Browsing articles in "Old School"

Silence on Deck: A Labyrinth Lord Short Adventure

Sep 26, 2011
Mark
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Get Ready

A ship floats silently into the harbor directed only by the wind; her sail shredded into strips. Not sound other than lapping waves breaks the still of the moonlit night.

Get Set

The ship is a single masted cog bearing the name Kateryn proudly on her stern. Aside from the damage to the sail, the ship has no obvious damage. The breeze drives the ship aground on rocks on the outskirts of the harbor shortly before high tide.

As the sun rises, the ship is tilted to starboard. Her fore keel perched top the rocky point and her aft settled into the mud flat exposed by the low tide.

Rumors spread of disease, ghosts, looted treasure and sea monsters. The harbor master has ordered no one to approach the vessel until it can be inspected. His order deflects only the scrupulous. Others plot to recover whatever bounty the ship holds.

Go!

The PC’s may be hired to inspect the ship either by the harbor master or buy agents of the local thieves guild. The former is interested in determining if the ship holds any risk to the town while the latter want to acquire any easily gained loot if possible.

The Kateryn contains no cargo and few valuables. Only a few personal possessions are of value. The ship is well stocked with food, water and other necessities for a voyage of five weeks.

A series of glyphs forming a rough circle have been carved into the top deck in a small region. Several of them are obscured by what appears to have been localized, intense fires. Near the center of the circle, a small splatter of blood still stains the deck boards.

All evidence indicates the crew and passengers, if any, just disappeared instantly. A plate of uneaten food lies on the floor in the crew area. The tiller was set to a fixed position and bound into place. The sail looks like it was being lowered but never secured before it was ripped apart by the winds on the seas.

Perhaps the captain’s journal can be found and provide an explanation.

[Crew and passengers were drawn through an incomplete Gate spell. The mage, uncertain at best, was attacked by a superstitious crew member just as the gate was beginning to open. The cruft is left open.]



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Boar Bounty: A Labyrinth Lord Adventure set in Korton Forest

Sep 25, 2011
Mark
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Get Ready

A drift of hogs has taken over the forest and have begun to forage into nearby fields. The mayor of Korton has issued a bounty of 1sp per head with a bonus silver for boars.

Get Set

Korton is set in the the forest of the same name. Korton Forest is a small woodland of mixed conifer and deciduous trees. The town of Korton is set in a clearing near the edge of the forest. The town economy is intertwined with the health of the forest including wood cutting, nut harvesting and gathering of woodland edibles. Many of the resulting goods are sent to the capital city as trade materials.

The original infestation of boars were normal hogs escaped from farms in the region. They began to breed and spread throughout the forest. The boars caused little damage and were considered something of a boon by the huntsmen of the forest as an additional game animal.

Gradually, the population began to swell beyond what hunting could control The larger population attracted giant boars from the far reaches of the forest. The larger beasts easily dominated the smaller rivals and began to interbreed with the normal boars. The more aggressive cousins caused more destruction and also caused a population spike due to rampant breeding.

A pair of Demon Boars eventually heard of the infestation and has moved into the forest. They rarely appear in human form. Instead, they use the large population as camouflage to stay hidden. The two are responsible for the majority of deaths in the forest and prey upon the hunters seeking the bounty on the other boars.

Go!

The boars are not a cohesive group. They are spread among the forest in smaller bunches and occasionally encountered separately. A normal encounter will be several normal boars with 75% chance of giant boars being part of the group. Only two demon boars currently reside in the forest near Korton.

Before beginning the play, the GM should roughly estimate the overall population in the forest and the breakdown between the normal and giant boars. The game play should be split into a number of encounters with varying numbers along with a series of clues leading to the demon boars. Once half of the overall population has been killed, the infestation will be under control by the bounty payments.

The GM may also want to adjust HD for the normal and giant boars downward to include a diversity of hog ages. Piglets are common and can make the encounters more exciting while dramatically reducing risk to the party.

The overall hunt should be a series of individual encounters. Each should have a few details to add suspense to the otherwise dull task of hunting down pigs. The following are a few suggestions. Use a few or invent your own.

Farmers Field: Just on the outskirts of town a group of hogs is destroying a field and garden. The farmer has rushed to town to seek help. The hogs arrive near dusk or dawn and set about rooting out all the edible plants in the field. [3 piglets, 2 normal boars, 1 giant boar]

Dead Orc: A small number of hogs is feasting on the carcass of a dead orc. One hog lies dead nearby impaled by a crude spear. [2 normal boars, 1 giant]

Footprint of a Fatman: A huntsman has been killed and the corpse is little more than scattered bones. Based on the hoofmarks around the corpse, a large number of beasts were involved or came to feed. Amid the hoof prints are massive bare footprints of a human in the nearby mud. A skilled tracker may note the prints end in close proximity to unusually large hoof prints. The party can track down several beasts in the area as smaller encounters.

Injured Woodcutter: A lone woodcutter has survived a deadly assault. He managed to escape the battle and crawl up a tree. He’ll aid the party in finding the original location of the attack along with telling the tale of two massive hogs killing and feasting upon his fallen comrades.

Dazed and Confused: A pair of humans have setup camp in a small clearing. Both are well equipped but were obviously in battle. The male has a bandage on his leg and head. The female’s left arm is in a sling. The humans are seeking to escape the woods. They will share the story of 7 hogs led by two massive hogs surprising them on a narrow path in the woods. After killing several of the smaller beasts, neither of them can recall the remainder of the battle. Both were charmed by the Demon Boars. Luckily another group of hunters distracted the Demon Boars who chose to retreat rather than fighting a pitched battle. Unfortunately, the second group did not find the humans.

Each encounter should be memorable. Liberally drop clues pointing toward the presence of the menace of the Demon Boars.

Notable NPCs

Boar (d6) [AL N, MV 150’ (50’), AC 7, HD 3, #AT 1 (tusk), DM 2d4, THAC0: 17, SV F2, ML 9, XP 50, LL 66, HC None] HP: 17, 12, 17, 10, 12, 11.

Boar, Giant (d3) [AL N, MV 120’ (40’), AC 6, HD 5, #AT 1 (tusk), DM 3d4, THAC0: 15, SV F5, ML 9, XP 200, LL 66, HC None] HP: 19, 27, 26.

Demon Boar (2) [AL C, MV 120’ (40’) Boar 180’ (60’), AC 3 (9), HD 9, #AT 1 (gore or weapon), DM 2d6/weapon, THAC0: 12, SV F9, ML 10, XP 3,800, LL 69, HC XX] HP: 38, 56.



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The Petrified Man – A “Soapy” Smith Adventure for Boot Hill

Sep 24, 2011
Mark

Get Ready

The petrified man discovered near Creede, Colo., April 9, 1892, is now on exhibition. A marvel of wonders; every muscle, the pores of the skin, the finger nails and toe nails all complete, in a perfect state of preservation, as natural as life. 10¢ Admission (SoapySmith.net)

Get Set

Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith has already been used as the basis of a previous con based adventure. Smith was legendary in his ability earn money and one of his stranger baits was the introduction of “McGinty” the petrified man during his time in Creede, Colorado (and later in Denver). According to Smith, McGinty was purchased from miners in the area who unearthed him while working a claim.

The McGinty man is designed to draw visitors into The Orleans Club in Creede. While waiting in line, every visitor is encouraged to engage in games of chance, all favoring the house. The games include shell games and 3-Card Monte.

Go!

This short adventure is a sidebar to any ongoing campaign idea allowing for open-sandbox style running. Perhaps the characters are drinking heavily and want to see the petrified man. Along the way, they gamble more than they should and take heavy losses.

Alternatively, they may be trying to meet Soapy for another reason. He’s preparing to move McGinty to Denver and needs some help. Transporting an artifact, even one of questionable origins, is going to be a challenge over the rough roadways.

The McGinty story is a good story as added flavor to add to any adventure featuring Creede or another fictional locale. During its reign as an exhibit, the petrified man will certainly draw attention.

Notable NPCs

Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith – a charismatic fellow with the gift of gab. Dark hair, full beard, well dressed.

Learn more about Soapy at his great grandson’s comprehensive site and blog or buy his book as I mentioned previously.



Here Be the Goblins – A Lair Level Encounter for Labyrinth Lord

Sep 23, 2011
Mark
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Get Ready

Really? Another goblin adventure? Whatever, Quantum Ogre man, we’ll head out toward the village. Can’t you come up with something interesting?

Get Set

All who have ventured into the goblin village to date have made delicious soup. The goblins are happy, thriving and apparently breeding prodigiously. The goblins have formed a minor religious sect toasting the “Stupid Humans” as each group attempting to kill them has ended up filling the cook pots.

The goblin village is set near the edge of a swamp. A muddy walkway 100 feet long leads through the bog onto a thin island where the encampment has constructed huts, centralized cooking pits, and homes amid the overhanging trees. The primary island is a thin spit, only about 50 yards wide but extends nearly 500 yards. Several additional paths connect the primary island others nearby.

The entry path way will support light-weight humans and demi-humans. Anyone wearing metal armor will struggle through the mud, sinking deeper than the lighter companions. Unless very stealthy, the PC’s will be greeted when they are about halfway across the path by a smiling goblin with strange features.

The smiling man is a mottled gray rather than the yellow/orange/red skinned goblins the party has encountered before. His frame is nearly 4 feet. Taller than other goblins they have seen. Running a hand through his iron grey hair, he beams a broad smile of yellowish teeth before yelling, “Welcome to dinner, my new friends.”

Behind him are many goblins with hair and skin colors the party is accustomed to seeing. Just as many taller ones of the same mottled grey skin along with mottled green and pale grey skin stop to look at the party struggling through the muck. The taller ones range from 4 feet to 6 feet tall. The tall ones chuckle when the smiling man speaks. The short folk begin to slink away from the entrance to the village.

Be descriptive indicating the differences between the tall folk and the normal goblins. Should no one take note, let the feast begin. Even if they are wary, their bones look succulent.

Go!

The village is not a normal goblin encampment. It is well organized and the “Tall” folk dominate the village. Neither party should be surprised during the encounter. Both should be well aware of the others and the goblin encampment will be much more aggressive than expected.

The tall folk are Pygmy Trolls — mixed breed trolls and goblins. Not nearly as tall or strong as normal trolls, the pygmy’s are just as aggressive and retain the ability to regenerate as trolls. They are also very crafty and know most people underestimate them as lesser beings.

The smiling man will heckle the party continuously, confident they can overcome and eat them in the end. His barbed remarks will be targeted at anyone in armor who is struggling across the pathway. Rage and oversight are on his side.

The PC’s should recognize something is not as they expect it to be. The heritage of the monsters should be hidden other than physical cues. Ideally, they should engage and be overwhelmed and flee back across the path. If they return to town, they will be mocked by other adventurers due to their failure to beat mere goblins.

The PC’s should survive the initial attack unless they are stupid. They will be chased but only within a couple of miles. After they lick their wounds, the party should begin to recognize these are not normal goblins. If they don’t, they may become soup. Yummy, tasty adventurers.

Notable NPCs

Goblin (29) [AL C, MV 60’ (20’), AC 6, HD 1 -1, #AT 1 (weapon), DM 1d6 or weapon, THAC0: 19, SV 0 human, ML 7, XP 5, LL 78, HC XX] Total XP: 145. HP: 7, 4, 5, 1, 4, 3, 3, 7, 6, 3, 5, 1, 4, 1, 1, 5, 3, 7, 7, 3, 5, 3, 4, 3, 3, 1, 1, 1, 2.

Pygmy Troll (18) [AL C, MV 120’ (40’), AC 4, HD 4, #AT 3 (2 claws, bite), DM 1d3/1d3/1d6, THAC0: 16, SV F4, ML 10, HC XIX]. HP: 22, 22, 22, 15, 14, 9, 13, 15, 16, 8, 19, 23, 11, 10, 11, 14, 12, 19. – All special abilities as Trolls.



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The Good Ole Boy: A Systemless Short Adventure

Sep 22, 2011
Mark
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Get Ready

Occasionally, people need a hand up or a hand out. People exist willing to help without ulterior motives such as The Good Ole Boy.

Get Set

Jebediah Jackson Thomas Short, III is seen as an eccentric hoarder with a heart of gold. Know one who has ever met him as walked away empty handed. He can always tell just what a person needs and when they need it. His knack isn’t generosity. He sees the needs of everyone he meets and can always find an item or knowledge to fill that need.

Jeb is neither young nor old. He’s perpetually in the middle. He can engage youngsters in conversation about the latest music or entertain grandmothers with a classical bit of piano playing. Standing 5′ 6″, Jeb is stocky but possesses athletic smoothness. He moves for a purpose and wastes no energy.

Jeb lives a few miles from the nearest town. His property spans 10 acres and is filled with outbuildings along with his small two bedroom house. A long driveway leading off the country road covers nearly a half mile before dropping into his property atop a picturesque canyon.

Go!

The PC’s are on the run from invading armies, aliens, zombies, pyroclastic mutant vomit beasts or anything really. As a group, they are in pretty good shape having avoided the worst situations possible. However, they are likely low on supplies of one form or another. They are passing through the countryside on the way to next goal without expecting to find aid in any form.

As they approach the drive toward Jeb’s home, they see a small force of the enemy proceeding toward his home. Although much of the countryside has been blanketed in darkness, a beacon of light shines nears the house at the end of the driveway.

The small scout party of the enemy is should be reasonably easy for the party to defeat. If they run into difficulty, Jeb and his buddy Gus will hear the noise of battle and aid the party.

After the short battle, Jeb will greet the PC’s. He’ll welcome them into his house and engage in conversation. He’s in the middle of packing up and heading out to avoid the enemy himself but will offer supplies and aid. As noted, he will pinpoint a crucial need the party has even if they do not ask for it directly. He’ll gladly supply it or information on where they can find it within the immediate area.

Although Jeb doesn’t rush the PC’s, he will continue to pack up for evacuation from his farm. His vehicle of choice is a beat up 1976 Dodge RV which already seems overloaded. He constantly walks between the house, an outbuilding and a cellar, hefting a box and tossing it into the RV. Still, he will always engage one PC or another as he moves along.

Gus “Gutshaker” Barnes, however, never appears to lift a finger. After the encounter is over, he sits down at the kitchen table except to fetch another beer. He’s open, gracious but has the manners of a billy goat in a five star restaurant. Gus’ supply of beer appears to be endless. He always has one in hand and one available to anyone with a free hand.

If Gus were displaced into a fantasy world, he’d be confused with a round dwarf. He’s short, thick, and possesses the “World’s Best Beer Belly” according to the t-shirt he wears that barely covers his own. His beard is over a foot long, matched only by his black hair pulled into a pony tail descending to his waist. Apparently his only concession to general grooming is his gleaming handle bar moustache.

Jeb will aid the party however he can and let them know where he’s headed. Near dawn, he’ll herd Gus into the RV. Before firing it up and heading out, he tips his hat to the party,

“Boys, we’ll see you in the spring.”



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A Dispute over Spirits: A Short Boot Hill Adventure

Sep 21, 2011
Mark
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Get Ready

A silver boom has hit Creede and the miners are thirsty. Two Denver brewers vie to dominate the market.

Get Set

The silver rush in Creede, Colorado has just begun in earnest. A market of thirsty miners consume every bottle of liquor that makes it into town — most of it sold directly off the delivery wagons. Two brewers and liquor merchants are vying to dominate the insatiable thirst of the miners and settlers.

Adolph Herman Joseph Coors, founder of The Golden Brewery (aka Coors Brewery) has teamed with a local liquor importer, Walter Murray, to ship beer and spirits to Creede via train and then wagon. The effort is well funded and supplied due to Coor’s connections to the area.

Unfortunately, Colonel Charles Thorne (owner and proprietor of Apollo Hall) and his business partner, Elijah Overton, have begun regular shipments to the Creede area. Overton is the lead in the effort is sending weekly wagon trains filled with liquor and beer of questionable quality. Overton has no interest in a competitor springing up and eroding the massive margins on cheap booze.

Overton and Murray were seen in a heated argument over the business in Creede. Overton failed to dissuade Murray and has resorted to hiring ruffians to disrupt the Coors/Murray shipments.

The first shipment of Coors products is lost just west of South Fork as it entered the narrow trail heading northwest into Creede. Although no one was injured, the trail boss and several drivers reported seeing masked men skirting along the cliff overlooking the trail.

Go!

Murray and Coors are incensed with the failed delivery. They begin hiring outriders to protect the next shipment of six wagon loads of beer and liquor. The PCs are approached by Murray as potential outriders. [Alternatively, they can be hired by Overton as bandit robbers to disrupt the next shipment if they are of questionable morals.]

Overton has learned of the next shipment and has instructed his employees to raid the shipment after it leaves Del Norte. They are instructed to capture the shipment but avoid harm to anyone if possible. The stolen shipment will then be diverted to the Durango/Silverton region. All contents, wagons and horses are to be sold to Ike “Big Boy” Sullivan, a unscrupulous merchant operating in the area. The bandits can split any proceeds from the sell among themselves as a bonus.

If the second shipment is lost, Murray will immediately begin to organize a third shipment under heavy guard. Coors will balk if any lives have been lost and eventually pull out of the partnership. However, he will still sell beer to Murray but will not condone any violence.

Should the second shipment have been sold by the outlaws, most will fail to respond to another order from Overton. Instead, they will be dispersed throughout the area spending their earnings or moving on to other pursuits. The 3rd shipment is likely to make its way to Creede after a short gun battle a few miles out of the camp.

Overton will continue to escalate the situation until he resorts to hiring murderous outlaws and gunman. Should they resort to outright killing, the encounter will bring the dispute to the attention of lawmen. Overton will eventually admit failure but not without a continuing fight.

Notable NPCs

As noted in the text above.



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Swindler Soapy Smith: A Boot Hill Adventure in Colorado Territory

Sep 20, 2011
Mark

Get Ready

Ripped from history – Soapy Smith was a legendary con man. His reign ran from Texas through Colorado and onto Alaska.

Get Set

The Prize Package Soap Sell

Soapy Smith

The con began with Smith setting up a keiser (a suitcase on a tri-pod stand) on a busy street corner. In the suitcase would be piles of ordinary soap wrapped in plain paper. As curious passers-by stopped to look, he would begin to wrap some of the soap bars with paper money, ranging from one dollar up to a hundred. Rewrapping in the plain paper, he would mix them in with the others and sell the soap for $1-5 per bar. In the “crowd” Soapy would always have a “shill,” quick to buy a bar of soap, happily opening it to find a $100 bill. The crowd was then anxious to buy their own, which, of course, held nothing but a 5¢ cake of soap. For the next two decades, Smith continued the swindle with great success. (The Prize Package Soap Racket)

Soapy is setup outside the popular Tivoli Saloon and Gambling Hall just as a train has arrived at nearby Union Station. He has agreed to pay to the owners of the Saloon a share of the profits. As the traffic from the train begins to arrive near the Tivoli, Soapy whips into action working in tandem with a pair of shills in the crowd. The first seemingly astonished customer walks away with $100. The second is nearly as happy with $20 for his $1 investment.

Beyond his short cons, Soapy is also running a series of long cons involving fake railroad stock and a false lottery. Soapy is careful not to swindle locals, which could lead to trouble. Instead, he continuously takes advantage of the open gambling policy of Denver. His network of associates and friends includes most of the local saloon owners, a handful of city officials, and the local sheriff.

The PC’s are approached by an Chicago based cattle merchant, Landry Thomas. Landry explains his wife and daughter were swindled by Soapy and he’d like to recover the money. The law is not in his favor but still he wants to pressure Smith.

Go!

If the PCs agree to the task, they can find Soapy playing cards in the Tivoli Saloon. He will engage the characters in conversation trying to deftly determine how intent they are on recouping the losses. Smith is more interested in earning more money than retaining the winnings from two individuals.

He will attempt to bribe the PC’s with matching pay from Thomas. If that fails, he will bribe them and even offer them lucrative work as shills and gamblers. As a last resort, he will offer to return the women’s losses rather than be drawn into a violent dispute.

If Smith learns that Thomas is a cattle merchant, he will dispatch some of his crew to sell him a futures bid on Colorado Cattle. Smith will not be directly involved and has no intention of delivering the cattle.

Notable NPCs

Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith – As pictured; a charismatic fellow with the gift of gab. Dark hair, full beard, well dressed.

Guest Appearance: Bat Masterson – Worked as a card dealer in the Tivoli.

Read more about Soapy at Alias Soapy Smith or Legends of America.