Monday, January 30, 2023

Lost Galmagia Week 4: Under the Ancestor’s Ward

One thing I’m loving about the B/X treasure tables is the inclusion of maps as a scroll. They immediately feed the PCs more information about things they might want to pursue, but unlike a grand quest they’re still a choice. This week’s set of rooms is built around that – the 1st room provides a treasure map, and the 3rd-7th rooms are the treasure location, but due to the dungeon geography the PCs have to exit the dungeon, search the smashed cemetery of the Ancestors Ward for the entrance, and then overcome the obstacles for… even more scrolls! OK, a spellbook. But that’s gonna be a huge draw for any Magic-User PCs.

1.23: Invisible Statues and Water Stash
This hemisphere is a shrine to the Galmagian Noble ancestors. Since the Ancestors Ward was overrun with shantytowns, the noble houses re-interred their dead in the undercity, with a shrine here to propitiate unmoved remains. Central is a perpetually flowing/purified fountain that local monsters use as a water source (double random encounter chance), and a plaque with an accurate map of the Ancestor’s Ward. That plaque hangs loosely, as if someone tried to remove it (PCs can finish the job in 1 turn). In between the plaque and the fountain is an invisible statue of a woman in wizards robes, kneeling and pointing towards the fountain. Any search of the room has someone comedically bump into her, but she’s well braced and will only fall over with concerted effort. The PCs can sell it as an oddity for 100 GP or find someone to cast the Dispel Magic needed to breach a 3rd level Invisibility and a 10th level Petrification.

Stashed behind the waterfall is an oilcloth backpack with dungeoneering equipment and notebooks that have suffered some damage. One is a travelling spellbook; Read Magic spell reveals Hold Portal, Invisibility & Locate Object intact. The other? Journal of Jewel Neilsdottor, who learned how this plaque could reveal the resting place of T’tam the Bird, buried in the Ancestors Quarter… WITH HIS SPELLBOOKS… in his bird-carved coffin. Jewel planned to claim these alone (Wis 5) with her Invisibility & Locate Object; the guardians of T’Tam’s tomb relied on sight. What could go wrong…?

1.24: Branches to the Manor Houses
This space is notable for the three branches to the individual manor house basements.

1.25: Entrance to the Crypt of T’tam
The circular stairs down can be uncovered with 2d6 person-hours work (if the PCs can find it!). At the base of the stairs is a carved Paralysis rune that has a 4 in 6 chance of striking anyone who doesn’t leap from the bottom step into the room. The rune is permanent and doesn’t have recharge time. Once the rune triggers a Crystal Living Statue will activate in each of 1.26 and 1.27, but both of them are shattered and instead crystal limbs without hands and one head missing a nose and jaw crawl into the room to be completely ineffectual in combat.

1.26, 1.27: Mirrored chambers of the crypt:
Each of these rooms is partially collapsed but navigable. Each has the remains of three human-shaped living crystal statues in them, buried and shattered. Room 1.27 is the less stable of the pair, and part of its ceiling can be brought down with an Open Doors check, forcing everything in it to make a Petrification save or be buried under rubble.

1.28: The Central Dias
The bridge between the mirrored rooms is a two-step raised dais with a sarcophagus on it, surrounded by crystal statues of four giant lizards, the guardians of the underworld in human myth. Each is damaged by rockfall but functioning (1/2 HP and damage), and activate when they see anyone step on the dais. The secret door entrance is on the north stairs of the dais, which can be unlocked at the sarcophagus and folded down to meet lower stairs – the stairs need to be re-folded up to crawl over the lower stairs to reach the path to the true tomb. The sarcophagus holds a ‘cursed scroll’ spellbook that when opened turns the reader into the bird their personality most resembles (Save vs. Polymorph). There’s also a Potion of Gaseous Form (makes you a flock of hummingbirds), a Potion of Diminution (you take on a birdlike aspect), 10 Arrows +1 fletched with golden hawk feathers, and 2500 SP in gold and silver bird statuary.

1.29: The True Tomb of T’tam

The otherwise empty room holds the elaborately aviary-carved sarcophagus of T’tam, inside of which is his spellbook, the equivalent of 4 scrolls each holding 2-3 spells (determine if the players ever find them). 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Monster Stat Blocks 2

There will likely be lots of Monster Stat Blocks in my future, but here goes

Skeletons (Level 1)
Number appearing: 3-12 (3-30 if in spawning point)
AC 12; HP 4; Move 40’ per round
Attacks are +0 to hit with weapon, damage 3 per hit.
Morale: 12
Specials: Turn as Skeletons; standard undead defenses (but see Drowned Ones, below)

Skeletons are either animated dead under the control of a Magic-User or Cleric – in which case they are mindless, programmed automatons with full Undead defenses – or are ‘Drowned Ones’ – those who died in water and were not recovered and given last rites. 1 in 10 such people will rise with parts of their personality intact and a deep burning anger at the living. These are still immune to sleep spells but have enough of a personality to be charmed. Skeletons arm themselves with weapons and shields, and their AC comes \ from their lack of vulnerable spots and their parrying speed.

Ogres (Level 4)
Number appearing: 1-6 (or 2-12 in lair)
AC 14; HP 17; Move 30’ per round
Attacks are +3 to hit with their clubs or axes; damage 12 per hit.
Morale: 10
Specials: On a roll of 18+ the target is also tossed back 5 or 10 feet. No extra damage done, but repositioning.
Specials: On a roll of 1-3, the target must save vs. Wands or take 1 pt damage from shrapnel caused by the miss.

Ogres stand 8-10 feet tall and are the age category between orc and Hill Giant. They have outgrown the perpetual anger of Orcs but replaced it with a ravenous hunger as they are growing rapidly. They have lost none of the weapons skills they learned as orcs, but their perpetual hunger makes them appear dim witted in anything other than ambushing food.

Pledged Dead (Level 2*)
Number appearing: 1-8
AC 11; HP 10; Move 40’ per round
Attacks are +1 to hit with their spectral swords or maces, damage 6 per hit.
Morale: 12
Specials: Require magic to hit (any enchanted item can strike them for 1 point of damage).
Specials: Turn as Zombies. Immediately dispelled if corpses disrupted. Must stay within 1000’ of place of death.
Specials: On a roll of 1-3, Target must save vs. Petrification or shy back 5’ feet from the ghostly presence.

Pledged Dead are servants of the Gods of Humanity, albeit limited ones. People who had pledged their loyalty to the church in life can have those pledged continued after death by a Cleric of 5th level or greater placing a holy symbol on the chest of their corpse (which must still be roughly where it died). This releases a semi-corporeal spirit that will follow the orders of any cleric of the human gods who issues them tasks. Thy can’t leave the vicinity of their death.

Ogres (Level 4)
Number appearing: 1-6 (or 2-12 in lair)
AC 14; HP 17; Move 30’ per round
Attacks are +3 to hit with their clubs or axes; damage 12 per hit.
Morale: 10
Specials: On a roll of 18+ the target is also tossed back 5 or 10 feet. No extra damage done, but repositioning.
Specials: On a roll of 1-3, the target must save vs. Wands or take 1 pt damage from shrapnel caused by the miss.

Ogres stand 8-10 feet tall and are the age category between orc and Hill Giant. They have outgrown the perpetual anger

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Monster Stat Blocks

Since I’m making some new ones, I should stat them up; plus how do I plan to run this.

Monster Base Principles

I’m tying monsters to level more because that was always the discussion in D&D but the HD = Level doesn’t feel mechanically rigorous enough for me. There’s some real 13th Age thinking in this,.

Monsters per level: 4.5 HP, +0.75 to hit (round down), 3 damage per level (+1 per attack if the damage is split across multiple attacks), AC is 8 at levels 0 and 1, 11 at levels 2-4, 14 at levels 5-8, and 18 and level 9 (reduce HP by 5% for every 1 pt. increase in AC). Save as Fighter at level. Special abilities usually activate on a to hit roll of 18+ or 15+, 6- or 3- and do not effect the Level of the monster; it just makes it meaner.

Soul Echoes (Level 0)
Number appearing: 1 Anywhere (2d4 at abandoned holy sites)
AC 8; HP 3; Move 20’ per round (floating)
Attacks are +0 to hit with touch, 0 damage per hit,
Morale: 12 (songs, palindromes, or collections of multi-colored sorting stones keep them away for 2d4 hours)
Specials: On an attack roll of 15+, drain 1 Constitution (usable once an hour, recovers after day in Place of Safety), Only hit by Magic Weapons, Turns as Skeleton (any turning destroys), bound to religious sites near their area of death

Notes: These translucent forms are just barely undead; not ghosts with personalities and grievances but echoes of spirits that were never laid to rest. Rarely they are found individually floating towards religious sites, where the local clergy can easily dispel them, or floating in numbers around abandoned holy sites. They prefer to attack at night when their insidious stealing of the targets breath can have maximum effect, but will attack if surprised at any time..

Prairie Rats (level 0)
Number appearing: 2-20 near where they’ve set up a burrow (5-50 in burrow)
AC 8; HP 1 per 2 rats; Move 20’ per round (swim 10)
Attacks are +0 to hit with bite, 1 damage on odd hit, 2 damage on even hit, and are made per group of 5-10 rats.
Morale: 5 (unless controlled)
Specials: On an attack roll of 18+, Target must save vs. poison or get sick in 24 hours. Constitution check of 3+ to avoid death in 1d6 days, otherwise sick for one month (Cure Disease immediately fixes, Clerical assistance gives +1 on check)
Specials: On an attack roll of 3-, the rats swarming over the target can overbalance it; save vs. Death or be knocked down and unable to attack until Death save made to regain feet or rats driven off

Notes: These are omnivorous menaces of the Tarmalanian plains; they are like normal rats in size, but burrow constantly, and will happily form packs to attack humans. Generally, they have to be smoked or burned out of places but once an infestation starts they’re very difficult to eradicate. They will quickly devour corpses left in areas they infest (Goblins hate them due to this tendency and usually attack them whenever they see them).

Fire Beetles (Level 1)
Number appearing: 1-8 in large radius of their pit (2-12 in pit)
AC 15; HP 4; Move 40’ per round
Attacks are +0 to hit with mandibles, damage 3 per hit.
Morale: 2 (if outside of pit area) or 9 (if inside pit and target restrained)
Specials: tremorsense, can walk over stagnant water or mud without restraint

Fire Beetles are yard long creatures found near swamps or mud pits. They have two glowing glands above their eyes and one at their tail (which they can close off to kill the light, and which glow for 1d6 days after their death) that light a 10’ radius. They never attack targets who are not in some way restrained – preferably in their swamps or mudpits – and those they attack viciously, killing the lights. They will drag off any corpses they come across, back to the pits.
If the target isn’t restrained, they quickly skuttle away from any attempt at violence against them.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Lost Galmagia Week 3: Under the Park Ward

 These rooms are those that were connected to the road network from the customs house and didn’t collapse. There are multiple dead end corridors (and one that is passible with excavation), but this space is a hub for this levels 1 and 2.

1.16 The Hub
This room had 6 exits;t 2 are now impassable. The Northeast passage terminates at a wall of amber that cannot be breached except by magic. There’s a blood trail running from the East passage that peters out heading down the South; evidence something bleeding was dragged. Searching shows lots of traffic through the room.

1.17a Something happened here….
This room has 3 locked doors, the Southeast has had its lock hacked through and is now ajar ( blood trail runs through that door). On the floor is a stone axe with a silver-inlaid head (50 sp), a small chest with 350sp of silver ingots (lock also broken), and in the corner a 3 day old cleanly severed hand clutching a ruby ring (300 gp value). Going through the broken door has standard chance of triggering a pit trap (Paralysis save or fall in) that drops the target 8’ down (no damage) and closes immediately – it won’t reopen for 6 hours. This pit connects to room 1.18

17b The almost collapsed passage
The door from 17a is locked but not trapped. The passage appears blocked but any Dwarf will see it can be cleared. The room has a passage east that was once hidden by a secret door(now visible due to the roof collapse) and two flights of down. Southbound flight has a grate over it through which anyone in 1.18’s pit can reach.

1.18 The Jewelers Guild Basements
This was once a sprawling place but eastbound passages collapsed; westbound is locked but poison trap now inert. Floor is ceramic tiles, some of which are broken, showing the metal grate and cage underneath. To south there’s signs of recent search that unearthed a chest (hacked open). Inside that was wadded cloth padding for another smaller chest (in 1.17) and a ring case (open and abandoned).

In the cage is a White Ape, now locked in for 3 days, weak and quite crazed. (It’s at half HP and -2 on all attacks and damage). It will reach up and grab anyone sticking anything through the holes into the cage, or smash some new ceramic to drag a limb down for a bite. It will also attack anyone in the pit, or anyone heading down the south stairs of 17a. There’s a small water source – a survival fountain for prisoners – and grates will need extraordinary measures to open (search over 17b stairs shows place that can be forced with an Open Doors test)

1.19 The Elevator Room
The Sculptors and Masons Guildhall rested over here; a section of their floor would descend, giving access to what is now dungeon levels 1-4. The floor currently rests 2.5 feet below the doorway, and the lever mechanism by the east door is snapped off but can be repaired. Adding 4 personweights unsticks floorm descend again down to floor 2, where it will stick for a minute before dropping further. The boxes in the room are full of stones and lead pipes.

1.20 Stairs down
This empty, well-travelled room contains two flights of stairs down, the lock on the door has been hacked open

1.21 Weaver’s Basement
Full of looms and thread-rolls that are all warped or moldering, this space contains nothing of value.

1.22 Funerary preparations
The center of this room is a crafted table just large enough to hold the goblin corpse that rests on it. Bustling around the room and the table are 5 still living goblins, and if observed through the slightly ajar door (this room too had its lock hacked off some time ago) are obviously engaging in some sort of ritual over the body. The goblins each have 7EP worth of personal trinkets, while the corpse is being set with 200 sp worth of torques and bracelets. Also in the room are two vials of Oil of Insect Summoning; these are over and above what has been applied to the exterior and eviscerated interior of the body. Three of the goblins are just standard Goblins, but one is a Goblin Acolyte and the other a Goblin Veteran.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Athames and Runes

Memory activation: rereading the B/X rules for my #Dungeon23 work and was reminded that B/X magic users can only fight with a dagger. This prompted a crystal clear memory of reading the AD&D PHB, learning that magic-users now got staves and darts, and being thrilled for my 3rd level MU… in those days when teenagers mixed and matched every rules set without a care. But since we’re doing B/X, we’re going with dagger only.


“An athame or athamé is a ceremonial blade, generally with a black handle. It is the main ritual implement or magical tool among several used in ceremonial magic traditions…. A black-handled knife called an arthame appears in certain versions of the Key of Solomon, a grimoire dating to the Renaissance.The proper use of the tool was started by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in the early 20th century, for the use of banishing rituals.

Every Magic-User has a stage midway through their apprenticeship when they craft their athame: a bone white blade made by mixing fire with earth, with a removable curved crystal pommel attached to a hollowed ebony-wood handle the length of the blade, inside which is held spell components such as black lotus extract, powdered mushrooms, rowan bark, ground silver, runestones, and whatever else the magic-user might need to ingest, inject or distribute in casting of their spells.

The Athame’s blade never needs honing, always as sharp as the finest dwarf-forged blade. Much lighter than steel with no cross-guard it is not a weapon for parrying, but any magic-user is so comfortable with his athame that they strike with it as proficiently as any veteran. There are small marks at the athames tip to indicate dosages of mind-expanding formulae or amounts of rowan bark to be stirred into fluids (water, tea, blood, etc.) the distribution of which can be used to divine the past or present. The pommel crystal is used in a variety of divinations.

An Athame is very difficult to destroy; strikes will snap the all but indestructible blade from the replaceable hilt. The blade is magically linked to its creator, and they can feel its direction and distance if separated from it. If a spell requires spell components, the caster’s Athame is the primary one. In non-magical terms, the blade is fired ceramic (which is why you don’t sharpen it), and the pommel is a lens that can be used to magnifying. Every magic-user knows “Create Athame” as a spell, but since it takes a month to cast and causes 1d4 HP damage it’s not part of the useful spell list. .


Magic-User also know Rune Magic; the ability to make their spells  permanent by binding magical runes into objects. (Light is the earliest Rune Magic, and Continual Light is the permanent, standardized, quick to cast version; Hold Portal and Wizard Lock are similar and it’s runes are called Wards). Runes can have a variety of different effects but require the caster to be 2-3 levels higher than the level of the spell it’s based on and to have a very clear idea of what they want to do. Creating a new Rune takes a month of time and does 1d4 damage to the caster, just like creating an Athame; common runes like the two mentioned above, have been refined over the centuries to be much easier.

Runes can be damaged by time, magical effort or extreme force, but any caster who knows the spell it was based on can repair a damaged ward. (This is in part to make Hold Portal more useful to PCs, as it can rebuild many of the damaged wards throughout the dungeon.)

In Lost Galmagia Hold Portal/Wizard Lock spells were made runes in a variety of ways, most often as ward to prevent loose water from entering places, or giving paper screens the strength of mortared brick to act as interior walls. Wards are also permanent illusions, places of continual light, or magical traps. I just want to provide a consistent explanation for these things that, as Ben Milton at Questing Beast recommends, lets the players get their hands into the guts of the setting and tear it apart from the inside.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Cantrips and Reversals

I'm fiddling with Magic-User and Elf spells a bit to better suit my ideas for the setting. While I want an Old School style of play, I also want Magic Users and Elves to have more flexibility in play when it comes to their magic. My general idea is that Arcane magic lets you 'break the rules' in a variety of ways, that each spell should have several applications as a tool the players can manipulate, and using one should let you either defeat, or at least make radically easier, any at-level challenge. 

To this end I'm introducing a lot of "0 level" spells, the classic Cantrip idea, where the Magic-User or Elf has all of them in their spellbook and can memorize 3 per day. Many of these are either classic 1st level spells that I don't think reach the requirements I listed above, or AD&D spells I like and wanted to use. 

I also also borrowing a page of 13th age and named the levels for the levels the characters get them - so there are 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th level spells rather than 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Any spells past 9th level are idiosyncratically created and not shared - new unique spells is a power for Magic-Users at 9th-12th levels. 

To fill the level gaps nearly all spells now have Reversals: if the caster is 1 level higher than needed to cast the spell (so a 2nd level magic-user casting a cantrip or 1st level spell can reverse it). This shifts some things to slightly higher levels but opens up a lot more options: That second level caster can have 3 Cantrips prepared (all of which could be reversed), and 2 first level spells (each of which can be reversed), for 10 different options, but they only have to make 5 choices at the start of the delve.  

0 level Magic User and Elf Spells

Armor: 8 hour duration, robes act as leather armor (a 3 point improvement in my mechanics)
1st Level Reverse: Curse of the Hapless Target
Rather than protecting himself, the caster can touch an opponent and reduce their armor class by 3 points for the spell’s duration, as attacks are magically guided to the holes in their defenses. The caster has to succeed in a 0 damage, unarmed attack on the target if attempting this in combat; casual contact works outside of combat.

Dancing Lights: lights as torches of other adventuring party. Can be terminated by lighting a lot of candles, a handful of prepared torches, or one campfire. 
1st Level Reverse: Deepen Shadows
Rather than creating places of torchlight, this creates pockets of deeper shadow within existing shade. The caster can use this to make them selves appear more intimidating, applying a -2 to target morale checks to opponents of their level or lower, or to assist hiding: they or any party members trying to stay out of sight within the 20’ radius will receive a bonus to do so at DM discretion. This spell can also be terminated by extinguishing candles, torches, or a campfire. 

Detect Magic: also allows “Identify” if casting in a place of safety 
1st Level Reverse: Magic Aura (but not Nystuls!)

Range: 60' Duration: 1 + level days
When first meeting any creature/group of creatures who share a language with the caster, the magic-user or elf can raise the existence of long standing, magical, Old Empire agreements between the casters race and in hopes of gaining a more favorable reaction. If cast before the initial reaction roll, the caster’s party can make three reaction rolls and take the best one. If cast after the reaction roll, the caster’s side can re-roll and take the better result. This spell emphatically does not work on Giant-Kin (including Orcs).
1st Level Reverse: Ransom
Cast in extremis, this spell also compels anyone who speaks the same language with you of the Old Empire Compacts, specifically of the rules for ransoming rather than killing their foes. This spell will end a fight, give the Party time to tend to their fallen, and depart… at the cost of all their supplies – each party member may retain one item. Those who try to steal back what they lost suffer s Curse.

Unseen Servant: lasts 8 hours in relative safety or 10 turns somewhere dangerous, acts as moderately skilled domestic servant for one house or within 30’ of caster. 
1st Level Reverse: Gremlins
Rather than creating a helpful domestic servant, the caster embodies a handful of non-combative but malevolent spirits that damage one room (breaking crockery, scattering books, overturning furniture, etc.) or a 100’ diameter space outdoors (creating dust storms, knocking down dead tree branches, etc.). Among other effects, inside this counts as an elf for revealing a Secret Door; outside it obliterates any sign of the party’s passage through an area. 

Read Languages
1st Level Reverse: Cryptography
The reverse of this spell allows the caster to write a short missive (one sheet of paper) that can only be read by a) the caster, b) people the caster designates at casting, or c) those using Read Languages. 

Read Magic
1st Level Reverse: Scribe Scroll
The reverse of this spell allows the caster to create magical scrolls. This is a time and labor-intensive event, costing 100 GP and one month per spell level (50 GP and 2 weeks for 0 level spells). 

1st Level Reverse: Muffle Self
The reverse of this spell allows the caster to make next to no noise. Other spellcasting or communication is impossible, but the magic-user or elf gains the surprise abilities of a Halfling or Thief for the duration of the spell. 

I'll post the 1st and 2nd level reversals if there's any interest. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Lost Galmagia Week 2: Under the Acolytes Ward

These rooms hinge on two things: an Ogre who stumbled past the room 1.6 Curse Ward and now at half strength lurking in the hallway, and a Bishop of the Matriarchy who is barking mad and excavating all the Acolytes Quarter basements.  

1.9: Ogre Storage
Not too long ago an Ogre blundered through the arch from 1.6 and the curse ward cut his Prime Requisite (Strength, natch!). With burning snake venom in his veins, he’s just smart enough to know the arch cursed him and just dumb enough to think it will hit him on the exit. He’s hunkered into the storage space and ambushes any Galmagian Nobles passing through here: even at half strength he’s fearsome. (He attacks at +2 for 6 damage). If the dice indicate the party is surprised it’s because the Ogre is preparing an ambush from behind the crates. He is too large for the excavated tunnel, so he stays within the storage area or roams up and down the passage (he’s a potential wandering monster under the Cathedral, and if he’s killed there he won’t be here). His pouch holds 500 GP and the trade goods here will, if brought back to town, net another 500 GP.

1.10: Unstable Ceiling
Most distant of the excavated basements, it isn’t stable. Dwarves can detect this, but otherwise each person passing through the entrance has standard chance to trigger a cave in in a few seconds. All in the room must save vs Petrification or take 1d10 damage (an Open Doors check to dig out if still alive). On the plus side, once the cave in occurs, this room becomes another entrance to the surface, albeit a narrow, hard to navigate one.

1.11 Shallow Graves
This excavated basement exudes an aura of holiness detectable by any cleric or human aligned with the Matriarch. The floor holds 4 shallow graves which, if exhumed, reveal the bodies of large men laid to rights (including crude wood Caduceus for each that radiate good and magic; these have no intrinsic value, but if removed will kill a Pledged Dead).

1.12: A Block of Flats Graveyard
This large room encompasses the basements of 4 interconnected houses. Each is somewhat separated by 10’ arches and 2” risers, some of which still have the paper ‘walls’ between them that are warded to be as strong as oak (can be brought down with axes). Each segment holds a shallow grave identical to the ones in 1.11, and the Secret Door is another warded paper screen covered with mud that can be shifted.

1.13: The Bishop’s Project
There’s sounds of excavation coming from this room; inside are 9 figures: a wiry woman leading a work crew of 8 men in chain armor, digging away at the wall. The men reveal themselves to be Pledged Dead when they turn to acknowledge the PCs. The woman is Lily HazelsDottor, a Cleric 8 who used to lead knights on voyages to the west and back. She’s the one responsible for the pledged dead, who were her knights in life. When the Giant’s Shadow fell, she survived a building collapse and then due to her Ring of Sustenance (which means she needs no food, water or air), she had time to dig her way to another basement, and has spent the last quarter century digging. Now in her 60’s she’s obsessed with finding and survivors in the quarter; whenever she’s found the bodies of her knights she’ held them to their pledges in life. Any other bodies are moved to 1.15. Lily won’t leave her quest or this area, but if the PCs get on her good side by accepting a quest she will cast spells to aid them and these rooms count as a Place of Safety for recovering HP & Spells. What quest? She will either send them down the shaft in 1.14 to and the 3rd level recover a powerful magic sword (which they could keep) or into the 2nd level Cathedral basements for an earth moving artifact that she would keep.

1.14: HazelDottor’s Rooms
This room is divided into 4 quadrants by warded paper screens, each with small gaps in them. HazelsDottor uses this as her minimalist living quarters as she still needs to sleep. Her bed and what personal items she has are in (A) while (C) contains a shaft down to the 2nd and 3rd level.

1.15: Laid to Rest

This chamber holds all other bodies the dead HazelsDottor has found here, laid in graceful repose. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Religion

I want to take B/X Clerics on their own terms, which means not fiddling around as much with a thousand different gods with tweaks to every cleric’s powers. The game is less granular than that.

1) Snakes are Sacred Animals

The spells Snake Charm and Sticks to Snakes, along with the clerics only magic item Snake Staff, is an awful large percentage of cleric magic with an ophidian leaning. Obviously, these are all around several events in the Old Testament that would have been familiar to the folks at TSR. Taken independently it is clear that snakes play an important part in B/X Religion; that they matter to whatever gods there are. Leaning into that with the Human Cleric being able to circumvent the usual collection of rumors through Ophiomancy, the Caduceus and Aesculapius being holy symbols, and working in any other snake imagery I can over the campaign. Snakes are, or at least can be, agents of the gods.

2) There aren’t holy wars over the gods

Because, well, the Gods of Humanity are real, and they humans worship the same pantheon. This doesn’t mean there aren’t individual conflicts over interpretation of scripture, when large armies gather to fight over religion the Gods just stop giving everyone spells until they cut that crap out. No one wants to fight a war without the Gods, so they don’t happen. This doesn’t mean people don’t make war on other people… they do that all the time. Just don’t do it saying the Gods told you to. They’re trusting us to sort it all out; don’t drag them into it.

There’s a continual disagreement between the religion of the Tarmalanian Empire, who assert that the Sun is a god over the gods, too powerful for humans to worship directly so we worship the sun through the stars. The religion of Abaman Emirate doesn’t hold with that, thinking that the gods have nothing over them. The Tarmalanians know the Sun is infinitely merciful to their southern family; the Abamans find it a charming eccentricity in their northern kin. Many a wine bottle has been dispatched over the particulars.

3) The Matriarchy of the Moon

As discussed in general housekeeping, the moons are the places where the gods/stars gather to converse, argue, and make plans. The Matriarchy is the dominant Tarmalanian, with the Caduceus as a symbol, and they are a communal religion. While their top three offices (the Matriarch to be, the Matriarch that is, and the Matriarch that was; in an Apprentice/Mistress/Advisor structure and definitely not Maiden/Mother/Crone… OK, yeah that) are limited to women the rest of the hierarchy easily accommodates men. For narrative purposes the Matriarchy is almost all the good stuff of organized religion: tithes to them are redistributed back to the needy at a 90/10 ratio; if there is ever a time when a craftsman or artisan is out of work the Matriarchy will commission great works from them to keep them engaged and their skills sharp. Anyone seeking work can find it with them, assisting those in desperate need.

The Matriarchy is overwhelmed now, as the Giant’s Shadow has left so many in such desperate need and with so much of their resources lost to them, but they are still a potent force that, in AD&D terms, would be Neutral Good. Any PC aligned with them can expect to receive care and succor from any other follower

4) The Brotherhood of the Stars

In the Giant’s Shadow a hundred minor cults have started, all on the same path of claiming personal connection with an individual god, touting the power of that connection, and sharing it with their followers, some of whom also start leveling up and gaining spells, and how their individual nature puts them above the need to work with any community save the Brotherhood – if you are not with them you’re beneath them, and anyone beneath them is a target to be fleeced. How this translates into the Brotherhoods viciously enforced hierarchy somehow never occurs to them. At their smallest the Brotherhoods are marginal cults; at their strongest they are powerful prosperity gospel grifters.

The Brotherhood uses the Aesculapius as a holy symbol, its single snake indicating a freedom from the constraints of society. PCs allied with them can expect considerable funding for any ventures, with the understanding that a large chunk of what they recover goes to the Brotherhood, and failure means you’d better have died out there. In AD&D terms they would be Neutral Evil.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Rumors Part 3

Wow, this is taking longer than I thought, but I want to see it through because the exercise is spurring ideas for the rest of the dungeon.

0)      The Acolytes’s ward held the lay devout who didn’t need to be in the Moon Ward. The space also filled with travelers from the canal and roads and the poor willing to accept the Moon’s charitable employment

a.       While the place was flooded with refugees when the Giant’s Shadow fell, most were desperately poor, so any treasures are limited.

b.       The ward was the staging place for any number of explorations into the western mountains; there may well be things of interest to be returned to the dwarves and elves sheltering humanity now.

c.       This ward flooded with refugees when the Giant’s Shadow fell, and surely the ruins must contain riches!

1)      The Park ward held craft and tradesman, with some park spaces for enjoyment of the common man. Those are overgrown now, or lost to the elements.

a.       There’s was some generational wealth here, but it was all enough to be carried with them as they fled. There’s likely little of value on the surface rubble.

b.       The parks contained several rare herbs and flowers that, if you can find any seeds or roots, would have some value. Still, it’s a stretch….

c.       The master craftsmen were making 4 suits of pure gold armor for the Galmagian noble family, lost here.

2)      The Ancestors ward held the desperately poor, and the dead. People unwilling or unable to accept the work of the Moon have shanties against the city wall and the equally thick wall of to the Noble Ward, or among the sepulchers and tombs that were the ward’s original inhabitants.

a.       By tradition the tombs were stone and not magically locked. As a result, few have any remnants left, and those that do must have been picked clean

b.       The truly wealthy maintained deeper tombs in the undercity, where treasures were given to the ancestors to propitiate them. Those on the surface are striving tradesmen and posers.

c.       Corpses rise from the graves every night to avenge themselves on travelers who do not carry holy relics or lay out rare herbs to mark protective circles. (I happen to have some for sale right here!)

As you can see, every ward, as well as the city as a whole, has a rumor tree. Each player gets rumor 0, and can ask to explore more rumors either on the city as a whole or one of the mentioned wards. That gets them one of the rumors on that area (which, with a bad roll, might be false). The next player can either pick a new area and get the top rumor for there. Is it better to go deeper or broad? It’s cheaper to go deeper early, as at the start of play each PC gets 1 roll (thieves get 2), but when you try to get more it’s 10 GP for a Number rumor, 50 GP for a letter rumor or 100 GP for a Roman Numeral rumor. But if you go too specific you’ll lack information on other areas of the city.

I’ll obviously have to build more rumors as the PCs get deeper and learn new things, but since I haven’t done those levels yet I don’t know what to expect myself!

Monday, January 9, 2023

Lost Galmagia, Week 1: Under the Customs House

 This is the easiest entry to the undercity, it has also suffered most from the elements. The central conceits are twofold: Goblin religion calls for insects to eat their dead; when they crept into the undercity they brought Fire Beetles. Second is Fire Beetles act like Will-o-the-Wisps: they won’t engage their foes are hindered, so they use their ability to scuttle over mud and stagnant water and their light to lure creatures into bogs or quicksand and then attack en masse.

The levels physical layout has some half levels: it’s a 10’ drop in the drainage tunnel between 1.1 and 1.2, then 5 feet up to 1.4, and another 5 feet up to 1.3 (which puts it back level with 1.1). It’s a 5’ stair from 1.1 to 1.7 as well. Rooms 1.2 and 1.4 have the same ceiling height as 1 and 3

Room 1.2: the Drought Docks

Beyond the blocked grate is a yard wide ditch that protected the ballroom from flooding by draining to the lower docks. This room has 20’ ceilings and unless the PCs are there during the summer drought this room is 10’ deep in water. All the furniture is stone and bolted to the floor. There are visible anti-Undead wards to the canal. The area around the stairs down from 4 has a pile of mud, and the door is 10’ high so it’s just barely submerged.

Room 1.3: Drought Docks Scriveners

Water flows into this room from 1.1, heading towards 1.4, carrying dirt & debris to cover the floor to an inch or so on which the 4 Fire Beetles in the room leave nigh-invisible tracks. There are 8 stone tables here, six of which are two-sided desk with a honeycomb of cubby holes underneath. Searching each desk takes a turn, with a 1 in 6 chance of finding 1) a scroll of Protection from Undead; 2) a scroll of Protection from Evil; or 3) the instructions to locate crated artwork from Old Empire masters worth 4000 GP… just its one level lower. (must make map)

Room 1.4: The Goblin Graveyard

This mosaiced room contains 4 Fire Beetles (still ignoring the PCs), and is full to 5’ deep with thick mud with skeletal arms, legs and heads bearing worked silver armbands, greaves and torques. It would take a turn for the party to collect everything but once the PCs have been in for 2 rounds, will start to suck them down (save vs. Petrification to move each round, -3 on AC and attacks; halflings and dwarves may drown). That’s when the Fire Beetles attack. And all the surviving Fire Beetles from other areas converge and attack (add 4 per round until 12 total in fight). One round after the fight starts the Fire Beetles extinguish their glows… have the PCs come to rely on them for light? There’s a just-visible arch of a passage to the east that PC can escape through; the door to the west is closed but mosaiced to look like the wall.

Room 1.5: Service Passage

This is a long corridor for moving goods from the drought docks to various storerooms around the city. On the west wall is a secret door that was once just locked, with a lever mechanism in the wall, but the lever has been snapped off leaving a set of circles visible that can be manipulated to open the door (+1 on chance to find). Wandering monsters are twice as common here, as the goblins pass through there to drop off bodies in 1.4 (and fire beetles follow them).

Room 1.6: Wrecked Storage

This room contains remnants of crates, with scraps of bills of lading and other paperwork, all smashed and picked clean. The arched passage to the west has clerical runes for “worship” & “enter”. Those who don’t kneel & pray before crossing Save vs Spells or be Cursed (1/2 Prime Requisite). There are magical anti-water wards on the door to room 1.6 that prevent a flood from spreading. 

Room 1.7: Ramp Room

Stairs down from 1.1 (the top step etched with water wards) lead 5' down to this room. There’s a ramp dominating the center of this room that once led to the old docks, now covered with a rock slab. There are 12 Fire Beetles in the room that scatter when the PCs approach them. The door to room 1.8 is very hard to open, requiring a 7+ to force. If opened, water rushes into the room, filling it to 5' depth. but no higher due to the various water wards. 

Room 1.8:  the Cracked Canal

In this room the canal has cracked enough for 6 Skeletons (Drowned Ones) to enter, and they will rush the PCs the moment the door opens. Each has 2d6 GP in their bedraggled pouches. There are wide stairs down to level 2 in the southwest corner, underwater, where wards prevent the water from flowing – 1d4 damage fall if you step there and drop to level 2. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Rumors Part 2

The center of the south bank held the customs house, a vast place with a wide stairwell into an opulent lower ballroom that offered the best access to the under-city and to the normally submerged drought docks.

a.       The customs house was also brimming with trade goods and coin during the flight from the giant’s shadow. Anything too bulky or not immediately useful was abandoned here.  

                                                               i.      Crates of the last Tarmalanian cloths and weavings – things where the art to build the equipment that made them has been lost – are for certain here and would fetch a high price.

                                                             ii.      Journals of the trade houses were presumably kept in the drought docks file rooms; someone with those would know which treasures were in which hidden storerooms under the house.

b.       The drought docks were protected by two sets of wards; one that kept water out of critical areas, one that held out undead; Those may be failing, but a magic-user could restore the first, a cleric the second.

                                                               i.      River (and canal) boatmen who drown in the water are seldom the recipients of last rights; this makes the Drowned Ones of various sorts are more common than other undead… and meaner.

                                                             ii.      At the bottom of the canal a system of pipes and wards provided water throughout the city; these should still be in force, and provide another possible path through the undercity.

c.       The traders guild made use of ancestral orbs, lights that would guide people to their secret vaults.

1)    The Northwest wall was home to the great tower of the guard, with its mirror that could send messages across the plains. While even the stone tower is shattered to shards, there’s supposedly a secret stair to a gated door.

a.       The mirror positioning mechanism was beneath the tower and made of lost arts; any parts of it, or sketches of same, would have immediate value to dwarven artificers.

                                                               i.      It was also powered by no end of bound spirits and forces, which might have taken it into their mind to complain now that they’re free.

                                                             ii.      Pilgrims and travelers have seen small, curiously malformed men in the shadows around the tower. Not anything native to the city, even as magic.

b.       While the city guard had little by way of magic, they were supplemented by an elvish unit of sword and spell masters; those that survived had to leave much of their magic armament behind.

                                                               i.      In addition to elfcraft armor and weapons, this includes true named swords with considerable power that are eager to be found and either used or returned to Deephome.

                                                             ii.      There is one master spellbook that includes spells of the 3rd level and higher know only to elvish wizards… unless you can lay your hands on it!

c.       There was a guard of automatons that might be reprogrammed to serve as your personal army.

2)      The northeast corner was once the Mages Ward; its ground is now indestructible glass (covered with eroded debris, the tall towers collapsed and leaned into each other, making helpful shelters for pilgrims and travelers.

a.       Sregor Viridian was the highest Magic-User in the city, and it was he who sealed the mage’s undercity off from the giants to protect its secrets. The obsidian wards stretch down into the undercity.

                                                               i.      Either your studies or the plying of spellcasters with drink have revealed that the obsidian wards can be breached with the “touch of arcane magic” of the like Giant-Kin cannot make.

                                                             ii.      Sregor was a prolific spell-creator, and his spellbooks should still be present in the undercity, full of spells unknown to any other Magic-User.

b.       Sregor Viridian was the highest Magic-User in the city and was known to appear and disappear out of the undercity with no evidence of arrival or departure. Perhaps he left a gate down there….

                                                               i.      There’s a classic tale of Sregor leading a stallion bred only in the Emirate of Abama in the far south out of the undercity. Perhaps that’s where the gate leads?

                                                             ii.      Sregor was one of the Counsel of Three, with Na’Rib ibn Di’Vad al’Abama and Princess Enegue, other potent Magic-Users long out of touch. They might be contacted via Sregor’s tower….

c.       Sregor was allied with the Giant-Kin, and is now a Lich under the city, exploring dark realms.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Lost Galmagia: Rumors

As Ben at Questing Beast is fond of saying, “Information is the lifeblood of Old School Play”. I’m leaning heavily into the rumors system that is touched on in module B1: In Search of the Unknown. Before the start of the first session each PC can roll for one rumor on a d20, while Thief PCs can roll for 2 on a d12. Dwarves, Clerics, Fighters, Halflings, and Thieves add their Charisma modifier to the roll (though the thief can choose not to if their Charisma is below average). Magic-Users and Elves can add their Intelligence modifier to the roll rather than Charisma if they prefer, getting their rumors through study of ancient scrolls and tomes. Clerics can add their Wisdom modifier rather than Charisma, getting their ‘rumors’ through Haruspex or Ophiomancy (reading entrails of sacrifices or watching the movement of snakes). Once one PC gets a rumor they can share it, and others try to build on it to get deeper into the rumor tree (or if they make it back to Amethyst Spire they can spend gold to try again.) Rumors in Italics are enticing lies.

0)      The city was built into 8 wards (Acolyte, Ancestors, Mages, Moon, Nobles, Park , Swords, and Trade) radiating out from the canal, and it has undercity trade roads. Everyone knows this.

a.       But you’ve got a map! Actually, you have several, showing the locations of the eight wards relative to each other and the rough layout of each ward. Cartography is not a high art, BTW.

                                                               i.      You also have a rough sketch of the undercity roads in relation to those. Again, it might not be 100% accurate but it’s a fair sight better than nothing.

b.       Each Ward has an icon – bejeweled gold animal statues – locatable by clues in the lost architecture.

1)      The cathedral of the moon was in the far east of the city; it’s under levels held extensive sacrifices and tribute to the gods that was centralized here and distributed across the empire.

a.       There’s a trapdoor to the vaults that an acolyte spotted in the ruins. There’s still a direct way down!

                                                               i.      You’ve found that acolyte and prized from him the trapdoor’s location, half buried under a huge stone block, which is why the pilgrims left it. But blocks can be moved….

                                                             ii.      Per stories, that trapdoor leads down into a “testing chamber”, so be prepared to be tested in a fashion fitting the Matriarchy of the Moon. Once you’re past there travel is freer.

b.       There was a caravan of holy relics fleeing the giant’s shadow that made it to Galmagia but no further. If they have not been pillaged, they are in the cathedral vaults.

                                                               i.      The vaults and undercity spaces were protected by wards that allowed in only the pious, or at least those who knew how to mime the right actions. You can recognize these wards.

                                                             ii.      The relics lost include a True Caduceus – the snake of which can animate and attack – which is of enormous symbolic importance to the matriarchy.

c.       The Matriarchs who did not escape made pacts with dark forces, and now are vampires sucking the life from the horseclans and pilgrims who pass through.

2)      The noble houses were in the far west of the city, and they had extensive under-levels full of family heirlooms.

a.       These include art collections, wine cellars, and similar artifacts of the old order. All of this would fetch high prices from the True King, even if they aren’t inherently valuable.  

                                                               i.      Each family had private armories of elf-craft, dwarf-forged, or magical weapons. There must be three or four such caches in and under the noble houses.

                                                             ii.      Of course, the noble houses also privately entombed and propitiated their dead, and such devotions have not been made in some time. That might cause problems.

b.       The Galmagian noble family was… unstable from inbreeding and constantly laid curses laid on one another; neither they, nor their treasures, ever left the city. They MUST be dead by now. Mustn’t they?

                                                               i.      They are not. Conversation with one of the Galmagians who had been abroad when the giant’s shadow fell reveals eerie dreams of living family turned into things not quite human.

                                                             ii.      The Galmagian noble family had long proclaimed that they would never sully themselves with base metal, and all their daily utensils and adornment were gold and silver.

c.       The crown of Tarmalania lies hidden in one of the storerooms, and whoever claims it claims the empire. The Last King will, of course, deny this.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Lost Galmagia Week 0, the City Ruins

My first week is from December 26 to January 1, giving space to define the ruins above the dungeon. I want both Gygaxian & Jaquayed – naturalistic features that players can exploit; full of loops so players have meaningful choices – so knowing what buildings room clusters were under helps. The biggest feature of Galmagia is the Grand Canal. Galmagia maximized its utility with not just a lower port but underground roads to move goods. These link six major buildings and flavor the clusters under them. 

Wandering Monsters

There is a 1 in 6 chance of a small goblin patrol also hiding in the city when the PCs enter with a 1 in 12 chance of encountering the PCs each hour; these will always race back to S31 if they see the PCs. If the PCs are exploring S31 when the goblins are out, they find the gate unlocked.  

M26:  The Cathedral

A center for the Matriarchy of the Moon. The thick, 4’ high stones of the cathedral’s walls lie scattered about. Exploration takes either 4d12 person hours to find a trapdoor to the dungeon half buried under a 4’ stone cube of stone (clearing that has its own time requirements). If the PCs have an accurate rumor about that trapdoor, finding it takes 1d4 person hours. The space is infested with 4 Soul Echoes, a new Level 0 monster that saps constitution (1 pt per hit, max 1 per hour); they wait for their targets to sleep so to steal 8 points overnight. Sapped constitution will return when the PC rests in a Place of Safety.

T27: The Stone Lean-Tos

These buildings had 15’ x7’ x 1’ walls; while broken and unmoored, they lean against each other in haphazard fashion creating rough shelters that for travelers. The PCs can set this up as a place to rest and recover, but it would take magic to make it a Place of Safety. There’s a 1 in 6 chance that there’s some other travelers here (Nomads or Acolytes) whenever the players enter after the first visit. 

W28: Candlelight and Customs

The ruin of the old custom house mostly pillars and statuary on a grand marble floor, which seen from a distance at night still dance with lights weaving in and about them. Up close those are revealed to be Fire Beetles moving up and down the broad, mud-covered steps to the lower customs house, and the easiest access to the dungeon. Here, the Fire Beetles have a Morale of 2, racing below or scattering. 

T29: the Ratholes

This space is over the old noble manor houses, and Prairie Rats, new level 0 monsters that are a step between regular and giant rats, infest this space. It has considerable dirt and earth cover over years of the city eroding into it, and the rats use that for burrows. They are violent and easily scattered (morale 4), but will regroup here every d4 days. There’s a passage into the dungeon wide enough for lightly armored characters to squirm through that each PC has a 1 in 12 chance of stumbling across (elves 2 in 12); it can be cleared enough for a more comfortable passage in 2d12 person hours. 

F30: Enticing Ruins

The bulk of the city, this is low stone and rotted wood ruins that the monsters from below, horseclans, and travelers have picked clean with no passage down. Any time the PCs spend here is wasted. the acolytes ward had seen it's wooden buildings both collapsed and torched, and its ground is ash made muddy from the canal overflow (F30A). The space that used to be the eastern city park is now naught but stone and earth, and the park ward's strong stone merchant houses are now am uneven, impassable floor (F30B); the ancestors ward has seen all the graves knocked flat, the ones with any accessibility prized open and plundered (F30C, but see 1.23).

S31: Failed Sentry

This was once a tall, square guard tower, now destroyed to the point where walking is uncomfortable due to the rocky shards littering the ground. 2d12 person hours search (or 1d4 with an Accurate Rumor) locates stairs down to a metal gate to the old armory & prison that is usually locked, but 1 in 6 chance it is not because there are goblins on the surface somewhere). The lock can be picked, or the gates bent or ripped down, as normal. 

Room 1:  The Customs House Ballroom

The muddy marble stairs from W28 lead here, an opulent room left to the elements. A stream runs down the stairs to the south, either out the west door (to 3) or pooling in the southwest corner. The water clearly flooded south once, as all the furnishings are clustered against that wall (concealing the grate to 2). There are 4 Fire Beetles here but like those in W28, they are Morale 2. There south wall debris has been picked through, but 1 turn of looking yields a pair of gold candlesticks worth 25 GP each.