I AM A SERVANT OF MOG: A Possible Class for Chaotic But Not Evil Clerics

I am a servant of MOG

I wear the moth mask as MOG

I make the hand-sign as MOG

I weld the sickle as MOGG

I reap as MOG

I am still trying to build my own pantheon by writing down gods as inspiration hits me as well as incorporating gods that just feel right. Currently, I have: AZLN, ISHTAR, ORCUS, MOG; possible additions NEMO, NODENS, GHROTH, YGG. MOG is inspired by some of the Lord Dunsany I have been reading

DEATH to ALL: Clerics of MOG serve the god of relief, equity, and death. A force that takes both the rich and poor alike. A great equalizer. They may only cast reverse versions of Cleric spells and sickles (1d4 dmg) are their favored weapon (though they can use daggers, short swords, and one-handed axes).

VULTURES: The servants of MOG may not purchase weapons, equipment, or armor heavier than gambeson and they do not use shields. Instead must scavenge them or take it off of the dead. They may however beg for food, water, and wine. This of course often leads to rumors of servants of MOG being the cause of strange deaths.

SPEAKER for the DEAD: They do not turn undead, but all undead will perform a reaction check when encountered by a group accompanied by a cleric of MOG even if they are "animalistic" or have no intelligence. Their sickles can always damage any undead requiring a silver or +1 magic weapon to-hit

  • If the sickle is forged from the recovered sword of a knight or executioner, it can deal 1d4+1 damage

TURN THE LIVING: They can turn other humans if they have adorned their masks properly (may need to adjust for your campaign's specific gold/silver standard). Some of these ideas are from here at d4 Caltrops:

  • Copper (1000cp): You may turn men of 0-1 level as undead
  • Silver (1000sp): You force a morale check the first turn of a battle
  • Gold (500gp): You instill fear in a group's leader

I might add some incense and relic options as mentioned in the article above.


Art is always a good thing to include on hallways
& make it about an upcoming room

There is a nice blog post here that I discovered in KNOCK! Vol. 1 about not making corridors featureless expanses. This matching with my own philosophy about not fighting in "white rooms" that are 30' x 30'. Or trying to create actionable empty rooms.

From the post:

Almost every time the players turn a corner something interesting should happen.  This doesn't have to be a fight, just something interesting.  Dungeons should not only be places of danger, but places of wonder.

The below list is just something I have been thinking about while keying a ~50 room dungeon I drew by hand using 2d6, a random roller, and graph paper. But I do want to liven up some of the hallways: (1) so they are interesting, but (2) so they might provide a reason to be carrying 50' of rope with a grappling hook or having party thieves.

Nothing super inventive here, but helps to keep me honest about the inclusion of things. I'll maybe try to do a Dreamland's version later.

For every hallway 60'+ roll 1d20 on the table below is what is going to trouble the players:

01 | Ceiling is covered in green slime (1-3) or floor is covered in brown mold (4-6)
02 | The glint of coins can be seen floating in mid-air (1-3 whatever PCs think it is, it's NOT a gelatinous cube; 4-6 whatever PCs think it is, it IS a gelatinous cube)
03 | The maw of the earth has opened up a 30' gap
04 | Pit trap (1-3) or Pit trap with rusted spikes (4-6, save vs Poison)
05 | Grave Wind- torches are automatically blown out (can't light in the hallway)
06 | Filled with giant crystals; thieves & halflings hide easily; dwarves want to mine it (save vs. Paralysis)
07 | Caved in (1-3 can't be cleared; 4-6 slowly crawled through 1 by 1)
08 | Alter is built into the wall (1 lawful 2-3 elemental 4-5 neutral 6 chaotic)
09 | Magic sconces light with a mysterious green flame all chaotic creatures turn invisible
10 | It is flooded to the (1-3) knees (4-5) waist (6) chest
11 | A small fountain (1-4 brackish water; 5 clean water; 6 potion)
12 | Sound echos really well (roll an additional encounter check)
13+ Unique tile patterns (helps provide a landmark for navigation)

Again super quick with stuff I was thinking about while folding laundry. Some of these options might be covered in room stocking, but maybe you'll be inspired by a few. And if so, add them in the comments!

OD&D: Opium, Dunsany & Dreamlands Part III


PURPOSE: After monsters here and here, we have traps and treasure as the next components up for re-skins. Here are the recommendations from OD&D. The purpose is to not really change the "maths" or "mechanics" of the thing being reskinned but to change its description and context.


  1. False stairways

  2. Slanting passages

  3. Misleading stairwells

  4. Teleportation trigger

  5. Sinking rooms

  6. Illusions

  7. Mind control

  8. Geas area

  9. Dead-end passages

  10. One-way doors

TWILIGHT LANDS RESKIN: “ARCHITECTURAL MANIFESTATIONS”: Riffing on the “mythic underworld” traps, I am trying to describe here how buildings and structures can become “overgrown” like an untended garden.

  1. VESTIGIAL ARCHITECTURE: Architecture retains semblances of life because life conceived it. When left unpruned by daily use and conception, it tends to grow wild. Extra doors, extra faucets, too many tables. And with frequency stairs that go nowhere ending in a curl like a fern.

  2. GULLETS: A primary example of architectural manifestations that are either very slick slides or subtle, almost hallway-like passage ways that lead deep into a structure. Generally considered a manifestation because few peoples of the Twilight Lands build elongated slanting hallways as a method of moving about a building. Sometimes these structures are helpfully marked by a maw-like frame.

  3. MISLEADING ARCHITECTURE: A subspecies of vestigial architecture that has a far more malevolent end. A “rancid” secret door that opens to serpent strikes, a mass of crustacean claws, or a thick searching tongue. A stairwell that leads up up up but ends in a one-way door and a small platform over an abyss. Or benign rug whose ornate center opens into a pit.

  4. INVISIBLE HALLWAYS: It is also possible that abandoned structures have room separated by physical distance but have corners, walls, or objects that have fused symbolically or metaphysically. Such fusing forms a connection between the two areas unseen by mortal eyes. So when walking towards a wall, a person seemingly walks through it and into another room, but the reality is they have just traveled down an invisible hallway instead of just on the other side of the wall. Pools and fountains in particular seem prone to this sort of fusing are mirrors which are symbolically just solid water.

  5. GRAVE SOIL: One of the easier architectural manifestations to spot as it appears as if mold or black soil has spread across a room. A unique property of this earth is that valuables float to the surface while anything living or once-living sinks like a stone in water.

  6. ECHOS OF OCCUPANCY: Slamming doors, glittering candlelight in the distance, foot-steps just walking past a closed door. But no actual source, as they are merely mimicry the structure cries out like a parrot who prays- the correct words but no thought to its meaning.

  7. ARRESTING PAINTINGS: Untouched by time or rot, these paintings are masterworks whose presence cannot be ignored. They are not magical in so much as anything else in the Twilight Lands, but to any vaguely intelligent mind, they are rapturous. The viewer will become obsessed with the painting desiring a deep need to possess it and care for it and worship it (often in manners that match the theme of the painting). Very valuable, very encumbering, and very hated by forces of social order.

  8. EVANGELIZING RELIQUARIES: Years of worship and reverence can endow an object, statue, alter, or another object with a residual power that emanates like heat from a piece of coal. These objects can be shielded until an appointed time or ceremony to ensure only select recipients are held under sway. But abandonment removes the forethought brought by proper tending and so the “select recipients” are now simply those who stumble within range- like a tar pit on a moonless night. These objects impress their purpose upon the viewer, clouding vision, thought, and will. Most die in the process of trying to complete the appointed goal.

  9. COILED HALLWAYS: A “cousin” to MISLEADING ARCHITECTURE are passages that branch inexplicably like tumor vasculature and coil like a labyrinth. They seemingly go somewhere but often end nowhere. However, these passages have been known to somehow attract riches and lairing monsters.

  10. TRANSLOCATED DOORS: A door in the right place its not always a good thing if its the wrong type of door. In abandoned structures, its possible for doors to translocate. A cell door might now be in the middle of a hallway. A portcullis guards the kitchen. Or a door to a treasure vault might translocate to another symbolically valuable area like the ruler’s bed chambers.

I never know if I am quite hitting the right vibe with the theme, nor if, in my own head, I have a strong concept of what adventuring in the Dreamlands is really about. But maybe I am trying to add too much complexity to the initial steps. Especially for this re-skin exercise and my larger belief that to really get started in D&D you just need monsters, treasures, and traps. Then place them on a decent map and you'll most likely get a solid "B" material to run with.

Because again D&D is about play.

IN THESE HELL-HAUNTED HALLS: Nightwick at 50 Sessions

At the end of March, our weekly group hit session 50 (!) of our Nightwick campaign. In order to celebrate this note-worthy milestone, I worked with the player of Sotar to assemble some stats around the collected session reports up to this point. And as our DM might say: Behold! A harrowing tale of our adventure is rendered for your very eyes in an infographic! (click here for better res)

I know that there are many campaigns that have lasted longer than 50 sessions, however, I think there is still an under-reporting of those experiences. I still think people don't believe classic gaming, especially dungeon crawling, can deliver the experience that is often claimed. This is not true. In fact, my experience the Miranda's Nightwick only reinforces to me the value of a large dungeon that functions as a tent pole for the campaign. And I hope this infographic and the session reports it was derived from help provide evidence for that.

So trust in dead frogs. Grab the dungeon you've always wanted to play or stack three single-level dungeons on top of each other. Put 'em in a notebook and scribble all over them. Pull a single rulebook off the self-use that and little else. Don't think too hard. And just play.

It also important to remember that something is better than nothing.  All D&D is hackwork and a half-assed idea that gets your game on the table is better than a perfect one that takes months. ~In Places Deep

OD&D: Opium, Dunsany & Dreamlands Part II

PURPOSE: As a sorta follow-up to my reskinning of Lair of the Lamb, I was encouraged to try reskinning OD&D monsters for various genre settings. Here are Levels 1 & 2. Below is for Level 3.

These were a little bit more difficult because four of the ten entries are essentially fighters & fighter+1 level and wizards & wizards+1 level. Also, the animals were just unexciting ones, but "giant"-- boo. But see what you think of them.


  1. (undead) Wights 3 HD, AC 14, level drain, those killed rise as wights

  2. (giant) Heroes 4 HD, AC 14, multi-attack (or cleave)

  3. (vermin) Giant Hogs 2+2 HD, AC 13, bite, charge

  4. (vermin) Giant Ants 2 HD, AC 12, bite

  5. (vermin) Ochre Jelly 5 HD, AC 12, punch, split when hit

  6. (humanoid) Thaumaturgists 3 HD, AC 10, dagger, spells 4/2/1

  7. (humanoid) Swashbucklers 5+1 HD, AC 16, multi-attack (or cleave)

  8. (humanoid) Magicians 3+1 HD, AC 10, dagger, spells 4/2/2

  9. (vermin) Giant snakes 4 HD, AC 15, bite poison/constriction

  10. (vermin) Giant weasels 3 HD, AC 14, war dance, bite

THE TWILIGHT REALMS: North of Sleep, South of the Setting Sun, LEVEL 3

  1. MONKS OF GRIAULE✤: Once a great wizard was about to deliver a death blow to an even greater dragon, but the wizard’s certainty faltered for one heartbeat of a hummingbird result in the dragon being paralyzed but not dead. A town and cult grew on that immense dragon’s back and the serpentine will infuse into the populous. Now the cult pilgrimages to remote places, sealed in secret places, and patiently waits, heartbeat slowed to that of their immobile lord. Any intelligent being who walks within the radius of the monk begins a battle of wills– a loss mean consumption of native will and supplanting of Griaule’s.

  2. THE FORGETFUL HEARTS: Black shields bearing a winged hourglass and black humors bearing lost souls. Stare too long and you see their eyes are really silver coins one places on the eyes of the dead. Popular theory is they are heroes killed on a quest of great importance and then forded the river Lethe to avoid the final resting place. However, that swim gave them life but cost them their memories of purpose but not their prowess. They often loiter at entrances to difficult areas of dungeons or ruins. Arms for hire if paid in the largest found gems. They would kill for one last wish or to find the deck of cards that controls fate itself.

  3. CIRE’S SWINE: These great-dane-sized creatures have human eyes, human teeth, human malice, and an all too-familiar laugh. Run on all fours, but can easily manipulate thing with their front hand-like feet. No one knows if these are smart swine, transformed humans, or god-cursed creatures, but it is known they really hate those who weld magic. Good thing they are easily tempted by food…or fresh bodies.

  4. RANCID TREASURE: In the Twilight Realms that which is unobserved can change and lost treasure is no different. Covered in the prints of many hands and many ambitions, lost treasure can spoil. Electrium and platinum coins become as beetles, gems as crustaceans, and jewelry sprouts growths or elongate like coral. The pile becomes a reef of wealth and defends itself like a hive.

  5. CLAY OF THE GODS: Not all was cleaned up after the gods molded creation. Some of the clay used in creation was lost or discarded or forgotten about. That mass is formless as chaos, but shot through with hunger and only knows destruction. Cloven with a sword, the clay merely splits into two, reforming, and resuming its activities. However, clerics have been known to exert their will as devotees of gods on the clay, giving it just a tiny spark of mortality, and there are even stories of said clay becoming a fully formed being under the watchful eye of a cleric (Clerics can turn CLAY OF THE as undead of 2 HD higher than its present state; with tutelage, the CLAY can become a hireling or classed PC (cleric or fighter) but never a level higher than the HD it was turned at).

  6. DISCIPLES OF SPUN FATE: These are priests of the spiders of Leng who claim to read the  fate of all in the Dreamlands. If that is true or not is hard to tell in the lands beyond sleep. Equally hard to verify is the impact of their zealots who go unobserved in the daily happenings and often evoked to explain mysterious misfortune. These individuals often are looking to influence by any means those with potential (high CHA) into serving their eight-legged masters, but often the exact end is unclear. For those who cooperate, great fortune awaits but with a gnawing uncertainty, their is an element that is undiscussed. Spells: (1) Darkness, Hold Portal, Spider Climb, Sleep (2) Invisibility, Web (3) Rope Trick

  7. FURIES FROM ZAIS: A legion of half-sisters sowing sorrow for a grievance unnamed. Thier love for each other is unbreakable despite roving far from the city walls of Zais. Each is connected to the others by dreams and portents that glide through the Dreamlands as birds and moths. They are honest sell-swords and sought for their martial prowess, but they will not betray or harm each other. They are said to worship the 13 true sphinxes of the Dreamlands.

  8. THE DREAMING MAGE: A singular figure draped in voluminous red & gold robes the color of a setting sun. Eyes are always closed yet this simi-translucent mage reacts as if they see all. Those who have survived encounters with this apparition claim attempting conversation seems to lead to disastrous ends. The mage appears to be distracted, distant and infers the worst from any suggestion. Yet, those same survivors report friends being lured away by the mage's needs never returning. Spells: (1) Charm Person, Magic Missle, Light, Hold Portal (2) Mirror Image, Wizard Lock, (3) Lightning Bolt, Monster Summoning I

  9. WYRMS: Not quite serpent and not quite eel, these beasts are born from fabrique eggs, lost crown jewels, or the heads of dead wizards. They are long with scales of white quartz-hues, 3 or more pairs of short leopard-like legs, and typically have a venomous bite, breath a foul cloud, vomit lightning, or petrify with an opalescent weeping 3rd eye.

  10. TARTARIAN HOUNDS: Old fireplaces, chimneys, cooking areas, and funeral pyres are all birth places of these creatures– a mix of ash and shadow given hound-like form; if a hound had a triple jaw, front legs as a lion, and a body that disappears into a fluttering banner of smoke. They track by heat but combust on contact with fire.

✤: Idea completely take from the very excellent book The Dragon Griaule which is a collection of short stories about the the town on back of the paralyzed dragon. The writing is beautiful and the idea is of course fantastic!

TRUST IN A DEAD FROG: A Lesson In DMing from Nightwick

A rough estimation of what Snorly
looked like prior to Session 26. RIP.

One aspect of RPGs as a class of game that intrigues me the most is the sorta "emergent behavior" that can occur as a result of holding firm to the results of dice or PC choice. One of the best examples is the combination of a random encounter roll and encounter reaction check. So maybe a combination is "dragon, green" and "friendly" or "elves" and "automatically attack".

Both provide some exciting options for a DM and PCs to contend with. And while it might be easier to play one as hostile as per alignment the other as friendly for the same reason, holding to the die rolls can take the campaign in surprising directions with very little effort by the DMAnd with today's time constraints and entertainment competition, lowering the effort/energy required to DM is a virtue. Especially as we try to get more people to DM.

In fact, whole sessions can be created just out of letting players live with the choices they have made instead of handwaving something away: 

  • We killed The Butcher in Session 23 gaining this creature's monstrous cleaver (magic axe +2)
  • Then in Session 26 the owner, Snorly the Frogling, was pummeled to death by fungus creatures and we abandoned the cleaver with Snorly's corpse ✣
  • Now in Session 51 we delved the same area again and regained the cleaver

But here's the lesson: Regaining that magic axe was an entire session (51) that the DM really had to do 0 prep for. The party decided, yeah, maybe we shouldn't just be leaving magic weapons around in a hell-haunted monument to hubris.

And was it a breeze because we've all been-there-done-that previously? No. The party made some fantastic rolls- Mechtilde leading with Steel (sword +1) and our other fighters landing heavy blows (Nat 20s!). A lot of magic was exhausted. And there was an ever-present threat of being stabbed in the back by manimals.

All because there was no handwaving to say we grabbed the body or axe in Session 23. It would have been easy and tempting for a DM to do so. We did work hard to get that axe. The takedown of the Butcher was a major accomplishment. Why not let the party keep that "win"?  We chose to run. We chose to leave everything behind. And that "failure", become a new goal and a new pin in the Nightwick map.

And the recovery was challenging. Although most of the party are levels 3 & 4, the second level of Nightwick continues to pose a challenge. In part, again, because the DM is letting the dice do the heavy lifting. Monsters can come in large numbers. We lose initiative a lot resulting in having to endure harrowing damage. But all very rewarding, in my opinion, even if the plan and objective are all known-- to recover an axe we already had gotten once before!

A strong reminder for me to trust in results. Trust in outcomes even if "bad". Trust in (game-appropriate) disappointment- bad rolls, dead PCs, drained levels, and lost magic weapons. It can pay forward in fun sessions requiring 0 prep. And who doesn't want some "free" in this (DM) economy?

We've also lost a sword +1/+3 vs. undead in a roughly similar manner given by Father Christmas. Although it was part of a plan to have 90% of the party make it out alive (Session 41).

NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People Session 47


Not in the dungeon, but the village of Nightwick

Previously in Nightwick...

Blossom (Rogue 4)
Liminal (Chanagling 3)
Mayfly (Magic-User 3)
Verinka (Changling 2)
Yevgeniy (Cleric 2)

In Nightwick Village...

[PC NOTE: This really is me just catching up with the recording of party events. Session 47 was on the shorter end of things. Here is Session 48.]

Much to Mayfly's surprise the party, especially the clerics, has decided that maybe living under the same roof as a power-hungry conjurer who allegedly talks to the golden skull of an Abbey inhabitant famed for constructing "manimals" is not a good long-term arrangement.

Mayfly feels this is all related to the skull's chattiness: "Look you fool! You've run them off with your pitiful mewlings."

The was one remaining "open house" but the locals seemed very suspicious of that old manor. They would say often, "That's the house where they bred dogs" and cross themselves. The party is no strangers to the foul, having delved into the hell-haunted halls of Nightwick and so investigate anyway. Could be a fixer-upper.

While Blossom works the locks, Mayfly tries to peer in the crude glass windows but sees little. Once the lock is taken care of, the party moves into a large room with a smashed table and two desiccated corpses of dog-like creatures, and a stairway leading to the second floor. As the party is investigating, a thumping noise is heard from above.

The party reaches the top of the stairs as a door slams shut. Searching upstairs reveals two horribly burned servants of St. Samson. Liminal is quick to both pump them for information and conscript them into keeping up the new home. When asked where St. Samson now is, the servents lead the party to a trap door on the first level and to the stone effigy of St. Samson. It doesn't go unnoticed that the pair attempts to hide an empty donation box.

But there is one odd detail, this figure of St. Simon was detailed enough that it might be more likely it was a human turned to stone. When asked about this the two devotees of St. Samson respond that he was turned to stone after looking at an ant (?).

The party also asks the pair about their experiences in Nightwick. They answer with stories about green slime, bone snakes, and magma babies. The more they talk, the more the party realizes that the experiences are strangely different as if these two poor souls were in a different Nightwick.

And that was it!

STRANGE STARS: A Micro-Campaign Setting


From the Marigold Tarot

After reading Direct Sun's Aberrant Reflections, I realized I think I might have a handful of modules dealing with weird stuff falling out of the sky and *%^& up the land or sky-positioned environmental effects. If put all in one setting, that might make a fun micro-campaign. A little bit of "trimming" might be required to fit it all together. Or maybe you don't and let the players come up with the reasoning and build a from-scratch campaign out of that.


Aberrant Reflections

✦ The Weird That Befell Drigbolton

✦ Hideous Daylight

✦ Tower of the Stargazer  

✦ Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier  


Brewkessel: "The other, other famous school of wizarding has returned from a 50+ year disappearance in a flash of red lighting."

Notable Monster

Fire on the Velvet Horizon's Eclipse-lich: "An undead star casting an undying light."

MASK OF THE "PHANTASMER": Another Example of Good "French Vanilla" D&D

I think I have sorta two "styles" to my D&D. The first is a love of the "phantasmagoric"  like Through Ultan's Door and the second is what I've called "french vanilla". These elements are not mutually exclusive either. A crypt adventure is an easy way to overlap the two.

So what is "french vanilla"? I mean it to be a well-executed take on a familiar experience. Just as "french vanilla" ice cream is often a well-executed take on just regular vanilla. The flavor is enhanced, it might be served is just the right proportion, the texture is often richer, creamier, or heavier, and it might be served with an enhancement (coffee or a wafer) that adds to, but never overpowers the vanilla flavor itself.

In terms of D&D, I believe it can be very helpful, especially for new DMs or DMs of new players, to use well-understood touchstones but apply a twist to them in order to maintain a true fantastical sense, but eliminate the need for game-halting explanation. To wit: players want to play D&D not listen to your fiction. And people's vocabulary of the fantastic has expanded with the advent of video games and the popularity of many fantasy media properties. Using "french vanilla" elements also helps a group get more mileage out of books and material they already have at hand. See my post on turning OD&D Level 1 & Level 2 Random Encounter tables into something more fantastical.

Title: Phantasmer: This re-skinning trick can also be applied to player classes as well. And it is just such an example that kicked off this post. Recently I was involved in a game run by Ben L. of Mizirian's Garden in this game we were given Level 4 pre-gen characters. I picked the magic user and was delighted when I looked down at the sheet:

Title: Phantasmer

Awesome. Sounds like a very illusionist-y magic user. And given Ben's love of the Dreamlands also really works with the setting instead of just "magic-user", "wizard", or the original "theurgist" (although I love that word). Then I jumped to the spell list:

Light/Darkness (1)
Charm Person (1)
Mirror Image (2)
Phantasmal Forces (2)

Again- brilliant! Ben has done some great starting spellbook work before. And I've fully adopted them my go-to for magic users in my games.

But look at how simple spell selection from almost any version of D&D, plus an evocative title drive a nice, novel feel to a well-understood class. And there is no need to laboriously work to create an entirely new class or spell list just to evoke an illusionist feel. ✣ The simple spell selection here encapsulates that with its manipulation of light, use of charm, duplicative images, and the ability to evoke phantasms.

Ben really caps it off with a couple of key items that again support a fresh take but are better flavor descriptions of common magic items:

Prism Amulet of Caz (as +1 ring of protection)
Serpentine Kris (as +1 dagger)

Again nothing crazy. But much cooler to imagine and say.

Well done Ben! I most certainly will be adding this as a potential MU take whenever I get around to assembling my house rules doc: Serpent Song

Last Words: This is not a pro-3d10x10-orcs-in-a-hole/anti-art-punk position. In fact its quite the opposite. It's urging DMs to art-punk their orcs, but just don't work too hard for the maths and instead "stat as". Here are my "orcs":

THE NAMELESS LEGION: Soldiers robbed of their names and now forever walking for conquest as restless shades who know no end; when they march, they carry a disorienting fog with them and when defeated weapons, armor, at body turn to an hour-glass fine black sand; summoned it is said by building two doors of polished onyx with silver hinges (stat as "orc")

When I've looked at the actual illusionist class, I get the sense that someone was actually trying to just make a more powerful magic-user class.


OD&D: Opium, Dunsany & Dreamlands Part I

PURPOSE: As a sorta follow-up to my reskinning of Lair of the Lamb, I was encouraged to try reskinning OD&D monsters for various genre settings. Or at least give the Underworld Level 1 random encounter a shot since it's shortlist. Here are my initial efforts with a sorta opium-dreamlands-art-deco-Lord-Dunsley vibe. I don’t think I’ve quite nailed it, but I like the monsters I came up with. And I at least liked them enough to take a crack at Level 2.

PRINCIPLES: I think I have outlined a few general qualities of monsters in the “Twilight Realms” that might separate it from the standard D&D arrangement above. Examples are given with the Level 1 monsters, but I’ve tried to maintain these core ideas throughout.

First, the “peoples” (Cultist of Yg, The Nameless Legion, & Sailors from Leng) of these dreamlands often bear curses and/or traditions originating from somewhere else not connected to the dungeon now. And although not explicit (but I might make it so later), they have an agenda separate from “sitting around” in the dungeon– they are searching for something. This is much like the PCs.

Second, the vermin (Walking Rust, Scintilipedes, & False Door Spider) arise not from organic decay, but more from inorganic decay– spoilt art not meat. Disease comes not from decaying bodies- those tend to lie inert, but instead from dilapidated buildings, monuments, and other edifices. That resultant disease is one that kills aesthetics not really hearts-- transmogrify over termination.

Third, the “undead” (Walking Rust, The Nameless Legion), like vermin, are less about organic decay and more about the decay of the spirit or the perversion of a single emotion into a free-standing spirit that can inhabit things. The horror of dreamland undead is possession and supplanting of will with another force instead of death per se.


  1. Kobolds 1/2 HD AC 12 Weapons, Trap makers, Reptile pets
  2. Goblins 1-1 HD AC 12 Weapons, Hate Light
  3. Skeletons 1/2 HD AC 11 Weapons, Undead
  4. Orcs 1 HD AC 12 Weapons, Hate Light
  5. Giant Rats 1/2 HD AC 12 Bite, Poison
  6. Centipedes 1/2 to 3 HD AC 11-12, Armored Head AC 16, Bite, Poison
  7. Bandits 1 HD AC 12 Weapons
  8. Spiders 1/2 to 4+1 HD AC 12-15, Web/Ambush, Bite, Poison
You might not recognize it, but this too is a re-skin
of a section of the map for Outdoor Survival
the"overworld" map for OD&D,
but now our Twilight Realms

THE TWILIGHT REALMS: North of Sleep, South of the Setting Sun, LEVEL 1
  1. CULTIST OF Yg: Milky-eyed servants of the Night Serpent Yg. They typically reside in the line of old forts along the Orchid Swamps and often run steam houses in the cities- both guarded by prayer-painted crocodiles.
  2. LAMP EATERS: Whole discussions are had as to if Lamp Eaters are advanced Zoogs or people lost to the dark, but they fear and hate light; small brave groups will try and extinguish them, then their numbers quickly double in the dark
  3. WALKING RUST: A curious fungal spoor or the restless ambition of warlords that survives death, stains, pits, corrodes, and then animates armor; care must be taken or any contact will spread this curse to any iron or steel on the person; even gold, silver, or copper isn't safe from prolonged exposure (on a successful attack AC drops by 1; if AC 10 begins to animate hindering wearer)
  4. THE NAMELESS LEGION: Soldiers robbed of their names and now forever walking for conquest as restless shades who know no end; when they march, they carry a disorienting fog with them and when defeated weapons, armor, at body turn to an hour-glass fine black sand; summoned it is said by building two doors of polished onyx with silver hinges (building gates establishes the area as a Nameless Legion "lair")
  5. ZOOGS: An array of eyes like a spider, body like a large rat, human-like hands, and a mouth surrounded by finger-like feelers; a thing more "like a" than "is a"; speaks any human tongue and prise them as a delicacy willfully given or not
  6. SCINTILIPEDES: Common wisdom says that these bothersome insects form spontaneously from patinaed metals in the dining room, toned coins in the vault, and ruined wallpaper of smoking rooms which is why polishing by the Filigree Guild is employed by any respectable house least these pests emerge in large numbers. Quit the embarrassment if one's social gathering was to be completely paralyzed and drained by their flashing a rhythmic light draining all color (-1 CHA if a save vs. Paralysis is failed)
  7. SAILORS FROM LENG: Manning the Black Galleys that visit Dylath-Leen, these people are rumored to have cloven feet, too many teeth, and horns- though this is hidden by their ruby-adorned dress; those press-ganged are driven to join their number by the droning beat of the galley drums
  8. FALSE DOOR SPIDERS: These arachnids take advantage of the shifting architecture of the underworld to mimic the subtle outline of secret doors; a bite convinces the victim there are other secrets around, but their friends don't want them to find them


  1. (humanoid) Berserkers 1+1 HD AC 12, weapons, morale 11; +2 to-hit humanoids
  2. (humanoid) Conjurers 2 HD AC 10, Spells 3, 1
  3.  (undead) Ghouls 2 HD AC 13, claws, bite, paralysis, kill by a ghoul raised as one (They are already such classic)
  4. (beastman) Gnolls 2 HD AC 14, XXX, +2 morale, fight with claw x2, bite
  5. (humanoid) Hobgoblins 1+1 HD, AC 14, +1 morale
  6. (animal) Lizards ?? HD AC ??, bite
  7. (humanoid) Theurgists 2+1 HD AC 10, Spells 4, 2
  8. (animal) Toads ?? HD AC ??, bite
  9. (humanoid) Warriors 2 HD AC 14, weapons
  10. (undead) Zombies 1 HD AC 11, fist

THE TWILIGHT REALMS: North of Sleep, South of the Setting Sun, LEVEL 2

  1. THE WINE-STAINED REVELERS OF PAN: Wine-addled, carefree, and looking for any excitement. Wine-stained fingers and feet carry a lascivious and fragile ego, they demand outrageous things from those who cross their path. Refusal or acquiescence leads to the same end- a murderous frenzy. As this frenzy builds a horned figure can be seen just out of the corner of one’s eye playing a shrill pipe.
  2. ARCANE BRAVOS: These are disciples of Saffory who’ve adopted the peacock patterns of Tyr bravos (much to the city’s collective irritation).  Generally hired to rid a home of incorporeal threats, but in hire times they are not above taking care of corporal existences. Often have Magic-Missle x2, Sheild, and Web prepared, 25% chance of a scroll on them can be hired for 100 GP/delve (hat-tip to Ben L. for the spellbook Saffory’s Arcane Dueling)
  3. CITIZENS OF THE ONLY EMPIRE: There are innumerable city-states in The Twilight Realms, however, there is only one empire that touches everywhere the dead are laid and only one empire that can transcend even death. Applications for citizenship are freely offered by gaunt, horse-skull-headed “representatives” clad in once-rich, twice-tattered livery. And even if initially refused, most come around. One bite of flesh at a time.
  4. NULLS: A lizard mouth attached to a crow's head, eagle talons for hands, and a shaggy mane of perpetually falling butterfly wings. These beings were created by the Corpse Dragons of LOMAR as playing pieces for a 999-year game. The game is done. The dragons were bored. And the NULLS are left on their own– but they only know the game.
  5. MOONMEN: The biggest secret of LAMP EATERS is they are part of a large organization. Their masters wear large full-moon-faced masks to hide a hideous cratered visage with a tumorous topography and small green eyes. They have no quarrel with dwarves or other light-shunners but have paranoid assumptions that all interlopers are spies to their machinations to creature eternal darkness.
  6. MONDATH ADDER-HOUNDS: Head like an eye-less eel extending from a six-legged lizard body describes this creature with a keen sense of smell and taste. A successful strike allows the creature to lock down on the target by pinning a sword arm (even hit) or leg (odd hit);  will answer to commands in old Mondathic– if anyone could remember to how to speak it.
  7. THE WANDERING LECTURES OF ZEIN: Taking “experience is the best teacher” to the extreme, ZEIN magic schools require students to roam all over the lands listening to their appointed professor lecture extensively on a variety of topics. And since dungeons are on the syllabus,  it is not surprising that occasionally at the semester’s end, there is no graduating class. The professors themselves are seasoned theurgists who demand silence and attention. And have no problem casting Sleep on PCs to aid in “resupplying the classroom”, nor drinking a potion of Gaseous Form should it become obvious this will be a class with low graduation.
  8. PROCESSION TOADS:  These squat, clawed planter-sized toads are known for their venomous bit that induces a confused stupor in prey. The toads will then follow at a distance until their prey drops due to exhaustion all the while emitting a low cry that attracts other toads. When standing still these toads are hard to spot looking like rocks and, almost sympathetically, empty garden planters if around ruins (3-6 surprise).
  9. THE FIVE MEN JUSTINIAN: Often a topic of idle conversation in coffee houses among scholars, mages, and diviners is the nature of the appearances of THE FIVE. Adventurers describe a group of five men (2-8), exactly identical, clad in silver mail, a winged helm, white cloak, and carrying a spear. They speak in unison and demand aid from those they encounter on a singular task. Scholars can find no record of the person described. Mages believe it is an echo of a miscast Mirror Image. Diviners believe their number and appearance signify something much like a doppelganger portents doom. If defeated, THE FIVE, shatter into a single spear, mail, and helm set (when the entire set + weapon is worn it has the following: AC Chain +1, Spear +1, & roll separate initiative) however wearing such causes the bearer to begin to believe they are THE JUSTINIAN.
  10. SANDSTONE STATUES: It is known that things in the shape of human likenesses eventually develop human desires. Time erodes the boundaries of living/not-living as rivers can carve the landscape. But it is a cruel fate when a thing has human desires, yet cannot feel as a human does. This longing to feel quickly turns to jealousy and that jealousy festers to hate. Hate fuels destruction which does register to even stone-dulled senses.
A zoog kindly rendered from
the mind of Colin Sproule; be on the lookout
for their OSE KS Fresh Meat! 

LAYERS OF THE LAMB: Simple Re-skins of a Dynamic Module

I think one of the best starting adventure modules right now is Arnold K's Lair of the Lamb. And not just me, even the curmudgeonly Bryce Lynch rates it a "Best" and the calcified comrades at Bones of Contention also gave it high marks.

In my own review, I said this about it:

The Lair of the Lamb, I think, is a new classic in old-school gaming. It is based on a universal fear of being hunted in the dark by a monster, yet in the context of a highly interactable swords & sorcery setting which yields strong, strange rewards for players who take a risk! The module demonstrates, through play, how much players can do, and have fun, with 1d6 HP, a knife, a background, and a goal: escape. The dungeon revitalized.

Given Lamb is based on such a universal concept and that the module itself is rather bare bones, I think has an inherent flexibility to be re-skinned beyond its eldritch swords & sorcery feel. And this is a strength of the module and I think what Lamb shares with oft-mentioned TSR classics like The Village of Hommlett (in particular the Ruined Moathouse) and The Keep on the Borderlands.

Each one can be adapted to whatever setting the DM feels is best for their players or setting. So here are some suggestions for ways to make the Lamb fit different types of settings that might be at your table.

A Lair of the Lamb Re-skin:

Lair of the Lamb Classic DnD Fairy Tale Modern Horror
The "Lamb" (big mindless monster) Headless Troll Ogre Hulking Slasher
White Temple Cult (opposition) (P)orcs Flying Monkeys Religious Camp Counselors
Cult Leader (BBEG) Chaotic Cleric Wicked Witch Charismatic Camp Head
Former Sacrifice (aid) Prisoner Nice Flying Monkey Old Janitor
Ghouls (opportunists) Brigands Foxes Townie Addicts/Drunks
Prisoners (0-level funnel PCs) 1st Level PCs Lost Children "Troubled Youth" Campers

NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People Session 44


Previously on Nightwick

The party returns in a joyful mood having successfully, as far as they know, rid the Lady Ilg of her burden or at least put things in motion to have that happen.

Blossom (Rogue 4)
Sotar (Cleric 4)
Cherwe (Cleric 3)
Liminal Space (Changeling 3)
Mayfly (Magic-User 3)
Mechtild (Fighter 2)
Verinka (Changling 2)
Yevgeniy the Coward (Cleric 1)

At the Medusa's Head...

The party is excited about delving back down into the Abbey. They've been on a nice streak so far and feel reward close at hand. Mayfly throws out that Halfdan has demanded another example of the bizarre metal coil the party pulled out of the dungeon. The party discusses one alternative which would be to explore areas that have yet been charted, but agree a goal is often safer in the dungeon.

(PC NOTE: Elsewhere it has been pointed out by our other players that the group seems to have a pattern: crawl, hit an interesting room, retreat, delve again, target an interesting room, and remove the gold. Then start over again.)

...down in Nightwick Abbey...

WEST TOWER: Using the map of Level 1, the party charts a four-room route to the set of stairs that lead us to Level 2 (PC NOTE: Mapping works kids!). Halfway there, the party encounters a group of cultists who quickly run at the sight of the party. Cowards! The stairs to LEVEL 2 without incident.

LEVEL 2: As always, the descent is full of twists and turns and just before 70% of the party vomits, the party arrives on LEVEL 2. Mayfly casts ESP and beings a sweep of the north, south, and east doors. To the north, a very strange mind is detected- akin to a singular mind checking various other smaller minds. To the south, the common mental echos of the undead. To the east, where the party wants to go-- nothing.

COIL LAB & ACTING!: The party travels east then south and come to a door where they here both a faint buzzing and muted human/animal noises-- manimals! Sotar tries to pry open the door, but fails, causing the door, in the fashion of the Abbey, to spay slime everywhere. However, since Sotar had cast Protection from Evil earlier, the slime hits a sorta invisible shield and sprays all over the party members behind him. 

The voices grow more muffled, but now seem to be focused on the party's attempts to break the door down. After another attempt, the door gives way and the PCs are faced with five manimals ("Lost Souls" in Nightwick parlance). "Who are you?" says one with a crab claw for a hand.

Stepping forward Mayfly shouts, "You ignoramuses! It is I, the Master, returned in a borrowed body! Now which one of you has absconded with my mortal form?!"

There is some dissension and a dog-headed creature steps forward to mention something about how "Builder has stolen the skeleton and anointed themselves The Rulesmaster." But, he questions the Master's new form. Mayfly holds up the gold skull of the actual Master to reinforce his authority: "Fools! I told you I was back in a borrowed body! Now, seize this coward!". 

Rolls are made. The manimals seize the dog-faced one and Mayfly tells him to fetch the rest of his bones like a "good boy" or he'll get his throat slit. Then dismisses the rest of them with a wave of his hand.

(PC NOTE: And this is what I love about RPGs, the ability to do a bit of talky-talky to flip situations in your favor and avoid (hopefully) violent, character-killing conflict)

The PCs realize that the 5 coils here might match the 5 switches that were found on Level 2 in a previous delve in a room back west. When they were first found, the party was a little apprehensive about playing around with them too much- concerned they might release something dangerous. "Should we split the party? One set in the control room and one set here with the coils?" 

"Noooooope." Chrewe says firmly (PC NOTE: Player is also a veteran of a few Nightwick games). 

CONTROL ROOM: So the party, as one, arrives back to the Control Room and with a few pokes and prods presses what they think will turn off the power to the coils. Also, they turn off something labeled with a picture of a brain. Hmm. Wonder what that does.

COIL LAB: The party returns and begins making preparations to steal the shit out of one of the coils. The MU hireling Gerung cast Floating Disk (PC NOTE: Disk always seems like a stupid spell until you are trying to escape with heavy treasure-- so put heavy treasure in your games DMs). The PCs load up the coil and DM rolls for encounters on the way out. Nothing happen so the party was able to hide the coil at the top of the WEST TOWER. This will be a valuable sell to Halfdan (1000sp)

 (PC NOTE: Decision time: we have a few hours of daylight left which matters because once the sun does down in the Dark Country, Nightwick gets much worse. No additional Floating Disk spells, so the party elects to chart out a course to unexplored areas on Level 1. Again maps come in handy.)

WEST TOWER (RETURN): The PCs travel down the stairs and turn westward. Since a path was charted, the DM again rolls to see if the party encounters anything on the way to our goal-- no interruptions. 

THE CRYING LADY: This entity is new to Mayfly who was not with the party when they previously encountered it. There was a lot of discussion about how to get closer to her as she is apparently walled off. But eventually, it was decided her sorta "spectral claws" should not be messed with. The party turns south into another unexplored portion of Level 1.

THE BARRACKS & CAGE: The party moves south and bumps into another group of manimals (Lost Souls). Once again Mayfly steps forward with the soon-to-be-classic-Mayfly-"I-am-the-Master"-shtick. And again there are disbelievers among the manimals. 

Mayfly commands, "Bring the non-believer forward!" The manimal group shoves one of them forward. This one is kinda cute. The creature then pleads its case to its brethren to convince them against following Mayfly. As this creature's speech reaches its most damning evidence, Mayfly fires a crossbow bolt at its head! And... a miss! (PC NOTE: A miss at a +3 to-hit! Curse the stars above!)

Verinka saves the day by casting Sleep quickly. It drops the dissenting voice and one other devoted follower. To the others, Mayfly commands, "Slit their throats and then leave us! Spread the word...THE MASTER HAS RETURNED!" They scurry off into the bowls of the Abbey.

COLLUMED GRAND HALLWAY: Pushing south, the PC's who can see keenly in the dark spy a group of robed humans frantically painting several columns. As the PCs move into the hallway, the figures throw off their mortal disguise and adopt the twisted visage of cadaverites! The PC are quick to form ranks as two floating horrors engage the front-rank clerics. Mayfly is able to blind one monster who is further back with Light. The battle is tough as attack after attack is avoided by the undead horrors, but eventually, the party prevails! During a post-battle investigation, the party finds a sack full of coins (250sp) . With that done, the party decides to get out!

...Back to the Medusa's Head.

The surprisingly small area
that occupied our explorations