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I'm interested to know what the experience of others has been on this. I've been running three noobs through some basic 1st and 2nd level stuff. Here's my observations:

1. Second Wind works like its name. PCs find a reserve of strength and energy to overcome their scratches, scrapes and fatigue to get back up to some strength during an encounter. It's only 25% of their hit point total though, so it's not a tremendous boost. The feel of it is good. The PCs don't use it willy nilly either, since it's a standard action (for everyone but dwarves), and since it doesn't give you as good a return for your effort as Healing Word does. But PCs still want healing potions because they want to be able to get themselves back up to some strength if they've already used Second Wind.
Players like having their own cushion in combat. Don't forget the defense increase for the round after you use your surge. ---Good point. I left that out and it's a nice feature.
2. The cleric's Healing Word is interesting. It can be used twice per encounter, and it took even me a little while to get out of 3E mode and realize that it's a Minor action (this should have been subcoded, like in alternate font or something, so it stands out), which means the cleric can use it and move and fight all in the same round, which is neat. In a hard fight, the cleric is out of these quickly of course. I did notice that if PCs have the time, and they have a cleric, they shouldn't ever burn healing surges on their own outside a fight, but should instead use Healing Word for the extra hit points. Since Healing Word resets every 5 minutes or so after a rest, you can get back to speed inside an hour easily. The noobs were confused at first because they thought encounter powers could only be used inside an encounter. Easy enough to be confused, with WotC's unclear writing at times.
The cleric also has attacks that can grant temp hit points or additional saving throws. ---Yep. A few even grant actual hit point recovery. The Warlord also has many powers that can activate healing surges. One of the more interesting forms of healing is the Paladin, who uses his own surges to heal others. Combat does tend to have healing flying back and forth, which makes for long, complicated, and much more interesting encounters. ---- It sure is complicated. So far it's manageable. I'm wondering how it'll be later though. And I've only been running three players!
3. With so many healing powers (including Healing Word) using surges as the base, the surges go quicker than you'd think. If the fights are at all hard, it pretty well matches the resource expenditure (healing wise at least) rate of 3E, and the need to take an extended rest. Three or four encounters max, and that doesn't even count the PCs' desire to get their daily powers back. After most of the group have used their daily powers, they are really calculating on whether they can afford to stop and take an extended rest, because they really want to at that point, even if their number of healing surges left is still okay.

4. If a PC gets in a pickle and hits 0 hit points or less, and no one can help him or her, things get tense. The death saving throw is essentially a slightly better than 50/50 luck throw, so level doesn't have anything to do with it. It's "three strikes and you're out," so even if you only went to 0 hit points, if you fail three saves, you're dead (could happen in 3 rounds). And even if a character can get to you, if that person is not trained in the Heal skill, and/or has a high WIS, things are grim at low level. At higher levels of course, this will increasingly be a slam dunk regardless, but until then, no so much.
The coolest thing about going below 0 is that when the character gets healed he is first brought up to 0 before the healing is counted. This fixes one of the most frustrating things about 3E, that someone dropped down to below 0 can be healed and still be unconscious. Players get to play more, and that's always fun. ---- I was always ambivalent about that. It stunk to be out of the game essentially, but it didn't bruise my suspension of disbelief.
5. The "till bloodied value expressed as a negative number" provision is usually enough of a cushion for a PC to avoid outright death from a blow that sends him or her under. But not always! Feels about right.

6. What still feels artificial is when a PC who has been kicked to crap and maybe even gone way under 0 hit points, gets stabilized, uses healing surges, and is back up to speed in 10 minutes. It also feels artificial when the same thing happens and the PC is out of surges, but then 6 hours later is in perfect health and no drawbacks.
Another example of 4E's ethos that players should be allowed to play. ----- A usual good thing, but if suspension of disbelief is impacted too much and too often, the game degenerates, players don't take it seriously and get attached to it, and more and more of the campaign becomes about PCs trying wild crap over and over again because there's no connection.
By James Treu


A three foot-by-six foot oil-on-wood painting appears to be a recent addition. Thick brown paper lies wadded on the floor around it. The painting, full of grays, depicts a horrible crone with dark skin and bright glowing eyes sitting astride a black warhorse. The hag waves a long pole ending in an iron spike at a pair of ugly humanoids with glowing emerald eyes and covered in chains. They struggle to pull a two wheeled handcart filled with a writhing mass of large fat worms with humanoid heads. More of the vile creatures crawl in the dust around them, their humanoid faces twisted with hate and self-loathing. In the background loom piles of rubble and a massive stone wall that seems to rise into infinity.
The surface of the painting appears slick and wet. Additionally, the subjects seem to actually move, albeit at an incredibly slow rate. Anyone who touches the surface of the painting is instantly transported into an extra dimensional space within the painting (no save). While the active subjects of the painting exist, PCs transported inside remain trapped.
A sheet of vellum on the floor in front of the painting contains a cryptic letter (sec Player Handout 2).
Creatures: The worm creatures arc souls of the damned, collected by evil outsiders to sell, trade, and-oftentimes-simply devour.
All except one, which depicts Archerus in his new form (gained via a baleful polymorph spell triggered when he touched the painting), arc illusions. The horse is a phantom steed, as the spell. The chain devils are real and bolstered with lmron's Augment Summoning feat. The creature on the horse is a soul harvester, a painted creation night hag.


Dungeons & Dragons Tactics is a tactical role-playing game released on the PlayStation Portable handheld video game console. It is set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons and uses a strict interpretation of the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition rule set.


In the campaign storyline, players lead a party of adventurers on their quest to investigate an ancient being, about which little beyond the name is initially known. The plot is eventually revealed to be an epic contest between two dragons competing for godhood. The player can choose the path of good or evil, with different quests available depending on which is preferred, although the distinction between the two is not always clear. The game is divided up into a number of distinct battles or missions (30+), with the player able to access the majority of these during a given campaign, since several of the scenarios are mutually exclusive. Scenarios cannot be re-played once successfully completed.

The campaign revolves around a single lead character, with the other characters playing a supporting role. At the start of each scenario or battle, players select which additional adventurers to take along (up to a total of five such auxiliary characters after the first few scenarios). While this technically allows one to have more than six adventurers, only characters who actually participate in a given battle earn experience, so attempting to field a larger stable of cohorts serves to dilute earned experience levels.

The game features the core character classes from the D&D rulebook: the Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, and Wizard, as well as two non-core classes, the Psion and Psychic Warrior. A full set of character generation rules permit players to create their own characters, or use pre-generated characters selected from a "character library".


Dungeons & Dragons Tactics makes use of a simple overworld map between battles. The map shows key locations of interest, with the party's current location depicted by a flag icon. While a few cutscenes are triggered upon entering certain locations, in general, the party is free to move to any known location. There is no notion of time associated with movement, and there are no random encounters. At some locations, players can buy additional goods, and can always trade items between characters or adjust character equipment. When a battle or mission is available at a given location, the "Adventure" action is presented, allowing players to undertake the indicated scenario.

Once a scenario begins, the player forms a party from the available characters, and the game then switches to adventuring mode. In this mode, the party and surroundings are displayed using a zoomed-in bird's eye view. The camera can be rotated using the right thumbstick and the map scrolled as desired, although only features (e.g. monsters) which characters can currently see are shown. In dimly lit environments, torches or the use of darkvision are required to achieve full visibility.

The game uses a menu-based action system, where a character is selected and his or her actions are then selected from a series of branching menu options. In "exploration mode", where no monsters are currently nearby, characters can take turns in any order, with the same character able to act again and again if desired. The party can also rest in this mode, restoring all spells and hitpoints. However, once a monster is observed or becomes aware of the party, the game switches to a standard initiative-based Dungeons & Dragons turn system. After all such enemies are defeated, the game returns to exploration mode. This cycle continues until either the party leader is defeated, or the completion conditions for the scenario are fulfilled.

While a few magical items are awarded for completing certain scenarios, most such treasure is stored in chests discovered during scenarios. These chests must be opened and their contents removed during the course of a mission if the characters are to make use of them. If a scenario is completed before such chests are open, their contents are lost forever. As characters cannot trade items amongst themselves during an adventure, weaker characters can easily become overloaded if they pick up a sufficiently heavy quantity of equipment.


This game was made for the DND experience, and for the fans. Maybe that is why it is quite frustrating for newbies who haven't got a clue of the pen and paper game, and perhaps that’s the reason why one would complain about the menu interface and the camera angles, or I’ve read one suggested that there should be an arrow pointing to where the enemy lies and where to go. his game is not a hack and slash game, nor its just about getting powerful and hitting combos, this game tries to impart what would you do in a DND game, which is, you explore and make decisions, that is why you may not see through the horizon because your character is at a humanly height not a towering giant, and you'll stumble in a dungeon because it’s a dungeon. The developers made a exciting effort for anyone to try DND for the PSP, and I’m glad that it’s not just another Final Fantasy clone. I do reckon the game was passionately made, and if you’re not up with the 3.5 rule book and this game is not for you


By Ed Greenwood - JULY 1982

All too often in AD&D™ campaigns run by novice DMs, the world outside the dungeon is neglected or ignored altogether, serving only as a universal trading post and safe resting place. Most of the scope that the AD&D game offers is thus lost; many such campaigns grow dull (despite the DM’s frantic attempts to introduce more terrible monsters and more enticing treasures) and die.

The traditional advice handed to a novice DM who realizes what is happening (or fated to happen) to his game, is: pick up the WORLD OF GREYHAWK™ Fantasy World Setting or The City State of the World Emperor by Judges Guild, or a similar product, and “do it that way.”

This approach can mean failure for the poor DM if one of the players has access to the same material, or if the party begins to go off on a tangent into an area or topic not covered by the role-playing aid — and in any case the use of such products limits the variety of play, landing the DM back in the same situation once the players “use up” or grow bored with the module. None of these products tell the DM how to set play in motion, or how to build in contacts and activities to give the party a variety of things to do.

Len Lakofka, in his columns in issues #39 and #48 of DRAGON™ Magazine, has taken the traditional route of advising how much and what type of treasure and monsters should be thrown at the fledgling party, and doing this correctly is indeed essential to the creation of a long-lived, balanced campaign. But many DMs give their players a feeling of being lockstepped through a sequence of contrived events, a single carrot held ever before their noses, with blank emptiness on either side. That is, the players have only one course to take in all circumstances, either because the DM is forcing the players into certain actions by having his world act upon them (i.e., “ten assassins suddenly ambush you,” or “there’s an umber hulk between you and the exit, and it’s advancing,” or “the king sends for you and orders you to go forth and slay the bandit lord — bring his head back in ten days or be hunted and slain by the royal soldiers”) rather than allowing them — the exceptional heroes, remember? — to act upon the world.

Such “you must do this” tactics are a necessary part of any DM’s bag of tricks, true— but if the DM uses them constantly, players tend to get fed up, and the campaign proves short-lived. Many DMs have no problem adding depth to their games, but this is written for those who like a guiding hand or are looking for new ideas. One DM I know runs a “roleplaying first and foremost” campaign set in a desert city. We’ve had great fun playing on nights when no character drew a sword and no dice were rolled; we merely bargained and dealt with others in the city, following up many mysteries and intrigues. When violence does occur in such a game environment, it is memorable and not humdrum hacking, the way campaign play should be.

Setting up such a campaign is simple — but it is a long task. Take the time; it (or the lack of it) will show. First, list the settings, characters, and situations you want to include in play. Then put them on a map. Consult geography texts if you’re unsure about the positioning of geographical features. The simple rules of thumb to remember are: rivers run from mountains to sea, the largest cities are found where navigable rivers and sea meet, and fortresses or cities are also constructed at other strategic locations (mountain passes, bridges or fords of wide or deep rivers on important travel and trade routes, and good harbors along the seacoast not adjacent to a river). Good agricultural land is necessary to support large cities and a high standard of living. The supply of raw goods, particularly metals, also governs the standard of living and the prices of everything the characters must buy.

Once you have a map, trade routes (and from them, political forces) are immediately apparent, and the character of your world is thereby established. Then a host of modifying factors (such as traditions and past political history, racial distribution, and religious beliefs) must be added. The easiest way to illustrate this is with a sample; see the map accompanying this text.

Crude, eh? It can be prettied up later, as Gollum would say. The letters stand for regions (kingdoms, if you prefer) governed from large coastal (port) cities (the triangles). Each can be described simply:

From these few threadbare descriptions, we can build in forces of activity; the tensions, trade, and interests which are the life of any world. The sea and the desert are the two natural obstacles to trade, and so there is an important overland caravan route between Cluf and Emmersea — imperiled by the nomads, of course. There is also naval trade: Darshin, because of its location, is the foremost sea power, but it is weak in resources and needs goods from the other cities to survive. Alut is also hungry for resources, has a good port, and desires to expand over “the barbarian kingdoms.” Said kingdoms (D, E, F, and G) aren’t too pleased at the idea; Geldorn, in fact, fears both Alut and Darshin, and heavily guards the isle of Ghed to preserve its naval power and independence. Geldorn is at the very end of the horseshoeshaped caravan route, is valued for its gems, and is not a country suited for overland travel.

Politics (social mores) and codes of conduct are matters best dealt with in detail at another time, but at a glance one can see that the government of Alut would be a matter of pompous trappings and hallowed traditions, that of Barsheba would be close-armed force to guard the mineral wealth of the country, that of Famairal would be the most easy-going by virtue of a widely accepted code of behavior (to wit, the necessary tasks and customs of farming the land), and those of Cluf and Emmersea would be the most open and tolerant due to their “crossroads” aspect, perhaps having only a “Trader’s Code” of some sort.

Darshin and Geldorn will probably be armed camps; the strategic importance of Darshin means its independence would last only as long as its navy was the most formidable on the seas. This warlike stance is balanced against the fact that the isle requires goods from the other countries to survive, and by the fact that the pirates and the navies of all the other countries could in combination defeat it, if Geldorn attempted any conquests. As it is, there is strife between the Darshin trading vessels (who charge trade rates to the other countries of sufficient amount to maintain the existence of overland trade) and those of Alut, who are trying for a share of cargo-carrying fees — and between both of these and the pirates of the isle of Ghed, who are preying on both navies and keeping them both too weak to defeat the other. (If one did achieve supremacy, it would of course then turn and crush Ghed.)

A lively situation for adventuring, and two countries in particular seem ideal sites for a party of adventurers: Geldorn, with a government whose reach and attention is turned outward and not into the wild (monster-populated) interior, and with gems to be found which lure adventurers, merchants, and even official agents from all countries; and Emmersea, a land of small villages or dales lightly governed by merchant lords. Of necessity (so as to not discourage trade), government and law enforcement in Emmersea will be light. Emmersea’s terrain of small valleys makes for a choice of trade routes within the country, adventurers’- type terrain, which can support small settlements easily handled by a DM. The fact that the country is marked with the ruins of earlier civilizations provides a setting for (and a market for the rewards of) adventuring. If agriculture is crowded into the valleys and the slopes around the valleys are heavily wooded, Emmersea has an exportable good: lumber for the wagonmakers of Cluf and the shipyards of Darshin, and a need for textiles and other goods possible only when agricultural land is plentiful and good.

Aside from the acknowledged authority of the governments, there will be many other power groups in this world. The merchants not governing Emmersea and Cluf are one such group — or, more probably, they comprise many groups. Others will be rebels, opponents of the governments of all types — perhaps giants or the goblin races in the mines and mountains of Barsheba, having been pushed out by men and angry about it. Religious groups — some allied to the local government, some opposed — are other sources of power; so are the intellectuals, philosophers and inventors, particularly when technology and progress is not sponsored or favored by the state.

Technology, religion, and accepted authority (laws, customs, and tradition) will provide much of the impetus, directions, and limitations on adventure for the players; the DM must take care with the development of these things and concepts. The restrictive tenets of a religion, for example, can affect trade. If Geldorn embraces the druidic faith, it will not be the scene of legal logging operations, nor will its borders likely be open to those carrying lumber or caged wild animals being transported over land or sea.

Much of the activity of the campaign will come from the ongoing struggles between various power groups; for example, the G and D series AD&D modules put out by TSR Games depict a world of various groups (ogre magi, the hill giants, frost giants, fire giants, kuo-toa, illithids, Lolth-worshipping and elemental godworshipping drow nobles) all cooperating to a degree, and at the same time vying for supremacy. A party will unavoidably make allies and enemies as they take action in the midst of such conflict, and members of the party may even join (opposing?) groups and find themselves directly involved.

The DM should also determine the prevalence and nature of the ruins of previous civilizations. Not only are these necessary for the location of artifacts (many of which, the DMG tells us, are of construction and origin now unknown) and as a justification for the existence of “dungeons,” but they can possess a fascinating aura of grand mystery. As players of the GAMMA WORLD™ game know, exploring the leavings of the past is dangerously alluring —and players in more medieval-style AD&D settings usually enjoy burial sites, stone circles, and the like. Secret (evil, or opposed to the accepted — state? — religion) cults can worship at such places, and treasure can be hidden there; both are often hinted at by local legends of magic, apparitions, and otherwise strange doings.

In our sample world, Emmersea is the chief locale for such ruins and old landscapes, although ruins can be placed in any wild areas (such as Geldorn’s interior, the desert, and the mountains in all countries), and such areas would logically be populated by various non-human races and creatures. Alut might have artifacts preserved in its great towers and tombs, but these would be rare in Barsheba, Cluf, and Famairal, where magic items would long since have been found and destroyed or carried off.

Yet another factor can be added to a world: that of “other-world connections.” Connections with other planes and other “worlds” (parallel Prime Material planes) allow a DM to use many monsters and characters (such as those found in this magazine’s Giants In the Earth column), and limited experiments, such as characters from futuristic and modern settings, that otherwise could not be justified. The presence of an “other world” gives the DM ample justification to end, or retract, elements that don’t add fun to play, or that threaten the balance and/or cohesiveness of the campaign.

In my own “Forgotten Realms” campaign, similarities between the world we all live in and the AD&D fantasy world (such as chronology, fighting tactics, and legends of beasts such as dragons and vampires) are all accounted for by the existence of connections between the two worlds. These connections were once well and often used, but are now largely forgotten (hence, “Forgotten Realms”) by those on our side (uh, that is, this side, the modern one, with the progress and pollution and such...). But some few quietly walk our earth who know the Realms well. . . .

Control of the means of interplanar travel (see the AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, and my article on gates from issue #37 of DRAGON Magazine, reprinted in the BEST OF DRAGON™ Vol. II collection, for details) will be of immense strategic importance, and all who know of them will join in, or at least take sides in, the struggle to control the “gates” and gate mechanisms at some point. One idea for a long-lasting campaign is that of a powerful mage or group of beings opening up, re-opening, destroying and creating a group of gates between various alternate Prime Material planes and the Outer Planes, using these as bridgeheads for invasions of creatures from these other planes, in the same manner as Lolth is expanding into the mountainous, icy world in AD&D module Q1, Queen of the Demonweb Pits. A party could find such a group to be a numerous, widespread, and powerful foe which could work behind many day-to-day events and adventures.

Such gates could be placed in our sample world in hidden valleys in the north of Cluf, for example, with quiet interplanar caravan trade taking place; or an invading force of monsters from some other plane could be issuing from a gate in a ruined city deep in the desert, under the guidance of lamia. Strange ships could be encountered, arriving at Alut and Darshin, or washed up piece by piece on the remote western shore of Geldorn — perhaps coming from another plane through a seaborne gate, perhaps hailing from a hitherto unknown western continent, or the fabled Far Isles — if a DM works at it, the possible directions he offers the players for play to proceed in are almost endless.

A contact with another continent, for example, offers enterprising characters a chance to found a trading company operating between the known kingdoms (A-G) and the new continent, with all the attendant headaches and rewards. This leads us to another topic: employment. In law-abiding areas (Alut, Barsheba, Darshin, and Famairal), few free-booting adventurers are going to be tolerated. A visible means of income is necessary; at least some of the party members must have honest jobs. Too few DM’s explore this facet of the game, preferring instead freewheeling, fiercely independent player characters who live off the work of others (the lot of a privileged few, mostly hereditary nobles, in the medieval-technology societies found in most AD&D campaigns).

If a DM lacks the time or the confidence to work out a detailed social situation, or wishes to utilize commercial modules when placing them in his existing world would disrupt affairs greatly, the “Anchorome campaign” is a solution.

This campaign, named for a legendary island far over the sea to the west, further from the mainland than most sailors ever dare to go, is simplicity itself. The party is provided with — hired, conscripted, ordered, or bequeathed — a ship. This vessel (if properly maintained) is adequate for them to live on, and to carry a respectable amount of trade cargo. Due to the menace of pirates or warships, or because of a storm, or because rumors of treasure are eagerly followed by the party, the ship is sent off the normal trade routes into the unknown.

Play can include a single voyage, like that of C. S. Lewis’s Dawn Treader, or (like the owners of a Traveller free trader) the party can carry on voyages for many years, concerned with trade, continually provisioning and maintaining the ship, avoiding seizure and shipwreck, and so on.

The setting (an unknown sea dotted with islands) allows use of all marine AD&D monsters and many published role-playing aids, from Judges Guild’s Island Books through D&D® Module Xl, the perfectly suitable Isle of Dread, to AD&D modules like C1, S1, and S3. The island in the A series modules, modified somewhat, could also be used. The DM merely charts the immediate vicinity of the party’s ship, determines aquatic monster and ship encounters, and locates whatever is desired (from modules, magazines, current reading, and creative thought) on islands — or upon the vast backs of sleeping whales, for that matter! When DM or players tire of the setting, the DM creates a nearby continent or an interplanar gate upon an island, and the campaign setting can shift overnight.

Whatever the precise campaign setting, the success of play depends upon the players and the skill of the DM — in particular, the care and extent of the DM’s work outside of actual play. A sterling example of the depth displayed by a well crafted, detailed world — and the “life” such a world seems to take on — is in Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales. A few areas of special importance and concern in world-making will be discussed below and in future articles.

The Dungeon Masters Guide warns the DM that time records must be kept in any meaningful campaign; too few DMs realize this (or bother to undertake the work to make it so), or that this timekeeping should be extended to the movements and activities of all rulers and other important NPCs, the locations of all active and potential warriors (particularly mercenaries), valuable trade goods, and the ongoing enactment of political policies, orders, encounters and the spread of information — not just to the training times and monetary expenditures of the player characters.

The lure of the lost and forgotten is an interest-producing facet of play well known to most DMs, at least on the level of the hunt for buried treasure. But few see the potential of ancient records, histories, and tomes of lore as a source of hints to treasure location, clues to the identity and present whereabouts of now-dead (or undead) kings, magicusers, and other important individuals, partial spell or artifact knowledge, and background lore.

The DM can have great fun composing such works, the players will gain much from them, and play should improve. Too many players find (and survive the opening of) books in dungeons only to find that they hold yet another illegible diary or accountant’s ledger — or worse yet, expect from experience that every book found will be a spell book or magic item (Book, Codex, Grimoire, Libram, Manual, or Tome) from the DMG.

Many DMs miss a great chance to spice up play by slighting an entire character class: thieves. Too many thieves are played as door-openers and lockpickers for those rare occasions when the swashbuckling blast-and-hackers who make up the party feel an attack of caution — and their thievery tends to be either pocket-picking and corpse-stripping, or of the snatch-and-run variety.

The DM should ensure that such performance carries much risk, but enjoys only limited success — a thief who seeks wealth (and advancement in levels) should keep such risky, bandit-like activities to a minimum, preferring instead careful planning of thefts. The target must be watched, specific tactics devised to overcome defenses and obstacles, escape routes and a location or means for the quick disposal of loot to avoid discovery be settled upon — a stupid or reckless thief who does not keep on the move should be a short-lived creature, and player characters are, after all, supposed to be a cut above the norm.

Only one more topic is essential in a DM’s primer — politics. Aside from personal feuds and rivalries, there is always a struggle for power surrounding the government of any kingdom worth having. The legitimate king is dead, perhaps, or senile —and his three known sons (plus another two claimants who may be illegitimate sons of the king or only, however unwittingly, impostors) all battle for the throne; in the political arena of councils and by wooing various nobles or power groups as patrons, and then increasingly by means of daggers in dark corridors and bared swords on the high roads.

The players, as all others in the land, must choose sides in this struggle, and if their choice is ill they may fare accordingly. Such a war of succession (as illustrated in Roger Zelazny’s Amber series, for example) may go on for years, as rival claimants go into hiding, emerge to win the throne in a bloody ambush or midnight murder, and fall in their turn to the next usurper . . . and of course, a kingdom so weakened will be inviting to neighboring states wishing to expand, or the nonhuman tribes who have bided their time in the mountains, forests, and swampy valleys of the north, waiting to reclaim the land that was once theirs. Many local officials and minor nobility will seize this chance to gain wealth and power in the face of uncaring chaos at the capital, and these small-scale governors will rule the affairs of various small areas of the kingdom by the weight of their swordsworn (men pledged to service).

A royal struggle need not be so widespread, however; some such struggles will never actively pass beyond the walls of the palace, such as the nasty situation which arises when the monarch’s eldest child is female, and a younger brother (as the eldest male descendant) believes he should have the throne.

If the DM does not favor large monsters or wilderness adventuring, a vast, complex castle with forgotten passages and dungeons (like the fictional Gormenghast or Amber) and old, manylayered intrigue may prove an ideal dungeon setting — the players need never even see the light of day. If one thinks a castle setting limiting, consider the action in Howard’s Red Nails or Goldman’s The Lion In Winter, or the possibilities, offered by the half-ruined, labyrinthine citadel in Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer.

Understanding why one kingdom is stronger than or opposed to another, and why one mountain pass is strategically important and another not, is essential to the DM, if players are to affect the status quo without always coming into direct contact with (or becoming) rulers. An endless diet of kings and princesses and wicked nobles reduces the excitement and interest of the trappings and traditions of power and, if the DM can’t come up with alternatives, dooms a campaign to increasingly dull and bland play.

A good guide for the novice DM to judge the depth and interest of his or her campaign is to consider its elements and events without the players (and their characters and deeds). Is the setting, bereft of player involvement, still interesting enough to be the stuff of which tales are made?

If not, something must be done. And yet the action of the world must not be entirely divorced from the actions and interests of player characters — the play of the campaign must be concerned with them, and the overall tapestry of events in the world should be affected by them, moreso as the characters grow in experience levels and the players in playing experience. On the other hand, the DM must avoid any tendency of events to halt in mid-action when adventuring stops, coming to life only when player characters walk onstage to do battle. (I always thought it odd that enemies would lay low at the same time as player characters trained or recovered from wounds, and that no one fell upon the unprotected treasure of player characters while they were off training.)

Note that players need not be made aware of all the DM’s work in creating nearby characters, groups, and activities. They can learn what they will as play proceeds; indeed, a degree of mystery builds interest more than any other quality of a campaign. Too much will frustrate players, however; the DM must find the proper amount, while bearing in mind that several small, simultaneous mysteries are better than one Grand Mystery after another. Mysteries also leave a DM room to modify his campaign to respond to player desires and achievements, and to avoid or explain a way around apparent contradictions.

And every long-running campaign will have such “gray areas,” no matter how intricately developed it is before the onset of play; for six days a DM labors mightily to create a world and breathe life into it, but the world he creates is (alas) not perfect, and by the seventh day that DM has certainly earned a rest....


Azlant. The very word conjures images of power, mystery, and antiquity. When the world was young, before the great darkness, the spell-smiths of Azlant crafted such marvels that the people of the day were said to be living gods, able to form reality with a thought and oblivion with a whisper. Little of their civilization survived the great darkness, but their last great hero, none other than the legendary Aroden himself, brought a few desperate survivors out of the foundering kingdom to the far shores of the inner sea. Thus was born the nation of Taldor—eldest, and proudest, of the human kingdoms. Although little survives from that era, nonetheless here and there relics of the original Azlanti colonists still await discovery in southern Avistan. But woe be to the adventurer who stumbles across these vestiges unprepared, for the Azlanti possessed magic unlike any that yet remains in the world, and they guarded their secrets jealously.
The reign of Merlokrep, first of his name, all-mighty Dragon King of the Truescale Kobolds, ended as badly as it began. Moments before his mighty crown could taste the blood of a pink-skin babe, a band of oversized psychopaths burst into his throne room. They ignored Merlokrep’s kind offer to kneel at his throne and lick his boots, and instead the treacherous man-things chopped him to tiny bits. This should have marked the ignoble but inevitable end of the Truescales’ reigning monarch—but the Fates were not through tormenting Merlokrep yet.
The creeping shadows that forced his people to the surface weeks before found the Kobold King in a pool of his own blood, his centipede throne carelessly toppled over his dismembered body. Their leader, a powerful undead named Drazmorg, gazed upon Merlokrep’s ruined remains. Whether out of spite or for cruel sport to amuse his cold immortal soul, Drazmorg muttered a few words of power over the broken body of Merlokrep and roused the dead king from his eternal rest. Drazmorg promised Merlokrep power. He promised glory. And most of all, he promised vengeance.
Merlokrep took to undeath better than most. He rasped out a hoarse scream over his rotting vocal chords for a full 5 minutes, and then the industrious liege lord set to sewing himself back together with his teeth. His grisly work complete, Merlokrep rose a twisted thing of twine, leather straps, and rotten meat, a few pathetic scales still clinging to his once-impressive frame. He mewled in despair to see his Truescales slain. While Merlokrep’s deathly jabbering greatly amused Drazmorg, the undead master raised some of Merlokrep’s retinue as corrupted and rotten servants to serve the king in death as faithfully as they had in their miserable lives. His legions restored and powered by the black arts of undeath, Merlokrep was ready to return to his murderous ways. The revenge of the Kobold King is at hand.

Eberron Unlimited: Building A Stronghold

Stronghold Components
The remainder of this chapter consists of the descriptions of various components you can build into your stronghold. Your choice of components dictates the purpose of your stronghold, whether it’s a military fortress, palatial home, or arcane nexus. Components use the following format.
Name: The name of the component. Each component’s name is unique so that you can distinguish them.
Size: The number of stronghold spaces that the component takes up. This usually ranges from 0.5 to 2 but could theoretically go higher. Remember, a stronghold space averages 4,000 cubic feet or 400 square feet, given a 10-foot-high ceiling.
Cost: Each component has a cost associated with it, listed here in gold pieces.
Prerequisites: Some components have prerequisites, which include other components or staff. For example, if you want a dining hall, you must have a kitchen. If you have a kitchen large enough to require servants, you must have servants (purchased as an extra below) and have servants’ quarters.
Some prerequisites state that you must have a certain component “or better.” That means you must purchase either the listed component or a component of the
same type but higher quality. For example, if you need a library, the fancy library or luxury library also satisfies the prerequisite
via Eberron Unlimited: Building A Stronghold.

Gamasutra - Opinion: On Invisibility In Game Design

[In this in-depth opinion piece, 2K Marin designer Steve Gaynor considers the immersive implications of a video game developer's visible influence on a final product, and argues for greater "invisibility" in design.]
When one is moved by an artist's work, it's sometimes said that the piece 'speaks' to you. Unlike art, games let you speak back to them, and in return, they reply. If the act of playing a video game is akin to carrying on a conversation, then it is the designer of the game with whom the player is conversing, via the game's systems.
In a strange way then, the designer of a video game is himself present as an entity within the work: as the "computer" -- the sum of the mechanics with which the player interacts. The designer is in the value of the shop items you barter for, the speed and cunning your rival racers exhibit, the accuracy of your opponent's guns and the resiliency with which they shrug off your shots, the order of operations with which you must complete a puzzle. The designer determines whether you win or lose, as well as how you play the game. In a sense, the designer resides within the inner workings of all the game's moving parts.
It's a wildly abstract and strangely mediated presence in the work: unlike a writer who puts his own views into words for the audience to read or hear, or the painter who visualizes an image, creates it and presents it to the world, a game designer's role is to express meaning and experiential tenor via potential: what the player may or may not do, as opposed to exactly what he will see, in what order, under which conditions.

via Gamasutra - Opinion: On Invisibility In Game Design.

Gamasutra - Opinion: Why Immersion Shouldn't Be The 'Holy Grail'

[Immersive realism may be the "Holy Grail" of game development, but should it be? In this column, author and designer Lewis Pulsipher argues that most players don't want "role-fulfillment," in support of the idea that strong mechanics -- and even player design awareness -- is a more suitable goal.]
"I think a video game is all about articulating a dream." Mark Meadows, as quoted in Virtual Apprentice Computer Game Designer (p. 7)
"Immersive": "generating a three-dimensional image which appears to surround the user” Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English (second definition)
"Grail": 1. A cup or plate that, according to medieval legend, was used by Jesus at the Last Supper and that later became the object of many chivalrous quests. Also called Holy Grail.
2. often The object of a prolonged endeavor. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Some well-known game industry professionals, especially those interested in establishing video games as "Art" (with a capital "A"), believe that the goal of game-making is to produce a game so immersive, so "real", that it becomes an equivalent to the Star Trek holodeck or the world ofThe Matrix -- a detailed simulation of reality.
via Gamasutra - Opinion: Why Immersion Shouldn't Be The 'Holy Grail'.

What Is D&D?

This is the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game, the game that defines the genre and has set the standard for fantasy roleplaying for more than 30 years.
D&D is an imaginative, social experience that engages players in a rich fantasy world filled with larger-than-life heroes, deadly monsters, and diverse settings. As a hobby game, D&D is an ongoing activity to which players might devote hours of their time—much like a weekly poker game—getting together with friends on a regular basis for weeks, months, or even years.
Players create heroic fantasy characters -- mighty warriors, stealthy rogues, or powerful wizards -- which they guide through an ongoing series of adventures, working together to defeat monsters and other challenges and growing in power, glory, and achievement. The game offers endless possibilities and a multitude of choices . . . more choices than even the most sophisticated computer game, because you can do whatever you can imagine
via What Is D&D?.


Colloquially known as "mind flayers," illithids universally elicit images of horror and fear in the minds of surface dwellers and underworlders alike. Illithids shock and repulse other races due mostly to their practice of cephalophagy, otherwise called brain-eating. This abominable habit has such power to appall that the saying, "The 'flayer hasn't eaten yet!" was coined centuries ago to convey hope in the face of near-impossible situations.
An illithid is comparable to a human in height and general build, but it possesses sickly, violet skin that glistens with ubiquitous mucous. Its hands have only three fingers plus a thumb, and its eyes are dead white, seemingly devoid of pupils. Most ominously, an illithid's bulging head contains four grasping tentacles surrounding a circular mouth ringed with many teeth. Illithids generally live in subterranean colonies, as they hate the sun and all creatures that live in its light. Their mental abilities are formidable, and they feed on the gray matter of all other sentient creatures. These mental powers also grant illithids an innate telepathy. They communicate silently, although illithids often punctuate their mental conversations with lashing tentacles.
Mind flayers dress in flowing, dramatic robes and cloaks, and they often sport high, flaring collars and dark hats. Decorations adorn their clothing, most often interpreted as signs of death and despair by their victims. These accoutrements actually signify individual achievement in the psionic sciences and proclaim an illithid's Creed (faction) within its own community.
A race of bastard children, hidden beneath the world by their progenitors, refused to go gracefully into oblivion. Instead, marshaling their strength—and bound together by their mutual hate for their creators—they mastered mentally latent powers resulting from their mutant heritage. Led by the strongest minds among them, illithid and Lugribossk, the mutants rose unbidden and utterly destroyed their creators. These creatures took the name of one of their heroes and spawned the illithid race. —Excerpted from the Astromundi Chronicles.
Though the text remains an interesting source, sages and other scholars have pointed out "suspect" sections of the Astromundi Chronicles. For instance, other sources plainly list the entity called Lugribossk as a proxy of the illithid god Ilsensine. Also, no other source has ever mentioned an individual with the name Illithid; some fanciful storyteller must have created it from "whole cloth." Finally, the proposition that illithids are merely mutant humans seems a rather simple explanation for a host of contrary lore—the least of which is the fact that illithids are hermaphroditic amphibians, while humans are mammals. All in all, this author looks dismissively upon the Astromundi Chronicles' claim to explain illithid origins.
Next, let us look to standard mythological sources. Several creation myths in alternate lands and worlds mention creatures that are no doubt illithids, and some even go so far as to give illithids a definitive origin.
"... and the union of Father Sky and Mother Earth produced robust issue, numberless in diversity and attributes. Each child founded its own abode in the cosmos according to its nature, temperament, and ability; in later epochs other creatures regarded these beings as gods....
In turn, these gods in their vast realms applied desire to the empty spaces within the celestial firmament, forming worlds each according to its own desire. For the first time, the efforts of one god crossed the purposes of another; thus was strife born.
More so than other beings of its ilk, one entity, called Ilsensine by its siblings, strove always to knock down what was raised up, fill what was hollowed, and break what was lovingly fashioned by others; whenever convention was established, Ilsensine strove always against it.
In time, creatures possessed of mortal frames and self-aware, minds appeared within the firmament—the creation of an unnamed deity or the result of a generative impulse of the firmament itself. As was its nature, Ilsensine soon loosed a counter-creation, designed to subordinate, control, and consume all of these mortal races.
Thus it was that the illithid race appeared as a curse upon—and between—the many worlds. —Elven Creation Myth
Certainly the creation myth reprinted here is more in line with origins ascribed to many other races and peoples. Sages cannot deny the existence of a being named Ilsensine residing in the Outer Planes, as described more fully later in this tome. Reliance upon the Ilsensine creation myth as the utter truth relieves seekers from odious searches, translations, and the cross-referencing of abstruse concepts among dusty texts of questionable value. However, an easy route to knowledge does not always guarantee accuracy. Perhaps some element of truth lies in each of the foregoing texts, from which the logical mind can deduce milestones pointing towards the real story.
In any event, one thing is clear: Illithids existed prior to recorded history. Sometime during this hidden incarnation, the mind flayers founded a multiplanar empire.


By Mike Mearls
The encounter serves as the basic building block of a D&D adventure. In the old days, DMs used their experience, judgment, and sense of drama to build encounters. The 3rd Edition of D&D gave us challenge ratings and encounter levels. They were great tools, but they assumed that the party fought only one monster. In 4th Edition, we’re doing things a bit different. We’re shifting to a system that assumes a number of monsters equal to the number of characters. This change has a few major implications for encounter design:

Superior Accuracy: Before we can talk about encounter design, it’s important to note that while 3rd Edition’s CR system is a useful measuring tool, it isn’t always an accurate one. A monster’s AC, hit points, special attacks, and damage all combine to determine its level. In the old days, we relied on a designer’s best guess to fit a creature into a CR. While designating a creature’s level is still an art, designating a creature’s level now has more science behind it. By creating robust progressions of attack bonus, damage, and AC, level has become a much more accurate and robust measure of a monster’s power. This step is critically important, as it now allows us a lot more accuracy in determining the threat an encounter presents.

More Monsters: Rather than pick one monster, you now select a group of critters. The interplay between monsters is a little more important in design. In 3rd Edition, you had to turn to significantly weaker monsters to put a pair or more creatures into a fight. Unless the monsters had significant advantages in working together, an individual character easily outclassed an individual monster. In 4th Edition, an individual creature has the AC, attack bonus, and hit points to remain a threat during a fight.

Monster Roles: Monsters have roles that define the basics of how they fight. The role functions in only the broadest terms. It dictates a few basic measures of a monster but describes, rather than proscribes, how its abilities work. The real strength of a role is that it gives designers a few basic targets to shoot at it in design, ensuring that every monster we make fits in with the rest of the creatures in the whole game. For instance, monsters that are good at ranged attacks love to have a beefy wall of brutes in front of them to hold back the adventurers. Roles allow you to focus in on the right monster for the encounter and spot obvious combinations.

Hazards: Traps, hazards, dangerous terrain, and other complications have a clearer place in the battlefield. The 3rd Edition of D&D gave us one “monster unit” to play with. In other words, the game assumed that the encounter consisted of four PCs against one monster. If you had five PCs, you had to figure out how to get 1.25 “monsters” into the encounter. Even worse, that system had to express traps, hazards, and other dangers as full monster units. It was difficult at best to mechanically represent something that was never meant to stand alone.

In 4th Edition, each monster represents only a portion of the encounter. That makes it much easier to design green slime, pit traps, whirling blades, fountains that spray acid, and crumbling stone walls. One such hazard can simply take the place of one monster, leaving you with three or four monsters in the encounter. Since monster level is a more rigorous measure of power, we can turn those measures and scales around and use them to create environmental hazards, traps, set pieces, and other interesting tactical twists.

Putting it All Together
What does all this mean for encounter design in 4th Edition? When you build an encounter, you can begin from a several different premises. You can start with a cool monster, find creatures that make good “teammates” for it, and run with that. For instance, you’ve always wanted to throw a medusa at the party. Looking at her stats, abilities, and role, you can then pick out other creatures that make her a tougher nut to crack. Of course, you could always throw a couple medusas at the characters and have a little sculpture party.

Alternatively, you can start with a basic idea of how you want the encounter to proceed, pick out monsters based on level and role, and throw that at the party. Let’s say that the party wizard hasn’t had sufficient trouble thrown his way recently. Ranged attackers always make life difficult for spellslingers, so you can pick out a few of them based on role. To keep the fight busy, a monster with a lot of abilities to hinder and slow down PCs fits the bill. As a cherry on top of this anti-wizard sundae, you can finish the encounter with a lurker who hides from the party, sneaks past the fighter, and springs from the shadows to chop down the caster. The key here is that, without knowing exactly which monsters to use, you have an idea of which types of critters you want.

How you fit hazards into an encounter is perhaps the most important aspect of encounter design in the 4th Edition, and it brings us to the third way you can build encounters. You can now more easily add dynamic elements to an encounter and account for cool special effects, hazards, and traps. Those elements are, in mechanics terms, equal to a monster. They fit seamlessly into the encounter design and XP rules by taking up one creature’s slot. If you want to throw in more hazards, simply reduce the monster count and increase the number of hazards present in the encounter.
If you’re like me, and you read too many comics and watch too many movies for your own good, you like to pull out set pieces and crazy terrain to throw at the party. A swaying rope bridge battered by howling air elementals fits under the encounter building system. A burning building that collapses around the PCs as they fight the evil hobgoblin wizard fills a similar role, as does a bizarre altar to Vecna that randomly teleports characters around the room. Hazards, traps, and other dangers simply fill in for one or more creatures in a fight.

By expanding the tools and making them work well together, 4th Edition presents a more robust, flexible, extensible, and exciting set of encounter tools. If the 3rd Edition’s presentation of CR was the first step to taking some of the mystery out of encounter design, the 4th Edition builds on that core to produce a more accurate tool, along with additional uses for that tool.

Mike Mearls is found only in subterranean places, as he detests sunlight. He is greatly evil and considers the bulk of humanity (and its kin) as cattle to feed upon. He speaks only his own arcane language and several other weird tongues -- purportedly those of terrible races of things which dwell in regions of the subterranean world far deeper than mankind has ever ventured.


The term “forest” covers a lot of ground, literally and figuratively. In the typical campaign world, unspoiled by industrial revolutions and large-scale lumbering operations, expanses of densely packed trees can be found in any climate except the polar regions, where the eternal cold makes it impossible for trees and other large plants to survive.

Forests in different climatic areas contain different kinds of trees: evergreens, or conifers, in the subarctic; deciduous, or leaf-bearing, in temperate regions; and “evergreens” of an entirely different sort in subtropical and tropical areas. Characters may discover a large stand of tall cactus in the middle of a desert, but this feature does not qualify as a forest in game terms; the area is still considered as desert for purposes of weather determination, availability of food and water, and so forth.

Taiga (a Russian word) is the name often used to refer to the band of forest that exists on Earth, forming a rough circle just south of the Arctic Circle. The northern edge of the taiga is the “tree line,” north of which the climate will not support large plant life. The conifers get their name from their distinctive shape - a tall, thin cone that enables them to shed snow easily. Their branches are tightly packed with twigs, and the twigs are covered with needles - leaves that are very narrow and have a very small surface area, so that the tree loses very little water through evaporation. (Conifers don’t need as much water as other trees, but they have to be careful to conserve what they do receive.) Conifer branches are a good source of material for an impromptu shelter because their ”leaves” are so densely packed. Where water is relatively more abundant (near rivers and lakes, and on the southern edge of the taiga), some broadleaf trees may be located. They blossom only briefly during the short subarctic summer, but are able to prosper year after year because of the availability of water.

Temperate forests contain a wide variety of trees, all of which have one important common feature: They are very adaptable, able to withstand the scorching heat of a temperate summer as well as the vicious deep-freeze of a temperate winter. Most temperate forests are composed primarily of deciduous trees - the kind that shed their leaves when cold weather approaches, stand with branches bared to the winter wind, and then grow new leaves when the cold season is over. A temperate forest is a lush breeding ground for many types of smaller plants because the “crop” of fallen leaves each autumn keeps the soil rich in nutrients. However, there are fewer ground plants and less underbrush in a temperate forest than in a rainforest, for the reasons explained in the following paragraph. The largest trees in a temperate forest (usually oak, maple, and ash) can be as much as 160 feet tall with a “leafspan” nearly as great as that.

Rainforest is the name usually given to forests in subtropical and tropical climates. The distinctive feature of a rainforest is its ‘‘layered’’ composition; trees of several different heights coexist with low-lying shrubs and ferns. Most of the trees in a rainforest have thin, straight trunks that stretch toward the sky and are topped (in the fashion of an ice-cream cone or a mushroom) by a roughly egg-shaped clump of vegetation. The trees do not spread out close to the ground the way that trees in a temperate forest do, which makes it possible for a rainforest to support a thick layer of low-lying vegetation at ground level. On a sunny day, a lot of light reaches the floor of a rainforest; on the same kind of day in a temperate forest, many areas beneath wide, tall trees remain shaded from dawn to dusk. As one might expect from its name, a rainforest is also covered with vegetation because of the large amount of precipitation the area receives. Trees in a rainforest are green all year round; before old leaves grow large and drop off, new ones have already appeared to take their places.

Forest areas are replete with natural shelter. An especially dense patch of trees or large plants can give characters some protection from wind and precipitation simply by its presence. However, pack animals may not be willing or able to enter an area of closely packed vegetation unless there is a path into it or through it that they can negotiate. In a forest of normal or even light density, boughs or branches can be cut from trees and laid across a grid of poles to give characters a roof over their heads and (if it is properly positioned) protection from the full force of wind and precipitation. It takes 3-8 turns (ld6+2) for a single character to obtain the materials for a simple shelter of this type, minus 2 turns (to a minimum of 3) for each additional character assisting in the work. It takes another 6 turns for a character to lash together the poles and bind the “shingles” to the grid, minus 1 turn for each additional character assisting (to a maximum of two helpers). This construction time is halved if a character with proficiency in rope use is among those doing the work.

Call Woodland Beings: The presence of a character with proficiency in animal lore will not enhance the chances of this spell succeeding, as with animal summoning (see above), since this proficiency does not impart any special knowledge about the sorts of fantastic creatures that can be called by this spell.

Commune With Nature: The spell lasts until the caster has requested and found out one fact for each level of experience. The caster need not maintain total concentration on the spell for it to remain in effect; he can move normally, eat, converse with companions, and so forth. But the spell will expire prematurely if the caster performs any strenuous physical or mental activity, if he is struck by a physical or magical attack, or if he loses consciousness.

May the forest be with you.
You’ve already established lots of places (high mountains, deserts, arctic regions) where forests can’t grow; now is the time to decide where they do appear. Mark off the forest areas on your world, remembering that they are more likely to be located along or near large bodies of water. Don’t go above the tree line (where arctic climate begins) and don’t put a forest right next to a desert, unless you have a specific reason for creating a region of “unearthly” terrain in that area.

The Kings Tomb

Author: Alan Jones
Requirements: 5-8 player characters of levels 4-6

This adventure is set in Nithia one of the Emirates Of Ylaruam but it can be set in any Egyptian style campaign. The PCs are hired by Haroon, a sage from Cinsa-Men-Noo to investigate a possible ancient tomb reported to him by some caravan guides. A number of medium level undead occupy the tomb and protect its treasures.

“Wanted, careful and brave adventurers. Haroon ibn Jaffar Awazin, fabled sage, pays well for information regarding ancient Nithian relics and scrolls.”
The PCs see the faded scroll pinned up outside a scruffy, nondescript shop in a narrow aalley off of the main market square in Cinsa-Men-Noo. If the PCs enter the shop they see chests stuffed wiath scrolls, small statues of ancient gods, display cases with fragile urns and necklaces of gold and lapis and rolls of carpets, faded and worn but with intricate patterns that draw the eye. As they look around, a squat dark skinned man pushes through a curtained doorway and waddles across the room towards them.
“See anything you like?” he says, his ring encrusted hand, with its podgy fingers scratches a scant beard.
If the PCs take an interest in any of the items Haroon will either say. “Oh that’s not for sale, that is one of my favourites” or “That has been sold already, what a shame” or “I’m sorry that is being shipped to a museum in Thyatis tomorrow.” There is nothing the PCs can do to persuade the fat man to sell them anything.
If the PCs mention the scroll pinned up outside his shop, Haroon’s eyes light up and he plunges his hand into a chest of scrolls, rummaging around till he comes up with one that looks very recent.
“I know it doesn’t look like much” he says rolling the scroll out upon a mummy case, “But some very reliable caravan guides noticed an opening, high up a cliff face after the last big sand storm. That valley” he points at a narrow wadi with his fat forefinger, “Has been pretty much worked out but this could be a new find. “
If the PCs look interested he will explain that he is interested in jewellery, statues and non magical scrolls. These he will buy from the PCs, anything else they find is theirs. If the PCs agree to the terms he will give them the scroll and a voucher authorising them to excavate the tomb before wishing them luck.
If the PCs are uninterested or try to haggle, he will scowl, roll up the scroll and stuff it back in the box while muttering something about ‘ignorant peasant time wasters.’ If the PCs return later to try and steal the scroll, no matter how hard they look through the box they cannot find it again.

The Adventure Description

The Journey To The King’s Tomb
The valley lies just off of the main caravan route that winds its way from Cinsa-Men-Noo to the border with the Soderfjord Jarldoms and beyond to Castellan., about a day’s journey by camel. The journey will be uneventful as the caravan route is well travelled and dangerous beasts tend to keep away.
The Valley Of The Tombs
As you enter the valley, down a well used track, you begin to notice piles of dusty soil and blocks of stone beside openings in steep walls of the wadi. These are tombs that have already be explored and emptied by previous exploration parties and are marked as such on the map.
If the PCs explore any of these openings they will find they are blocked off after a few dozen yards.
You soon reach the end of the wadi, the track starts to zigzag up the steep north slope. High (c75’) up the west face of the valley you can see a small opening in the rock. The face of the cliff is almost vertical and offers little in the way of hand holds. The stone is quite soft and crumbly.
The cliff is difficult to climb due to the soft sandstone. A 10% penalty to all thieves trying to climb the rock unless the thief states that they are hammering in metal spikes every 6 feet or so.
The Tomb
All passages within the tomb are 10’ by 10’. All walls are whitewashed and many are painted with scenes from daily life. The floor is laid with sandstone slabs rich in mica which glitter as the PCs light sources shine upon the crystals. Doors are stone and are sealed with wax and cord unless otherwise stated.
The Entrance Passage
The entrance is a low (3’), narrow (4’) tunnel. It appears to have been crudely dug and is neither straight nor level.
PCs will have to progress on hands and knees, which leads to a -3 to their initiative rolls.
After 40’ the rough tunnel emerges into a 10’ wide, 10’ high tunnel of far higher quality workmanship. On the floor is a broken stone slab, a pick and a shovel. The walls are whitewashed and painted with processional scenes.
The Hunting Chamber (1)
This large side chamber has walls decorated with scenes of hunting. A man, slightly larger than the rest, riding in a chariot hunts puma and gazelle. Around the top of the room runs a frieze of hieroglyphic writing. Above the empty wall sconces there are patches of soot, while below the northern one there is a sooty hand print.
The text reads. ‘Menoptep has the arm of bear, the eye of an eagle and the heart of a lion.’
Pulling on the sconce with the sooty hand print opens the secret door.
Hiding in the shadows is a gelatinous cube. On it’s travels it has picked up a few bones, bits of stone and a shovel.
The Procession Of Life (2)
This large side chamber has a very vivid set of wall paintings. At the south west corner there is a painting of a young child wearing a strange tall crown. Further round the crowned figure is older and is leading an army into battle, trampling his enemy under the feet of his horses. Further round he is sitting on a throne flanked by two beautiful women, each wearing a similar but smaller crown. Near the south eastern corner he is directing the building of a tomb, possibly this one, at his side is a jackel with golden collar. Finally you see a coffin being carried in procession, the crown resting on top of it.
Like the previous room this has numerous sooty sconces and a line of text running around the top of the walls.
The text reads ‘Menoptep ruled us well. He was brave in battle, wise of counsel and brought riches and happiness to his subjects.’
If the PCs try pulling on any of the sconces in a search for hidden doors a column of mist will appear in the centre of the room, a phantom.
If the phantom is killed a small pearl and ruby earring falls to the floor. Carved into the largest central facet of the ruby is the head of a jackal. Those with ancient history, mysticism or ceremony skills will be able to identify the symbol as that of the Immortal Pflarr.
If the eye of the jackal is pressed with the ruby a small compartment opens which contains a ivory scroll tube. Inside the tube is a fragile papyrus scroll containing the following spells:
Animate Dead, Protection From Normal Missiles, Levitate.
Tomb Of The Workers (3)
As you pull open the door a great sigh is heard and air rushes past you into the room stirring up the fine dust within. Through the cloud of dust you see a horde of skeletons, wearing rags and carrying picks, spades and hammers moving towards you.
The walls of the chamber are scared with the marks of pick and shovel. The floor is covered with a scattering of platinum and copper coins. Two other stone doors leave the room, one to the north the other in the south wall.
For each round the PCs search they will be able to collect 1d10pp and 1d100cp up to a maximum of 100pp and 1000cp
Papyrus Room (4)
This room has been decorated with images of reed beds and large white wading birds. Naked women are harvesting the reads with iron scythes. In the centre of the room is a 3’ high gilded statue on a sandstone plinth. It appears to bear a striking likeness to one of the women in the fields. In one hand she holds a sheath of reeds in the other a scythe.
The statue is no more than a statue. It is solid copper covered in gold leaf. Value 700gp weight 1000cn).
Empty Room (5)
This room is empty and apparently unfinished. The walls have been lime washed but have been left undecorated.
Small Treasure Room (6)
This small square room has plain whitewashed walls. A sturdy iron trunk stands in the north east corner.
As the PCs approach the chest a pillar of mist appears before the chest, another phantom.
The chest is locked and trapped with a poison needle on the lock (Type B) PCs get a +2 to their saving throws due to the age of the poison. The chest contains the following items. 250gp, 1000cp and seven potions in glass vials:
Invulnerability, blending, elemental form, strength, defence x2, invisibility.
There is a chance that these potions have been corrupted over time. Roll percentage dice.
1-10% Poison
11-40% No effect

Desert Room (7)
This 30’ square chamber has walls painted with images of the desert. The sun burns down from a clear blue sky onto endless fields of sand dunes. In the far distance you catch a glimpse of an oasis.
As you enter three ogre skeletons arise from the shadows. They are armed with large swords and shields with vicious spiked rims.
If PCs search the room they find a cunningly painted chest that is almost perfectly camouflaged. It is trapped. On opening it gives off a cloud of gas that causes all within range to loose 1d6 points of strength for 4+1d4 hours. There are 1000sp and 250gp in the chest.
Ransacked Room (8)
This room appears to have been ransacked. The floor is littered with broken wooden chest, dismembered mummies and broken stone sarcophagi. One heavily desiccated body, probably a tomb raider, has scrawled in the stone floor some Ylari characters.
If PCs can read the writing it says no more than two words ‘curse ka’.
Unfinished Room (9)
This room has plain stone walls with a light grey lime wash applied to them. The outlines of figures have been sketched on the walls in various poses but none have been painted in. An iron bound chest is against the north wall below the sketches of two large figures, possibly meant to represent the dead king and his queen.
The chest has two traps. On opening the chest a 10’ cube pit trap opens in front of it. The pit has spikes in the bottom tipped with type B poison. The PCs get a +2 to saving throws due to the age of the poison. As the chest is opened two ghouls approach from the shadowy dead-ended passage south of this chamber. They may have once worn rich clothes but all that remains are tattered rags.
The chest contains a model of a boat. It is finely crafted from beaten copper, silver and gold. It has many small clay figures as crew. (Value 3000gp, weight 1000cn).
Mosaic Room (10)
This large side chamber has a fine mosaic floor, unusual for Nithian tombs perhaps showing some influence from an outside culture. The mosaic depicts a man in royal garb and crown hunting animals from a chariot. A number of large clay urns stand against the north wall.
All the urns contain nothing but mouldy meat.
Cleric’s Chamber (11)
As soon as the first two characters enter this chamber through the heavy stone door it will slam shut behind them. Those characters immediately behind need to make a dexterity check. If they succeed then they may choose whether to enter or not. If they fail they will be knocked out of the room taking 1d4 points of damage.
As the door slams behind you all goes dark. 2 continual darkness spells have been cast at level 5 within this room. All you can hear is the thumping of your heart, the panting breath of your companions and the grinding of stone upon stone.
Ahead of you, you hear the shuffle of feet upon the stone floor. Suddenly the room lights up and in front of you stand two mummies. One is armed with a vicious looking flail, the other is unarmed. Both wear the remains of rich robes similar to those seen in the wall paintings in other rooms. Behind them are two stone sarcophagi.
The flail is a cursed flail +2. Anyone who uses it must make a saving through vs. spells or become a mummy in 2d4 days. At first the victim’s skin turns grey and flaky. The victim will want to wrap bandages around the affected parts. Next eyes sink into their sockets and turn black. Next hair falls out while nails grow and become yellowed and talon like. Finally the victim dies and awakens at sunset the following day as a mummy. To remove the curse the victim must seek out a good aligned cleric of at least level 12 who must cast remove curse, remove disease, bless, protection from evil and cureall upon the victim.
The mummies are undead clerics of level 5 and will cast spells as a cleric of this level.
If the sarcophagi are searched the following items are found:
2000gp, an ivory scroll tube (Scroll Of Spell Catching (1st to 4th level spells), a small bottle of Oil of Attractiveness (wrongly labelled as Oil of Cloaking), a small bone key.
Harvest Room (12)
This room has been decorated with scenes of harvest. Grain is being scythed and winnowed on the west wall. Grapes are being picked and crushed on the north wall. Roots are being dug in the scenes on the south wall. The largest and most ornate scene is reserved for the east wall where a feats has been laid with the king presiding over it. In front of the painting is a row of ten tall terracotta urns.
As you enter the room three ghouls emerge from the south each carrying a huge scythe. They can attack from 10’ away for 1d10 damage. On a natural 20 they will knock the PC to the floor unless a dexterity check is made.
In total the clay urns contain 5000ep, 3000gp, 2000sp, 4000cp hidden amongst mouldy grain and sour wine. None of the treasure is immediately visible. The contents has to be tipped onto the floor first.
The Antechamber (14)
This room contains the bodies of four or five humans. Parts of the bodies are missing. They appear to have tried to defend themselves against something as their weapons are broken and notched while one wall has been melted. A mage would recognise the damage as that caused by a lightning bolt. They appear to have been dead for several years.
The Ka’s Chamber (13)
At the foot of the stairs is a large locked stone door with a tiny keyhole. It is not possible to see through the keyhole nor is it possible to pick the lock. Knock spells will work. As you insert the small bone key into the lock the door vanishes taking the key with it. Inside you see a room lined with gold. The floor, the walls and the ceiling are covered in gold. At first the reflected light blinds you. Once your eyes adjust to the light you see a large mummy standing in the centre of the chamber. In the corners stand statues. Each a duplicate of the mummy, wearing the strange tall crown with arms crossed across the chest. Against the south wall is a large ebony chest.
As soon as you enter the room the mummy moves towards you.
PCs need to save vs. spells or be paralysed.
The Ka can only be hit by magic weapons (blunt magic weapons do only ½ damage).
Electricity does no damage.
On a successful strike the Ka curses the victim (save vs. spells needed to avoid curse).
The Ka is turned as a vampire.
If the PCs kill the Ka …
There is a blinding flash of light followed by a heavy creaking, crashing sound from outside the room. This is the opening to the tomb shattering and falling to the valley floor.
The flash the PCs saw was the ‘soul’ of the Ka occupying one of the statues. If the PCs check the statues for magic then there is only a 10% + PCs Level chance of detecting the soul of the Ka within the statue.
The chest contains the following items.
A pouch of gems (4 Jasper, 6 Opal, 3 Ruby, 2 Amber, 6 Topaz)
A crown (Haroon will pay up to 15000 for this others will only pay 5000)

The Journey Home
The journey back to Haroon is uneventful but slow, especially if the PCs want to bring back the statues. Haroon is pleased with the work and buys the statues off the PCs at a price between 1000 and 4000 gold each depending on how well the PCs haggle.
Appendix 1 - Monster Statistics
Loc Num. Monster AC Thac0. Max/Cur HP Move Attack 1 Attack 2 SvAs Mor. EXP.
1 1 Gelat. Cube 8 16 26 60 Touch 2d4 Paralysis F2 12 125
2 1 Phantom 0 10 45 180 Claw2 1d6+2 Entrancing Mist M10 11 3250
3 1 Skeleton 7 19 8 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 2 Skeleton 7 19 7 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 3 Skeleton 7 19 8 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 4 Skeleton 7 19 3 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 5 Skeleton 7 19 3 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 6 Skeleton 7 19 6 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 7 Skeleton 7 19 8 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 8 Skeleton 7 19 8 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 9 Skeleton 7 19 3 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 10 Skeleton 7 19 8 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 11 Skeleton 7 19 4 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 12 Skeleton 7 19 1 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 13 Skeleton 7 19 1 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 14 Skeleton 7 19 8 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 15 Skeleton 7 19 5 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 16 Skeleton 7 19 4 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 17 Skeleton 7 19 4 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 18 Skeleton 7 19 7 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
3 19 Skeleton 7 19 8 60 Tool 1d6 F1 12 10
4 1 Phantom 0 10 52 180 Claw2 1d6+2 Entrancing Mist M10 11 3250
7 1 Ogre Skele 7 16 19 60 BastardSword d8+2 Sheild d4+3 F4 12 125
7 2 Ogre Skele 7 16 19 60 BastardSword d8+2 Sheild d4+3 F4 12 125
7 3 Ogre Skele 7 16 17 60 BastardSword d8+2 Sheild d4+3 F4 12 125
9 1 Ghoul 6 17 11 90 Claw 1d3 Claw 1d3 Bite 1d3 F2 9 25
9 2 Ghoul 6 17 15 90 Claw 1d3 Claw 1d3 Bite 1d3 F2 9 25
11 1 Mummy 3 14 21 60 Flail (2d4+2) Spells C5 12 575
11 2 Mummy 3 14 23 60 Touch 1d12 Disease Spells C5 12 575
12 1 Ghoul 6 15 11 90 Scythe 1d10 F2 9 25
12 2 Ghoul 6 15 15 90 Scythe 1d10 F2 9 25
12 3 Ghoul 6 15 13 90 Scythe 1d10 F2 9 25
13 1 Ka 1 11 44 90 Touch Curse 2d10 C9 12 3250
Wandering Monsters
Loc Num. Monster AC Thac0. Max/Cur HP Move Attack 1 SvAs Mor. EXP.
W1 1 Wight 5 17 7 90 Touch Energy Drain F3 12 50
W1 2 Wight 5 17 7 90 Touch Energy Drain F3 12 50
W1 3 Wight 5 17 7 90 Touch Energy Drain F3 12 50
W2 1 Wychlamp 2/0 17 18 210 Discharge 1d4+1 M3 12 100
W2 2 Wychlamp 2/0 17 23 210 Discharge 1d4+1 M3 12 100
W2 3 Wychlamp 2/0 17 17 210 Discharge 1d4+1 M3 12 100
W3 1 Skeleton 7 19 7 60 Sword 1d6 F1 12 10
W3 2 Skeleton 7 19 7 60 Sword 1d6 F1 12 10
Appendix 2 - Treasure
Loc Treasure Description
2 Pearl and Ruby Earring 1000 gp
2 Scroll Tube + Scroll 0 gp
3 Loose Coins 510 gp
4 Statue 700 gp
6 Coins 260 gp
6 Potion - Invulnerability 0 gp
6 Potion - Blending 0 gp
6 Potion - Elemental Form 0 gp
6 Potion - Strength 0 gp
6 Potion - Defence 0 gp
6 Potion - Defence 0 gp
6 Potion - Invisibility 0 gp
7 Coins 350 gp
9 Ship 3000 gp
11 Coins 2000 gp
11 Scroll of Spell Catching 0 gp
11 Oil of Attractiveness 0 gp
12 Coins 5740 gp
13 Gems 24400 gp
13 Crown 15000 gp
13 Coins 5000 gp
13 Statues (4) 16000 gp
TOTAL 73960 Gold Pieces
Appendix 3 - Story & Role Playing Bonuses
500xp for the PC who works out a way (magical or mundane) of getting the statues down the cliff.