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!