Monday, July 15, 2019

One Click Bounty Hunter and Starship Generators

I've been watching a lot of Star Wars clips recently - I don't know why Youtube started recommending them to me, but I've clicked on enough to clog my recommended feed full of them - and it's made me want to write more scifi stuff. One of the reasons I think Star Wars works is because it always paints a picture larger than what is actually being shown. While all those name drops of things can feel forced at times, it helps give a sense that the galaxy's size is larger than you can appreciate from a single movie.

Contrast this with something like Warhammer 40K, a setting with simply insane scales and many fleshed out factions, but with very few mysteries that don't have answers. It's hard to come up with something new for 40K without having to make sure it doesn't step on the toes of the setting's canon. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you, but it creates a different sort of setting.

But how can you make an RPG have that same sense of scale? Easy answer: tables. Lots of tables. By writing interesting things in advance and combining several different rolls into one, you can effectively multiply your preparation. If you write six interesting entries with two major details, you've made six encounters. But if you write three versions of each major detail and roll for them, you haven't made six encounters - you've made nine.

I was going to (and did) write a starship generator, but all those Star Wars clips reminded me of an obvious example: bounty hunters. Remember that scene in The Empire Strikes Back where they hire all the bounty hunters? They're on screen for maybe half a minute, but almost all wound up getting extensive backstories as the setting was expanded. So I wound up writing two generators. You can click the buttons below (thanks to Angus) to instantly generate a result, but I encourage you to read the tables and mine them for ideas.

The scene in question.

Bounty hunters. They work well for RPGs, especially scifi ones. There's an obvious way to bring them into conflict with the party, and it's easy to have them simply give up and leave to fight another day. They also give you an easy excuse to play dirty - random guards aren't going to tailor their strategies to the party's weaknesses, but a bounty hunter is more or less expected to prepare in advance and know what they're doing. Plus, they can come from more or less anywhere, and are a perfect chance to show off a cool species or culture concept without forcing the party to interact with it on a large scale.

To use these tables for Into The Odd, give them 12 HP, either a base 10 in every stat or 3D6 in order, and any gear you see fit. If you don't normally have NPCs be injured when they fail a STR save, simply dying, I would recommend you have bounty hunters be an exception - if only so the party can interrogate them for information. Dying bounty hunters are notoriously talkative.

D4 Who are they hunting?
This is pretty self-explanatory, but I would recommend you let the party know who's being hunted and why - just not who by or when they'll strike.

1 A member of the party.
2 A close ally of the party.
3 Someone temporarily critical to the party's goals.
4 An enemy of the party. They'll fight anyone who tries to kill them instead.

D6 What is their demeanour?
This comes up most when the bounty hunter is monologuing to seemingly defeated prey, but can also say something about how they fight. Mostly it's just for flavour.

1 All business, no nonsense.
2 Extreme aggression, easily provoked.
3 Boring and plain.
4 Cheerful, bordering on saccharine.
5 Melancholic and fatalist.
6 Showy and narcissistic.

D8 What's their modus operandi?
Again, pretty self-explanatory. They're broad descriptions, however, so you have plenty of room to determine exactly what kind of explosive, vehicle, etc they're using.

1 Explosives and heavy weapons.
2 Long range weapons, sniping.
3 Automated drones.
4 Stealth and melee weapons.
5 Hired help.
6 Heavy armour and close range weapons.
7 Combat vehicles.
8 All-rounder weapons and gear.

D10 What specialist gear do they own?
It can be daunting to combine two seemingly incompatible methods and specialist gears, but think on how they could work together. A sniper in power armour, for example, could wield much larger weapons, or stand straight out in the open without fear of easy retaliation.

1 A jetpack, reliable but easily damaged.
2 Ancient weaponry that ignores armour.
3 A heavily upgraded, combat-specialized starship.
4 Power armour and energy shields.
5 Combat drugs.
6 High tech tracking and scanning devices.
7 A cloaking field.
8 A bioengineered combat/tracking pet.
9 Nanotech weapons, easily concealed.
10 Multiple cybernetic augmentations.

D10 What do they look like?
Another flavour roll, but think about how their appearance combines with their tactics and gimmick - for example, someone wearing corporate-branded punk gear tells a story.
1 Nondescript, easily blending into crowds.
2 Military surplus everything, trying a little too hard.
3 Elegant and elaborate clothes and gear, like a fashionista.
4 Practical equipment, worn by years of use.
5 Punk fashion with tons of accessories.
6 One colour all over, lots of fabric and plastic.
7 Robes and masks, mystical in nature.
8 Revealing clothes, covered in tattoos and cosmetic implants.
9 Stylish clothes, suits and ties, dark and sleek.
10 Brand new everything, most of it never used before.

D12 What species are they?
In some cases, species is little more than another flavour roll, but a clever bounty hunter (IE all of them) will know how to use their biology to their advantage. Vatborn, Mentats, and Spacers are all "panhumans", human but somewhat different from the baseline.

1 Human, +2 to their lowest stat.
2 Vatborn, +2 STR.
3 Mentat, +2 CHA.
4 Spacer, +2 DEX.
5 Lizard, +1 DEX and immune to heat.
6 Feline, always acts before enemies/traps.
7 Hound, preternatural sense of smell.
8 Mantis, D8 unarmed damage.
9 Rabbit, outrun anyone, even some vehicles.
10 Yeti, +1 STR and immune to cold.
11 Assassin Robot, closely resembles an organic.
12 Combat Robot, +1 Armour at all times.

D20 What's their gimmick?
Every self-respecting bounty hunter has something that sets them apart from the crowd, either as a marketing technique or a quirk picked after years of stressful work.

1 They warn all their targets in advance.
2 There's two of them: twins, friends, lovers, clones, etc.
3 They're actually several people working in turns. Kill one and another comes back.
4 They take great care to avoid any collateral damage.
5 They try to make each kill slow and painful.
6 They have branded corporate gear and try to show it off.
7 They're exceptionally young or old, but no less effective for it.
8 They offer to fake the party's deaths in return for a bribe.
9 They carry incendiary grenades and are a pyromaniac.
10 They have limited psychic ability. One power, always the CHA drawback.
11 They are followed by a documentary crew.
12 Their will places a large bounty on whoever kills them, larger than any existing ones.
13 They are being hunted by another bounty hunter themselves.
14 They dual wield their weapons. It looks cool but provides no benefit.
15 They use only sidearms, daggers, and other "light" weapons and gear.
16 They revel in causing unnecessary collateral damage.
17 They are exceptionally skilled: +2 HP and +1 damage.
18 They are particularly inept: -2 HP and -1 damage.
19 They throw sonic devices which emit loud, piercing screeches they are immune to.
20 They talk to their quarry constantly throughout the fight.

Lord of the Rift by Jean Paul Ficition

There are plenty of tables out there that will tell you when you encounter starships and what statblocks they use. I would be occupying existing design space and mimicking things I've seen done much better than I can do by making one like that. Instead, I wanted to write a table that tells you what it looks like, what it's doing, and why and how it still exists. You can roll on these tables to generate a ship another table says exists, or roll on all of them at once to create everything you need for a stellar encounter.

All these ships are assumed to be roughly the same size as the standard light scifi ship most RPGs (and scifi stories in general) have the characters fly, with the "normal" size mentioned below being roughly the same as the PC's ship, if they have one. To use them for Into The Odd, give them a base 12 HP, 10 in every stat, D6 damage, and no armour. When it tells you to add or subtract +1/-1 damage, increase or lower the damage die by one size. You should take a look at my ship rules if you want more detailed rules.

D4 How large is it?
As mentioned before, all ships are relatively small. Think the Millenium Falcon or Serenity.

1 Smaller than normal. (-2 HUL, fast)
2 As large as normal.
3 Larger than normal. (+4 HP, +2 HUL, slow)
4 Much larger than normal. (+8 HP, +4 HUL, very slow)

D6 What kind of ship is it?
Note that this is only its intended design, not necessarily what it is currently being used for.

1 Military: For combat or troop/starfighter transport. (+1 Armour/+1 damage)
2 Research: For exploration, survey, and analysis. (laboratory, medbay)
3 Industrial: For mining, construction, salvaging, etc. (various tools)
4 Merchant: For transporting goods and resources. (huge cargo bay)
5 Liner: For transporting many individuals at once. (many cryopods)
6 Personal: For transporting a few individuals in luxury. (many staterooms)

D8 Who owns and operates the ship?
This determines what sorts of jobs it performs, who crews it, and what sort of legal recourse attacking (or helping) it incurs.

1 A major interstellar power.
2 Rebels, rogues, and dissidents.
3 A private individual living aboard the ship.
4 Independent workers who own their own ship.
5 A megacorporation.
6 Friendly or neutral aliens.
7 Hostile or enigmatic aliens.
8 Robots, independent or for their owners.

D10 What is its main strength?
Most of these are combat related, but can also say something about what it is used for, either beyond its initial design or what specific role within that design.

1 Reinforced hull. +3 HUL.
2 Large engines. +3 ENG.
3 Overclocked systems. +3 SYS.
4 Armour plating. +1 Armour.
5 Targeting computers. +1 damage.
6 Strong shields. +4 HP.
7 Exceptional maneuverability.
8 Long range, high accuracy sensors.
9 Difficult to detect and scan.
10 Has the benefits of another ship type.

D10 What is its main weakness?
As above, but in reverse, saying what it isn't used for. Can also be useful to determine what went wrong on a damaged or derelict ship.

1 Cracked hull. -3 HUL.
2 Small engines. -3 ENG.
3 Buggy systems. -3 SYS.
4 Obvious weak points. HUL damage always causes critical damage.
5 Undersized weapons. -1 damage.
6 Weak shields. -4 HP.
7 Slow turns and acceleration/deceleration.
8 Inaccurate, obvious sensors.
9 Adware constantly broadcasts its position.
10 Lacks the benefits of its ship type.

D12 What is it doing?
Vague, but keeping in mind the previous rolls can help narrow down exactly what it's doing.

1 It's a pirate ship, and pursues the party. +1 damage if not a Military ship.
2 It's a pirate ship, and is pursuing/boarding a ship. +1 damage if not a Military ship.
3 It's being hunted by, or is hunting, a pirate ship.
4 It's drifting in space, somehow damaged or disabled and in need of aid.
5 It's following the party, purely by coincidence.
6 It's defending something, and threatens the party against approaching it.
7 It's doing whatever it is it was built to do, but is obviously about to fail.
8 It's offering the party a trade, but rarely one as simple as credits for fuel.
9 It's doing whatever it is it was built to do, but in a way dangerous to the party.
10 It's resupplying from a cache of valuable materials, and is clearly vulnerable.
11 It's requesting the party's aid in return for a reward.
12 It's offering the party something its crew has no use of, but they would appreciate.

D20 What does it look like?
Again this is mostly for flavour, but again it can also be a good base for coming up with ideas. A corporate ship that's blocky and grey will be run by a very different corporation, ro at least for very different purposes, than one that looks sleek and elegant.

1 Blocky and grey, totally devoid of intentional aesthetic.
2 Sleek and elegant, pure white with black glass.
3 Black and angular, as if a stealth ship.
4 Green and organic-looking – possibly a living ship.
5 Red and curved, like a retrofuturist rocket ship.
6 A mechanical cube, sphere, pyramid, or other polyhedron.
7 Spindly and elegant, golden and shimmering with large glass planes.
8 A Frankenstein of several other ships welded together.
9 Dark blue, long and with rounded edges and bright yellow windows.
10 Ostentatious and religious, like a cathedral turned into a ship.
11 Bright white plastic with blue and orange extremeties.
12 A series of bright green spheres connected by pipes.
13 Insectoid in appearance, with bright, clashing colours.
14 Cartoonish, covered in stars, constantly shifting between several vibrant colours.
15 Narrow and angular, like an upsized starfighter.
16 Round, smooth edges, dull yellow, orange, or brown.
17 Imposing, blocky, and long, red as blood.
18 White, sleek exterior half-conceals a pitch black, biomechanical interior.
19 An asteroid, space station, or even space lifeform's corpse turned into a ship.
20 Deep purple, with shiny metallic trimming.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

To Ebethron: 30 Encounters and 2 Mini-Dungeons for the Frozen North

Joe Manola, on his excellent Against The Wicked City blog a little over a year ago, posted a rather clever way of making encounter tables: taking a song's lyrics and writing an encounter for each line. He used The Clash's London Calling to make a post-apocalyptic table full of memorable - and highly gameable - ideas, and the concept has been on my mind ever since.

One of my favourite bands is The Sword, an American heavy metal group whose lyrics consistently conjure up images of the kind of sword and sorcery milieu that made up most of D&D's Appendix N. And one of my favourite songs of theirs is Ebethron - the last track from their first album, Age of Winters (which you'll soon see is very aptly named). I spent a few days idly writing up encounters for each lyric, and the result is a frozen wasteland, with the ruins of ancient titans, and the constant influence of a distant city ruled by vampiric elves - Ebethron itself.

Click here to listen to the song.

I first had the idea of writing this table back during winter, but never got around to it. Now it's the start of summer, and Ebethron's "realms of rime and of frost" are hardly fitting for the season - but role-playing, and fantasy in general, has always been about escapism to a certain degree. If your players ever decide to go north and just won't stop, or if you just want some arctic ideas to mine for your games, hopefully this will be of use.

THIS IS IMPORTANT WHEN ROLLING FOR ENCOUNTERS: There are 32 encounters, but two of them are miniature dungeons, detailed at the end of this post. (And I mean miniature, both very linear and with only 7 and 10 rooms, respectively.) So I've included two numbers in front of each encounter: the first is for if you want to roll for all 32, rolling a D4 for the first digit and a D8 for the second, while the second is for if you just want to roll for the encounters, not the dungeons, and simply requires rolling a D30.

In the spirit of system agnosticism, monsters are described in terms of Hit Dice, and all treasure is given a "cash" value, where cash is whatever your game's standard coinage is. The most unusual take is references to "sacks" of supplies, cribbed from the Ultraviolet Grasslands setting. Each one takes up the full inventory of a normal, 10 Strength human, who can carry a second sack if they don't mind struggling to do anything remotely physical, and holds a week of supplies. When in doubt, 1 sack = 10 inventory slots.

Ebethron awaits...

11 / 1: Black blades in their hands. A group of three ranging elves from Ebethron itself, armed with one handed swords made from a black metal no deadlier than iron but able to slice through things with such ease that armour has no effect on attacks made with them. The elves (3 HD each) will extort the party for their valuables if they feel stronger, or approach them in a friendly manner if the balance if skewed in the party's favour. Either way they will warn the party not to head to the city – whatever they seek there is not worth it.

12 / 2: Obey his every command. A caravan of wanderers, poor and haggard, four of the strongest carrying a palanquin adorned with silver and jewels. Upon it sits an old, half mad man named Ranulf, who in his madness has become able to cast the Command spell (force a creature to obey a one-word command that is not immediately suicidal) at will. The wanderers fear him as though he were a demigod, and he has grown too cruel and used to command to be controlled, even through threats. The palanquin would be worth 5,000 cash to someone in a richer land, but is difficult to move. If looted of just the ornaments, the silver and jewels are worth 500 cash and take up two inventory slots.

13 / 3: They search for that which was lost. A band of weary, armed travellers are scouring the snow in which their dog-sled's tracks can still be seen. They are headed south, but searching back up north, and will refuse to cooperate with the party and warn them off if they try to approach, even though they seem quite haggard and their supplies are clearly low. They have lost a small idol of pure gold, studded with diamonds, which lies somewhere on the trail they've left and is easily worth 10,000 cash.

14 / 4: Through realms of rime and of frost. A chill in the air, even colder than it already is, heralds a plain full of icy growths rising from the ground. They grower larger and greater in number as the party passes through the field, until, where the growths are as thick as a forest's trees, one reveals itself as an Ice Elemental (8 HD). Its attacks deal only D6 damage, but freeze the target solid if it rolls a 1 or 6 for damage. The ice is magical and will only slowly harm the creature in question (killing them in ten minutes), but breaking someone free requires dealing 10 damage to the ice. Fire/pickaxes deal double damage.

15 / 5: Where no mortal may pass. A few days before they arrive, the party sees a range of mountains rise out of the distance. There is a clear way over, an obvious pass they can see from far away. Upon arrival, however, they find a village at the base, and a wall blocking the pass, guarded by undead soldiers. Only the vampires of Ebethron, and their servants, may cross the mountain, while all others must take two weeks to travel around it instead. So much as grumbling in the town will draw the attention of smugglers who offer to spirit the PCs across the mountains, for a fee. If they pay, they are discovered halfway across.

16 / 6: Atop a dais of glass. An icy plateau rises from the earth, the air for half a mile around even colder than the air normally is. Although the ice is unnaturally blue, you can easily see through it, revealing a pile of dead bodies and the telltale glint of precious metals. The six corpses have been ritually sacrificed, and are surrounded by metallic offerings of gold worth 1,000 cash all together. When either bodies or metal are touched, the corpses rise as 2 HD zombies and attack. Any time someone misses a melee attack, runs, fires a gun, or is hit while on the ice, they must pass a Dexterity save or fall down.

17: Sits a sceptre of light. A stone tower stands alone, with no windows and a single door, topped with a brass dome which is in turn topped with a brass finial (an ornament on top of a building), which shines as if reflecting light towards the viewer's eyes no matter where they look at it from, and even if there is no light to reflect at all. Nearing the tower draws the attention of the finial, which fires a beam that deals D12 damage, ignores armour, and always hits (but only after it spends a round visibly charging the beam). It takes at least three rounds to sprint from the edge of the finial's range to the point at which the tower shields you from its attack. The Tower of Light is detailed at the end of this post.

18 / 7: A symbol of titan's might. A colossal stone statue, which one can see from miles away, coated in a thin layer of snow. At first glance it seems half broken, ravaged by time, but upon closer inspection the destruction of it is, in fact, a key element of the piece. The entire statue carved from a single stone block, with the decapitated head fused with the stone platform, rather than having fallen from the empty neck above. A small tent village has formed at the base, worshiping the statue as the obvious work of a god.

21 / 8: He comes from cities of darkness. A lone dwarf named Ad'absam, with ivory white skin and a set of darkened glasses marches across the plains. He wears the leathers and furs of creatures you've never seen before, and claims to be from far beneath the surface of the earth. He believes the surface world is all like Ebethron's surroundings, that the world is flat, that local stories of southern lands are fantasies, and that the sun is only a few miles away. He offers to pay with cheap gems (has a bag of 7, worth 20 cash each) for the PC's knowledge of the world, but grows frustrated if the stories don't match his world view.

22 / 9: To suffer harlots and fools. A band of travellers with dog-sleds are headed the same direction as the PCs, and much, much slower. There are only two capable travellers in their party of eight, a husband and wife, while the rest are at best academics out of their element, at worse noble scions insisting on carrying all manner of luxuries that do nothing but weigh them down. They are only a week away from running out of supplies, but any offer of help will be refused and taken as an insult by all but the experienced rangers.

23 / 10: Loneliness is his raiment. A titan's corpse lies at the centre of vast plain. It was stripped to the bone long ago, nothing more than a skeleton now, and at the very centre of it there lies a single hut. A lone human lives within, a hermit and hunter who lives in self imposed exile. He has a 2-in-6 chance of being home when the party arrives. He will gladly share his stores of food, and explains he was cursed to be unable to deny others what they want of him, and so was ordered to head to an uninhabited place by those who loved him.

24 / 11: Solitude is his jewel. As the party climbs a hill, a single man crests it before them, close enough that they can see the horror on his face and the huge diamond in his hands before he turns and flees. The jewel is cursed, so that anyone who touches it with their body (even through clothes) is compelled to steal it and flee from civilization. Only a day spent without touching it will dispel the curse's influence – that, or breaking it, which will also dispel the curse's ability to enchant more people. If sold, it would be worth 4,000 cash, or 1,000 cash if shattered.

25 / 12: He's walked through valleys of solace. A lone man approaches from the distance, waving at the party from a long distance. The man, named Harald, has no supplies left, nor wealth which with to trade for them, and claims he has spent the past month utterly alone. He eagerly wishes to converse with the party, and share in their supplies, but is in reality a scout for a bandit gang. Only a day after he leaves, he will return with five allies, all of them hardened by the north (2 HD), unless the party clearly outmatches them.

26 / 13: Beheld the spires of sleep. A spire made of ice as blue as sapphires stands in a hilly region. As the party nears it, they will see a strange red flash come from the spire, and find themselves forced to make a Charisma save or fall asleep. The spire is an Ebethronian device that duplicates a spell's effects (albeit somewhat weakened) upon all who view it. The round after the spire shines, six 1 HD slaver and one 3 HD wizard – their leader – will charge over a nearby hill, hoping to use the party's confusion and sleep to their advantage.

27 / 14: He's fed the pyres of the fallen. A cloud of smoke is seen far before the source – a small wooden pyre, next to a small copse of trees. A man named Einar sits next to the fire, seemingly catatonic, but when he notices the party, he will draw a knife and charge them with a terrified face. He fights with surprising strength, as a third level fighter, but is impulsively suicidal after the death of his son at the hands of a sudden disease (it is his body he has just burnt). Einar is unwilling to kill himself, but if the party does not kill him, he will ask to fight with them so that he may die in battle.

28 / 15: And heard their widows weep. A large procession is slowly travelling north, mostly humans, but lead by elves returning to Ebethron. They have a large cart full of tribute, pulled by undead. Much of the human population is composed of families of the dead, who, by Ebethronian law, will be paid for the use of their family members' corpses, but only once they arrive at the city.

31 / 16: We come from cities in darkness. A band of heavily armed elves from Ebethron itself, heading south with one of their vampiric nobles. They have a few human slaves with them, bloodbags for the vampire, and will stumble upon the party after night falls (and when they are just beginning their "day's" journey). The vampire will insist the party wake and converse with him – he's quite harmless, but unused to any degree of disobedience, and prone to offending mortal creatures. He offers a pearl from the Northmost Sea, worth 200 cash, to each non-human and non-elf willing to let him taste their blood.

32 / 17: To conquer cowards and fools. A three step pyramid of stacked stones, each one the size of a house, looms over the horizon. Around its base a small town exists, with farms on the first layer of stones. The population live in fear of the "titan's voice", a booming voice that seems to speak out of the stone itself to issue commandments. Those who blaspheme the voice are chained on the second layer of the pyramid, and vaporized by a beam from above in front of watching crowds. Only priests of the voice are permitted on the top layer. The voice does not exist – anyone who speaks into a pit at the top can cause the voice to emanate, and the vaporization comes from a purple "ioun stone" they possess, which, if allowed to orbit one's head, grants access to the Missile spell (D8 damage) and an extra safe use of magic per day, even if the wielder has no other magical ability.

33 / 18: Loneliness is our payment. At the top of a hill, there lies an old stone fort, really just a squat tower. It is inhabited by four 2 HD elves from Ebethron. They will ask if the party is friend or foe, and make overtures of protecting the fort, but will invite them in at the drop of a hat. They have been "promoted" to this position, well-paying but excruciatingly boring, from their homes in Ebethron and it has been months since their last visitors. They speak fondly of the city, but gloss over the bloodier details. They can feed the party for a day, and sell them up to five sacks of supplies for the normal prices.

34 / 19: Solitude is our due. A large, crater-like depression in the earth – an alas – is surrounded by a low wall about the height of a man. Within the alas there lies a village, fifty people or so in total, with the wall manned day and night by two people who circle it, keeping themselves on the opposite side of their partner. They will allow the party into the village, but only if they allow themselves to be unarmed – and then they will refuse to let them leave, for fear of them telling raiders where they are. If the party does not agree to be armed, a group of ten villagers will follow and attempt to kill them.

35 / 20: Walk through valleys of solace. A huge valley is the only way forward, following a freezing river. After the first major turn of the river, each side of the valley is dotted with stone cairns, each and every one half ruined. A closer examination reveals that the cairns have all been dedicated to the dead, with dates that reach back centuries. There are no corpses, however. And every cairn is broken outwards, not inwards, as if something had forced its way out.

36 / 21: Ascend the spires of sleep. A set of three thin, towering spindles of ice rise into the sky, blue and supernatural. At the top of each a humanoid figure can be seen within the ice, revealed on closer inspection (which will usually require climbing a spire) to be a naked elf with green tattoos and gold necklaces worth 1,000 cash each. They claim to have been imprisoned there for rebelling against Ebethron, and offer to journey with the party. This is true for two of them, but one of them was imprisoned for legitimate crimes, and will act cruelly and betray the party the moment they are given a good chance.

37 / 22: Ignore the warnings of prophets. As the party sleeps, they dream of a great plain of a checkerboard pattern, from which rise crystal spires. Shifting, geometric shapes speak to them through telepathy, urging them to "trust not the poisoned flesh of earth". The next day, the party will come across a large growth of lichen, which smells sweet and causes them to salivate. The lichen is perfectly harmless and, in fact, will "overheal" each person who eats it fresh so that their HP is equal to their max HP, +1 per level. The spirits that spoke to them are evil ones, who sought to give them false and harmful prophecies.

38 / 23: And for your children I'll weep. A small village is settled on the slope of a tall hill, built around a small iron mine. Despite being well off and well defended, the whole town seems to be caught in a state of depression. They are unwilling to speak about it, but if you press the issue or ask the right people, they'll reveal that the town was extorted by Ebethronian elves for their children. The elves are less than a week away, travelling slowly, and tribute missions are not known to turn around even if robbed – if someone could steal the children back, there would be no retribution from the elves.

41 / 24: Skies blackened with crows. A herd of reindeer have strayed to close to a cliff, which suddenly gave way under their weight and caused a few dozen to plummet to their deaths below. There is a near limitless supply of meat there – as many sacks of meat as the party can take – but there are already at least a hundred crows feasting on the bounty. More will arrive every few minutes, so the party must work fast if they do not want the crows to begin harassing, then outright attacking them as they work.

42 / 25: Shadows on winter snows. A pair of huge vultures nears the party. Each is the size of a horse, with 4 HD but weak claws that deal only D6 damage. However, they fly themselves into the path of the sun's rays, causing them to be functionally invisible, before diving down and targeting the party's ranged attackers. Each successful attack knocks the target to the ground, making them unable to fire at the vulture before it returns to the cover of the sun. Their targets are heralded a round before they attack, as they shade them slightly from the sun, letting the target fire blindly at them at no penalty, if they think to do so.

43: Within a temple of ice. A long temple sits atop a hill, abandoned and, at first glance, seemingly made out of lapis lazuli. In reality, the blue structure is made of supernatural ice, that chills the air with such intensity that the surroundings feel as cold as night in the middle of the day. Once inside the temple, the temperature feels merely cool, no matter how warm the character otherwise is. The Temple of Ice is detailed at the end of the post.

44 / 26: Priestesses perform the rites. A town is situated around a tall, stone tower, on top of which lies a smoky bonfire that burns day and night. The tower is a temple of fire worshipers, who have come north to praise the sun in the month long days, and act as a beacon in the month long nights. Each priestess – for they are all female – blesses the townsfolk at request, but this is just for show and superstition. Their true popularity comes from the spells they cast, with which they protect the town from raiders, making it the place to trade even for people who live weeks away.

45 / 27: Witness the setting of suns. As the sun sets, the party comes across a large, snowless plain, the edges of which are dotted with lichens, small trees, and even flowers. At the centre of the plain, however, nothing grows, and skeletons dot the ground. When the sun passes over the horizon, a distant sheet of ice will reflect and focus the sun, blasting the dead zone with intense heat, setting everything inside it on fire, and the living area around it with minor heat, dealing D6 damage that ignore armour.

46 / 28: The darkest days have begun. As the sun rises, it turns in the sky, prevented from ascension by the dark enchantments of Ebethron. For a month, days shall be as dark as dusk, dark enough that vampires can walk about without fear of harm, and the land shall cool so much so that PCs will not heal overnight, instead taking 1 damage per level, unless truly powerful (and often magical) methods are used to keep them warm. (IE you have to keep a campfire fed all night, and sleep right next to it.)

47 / 29: Let the seers come forth. A trio of women – a maiden, a mother, and a crone – stand in the party's path. They are, in fact, the avatar of a single god, the Triple Goddess. They say that if you offer your heart to them (a symbolic but supernatural ritual that reduces your Strength by 2, permanently), they can offer one boon to the subject, depending on who you offer your heart to. The maiden sees the future, and grants you a single "luck" point, which you can spend at any point in the future to turn a failed save into a success. The mother sees the present, and grants you internal change, swapping any two stats of your choice. The crone sees the past, and grants you retroactive healing, healing any injury you've suffered as if it had never happened in the first place.

48 / 30: At morning's light we ride north. As the sun sets, the party comes across a small settlement made much larger by a field of tents surrounding it. Though they will be stopped if they approach, the town will gladly welcome them – and, in fact, refuse to let them leave that night. The tents belong to visitors from nearby settlements, which have banded together to march on an Ebethronian outpost to the north, well defended and full of tribute from the surrounding region. The PCs will not be allowed to leave lest they be spies, but they will be asked to join the warband and gain a share of the loot.

Mini-Dungeon #1: The Tower of Light
Please forgive my lack of artistic skill and ambition.
A stone tower stands alone, with no windows and a single door, topped with a brass dome which is in turn topped with a brass finial (an ornament on top of a building), which shines as if reflecting light towards the viewer's eyes no matter where they look at it from, and even if there is no light to reflect at all. Nearing the tower draws the attention of the finial, which fires a beam that deals D12 damage, ignores armour, and always hits (but only after it spends a round visibly charging the beam). It takes at least four rounds to sprint from the edge of the finial's range to the point at which the tower shields you from its attack, giving it three rounds to attack you. The Tower of Light is detailed at the end of this post.

Room 1: Light
The door to the tower lies rotting and collapsed, and the edge of the first room, a foyer, has clearly laid abandoned for decades at least. A spiral staircase sits at the centre of the room, surrounded by a translucent wall of light. Several animal skeletons lie draped across the boundary. Touching the light with your person (body or worn items, but not what you hold) paralyzes whoever touches it until they are removed from the light, either by being pulled back, or pushed forward to the other side.

Room 2: Void
The staircase up is narrow and ends at a closed door. Opening it reveals nothing but a air-filled void beyond, except for another portal ten feet in front of the first one. If you cross the void, the portal back to the real world opens from the side of the tower, revealing a storage room with no staircase going down, only one around the edge going up. Most of the supplies have rotted into uselessness, but even a cursory search reveals a potion of Cling (which allows you stick to anything at will for ten minutes) and a potion of Flight (which allows you to fly as fast a bird for up to a minute).

Room 3: Laboratory
This room is full of long since decayed laboratory equipment and scribbled notebooks, though someone familiar with magical research can find some useful (and fragile and heavy) equipment they can sell for 100 cash total. Examining the notes reveals no useful information, but suggests the builder of the tower was an aeromancer, skilled in the arts of light manipulation and teleportation. A spiral staircase going up sits at the centre.

Room 4: Gravity
This room is a library full of rotted books and decaying bookshelves around the edges, as well as a desk in the corner. There is a book seemingly stuck to the ceiling. The centre and edges of the room are normal, but there is a concentric ring of reverse gravity between them, pulling those unprepared for it ten feet up, and ten feet down if they leave it. The desk has a glass scrollcase on it, holding a scroll with the Blink spell (teleport up to Close distance away) written on it. A staircase going up takes up a quarter of the room's wall.

Room 5: Garden
A room full of overgrown plants, growing out of planters and overturned pots, with spilled dirt covering most of the ground. The air is thick with moisture, so much so that the room is full of a fine mist that leaves dew on everything. The plants are mostly ingredients for magical purposes, and can be collected for two sacks of supplies, each sack worth 50 cash if sold to an alchemist. A spiral staircase going up sits at the centre.

Room 6: Portals
Two stone slabs the size of large doors stand on either side of this otherwise nondescript room. One has a glowing, swirling, blue vortex on it, beneath the word "exit", while the other has nothing but the stone, beneath the word "entrance". Touching the blue vortex allows you to push past it into a green, warm field in a distant and far more agreeable land. However, if you push you and everything you carry past it, you will not be able to return through the portal. A staircase going up is nestled against the room's wall.

Room 7: Study
This room is a finely decorated bedroom and study, with a brass roof. A ladder leads up to a hatch in the roof which allows access to the tower's brass dome and the enchanted finial, which loses all magic if severed from the dome. The finery, if looted, is worth 500 cash and takes up the space/weight of a sack of supplies. Easier to loot are a chest full of 300 cash and 9 moonstone gems worth 50 cash each (450 total), a silver statuette of an angel sitting on bedside table worth 400 cash, a potion of Sublimation in the bedside table (which turns you into a cloud of mist for ten minutes), and a scroll of Light (summon a floating orb which casts light as a lantern) on a desk.

Mini-Dungeon #2: The Temple of Ice

A long temple sits atop a hill, abandoned and, at first glance, seemingly made out of lapis lazuli. In reality, the blue structure is made of supernatural ice, that chills the air with such intensity that the surroundings feel as cold as night in the middle of the day. Once inside the temple, the temperature feels merely cool, no matter how warm the character otherwise is. The Temple of Ice is detailed at the end of the post.

Room 1-1: Entrance
A statue sits in the corner, holding a silver sword out as if presenting it. (Worth 200 cash, counts as a one handed sword that can harm incorporeal/silver-weak creatures.)

Room 1-2: Collapse
A single huge pillar stands in the centre of the room, or rather stood, as it has since collapsed. The roof above sags menacingly, slowly melting and dripping water down.

Room 1-3: Skeletons
A set of stairs in the corner go down to room 2-1. Five 1 HD skeletons have been frozen into the walls. By the time the PCs return to this room, they will have just freed themselves.

Room 1-4: Pool
A hole has opened in the roof, filtering light into the room. Six pillars stand close to the walls, engraved with images of titans walking amongst (and towering over) mountains. The room has a small layer of sapphire blue water, which radiates extreme cold and freezes anyone who touches it for D4 damage per level. Making steps across it is easy, however.

Room 1-5: Scrolls
A corpse sits in the corner of the room, dressed in a wizard's robes and surrounded by scrolls. One contains the Freeze spell (freeze a door-sized area of water, or deal D10 damage to a wet creature, ignoring armour).

Room 1-6: Engraving
A large stone – not ice – engraving lies against the far wall, detailing a group of humanoids worshiping a crowned titan. The humans and titan are coated in silver, the titan's crown in gold. Unharmed it would be worth 5,000 cash, but is very hard to transport. Scraping the silver and gold off will net 500 cash that can be carried in a moderately sized bag.

Room 2-1: Draugr
A single, armoured corpse lies against a wall. It holds a sword in one hand and a silver statuette of a crowned titan worth 200 cash in the other. It is actually a standing 3 HD Draugr, not a lying corpse, and will attack anyone who touches it or its gear.

Room 2-2: Wight
A silver chess board worth 200 cash, the pawns humans, the other pieces titans, sits on an altar in a corner of the room. If taken, a 2 HD Wight will materialize. Its attacks, while weak, ignore armour and always hit, and it can only be harmed by silver weapons.

Room 2-3: Swords
A set of five iron two-handed swords worth 50 cash each hang from large icicles hanging from the ceiling. Wrenching each one free has a 1-in-4 chance of causing the icicle to drop and deal D8 damage if a Dexterity save is not passed.

Room 2-4: Heart
A golden statuette of a titan sits on an altar against the far wall, worth 1000 cash. If taken, the entire temple will begin to melt. It takes a round (10 seconds) to go from one room to the next. After six rounds/one minute, the temple will begin to collapse, dealing D8 damage to everyone still inside each round for another six rounds/one minute, at which point it will collapse outright, killing everyone still inside.