MORE WINE! PART 3: Actual Play of the Dungeon

MORE WINE!: Session 4

The general setup is here. But I have not recorded the first 3 sessions.

Returning once more to Aeolos' cellar are the following:

Captain Buffet Dwarf 1
Garret Thief 1
Rogon Fighter 1
Issac Cleric 1
Abraham follower 1

Despite the death of Shade (MU 1, bats), the hideous injury to Hela (MU 1, cavalier), and failure to return with any wine, the party gathers its remaining members 24 hours later to return to the fabled cellars. Aeolos' current demands are 4 amphorae of any type, except the same wine as Week 1 (where they previously discovered SITTING PRIESTESS wine). 

(DM NOTE: Since it was 24 hours later in-game time, the party does not get a week's rest so instead have to roll a CON check, and if they pass, gain 1d4 HP)


The party passes the leering statue without incident. Issac covers the eyes of the chaste Abraham to guard against the accuracy of the nymph statues. The satyr's cup goes unfilled. Traveling through the north archway the party is surprised to find the corpse of the Iron Hand missing.

DECORATIVE VINEYARD: They find once again each door is marked by a grape motif: north is white, east is green, and west is red. The PCs choose "west".

GRAND LOUNGE: The Party finds a long rug and many sitting chairs, loveseats, and chaise loungers all mixed. No strange creatures in cloth-covered heads this time. The party remembers that through the west door in this room is a singing fountain that put them under its thrall. The party turns north heading toward the CHECKERED CHURCH a known wine cellar.

(DM NOTE: In that session, all the PC failed their saves so it was time to break out one of those popular Escape the Dungeon d20 tables; might need to tone down the singing fountain- maybe...)

THE CHECKERED CHURCH: Slamming the stuck door open, the PCs survey the room: black and white columns, pomegranate motif, nymph being carried off by a saytr on the east wall. Captain Buffet goes over to inspect that mural and finds that the mural depicts a sorta trail of eaten pomegranates dropped from the nymph to the west wall. And Garret joins him. With a keen dwarven eye and a thief's instinct, a secret door if found where all the pomegranates have been "eaten" off the tree.

But before the secret room could be explored, the north door bursts open and in sways 5 very drunk humans wearing poorly made-up costumes in a "sea-king" motif. They shout a greeting and keep wanting to take on the PCs are additional party(ing) members: "Come-on have a swig, have a swig!"

Garret the thief steps forward to take a swig while Captain Buffet partakes of his own bottle. The clerics abstain. Garret is able to keep the soured wine down to loud exclamation by the intoxicated group. They grab him by the shoulders and push him through the north door.

THE ROOT CELLAR: Stumbling through the dark after the drunken revealers, the party notices they have no difficulty navigating the dark and moving through doors...hmmm. The turn west and are halted in their tracks by more inebriated hollering of another group of shabbily dressed humans- this time as nymphs.

The Nymphs refuse to let anyone pass and the leader demands a champion. The "Sea-Kings" push Garret forward as their champion. Garret wheels around and demands that the king of the "Sea-Kings" steps up to this challenge. His request is met with a skull-cracking blow to the face (DM NOTE: 12 rounds until dead). Melee ensues to the delight of the Nymphs, but Captain Buffet and Rogon dispatch filet the "Kings" causing them to lose their morale and run-- Nymphs giving chase with high cackles.

(DM NOTE: Dig the death and dismemberment tables. Been using them in Nightwick, so I grabbed one from Necropraxis for this dungeon; previously I've just done save vs. Death)

But before tears can be shed over Garret and pockets turned out (+24sp), Slip the thief drops out of the large root in the ceiling claiming to have been chased by a giant centipede and seeking to get a message from the thieves guild to Garret.

The party turns south in search of more wine.

SINGING FOUNTAIN: Not hearing anything through the door, the PCs open it with a bang! Nothing. They scope the fountain found here of a nymph balancing on 3 amphorae reaching for a bright orb. Slip scales the statue and is able to dislodge a crystal hummingbird that continually emits light (+200sp). The party realizes going east in this room links them back to the GRAND LOUNGE. They turn south instead.

THE DRAGON'S FOREST: Players enter a room with a basrelief forest carved into the walls. They notice the basrelief dragon on the floor with a gaping hole where its mouth is- something glints there. Issac also notices that there is an image of a kneeling satyr on the north wall with a speech bubble "Please pray with me"

(DM NOTE: Its actually quite useful to know if a PC is literate or not, which is found in BX, because the written word is a puzzle)

Slip and Abraham devise a way to tie a rope around Slip and lower him into the dragon's mouth to retrieve the shiny objects (DM NOTE no encounter check...lucky) and the nimble thief is able to retrieve a thing metal wand and a necklace (400sp + a wand). Issac chooses to kneel with the satyr and when he does so he hears a "click"... and a secret door opens...

TABERNACLE OF THE ELEPHANT... revealing a large desiccated green corpse with the body of a man but the massive head of an elephant. And WINE! Large amphorae are lined up and labeled The Green Hierophant. The PCs grab amphorae for each person and leg it back to the cellar door.


The head steward is very pleased! The party is rewarded with silver (and xp) for the recovery. And as agreed, invite the party members to attend the festivities at the end of the week (staying to the side of course) if they would like. Captain BuffetRogon, and Issac agree. Slip slips out the door to head into the city to sell the found items and drink in the relative "safety" of the city bars. As a result:

  • Issac, restrainedly sipping at the delicious wine, makes little impact at the party
  • Rogon, fooled by the soft civil nature of the minor nobility, is taken for all he is worth in a game of dice! By Crom!
  • Captain Buffet, in the middle of a wine-fueled recounting of his time battling on the underground rivers, receives a painful flash in his mind knocking him flat on the table! The dwarven gods demand servitude and send him a quest!
  • Slip manages to sell a lot the goods and goes in search of rumors in the city.

Until the next time when all is drunk dry.


MORE WINE! PART 2: 30 NPCs With Help From To Distant Lands


Parnassus by H. Siemiradzki

For a dungeon that I am writing, I need about 30 NPCs. Most likely that is too many, but it represents each major position in a roughly medieval household (or at least what was identified about 1 hour of reading on the internet). 

My main philosophy about NPCs is that they mainly need 3 things: a want, a give, and an archetypical personality descriptor. Really they don't need much more. If you want stats just make them a level of [insert appropriate class] and if you really need them to be important make it a domain level.

And with the dungeon I am writing, I really want to make it a sorta "quilt campaign" meaning that I stitch it together from existing pieces of resources- blog posts, useful tables, other adventures I have, ect. And to that end, To Distant Lands has created a wonderful set of tables for NPC generation. 

Here are my 30 NPCs from the House of Aeolos. We will exclude the first two as they are more plot-centric, so what about the others: 

NPC (want)(goal)(attitude to PCs)

  1. Master Aeolos
  2. Mistress Persephone
  3. Marshal (A special trinket or gadget) (Sheer curiosity) (Baffled)
  4. Steward (A dangerous location or local landmark) (mistakenly believe it will get them revenge) (Envious)
  5. Clerk (A portent or omen) (To topple some local authority)(Furious)
  6. Cook (Another NPC’s activities) (To get revenge on someone(a ward)) (Lackadaisical)
  7. Blacksmith (A pet or species of animal)(To be left alone) (Baffled)
  8. Carpenter (A local game or custom) (To rescue someone or something dear to them) (Fawning)
  9. Mason (A special trinket or gadget) (To get revenge on someone)=Chaplin) (Mistakes them for someone else who they are (baffled)
  10. Groom (A location no one else knows about)(To clear their name)(Fawning)
  11. Messenger (A magic item not in their possession)(To prove someone wrong)(Doesn’t seem to notice them)
  12. Huntsmen (arguing with the Mason about the Candlestick Maker)(To be left alone)(Scamming)
  13. Astronomer (A local custom)(To expose their rival)(Furious)
  14. Chamberlin (A dangerous location or local landmark)(To clear their name)( Baffled)
  15. Herdsmen (A legendary monster) (To topple some local authority) (Lackadaisical)
  16. Mill workers (gossiping about the huntsmen) (To get revenge on someone) (mistake the PCs for someone else who they find amusing)
  17. Wood-cutters (A missing belonging) (To topple some local authority) (Skeptical)
  18. Butcher (gossiping bout Ward 1) (To become rich) (Lackadaisical)
  19. Baker (A household malfunction happening right in front of you) (To impress their crush) (ignore)
  20. Candlestick Maker (Another NPC’s activity Mason) (To expose their rival Ward MU 3) (Fawning)
  21. Minstral (A local custom) (To get revenge on someone) (Baffled)
  22. Cupbearer (A location no one else knows about) (To impress their crush (you)) (Lackadaisical)
  23. ChambermaidA household malfunction happening right in front of you) (To get revenge on someone) (mistakes you for the guard who they are skeptical of)
  24. Gardener (Heard an extremely inaccurate rumor) (To rescue someone dear to them) (Furious)
  25. Fisher (A portent or omen) (To clear their name) (Baffled)
  26. Chaplin (Fixated on the activities of the Steward)(To become rich) (Desperate)
  27. Ward (MU 1) (The latest fad) (Mistakenly believe it will help then rescue a loved one) (Envious)
  28. Ward (MU 1) (Craving a specific kind of food) (To impress their crush) (Baffled)
  29. Ward (MU 2) (A magic item not in their possession) (To be left alone) (Scamming)
  30. Ward (MU 3) (Collects something rare but not necessarily valuable) (To prove someone wrong) (Obsequious)
For a "give", which was not in the tables, I think mostly it will be something the NPC can make or research for the PCs.

To really polish this off, I should turn these into sentences as demonstrated in the original post. But I'm not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good (enough). So, I'll just print the above off, punch holes in it, and put it in the campaign binder.

MORE WINE! PART 1: What Happens When A Wine Cellar Goes Bad?

 "The Wine Dungeon"

A dungeon resulting from having a morning cup of coffee, a random dungeon room/hall roller, and a single sheet of graph paper. I ended up with about 50 rooms. And I liked it so much I wanted to try and run something with it that was more "off-the-cuff D&D". Kinda in the same vein as how I imagine the Tonisborg dungeon came together.

What leaped into my head is a little bit of the mythic underworld mixed with a non-crypt underground structure (wine cellar) and populated by some of my dreamland monsters to sorta kick myself out of the more typical dungeon molds.

And in addition to just trying to ensure its a fun dungeon, I am trying to do two other things: 

(1) organically grow out the world as my players require. I sorta did this a little bit with the "Super Cleric Bros." campaign. Trying not to exhaust myself with prep, but more just throw potentially useful KNOCK! articles, blog posts, and favored tables into a binder

(2) use the actual play of the dungeon to guide the development of it instead of agonizing over it. Did the group have fun? Yes. Well, play it again. Is this little random dungeon I found seem cool? Great. Let's say one of the fountains has dried out and now there are stairs leading to it.

Peter Paul Rubens "Two Satyrs"

The Setup

Master Aeolos has returned from a long voyage to Banquet Season in The City Under The Veridian Moon.

But horror! His fabled wine cellar has gone rancid and turned into a dungeon. A few servants have died, the house guards won't go down there, and things have moved in.

With the season arriving quickly and several parties to be hosted this month,  Aeolos has hired you to delve into this cellar and retrieve casks and bottles of spirits. Oh, and maybe bring back some notable "dungeon meats" ("I did have a wonderful pond down there").

"And keep quiet! We can't have a word of such neglect spread!" (Behind the scenes, the cellar is where Aeolos has buried some of the more unsavory elements of the past- which have also grown in his absence)

1 Wine Amphora can hold about 82 pints of wine or 164 cups; each amphora recovery is ~200sp & 200 xp. Plus whatever else the player can hide on their person and avoid discovery. Afterall dungeon or not, the cellar is still owned by Aeolos.

I'd also want the players to have to recover differnt types of wine for different parties during the season. That way there is a reason to hit up more than the first cellar they find.

If they recover wine, then they can carouse at the party for no money. If they fail to recover the wine, then out into the streets they go due to Aeolos' frustration and anger. Maybe there is a night-on-the-streets table to roll on, but opportunity to be approached by other groups looking for dirt on Aeolos.

"Cask" of Characters:

  • Master Aeolos- concerned with present society; want to keep the past just that; hates being inconvenienced
  • Mistress Persephone- seeks her own power behind the scenes
  • Castellan Cerebrus- suspicious of PCs; hold to a strict protocol in the absence of Master & Mistress
  • Captain Hauberk- considers the PCs slightly better than feral dogs and less useful than the hunting dogs; quick to punish
  • Several other household staff who can give players equipment, be a source of rumors, and potentially be hired to join them.
Just The Wine Dungeon?

Off the top of my head, here might be some modules I'd throw in or module parts I'd use:
  • Through Ultan's Door
  • Desiccated Temple of Locha
  • Incandescent Grottoes
  • the NPCs from B2: Keep on the Borderlands by Gary Gygax
  • The manor layout from The Waking of Willowby Hall by Ben Milton

TO SUN SATURED ISLES: Adventuring in Cuccagna


Today my campaign reporting moves out of the simmering sin of Nightwick and into the simmering sun of Cuccagna-- InPlacesDeep's other campaign. Since some of the Nightwick session reports have gotten a good response, I'll try to give Cuccagna the same treatment- may be just abbreviated.

I really like keeping track of campaign stats around PCs because it helps give those newly entering the classic play style a sense of how things actually go in terms of PC death, progression, and treasure accumulation. So above is a mini-record of my 8 sessions in Cuccagna. 

I've included the names of the characters I've played so far with their class and their current fate. I also decided to show total treasure accumulated across all characters as well as what I've spent on carousing. As for the "Cumulative Prospero Meetings", that is tracking meeting with a major NPC(s) in the game.

What do I think of my own progress?

Given that Mayfly is a level 4 MU in Nightwick, I thought I had become pretty adept at surviving some old-school play. Alas, this did not bare out as my first 3 fighters did not survive their starting session.

Zelone was a walking suit of armor of which there is only 1 in all of Cuccagna. And as the new person, I absolutely chose that option and ran it into the ground. Since I had been so cautious with Mayfly, I did try to play Zelone with a more knightly stance. And, yeah, that will get you killed quick.

Thomas of Karse started which more HP than Zelone and I believe had an 18 STR. He survived a ceiling cave-in that knocked Lord Suarr unconscious. But an 18 STR doesn't protect one against an auto-hit magic missile. However, Lord Suarr did survive. And the loot was good too. For the surviving members...

Neuf was the most mercenary in play style. I really was on my guard except when it came to the last door of the evening. The party was in some caves under the manor we were robbing. We had found some valuable oil and had reason to believe we were near a wine cellar. We were just about to leave when we wanted to try one more door. So Neuf touched the handle and *click*, a poison needle ended that. But it was a wine cellar and the loot was good too. For the surviving members...
Skelars the Stray

The fourth time is a charm. Rolled up a low DEX (-1), high WIS (+1) cleric with 1 HP- Skelars the Stray. "Stray" because with 1 HP I feel like he was already in bad shape. I used the Leaper from Darkest Dungeon as the token. Won't last long right? Well, despite touching madness-inducing rocks, jumping into a hole with 100s of baby giant spiders, surviving a fight with wizards using a sling, almost being eaten by a cloaker, and almost being beaten to death by an animated lantern-- Skelars has lived! Now at level 3! And now has 8 HP! Clearly a higher power is on his side.

What do I think of the campaign?

InPlacesDeep understands the assignment of old-school play if that was not evident from Nightwick Abbey. And created in Cuccagna, a heat exhaustion-induced dream of Shakespeare's Tempest, Vance's Dying Earth, and a dash of Lord Dunsany's Dreamlands Cycle. All of this is set in a sun-soaked isle seasoned with a very delightful infusion of the 50's and 60's movies of Vincent Price. In my mind's eye, knights do wear red tights with shiny breastplates and wizards have robes with stars on them. 

The engine of the campaign (so far) seems to be the split of a major magician into 7 lesser, but still powerful, magicians: Prospero the Red, the Orange, the Yellow, the Green, the Blue, and the Violet. However, Prospero the Blue has gone missing much to the concern of the others. The party has been investigating the abandoned (?) keep of Prospero the Blue and as a result has drawn the attention of Prospero the Green who has started to ask favors of the party. We also may or may not (unconfirmed yet) have teleported a ghost to the court of Prospero the Orange. So maybe we'll get a "meeting" soon with the vermillion virtuoso.

Its pretty fantastic and fantastical. Its unique but at the same time touches on a lot of the ur-concepts of D&D fans know and have absorbed, yet maybe can't specifically call out. For instance, just look at an early list of monsters (2012!) for the setting which is a mixture of medieval and myth. A lot of the names are very recognizable, yet when you look at the list in its entirety it doesn't feel "D&D". 

D&D that doesn't feel "D&D", yet is composed of the same protean blocks as D&D is a high achievement!

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.