Thursday, May 21, 2009

Terror of the Songhaunt Crypt

This is my entry for the grand one-page-dungeon contest. Thanks guys for this wonderful idea. Since the contest is closed and Chatty DM encourage everybody to share their entry, I present you...

Terror of the Songhaunt Crypt


Laleth Numandhyr was a celebrated elven bard in the kingdoms of elves and men alike. While he was sometimes described as a little bit overambitious and hard to handle by his hosts, he wrote many significant pieces of art, and was even trying to incorporate his elven magical talent into his music, to create wondrous performances. But all the fame and glory was not enough for Laleth. There was still one thing to be done. He hasn't wrote a symphonies yet that would turn him into an immortal bard. He locked himself away in a secret hideout and began to experiment with his mystical music. Over the time however his compositions became more and more bizarre, while he was exploring spheres of music that were incomprehensible for most of his audience. During one of his rare public appearances the audience started to boo him. In a fit of rage he hurled a terrible necromantic infused cacophony at them, which turned the terrified listeners into undying and pitiful Songhaunts that became his loyal eternal audience. With them he fled the theater to one of his secret hideouts where he jealously guarded all his musical treasury. From this hideout he used his dark bardic powers of performance and persuasion to cause strife and havoc, while he was turning slowly into a creature of vileness. At one point his hideout was discovered by elven agents of good who wished this evil be removed. They sealed his domain and tried to eradicate all memory of Laleth. Now he is cursed to forever exist in an undead state, and blames those who are still alive for his state. Laleth seeks revenge on all philistines who blew his masterplan to become the greatest bard in history - and fortune played him well again.
In his underground tunnels a Destrachen was attracted to Laleth's lair by strange melodies. With his sonic powers the Destrachen shattered a wall that led to Laleth's lair...

Character Hooks

* PC's were actively looking for the crypt to prevent the evil Order of the Lyre from finding Laleth using his powers
* PC's stumble accidentally upon the lair, while hunting the Destrachen in his underground tunnels
* An elven warden approaches the PC's and tells them that the ancient seals that guard a terrible evil have weakened
Dungeon Features
Magically treated masonry walls, flagstone floors, strong wooden doors, unlit unless otherwise specified.

Room Key

These are the lower rooms of Laleth's hideout. Before he was imprisoned there where upper rooms that contained mostly his living areas. These rooms were destroyed and collapsed by the elves before they locked at the lower level. The lower rooms could not be destroyed by the elves because they were magically treated, so they sealed this part of Laleth's hideout and bound the evil bard to this place. He cannot leave this place in his spectral form. However if he finds a host he can posses he is free again.


1. Entrance Hall. This is where the destrachen arrived. The room contains the magically sealed passage to the collapsed upper floors, as well as a magically trapped door to Laleth's chambers. The destrachen triggered a powerful enthrallment spell when it investigated the room. If the destrachen is attacked or otherwise disturbed the spell wears off and it attacks anyone in sight. The room is covered with elven warnings and magical abjuration spells that can be deciphered by PC's with the appropriate skills.

2. Hallway of Remembrance. The walls of this hallway are full with self-aggrandizing paintings of Laleth. One of these paintings shows him playing some actual notes. These notes must be played to open the door to his inner chambers (and the magically sealed door to area 7). It's a relatively easy melody to play. However Laleth often forgot the tune because his mind was so busy composing his next masterpiece. If they PC's try to open the magical locked door without playing the tune, they are instantly attacked by three Songhaunts that emerge from the wall.

3. Music Chamber. In this room the ghost of Laleth's former elven muse Sharlain is trapped in eternal sorrow and woe. Laleth strangulated her in rage with a string of his lute without a reason. Her spirit cannot rest while Laleth still exists. She is sitting on a hapsichord and playing a sad waltz. With her enchanting ghostly female voice, she is crafting beauteous tapestry of sound, while telling the sad tale of her murder (for those who understand elvish). When the PC's enter the room she has turned her back on them, since she don't want anyone to see her facial expression in the moment of her death. She does not give any answers if she is spoken to. She even seems not to notice the PCs at all. However if there is a bard in the party and they leave her in peace, she might appear in the battle against Laleth, aiding the party with her music (providing a moral bonus for combat and save rolls). The hapsichord is already in a bad shape and almost unplayable unless it's repaired. If the PC's search the room they can find a silver ornate tuning fork. In addition the sheet music of the tune she plays lies on the hapsichord. It's a complex masterwork elven tune. If a bard can master it he gets some benefits when playing it (like more money, more reputation, or more girls)

4. Rehearsal Room. This room contains a small stage and a couple of chairs before the stage. Three summoned instruments hover in the air and play a horrible melody, while four Songhaunts sit in front of the stage listening and applauding (silently) to the off tune music. When the PC's enter the room the Songhaunts turn around and attack. While in the room the PC's get a -2 morale penalty to attack rolls and saving throw because of the terrible jingle jangle music that somehow weakens their fighting ability. This effect can be countered by a bard.

5. Garderobe. Behind the stage is a small garderobe. The room contains a large mirror and a dressing table. Always suspicious Laleth stored a magical elven dagger in the table. There is also an enhanted gong here that can store a single spell up to level three. Laleth used the gong to trigger special illusions for his audience.

6. Instrument Storage. This room contains Laleth's collection of mundane musical instruments. The PC's can find a delicate harp, a chime staff, a painted mandoline, a bell chord, a dulcimer and a pair of resonant orcish war drums. All instruments are of masterwork quality. Some of the instruments are unfortunatly defunct, because of broken strings, etc. Two Songhaunts inhabit the room and are stoically trying to maintain the instruments. The Songhaunts attack when the PC's enter the room.

7. Tomb of Laleth. Most of this room is taken up by a octagonal platform. Three steps led up to the platform. The room is lit in an eerie blue fire by a single large brazier in the middle of the platform. Faint ghostly whispers can be heard throughout the tomb. Slowly Laleth the undead revenant of an ancient bard becomes visible. His translucent fingers hold a long, ornately carved flute. His cold lips produce twisted and malevolent sounds of some strange and dreadful enchantment, when four Songhaunts appear out of nowhere and attack while Laleth utters a terrible and blistering curse from the black dephts of his soul. During combat Laleth employs fear invoking sounds, deadly illusions, as well as soul shredding dirges capable of slaying the PC's where they stand. These effects can be countered by a bard. During combat Laleth also tries to possess a PC or NPC with the highest charisma to escape his prision. He tries to kill everybody else.
Encounter: 4 Songhaunts, 1 Spectral Bard
Treasure: Laleth's Magical Flute

8. Treasury. Laleth's magical flute also acts as a key to his treasury. Other attempts to open the hidden door trigger a strong sonic trap. His treasure includes a single magical instrument, a instrument bag with a hidden weapon compartment, some of his finest musical works before he got insane, and his adventuring equipment (magical elven blade, an elven chain, and a magical cloak)

New Monsters:
Songhaunt: Songhaunt are incoperal undead capable of dealing charisma damage, and sonic based effects with they moans.
Spectral Bard: see the description of Laleth for possible powers and defenses.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Good news from the next world

Wow. What a week! Many great things are happening in den 3E/Pathfinder scene.
Let's start with:

Game veteran Monte Cook has presented another surpise. At the Alliterates blog he announced his new project, a subscription-based website that will offer new game content every weekday. The website is supposed to start at march 2009. describes Dragon’s Delve, a mysterious (mega-)dungeon of vast size, fascinating secrets, and great danger. The website will have a blog, where Monte shares some insight information, and it will have some community functions like forums and polls. Best of all: The whole thing is based on 3.5E and maybe conversions for pathfinder will be available. "The cost for membership–if you join in March and become a charter member–is only $7 a month." Go for it!

Finally Pathfinder has released the Pathfinder Compatiblity License and the Paizo Community Use Policy. Check out both links for details.
The good folks at paizo have also provided the Compatibility Logo:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Automated Character Sheet for Pathfinder RPG

The Only Sheet, a powerful automated Character Sheet available for the D&D3.5, is now compatible with the PF RPG system. There is a demo available in the download section. Check out The Only Sheet at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ecology of the Gaming Table - Part 1: The Table

Welcome to this new series! Find out how to optimize your gaming pleasure in the real world. Learn how to create a comfortable gathering place and thus how to maximize the roleplaying experience for you and your friends.

Let's start with the gaming table itself. Some cool roleplayers have already posted pictures of their projects. Gone are the days when you had to play at the kitchen table.

The guys at Agyris built a custom rpg table from scratch, complete with player stations and a MDS (message delivery systems).

You may already know this from Dragon Magazine, but it's always a classic worth re-posting. See how the cool people from Pen, Paper, and Pixel used a projector to enhance their gaming table.

“If there’s a Gamer Heaven, I hope it has rooms like this.” said Andy Collins about this ultimate gaming table. This table even has a name. Check out "The Avenger"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Motherland Campaign Setting part 7 - The Drow of Talem-Dûr

The drow were once known as dark elves for their obsidian colored skin. At that time drow were simply underground cousins of the elves that lived in the valleys and forests above. Although only a few dark elves were downright evil, most were at least moody, arrogant and generally nasty.

The dark elves were always masters of the realms below. They built fantastic and bizarre underground cities, and were very knowledgeable in arcane matters and warfare. Maybe because of the harsh environment they were living in, the dark elves always felt a little bit superior compared to their surface brethren. On many occasions this feeling turned into haughtiness that continuously isolated them from other friendly races.

One such event, caused a dramatic change in the dark elves society. A powerful dark elven wizard managed to summon an ancient spider demoness from her vile dimension. Immediately the demon began to taint and seduce the susceptible chaotic underground elves. Soon the spider demon and her vassal gained control over an army of at least ten thousand dark elves, willing to wreak havoc and cause chaos among the weak races.

Every dark elf who spoke against the spider demon was brutally sacrificed at her unholy altar. Then something unexpected happened. When a group of rebels led by a high elven cleric of Sharladalain prayed for help and guidance in their misery, an avatar of the elven goddess appeared, and led them into battle against the evil spider demon. Under the guiding light of the goddess Sharladalain they found the demoness in her spidery lair and attacked. The two powerful beings clashed together in a gigantic battle. When it seemed that the elven goddess would prevail suddenly the dark elf army of the demon swarmed upon the avatar like millions of tiny spiders. When Sharladalain looked into the insane faces of her children, she felt incredible grieve for a single moment. In this very moment the demon spider attacked the goddess with a vicious bite that killed the avatar. Within seconds the spider demon wrapped the body into a big cocoon. Then the demoness started to suck from the dead body. After she absorbed enough divine essence, she left the body for her followers, who in turn feasted upon the slain avatar like frenzied ghouls. As they gulped the last pieces of the goddess and absorbed her power a new race was born: the drow

Today the drow are a sinister race of twisted demon-worshiping elves. Over the years they formed a matriarchal society, ruled by bloated mother-queens who continuously spawn young drows, each one suited for a certain purpose, like assassin, soldier, worker, wizard or priestesses. Their society is full of decadence and malice. From their spider demon patron the drow adapted many perverse habits, such as keeping living creatures webbed and left to ripen. They also found a way to control spiders and even developed spider related magic. The Drow see themselves as the pinnacle of all intelligent races. All other races will eventually be either slaves or exterminated like vermin. Beside the spider demon drow venerate other demons like a fiendish aboleth lord, and many more dark entities.

A small number of dark elves escaped the transformation. They lack the supernatural powers of the drow, and live somewhere hidden in exile.

(c) Copyright 2009 by Markus Brixius. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Motherland Campaign Setting part 6 - The Dwarves of Talem Dûr

This article describes the dwarves of the Motherland Campaign setting. Here you find a general write up, and a particular breed of the Talem Dûr dwarves. Stay tuned for other dwarvenkin in the future.

Dwarves are shorter and stockier than humans. They average four feet in height, with squat, broad bodies, and solidly muscled. Their bodies seem purposely built for manual labor and warfare. Dwarves are nearly always bearded and grow thick facial hair. Female dwarves normally don't grow beards, and are very rarely seen outside dwarven realms. Dwarves are a very long lived race with lifespans of more than 300 years. As a dwarf becomes older so his beard becomes longer and thicker. Since dwarfs have a deep respect for age they would not cut off or trim their beards. Instead they skillfully groom their beards with braids and adorn them with other decorations but let them always grow naturally. Their skin, eye, and hair color ranges from a gray to a brownish tan.

Dwarven society is organized into strongholds each governed by a mountain king or thane. The kings of each stronghold are independent but during times of trouble a dwarven High King is elected, who takes ultimate charge. With the regalia of power he is fighting at the forefront of the battle, leading by valiant example. Unfortunately the dwarven regalia of powers are currently lost deep under Mount Ironheart, after a terrible incident. Outside of their strongholds dwarves are organized into clans. Clans are family-like structures of common ancestry.

Dwarves are widely known for their fine craftsmanship both with stone and metal, as they have a deep knowledge of the earth's secrets, which they protect jealously. As a result they pretty much distrust everyone else.

Dwarves venerate their ancestors, especially from their own clans.

The dwarven language (auld dwarwish or dwarvish for short) has not changed noticeably in the past 2500 years. The first original runes used as a written language are displayed in a temple in the city of Ironheart. However dwarves normally don't speak dwarvish in the company of others. When they speak their native tongue they do that in deep, resonant voices.

When not working or fighting dwarves love to drink, ruble and revel heavily in their clan's feast hall.

Ironheart Dwarves: These were once the stone dwarves (also known as mountain dwarves) of the Ironheart Mountain. Almost nine generations ago they were driven from their underground kingdom by a terrible enemy. Now they live above ground in the shadow of the snow-capped Ironheart Mountain in the city of Thunderhold. The Ironhearts are a stoic and sullen breed of dwarves, always talking about their glorious past and their return to the depths of the mountain when the time is right. They almost never talk about how they lost their home for they regard the circumstances of the incident as a great shame.
Nowadays most of these dwarves have lost their touch to the old days in the underground, as they live urban lives for generations now. Some established shops, inns, or merchant houses in the mountain city, and have earned a reputation as honest but tough traders. Other less honorable dwarves live in the lower parts of Thunderhold as beggars or muggers.
The Vigilant Lamplighters Guild is almost exclusively run by Ironheart Dwarves. While they pretend to be a normal guild they also have another agenda. The Lamplighters Guild constantly guard the street, looking for any signs of danger from their former underground realm. They patrol the old gateways to the mountains, looking for any sign of their enemy. The lights they carry through the streets is also a sign of importance to the dwarves. Since they were driven off their homes they tend a flame in their headquarter that they will one day carry to the depths of the mountain to lit their halls again. Carrying the light through the city is also a sign for their enemies that the dwarves are always watchful and will not tolerate another assault on their new homes from above or below. The Ironheart dwarves have developed a silent language they can use with their lanterns which they employ as signal lamps then.

(c) Copyright 2009 by Markus Brixius. All rights reserved.
(c) image by Ivan Gil, used with permission

Monday, January 5, 2009

Instant high quality fantasy music

Every now and then the topic background music for gaming sessions pops up. Most of the time people discuss cd's featuring soundtracks or other genres that could enhance a session. I'd like to introduce you to a quick way to find the right music for your sessions.
Check out Radio Rivendell - the fantasy station. These guys have a very good selection of the best fantasy music around.
Have fun!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Motherland Campaign Setting part 5 - Lay of the Land

The Kingdom of Calhaligon stretches approximately 3000 miles in diameter from north to south and covers about 6000 square miles. Most of the land is wilderness (76%, 4600 square miles), the rest is civilized area (24%, 1400 square miles).

A total of 252,000 people of different races live in Calhaligon, with about 42 per square mile. Most of the population lives in urban regions (91% 231,840 people). Only 5 percent (12,600 people) live in cities. The rest (3%, 7,560 are wandering or have no residence). These number change slightly, depending on the season.
The biggest urban population centers are:
* Thunderhold 9445
* Gatetown 1635
* Elvenwatch 1520

The rural population is divided between the villages and hamlets, and five castles.
With the Winding Waters Calhaligon features a major lake. Smaller lakes can be found at other places.

The borders of Calhaligon are marked naturally by a large mountain range in the north and in the east. The western and southern borders are political borders that were subjects to many conflicts in the past.

As a kingdom Calhaligon is ruled by a monarch, Queen Lucya. The kingdom grants minor lords of the lands in exchange for their service estates or plantations, complete with any villages or serf who live there. These lords and ladies claim a portion of the crop, herd, or other goods, produced on on his land. From that portion he pays tribute to the monarch. Sometimes a stretch of land is granted to a faith. Then the rulers are noble-clergymen, that also run monasteries (like the Stern Tower), cathedrals and abbeys (the town of Ortwyn is such a place). Other towns are controlled by merchant-princes (Crossroads Inn), guilds (Gatetown) or wizards(Sundall).

Calhaligon consists of three dales that are ruled by the duke. Minor nobles report to the duke, who in turn reports to the queen.

Calhaligon has a relatively strong economy that consists of:
* Agriculture. Mostly in the river floodplains, and sometimes even in the grasslands.
* Fishing at the Winding Waters. the halfling population at Denderlum also produces great quantities
* Forestry. Calhaligon has large forests, however there are often conflicts with the druids, as they try to tease the hunger for wood of the big cities. The elves of Darkwood are known to cultivate the forest without disturbing the natural beauty of the woodlands.
* Herding. You can find large herds of animals grazing in the vast grasslands and sometimes in the mountains.
* Hunting/Gathering. The forests offer game and other goodies for those who dare to enter the sometimes dangerous woodlands.
* Manufacturing and crafting is normally found in the cities or in the mountains.
* Mining is found mostly in the mountains and sometimes in the Adder Hills.

(c) Copyright 2009 by Markus Brixius. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Undead Template Locator

I've put together a list of all undead templates currently available, for your gaming pleasure.

I'd love to hear your stories of your undead pc's


Bone Creature – Book of Vile Darkness

Corpse Creature – Book of Vile Darkness
Crypt Spawn – Magic of Faerûn
Curst - Monsters of Faerûn, Lost Empires of Faerûn

Death Knight - Monster Manual II, Dragonlance Campaign Setting
Demi Lich - Epic Level Handbook
Draco Lich – Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
Dread Warrior - Lost Empires of Faerûn, Unapproachable East

Evolved Undead - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead

Ghastly Creatures - Dragon #307
Ghost - Dragon #300, Savage Species, Ghostwalk
Ghost Brute - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead
Ghoul - Call of Cthulhu
Ghoul Lord - Denizens of Darkness
Ghoulish Creature - Dragon #307
Gravetouched Ghoul - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead
Gravewright – The Standing Stone

Half-Vampire - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead
Heucuva - 3E Fiend Folio
Husk Vermin - Drow of the Underdark

Keening Spirit - City of the Spider Queen

Lich, Dry - Sandstorm
Lich - Monsters of Faerun
Lich, Good - Monsters of Faerun

Monstrous Vampire - Ghostwalk
Mummified Creature - Dragon #300, Savage Species
Mumia - Ghostwalk
Mummified Creature - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead
Mummy, Greater - Deities and Demigods

Naga, Bone - Serpent Kingdoms
Necromental - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead
Necropolitan - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead
Mummy - Call of Cthulhu

Pennaggolan - Oriental Adventures

Revenant - Monsters of Faerun
Revenant - City of the Spider Queen
Revived Fossil - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead

Sepulchral Thief - Cityscape
Scion of Kyuss - Dragon #307
Shadow Creature - 3E Manual of the Planes
Shadowslain - Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land
Silveraith - City of the Spider Queen
Skeleton –
Skeletal Warrior - Dragonlance Campaign Setting
Spectral Mage – Magic of Faerûn
Spectral Minion - Dragonlance Campaign Setting
Skeleton Dragon - Dungeon 100
Spectral Creature - Savage Species
Spectral Savant - Complete Psionic
Swordwraith - 3E Fiend Folio

Tainted Minion - Heroes of Horror

Umbral Creature - Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead

Vampire - 3E Monster Manual
Vampire Lord –
Vampire, Monstrous - Ghostwalk
Vampire Spawn, Elven - Denizens of Dread
Vampire Strains - Denizens of Dread

Wight - Dragon #300, Savage Species
Wraith - Dragon #300, Savage Species

Zombie –
Zombie Lord - Denizens of Dread
Zombie, Juju - Unapproachable East