Browsing articles in "Old School"

A Dispute over Spirits: A Short Boot Hill Adventure

Sep 21, 2011
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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.


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

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.


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.

You Aren’t If You Are Eaten: A Weird West Adventure

Sep 19, 2011
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Get Ready

What’s that? A big ball of flame in the sky? Oh, crap, its going to hit us…

Get Set

“Welcome to Maysville, Colorado, 1882. Maysville is a scenic little town. Quite uptight, I’ll be honest. All order and god fearing until a ball of flaming hell fell next door.

I confess I was waffling on what I should do when the flaming ball hit on the edge of town. As the curious rushed out and then slowly came back, I reckon I figured it out pretty damn fast. Get the hell out. I’m a tad slow on the uptake most of the time. This was one of those times.

So here’s the story. Too bad one of them dime book hawking Yankees wasn’t around to write it proper. See, Preacher Bill went on, and on, and on every Sunday about the wrath of god if you weren’t righteous. He sure wasn’t if that was his God. He rushed out to see the ball after it hit along with Tom, Frank, Julio, a few others.

I was a bit tipsy on Old Rye. P’haps a bit more than a bit. So I wasn’t all that bothered at the crashing noise. I was concentrating on my hand of cards seeing as my last bit of dust was lying on the table. I figured the army was cannon testing. I reckon it was a bit late for them to fire a cannon and they hadn’t been through town in months.

Well, ole Bill came wanderin’ back into town. Except he wasn’t Bill n’more. He was nothing but walking bones an’ eyeballs. I swear on my momma’s grave. He tweren’t alone either. Might have been Tom or Frank. Cannot be certain since they were walking bones.” – Jed Reynolds


Nothing more than a meteor hits outside of Maysville. A simple bit of rock and metal except it is carrying another being — one designed to infect and invade any mobile species. The microbes are activated by the heat of the atmospheric entry. As the remnants of the meteor begin to cool, the microbes activate like spores from a disturbed mold by shooting into the air randomly.

The spores are hot molten rock that melts through the skin as it cools. The microbes go into a hyper production within the presence of flesh. They devour everything except bones, cartilage and eyes. Once the host is consumed, the microbes act as a minimal nervous system, sending the host toward any other living flesh with delicious proteins.

“My memory is a little fuzzy. I think I mussed my pants when I saw the first one. Then something cracked me on the head as I was headed by the billiards table. When I woke up there was one of those little fellas from the circus. Plus Sally. She made my eyes water. So purty. That damn little guy kept shouting so loud it made me head spin. Repeatedly said something along the lines of Gut The Quaker.

Whatever you do, fella, don’t be a visiting Maysville. Preacher man’s god is on a mission.”

Maysville, Colo, 1882

Notable NPCs

Flesh Eating Alien Microbes: Use the indigestible bits to form a walking carcass. Die within 5 days if no additional nutrients are available.

Get Weird West by Stuart Robertson if you don’t already have it.

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The Banshee of Beacon Hill: A Short Labyrinth Lord Adventure

Sep 18, 2011

Get Ready

Death has arrived in Beacon Hill. Night after night, the village has been decimated by the siren song of death.

Get Set

Named after a small hill a half mile north of the town, Beacon Hill was settled as an army outpost. The hill was used as to raise alarms to other villagers during the elder wars. Now the hill has become the home of a Groaning Spirit (Banshee).

Once a beautiful elven matron, Laerwen Kianthir transformed during her brutal downfall into a banshee. Possessed with a hatred for all things living, she hunts only to kill. Disdaining beasts as unworthy, she strikes out against humanoids if given the opportunity. Beacon Hill is only the most recent target of her wrath.

The entire population has departed the village. Many have moved south to a clearing six miles away. Others have left the village permanently and spread the tale of terror as they travelled. The player party may have heard the rumors and been nearby or known people who lived in the area. Or they may arrive in the town from the north completely unaware of the situation only to find an abandoned village.


No matter the introduction, the party is begged to destroy the menace destroying Beacon Hill. She generally stays around the hill north of town during the day and sweeps outward to kill the living at night.

Laerwen can sense all living beings within five miles of her location. Additionally, she has a rough sense of the power of the creatures and will avoid beings she cannot completely dominate. If she senses the party may be more powerful than she can kill, she will move around the area toward easier targets.

Due to her unnatural senses, she is difficult to surprise but also has a shimmering glow at night, which does not allow her to surprise opponents except very rarely. Should she run out of easier targets within range of her senses, she will confront the party but will seek to attack with advantage even if it is during the day.

She will use her fear ability to her advantage. Darting in to try to separate the party with the ability and quickly departing if unsuccessful. She will attempt to always be located in areas of strategic advantage when the party attempts to confront her.

Laerwen enjoys the strategic chess match as much as she enjoys dispatching the living to the pits of hell.

Notable NPCs

Laerwen Kianthir/Groaning Spirit (1) [AL CE, MV 150’ (50’), AC 0, HD 8, #AT 1, DM 1d8, THAC0: 12, SV F7, ML 10, XP 1,490, AEC 128, HC XXII] HP: 43.

Special Attack
Keening: (1/night) Creatures within 30′ must save vs. spells or die instantly.
Fear: (permanent) Anyone who sees the banshee must save vs. spells or be affected as the Fear spell.
Special Defense
Immunity to Sleep and Charm
(Optional) Immune to Hold magic.
(Optional) Immune to Cold and Electricity Magic
(Optional) Magic Resistance 50%
(Optional) +1 or better weapon to hit

Adventure Shorts: Checking you out – Entrants #13-24

Sep 17, 2011
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Blood & Iron – Looks like B&I had a fast and furious start detailing adventures for a game system in the making. After 9 adventures posted, things seem have to come to halt on the 9th of September. Looking forward to seeing more of those.

Tower of the Archmage is right on pace with 13 adventures posted. Although a specific system isn’t mentioned, they appear to be targeted at the fantasy retro-clones or original systems.

The ArmChairGeneral is mixing it up with a variety of systems. With 17 adventures posted, the shorts include Star Wars, World of Darkness, Shadowrun, d20, Call of Cthulu and others. Many of them are terse but useful. He’s on pace to finish with no problem.

…and the sky full of dust. has forfeited. Starting by posting a room within a dungeon for each short, the message is now: “I am giving up on the whole September Challenge. Honestly, my whole Tombs of the Naruth dungeon is rubbish, so I’m not carrying on with it.” Ideas can still be gleaned from the earlier posts.

Next up, For A Fistful of Coppers has posted a half dozen adventures for Swords and Wizardy, Weird West and Savage Worlds. A tad behind the curve for 25 but what is posted looks very promising.

There’s a Bugbear in my Kitchen! posted several shorts for multiple systems including Weird West, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles , Gamma World and Call of Chtulu. After a strong start, the effort seems to have fizzled but there is always more time for a strong finish. I admire the diversity.

Dark Dungeon 2nd Edition inspired me to take a look at the competition with his earlier review of the entries. Focused on OSR Fantasy Clones, DD2 has already passed the halfway mark toward the 25 post goal with some to spare. I love the diversity of ideas.

Places to Go, People to Be is listed as an entrant but I didn’t see any entries.

Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity engages us with a series of Traveller adventures. Nicely done entries with a wide variety.

Dreams in the Lich House is pushing along close to my pace. Twelve entries thus far covering some horror ideas and other classic fantasy foundations. Going to need to take a deeper look when I get a chance.

The Dwarven Stronghold started strong but has lately hit a bit of a writer’s block according to the latest entry. The earlier posts are 3.5 focused along with some NPC entries useful in any system.

Ramblings of a Great Khan has yet to post any entries. I may be missing them somewhere. Still, the link to the Geek and Gamers Song was worth the visit.

Continue reading »

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Fouled Fountains: A Short Labyrinth Lord Adventure

Sep 17, 2011
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Get Ready

Two shallow fountains line opposite walls of this room. A foundation of smooth rock rises two feet from the floor. Arches of water spray across a pathway between the fountains.

Get Set

The room is dimly lit by lanterns placed at opposite ends of the room. The faint light illuminates dark water constantly in motion from jets of the opposing fountain. Occasionally a lighter, milky aspect appears briefly before being drawn down and sent across the path into the other fountain.

The arcing jets of water peak eight feet above the floor. Characters can easily pass along the path without getting wet.


Each fountain is inhabited by a crystal ooze. They pass back and forth between the fountains along the jetting water, making them difficult to detect. An opportunistic scavenger, the ooze will drop out of the spray onto a target using its paralysing poison to fetch its next meal.

Notable NPCs

Crystal Ooze (2) [AL N, MV 10’, AC 8, HD 4, #AT 1, DM 4d4, THAC0: 17, SV F4, ML 10, XP 80, ADD2E 278, HC None, Special Attack: Poison, Special Defense: See Below] HP: 19, 24.

Crystal ooze is a variety of gray ooze which has adapted to living in water. It is 75% invisible when immersed. It is translucent, mostly clear, with an occasional milky white swirl in its substance.

Crystal ooze strikes like a snake and then attempts to flow over the victim to exude its poison. Unlike the gray ooze, the crystal ooze does not corrode metal but its poisons attack wood, flesh, cloth, and other organic substances. Unless a victim saves vs. Poison, he will be paralyzed and will be consumed by the ooze.

Crystal ooze cannot be harmed by acide, cold, heat or fire attacks. Blows from weapons inflict only 1 point of damage. Wooden weapons will be destroyed 50% of the time if they successfully hit the ooze.

The crystal ooze is a scavengers that leave metal and stone objects in their wake. Incidental treasure may occasionally be found in and around the water they inhabit.

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Crooked Creek Tomes and Scrolls: A Short Labyrinth Lord Adventure

Sep 16, 2011

Get Ready

Several months ago, a trio of men moved into town and opened a book store specializing in historical documents and maps. Stocked with a wide range of materials, the store soon began to attract a variety of visitors from near and far.

Get Set

Brothers Cyneas and Wintar Ryersen along with Aster Muche (all human) arrived in two wagons stacked with chests full of books and scrolls. They sought out the leading merchants in the area in need of a store front and laborers to construct shelving and aid in unpacking the wagons.

The town was extremely pleased with the new arrival. No vendor other than the occasional passing tinker sold books or maps. Soon the town as a whole was ecstatic as the new business began to draw travellers from across the region.


As time progressed, the store continued to draw visitors to the town. Yet, several travellers have gone missing. More than one a week. The new merchants are friendly but very eccentric. They rarely open the store before noon and often schedule meetings late in the evening. None of the owners spend much time outside of the business other than occasional trips out for supplies.

The three are not in fact human merchants. Seeking an inexhaustible supply of humans and demi-humans to feast upon, the jackalweres have established themselves as middle-aged merchants. They are very selective in choosing targets preferring to only murder an occasional sole traveller with little or no ties to others in the town. Still, the disappearances have begun to draw attention in the town but have not been tied directly to the book sellers.

The party may hear the various rumors and decide to investigate. Alternatively, they may seek out the book sellers in need of selling or buying a work. If the jackalweres believe they can overcome the character, they will set a late night meeting for the transaction by claiming they need to research the origin of the item for sell or find the desired works within the extensive inventory. They will seek to surprise and completely overwhelm the target with minimal disturbance. If not possible, they will calmly carry out the business and await a more desirable target.

Notable NPCs

Jackalwere (3) [AL CE, MV 120’ (40’), AC 4, HD 4, #AT 1 (bite or weapon), DM 2d4 or weapon, THAC0: 16, SV F4, ML 9, XP 190, AEC 129, HC XXII] Total XP: 570. HP: 19, 24, 27. Treasure: GP: 3000, Gems : 24 – Total Value: 2125 gp., Jewelry: 6 items – Total Value: 1940 gp., Magic: Scroll: Treasure Map (Value 6d6x1000 gp), Scroll: Treasure Map (Value 5d6x1000 gp), Armor –2 (cursed)