dressed in a plain white uniform. The humanoid’s features are strange with a large head, large eyes and small nostrils and a tiny mouth. It appears to be about 4’ tall and its limbs appear delicate and its body, slight.
The glass lids to the other 5 coffins have been raised open using a hinge at one end.
There are 2 doors here on either side of the room. One of them is partially open but the way is blocked with heavy debris, steel, and fleshy blobs. It can be navigated with 2 strength checks (DC18, DC19), one to hold up the steel frame of the door and the other to push through the flesh that’s in the way.
The floor of the Repair Bay is on a difficult angle, sloped downward. Thanks to the metal grating on the floor it’s relatively easy to stand upright while exploring the space. This narrow corridor appears to be some sort of security room. Large lettering appears on the blue-gray walls in bright yellow paint. Along one wall is a large glass door (the glass is similar to that found in a previous room). Behind the door is rack in the wall with a series of metal rods hanging vertically between the brackets. The door does not budge. Next to the door is another readout with a circle similar to the others but this one is bright red. If the PCs try to drag it around it doesn’t change in any way. Below that is an equalizer that seems to react to the PCs as they make sound.
(NOTE: if the PCs sing “Round Round Get Around” together in an attempted harmony (everyone must sing together), the equalizer to beep and the light in the red circle will change from red to white. Rotating it around will open the door.)
Once the PCs harmonize properly, the door to the chamber opens. The chamber itself is only 10’ around. There are 4 metal rods hanging from cloth strips next to one another. Examining them it appears that only 1 of them is functional. Each of them appear to be made from platinum and are valued at around 400gp each. The one that can be activated appears to do so as one would engage a pen, with a rotating handle. The handle clicks into place and the item fires. The items appear to have no magical properties (Detect Magic won’t work on them). 2 of them have a yellow light on their shaft, indicating they have a charge. The battery signal isn’t very useful as it only functions in binary: it shows if there is a charge or if there isn’t.
NOTE: don’t tell the PCs about the qualities of the wands until they attempt to use them (although they can infer there is no charge in the 3rd rod).
Platinum Prod: ranged touch attack, deals 2d10 electrical damage to a target up to 10’ away. If the attack rolled is a crit, the bolt can chain to another target within 10’ and deal 1d10 damage to that target (make a ranged touch attack on the chained target). The prod has 10 charges.
The other two prods aren’t functional. One of them has zero charges left and the other has 1 charge left. The one with 1 charge will backfire, dealing 2d10 damage to the wielder instead.
There is an awful smell coming from this room, a large flesh-lined chamber that smells like rotten eggs. The animated walls secrete a toxic substance continually. Unless they’re using another means to breathe fresh air, PCs need to make a FORT save (DC10) each round or be sickened during that round. If a PC touches the wall they take 1d10 acid damage immediately and another 1d10 acid damage at the start of their next turn.
There is 1 body here, similar to that of the humanoid in the glass coffin in the Crew Pods room. The figure lies face down in a pool of black muck.
If rolled over, the figure’s eyes appear to be black, glossy, and wide as if it was caught unaware by something. In moments, blackness leaves their eyes and viscous oil pours from their open mouth and nose down their tunic and onto the floor. It then flows across the floor to one of the larger pools of dark ooze.
Hidden against one of the walls is a tunnel that’s folded back on itself that leads off into another part of the beast (see NUTRIENT STORAGE). Getting through that tunnel requires the PCs to come in contact with the walls. The PCS can squeeze down the tunnel but take acid damage as mentioned earlier as they pass through the space. It can be hacked open with blades, but acid will still shower onto the “hacking” PC and damage them as outlined above.
On the far side of the room is another wall, this one made of curled and twisted metal. It’s opened enough that the PCs can squeeze through it to get into the next space. Any PC burdened with large packs will have to remove them to fit through the space. It takes a full round for each PC to get through the space (in case time is an issue).
In this room, a twisted dissolving mass lies scattered about the bowl-shaped floor. The ceiling is low here, ranging from 4’ to 6’ high and the walls of the chamber seamlessly blend into it. The room smells more foul than the previous one as a group of 4 bodies are rotting around a large central pillar, similar in design to the one in the VESTIGE 1 room. This pillar is mostly covered in flesh and tissue but blinks and lights up as normal. It can’t be interacted with.
Along one wall is a door with large, 2” holes drilled in it that act as a vent. The door is locked and is warm to the touch. Next to it, covered by flesh, is another readout panel. The panel has another temperature gauge but this time it’s dialed up the other way: ¾ full and bright red. If the PCs bring some ice from the previous room here and hold it up to the readout (or cast some sort of cold spell at it) the gauge will go down and the door will unlock.
Inside this room are a series of 5 locked boxes. Each of them has a trio of differently-coloured rings on top of it:
Box 1: red ring
Box 2: green ring
Box 3: blue ring
Box 3: yellow ring
Box 4: orange ring
The boxes can be lifted and repositioned. Each sits in an outlet below it. When the boxes are placed in a proper colour order, the previous one glows brighter and unlocks. In the end, only the last one won’t open. The contents of each box is as follows;
Orange ring: a gold lapel pin bearing the symbol of the Wintermarch (a faction the PCs are actively trying to thwart). It is cold to the touch. Value: 1gp.
Yellow ring: discharges 1d6 electrical damage to the opener.
Green ring: the inside of this box is gilded with a single coin made of what appears to be onyx. On one side is a grinning face and on the other side is angry face. When this coin, called Eternity’s Jest, is flipped it provides the following benefit:
Angry side: you get a natural 1 on a future d20 roll (GM’s discretion)
Grinning side: you get a natural 20 on a future d20 roll (player’s discretion)
Eternity’s Jest can only be used once per day.
Blue ring: a blue furry creature hops out and attacks the box’s opener (+10 bite attack, 3d8). It perishes immediately after it attempts its bite.
The engine room is in complete disarray. There is 1 large ovoid construct standing in the centre of the room, connected into the ground by a large hose. Another two of them are affixed to a segment of the floor that’s collapsed downwards into a well of metal and flesh. Red lights affixed to walls spin blinking in this room and bursts of sweetly-scented air jet out of canisters in the walls. In order to traverse the room, the PCs must make their way across a large 30’ gap in the floor that either by leaping, swinging on some of the exposed hoses hanging about, or by walking on a precarious catwalk. Falling constitutes 3d6 damage as you fall into a gross, jagged hole. Luckily, due to the debris in it, climbing out of the hole is easier than crossing it. PCs get +5 to climb thanks to all the hand and footholds.
Anyone who spends time at the bottom of the hole finds another 2 alien bodies down there, pinned beneath a girder. They appear to have been scorched in an electrical fire. One of them is missing its head and hanging on another girder (Investigation, DC16 to see it) is a patch of dried scales that don’t match anything seen yet.
The storage chamber is huge and its floor swells with about 1’ of fog. Against 1 wall is a standing bank of 15 3x3’ crates stacked on top of one another. All have been opened. Inside each are a handful of dried scales and the sides have been damaged by large claw marks. In the centre of the room four 10x10’ crates that have been violently torn open from the inside. Scorchmarks char the edge of the exit hole and a small patch of bluish scales have been sliced from whatever was inside one of them. The floor is littered with smallish 3-toed footprints amongst dried blood. All of these footprints lead back the way the PCs came.
On a nearby wall is a flickering display that is cycling between 2 different types of creature, both are lizards; one is smaller and walks upright with a large claw protruding from its foot and the other is much larger, has 6 legs, and curled horns on its head. Each of the outlines is marked with various labels in the weird writing.
Ahead is a large door, stuck off-kilter opened 1’. The door has a large label on it and the room beyond is filled with fog, reflected by a blue light. It can be lifted up (STR check, DC18) another foot if needed for access. If not, it’s considered a squeezing space to entry to exiting.
As the PCs enter this donut-shaped room they can hear a number of machines whirring and exhausting steam here and there. Metal panels hang tentatively from the walls nearby and sprigs of cable ends are exposed here and there as well. A bank of windows lies on the outside of the donut but the only thing viewable is tissue, bone, and sinew. Showers of sparks burst intermittently from the 20’ high ceiling and the entire space is softly illuminated by a blinking blue light that runs waist-high around the room. Immediately inside the room is a pile of debris, stacked up to the ceiling making the “donut” only accessible by going the long way around.
The team can hear a clicking sound as they enter the space. When they’re far enough down the tunnel, the lights turn off, a large panel opens up and a behir slithers out and attempts to grab one of them in the dark. Have the chosen PC roll in private, explain to them what happened (also in private), then inform the others that they’re missing a teammate when the lights come back on. The panel has been replaced. Around the donut can be heard the “stolen” PC shouting as the behir attempts to swallow them them whole. It’s going to take a little while to get around the donut to confront the beast.
This behir has a special ability: it’s lightning breath weapon can can chain to other targets if the attack roll is a crit. Each chained target makes a REF save (DC10). Anyone who makes the save stops the chain but still takes ½ the previous one’s suffered damage.
Inside the behir’s horde is the following:
10 strange metal coins made of no material anyone has ever seen before. Each coin is emblazoned with a series of bizarre runes and symbols and while no larger than a standard coin, weighs about 1lb. Value: 100gp each.
A locked metal chest (2’ by 1’) and a place for a handprint to be scanned. If one of the aliens hands is scanned, the box opens with a hiss and a series of whirls and clicks. Inside the box is a beautiful cloak, made of large, interwoven, white feathers. Down the centre of the cloak are large splotches of blood. The cloak is called “Celestial Mantle” and has the following properties:
It resists any any type of stain or fluid that attempts to adhere to it.
It can be damaged but is able to repair itself after an 8hr period.
Once per day it can confer a +1d4 bonus to the result of any Channel Positive Energy spell cast
A handful of charred uniforms that are small sized, similar to those worn by the crew of the craft as seen earlier.
China to force online games with loot boxes publicly announce item probabilities
China does something right.
2.6 …Online game publishers shall promptly publicly announce information about the name, property, content, quantity, and draw/forge probability of all virtual items and services that can be drawn/forge on the official website or a dedicated draw probability webpage of the game. The information on draw probability shall be true and effective.
2.7 Online game publishers shall publicly announce the random draw results by customers on notable places of official website or in game, and keep record for government inquiry. The record must be kept for more than 90 days. When publishing the random draw results, some measures should be taken place to protect user privacy.
A little background here: Like is so often true, I spent a few hours today browsing the internet’s many treasures (and dire swamps), not exactly looking for something but letting my attention drift and flow wherever it may. It ended up taking me on a whitewater rafting escapade through youtube videos of various Dungeon Masters leading their own respective groups through whatever adventure they’d planned for that session.
As I was watching, and getting a little something I could learn from or use in (honestly) every video, I found my mind drawn to one item in particular. Let me give you a few DM quotes that will quickly reveal my train of thought:
You’re stuck in an average dungeon…
You’re sitting in an average tavern…
Your room in the inn looks about what you’d expect: average furnishings, the usual wash basin and straw bed…
The man behind the counter is your average innkeeper…
You’re on your way through the forest again…
I think a lot of you already see where this is going. Those DMs, and their players, are “stuck in an average”. What does that mean?
There are no readily apparent surprises here
Nothing draws/captures attention
The setting is immediately populated by the unvaried marks of repetitive things that are “always there”
What does that do to the players (including the DM)?
Player energy begins to fall as their attention lacks an immediate anchor
Creativity flounders as players fill the area with the mundane, populate a space with what’s expected, copy-paste “the usual” surroundings onto the current setting
Those “always there” or “average” surroundings, in terms of gameplay, pretty much may as well be nothing for the effect it has on player imagination and their drive to explore and ask questions
Now there will be inevitably be someone who speaks up for the usefulness of the “average” - and that’s because they’re right: there are benefits to this approach. Some of them are:
DMs put on the spot have a turn-to that they can deliver quickly and easily and yet players will be able to populate that space with “the usuals” without the DM having to set the same again, repeatedly over and over
In low (rest) periods, the players feel as though they’ve entered a place of refuge; a safe “average” place where their minds can rest and they can let the stress of impending character death slip away and take care of the nitty gritty (for example, splitting treasures in relative safety)
Like the above, except the “average” place is just an illusion/deception. Something horrible is really going to happen and it’s easier to do that if the players aren’t expecting it.
But that only works best if it’s the exception and not the norm. The DM should usually want to give their environments more “life” - flavored surroundings that invoke awe and draw your players in with excitement and a need to learn more. Those low times can still be interesting, and a rich description can still be unique and captivate your audience without putting them on edge. And tricking your players with deceptively safe areas too often will simply lead to players never feeling safe: they’ll check every wall and floor for traps, they’ll have servants testing their food, they’ll stab their own bedrolls before laying down for the night just to be safe it’s not going to eat them as they nod off.
But I hear you, can we bring this discussion back to recognizing that potential for weak description and talk about possible solutions? Yes we can. But I mean to START the discussion, drop a few ideas, some resources that could help, and then see what others contribute.
GameMastery Face Cards: Urban NPCs. I recently started researching/making decks for several reasons that directly apply to this topic: (1) Cards are a fast way to give a player quick information that feels tangible and even a little personal which feels exciting; (2) I can make a whole deck when creativity strikes (or select one if you want to use premade) and then weed through the decks before play for those that I’m fine with using should an unplanned need arise; (3) Cards are a neat way of making sure you keep your creations to the point, emphasizing what’s unique, and updating details based on the occurrences specific to your game. I actually recommend getting the PDFs instead of printed versions if you want to be able to keep them updated as you play (and not worry about handing them to players who tend to be a little less careful with physical property than you’d prefer). This specific deck seems to currently only available with a subscription, but a lot more I’ll include below aren’t, and they’re still worth looking into.
‘‘The Cozy Hearth Inn’
From The Forge Studios or similar products (Keep pre-made locations like this handy, or use them as templates to
prep areas, for quick use if you need to drop one in or just want to
pull inspiration from a single entry in it)
Think of an area you’ve been to and describe it in a way befitting your campaign setting. A pub in your area becomes a tavern easily enough if you focus only on what translates well
Call on a character, item, creature or location you’ve watched in a movie, read about in a book, or seen in art, and describe it to others. Sometimes you can even say “His mannerisms remind you of Jack Sparrow as he crosses the boat to get to you, but he’s definitely more orc than human, and closer in size to an overfed cow than a spindly Johnny Depp.” That’s especially useful if combined with the below…
Involve your players. Just imagine these scenarios, told from the point of view of a DM that was caught off guard:
“The smarmy bard lazily drags a hand over the lute’s string as he eyes you, and though he wears a common tabard and his voice is nothing spectacular, something about him stands out above all else. *Points to a player* You, tell me what it is. *Player offers their own quirk, which may well become a permanent part of that character*
“You open the doorto the richly decorated guildhalland a smell hits you. It takes awhile for you to recognize it, but when you do, you seem certain that the smell is… *Points to a player*… You, tell me what the smell is… *Player does, DM rolls with it*… That’s definitely it. It’s thick in the air, filling your nostrils until it hangs on every breath you take. But that barely registers when you’re face to face with something that lays claim to your attention… *Points at a different player*… What is it that claims your attention?… *Player provides it, game moves on*… And so maybe you find yourself staring at it. But that’s fine. Because at least it takes your attention away from something far less enjoyable, letting you almost ignore it’s there entirely… *Points at another player*… And that is, what?
These are just examples to demonstrate the exercise. The second example especially is just to showcase the different “gaps” that players can fill in. You may not want to leave quite that many gaps… or… maybe you do. Depends on your players and how often you do it, and to each their own.
So that’s a start. When I began writing I thought this would be much longer, have an introduction, a body (where I’d even list games that use some of what I’ve written to good effect), and a conclusion to bring it to a close. But I always prefer dialogue over monologue.
So what do you think? Reblog with your thoughts, comment with your suggestions, provide feedback and I’ll keep an eye on this to see what develops.
My new Madokami wall scroll ^^ It’s really beautiful, high quality. I recommend fans to pick this up, Ume Aoki’s artwork is really the best you can get when it comes to the series artwork. Her expression is so perfect and conveys her personality so well, especially those eyes.