Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Session Report 2: The Loss of a Few Horses

Mark Harasses Tony During a Date From Behind Bushes

The Party:

Tony the level 1 Wizard
Wields a magic sword and has begun dating another magic-user

Mark Doe the level 1 Thief
Follows Tony on his dates and poorly suggests things to discuss

Melvin the level 1 Fighter
Drunkard who buys pies and horses in tandem


Tony, the most capable member of the party, remembers that the cpatian of their ship would sail to the port if they lit a bonfire. Bonfire blazing they realize that they would have to board the ship before it departs soon. Mark and Melvin decide to see if they can find Marvin before they are ready to leave. Candles in hand they rush towards the depths of the complex. They find the room where they found Marvin and realizing that they cannot see further than a few feet in front of them they depart, momentarily freezing in fear in the room where they had once placed a large stone on a shrieking coffin.

They return to Melvin and accompany their hirelings and Aldo towards the ship. The captain and his crew arm themselves with the arrival of a ten foot tall bipedal alligator. The party work out a deal with the captain confiding Aldo to the hold of the ship for the duration of their travel and sail back to Hringepi.

The party returns to Hringepi and seek ways to sell their loot. They investigate a few of their items and decide that they can afford to live in Hringepi for a week. Mark and Melvin spend a middling amount of silver on housing and spend a great deal of wealth carousing. Melvin drinks himself into a stupor and is cursed with a fear of the dark. Mark hears a rumor of a settlement of horse nomads along the plains. Tony decides to purchase a horse and while doing so encounters a woman named Hera Pesithanatos. They hit it off and begin seeing each other. Mark also purchases a horse and Melvin, not wanting to be the only one without a hore of his own also purchases a horse and manages to haggle a pie alongside the purchase. While Tony goes on further dates with Her, Melvin and Mark try to find Aldo employment. As he is a 12 foot tall bipedal alligator it doesn't go well. Mark follows Tony on a date and hides in some bushes, whisper-shouting things for tony to ask of Hera. Chief of which is if she knows of any jobs that Aldo could take.

The week ends and low on funds they decide to leave. Tony and Mark decide to arrange ways to stay in contact with Hera and Aldo. Purchasing rations, torches, and a few other supplies they had off into the wilderness. Having no maps they simply wander by a singular road into the swamps. The New Moon shrouds the countryside in darkness and the party encounters difficulties. First they come across an awful miasma and all three horses, and John the hireling, fall ill. They are left with a blind horse and a singular hireling. Ill and tired they find a roadside inn and decide to stay the night. Upset over the owner making them pay to keep their horses in the stables, they discuss burning the place down but decide not to and move on.

They leave the swamps on the ultimate night of the New Moon and are struck by tragedy. A lurker (a massive slug monster) feasts on sugarcube in the night and in theit attempts to resuce the remaining horses Melvin's leaves. In fury and rage, Melvin slays the beast and the trio chooses to wander across a new road in hopes of traveling to a nearby town.

Walking alongside the road they find bear tracks leading off to the side of the trail and find a bear in a cave. They decide that as they are low on money that if they kill a bear they can sell it's parts for money. Tony heads first and uses her spell "BLACK SABBATH" to make the bear's shadow vulnerable to attack. He flanks the bear with a torch causing his shadow to stretch towards his party members. However, before they can pincer formation the bear, he stabs the bear with his sword. The bear then turns into a rat and the party freaks out. It takes them a moment to realize that they have a magic sword and they rejoice.

They continue on the trail and arrive at a large lake. They begin fishing for some food and pull two massive crabs out of the lake. The crabs are violent and Mark goes down. While Melvin fends off the other crab, Tony and the hirelings attempt to perform field surgery and only make things worse. While Mark is on death's door Tony places him into a bottle with the spell "CAPTURE" and rides upon one of the remaining horses towards the trail head.

While she rushes onward a familiar and intoxicating voice reaches out to him psychically. The same devil within the lake underneath the complex spoke to Tony offering to save Mark. Tony slashes Mark's throat and with his blood draws the sigil of Kall Varld. Mark is miraculous healed of his injuries and reanimates. The trio decides to press on towards the City of New Rind, but instead gets lost and arrives at the Oubliette.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

System for Abstracted OSR Settlement Downtime

Downtime in Settlements

Once a party reaches a settlement (village, town, or city), they receive two opportunities as a whole to interact with the settlement outside of buying dungeoneering supplies and selling off loot. Rather than two opportunities per character, it is the party who has these opportunities. A party may choose to spend a week at a settlement to receive a number of opportunities equal to 2+ the number of player characters within the party. Spending this week within a settlement requires each character to spend a sum of silver for housing, upkeep, and food. The amount of silver spent this way determines which events may occur to that character during the week of their residing in the settlement. Any Hirelings, Retainers, and Companions who accompany the party pay their own way.

Art by Ken Fairclough

Author's Note: These mechanics came around because most of my players spent a great deal of time just hanging around town and I had a great deal of difficulty producing content for each day or hour of their time in a settlement. Instead I made a way to produce content at a weekly rate.

The options available to a party within a settlement are as follows.

1. Discover What Lies Past (This Settlement)

Researching information about traveling away from civilization is very important. A character doing this is able to ask a single question about how far away another settlement is (in terms of days of travel), about what kind of menaces lie in what direction (both monster and terrain), or even about the location of a dungeon filled with treasures.

2. Make Friends

A character who chooses to go out and make friends has the opportunity to attempt toroll under Charisma and if successful obtain retainers and has a further 25% chance to meet a friendly NPC.

3. Carousing

By spending at minimum of 100 silver (or another arbitrary value choice by the Referee), a character gains an equivalent amount of XP for going out and socializing/drinking and must roll under Charisma to avoid a mishap.

4. Find Rumors

A character receives 1 + their Charisma Modifier in rumors

5. Sight-see/Relax

A character choosing to relax or sight-see reduces gains an extra 1HP until the end of the next combat, and gets to have the Referee describe some part of the settlement/surrounding area to him and likely give him some lore about the area.

6. Go Shopping

A character choosing to go shopping may either purchase location unique items (such as a barrel of gunpowder) or spend silver on frivolous things (such as an obnoxious hat) in a manner similar to carousing at a rate of 2 silver spent for 1 XP recieved.

7. Rest and Recover

By choosing to engage in recovery a character gains an extra 1HP per level until the end of the next combat, further they are allowed a new save against any condition or disease that they have with no penalty for failing the save.

8. Research/Find a Scholar

By successfully rolling under a third of their Intelligence, a character is able to ask the Referee a single yes or no question (which is to be answered truthfully as the knowledge would be known in setting). Alternatively they may spend 100 silver to simply consult a scholar a single yes or no question.

Weekly Expenses and Their Consequences

The following are different levels for weekly expenses in a settlement.

Destitute: 15 Silver (This is barely a step above homelessness)
Middling: 25 Silver
Comfortable: 50 Silver
Prosperous: 100 Silver
Flush: 200 Silver

Villages are able to suppport weekly expenses up to Comfortable.
Towns are able to suppport weekly expenses up to Prosperous.
Cities are able to suppport weekly expenses up to Flush.

A character may purchase a home for the price of weekly expenses times 30 for any level except for Destitute. They then no longer have to spend that weekly expense at that settlement.

Every week spent in a settlement roll a 1d8. On a roll of 7 or 8 nothing of note occurs; however, for any other value rolled consult the Weekly Event Table relating to that level of weekly expense.

Art by William Henry Pine

Destitute Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Find Lost Money
The character finds 1d6 silver that someone lost here.
2Misunderstanding Escalating into a Violence
The character must save or suffer the effects of a 1d10 severity roll.
3Awful Disease
The character must save or contract a disease taking 1d3 points of damage
4Jail Time
The character is taken away and cannot interact with the settlement.
5Wandering Monster Encounter
The character has a solo encounter with something awful.
The character must save or contract a random curse.

Middling Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Hear Rumor
The character gains 1 random rumor.
2Free Meal
The character receives a ration from a friend.
3Misunderstanding Escalating into a Vicious Brawl
The character must save or lose 1d12 hp and gain notoriety.
4Minor Disease
The character must save or contract a disease taking 1 point of damage.
The character must pay 3d10 silver to the authorities.
6Attempted Mugging
The character must save or lose 1d2 random items.

Comfortable Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Make Acquaintance
The character befriends a shop keeper and is able to buy a random item for half price.
2Misunderstanding of Received Letters/Parcels
The character receives something meant for someone else.
3Well Rested
The character gains an additional point of HP until the next combat.
4Misunderstanding Escalating into a Remembered Insult
The character must save or gain a foe and a -2 penalty to carousing.
5Attempted Theft
The character must save or lose 3d20 silver.
The character is involved in a building burning in some way.

Prosperous Expenses Weekly Event Table

1An Exclusive Offer
The character is approached by a merchant selling a rare item.
2Romantic Encounter
Someone becomes enamored with the character.
3Enticing Request
A patron reaches out to the character requesting a Quest Item with promise of reward.
4Auspicious Sign
The character sees a good omen granting a +1 to their saves until they fail one.
5Misunderstanding Escalating into a Future Vengeance
The character must save or become hounded by an assassin.
6Attempted Swindle
The character must save or erroneously invest 1d100 silver to a conman.

Flush Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Invitation to Banquet
Receive 200 XP for carousing at banquets of the rich.
2Make Friend
The character gains an NPC as a friend and possible companion.
3Gifted Item
The character receives a gift worth 1d20 silver from someone
Offer of Initiation
The character receives an invitation to a secret society of some kind.
A hireling wishes to join the character at no upkeep cost.
6Marked for Robbery
The character must save or become hounded by a band of brigands.

Between these options available to characters and the events which fall upon each character, a variety of events are sure to occur to the players. Further the usage of dreadful foreboding mechanics means there are at least three dynamic aspects to a settlement each week.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Session Report 1: Steeples of Erythroxyl

Tony Grapples The Vampire!

The Party:

Tony the level 1 Wizard
Possesses the spells Capture and Black Sabbath, seeks pleasure above all else

Mark Doe the level 1 Thief
Uses narcotics and gives orders to hirelings, seeks to outwit and bamboozle fools

Melvin the level 1 Fighter


Having heard of an abandoned complex where there was a great deal of wealth the party charters a ship for a period of five days. They recieve a rough sketch of the complex from some aged sailors. They travel north by sea from the city of Hringepi passing a pair of fighting Zeuglodons. Through the early light of dawn, their ship is overcome by fog and an ill omen of a ghost ship is seen in the distance.

The clouds hang dark above them and release an icy particulate, too small to be hail yet too sharp to be snow. They discern more shapes along the ilse: three towers looming upwards. They spy a pier in the distance and make plans for the ship to drop them off at the pier and then return the dusk of the next day.

Walking forward along the rime covered peer they find a skeleton and press onwards. Arriving at the wreckage of some great iron construct they investigate why it still smolders and soon find a blind horse ridden by a dead man. They remove the corpse from the horse and take an iron key from him. Though the horse is blind, they title him Sugarcube and take him along for their journey.

They pass by a massive chlorine pit and find themselves in front of a set of large double doors. The party travels inwards into the complex with the goal of "Finding the biggest treasure and then leaving with it". Concious of the time constraint of roughly 30 hours, they press on.

They soon encounter a stone coffin and curious to it's contents they investigate it. Mark begins to open in when suddenly shrill screams and ivory phalanges emerge from within. They act quickly as mark jumps on top of the coffin sealing its contents. As numerous things scrape at the roof, mark bellows orders for his hirelings to find a suitably large rock that they may place above it. They emerge with a large stone and place it on top of the coffin. The party then departs, believing that the contents of the coffins should remain a mystery.

Entering a room filled with snow they find a man wrapped in heavy chain with a long sword through his chest. As they pull out the sword, he reanimates and gasps. They discover him to have no memory of his name nor of his surroundinggs and dub him Marvin claiming he is one of their hirelings. They do not remove his chains and simply place him astride Sugarcube and continue on.

Exploring further into the complex they find a series of silverknives hilt deep in the floor and decide to leave Sugarcube, and Marvin, among them. They press onwards and find a massive elevator which they descend down into the lower levels of the complex.

They enter a candlelit room filled with shoes and a massive shadow of something manipulating some toolsdeeper inwards. They discover a gargatuan gator stands over a workbench slowly making shoes. They greet him and as he turns outwards they note an iron key swinging on his chest. Despite his great bulk, green scales, long teeth, and reptilian eyes they attempt to be friendly to him. They discover that he is painfully lonely and offer to take him with them when they leave. Overjoyed he hands them his key and they depart, but not before Tony asks for a pair of shoes.

They travel further and find a massive stairwell and begin to descend down it. They discover a lone figure traveling upwards. Loudly announcing themselves they find the figure overcome by rage and decide to overwhelm him. Tony notices that the figure floats rather than stands and rather than cast a spell decides to tackle him. As veins bulge and he reveals bestial teeth sucking 7 years of youth away from tony. Melvin charges but meets the gaze of the figure falling under his thrall and turns to attack Mark instead. Stabbing Mark deep in the chest, Melvin deals 7 damage and thus Mark is forced to roll on the Perishing and Perdition Table. Fatally wounded, Mark retreats and attempts to alleviate himself of his wounds. Tony continues to grapple the figure, Who at this point I unintentionally reveal as a vampire, and attempts to steal some of his jewelry from him instead of actually fighting. The Vampire steals another 8 years of youth from Tony as Melvin deftly stabs him in the face.

Time passes as Mark and Tony come to their senses and decide to repeatedly stabd the vampire until he turns into black mist and disappears. The party is outraged that his jewelery turned into mist alongside him and notes that he must have a coffin somewhere and they can stab him there!

They find a shadowy door through which only a single may enter and both Melvin and Tony enter forth into the darkness, holding but a single candle lit. Each stirkes a deal with some entity in the darkness, though the others do not know this. Mark is suspicious of them dabbling with somehing dark and horrible within and instructs his hirelings to be prepared to turn on them.

The party explores another passage and finds the bottom of the chlorine pit as suddenly three meteorites silently crash down in front of them. Three constructs of metal with three masks back-lit by some great flame appear as mark tosses a glass bottle behind them. These newcomers are distracted by the glass bottle and the party escapes.

The party travels back up to Sugarcube deciding to have Marvin join them. First they encounter a wine cellar and as Melvin attempts to get drunk, he then finds three scraps of parchment and combines them to find a treasure map. The party finds that they can easily disoldge half of the knives and then finds a crstal chandelier. They steal most of the crystals and then decide to attempt to ascend the towers.

They are barred from entry into the northern tower by the lack of 3 more keys so they decide to enter the other two. They travel upwards through the western tower encountering a great deal of prismatic pills and several dwarves chained to a pillar of ice, who each have a red felt hat nailed to their head. They continue upwards finding a green brass ring and then a massive spider. Though they note a key around it's chitinous appendages they decide to swiftly leave. Noting they have a diminishing amount fo torch light they race onwards into the eastern tower. They travel halfway up stopping when they encounter a runed sword and many dead rats. Though they cannot discern what the runes on the sword mean, they decide to take it. Tony now has two swords from this place.

They decide it is a viable time to leave and return to inform Aldo it is time to depart. He informs them he needs some time before they depart so they return to the room with multiple embedded knives and use their masonry tools to gather a further five silver knives. Alongside Aldo they depart the complex and decide to stay within the smoldering wreckage until dusk the next day. Marvin refuses to enter the wreckage and returns to wander the complex aimlessly. The party decides to wait until their ship returns for them and night soon falls.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dreadful Foreboding Mechanics/Procedurally Generated Antagonists for OSR

I guess this is my Spooky Halloween Post

Author's Note: These mechanics were originally written up for fortified keeps as a way to have a greater amount of interactions. Settlements have a wide variety of things for characters to do, such as carouse or research, but isolated shelters don't have so many options so this chart was made

Dreadful Foreboding Mechanics

I believe that these fortified keeps should be mechanically distinct from other settlements not only by their limited supplies but further in their sense of isolation. I think a way to mechanically reinforce the sense of these outposts as bastions of light encroached by darkness is to emphasize their dwindling resources and increasing social pressures. The following mechanics could easily be expanded to other settlements in order to play up the "grimdarkness" or "horribleness/terribleness" of a setting.

These settlements are isolated and each week spent there should feel more oppressive and unwelcoming. The following is a table with ways to mechanically reinforce that, each week roll a 1d12 and consult the Impending Doom Table below. Unless abated, the dooms continue on week after week. For those with a desire of a gross amount of bookkeeping, they may roll this for every single settlement on their hex map and create a living world.

Impending Doom Table

1-5Menace: Roll a wandering monster encounter appropriate to the terrain of the hex where the settlement is located. The monster encountered begins to harass the settlement. That week and every week further roll a 1d6 as it corresponds to the Modified Wilderness Anecdote Table. The roll corresponds to what is encountered by a person living in the settlement at night. 
6Xenophobia: Those foreign to the settlement must succeed on a reaction roll in order to enter the settlement. Further those traveling alone within the settlement have a 1 in 6 chance of encountering hostile people and must roll a reaction roll.
7Hysteria: Anyone staying within the settlement cannot lose trauma points and have a 1 in 6 chance of gaining a point of trauma per week. This applies to every major figure in the settlement, not just the characters. 
8Famish: Rations run low and their price doubles. If this is rolled twice there is a 1 in 6 chance of there only being 2d20 rations left in the entire settlement and panic ensues. Every time after the second that this is rolled, the chance for only 2d20 rations exist increases by 1 in 6. 
9Rot: Though it is a safe place pestilence endures within. Any disease cured instead simply abates for the duration of the character's stay in the settlement. Further any disease deals an additional 1 point of damage. 
10Ruin: The structure of the settlement is eroding and collapsing. In any great confrontation, there is only a 1 in 6 chance of it staying upright and not collapsing. Structures pick the climatically appropriate time to demolish themselves in vast spectacles.  
11Woe: Despair falls on the settlement like rain. Characters resting within the settlement only have a 1 in 6 chance of regaining HP.
12Harrowing: Great tragedy strikes a random important figure in the settlement and there is a 1 in 6 chance that they die. 

Modified Wilderness Anecdote Table 

1Lair, the monster moves into the darkness within the settlement, (rolling an additional time on this table instead of just once every following week)
2Spoor, person sights the monster around the outskirts of the settlement
3Tracks, person finds signs of something moving about at night
4Traces 1 of something, as normally encountered
5Traces 2 of something, as normally encountered
6Monster encounter, roll a reaction check and treat the person appropriately after

Procedurally Generated Antagonist Mechanics

The table above works with the Polite Lands Encounter Tables in a rather unique way. While Fortified Keeps and Villages may be harassed by strange and horrible monsters found out in the wilderness, Towns and Cities will be mainly menaced by human beings. This means that in cities and towns the conflicts will be with people who have specific interests and desires, look at the table below.

Kind (1d8)

1Traveling Merchant
2Caravan of 1d6 Merchants and 2d10 Guards
31d4 Lumberjacks
41d4 Hunters
51d6 Farmers
61d6 Peasents
71d3 Members of the Nobility
81d3 Members of the Priesthood

Each of these presents a unique interaction with the Modified Wilderness Anecdote Table and honestly can be used to generate a variety of conflicts in each city in your setting. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Session Report 0: Answers to 20 questions for my Players

These are 20 questions and their answers about the Valiant Setting.

What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
You venerate The White God and are a member of the Covenant of the Chalice. You have cathedrals in all cities, and churches in all other settlements.

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
The equipment list in the player's guide details the items purchasable in villages, towns, and cities. If a merchant lair is rolled as a wilderness encounter, you encounter a small trading post.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
Platemail is available to be purchased in cities, but custom platemail is likely to cost much more.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Erasmus the Resurrected. One of the original Sorcerers of Ozborn who entered deep into the ancient goblin keeps beneath Ozborn and studied the ancient hieroglyphs therein.

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Ken Heavyheart: Famed duelist who is noted to have killed over a dozen men by single spear strike through their skull.

Who is the richest person in the land?
Likely the King the Highest Jarl, he who seeks to construct a railway across his kingdom.

Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Nowhere outside of ancient artifacts or the replacement of limbs by clockwork prosthetics.

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
For the first three the Covenant of the Chalice is likley to help you if you are a member. For the others there are no widely known cures, though perhaps a wizard may help you. Outside of entering the underworld and returning with the spirit of the dead there are no known ways to elicit resurrection. Even then such an illicit resurrection is likely to draw the ire of whichever being held claim over the departed soul!

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
There are a few well know guilds of magic users. The Sorcerers in Ozborn learn magic within a Chained Keep suspended up in the air. The Lodge of the Holy Oak has offices in most major cities and offers to sell scrolls with spells to any who can prove merit. In the city of Jasp near the Volcano is a famed university which allows entry to be taught magic.

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
The Metiskr information brokers are often found in every settlement and can provide information, otherwise towns and cities will have those experts.

Where can I hire mercenaries?
You can find people wishing to make coin by pernicious deed in almost any village, town, or city.

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Likely not, however Knights of the Empire of the Alabaster Crown are known to travel across the lands.

Which way to the nearest tavern?
Towards the Broken November in your hometown of Hammesgard.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
You would be heralded as a hero if you slayed any of the following: Lindwyrm, Leshiy, Dragon, Nergal, Winged Whale, Sky Serpent, Khimera, Psuedogiant, Giant Despair, Whirling Straight Leviathan, or any other creature with over 6 HD.

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Not now, but two generations ago there was a massive civil war which ravaged the land.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
In Vessan, there are many games of strength and skill upon the Etched Plain. Every first of the month knights compete in tournaments within the grounds outside New Rind.

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Within Chara are the assassins in the House of Gossamer and Glass. The noble house of Oak is an exclusive organization focused on the welfare of the common man. The noble house of Silver is an exclusive organization which seeks to ensure justice by any means. Most cities have seditious groups and organized criminal factions.

What is there to eat around here?
Generally fish, pork, beef, chickens, or wild game form the basis of most meals. Most people eat bread or porridge as a source of carbohydrates accompanies by cabbage, carrots, turnips, and beetroot. Most sugar comes from sugar beets or honey. Two delicacies are the cherry wine of Svassheim and the Gingerbread Cookies of Tula.

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
The Eye of Balor was said to have caused the war against Lymos by all other tribes and peoples several generations before your parents time. Surely it must be a valuable treasure to cause such strife.

Where is the nearest hoard of treasure guarded by a monster?
In a dungeon, ask around as there are many of them in these lands.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Watery Depths and Watery Deaths: Coastal and Abyssopelagic Depths Adventuring, Wilderness Encounters, and Bestiary

Author's Notes: Monster Statistics are given in the following notation:
HD – This refers to how many Hit Dice a monster possess and accordingly it’s bonus to hit
Def – This refers to the bonus a monster receives to its base armor class or defense rating 
Dam – This refers to how much damage a monster deals with one of its attacks
Movement – This refers to the distance/speed with which a monster moves a score of 12 being equal to an unencumbered man
Save – This refers to a monster’s chance to ignore magical or mundane effects out of 20. This would be ignorable if your system of choice does not give monster saves if not for a Save statistic of 20 meaning a monster is immune to magic.
Morale – This refers to a monster’s likelihood to flee from combat in 20. Monsters who are able to roll below their morale value remain in combat after first blood drawn, one of their number slain, and the tide turning against them. Adjust accordingly if your system of choice uses a 2d6 roll for morale.

Coastal, Open Ocean, and Abyssopelagic Depths Terrain

So I divide the oceans into three different terrain types. Water hexes adjacent to other terrain type hexes are termed Coastal and represent coastlines, deltas, and lagoons. Water hexes only adjacent to other water hexes are termed Open Ocean hexes and represent the top of the open ocean. Below these hexes are additional hexes which are the Abyssopelagic Depths. These represent the dark bottom of the ocean. If you get here it's assuming your players have access to breath underwater indefinitely and have illumination sources which don't need to be dry. 

A Brief Aside for Oceanography and Images

I use 6 mile hexes and if you go 6 miles out past the shore walking along the ocean floor you descend about 2 .5 miles down. No light from the surface reaches this region and this area is termed the Abyssal Zone. For those familiar with Veins of the Earth, this is the Veins of the Earth of the ocean in real life. I've heard it described as Underwater Vore Hell and I think that's a pretty apt description.. Here is a collection of images of things that live down there.

The Black Swallower can swallow things 3 times its size
The Gulper Eel is a great example of the Pharyngeal Jaw common to the Abyssal Plain
The Big Fin Squid was only recently discovered and flaps it's fins as it swims.

The plains are rather sparse with organisms surrounding hydrothermal vents and corpses of dead whales (which become ecosystems of their own). Abyssal plains are often covered in polymetallic nodules around 3-5 inches in diameter and look really cool.

This is an example of how the floor is covered in nodules
These all look like magic minerals to me.

So the bottom of the ocean is a dark place filled with monsters and beautiful treasures, but there are a few questions on how exactly characters can survive their travels into the depths as most humans don't breathe underwater. There are three factors that need to be accounted for in order to maintain the verisimilitude of your underwater expeditions. 


So when I was making a dungeon that was a series of underwater bases I did a little research on exactly how long oxygen tanks last for scuba divers and discovered that the duration is a function of the depth of the diver. Every 10 meters you descend underwater your oxygen time is halved which presents a problem of realistically depicting how long a canister of air would last you in the abyss. This is why in real life you need a specified dive plan to account for your travels, you don;t just dive deep willy-nilly. In my games I simply had air canisters halve their length of oxygen at two arbitrary lengths. An air canister provides 1 hour of breathing, if one is below 1500 ft of water it instead only provides 3 turns/30 minutes of air, and if one is below 2500 ft of water it only provides 1 turn/10 minutes of air. I know several RPG systems make adjustments on oxygen consumption based on the character undergoing strenuous activity, but in my opinion when is a character going to be just calmly holding their breath underwater? It doesn't really make sense and thus activity doesn't modify how long your oxygen lasts. In real life the abyss provides massive pressure and anyone at the bottom of a pool has probably experienced ear/sinus pressure from diving down 10 feet. People in real life need to take precautions from violent decompression or the bends, but that doesn't translate into any fun mechanics. I guess would simplify that characters who move up from the bottom of the ocean and it's surface must merely save or contract the bends. 

Author's Note:  I know no systems which include Altitude Sickness because most travel in RPGs is abstracted into two planes of motion. I see then no game-able reason to penalize player exploration of such areas and likewise would simply ignore the chance of the bends.

In a more high fantasy game, a referee could simply resolve the issue of breathing underwater by different races or magic. 

New Items:

Bathosuit: Keeps water and pressure away from a character. This armor provides no bonus to AC and provides the same penalty to movement/encumbrance as plate-mail. One could conceivably add armor plating to such a suit, but it would double the price and provides two points of armor class. Cost -  240 Silver
Air Canister: Provides 1 hour of breathing and easily attaches to a Bathosuit.. If 1500ft below it instead provides 3 turns of air and if 2500ft below it instead provides 1 turn of air 
Cost -  25 Silver
Gill Graft: Some vile wizards from Balalang lands offer a vile operation which grafts a set of gills into the neck of a character allowing them to survive underwater indefinitely. A character electing to undergo this surgery must save or else die. If they are successful in their save they then can breathe underwater but then encounter problems living in dry places. The exposure of additional muscosal areas to the elements penalize the character on any saves versus exposure to disease or poison with a -3 penalty. 
Cost - 100 Silver and the relatively intact corpse of a 5+ HD creature from the oceans


The bottom of the ocean is absent of light and unless characters posses an ability to see in the dark they will be unable to see. Spells which conjure fire or light work as normal underwater providing illumination as they would on land. Often in the depths grow bio-luminescent things whether they be plants or creatures. Any corpse of a bio-luminescent creature encountered in the abyss can be turned into a biological torch which lasts as a number of torches equal to the HD of the creature. Alchemic light sticks are also available for purchase and act as torches but cost ten times what a torch would, are unable to be snuffed out until the chemical reaction runs out by any means. 


In my games every character has a swimming score equal to their one third of their regular movement scores. This generally refers to their ability to swim across water but would also work for their ability to walk on the bottom of the ocean floor clad in a Bathosuit. I would further say that due to the three-dimensional nature of movement in water, characters can choose to swim upwards moving as if they were flying at the same speed as they walk across the bottom of the ocean in their Bathosuits. One important thing to consider is the inability of characters to rest at the bottom of the ocean. Unless they find a moon-pool which leads upwards into some abandoned undersea base, they will be running out of air. The rules presented here also would work great for spelunking underwater cave complexes or simply exploring the bottoms of cities sunken into lakes.

Author's Note:  I realize that it might sound silly if characters are able to fly underwater, but remember that their movement scores are merely 1/3 of what they would be. other creatures move generally three times as fast as they would due to their aquatic nature so any tactical advantage would essentially be overshadowed by the speed of the creatures. 

Art by David Jernigan

Causes of Watery Death

Wilderness Anecdote Table

1Lair of something
2Spoor of something
3Tracks from something
4Traces 1 of something
5Traces 2 of something
6Monster encounter

Wilderness Coastal/Open Ocean Terrain Encounter Table

12d6 Bandits
2 As Polite Lands Encounter
31d8 Lunatic Sailors
42d4 Foreign Mercenaries
51d4 Ghost
61d8 Selkies
71d12 Giant Isopod
91d4 Echindaspawn
10Giant Lamprey
111d6 Abberant Crustacean
122d8 Winged Squids
131d12 Atavistic Merfolk Raiders
15Dire Shark
16Giant Squid
17Whirling Straight Leviathan
18 Roll on the Abyssopelagic Depths Terrain Encounter Table
19The corpse of a (Roll Again)
20Conflict of two (Roll Twice)

Abyssopelagic Depths Terrain Encounter Table

11d10 Drowned
2 1d20 Abberant Crustaceans
32d20 Giant Isopods
4Giant Squid
5Whirling Straight Leviathan
61d8 Echindaspawn
72d10 Atavistic Merfolk Raiders
81d8 Giant Tapeworms
91d6 Goblin Sharks
10Angler Fish
111d4 Bobbit Worms
12Black Swallower
14Gapemaw Diver
161d4 Ningen Mauraders
18Antediluvian Leper
19The corpse of a (Roll Again)
20Conflict of two (Roll Twice)

Watery Depths and Watery Deaths Bestiary

Name: Bandit

HD: 1
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6 or 1d6 ranged
Move: 12
Save: 6
Morale: 6

Lair: Crude encampment inside of a cave lit by few torches
Spoor: Poorly made traps now broken
Tracks: Bootprints leading deeper into the woods
Traces1: Corpse with it's throat split, long since looted and now tucked behind a tree
Traces2: Trees with broken arrows embedded in their trunks
Name: Lunatic Sailor

HD: 1
Def: 2
Dam:  1d6
Move: 10 or 6 swimming
Save: 6
Morale: 13

Lair: The remains of a ship softly drifts towards you in the distance
Spoor: Baneful screams are repeated in the distance
Tracks: None
Traces1: A cold fog sits above the water
Traces2: For a brief moment you see two suns in the sky

Name: Foreign Mercenary

HD: 3
Def: 5
Dam: 1d8 +2
Move: 11
Save: 6
Morale: 7

Lair: A well-crafted ship stands before you. It's sails bear the heraldry of a distant land 
Spoor: A thin strand of smoke floats above the trees here
Tracks: Regimented boot prints lead single file
Traces1: A coin from lands unknown lies forgotten in the dirt 
Traces2: Several trees were felled here, their stumps still ooze sap 
Name: Ghost

HD: 2
Def: 0
Dam: 1d4 + 200xp drain per point of damage
Move: 0
Save: 9
Morale: 20

Lair: None
Spoor: Colors seem less vibrant here further there is no sound save for the wind
Tracks: A strain of cold air blows distinctly enough to be followed
Traces1: As you breathe out, you suddenly see your breath fog up in front of you
Traces2: A set of two indents like foot steps linger
Name: Selkie

HD: 1
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6
Move: 12 or 16 swimming
Save: 9
Morale: 11

Deathly Kiss: Three Selkies may give up their actions for a round to attempt to kiss a target. The target must save or else fall in love with a selkie for 1d4+1 days seeking to make her happy and joyous. Selkies usually tell those so enamored by them to kill themselves

Lair: Rows of pale candles line the mouth of this sea cove, each softly waving in the wind
Spoor: The dulcet tones of youthful laughter echo from the rocky shore
Tracks: Wet foot prints leap across many of the gray stones
Traces1: A strand of pale blond hair, wrapped around an empty sea shell slowly shifts with the tides
Traces2: Despite the setting sun, streaks of white gold shimmer out in the sea
Name: Drowned

HD: 2
Def: 2
Dam: 1d8 + Strength check otherwise held down
Move: 9 or 9 swimming
Save: 12
Morale: 20

Shared Death: if a Drowned start's it's turn holding down a target it may spew the waters inside of it into the mouth and nostrils of the target. If a Drowned spends 2 consecutive rounds spewing waters into a target they must save or die. Targets killed this way rise as Drowned in 1d4 turns.

Lair: The ruins of may have once been a boat or a house lies waterlogged, battered by the waves
Spoor: No sound save for the waves.
Tracks: Sodden footsteps trail the mud here
Traces1: A crude pyramid of small dark stones has been constructed here
Traces2: Clouds converge overhead and begin to pour out rain
Name: Manowar

This bloated purple tumor sits upon many translucent tendrils and pulsates lilac fluids through its membranes. It is approximately 10 feet in diameter

HD: 4
Def: 1
Dam: 1d4/1d4 + save for poison 1d2 points of damage
Move: 5 swimming
Save: 12
Morale: 12

Poisonous Tendrils: Anyone who attempts a melee attack at a Manowar must save or otherwise come into contact with their tendrils (as being hit by their attack)

Lair: The water here seems clouded by translucent particles
Spoor: Nothing stirs in the water here
Tracks: None
Traces1: A thin translucent sack floats by the size of a fingernail
Traces2: A fish bloated to twice it's size floats by
Name: Echindaspawn 

Spines the length of your forearm spill outwards from a man-like shape. The figure shambles slowly and a singular watery orb sits on it's face. Each spine the shade of purple or orange the bright figure stands in contrast with the rest of the waters.

HD: 2
Def: 5
Dam: 1d8 + save for poison 1d6 points of damage
Move: 5 or 3 swimming
Save: 11
Morale: 12

Spiny: Those whose roll to hit an Echindaspawn fails by 4 or more take 1d4 points of damage from the numerous spines

Lair: A few spires of dark stones rise out of the water here
Spoor: The waters here barely stir, meekly calm
Tracks: None
Traces1: Several spines, each the length of your forearm, lay forgotten under the waters here
Traces2: Several small orbs of a lilac float cracked among the waves
Name: Giant Lamprey

HD: 4
Def: 2
Dam: 1d8
Move: 12
Save: 6
Morale: 12
# encountered:

Slimey: Anyone who deals damage to a giant lamprey gains the Slime-Covered encumberance. Slime-Covered gives 1 point of encumberance and takes up 1 inventory slot.

Lair: Fist size baubles covered in slime cling to a rock below the water
Spoor: Slime lingers amongst the water here floating by as an emulsion
Tracks: None
Traces1: Slime covers a rock rising out of the water 
Traces2: The remains of a once large fish meekly float by

Name: Abberant Crustacean

HD: 2
Def: 5
Dam: 1d6/1d6
Move: 10 or 10 swimming
Save: 6
Morale: 8

Lair: The tide is shallow here, revealing the apex of a coral reef rising out of the waters
Spoor: Soft popping sounds like a man cracking his knuckles can barely be heard
Tracks: None
Traces1: A broken piece of carapace floats on the surface of the water
Traces2: The water here is murky and you can't see far down

Name: Winged Squids

HD: 1
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6
Move: 10 swimming or 16 flying
Save: 6
Morale: 10

Lair:  A pillar of dark coral rises up past the waves
Spoor:  A few screams are heard in the distance
Tracks: None
Traces1: A cold fog covers the sea here
Traces2: From beneath the waves you see a single glance of an eye staring up at you
Name: Atavistic Merfolk Raiders

A figure stands before you eerily reminsicent of what a man's ancestor may have looked like had they come from the waters. Rather than a nose two nostrils scar the it's hairless head between two dark orbs. Shark like teeth fill an empty maw and web fingers clutch sharp stones. A set of gills is easily seen along it's pale and discolored neck.

HD: 2
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6
Move: 8 or 12 swimming
Save: 8
Morale: 14

Lair: What appears to be a encrusted spiral formation of coral is barely visible below waves
Spoor: A shrill scream, half muffled by the water reverberates from somewhere deep below
Tracks: None
Traces1: A headless corpse of a man floats along the waves
Traces2: The wind suddenly stops and all is eerily quiet
Name: Dinosaur

HD: 10
Def: 6
Dam: 2d10
Move: 10 or 10 swimming
Save: 10
Morale: 10

Lair: A caldera of mud sits above the mire, a slurry of trackmarks leading up one side
Spoor: As humid fog hangs a foot above the ground, dark shapes seem to lumber in the distance
Tracks: Gapping holes left by the passage of some massive beast, partially swept by a lengthy tail
Traces1: The stench of hot swamp gas fills your nostrils and makes your eyes water
Traces2: Beneath the waves, bubbles escape from some deep hotspring

Name: Dire Shark

HD: 8
Def: 4
Dam: 2d6
Move: 7 swimming
Save: 10
Morale: 12

Death Roil: Fights for 2 rounds after they reach 0 hp.

Lair: Thrashing waves emerge from the depths
Spoor: The waters here are murky and reddish
Tracks: Thrashing waves seem to emerge from a single source a deal distant
Traces1: A tall black fin rises out of the waters in the distance
Traces2: A muscle in your neck twitches right when a wave crashes
Name: Giant Squid

HD: 8
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6/1d6/1d6/1d6
Move: 3 or 5 swimming
Save: 7
Morale: 6

Ink Cloud: If encountered in water a Giant Squid may unleash a massive cloud of ink, those around the squid must save or become blind for 1d6 rounds.

Lair: The vast wreckage of a ship sits skewered among the reef below
Spoor: The waters here seem darker as if stained by some great ink blot
Tracks: None
Traces1: A corpse floats, if inspected it bears massive circular marks
Traces2: Something stirs deep below the waters

Name: Whirling Straight Leviathan
HD: 10 +30
Def: 2
Dam: Swallows 1d4 Sailors per turn
Move: 9 or 12 swimming
Save: 13
Morale: 20

Primordial: Whirling Straight Leviathans regenerate 10 hp/round

Pinochean Anatomy: Characters swallowed end up inside a Moby-Dick Dungeon. (a post detailing these will be up shortly, but for now feel fee to look at this old post on my old blog)

Lair: A great whirlpool roars amid the foam tipped waves.
Spoor: The waves here flow unnaturally, some vast beast moves below the surface here
Tracks: None
Traces1: A ship floats across in many ruined pieces
Traces2: A low rumble echoes from beneath the wave

An image break between many monster statistics
Art by  Alex Konstad
Monsters continued

Name: Giant Isopod

HD: 0
Def: 1
Dam: 1d4 (Per Group)
Move: 8 or 8 swimming
Save: 5
Morale: 12

Lair: A small alcove of a cave is half hidden by the sediment here
Spoor: The sound of some mass skittering reverberates amidst the waters
Tracks: Numerous clawed feet have left their trail here
Traces1: A singular small isopod meekly scampers from one dune to another
Traces2: As you make your way along the bottom of the sea a few chitinous segments are crushed underfoot
Name: Giant Tapeworm

HD: 3
Def: 3
Dam: 2d4 + attach and deals damage on the following rounds  without needing to make an attack
Move: 4 or 8 swimming
Save: 8
Morale: 10

Lair: An enormous rotting corpse is carried by the waves here, it reeks 
Spoor: The waters here are filled with miasma of death
Tracks: None
Traces1: The skeletal remains of the whale are half submerged in the sediment
Traces2: What was once a ship lies broken and rotted here
Name: Goblin Shark

HD: 1
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6
Move: 9 swimming
Save: 6
Morale: 12

Pharengeal Jaw: The target of a first attack from a Gobin Shark gains a -4 penalty to its Defense due to the pharengeal jaws of the beast.

Lair: The decaying corpse of a once massive sea-beast lies half eaten 
Spoor: The ripples of something sends ripples through this water-logged deepness
Tracks: None
Traces1: Something in the distance moves swiftly
Traces2: A long tooth is embedded in a pillar of coral here
Name: Angler Fish

HD: 2
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6
Move: 8 swimming
Save: 7 
Morale: 12

Lair: A low valley gapes before you in the sediment
Spoor: A single light shines bright in the distance of these dark depths
Tracks: None
Traces1: There are almost no signs of life down here
Traces2: A frail translucent skeleton sits here 
Name: Bobbit Worm

Emerging from the ocean sediment is a ghastly tube with numerous sharp appendages on its end. A trio of red eyes swivel between chitinous folds as teeth gnash.

HD: 1
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6 + attaches draining 1d4 hp of blood per round
Move: 9 swimming
Save: 3
Morale: 18

Lair: The remains of a deep hole lingers, partially collapsed in on itself
Spoor: Numerous translucent skeletons litter the seascape here, each missing a portion of their ribs and spine
Tracks: A compact hole the size of a man's thigh girth is impossible to miss
Traces1: There are only a few metallic nodules down here 
Traces2: The sediment here gives way as you walk upon it, descending down a few inches
Name: Black Swallower

HD: 2
Def: 2
Dam: 1d4
Move: 9
Save: 6
Morale: 12

Swallow Whole: On a successful attack a Black Swallower swallows a target. The target is immobilized and may continue to attack a Black Swallower from within but only with light weapons.

Lair: The sediment is thicker here and looms in large dunes
Spoor: Something stirs nearby, disturbing the uniform cold of this sopping void
Tracks: None
Traces1: The remains of a creature exploded from the inside lies among the dietrus here
Traces2: A score of black scales have been lost here
Name: Oarfish

HD: 6
Def: 3
Dam: 1d10
Move: 19 swimming
Save: 11
Morale: 12

Lair: Billowing pillars of smoke eminate from geothermal vents on the ocean floor
Spoor: Red smears of lights undulate and convulse in this wet abyss
Tracks: None
Traces1: Large dunes rise below billowing pillars of black smoke
Traces2: A large circular depression can be seen in the sediment here
Name: Gapemaw Diver

The ground below you suddenly gives way as teeth the size of your arm emerge from the sediment. A fish with a maw double its size swims with uncanny speed. Numerous spiked fins propel this dark colored fish as it charges you

HD: 3
Def: 1
Dam: 1d10 +1
Move: 9 swimming
Save: 6
Morale: 4

Wide Mouth: A Gapemaw Diver may attack 1d4 targets at once.

Lair: A wide hole marks this section of the ocean's floor. As if a large piece up and left
Spoor: The ocean floor rumbles and shakes as if some great serpent convulses beneath your feet
Tracks: None
Traces1: A massive tooth the size of a man's arm lies broken here
Traces2: There is a noted absence of metallic nodules here
Name: Aboleth

Four long tentacles writhe from benathe this three eyed fish-like abeeration. A singular glowing lure hangs from it's head, illuminating its uglyness. Four black orifices slowly pulse spewing grey sputum. Shrill sirens fill your ears. 

HD: 11
Def: 5
Dam: 1d8
Move: 10
Save: 16
Morale: 16

Servitude: Every 1d4-1 rounds a Aboleth may unleash a blinding light from it's lure and all within 60' must save or lose 1d8+1 points of intelligence hours. Characters whose intelligence reach 0 become enslaved to the Aboleth. A character enslaved this way serves to aid the Aboleth as best as it can, and are only freed with the death of the aboleth. If an entire party is enslaved this way, then continue treat game as if they have all died 

Lair: A opening into some downward cave can be seen in the distance
Spoor: A soft light glows in the distance
Tracks: None
Traces1: Grey slime is spread out among several stones down here in the abyss
Traces2: What may have once been a native creature in the depths has been cruelly transfigured here
Name: Ningen Maurader

A pale webbed hand thrice the size of yours grips a vast sword seemingly made out of an unfamiliar shining metal.  Thrice your size the top half of a sniwey man draws the sword upwards as if to bring it crashing down upon your neck. A wide grin with serrated teeth sits below a pair of eyes staring at yours. Iridescent pale scales begin at his waist and glisten at each joint, casting his girth into chiaroscuro.  Gills parallel each other across his throat. 

HD: 6
Def: 5
Dam: 3d6
Move: 13
Save: 11
Morale: 15

Romanchite Sword: Anyone struck by the sword of a Ningen Maurader must save or have the struck limb begin to be slowly covered in heavy coral. Limbs covered this way become immobile in 1 turn. This coral dies in 1d6+1 turns. Characters who attempt to wield such a massive sword deal 1d12+3 damage but suffer a -3 penalty to hit. 

Lair: A tower of pale coral stands among several billowing smoke vents
Spoor: A flash of pale white occurs for a moment in the distance
Tracks: None
Traces1: A large silver scale lies among the debris here
Traces2: A ring of coral pillars has been erected here

Author's Note: These are related to Ningen Wanderers and will hunt you down if you kidnap one.

Name: Barrowhale

Before you floats the distended and collapsing corpse of some vast whale. Pale green runes repeat along it's flesh as strangely insectile limbs seemingly cast of iron stagger the beast across the bottom of the sea. Two rigid iron pipes distend from beneath the whale's maw, traveling somewhere underneath it's fins. 

HD: 16
Def: 4
Dam: 1d12 
Move: 5
Save: 13
Morale: 20

Occult Construct: When the Barrowhale loses over half of it's original HP, the whale corpse crumbles fully revealing a six limbed iron construct from which two pipes distend into the skull of a whale. The gaping whole of the skull are filled with pale green flame. In this form the Barrowhale gains an additional 4 points of defense and its speed doubles.

Black Tentacles: Every 1d4-1 rounds the Barrowhale summons a large black tentacle from beneath the ground. This tentacle has 2 HD but may attempt to grapple a character attacking as if had 5HD, these tentacles deal no damage and merely prevent the character from moving.  The Barrowhale may summon up to 10 tentacles this way.

Runed Skull: Any character who examines the defeated skull of a Barrowhale may learn the spell Black Tentacle. 

Black Tentacle
R: 10'
T:  single point
D: [dice] turns

A vast tentacle appears and attempts to grapple a target specified by the caster. This tentacle has [sum] hp and attacks as it had 5 HD. Someone hit this way takes no damage but is merely trapped by this tentacle.

Lair: n/a
Spoor: The waters here are stained by some foul ichor
Tracks: Numerous craters repeat in the bottom of the sea here
Traces1: A massive rib lies in the sediment here
Traces2: A wide hole is missing here
Name: Antediluvian Leper

A giant the size of a castle squats at the bottom of the sea here. Numerous scars and wounds are visible on it's body and a thin rage has been wrapped around two holes, which at some point long ago may have been eyes. Chains as thick as tree trunks manacle the gigant to a massive iron ring. He moves infrequently as if some abused and beaten prisoner, fearful of what may come. As you approach further a psychic scream penetrates your ears, the sounds of desperation and suicide repeat in numerous lamentations. A moment later he convulses and crashes downwards. Then as if struck by lightning his limbs convulse and his body strains against the chain as a golden flaming sigil appears above him. His chest continues pulsating yet again and another psychic scream repeats.

HD: 25
Def: 0
Dam: 0
Move: 0 
Save: 0
Morale: 0

Desperate: If characters are within 100' of the Antediluvian Leper, at the time of the psychic scream (every 1d4 rounds) one must save with a -10 penalty or be overcome with the psychic strength of the Antediluvian Leper and seek to grant him his wish of death and repose. The overpowerment lasts for 1 round during which the character seeks to slay the Antediluvian Leper.

Damned: The Antediluvian Leper is damned to repeat a death by drowning again and again. The angelic sigil over his head reanimates him after his lungs fill with water and if attacked 1d4 Angelic Guardians will be summoned to protect the Antediluvian Leper. The Angelic Guardians have stats as a Nergal (bottom of the page).

Lair: A vast iron ring larger than a castle lies rusting here
Spoor: A vast psychic scream rages, the sounds of desperation and suicide 
Tracks: A light flashes in the distance
Traces1: A sad thought fills your mind.
Traces2: Visions of repeated drowning fill your mind.