Saturday, January 26, 2013

Map Experiment

This map experiment was thought up and arranged by Apis Furioso of Pilgrim's Guide to The Zeitgeist, and several other Tabletop blogosphere notables produced the room descriptions.  I drew the map and edited stuff to fit. Thanks to everyone involved - all cliches and typos are my doing.

Feast Hall of Len the Voracious
Gus L – Map and Editing

Seven contributors have given some info about a different room for a map, below are the keyed rooms that they created and I drew a map up for, minor editing has been done to place the rooms in a more sensible manner and to follow a general theme based on the rooms provided.  Level is not really a consideration for this locale as it is more atmospheric than challenging, perhaps a place to find a clue to greater things or simply a way to introduce a terrible demon to your game.

Beyond a name attached to a peculiar ruin several miles from the edge of the choked forest little is known about the glutton Lem.  The Hall is large, of simple timeless block construction that may be only a few decades old or hundreds, the lands around it show some evidence of cultivation, but only the faintest traces, the hint of a drainage ditch or the chimney stones of a farmhouse. 

The Hall is obviously cursed and all shun it despite rumors that Lem was a collector of art and treasures as well as a gastronome.  Around the Hall for about a half mile the land is wrapped in permanent chill, with a blanket of snow and crisp winter winds even when the rest of the forest is at the height of summer.  Trappers claim that the endless cold has attracted winter wolves, and maybe even ice trolls who are trapped each spring in the chill of the Hall’s curse.

If the exterior of the Hall is examined an inscription above the great doors can be seen faintly beneath a coating of blue ice.  It is obscured, but with some effort can be revealed to readAcheruntis Pabulum”.
AREA 1 – The Black Pit
Unlit and smelling faintly of crisp air this room is chilled but not uncomfortable.

The floors, wall, and ceiling of the room are faced with black marble. In the center of the room is a 20' deep pit full of semi-opaque black fluid. The fluid evaporates if removed from the pit. If touched to bare skin, it feels like cold air - it does not have any "wet" sensation at all. Anyone immersed in the pit will be able to breathe normally, but for each round immersed there is a 10% cumulative chance that the character will turn jet black.

At the bottom of the pit is a 2' wide replica of the room above, except made from white marble. A segment of the model room's wall has an obvious seam and a handle on its backside, and may be detached from the model - if this is done, a secret door in the room above (in the same relative location of course) will slide open. The white replica cannot be seen by anyone looking down at the surface of the fluid - but if a character sticks their head in the liquid, they will see a dim white shape at the bottom of the pit.
A well concealed sliding panel leads to a small side chamber with a spiral staircase that from which frosty clouds of cold air slowly billow.  A less will concealed pivoting panel on the South Eastern wall can be spotted due to wear and an obvious seam by anyone looking closely at the walls.
(contributed by Patrick Wetmore)

AREA 2 – The Kitchen
The room is dark and smells of dust.

Several long stone tables stretch across this room situated along the east/west axis.

Four gigantic cauldrons line the north wall of the room. There is a large Kexoke (feathered serpent) hidden in the eastern-most cauldron. The Kexoke will lie in wait and attack any character searching the cauldrons.

There is an iron trapdoor in the center corner of the room, with a steeply slanted shaft leading down to Area 7. A fire pit dominates the center of the Eastern wall; the chimney shaft leads up out of the complex. The vent is far above, and in shadow; subsequently, no light enters the room through this channel. The climb up the chimney shaft is roughly 40’. A flock of ice ravens nest in the chimney. They will attack midway through the climb.
Kexoke: AC:8 [11] HD: 4 Attack: Beak 1d6 + venom attack. Move 40’. ML 8. Venom attack: slow poison 3x daily, only works once per victims. ST or move and attack at ½ normal rate for 1d4 hours.

Ice Ravens (6): AC:4 [15] HD: 1 Attack: Beak 1D4. Move 50’. ML 10.

(contributed by Michael Gibbons)
AREA 3 – Evil Still
This small room smells slightly smoky, and there is a light, smoky haze throughout the room, which is lit by two torches ensconced in the walls.

A homemade still sitting on a table in the South Eastern corner of this chamber, and in the far corner are small sacks of assorted grains and random herbs. Working the still are Frost Quasits. The pair are arguing over whether using rancid halfling meat would enhance the taste or ruin the distilling process. It's a loud argument, and any character listening at the door before entering will hear it, no roll needed. The quasits are arguing in demonic, so it will be unintelligible unless the PCs speak the dread tongue.

The still is made from schematics that were stolen from Dwarven craftsmen by Lem, in the far past, and is highly cherished by the quasits. They have it hidden these plans under a loose stone. Under the table are small jars of "abyss gin", 5 in total. 4 are drinkable (not all that tasty, but effective) but the fifth is poisonous. Any PC drinking more than the smallest sip must save vs. poison for go blind for 1d4 days (do NOT tell the PC it's temporary).

The quasits, Gouger and Skimskin, are not interested in a fight, being malicious trickster demons, but would love to sell (or give) the party some of their disgusting hooch.  They speak common badly, and will accept souls, gold, small live animals or simply a hearty thanks in exchange for drinks from their jars.  They don’t know about the demon chained below, but migrated to the Hall for reasons they cannot explain, drawn by his presence, after escaping a summoning circle.

Frost Quasits (Gouger and Skimskin) AC:4 [15] HD: 2 Attack: Claw/Stinger 1D3/1D6+poison . Move 50’. ML 8.  The poison in an Ice Quasit’s tail causes the victim to freeze solid over the course of 1D4 rounds in terrible agony. A save vs. paralysis will prevent the final freezing process, as will burning the victim for at least 4 points of damage.

(Contributed by Erik Tenkar)
AREA 4 – Feast Hall
Lit by four small windows during the day and the strange purple light of the cold fire from midnight to dawn, room smells of midwinter frost and rotten meat.

This giant timbered room is ringed with twelve heraldic shields on the wall, all reversed (upside down, the mark of disgraced knights). There is a huge fireplace on one wall, and a central table set with twelve silver place settings. For any Player Character who is a knight or noble, roll d4: on a 1, the PC recognizes one of the coats of arms as belonging to a knight who disappeared 2d20 years ago.

The great fireplace begins burning with a cold purple flame every midnight (see below) and burns down steadily until it goes out at noon.

If anyone sits in front of one of the empty silver bowls, it will magically fill with vile-smelling soup, and a severed head, of the same species as the sitter, will bob to the surface. Any mortal knight who knowingly eats of the evil soup will fall under a curse. He or she will march into the fire and be burned to death. His or her reversed shield will appear on the wall, a thirteenth place setting will appear at the table, and a thirteenth knight will appear at midnight. Non-knighted people suffer no effect from eating the malignant soup.

Every midnight, the fireplace will flare into life. Twelve burning skull-faced knights troop out of the fire, sit at the table, eat human-head soup, sing, and shout bawdy jokes to each other. After an hour, they return to the cold fire. They will ignore watchers, but will all attack if any knight is disturbed or addressed. They will not pursue anyone who flees the room.

Knights: AC 3 [17]. HD 5. Attack with flaming swords (1d8 + 1d6 cold damage) or freezing evil eye (range 50 feet, 1d8 cold damage). Move 40’. ML 14.

Loot: The silver plates, cups, and pitchers at the table are worth 60 GP for the lot. Outside of this room, the silver soup bowls have reduced magical powers: they radiate faint magic and have the power to make any food taste terrible. All the shields are cursed -1 shields.

(contributed by Paul Hughes)
AREA 5 – Desecrated Throne
Illuminated by a magical chandelier made of brass and ivory, room smells of sea ice.

An arch curtained with ice open into this squarish room. Scorch marks mar much of the floor, ceiling and far wall, in a roughly triangular shape originating at the archway. Six skeletons litter the floor. They still carry swords and wear ruined armor.

At the far end of the room is a large raised platform, upon which sits what would have been an ornate chair.  Another skeleton sits slumped upon it. Two more skeletons lay next to the chair, also armed.
Players who investigate the back burnt wall of the room will notice that there is a clean (untouched by fire) portion of the wall, 1' x 2' in size, with a small hook protruding from it. Presumably it once held a painting or other ornament.
Chandelier: Difficult to reach as it hangs close to the 40’ ceiling this 5’ diameter filigree of brass wire and ivory beads is worth 200 GP to anyone seeking to decorate a high class dwelling in poor taste.

(contributed by Ramanan Sivaranjan)
AREA 6 – Crystal Sanctuary
This large room smells of incense and smoke and is dominated by a round altar on one side and a large stained glass window in the wall and provides light during the day. The window is formed of thousands of pieces of colored glass in the image of a orange and blue dragon like creature in flight.

The Altar is bare stone with something covered with a black velveteen cloth with a niche concealed beneath.  If the cloth is removed the niche will be revealed to hold a glowing glass dragon statue underneath it in swirling oranges and blues.  Removing the statue from the altar (search traps will determine there is unnatural light coming from under the statue) will cause a bright blinding light to come out from the altar (requiring a save vs. paralysis or blinding anyone in the room for 1D4 Turns). 

When the light from the altar if the statue is removed lights the window above, the window will glow, and if the statue is removed from the altar other than to return it to the niche, the window will shatter into whirling shards that will form into an angry glass dragon above the altar.

 The glass dragon will attack anyone holding the statue first and then anyone trying to escape the room.  If the statue of the glass dragon is shattered, the glass dragon construct will also explode  (for 3d12, covers room) and will be destroyed.

Glass Dragon from the Window: AC 7 [12] HD 3+3 attacks claw/claw/breath 1d8/1D8 causes bleeding (1D3 for 1D4 rounds after hit)/1d12 30’ cone of glass slivers that cause blindness for 1D6 turns (save vs. breath) 

Dragon Statute: Finely carved crystal icon from a long forgotten wyrm cult, as a work of art it is worth 400 GP.

(Contributed by James Aulds)
AREA 7 – Cold Storage
The room is frigid, and one can see their breath turn to mist while inside.  The chamber smells of old blood and damp. It is lit by a harsh white glow from the pit in its center.

In the middle of this circular room is a deep well.  At the bottom of the well is an ice demon, “Frost of a Corpse’s Eye” bound with the Chain of Deplorable Fixity.  The enchanted chain renders the ice demon powerless to leave the bottom of the well.  However, the ice demon still emanates a chilling aura that helps keep any perishables in the chamber preserved. The ice demon is, of course, furious at his imprisonment.  He will promise much if he can broker his release.

The chamber is lined with shelves along the walls that hold various anatomical specimens used by the mad glutton who experimented with eating all manner of creatures.  A number of meathooks hang on chains from the ceiling; some of these hold aloft carcasses of various types--both humanoid and inhuman.

In the secret chamber at the bottom of the stairs is the frozen corpse of a corpulent nobleman warlock, dressed in rich clothing from a bygone age, he carries a pouch of gems and a set of ornate eating utensils on a platinum chain

Frost of a Corpse’s Eye (Lesser Ice Demon): AC:0 [19] HD: 8 Attack: claw/claw/claw/claw/bite 1D6/1D6/1D6/1D6/1D10+Freeze or Breath 2D10 + Freeze 30’ Cone. Move 40’. ML 8. Freeze – Save vs. Paralysis or stunned for 1D4 rounds. Spell Caster: Curse x1/day, Ice Storm x1/day, Magic Missle x3/day (as 8th level), Fear at will, Levitate at will.

Chain of Deplorable Fixity – When inscribed with the true name of a person or creature of less than 12HD these chains will bind that entity until it is released.  The chains will provide sustenance and prevent aging or other decay (though not madness).  Most often the chains are simply wrapped about the victim, though more compassionate jailers may simply attach them to a single limb allowing some movement.

Specimens of Value – The meats and bones of some of the carcasses in this room hold value to sorcerers, necromancers and alchemists.  800 GP of bones and frozen meat can be gathered (approximately 200lbs of carcass) from creatures such as manticore, basilisk and hippocampus.   Without a means of keeping this flesh frozen it will rot within two days reducing the value to 200GP.

Nobleman’s Corpse – three pearls (50 GP each) a small cracked sapphire (75GP), large amber sphere (250 GP), platinum chain (25 GP), golden fork, spoon and knife (250 GP)

(contributed by Jack Sheer)


  1. Wowzers!!... this is great! Never knew of the project, but would like to be included if ever you do another. A superb map and excellent writeup!

  2. Good stuff. Gonna use this in my WFRP game if I get the chance. I especially like the sensory descriptions at the beginning of each room.

    Note a couple typos: "Area 7" is labelled "Area 1", "Stinger" is misspelled "Stringer"

  3. excellent work gustie, this just was one of those random thoughts i had from when the mappers where talking about all doing the same map on g+, it was just a few emails, but turned out nice, look for more

  4. I like this quite a bit. The Ice ravens are a nice touch.

  5. I just want to say, your maps are absolutely gorgeous!!! I love the way you put so much art into them, my personal favorite is "The Red Demon in the Swamp" it reminds me of "Ogre" the Steve Jackson game. Great stuff, I linked your blog on mine,

    I hope you are cool with that, keep up the great work!!!

    1. Glad you're liking my stuff. Your maps are excellent by the way - I like a) the broken up hatching/use of sand textures b) your chasm technique is well worth stealing.

      Red Demon does owe something to Ogre and to other giant Sci-fi tanks - I suspect there's an actual Continental Seige Unit sunk into the livid fens and crawling with froghemoths/cybernecromancy. Perhaps worth drawing out sometime.

  6. This is absolutely lovely, Gustie. I think I'm going to place this in the forest of my D&D&LB campaign. Since so much of that campaign is based on the idea of the world being unknown and terrifying to human-things, this will serve as a sufficiently mysterious and creepy local.

    If you ever do this again, I insist you let me know. I'd love to participate in something like this.

  7. I ran this story by a group of new players (using my D&D-ish rules). I felt the rooms lacked a certain background 'glue' story. This also had its advantages though. The players had the profound feeling that there was so much more to this dungeon than they had thought of, which I happily reinforced.

    The pool filled with black mist really mindfucked the players. They went back to the nearby village to buy a sheep, sacrificed it to appease any evil spirits in that haunted ruin, and threw the bleeding carcass into the pool to see what would happen. The priest of Trithereon might experience some consequences of the heresy which he condoned in the near future. The PC that eventually got down into the pool turned black, but didn't find out until he removed his helmet a whole lot later.

    The ice demon would do nearly anything to be freed, so he willingly explained about Lem and his feasts of exotic creatures, allowing the players to get some sense of purpose to the ruins. The secret stairwell was covered in ice, so the PCs needed to roll dexerity checks to get down safely. It also made a corpse at the bottom plausible. When they were in the cellar, the cold chilled them, so they had to roll saving throws (paralysis) or temporarily lose dexterity points. No big deal, who needs dexterity right? Until they realised they needed to get back up those stairs before being near the demon froze them to death.

    The ice demon casually mentioned that some of the corpses in the cellar probably weren't entirely dead yet, posing another fun dilemma for the players, and giving the demon leverage because the PCs needed him to keep those damn things frozen.

    I loved the way how things were just a little dangerous, but not plain deadly, although the glass dragon nearly wiped them all out.

    They didn't discover the Kexoke until after they had spent the night there.

    This short game succeeded in getting the players were extremely paranoid.
    Thanks for putting this online!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it - suprised but glad! Suprised as this was an experimental sort of thing put together by the fellow at Pilgram's Guide to the Zeitgeist and each room was written by a different author without any idea what it was going into - Tenkar did the still room, Pat Wetmore the Well, Jack Shear the demon - well everyone's name is up there, but the idea was to get some others (I think myself, Matt J. and Dyson) to each draw a map. I don't know if any other maps were drawn. I drew the map and edited it into the vaguest semblance of a coherent location. Glad it was remotely playable. I think I added the dead guy on the stairs, mostly because I thought there needed to be more treasure, and some evidence of gluttons. I kind of figured he had a heart attack from being a big slob and eating too much roast manticore, but slipped on icy stairs is better.

    2. As a more general thing I think mysterious hints of a past are about all one should provide in a published product, unless it's a past that is specific and locked into the locale. I wrote something about it once, but basically the gist is that players see only the evocative, creepy tip of an iceberg, and I don't think it's especially useful to tell GMs what the rest of the iceberg is as background story is because we've each got our game world and will bend the module to it anyhow. Best to make the bending easy.