Village Idiocy

So I haven’t written in just over a year.  Way too much going on …

Gaming-wise, we finished up the Big Adventure, where we had to destroy a series of evil obelisks that were imprisoning demons, attracting Very Evil creatures, and providing a means for some nasty wizards to open a continent-wide Gateway to the Abyss.  Long story short, obelisks were demolished, nasty wizards vanquished, and a floating cloud castle claimed as spoils.  We’ll start a new campaign in a couple of months when the other DM has some free time.  (Did I mention way too much going on?)

Anyway, to pass the time, I was brainstorming some small towns or villages from which to launch a series of adventures.  My inspiration for thinking about fantasy towns is the town of New Bethlehem (otherwise known as Bedlam) from Natasha Pulley’s book The Bedlam Stacks.

  • Dragon’s Well — A small town built around a freshwater spring, with a vaguely claw-shaped rock formation in the middle.  The locals like to say that the founder of the town slew a dragon, which fell to the earth, creating a small crater from which the water sprung.  More likely, a mischievous spell caster-turned innkeeper used a Stone Shape spell to create a tourist attraction.  An underwater cave, which has been largely forgotten, has some interesting relief sculptures, although why anyone would carve them underwater is a mystery.
  • King’s Leap, also known as Kings Sleep — A village built near a ruined castle in which, according to local rumors, the last king of the area was either murdered in his bed or pushed from a window in the highest tower.  Either way, the village and surrounding farms are pretty much independent and self-sustaining, and very distrustful of anyone trying to claim sovereignty over the area.  At this point, most of the stone from the castle has been re-purposed as foundation blocks for the local homes.  Only a crumbling tower still stands as a stubborn reminder that  “you’re not the boss of me” is the local motto.  Of course, there are some dungeons under that tower, home to a beast which has claimed the town for itself and helped the villagers maintain their independence from outside forces.  But we don’t talk about that.
  • Birchwall — An elven village set in a mountain forest.  Most of the surrounding woods are pine, but a very (magically?) dense stand of birch trees separates the village from a narrow pass leading to a legendary valley beyond.  The local elves seem to be able to pass back and forth through the wall of birch trees with no problem, but outsider who enter the grove to search for the valley never return.
  • Stonebridge — Long ago, a wizard magically created a great stone bridge to quickly get an army across a great river with swampy banks.  The bridge is 100 yards wide and spans almost half a mile.  Over time, small villages with buildings on stilts grew up at the foot of the bridge on either side of the river, but the flood-prone area proved not a good place for any great habitation.   Instead, shops and homes were built on the bridge itself, with one wide avenue running almost down the center.  A jog in the road, about one-third of the way across, appeared during a “rebuilding after devastating fire” phase.  Locals refer to the bend in the road as “Cleric’s Crook” as the bend curves around a small temple that a less-than-scrupulous town council member insisted be built.  The fire occurred several decades ago, and resulted in numerous rules about what could and could not be built on the bridge; of course much that is built (both legally and illegally) ultimately serves to line the pockets of the town council.  The current argument is about a few buildings that were built out over the edge of the bridge (which is not itself illegal, unless the height of the building is greater than the length extending on the bridge), but then expanded under the bridge creating a sub-structure which is now being interconnected with hanging rope bridges, creating a very messy and completely un-patrollable sub-section of the city.
  • Delving Moor — This is a town I have used to start adventures before.  Located in some rolling hills and moors, the town is just upstream from where a small river disappears into a sinkhole cave.  The town serves as the nexus of an overland trade route and a (literally) underground trade route.  Dwarves and other societies living on the underground part of the river trade with surface dwellers at the Delving Moor Market.  The Golden Grape is the best inn on the Market Square, run by the halfling Underbranch Family with relatives in numerous surrounding villages and hamlets.
  • Forge Under ‘Scarp — Eons ago, a great river roared over the cliffs and into a lake below, carving out a wide but shallow cave at the base of the cliffs.  Over time, the river slowed, the lake dried somewhat, and precious metals and gems were discovered in veins at the back of the cave.  A mining community grew up under the escarpment, and out to the shore of the lake.  A narrow water fall still feeds the lake, which is a source of water and fishing for the town.  Most of the buildings are made with stone on the first floor, with upper stories of wood.  Taller building are built out toward the lake, with those under the escarpment no more than two stories, and only one story further back in the cave.  The cave has deepened as more stone is carved from the back wall for building material.  There is some debate among the village elders about how stable the overhanging cliff remains with the continued mining and quarry activities.

Ars Magica Solo … beginnings

I drafted this post a while ago, shortly after starting the blog, I think.  At the time, I was trying the  solo rules posted to the Ars Magica forums, and had created a magus, Concentus ex Jerbiton, and a covenant at Bath in the Stonehenge Tribunal.  Re-reading the draft, I have a few questions about where I was planning to go with this, but decided to post what I had, and revisit the character and solo play rules soon.

Here’s the first few year of Concentus past gauntlet …

1220       1 minor story flaw, 4 minor hooks, 1 major hook

Story Dice:  1, 0, 0 – An adventure occurs, but with two extra botch dice.

Easy adventure, base difficulty 6

The adventure originates with an official of the area.

The adventure occurs in the Winter; base difficulty increased to 7.

Two sets of challenges; will need to use two different abilities.

A:            Combat Challenge

Spell (Flash of the Scarlet Flames CrIg15, +15)  8 +15 = 23 – Success

Awareness+Perception (+3)  1,1,5 +3 = 23 — Success

Athletics+Stamina (+3)  4 +3 = 7 — Success

B:            Social Challenge

Folk Ken+Communication (+4)  5 +4 = 9 – Success

Etiquette+Presence (+2)  3 +2 = 5 — Failure

Charm+Intelligence (+3)  0 (no botch) +3 = 3 – Failure

Results:  Two rewards, one loss, +5 xp:  Rewards:  reduced time, 4 build points (magical finger bone (Causes pain once per day; R: touch, D: conc, T: ind; PeCo10, Base 4 +1 touch, +1 Conc).  Losses:  Enemies for 7 seasons

Time:  7 + 2 (challenges) + 2 (failures) – 1 (reduced time) = 10

Story:  The prior of Bath Abbey paid a visit to the Hospital of St. James, to check on Brother Anselm.  The two met in the hospital library, where they happened on Concentus.  Caught by surprise, Concentus attempted to be witty, but failed to impress Prior Robert, who took slight offense at the magus’ comments.  Concentus tried to be conciliatory, but accidentally called the Prior by the wrong honorific.  To teach Concentus better manners and to rein in his impudence, Prior Robert insists that Concentus and Anselm accompany him and the two monks with him on the continuing tour of the local hospitals.  Fearing to further alienate the prior, Concentus, on the advice of his parens, agrees to accompany Robert.  At Saint Agatha’s, Concentus noticed that an assistant, Matthew, was not really what he appeared to be, and seemed to be actually causing pain to patients with the aid of a finger bone.  While at the next hospital, Concentus ran back to Saint Agatha’s to attempt to discover what Matthew was up to.  He found the finger bone, but was confronted by the assistant.  Quickly casting Flash of the Scarlet Flame to blind Matthew, Concentus made his escape and returned to Prior Robert without the monk missing him.  Concentus demonstrated skillfulness in talking to patients and healers, and Prior Robert dismissed him from the last few days of the tour, satisfied that Concentus was a valuable asset to Saint James.  Of course, Matthew will be wanting his finger bone back.


  • Spring: Setting up Labratory
  • Summer: Reading the Magic Theory Summa, gain 9 xp in Magic Theory
  • Autumn: Reading the Magic Theory Summa, gain 9 xp in Magic Theory
  • Winter: (the story)  Reading the Magic Theory Summa, gain 9 xp in Magic Theory

1221       1 minor story flaw, 4 minor hooks, 1 major hook, 1 temporary flaw (Enemies, through Autumn 1222)

Story Dice: 1 – an adventure occurs

Average adventure, base difficulty 9

The adventure originates with a Knight Errant

The adventure takes place in the Spring

Three sets of challenges

A:            Legal/Diplomatic Challenge

Folk Ken + Com (+4)  1,1,5 +4 = 24 — Success

Guile + Pre (+2)   5 +2 = 7 — Failure

Church Lore + Int (+1)  5 +1 = 6 — Failure

B:            Magic Challenge

Enchanting Music + Com (+4)  3 +4 = 7 — Failure

Parma Magica (+1)  8 +1 = 9 — Success

Magic Theory + Int (+5)  3 +5 = 8 — Failure

C:            Combat Challenge

Awareness + Per (+3)   2 +3 = 5 — Failure

Spell (Charge of the Angry Winds CrAu15, +12)  8 +12 +3 (Cyclic Magic) = 23 — Success

Brawl + Str (+1)  6 +1 = 7 , +3 Conf = 10 – Success

Results:  Three rewards and two losses

Rewards:  remove the Enemies flaw, 5 build points (+1 pawn vis)

Losses:  4 build points (money), temporary story flaw for 9 seasons

Time:  9 +3 (challenges) +6 (failures) = 18 days  (modified to Covenant Service)

Story:    Concentus is called to Bath Abbey on charges leveled against him by someone from one of the other area hospitals.  Concentus tries to fast talk his way out of the situation, but fails due to his lack of knowledge of Church Lore.  The process takes several days, until Concentus realizes the Abbey official can be bought off with a bribe, and promises a significant amount of silver for the charges to go away.  Realizing where the charges originated, Concentus returns to St. Agatha’s hospital to confront Matthew.  He investigates Matthew’s rooms, but fails to recognize the magical trap waiting for him.  He is protected from the effects by his parma, but his shield grog, Thomas is affected by a wounding curse.  The hospital staff are alerted by the commotion, and Concentus attempts to use his music to soothe the situation, but has no effect.  Concentus must provide some service to the Covenant in exchange for healing for Thomas.  A few evenings later, while outside the Aegis, Concentus loses his way and is attacked by a flock of ravens.  He successfully casts Charge of the Angry Winds to keep the ravens at bay, but fails to notice Matthew himself sneaking up on him.  Concentus manages to overcome Matthew, in an undignified brawl, but only after Concentus realizes he is grogless and becomes angry with himself.  By the end of the brawl, Matthew bangs his head messily on the cobblestones of the street and dies.  The son of a minor lord, Aelfric, witnessed the spell casting and the fight, but not quickly enough to intervene at the moment.  He did decide to help Concentus remove the body, but Concentus is now indebted to Aelfric for his discretion.  Concentus was able to retrieve a pawn of Perdo vis from one of the ravens.


  • Spring: (the story)  Service to the covenant – Extracting vis: CrVi lab total: 1 (Int) +4 (MT) +5 (Aura) +10 (Cr) +5 (Vi) +3 (Cyclic Magic) = 28, /2 = 2 pawns)
  • Summer: Refining the laboratory  (Size: 0, Refinement: +1, Quality: 0, Upkeep: 0, Safety: 0, Warping: 0, Health: 0, Aesthetics: 0)
  • Autumn: Reading the Intellego Summa  Q8 +3 (booklearner) = 11 xp.
  • Winter: Reading the Intellego Summa Q8 +3 (booklearner) = 11 xp.

1222       1 minor story flaw, 4 minor hooks, 1 major hook, 1 temporary flaw (Favors, through Summer 1223)

Story Dice: 0,0 – Bad omens


  • Spring: Read the Intellego Summa Q8 +3(booklearner) = 11 xp
  • Summer: Begin inventing Scent of the Faerie Realm: InIm15 (R: pers, D: conc, T: smell).  Allows the caster to sense the boundaries of a Faerie regio.  (Base 3, +1 Conc, +3 Smell)  InIm Lab total = 8 (In) +5 (Vi) +1 (Int) +4 (MT) +5 (Aura) +3 (Cyclic Magic) = 26.  Accumulate 11 points this season.
  • Autumn: Finish inventing Scent of the Faerie Realm (InIm15) by accumulating another 8 points.
  • Winter: Read the Rego Summa Q7 +3 (booklearner) = 10 xp

1223       1 minor story flaw, 4 minor hooks, 1 major hook, 1 temporary flaw (Favors, through Summer 1223)

Story Dice:  0 – Bad omen


  • Spring: Read the Muto summa Q7 +3 (booklearner) = 10 xp
  • Summer: Create a disguise potion for Aelfric to repay the debt.  MuIm10 R: Pers, D: Sun, T: Ind (Base 4 +2 Sun).  MuIm Lab Total = 4 (Mu) + 6 (Im) +1 (Int) +5 (MTs) +5 (aura) +3 (cyclic magic) +1 (similar spell)  = 25.  Create three doses of the potion; give two to Aelfric.
  • Autumn: Read the Vim Tractatus Q9 +3 (booklearner)  = 12 xp
  • Winter: Read the Magic Theory Summa Q6 +3 (booklearner) = 9 xp

The Acker Tombs

I was inspired by Dyson Logos’ map of the Acker Tombs for a possible adventure for my gaming group.  We play a slightly house-ruled version of 2nd edition AD&D (which we have played for about 30 years), and are just finishing a campaign with high level characters.  Acker Tombs seemed like a “nice” place to start a new campaign.  I’ve not put the stat blocks together at this point, and wrote a bit more about the encounters than I would if I weren’t putting this on the blog.  My many thanks to Dyson for providing me with lots of inspiration for this and other adventures.

And now, the adventure …

Acker is a city built around the now ruined College of Wizards, and these tombs were used in previous generations to house the remains of the deceased masters of the College.  The college itself was destroyed about fifty years ago in a magical war, and the tombs are mostly avoided by the locals because of the traps on them.  A small group of explorers ventured in about 25 years ago, but never returned.

Rumors and information about the tombs that adventurers can hear in Acker:

  • The tombs are haunted by the ghosts of the Masters.  (There is no solid evidence of this, although it is somewhat true.)
  • The early masters of the College were buried with their greatest works.  The new masters never made anything worth burying.  (Partly true.  Burial customs have changed over the years, and artifacts are no longer buried with the deceased.  The early artifacts were not the greatest works.)
  • No one who has gone in since the College was destroyed has ever come back out.  (True)
  • The last group of explorers entered the western-most doors.  (True.)
  • The eastern most doors are the oldest, and are guarded by fierce demons.  (Partially true.  The doors are actually guarded by a pair of gargoyles hidden in the entrance.)
  • The wizards of the College made pacts with underground races, which ultimately brought about their downfall.  (Partially true.  A group of evil dwarves was commissioned by the wizard Levendyr to help build the secret ways and traps several hundred years ago.)
  • A great and horrible artifact was buried deep in the crypts when they were first created, and that is why the college was destroyed.  (Could be true, depending on the ultimate direction of the campaign; area 4c would be a good place to hide something great and horrible.)
  • About 20 years ago, a ghoul pack attacked Acker, and a local cleric put wards on the tombs to prevent anything else evil from getting out.  (Partially true.  The clerics inscribed some glyphs near the entrances to the crypts, but they’re not very powerful.)

About 300 years ago, Master Levendyr the Conjurer decided that a simple tomb would not contain his greatness and took steps to become a lich.  Levendyr and his 11-year old apprentice left the College for parts unknown, never to be seen again, and the Master commemorated by a statue in Area 2.  Unknown to his colleagues, he never actually left, instead “retiring” to an extensive network behind the tomb of his predecessor which he secretly built where he continued his work to learn and use the ritual that would grant him eternal unlife.  He hired a band of evil dwarves to help with the construction, then killed them just prior to beginning the ritual to turn himself in a lich.  Unknown to Levendyr, his apprentice, Martel, who was supposed to be the sacrifice to complete the ritual, learned of the fate his master had planned and took steps to prevent the ritual from being completed.  On the Great Day of His Transformation, Levendyr began the ritual, and at the critical moment stabbed Martel through the heart with an obsidian dagger.  The small changes Martel was able to make in the preparations prevented him from dying of the wound and prevented Levendyr from attaining his goal.  Levendyr’s spirit became trapped in the Ritual Room (Area 16), while Martel gained the semblance of immortality, provided the dagger is not removed from his chest.  

Martel still appears around 11 years old, gaunt but sinewy, with an obsidian dagger thrust into his chest.  He has become quite insane, but knows that if the dagger is pulled from his chest that he will die and Levendyrs’ ritual will be complete.  He has managed to study Levendyr’s grimoires, and knows many spells up to third level, but was not able to progress further.  Martel greatly fears the ghouls in area 4, believing that he may be transforming into one, so he has wizard locked the secret door leading to that area between areas 13 and 15, and avoids going past area 11, since he has seen ghouls in those areas, and also fears the retribution of the betrayed dwarves.  He remains in areas 12 – 17.  He is likely to mistake anyone he encounters for ghouls or dwarves, screaming loudly at them and casting the most powerful destructive spell the space will allow.  

Acker Tombs

Map by Dyson Logos:

1.  The New Tombs

One large pit trap, to smaller, but spiked traps.  Tombs are all sealed, with dates and names from around 70 to 200 years ago.  The door to the crypts is wizard locked.  Fairly austere burial wraps, reflecting the more current sensibilities around respecting the dead.

2.  The Sealed Tombs

These tombs were the second set built, according to the dates still barely visible above the entrance, from 200 to 500 years ago.  Various magical inscriptions can still be read there, indicating that the doors were once wizard locked and had a high powered Avoidance spell cast on them, preventing any intelligent creatures from passing through.  Many of these wards have eroded over time, and previous explorers have brought other down.

The statues in the alcoves depict four former house leaders of the college, and inscriptions below show their names and houses.  The three archways leading away from the main chamber bear the names of three of the houses.  The pit traps in the middle of the main chamber are standard 10’ deep pits with covers that drop anyone walking over them and reset after two rounds.  The carvings on the tombs are ornate with archaic designs, but the burial cloths grow less and less ornate as the dates on the tombs progress.

The burial alcoves on either side of the main chamber are still sealed, and the archways are protected with wards that still work.  (The glyphs can be read in the floor under each archway.)  The eastern glyph indicates electricity, the western cold.  Each alcove bears an inscription with the name of the wizard buried there.  A charred, mostly decomposed body lies in the southern archway, next to a glyph indicating fire.  At first glance, the body appears to be human, but the teeth are longer and pointed, and the finger and toenails are more claw-like than usual.

3.  The Desecrated Graves

All the burial alcoves in this section have been broken into and their contents strewn messily about.  One magus haunts this area, but is only capable of hurling items at intruders.  The spirit is not capable of speech, and cannot be harmed by normal weapons.  He will go back to rest if the remains are put back into the alcoves.  Extended noise in this area will draw the attention of the ghouls from area 4.

4.  The Ghoul Pits

Lots and lots of ghouls here.  Mixed in the detritus in the area marked 4a is a long sword, +1 and two potions of healing.  These are from the adventurers from 25 years ago.  In area 4b, there is a wand of shocking grasp with 18 charges, a potion of heroism, and a dagger +1.  A significant number of small gems, like those that would have been woven into the burial cloths in area 5, along with non-magical small jewelry are also in the mess.  These items were buried in the crypts in this room, and scattered by the ghouls when they raided the area.  The alcoves in 4b have inscriptions that are mostly unreadable, and more than 1000 years old.  Area 4c is partially flooded; a box at the bottom of the cave contains a large magical sapphire, in which can be seen the image of a dragon.  (Details are hazy on this item right now, as this will eventually provide a jumping off point for further campaign adventures.)

5.  The Old Tombs

The doors were wizard locked long ago, and a pile of bones rest just outside the doors.  Anyone disturbing the doors wakens the gargoyles concealed in the niches just outside.  The gargoyles attack until the doors are closed and no one is bothering with them.  The tombs here are from 500 to 1000 years old, and are more ornately decorated than the other tombs.  

In the main chamber, the pit trap is actually an illusory floor over a 20 foot deep pit with spikes in the bottom.  The pillars are inscribed with a variety of first, second, and third level spells.  A wizard spending time in this room could treat these as spell books for copying.  Anyone venturing south of the center pillar triggers a poison dart trap, with 5-50 darts shot randomly from each of the pillars.  This trap will reset and can be activated a total of four times.  Turning the southwest pillar clockwise one-quarter turn opens the secret door in the floor.  The door cannot be opened from the other side, and will automatically close after 15 minutes.

The crypts in this area are still sealed, and the names of those buried here are still readable.  The burial cloths in these crypts are mostly rotted away, although their former opulence can be seen in some gold and silver thread and small bits of gems (pearls, agates, jade, etc) that were once woven into the cloths.  The crypt with the secret back door is occupied by a wight, which will attack if the seal is broken.  The secret room contains another set of remains, four significant gems, and a set of non-magical gold arm bands in the shape of snakes with emerald eyes.

6.  The Secret Tomb

Originally a secret tomb of a College master, Levendyr repurposed the area for his initial experiments.  The western-most room is now a storeroom, but has been ransacked.  The door to the stairwell room has been wizard locked, and shadows haunt the stairs.  Noise in this area has a chance of attracting ghouls from area 4.  

7.  The Secret Lab

Levendyr used this lab initially to create the enchantments for his further excavations and experiments into immortality, then moved here with Martel, disappearing from the College, to make the final preparations for his Great Transformation.  Two beds, one small and simple, the other large and lavish although decayed, along with some lab equipment still remain in the room.  The equipment is mundane, and the room appears to have been ransacked after being abandoned (dusty broken glass on top of other layers of dust, an empty chest with a broken lock, thicker cobwebs on barren tables but wispier dust on tables with open jars and boxes, etc.)

8.  Trapped Gallery

The mouldy remains of a large cat and other evidence of a fight dominate the center of this room.  The space behind the ripped, beaded curtain on the north wall contains a sandbox and various cat toys.  The doors on the west wall lead to trapped rooms: The north room has a false door which when opened triggers random poison dart attacks throughout the room.  The south door leads to a room with an illusion of a continuing hallway on the south wall, and a large, deep pit.

9.  The Ghoul Factory

The stairs at the north end of this room are actually stairs up.  Anyone stepping on the third step into this room causes the portcullis at the south end of area 8 to drop down, and remain there for seven days.  Opening the false door in the southwest corner triggers the sliding stone wall in the passage to area 10, which will also remain closed for seven days.  Additionally, opening the door releases a poisonous gas which can turn anyone breathing it into a ghoul in 2-5 days.  The poison gas can be activated a total of four more times.

The pit into area 4 is 20 feet deep, and the edges around the pit are a bit crumbly.  Anyone getting close could fall through taking damage from the fall, from additional falling debris, and from the pile of ghouls likely to be found at the bottom in area 4.

The room just to the south contains the skeletal remains of an elf wearing mouldy clerical robes, a ring of protection, and a mace +1, +2 versus evil-aligned humanoids.  The elf has a journal, in which the last several entries describe his party’s movements through areas 2, 7, 8, and 9.  He includes with his notes about area 8 a description of the west half of area 11, which he thought was just another trap diversion, in which an oddly young voice called out “Fools!” and a fireball went off, seriously damaging the party.  The journal also includes notes about one of their fighters falling down the hole to area 4, after they became trapped in this area and setting off the gas trap.  There is a description of the thief, mage, and another fighter turning into ghouls as a result of the gas.  The cleric wrote that he did not know why he did not succumb to the gas, and about the anguish he felt when having to turn his friends and watch them escape down the hole.

10.  Dead Dwarf Lair

This room served as the dwarves’ living quarters and workshop while they worked on constructing the complex for Levendyr.  Just before the ritual, Levendyr sealed them in thinking to turn them into ghouls using the same kind of gas as in area 9.  The dwarves altered the design a bit, however, and the gas remains trapped behind the doors at the east end of the hall.  The dwarves were still imprisoned by the wizard however, so their cleric created a curse that would keep them in stasis until the seals on the room are broken.  Anyone breaking the wizard lock on the door will have to face several evil, cranky, and slightly sleepy dwarves.  The cleric who cast the sleeping curse was not subject to the effect himself, and died shortly afterward.  His body, along with notes about the curse and plans for the dungeon (except areas 1, 3, 4, 5, 14 and 16) is located in the eastern alcove.  Depleted stacks of building supplies are neatly arranged around the room.

11.  Trapped Mural Gallery

The four alcoves along the west end of the room contain murals showing some of Levendyr’s feats as a master of the College:  A lecture on conjuring spirits to a hall full of students; A castle siege with Levendyr calling fire from the skies on the besieging army, Levendyr banishing a demon, A portrait of four masters (the same from the statues in area 2).  Much of the area is scorched, except for the east wall, which is actually an illusion (at the point of the dashed lines).  Anyone passing through the illusory wall is subject to the crossbow trap.  The illusory wall is invisible from the east side.  In the eastern end of the room, only the alcoves flanking the pit trap contain “murals” but these are very crudely done and incomplete.  The northern one shows a boy with something black sticking out of his chest throwing balls of fire at fanged humans and the south one shows the same boy with the black chest holding a jar and laughing over the bier of an old man, who is either rising from or laying down on the bier with a horrible grimace on his face.  Jars of dried paint lie tipped over and spilled in front of one of the empty alcoves.  Noises in this room may alert Martel in area 14.  He will spy on the room from the hole in the secret door, and possibly cast spell on intruders.  If discovered, he will retreat to the library, area 17.

12.  Throne Room

Martel used this space early in his confinement, but has not returned in a while.  Anyone ascending the stairs to the dais triggers a large number of magic mouths all announcing things like, “Hail Martel, the undying.”  “Hail Martel, destroyer of evil.”  “Hail Martel, obsidian lord.”  The mouths are timed poorly and the result is a loud babble of voices.  Someone listening closely might hear among the cacophony what they think was either “Hail Martel, scared child” or “Hail Martel, scarred child.”

13.  Treasure Vault

This room has a high, vaulted ceiling, and gold coins are piled on tables, sometimes neatly in interesting pyramid or other shapes, sometimes just in a heap.  A golden mask hangs on the wall in the alcove to the west.  It is magical and evil, and grants the wearer the power to animate dead once per day, cause fear, and detect invisible, ethereal, or out of phase beings.  It will try to convert the wearer’s alignment.  Martel knows how to use the mask, but he does not like it.  The secret door in the north wall is high up the wall, and can be reached using the shelves on that wall as a ladder.

14.  Hidden Sanctuary

This is the room where Martel spends most of his time the last few decades.  The room is lavishly, if haphazardly appointed with tapestries, rugs, furniture and art objects.  Martel himself is a fifth-level wizard, and regenerates three hit points per round, as long as the dagger remains in his chest.  Martel is very afraid of strangers, believing them at first to be hallucinations or ghouls, both of which he fears greatly.  He will attack, using the most powerful spells he has.  (He is essentially a scared 11-year-old with the powers of a wizard).  If somehow calmed, Martel can tell about the danger Levendyr still poses, and his own understanding of his role in that danger.  If the dagger is removed from his chest, Martel will die within two rounds.  His final words will be “Beware Levendyr.”

15.  Meditation Room

The walls of this room are covered in graffiti.  The word “ghouls” is written many times, along with phrases like “Death to Levendyr”, “Kill me now”, and other emotional scrawls.  An everburning lamp sits on a stand in the middle of the room.

16.  Ritual Room

The three alcoves in the curved hallway outside this area each contain a rack for an ornate item.  From north to south: a robe stand with an ornately decorated but now rotted robe; a cracked staff shod with brass and containing ivory and obsidian inlays, a dried and cracked belt made from a rare leather.  The back of the middle alcove has been painted with a crude symbol that clerics will recognize as an ancient symbol to ward against evil.  The secret door behind the staff, both doors, and the portcullis have all been wizard locked.  The room at the end of the hall contains an altar with a number of burned down candles, jars of various mostly spilled components, and the body of Levendyr hacked to pieces, and partially burned and pulverized.  Levendyr’s spirit is still in this room, giving the place a feel of great evil.  If Martel is still alive, the spirit should be considered as a wraith, but instead of draining levels, it drains Constitution (temporarily) with its cold touch.  If Martel has died, the spirit is a ghost, able to possess victims, still cause Constitution damage with a cold touch, and able to cast the spells that Levendyr knew in life.

17.  Library

Martel spent many decades here studying magic, trying to figure out how to overcome his curse.  Spell books of first through third level spells are intact, but books with higher level spells have been pretty much destroyed.  (Martel was quite frustrated at not being able to figure them out on his own.)  A partial lab has been crudely and haphazardly set up in the south half of the room.  Trunks still contain some unused and sometimes broken bits of equipment.

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Magi I would like to play

I was thinking about possible Ars Magica magus characters, and came up with the following ideas.  These are nowhere near fleshed out, but I may add details at a later date.

  • A Bjornaer with a badger heartbeast.  Reclusive, with dependents.  While he belongs to a covenant, he chooses to live with his family, on the outskirts of a nearby village.  He sees his role as a protector of the “rustic life”, defending his village and woods.  He helps the villagers with problems, but is not gently gifted.
  • A Criamon with the Gentle Gift, Enchanting Music and Deft Imaginem.  He enjoys  interacting with mundanes, and using his abilities to craft stories and songs.  He believes that dreams are mini-glimpses into the borders of the enigma, and seeks to “collect” dreams of mundanes.
  • A Flambeau magus with Elemental Magic.  He wishes to become a Hoplite, and feels he has something to prove to his master (and house?) since Ignem is not his favorite Form.   He has some good combat scores, and possibly Subtle/Quiet Magic or a Deft Form.  He has a Deficiency in Intellego and relies on others to help determine where he needs to apply his power.  This bothers him a bit.
  • A Guernicus with a talent for Corpus and Mentem.  He sees spirits and ghosts as an untapped investigative resource.  He tends to be slow with his judgments, believing that there is always more to the story, if only he had a way to uncover it.  He dislikes being lied to and tends to overreact when feeling like someone has been dishonest with him.
  • A Jerbiton magus interested in plants, whose goal is to create a garden or conservatory showcasing rare plants, and possibly animals.  Possibly an affinity with Herbam and puissant Creo, but a compulsion to keep everything well-organized, and a cyclic magic penalty in Autumn and Winter.  He will want to will seek out magical and mundane resources from which to collect plant specimens, and be willing to travel to get them.
  • A Merinita with Strong Faerie Blood (Satyr) who somehow also developed the Gentle Gift.  He appreciates the finer things in life, and seeks a hedonistic lifestyle.  He sees his faerie background as a tool toward that lifestyle, but is Plagued by a powerful faerie queen who was spurned by his satyr father.

Gryphons Reach Castle

Gryphons Reach Castle was built by a group of adventurers when they decided to “retire”.  They included some defenses, some comforts, some secrets, and a nest for their pet griffon.  The castle was built partly with magic, and partly with mundane means using stone from the nearby quarries.  It rises a little over 100 feet high at the top of the highest tower, and has one dungeon level below the ground floor, as well as access to a cave system beneath.  (The caves are not detailed here, and were sealed off after the adventurers passed on.)

image336The first floor is raised about eight feet above ground level, and has a large circular entryway with hidden murder holes in the ceiling.  The other two rooms on this level are the great hall and a pantry.  A hidden stairway around the pantry leads to private rooms above and below.  For most people in the castle, the only way to other levels are the stairways to the balcony in the great hall, and the stairway down to the kitchens from the pantry.

The second floor has the great hall balcony, living quarters for one of the original adventurers, and an armory with a door that can only be opened from inside.  The small circular stairway is the main access to the various levels in the castle.

Starting on the third floor, the “north” tower is a few steps up from the rest of the castle’s levels.  The third floor has living quarters for three more of the original adventures and a council chamber in the tower.  The stairs down in this chamber lead to the armory and then down to the ground floor and hidden dungeon rooms.

The fourth floor contains access to the first roof level, the living quarters for the mage from the original adventuring group, and a library in the tower.


Level five has servants’ quarters and a chapel in the tower.  Level six is the roof of the “west” tower and the griffon’s nest.  The seventh floor contains the mage’s laboratory, and level eight is the roof.

The ground floor contains the kitchens in the tower bases, and storage and holding cells in the “public” part of the level.  The passage between the two circular rooms is a little low as it passes under the secret stairs leading to the “private” sections of the level.  These sections are also accessible through secret doors in a store room and in the first cell.  The private section has an oubliette in the middle as well as store rooms for some of the adventurers’ treasures.

The dungeon level has cold storage and the well room accessible from the kitchens, and the main treasure room, with stairs down to the cavern levels.

The windows and fireplaces are not included on the map.  Almost all levels have narrow, arrow-loop style windows on the outside walls; the griffon’s nest has larger windows, and there are no windows in the secret stairway on the first floor.  Fireplaces an chimneys are located in the thick outside walls, between the access stairs and the west tower, between the west tower and the great hall, and between the north tower and the great hall, as well as on the side of the great hall opposite the entrance.




RiverbendThe town of Riverbend started out as a small village made up of the craftsmen who worked on Gryphons Reach Castle and their families.  The nearby quarries produced excellent stone, and as the local barons pushed  their boundaries farther north, Riverbend became a convenient place to stop for a night.

The Castle was originally built a few hundred years ago by a group of adventurers who were retiring from that life.  They decided that this location, then on the frontiers of settled lands, would provide some privacy as well as opportunities for the occasional exploratory trek.  They brought with plenty of magic items, gold, and a pet gryphon, who had roost on one of the upper floors in a castle tower.  The adventurers eventually passed away; two never returned from one of their treks, two died from a mysterious illness, and the last one, the mage, just disappeared one day.   The locals eventually became brave enough to enter the castle, and it now stands as a local landmark and home to the local baron.  Several secret doors and rooms have been discovered, but not all …

A main road lies to the north-west of the town, and a fairgrounds stands where the town road intersects that main road.  The fairgrounds is used several times a year for festivals, and as a small market area for most of the rest of the year.  The main income for the town are the quarries, located to the east and west.  Both quarries produce excellent stone, much prized for building strongholds and monuments.

The river flows quickly here, but can be a good source of fish.  Early mornings often find locals fishing from the bridge or along the steep banks.  Only the foolhardy wade into the river due to the current.

Farms and a few small clusters of houses lie to the north and west.  The land to the south and east is too rocky for agriculture, although the forests in that direction still house some wild creatures, including goblins, owlbears, and the occasional worg.

Locations in Riverbend

  1. (A)  Shrine.  Verinus, the local priest ministers to those in need.
  2. (B)  The Gryphons Reach Inn.  This is the oldest of the three inns in Riverbend.  It is slightly more upscale than the others.
  3. (C)  The Hammer and Staff.  This inn caters to travelers and smaller merchants.
  4. (D)  The Stone Tankard.  The third inn is more of a tavern with a large attic where for a few coppers you can spend the night in your own sleeping bag, or for a few coppers more rent a blanket as well.
  5. (E)  Harlan’s Place.  A rough tavern where many masons stop on their way home from the quarries.  Harlan, a retired mason, has only four fingers left (three on his right hand), but nobody messes with him.
  6. (F) Masons’ Guild Hall.  While the quarries are privately owned, the Masons’ Guild makes sure the workers get a fair wage.  Drewen Stonefoot, a dwarf, currently leads the guild.
  7. (G)  Teamsters’ Guild Hall.  The stone does not leave Riverbend unless it’s on a sanctioned transport, and Larissa Carter is the guildmaster who issues writs of sanction.
  8. (H)  Cutters’ Corner.  Many of the stonecutters live in close quarters in these buildings.
  9. (I)  Strongbow Family.  The Strongbows have recently bought out several other quarry owners, and now own the majority of the quarry rights.
  10. (J)  Anithet Family.  Until recently, the Anithets were the largest owners of quarry rights; they still own a significant share, and are not happy with the Stongbow interlopers.
  11. Gryphons Reach Castle.  Once the home of a band of retired adventurers, the castle is now used by the local baron, Evgar Trewworthy, who is well-enough liked, although his daughter and heir, Adalia, has a bit of a selfish streak.  She is known for going to town and stirring up brawls.

Adventure Seeds

  • More people than usual have been slipping into the river and drowning while they fish along the banks.  Typically, someone goes in every couple of years, but so far this summer, three people have had accidents.  All three bodies have washed up on a bank further east.  This morning just before dawn, Rames Liftlever, a local fisherman and man-for-hire slipped and was carried away by the current.
  • The Anithets have been under pressure to sell their quarry rights to the the Strongbows.  The Masons’ Guildmaster worries that without competition, the Strongbows will be in a position to undercut the power of the Guild.  The other day, Guildmaster Stonefoot was seriously injured by goblins on his way to a quarry, and two days later several masons at one of the  Strongbow sites were injured or killed in an accident.
  • Something has started “haunting” Gryphons Reach Castle, Baron Evgar has taken ill, and Adalia has disappeared.


Next time … a map of Gryphons Reach Castle

Crunchy Bits about the Regio

Last post, I wrote about a regio inhabited by four faun caretakers.  Here are some of the details and stats about the regio.  Feel free to modify as needed …

This level of the regio is only accessible via the wooden bridge, which appears at dawn on misty mornings.  The bridge and regio have a level 3 aura, and touch the mundane world where there is no aura, so the ease factor for seeing the bridge any other time would be 11.  The next level of the regio is accessible only be following a particular path around the island and through the arch in the stone wall. The fauns know the way, but do not travel to the upper levels frequently.

There may be many vis sources on the island.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Animal droppings collected under a full moon contain Animal vis.
  • Flowers in certain clearings on the island contain Imaginem vis.
  • Pollen and nectar collected from some flowers within moments of a visit from a bee or butterfly contain Creo vis.
  • Pebbles from the path may contain Rego vis.
  • Stones from the wall may contain Terram vis.

Note that picking up or otherwise disturbing any animals, plant life, pebbles, or stones is likely to draw the irritated attention of one of the caretakers.

Trames, the faun of the paths, modifies the paths from time to time, in order for those walking on them to get the best views of the local scenery at different times of the year.  For this reason, anyone who has visited the regio in a previous season is likely to find the paths rearranged on their next visit.  The path to the upper levels does not change, so anyone visiting multiple times and looking for “constant” paths will eventually be able to find their way to the upper level.  Trames also maintains the bridge, and has been very sad that no one has been maintaining the mundane end of the structure.  Trames carries an iron-shod staff.

Calx, the faun of the wall, periodically modifies the wall and the arch, using stones from around the island, or interesting stones that someone has brought into the regio.  He knows the original locations for all the stones in the wall, and a story for each of the “foreign” stones.  The wall is typically five feet high, and two feet thick, and most of the stones are eight to twelve inches across.  Calx does move the archway from time to time.  Moving the arch does not interfere with access to the next level, but if Calx decides to remove the arch, then there would be no access to the next level.  Calx has large, well-calloused hands.  He typically leaves his cudgel in his home.

Silve, the faun caring for the plants on the island, has a long memory of previous visitors disturbing her “children”.  She tends to be confrontational with outsiders, but may be calmed by suitably humble attitudes.  Trames might also intercede if visitors have been respectful of the paths.  Silve does allow nature to take its course with the plants, and respects the turning of the seasons.  She does help new plants along, and sometimes creates new beds of flowers or transplants a sapling for better effect.  Silve wears a circlet of living flowers in her hair; she typically leaved her cudgel in her home.

Opilia, the faun caring for the animals, tends to remain hidden unless one of her “children” is harmed.  Opilia is distrustful of outsiders, and seeks to avoid confrontation.  She wears feathers braided into her hair and a magical animal skin cloak.  Her staff is ornately carved.

Caretaker Fauns

Magic Might: 20 (Trames: Corpus; Calx: Terram; Silve: Herbam; Opilia: Animal)   Charactertics:  Int 0, Per +2, Pre 0, Com 0, Str +1,  Stm +2,  Dex +1,  Qik +2.  Size: 0;  Age: n/a;  Decrepitude: n/a;  Confidence: 2 (6)

Virtues and Flaws:  Enchanting Music; Clear Thinker (Trames);  Piercing Gaze (Silve);  Shapeshifter (Opilia); Tough (Calx)

Personality Traits:  Protective of those in their care 3; Trames: Thoughtful 1;  Calx: Gregarious 1; Silve: Confrontational 1;  Opilia: Shy 1.


  • Cudgel (Calx and Silve): Init +3,  Atk +9,  Dfn +7,  Dmg +8
  • Dagger: Init +2,  Atk +9,  Dfn +7,  Dmg  +4
  • Short Bow (Trames and Opilia):   Init +1,  Atk +8,  Dfn n/a,  Dmg +7, Rng 15
  • Sling (Calx and Silve):  Init -1,  Atk +6,  Dfn n/a,  Dmg +5, Rng 20
  • Staff (Trames and Opilia): Init +4,  Atk +8,  Dfn +9,  Dmg +3

Soak: +5 (Calx +8); Fatigue: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, unconscious;  Wounds: -1 (1-5), -3 (6-10), -5 (11-15), incapacitated (16-20).

Abilities:  Animal Handling (Opilia) 3 (small mammals);  Athletics (Trames) 3 (running);  Awareness 3 (of items in their protection);  Bows (Trames and Opilia) 3 (short bow);  Brawl 5 (dagger);  Charm (Calx) 3 (courtly love); Craft (Gardener) (Silve and Trames) 3 (plants and paths);  Craft (Mason) (Calx) 3 (walls);  Enchanting Music 4 (sleep);  Folk Ken (Calx) 2 (soldiers);  Great Weapon 3 (staff, cudgel);  Greek 5 (storytelling);  Latin 5 (poetry);  Medicine (Silve) 4 (apothecary);  Shapeshifter (Opilia) 3 (bear);  Stealth 2 (on their level of the regio);   Thrown Weapon (Calx and Silve) 3 (sling).

Equipment:  pan pipes; appropriate weapon; belt pouch with various bits to help them protect their domain (knife, trowel, bandanges, etc).


  •  Invisibility 0 points, Init +10, Imaginem: the faun can turn him/herself invisible.
  • Domain Control  0 points, Init +10, various: The fauns have some control over their respective domains on this level of the regio.  This power is meant for story purposes only, not for direct confrontation of enemies.
  • Teleportation 2 points, Init +8, Corpus:  The fauns can teleport from anywhere in the regio to their home.
  • Expulsion 4 points, Init +5, Corpus: the faun can expel people from the regio, transporting them up to three miles from the bridge.  This power has a range of Touch.
  • Confusion (Trames) 2 points, Init +8, Mentem: as the level 15 ReMe Confusion of the Numbed Will.
  • Confining Wall (Calx) 2 points, Init +8, Terram: as the level 15 ReTe Hands of Grasping Earth.
  • Entangle (Silve) 2 points, Init +8, Herbam: as the level 15 ReHe Tangle of Wood and Thorns, but without the targeting roll.
  • Viper’s Gaze (Opilia) 2 points, Init +8, Animal, Corpus: as the level 15 ReAn Viper’s Gaze, but affects humans as well as animals.

Vis:  Trames: Mentem, 4 pawns, contained in his hooves;  Calx: Terram, 4 pawns, contained in his hands;  Silve: Herbam, 4 pawns, contained in her hands;  Opilia:  Animal, 4 pawns, contained in her horns;  All:  Rego, 2 pawns, contained in their pan pipes.


The fauns’ home is a large cave with a low entrance overlooking the river about one-third the way around the island from the bridge.  The cave is comfortably furnished with a fireplace, beds, and comfy chairs.  A large table often contains a tea service, a few (inaccurate) maps of the paths, and some pots containing very young plants.  A bookshelf contains odd bits of rocks, a few more plants and map scraps, and the odd feather or two.  At some point Trames wrote about the best ways to create paths based on his conversations about the plantlife with Silve; the result is unfinished, but can be read as a tractatus, quality 6, on Craft (Gardening).  Calx also write poetry in his spare time, and a book of his romantic poems is on the shelf (Charm tractatus, quality 6).  Two other books on the shelves were gifts from magi who had visited previously:  On the Use of Herbs in Balancing Humours (Medicine tractatus, quality 8), and On the Cultivation and Maintenance of Magical Gardens  (Craft (Gardener) tractatus, quality 8, Magic Theory tractatus, quality 8, Herbam tractatus, quality 8).  The fauns are more likely to be at home during the winter months than at any other time of the year.  When Opilia is here, she is typically accompanied by a few small animals.   There are no paths leading to their home.