DM’s Academy question about originality

DM’s Academy question about originality

I remain fascinated by the DM’s Academy subreddit and post there a few times a week. The following was popular:

Question:
So I'm working on some history for my world and I get this great idea. My players are finding these objects of unidentifiable ancient magic, and I wasn't sure what they were for yet. Then I thought well they're solving these draconic riddles to reach the objects, maybe they're like seals placed a thousand years ago by a dragon cult to seal evil dragons away in the earth! Cool! Dammit, that's basically Skyrim. Still doing it.

What do you do when you realize your idea is too close to a book/movie/game? Roll with it? Scrap it?

My answer, with a shocking 100-something upvotes:

Fuck originality.

It will become original through the amazingly imaginative things your friends do in response to it all and the game and your decisions in the moment as the dice add their element.

Don't sweat it. Unleash your friends on it.
https://www.reddit.com/r/DMAcademy/comments/uc08ao/comment/i67gwj0/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
Executioner's Sword Subject Divider

The trick is not being ashamed of unoriginality and twisting on it until it is, in fact, something quite fresh and new. It doesn’t take much. Let’s play with such an idea that I was daydreaming about in the car today. Let’s play with, daydream about and twist on the idea of the Dwarven Mining Company. I have a pinterest board dedicated to the premise; it has been in the back of my mind somewhere for years.

Dwarven miners….not original at all. Okay, What organizes them? We’ll use the Burning Wheel dwarven lifepaths as inspiration – again, using others’ work – not original. We could futz with those in charge of the company but let’s drill down a bit, so to speak. Who are those dwarves who dig the tunnels, who have slate and mud in their beards?

Yes, the game will be about the scouts who descend into untouched subterranean vistas and leave markers for the miners and tunnel-diggers. In a perfect world the scouts would leave markers for a good spot for the miners to make basecamp and organize the tunnellers, tunnels would get sunk and gems, gold and the occasional mithril would vomit forth. Let’s make the world less perfect. That is how we create Situation.

The scouts are being forced into an area their grand-sires avoided for centuries; the mining company is hesitant but also greedy. Someone is putting pressure on them. Who? The Prince of the Holdfast is putting pressure on the company to attain riches. Why? Hm.

The Prince is in debt…to necromantic bankers from the west. Cool. Let’s keep an eye on that, make sure that evil bankers don’t take the shape of any antisemitic tropes.

What are scouts watching out for on a good day? They are making sure the tunnels don’t run afoul of any trolls. Maybe there are stories of dwarves who delved too greedily and too deep and awoke a demon (NOT original); the scouts are watching out for that.

Me, being me, I want giant spiders to show up. I’d probably have the first session have the scouts run into troll refugees running from what they say is an army of giant spiders. They are desperate enough to head into tunnels that everyone knows has sleeping dragon or balrogs or something the grand-sires spoke of in fiery hushed tones.

Maybe I don’t even start that dramatic. Maybe it is just competition with a rival mining company that wants these unclaimed tunnels for themselves, throw the trolls and the spiders in later after we’ve created some context and gotten a feel for the tunnels.

Either way, it starts unoriginal and then you push on it and twist it and think about points of view you’ve never seen in fantasy novels or never seen in the way you wanted them to. By the time the players make characters and the dice hit the table, the idea will gain a fresh point of view. All we have to do is get over the shame of being unoriginal.

Executioner's Sword Subject Divider

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Click here if you’d like to see what games I have coming up or if you’d like to register for a paid game. Right now I only have a session of Trophy Gold on the books but will throw more out there as we go.

I am dipping my toe into these strange new waters.

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3 – Out from the Roots, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

3 – Out from the Roots, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

I read over Level 1 again and read over a deeper incursion at Jason Cordova’s suggestion because of links it has to the current adventure; the Trophy Discord is a nice community (INVITE LINK).

While I run the game I’ve got 4 tabs: Trophy Gold and Trophy Loom, another for Paid for in Blood and one more for our Jamboard. This session I only used the Jamboard and the Mega-Incursion write-up, first level printed out so I can write notes on it.

Roots of Old Kalduhr title pic

Beams of light streak down on subterranean stone with a climber in front of a faceless statue of a Lost Sister in a cyclopean alcove.
https://trophyrpg.com/

It was Jim and Aaron this game as Jay had some work stuff come up. With Jim’s permission, we decided he had left camp, following a beautiful piper’s tune but had lost it when he heard a bell ring. Jay‘s character and Jim’s (Baso and Pela) switched places somehow because of the constructs with the silver bells’ magic that we don’t understand but makes it easier to explain the rotating cast. The constucts were dubbed Dollems (rhymes with golem) by Jim.

Characters and Hireling:

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a
Moments
Ancient and worn gold coin with Trophy Gold written above it.

Jim got his feet under him fast. Baso looted the silver bell off of the Dollums and Jim suggested that perhaps the animals around the fountain were some kind of astrology. I jumped on that; yes, the 6 animals (lion, griffon, pig, rooster, bull and tortoise) were for children born during various times of year and the 7th, the cthonic beast whose statue was broken, was for children who knew nothing of their births.

“Thanks, Jim. Now you’ve made me help make me sad by making something up with me. Are you happy now?”

The silver bell had no clapper…

Ancient and worn gold coin

In the Common Room was another Dollem, this one with a tortoise head. Baso mimicked its movements, holding the silver bell on his own hand. I asked for a Risk Roll and through dice and Devil’s Bargains, the Tortoise Dollem was bound to Baso, who now had an understanding of the bells – “You feel as if you are 3 rings away from a cliff-face, from being sent to a terrible place that you don’t want to fall into.” On the wall, in Old Kalduhri, Aksi read the inscription in bright but faded letters, “Good children get to sit, bad children get the pit.”

When the Griffon Dollem showed up, they held it at bay and took the bell off of its right hand. It looked confused for a moment and then went back to searching the Common Room, in cupboards and under tables. At some point Jim proclaimed, “Baso can ring the bell now even though it has no clapper,” and that made perfect sense. The Tortoise, when given a command, gave Baso a condescending pat on the head. Cartwheels seem to be an introduction and also a way of saying, “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome.”

Ancient and worn gold coin

Something so strange happened that I nearly forgot to write about it. Someone was in the midst of a Risk Roll (I think it was Aaron) and Jim’s Devil’s Bargain was about the bell breaking and doing something unexpected. He left that to me to decide, like a fell gift under a watchful and ancient Kalduhri tree.

I decided the bell broke and brought something out of the pit. A blob made of half a dozen children rolled across the Common Room, screaming and crying and singing. When they didn’t engage with it, it rolled into the barracks, as if remembering its old life (lives?). They debated killing it but in the end, left it.

As Baso said, “If we don’t destroy that thing I’m going to find myself thinking of it whenever I try to sleep…”

Ancient and worn gold coin

Kel and Aksi went into the office to look for the money; Baso stayed in the courtyard, dancing and humming, hoping to keep any other Dollems away. When the Rooster Dollem jumped out of the wardrobe, Aksi and Kel tried to destroy it but a bell went off – only 2 more until they were sent to the pit. Aaron did the math and spent 3 Hunt Tokens. Aaron narrated hulking out, Wolf Beast-Bitten Style, and smashing the room to pieces, coming out with the gold over his shoulder. Jim added a nice detail, the gold was in the remnants of one of the Dollem’s silk jackets.

At one point in the midst of this glorious frightening mess, Aaron said something about the events reminding Kel of how his monarchs in the Caliginous Grove were turned to wood and I need to go back and dig a little at that.

Ancient and worn gold coin

I did some describing of the way home, as Jim hadn’t been at the game where they ventured down. Aaron mentioned that they were going to take a careful route to avoid the Cave Hounds that were eating Treasure-Hunter remains on their way in.

I had a Devil’s Bargain about the exit being complicated because of the excess of blood they used in the ritual to enter the Roots. Chatwyn and Sprunt were there, waiting to rob them. Chatwyn had a crossbow. Listed among the weaknesses of the Lost Treasure-Hunters was intimidation, so when Baso approached them with his Tortoise Dollem (yes, it followed him out of the delve) and asked if they wanted to play and the Tortoise reached into its porcelain head and wound up a music box that played an off-key lullaby, they just backed off. Chatwyn even gave up the crossbow when Baso asked for it.

	Among Treasure-Hunters, this duo has a well-earned reputation for being reliable and near-impossible to rattle, even in the midst of the horrors the ancient forest can vomit forth.
	Their views on weakness are harsh. If any of the Treasure Hunters should hit 5 Ruin the duo will seek out (and sometimes even dsicuss) ways to leave them behind or push them more fully to their doom.
	"Doom's edge turns folk desperate and desperate folk is dangerous to those around them."
	Lovers or Comrades? Survivors of a failed revolution or the last servants of a dead noble house? None know. What is known is that for the right price they will venture into the Old Kalduhr with you.
	Some say the only thing that could break them is having to decide what to do if one of them should reach doom's edge.
	Burden 4 because they will never agree to be separated.

Chatwyn
Poisons
Hunting
	Assassin's 
	Blowgun
	12 Iron 
	Spikes

Sprunt
Rituals 
Destruction
	Spiked Morningstar
	Tent (2 person)
Ancient and worn gold coin

They got back to Fort Duhrin without incident and Aksi made them tea and let them know that if they needed help with a future delve, they’d gladly join them as long as the Tortoise Dollem was nowhere near them.

Devil's Bargain with a scary black and white stag with a flame above its head between its horns.

Devil’s Bargains from this session:

I did not write down the Devil’s Bargains this game, which is a bummer. I know that the Dollem being bound to Baso came from one and the broken bell bringing the child-blob out of the pit was from another. They are good shit and one of the secret sauces of keeping everyone involved in every roll and marshalling the creativity at the table in a cool way.

What is a Devil’s Bargain, you ask? From the book:

Treasure-hunters laugh at danger, fueled by the folly of their pride. But failure nips at their heels, waiting
for the perfect moment to strike. When you gather dice to make a Risk Roll, the gm or any other player
can offer you a bonus light die if you accept a Devil’s Bargain from them. Common Devil’s Bargains include:

Causing collateral damage or unintended harm 

Getting lost or separated from your companions

Sacrificing an item or piece of treasure

Betraying a fellow treasure-hunter
Attracting unwanted attention

The Devil’s Bargain occurs regardless of the outcome of the roll. You make the deal, pay the price, and get the bonus die. The Devil’s Bargain is always a free choice. If you don’t like one, just reject it (or suggest how to alter it so you might consider taking it).

Anyone may veto or suggest alterations to a proposed Devil’s Bargain, especially if it would also impact their treasure-hunter. You may only offer and accept Devil’s Bargains when making a Risk Roll.
https://trophyrpg.com/
Bestiary with Trophy Gold and Trophy Dark symbols embossed on the worn leather of an ancient looking tome.

Bestiary

Dollems, a creepy name for creepy monsters…

Lost Treasure Hunters? Vultures…did someone call them that?

Child Blob Things need a name

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: The 3 Hunt Tokens to get the Set Goal is not only a fun way to game the system a bit but it works as a pacing mechanic in a way that I can’t quite describe yet but have seen in both runs of Trophy Gold I’ve GM’ed. Trophy Gold can be pretty deadly and the fantasy horror can be a little unsettling. It is cool to be able to spend the capital from one’s past curiosity and cash out. Speaking of which, I feel like the horror elements came out in this session; I’ll email the group and just check in, give room for folks to contact me and to stop play if something in a future session is not fun-horror-movie-creepy but shitty-trauma-creepy.

Ready for Next Week: I’ll read over the Hearthfire downtime rules this weekend and brush up on the rest of the Roots of Kalduhr mega-incursion; it is a delightfully easy read that is also easy to use at the table.

More?

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This session was played via Zoom on 4/29/22

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 11, The Execution of the Drow Job

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 11: The Execution of the Drow Job
All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 11: The Execution of the Drow Job

In which blood is spilled at a spirited Doors of Fate gaming table and Kuru disappears with an Aboleth.

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Failed Soldier and what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
  • From the start this kind of felt like a Blades in the Dark job. Jusko’s player made it feel even moreso by suggesting that they lure the target Matron Mother they had to kill to a poker game. What? Love it.

    We bought in and pivoted. The players at the table were an Aboleth in a containment tank (yes, inspired by the Guild-fish from Lynch’s Dune) named the Dweller in the Lightless Abyss. I quickly looked up Lich names and saw with Harthoon, Ambassador to Orcus. Decided the local Drow Inquisitor was a gambler too and so Jaelryn, High Inquisitor of Embrae was born. And of course the target, Matron Mother Hloima of House DeVir and her consort, Guldor (all from this page of Drow names).

  • We talked about the game we’d play for a while and came up with Doors of Fate, a tiles game where each tile was a door and the palaces those doors were in were like the suits. Rules changed if you had actually been to the palace in question.

  • The Dweller in the Lightless Abyss was the only one who noticed Kuru was cheating, trying to give more hands to the Matron to cause a fight at the table. After some telepathic banter, Kuru tried to explain fun and having a good time through a game to the ancient and cthonic psionic beast. It did not understand, so it mind controlled Kuru. They tried to break the psionic grip but couldn’t do it.

  • When the fight eventually broke out, it was the lich, throwing a Disintegrate spell at the Matron’s consort, which he dodged with a Nat 20. After that, shit got real. The Lich threw a Cloudkill in the room. The Matron tried to open a gate but Bugwump dispelled it. I described the gate starting to open, the Matron’s soldiers and assassins ready to jump through when Bugwump cast the Dispell, lashing the gate with their tongue and swallowing it.

  • The Dweller in the Lightless Abyss mind-controlled the Matron’s consort, who opened a Dimension Door for the Aboleth to escape through. Kuru went with them through the door, trying to stay and finish the mission with his friends but failing another Wisdom save. The Lich had Dimension Door’ed out, calling the whole lot of these living folk dicks and saying the game had sucked (I used the Rich Lich from the Monsters of the City supplement).

  • After a brutal amount of damage, the Matron went down and the demonic spider-tank she had summoned was Banished, against by Bugwump (MVP of the game).

    In the end, it was only the Inquisitor and the group, looking through the sickly green Cloudkill gas at one another. Kuru had gone through a Dimension Door with the Dweller in the Lightless Abyss, under the creature’s mind control.

    “Let’s talk,” Bugwump said.

DM’s Notes: The Drow Matron Mother from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is one bad mamba-jamba. Dag.

Running lots of high level NPC’s is rough but not impossible, having good book examples and DnD Beyond open for quick spell look-ups.

I like that the game we made up was called Doors of Fate and so much of this fight was the opening and closing of dimensional and arcane doors. Will All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought? Will they even go to Gloomwrought at all?

Next Game: A tough conversation with the High Inquisitor of Embrae after assassinating a Matron Mother right in front of her.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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2 – Down, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

2 – Down, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

Read over the first level of the Roots of Old Kalduhr – The Climb, the Streets and the first level Sets. Naturally, I decided to jump into the Set I seem to have barely skimmed.

Roots of Old Kalduhr title pic

Beams of light streak down on subterranean stone with a climber in front of a faceless statue of a Lost Sister in a cyclopean alcove.
https://trophyrpg.com/

Last game Kel and Baso and Aksil made camp after getting lost in the forest. This week, Baso’s player was feeling poorly and so Aaron’s character, Kel, and the NPC Hireling, Aksil, had to meet Jay’s character, Pela.

I had read the Climb and the Streets but the Set they eventually arrived at I had only skimmed but the way the Sets are laid out, short sweet descriptions and lots of bullet-points, make them easy to jump into as we go. If I had needed to, I could’ve easily just asked for a minute to read it over but it wasn’t necessary this time.

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a
Moments
Ancient and worn gold coin with Trophy Gold written above it.

We decided that Kel and Pela had known each other back in the day before they had set aside their backgrounds. Aaron described Kel as reaching for a purpose like he had when he was a Kingsguard and Jay described Pela as growing his hair out and trying to move past his days as a priest. When I asked how hard we had to work to figure out where Pela had been or how Kel and Baso had been separated, I was assured the table wasn’t fretting about it all that much. We got to playing and will figure the rest out later.

Ancient and worn gold coin

In the midst of ancient statues to primordial deities whose names are lost to time, worn away by wind and rain was a Kalduhri glyph and a scroll amidst some leavings. After some Hunt rolls to figure out the details, Pela did the Ritual, spilling some of their own blood and asking Kel to spill theirs in order to open the entrance to the Roots of Old Kalduhr (see cool-ass Devil’s Bargains below).

Ancient and worn gold coin

The entry led to The Climb, which was a huge, hewn pit with stairways corkscrewing downward. Kel found tracks of Treasure-Hunters who had come before them and the Hunt roll asked for something awful – so one of the Treasure-Hunters had been killed by their comrade. They had to fight the Petty Imps, left behind by the Treasure-Hunters’ in-fighting and violence – they took a short-sword off of the corpse.

Ancient and worn gold coin

Aaron asked me about the architecture and I started to stutter a response and so he helped me out, “Judd, I’m going to see what I can learn about Old Kalduhri society from the buildings.” After the Hunt Roll, I described the simple, square villas in this area and how he could tell that the Kalduhri society was highly hierarchical, with these simple hovels giving way to villas and then on to palaces made of stalagmites and stalactites – also, Cave Hounds…

Ancient and worn gold coin

I had described crystal lights flickering on as they passed, but not creating really useful light, just making the shadows creepier. Kel got out a torch when I asked who was dealing with the lack of light and they made their way around a pack of Cave Hounds, gnawing on the flesh and bones of another dead Treasure-Hunter. I asked how they were looking for an area with treasure. Aaron said they were looking for areas where the crystal lights were in good repair – and with that, I picked my Set.

Ancient and worn gold coin

They found a villa that was in unnaturally good repair. There was a fountain in the courtyard with a statue of children leading 6 animals in a circle – one of the animals’ statues was broken. Kel put the broken one together and I said it was a Cthonic creature that was unsettling. Pela was sifting through the algae-thick water when the construct attacked them with a porcelain-lion head and a silver bell in one hand.

The unnamed construct went down after some effort, dealing out Ruin as it went. We ended the game with the construct ringing its silver bell as it perished and other silver bells answering the call throughout the villa.

Devil's Bargain with a scary black and white stag with a flame above its head between its horns.

Devil’s Bargains from this session:

Exit will be complicated by forest creatures, drawn by the blood…

The denizens will look at Pela as a Blood-giver…

What is a blood-giver? We’ll find out in play.

Spear Subject Divider

What is a Devil’s Bargain, you ask? From the book:

Treasure-hunters laugh at danger, fueled by the folly of their pride. But failure nips at their heels, waiting
for the perfect moment to strike. When you gather dice to make a Risk Roll, the gm or any other player
can offer you a bonus light die if you accept a Devil’s Bargain from them. Common Devil’s Bargains include:

Causing collateral damage or unintended harm 

Getting lost or separated from your companions

Sacrificing an item or piece of treasure

Betraying a fellow treasure-hunter
Attracting unwanted attention

The Devil’s Bargain occurs regardless of the outcome of the roll. You make the deal, pay the price, and get the bonus die. The Devil’s Bargain is always a free choice. If you don’t like one, just reject it (or suggest how to alter it so you might consider taking it).

Anyone may veto or suggest alterations to a proposed Devil’s Bargain, especially if it would also impact their treasure-hunter. You may only offer and accept Devil’s Bargains when making a Risk Roll.
https://trophyrpg.com/
Bestiary with Trophy Gold and Trophy Dark symbols embossed on the worn leather of an ancient looking tome.

Petty Imp, ghostly spectres, ENDURANCE: 4
Weakness: holy stuff

Cave Hounds, six eyes, crunch bone, long legged crocodile

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: On one hand, I want to read the rest of the Sets carefully. On the other hand, if I don’t it won’t be the end of the world.

Ready for Next Week: Do they want to run or delve on or spend 3 Treasure Tokens, get the treasure and get the eff outta there?

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This session was played via Zoom on

What am I listening to on April 19, 2022?

Third Floor Wars interviews Karen Twelves and Sean Nittner, talking about improv in gaming (including the new book on Gamefound) and more…

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Ancient sword, bronze turning green.
Ancient sword, bronze turning green.

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Hirelings

Hirelings

These are hirelings I have made for our Trophy Gold game but are clearly useable for whatever medium you use for pretending to delve into demon-haunted ruins for “the gold and experience,” as China Miéville said.

Whenever I asked questions about the characters I realized that for me almost all of the answers were YES but I’m sure you’ll have your own answers and your own questions.

Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Will I ever put together a fictional duo with names as good as Chatwyn & Sprunt? I doubt it. The search terms that got me there are hazy, maybe 15th century British surnames? I saw Sprunt and knew right away that was the name for our guy with the spiked mace. Chatwyn followed suit.

	Among Treasure-Hunters, this duo has a well-earned reputation for being reliable and near-impossible to rattle, even in the midst of the horrors the ancient forest can vomit forth.
	Their views on weakness are harsh. If any of the Treasure Hunters should hit 5 Ruin the duo will seek out (and sometimes even dsicuss) ways to leave them behind or push them more fully to their doom.
	"Doom's edge turns folk desperate and desperate folk is dangerous to those around them."
	Lovers or Comrades? Survivors of a failed revolution or the last servants of a dead noble house? None know. What is known is that for the right price they will venture into the Old Kalduhr with you.
	Some say the only thing that could break them is having to decide what to do if one of them should reach doom's edge.
	Burden 4 because they will never agree to be separated.

Chatwyn
Poisons
Hunting
	Assassin's 
	Blowgun
	12 Iron 
	Spikes

Sprunt
Rituals 
Destruction
	Spiked Morningstar
	Tent (2 person)
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Aksil is who got hired in our Friday game and I like them very much. Their name came from doing some searching on Berber names from Morocco.

AKSIL THE SPEAR

	Aksil ventured across the continent to see the legendary forest that felled the Kalduhri Empire, having heard stories from their mother, whose witch-tutor had told her tales of the Old Kalduhr.  
	In the fort, Aksil is friendly, boisterous and full of good humor. Once in the forest, Aksil is quiet and often veiled, not wanting to draw the forest's attention.
	As they have grown older, their dreams of opening a tea shop and some day returning home are dimming. they are worried that too many of the forest's demons have tasted their blood and that if they should perish here their soul will never make the long journey back to their ancestors in the Sea of Bone before the Forest claims them.
	
Aksil
Perception
Tactics
	Spear
	Tea Pot &
	3 cups

	Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

One of the many problems with grabbing art from the British Library’s flickr account is finding cool warrior women. I had this image saved for a long time and decided they could fight in skirts when I saw an image illustrating what girding one’s loins meant back in the old days. The names were taken from Lithuanian villages, an homage to my mother’s side of the family.

	The Rubis Sisters escaped the forest village where they were born before they could be sacrificed to a demonic forest spirit, now they venture into the forest on their own terms as hirelings, never delving together so that the forest demon who they escaped from will be less likely to pick up their scent.
	When danger looms, they gird their skirts and take out the ancestral daggers brought from their homes. They are guarded by defense wards worn around their necks.
	How many Rubis Sisters are there? Is Rubis their family name or the name of their village?
	It is whispered that when they have stockpiled enough weapons and saved enough gold they will return to the village that tried to sacrifice them and make sure that never happens again.
Skills? Roll or choose from Trophy Gold's second page.
	Village Dagger
	Necklace Wards

	Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Dhea was made by cutting and pasting a witch about to be burned onto the armored body of one of her captors. The name Dhea came from nowhere. I wonder if she’ll be burned or lead a new religion or find some other path.

	Dhea only recently arrived at Fort Durhin. Her fame is oddly growing because she put up posters, made from cut-outs from wanted posters and the Governor's Proclamations, advertising her services to Treasure-Hunters looking for a hireling.
	She is called The Living Sister because a small but growing following of laborers and beggars say she has worked miracles among the sick and the destitute and has strange tattoos of antlers that peak out from the edges of her garb. It is only a matter of time before someone comes looking for a Witch to either burn on a pyre or recruit for a cult.
	Plants
	Vigilance
		Halbred
		Breastplate
		Helm

		Burden 3
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

This is another pic I had been sitting on for a while. He almost seemed too put together for Fort Duhrin but I decided that was part of his strangeness.

     Is Olde Prince an awakened Kalduhri monarch, born during the empire's golden age? Is this enigmantic and odd creature a mannekin construct with a mask woven from Kalduhri arcane science and ancient faery glammers? Or are they just a strange old man in a suit of armor and tattered leopard-skin cape who loves Kalduhri poetry and seeking treasure in demon-haunted broken places?
	You will likely find the Olde Prince sitting somewhere quiet and isolated in Fort Duhrin, humming a strange tune with a smile as if they are enjoying a joke only they know. If you ask him why he is going into the forest covered in iron armor but with no weapon he'll likely say something like, "Well, then, we will have to find a treasure I can swing at a monster first thing..."

					Flattery
					Lore
						Full Harness (counts as 4 pieces of armor!)
						Book of Ancient Kalduhri Poetry

						Burden: 5
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

I wrote about Piye and broke my own damned heart. If you use these NPC’s in your games and Piye gets home, please let me know. I found his name in a list of ancient Kushite monarchs.

	Piye bankrolled a merchant caravan of epic scope. He charted a dangerous and ambitious path. His caravan would trek across the Sea of Bone's oasis-forts. He pushed on to the golden city of Ambaret and from there through the strange borderlands towns. Finally, the caravan arrived at the strangest of bordertown of all -  Fort Duhrin. The original plan was to do all of this and return having made a fortune. 
	It was a gamble but his cousins, siblings and children signed on as guards, scouts, and drovers. Bandits, beasts, disease, and worse plagued them. Piye lost this gamble and now needs to send what remains of his family back home in as safe a manner as possible.
	If you hire him, he will get what treasure he can and send some family home before setting out into the forest again. But if during the delve you gain his trust, he will tell you that for 10 coin, he will fund another caravan and show you the finest delves across the entire wondrous world. If you pledge to fund this caravan his Ruin will go to 4, even if you are lying.
	Paths
	Deals
		Summon & ward 		Burden: 2
Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

When we played I only had Chatwyn and Sprunt, the Rubis Sisters and Aksil. The rest will be in town if the players should survive their first delve to return to Fort Duhrin. I am rooting for them but the forest and the fort seem determined to devour them and their dreams. If you meet any of these NPC’s in your games, please let me know how their fates turn out.

Jagged gold coin with what might be a sun on it.

Here they are without text in case you want to add in your own backstories or stat-blocks. If you use them I’d love to hear about it.

A stag in black in white with fire in its eyes and a flame floating between its antlers, its light reflecting off the stag's antlers and head.

Felt like a fitting way to end this article.
The End

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1 – Into the Forest, Trophy Gold: The Roots of Old Kalduhr

1 – Into the Forest, Trophy Gold: The Roots of Old Kalduhr

We’ve got characters ready to play Trophy Gold. 2 of the 3 were made from the Trophy Gold Character Generator. I had a jamboard ready, some hirelings prepped and had been futzing with a pinterest board all week.

Roots of Old Kalduhr

We began the game in Fort Durhrin, in the midst of the hangover of a festival to celebrate someone brave enough to venture into the Roots of Old Kalduhr. Baso, Jim’s character, had slept with a treasure-hunter named Osto, who had died of a heart-attack, and the Fort’s cryptic laws meant that Baso had to take on the dead treasure-hunter’s debt and go into the forest in their stead. When I asked Jim where Baso was as the game began he told me that Baso was chained up so they wouldn’t run away from their obligation. Kel entered Fort Duhrin to meet up with the recently deceased Osto, to venture into the Roots of Old Kalduhr, the most famous delve in an ancient forest dense with danger and strangeness.

Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Moments in Play

Osto’s ghost was talking to Baso while they were in Fort Duhrin but no one else could see them. Everyone took this in stride; Jim had fun talking to the air.

They hired Aksil the Spear, an elder hireling known for this experience from the Borderlands to the Bone Sea. I made Hireling Cards.

Aksil the Spear

As they crossed the marker that let them know that they were entering the forest, I let them know that there are strange villages along the forest’s border that are used to treasure hunter visitors. Baso said, “I bet if one of us dragged another wounded of us into one of those villages, they’d just eat us. Better to sleep in the forest, I think.” Aksil disagreed, “Sleeping in the forest is dangerous.”

As they crossed into the forest, Osto’s ghost disappeared.

I wasn’t sure what to do to show the forest’s strangeness. I had the Trophy Loom pdf open in a tab, I went to the Deep Kalduhr entries by Paul Baldowski and this jumped out at me:

The Imprisoned Fae entry: A cage of dull green metal displays the
contorted skeleton of a fairy-like creature
wearing an elaborate crown trimmed with
fur. The cage dangles high above the ground
from a vicious-looking barb—abandoned
sticks, hooks, rope, and polearms scatter the
floor beneath.

It got an immediate reaction. Kel was sad at seeing the bones where butterfly wings would have fluttered and Baso put out honey and bread for the God Neighbors. Baso also left a vine crown that fell from the cage, “My first treasure…”

I am not even sure how to describe the series of die rolls that came next that led to the treasure-hunters lost in the forest. It was a blur of Hunt Rolls, Risk Rolls, Devil’s Bargains and cool shit. The cult that imprisons fae caught the group’s scent when Kel used magic to tear the cage apart with his bare hands. Aksil led them to a hill that was actually a hill-sized beast that awoke and Basto speared into the cult’s path.

In the end, they were lost in the forest and made camp under a stone overhang where they found a beast-born skull. Aaron said something about the skull being his character’s skull. Hell yeah.

“How do you know this is your skull, Kel?” Turns out, Kel broke his collar-bone when he was a young Kingsguard sworn to the Caliginous Grove’s monarchs and the skeleton had evidence of the exact same break, wearing the Grove’s livery.

As they sipped tea and dusk fell to night, Aksil said, “This was a good first day in the forest. Perhaps when the sun rises we will find our way.”

Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Added to the Bestiary

Grwllah – beast mistaken for a hill, can be prodded to go in a direction with a spear, head rises first when awakened

Order of the Dead Stag – cult that hunts faeries and beast-born, led by a cursed fey power – Orion?

Snags – sharp toothed little faery folk

Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: This game, as the kids say, slaps. The way it marshals everyone’s creativity for every roll in a way that isn’t overly story-gamey is a damned pleasure to play.

Ready for Next Week: I’ll print out and read over the first bits of the Roots of Old Kalduhr and daydream about the entryway.

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Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

This session was played via Zoom on Friday, April 15th, 2022

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 10, The Drow Job Prep

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 10, The Drow Job Prep

0All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 10: The Drow Job Prep

In which Kuru finds trouble in a Drow kitchen and the Sigil 6 prepares for the job.

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Failed Soldier and what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
  • Quick game tonight, had to cut it short to get a few professional things done but still, a fun session.

  • Kuru’s player was missing last week so he came in and found out about the team getting involved in assassinating a Drow Matron’s rival Matron. He decided he wanted to know more about the political landscape and everyone goes through the kitchen. One failed Charisma roll later (drawing inspiration from Burning Wheel’s Circles roll) and he had a shadow-sword to his throat, having found a Shadowblade Assassin undercover in the gate-fort’s kitchen.

    Trundle caught the assassin trying to get through the gate back into the Drow city of Eambra. He prayed to the God of Gates and I asked for a Wisdom check. 20. Okay, but let’s make it a low-key miracle. The assassin ran into a group of courtiers just on the other side of the gate, giving Trundle a shot at him. He grappled the Shadowblade and held him down until Failed Soldier could drag them both through the gate, back into the Shadowfell. The assassin Shadow Stepped away but the gate-fort’s guards caught him just outside the walls.

  • Had fun with the Drow thinking Kuru was a child and not a Hobbit/Halfling/whatever. As the Matron said, “My grandmother always said it was good luck to have a Halfling in the kitchen. I thought she was being superstitious but I guess she was right.”

  • We’re figuring out how the group wants to jump on this assassination. I’m looking at a Blades in the Dark technique, where we start in the midst of the job, roll some dice to see how it is going and get after it, rather than sit for hours of planning. We’ll get to it next week.

Next Game:

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Sometimes the rockets launch and sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes the rockets launch and sometimes they don’t.

In which the game ends before the adventure is finished…?

WTF?

https://lonearchivist.itch.io/alien-gods

We all like Mothership, each other’s contributions and were digging the adventure but due to personal issues all around, we had nearly a month between games. This adventure is intense; it is a thinker or as Judd called it, “a cerebral xeno-temple crawl.”

Scifi Starskull Subject Divider

It was just too long between games. Momentum was lost; it happens the best of us and yet no one seems to blog about it. Well, here we are. The three gamers had a candid discussion and agreed to walk away.

We’ll be back to Mothership before too long and you’ll see ME, Mother Eff, your favorite ghost-astronaut mascot to walk you through it.

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Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons