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Student of Caiphon - Paragon Path

The Dream Whisperer pays more attention to the world than any other of its ilk. It might have a plan and a part to play in the world final destiny.

Prerequisites: Warlock class, star pact

You studied the limitless abysses and the bright points of enigmatic light that hang between them. You listened to the baffling disordered sounds that emerged from the simple astronomical lenses you used for your study. You learned the stars were not the innocent lamps above the world that most assumed. Despite this unsettling knowledge, you continued your study, eventually narrowing your concentration to just one star star named Caiphon. That when the dreams began.

You dreamed of a fitful star of purple fire. You walked in its light to the edge of a slime-lined pit that pulsed and heaved like a living maw, eager to consume. You hurled yourself into the cavity as the purple star flared. You fell into an amoebic sea, where you were digested over the course of a thousand years, or perhaps just one night.

When you woke, your eyes were opalescent purple orbs, and Caiphon began whispering-whispering- into your ear. Even though you could hear only the merest fragments of Caiphon never-ending instructions and insights, a knowing smile stitched itself across your face.

Student of Caiphon Path Features

Star Bright (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, if you use your action to make an attack that hits, that hit deals ongoing 5 radiant damage (save ends). Such powers are considered to have the radiant keyword.

Caiphon Guidance (11th level): You can score critical hits with fear and radiant powers on a roll of 18-20

Caiphon Intercession (16th level): You can choose to use Caiphon Intercession in place of your Fate of the Void pact boon when an enemy under your Warlock Curse drops to 0 hit points or fewer. One ally of your choice within 10 squares of you can make an immediate melee basic attack against a target you choose; if the attack hits, it deals ongoing 5 radiant damage (save ends) in addition to normal damage. If your ally makes the attack, Caiphon takes its due and deals 5 damage to your ally. If your ally refuses to accept Caiphon Intercession, you take 5 damage (despite the fact no attack was made); in such an instance, you regain the use of Fate of the Void pact boon for the dropped target.

Ritually Speaking

At your command, walls of earth rise around your position and offer protection.

In Dungeons & Dragons, rituals provide some of the most flexible options for your heroes. They represent all the magic that isn't designed for combat, from cleansing your clothes to moving an entire village hundreds of miles across the continent. Rituals cost nothing to learn (though they might be expensive to find), so a ritual caster should learn as many as possible. Acquire all the rituals you can and accrue an enormous body of mystic literature describing the many strange things you can accomplish through ritual.

The Player's Handbook covers the basics of ritual casting. The assortment of travel rituals and exploration rituals there will keep you busy for a while. But when your ritual caster starts to feel the pinch, gets the urge to have more options hidden under the cover of that expensive ritual book, take a look here. Some of these rituals expand on the ideas in the Player's Handbook, pushing the boundaries of teleportation or interpolating lesser wards, and others break new ground - literally, in the case of Excavation.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Traps More Fun

10. Reward the PCs with treasure. Perhaps the last victim’s skeleton
is still impaled on the spear trap, including his belt pouch.
9. Reveal a world detail. Perhaps the falling block from the ceiling
reveals the ghoulish carving that represents the true deity of the
8. Have an encounter with the trap keeper. The PCs can discover
information about later traps (assuming the clever trap keeper
doesn’t figure out a way to deceive them).
7. Give an adventure tip. The iron portcullis that drops down to seal
the PCs in the hall of spinning blades has a representation of the
dungeon complex in the pattern of its iron bars. It’s a map!
6. Give the players something to learn. If removing the green gem
set off the statue’s trap, stepping on the green mosaic in the floor
sounded the alarm, and turning the green-handled crank made the
bridge turn sideways, the PCs might think twice about opening that
giant green door.
5. Reveal a new section of the dungeon. The spiked pit might have
an access tunnel so that bodies and valuables can be retrieved without
a risky climb into the pit.
4. Team it with other traps. The trapped chest is a bit more interesting
when it sits on the lap of a fire-breathing statue in a room where
poison darts shoot from the wall.
3. Give the PCs control. The PCs reset the trap and trick their foe
into stepping into it.
2. Provide ways for every PC to contribute. Maybe the wizard
can make an Arcana check to reveal a panel hidden by an illusion.
Perhaps the fighter can try to hold the trap open with a Strength
1. Combine it with combat. The room with pit traps is a lot more
interesting if the PCs can push monsters in the pits.
For more advice about how to use traps, check out this article:
Although its traps are designed for the third edition of the game,
much of the advice in the article remains useful.

Demon Princes Among Us

Red and black skin, wings and sharp teeth. Heated breath and flames emanating from the creature before you. That's the idealized description of a demon from the pits of the Abyss, and what this month's set of adventure ideas is all about: Demons. Of course, they don't all look like that. Some are made of weird tentacles and fungus parts, some are oozy, some are stunningly beautiful. But they all mean harm to mortals for one reason or another. Even evil mortals should beware dealing with them, for unlike devils they have no conception of keeping their word. This month, we look at a trio of very different adventure ideas in which demon lords play important roles.
Where Are My Musicians? -- Forgotten Realms
Some matters are settled with combat while others can be settled in more peaceful ways... such is the case in a dispute between halflings and grigs about which is the better fiddler. Though the halfling homeland is south in Luiren, there are halflings living all across Faerûn. A troupe of halfling bards settled in Essembra, the most populous city in Battledale, where they quickly gained a reputation for their music, especially their playing of fiddles. The local grigs became jealous, or bored (it's hard to say which with a grig), and challenged the halfling troupe to a contest to determine the best fiddlers of the dale. The grigs and halflings would meet in the central square of Essembra and play for the people, and the people would choose.
However, with everyone waiting and the grigs getting restless, the halflings have failed to show up. The grigs claim that they knew they would be beaten, but there are others in town who know that the Halflings would never choose to miss a musical contest. The bards' biggest fan, retired Purple Dragon Knight Kisthin Amadals, asks the heroes to find out what happened to the halflings. He had booked them to play at a party at his mansion the following evening, and hopes the heroes can find them in time.
So what did happen to them? Fame could be said to be the root of their current predicament. The ancient city of Myth Drannor is somewhat close to Essembra, a city rife with drow and demons and what have you. Recently, an aspect of Graz'zt was sent to work with the surface drow as a sign of a an apparent (if temporary) alliance with Lolth. In truth, Graz'zt seeks to turn the drow to his own service, or at least make good use of them. The aspect found conditions intolerable, and set about making himself comfortable in his new home. Comfort -- for an aspect of Graz'zt -- includes every kind of decadence, with music naturally being one excess that must be plumbed to its depths. The aspect heard about the halfling bards, and had them abducted just before the competition. They are now trapped somewhere close to Myth Drannor, forced to do things with music that it is best not to talk about.
Campaign Adaptation
Here are some suggestions for different campaign worlds. You'll want to get a copy of Fiendish Codex I to flesh out the demons you'll use, especially since it includes the statistics for Graz'zt. Any of the Myth Drannor publications should help too, as well as Races of the Wild for the elves that live in the vicinity.
Forgotten Realms: Set around Myth Drannor, as written.
Eberron: Set this adventure in the Eldeen Reaches. The Twilight Demesne would serve as home for the grigs, and the Gloaming could be where the aspect of Graz'zt is based.
Generic: You can really set this adventure anywhere there might be grigs living in your campaign world.
d20 Modern: There are probably only grigs in England, Wales, Ireland, or Scotland, if there are any at all. But you could make the sides into two opposing rock bands and have the adventure in Australia or the United States. The aspects convert easily to Modern Earth.
d100 Motivations
01-50 Kisthin Amadals really is concerned, though he expects he has to find another group for his party. However, he feels some obligation to have the bards tracked down, in case they are in trouble.
51-70 Kisthin Amadals is not a Purple Dragon Knight at all, but a slaver working for Thayans. He had planned to sell the bards into slavery, and used the party as an excuse to get them to his mansion so that they could be caught.
71-00 The grigs, who are being blamed by a large number of townsfolk ("You can't trust them damned faeries!"), also seek out the heroes for help, to clear their names and possibly avoid sudden vigilante-style justice.
d100 Complications
01-30 Myth Drannor offers its own complications, ranging from drow to demons to other nasty monsters. The adventures should have great difficulty operating within a few miles of the place. Maps of the great dungeon might be available to help them, and they could use the maps later for additional adventures.
31-50 Aspects of Graz'zt are as seductive as succubi, and would try to ensnare the heroes in a web of sensuality that diverts them from their real intentions.
51-75 Drow unhappy with the presence of the aspect of Graz'zt might be willing to help the adventurers... for a price.
76-00 A fearsome half-fiend green dragon has also made its home in the area, and likes to snack on halflings. Indeed, one of the bards was already lost to it. Dragon parts are always valuable, even if halflings are not.
Gnomelantis -- Eberron
Long before the Kingdom of Galifar arose on Khorvaire, the other kingdoms of the continent had grown and faded. The gnomes of Zilargo had, in the past, advanced their borders northward into what is now Breland by establishing a city called Yerosin on an island in the middle of Lake Brey. There, the Zil could better watch what other nations were doing, and there their wizards studied advanced magic away from the general population.
That all came to an end when the island and the city of Yerosin disappeared. In one night, the island was gone and the city along with it. No warning came, and it was some time before the loss was discovered because no one could get a communication out before the devastation hit. For millennia people have wondered what happened to Yerosin, but the city was forgotten by all but the gnomes who keep the records of their history in Zilargo.
A week or two ago, a small ship carrying valuable cargo was sailing across Lake Brey when it capsized and sank. Two of the sailors, who had water breathing magic, went down with the ship so that they could report its location. They returned with a story of a fantastic city of glowing lights and ghostly gnomish forms at the bottom of Lake Brey. Yerosin had been found at last.
Such a find attracts attention from treasure hunters and scholars alike, and the scholars of Morgrave University knew they had to get a jump on everyone, or else valuable clues to the fate of the city could be lost. They quickly hired adventurers to go to the site and find answers.
Campaign Adaptation
Here are some suggestions for different campaign worlds. Stormwrack will be useful for fleshing out the underwater aspects of this scenario and handling underwater combat. The aspects of Dagon and Juiblex are presented in the Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss web enhancement on the Wizards website, and the demon princes themselves are presented in Fiendish Codex I.
Forgotten Realms: Set the lost gnome city in the Sea of Fallen Stars, in the south near Turmish. Make sure it is far enough from any sahuagin or aquatic elf settlements that it would not have been discovered.
Eberron: Set this adventure as written in Lake Brey. It is the closest huge lake to the gnome nation of Zilargo.
Generic: Set this adventure at the bottom of a deep lake or sea, where it might eventually be discovered but is not likely to be.
d20 Modern: This adventure is suited for Atlantis-themed campaigns or areas, and you actually could use the island of Atlantis and extraterrestrial wizards or psionic aliens. Converting the demons should be easy enough.
Yerosin suffered a great magical calamity that resulted in the island sinking to the depths of the lake, weirdly preserving everyone in a kind of stasis. Gnomes stand as if they frozen in time while walking the streets; in fact, in the midst of all activities. Active spells are frozen too, creating very unusual perpetual illusions. Some spells have taken on life of their own and become living spells, though a living major image wanders around without hurting anyone. Many of the treasures of the gnomes have been looted by underwater creatures over the centuries, but many other treasures remain in hidden places.
The city has not been left idle in all these centuries. Different lake creatures have laired near it from time to time, and even a lich called it home for a time during the early years of the Last War. Now it's the home of a group of sea hags, aquatic demons and aquatic ogres that worship the ancient demon prince Dagon.
This area can be a suitable for a small adventure, or can open up a whole mini-campaign as the adventurers explore the city, fight the monsters there, and eventually try to raise it to the surface. It could even turn out that the original sinking of Yerosin was due to some pact with Dagon that must be undone.
d100 Motivations
01-50 Morgrave University is serious about its aims, though it would really like any recovered artifacts as well.
51-70 Scholars from the Library at Korranberg would also like to know about the lost city, and will pay the adventurers for a copy of whatever information they find. This would violate their contract with Morgrave University, but will make them very rich.
71-00 The gnomes of Zilargo are very interested in their lost city as well, but don't want any humans poking around there without responsible gnomes as guides.
d100 Complications
01-35 Other creatures live in the lake, and they are hungry.
36-55 An aspect of Dagon has recently appeared among the sea hags, in response to the discovery of the city by the surface folk. Its goal is to protect Dagon's worshippers.
56-70 An aspect of the Faceless Lord, Juiblex, has appeared here as well, to oppose the efforts of the aspect of Dagon and claim the underwater world and its treasures for its dread master.
71-00 The magic that brought down the city could be undone, and that would cause the city to rise and everything in it to return to life. The rising of the island would cause flooding in any towns surrounding Lake Brey.
Death and Burning Blood -- Forgotten Realms
Campaign Adaptation
Here are some suggestions for different campaign worlds. Frostburn should help you with the cold setting, and Silver Marches would be useful for the setting information if you are in the Forgotten Realms. The aspect of Kostchtchie is detailed in the Fiendish Codex I:
Hordes of the Abyss
web enhancement on the Wizards website, and Kostchtchie himself is presented in Fiendish Codex I.
Forgotten Realms: Set just south of the Spine of the World, as written.
Eberron: If you don't want to set this adventure on the Frostfell continent, you could have frost giant barbarians led by the aspect of Kostchtchie sail to the northern parts of Khorvaire and attack villages and towns there.
Generic: Barbarian hordes can crop up just about anywhere, but frost giant hordes require cold high peaks. Set this adventure somewhere in the cold north.
d20 Modern: Barbarian hordes are a thing of the past on Modern Earth (at least the real earth), but you might introduce some in Mongolia or Siberia. Giants would exist in a small enclave in an Urban Arcana campaign, and in that case the Alps and France or Spain might be an interesting setting.
The Sword Coast North is a harsh land of cold and mountains and almost constant conflict. Monsters from the Spine of the World threaten anyone who settles too close to the mountain range, and orc hordes sweep from the mountains to decimate the towns. In these lands, people either live in the large cities (which essentially function like islands), or in small groups on their own pursuing a living from the land. Rarely do these two "worlds" meet.
In Silverymoon lives a wizard called Nostar. He is developing a special cold-based spell to use against ice devils, and he needs some frost giant components (including a large patch of unmarked skin). In return for some adventurers going and getting what he needs, he is willing to offer one or more treasure maps that have come into his collection. He would want 10% of whatever is recovered, but he has maps to treasures in ancient Gauntlgtrym (see Lost Empires of Faerûn, page 143), Old Illusk (Lost Empires of Faerûn page 144), and a lost Netherese city in the edges of the Anauroch. Nostar can also tell them about the general area and where frost giants are most likely to be found.
Once on the way, the adventurers run into a small town that has been decimated by something quite large. Every person in town has been killed, all buildings destroyed, and blood covers everything. The people here were killed horribly, and tracks lead back toward the Lands Against the Wall.
Kostchtchie, demon lord of frost giants, has sent an aspect to a newly converted tribe of frost giants to lead them in bloody conquest of the lands around them. The aspect leads his giants against human settlements as well as other giant settlements -- even other frost giant settlements.
d100 Complications
01-40 Once the adventurers have the frost giant parts and have dealt with the raging tribe, they will attract the attention of other frost giants.
41-75 There are a lot of other monsters to worry about in the Spine of the World. The trip should be a constant battle, or series of battles, against a lot of frosty opponents.
76-00 The weather will complicate things as well, especially as the adventures get higher into the mountains.
About the Author
Robert Wiese entered the gaming hobby through the Boy Scouts and progressed from green recruit to head of the most powerful gaming fan organization in the world. He served as head of the RPGA Network for almost seven years, overseeing the creation of the Living Greyhawk and Living Force campaigns, among other achievements. Eventually, he returned to private life in Reno, Nevada, where he spends as much time as possible with his wife, new son Owen, and many pets.
He is still involved in writing, organizing conventions, and playing, and he models proteins for the Biochemistry Department of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Ravaging Monsters

It seems sometimes that the natural purpose of D&D characters is to fight monsters; and this month, with Monster Manual V out, it's natural to turn our eyes toward more fights. So, let's do that, but not stop there. Use the hooks presented below to draw your players (and characters) beyond the fighting and into a more complex adventure. I give you the fight, or the excuse to get the PCs into the neighborhood, and the rest is up to you.
I love feedback. If you use the ideas in this column, email me at and tell me which ones and how they went. That helps me know what appeals and what doesn't, so that I can make more that are useful for you.
Keep Your Roots Away from Me -- Greyhawk
The arable land of Furyondy stretches for miles in every direction from where you stand, and though some of it has been torn up by war, the nation can still produce vast amounts of food. You are on the road from Littleberg, which you left yesterday, and are working your way northward toward Chendl on some business. The morning passes pleasantly on this sunny day, and as midday advances you anticipate reaching Chendl tomorrow. In the distance, maybe 100 feet away, you see some kind of a disturbance in the field, like something tearing up the ground from below. It moves toward you with surprising speed, and then a number of large roots launch themselves from under the topsoil at you.
The root creatures are burrow roots, a new creature from Monster Manual V. It you don't have this book, then you can replace the burrow roots with bulettes.
d100 Motivations
With an opening like this one, the PCs provide the motivation. However, as they investigate they find a number of people who want this problem solved and are genuine in their desires.
d100 Complications
00-40 The burrow roots are a new colony in the area that an evil druid planted to drive the farmers away and return the land to a wilder state.
41-75 The burrow roots were planted here by minions of Iuz, as a means of destabilizing the populace through fear. Hundreds of them are maturing in different "nests" within the region, and they will cause a mass panic if no one does anything. Finding the people (or whatever) behind them could be more difficult.
76-85 The burrow roots have broken free of whoever was controlling them and are now on a rampage of their own.
86-00 The roots have been around for months now, and several villages in the region are preparing to "root" them out and destroy them. However, the burrow roots are elusive and retreat before being destroyed. The frustration is increasing as farmers lose crops and livestock and cannot do anything about it.
Campaign Adaptation
Burrow roots could probably go anywhere. Using them this way is just one idea. They make good creatures that are controlled by some more powerful enemy.
Eberron: Anywhere in central Breland is a good place for this adventure. Placing it near a border allows you to tie them to some unresolved conflict from the Last War.
Forgotten Realms: Set this adventure in the Dalelands, somewhere where Zhentarim can be blamed for their presence. On the other hand, the Zhentarim don't have to be behind the infestation; drow are possible, and the Dales have a lot of enemies. They could even be tied to Sembian nobles or merchants.
Generic: This adventure goes in a rural area where some power, group, or person has a vested interest in terrorizing the populace. A small town nearby would help, or several villages. The mastermind should, ideally, be someone local.
Bring Back That Shepherd! -- Forgotten Realms
Tethyr is a beautiful country, with mountains and forests and rivers throughout. The greatest concentration of people is in the west near the sea, but Saradush and (newly) Riatavin are sizable communities in the east. The PCs are traveling north along the small road (seeing more and more use in recent years) from Saradush to Riatavin. Perhaps they recently sorted out the mess of "The Three Hagstekeers". Perhaps not. Whatever the reason, they find themselves on this small road. They have not seen anyone for a couple hours when they see, off to the east, a small flying dragon about half a mile away. It appears to those with good Spot check results to be carrying a sheep in one claw, and something small in the other. Really good Listen check results at this range allow them to hear cries for help. The creature, a wyvern, flies close toward them so that they can determine that the creature is carrying a human as well as the sheep, before veering off toward the nearby Omlarandin Mountains.
This may not be enough to get them interested, but Riatavin is still more than a day's travel away. This region is plentiful with farms and ranches, any of which could provide a place to stay. From the people there, the PCs learn that wyverns are flying out of the Omlarandins and snatching up farmers and shepherds in the plains north of the Omlarandins and south of Riatavin. Normally the creatures come out only to grab sheep for their meals, and the people around the Omlarandins have become accustomed to a small loss of livestock. The taking of shepherds and farmers is new, and everyone knows that the wyverns don't hunt such small creatures as humans for food. Since the frequency of attacks is rising, the people are worried, and any offers of help would be gratefully received.
If they don't stop with anyone for the night, then the following day the road passes close to a large field of sheep. The sheep are about 600 feet away from the road, attended by three shepherds (a brother and two sisters). As the PCs pass, two wyverns streak down from the sky and make attacks at sheep and shepherd alike. Once one grabs one of the shepherds, it flies off without even taking a sheep. The second takes a sheep, and grabs one of the women that was defending the sheep, and then flies off. The surviving family member begs the PCs to help rescue his or her siblings.
Note: This adventure works equally well with blackwings (a new creature in Monster Manual V). Change the mind flayers to mind flayer necromancers, and you're good to go.
d100 Motivations
While the motivations on the villain end may be varied, all the people here are simple folk who really need help from flying monsters. No one is capable of harnessing wyverns and throwing them at his or her friends.
d100 Complications
00-40 A pack of wyverns that lives in the Omlarandins has been dominated by a group of mind flayers that reached the surface from the Underdark in the mountain range. They are using the wyverns to collect slaves and food, since wyvern brain is not nearly as good as humanoid brain.
41-65 One survivor of a wyvern attack is in a village just north of the mountains. This woman, Zeradu Eldmina, remembers very little of her experience other than being snatched by a wyvern and dropped in the mountains. She barely survived by crawling into a place of hiding and then making her way out of the mountains days later. What really happened was that mind flayers dominated her and modified her memory, and she is now a plant among the humans and delivers information to the mind flayers without remembering doing so.
66-90 The wyverns are working on their own. There is a half-fiend wyvern leading and organizing the creatures for some fiendish purpose.
91-00 The creatures making the attacks on humans are not wyverns at all, but some kind of shapechanged creatures. The PCs can slay wyverns to their hearts' content without solving the problem. They have to dig deeper.
Campaign Adaptation
You can probably work some wyverns into your campaign and, with them, this adventure idea. Lords of Madness would help with the mind flayers, assuming you go that route, and Fiendish Codex IandFiendish Codex II would help if you decide on shapechanged fiends instead.
Eberron: Though Droaam no doubt has wyverns and mind flayers, it's kind of short on humanoids working farms. Try Karrnath instead, where this could be a welcome change from undead.
Generic: Takes some farms, add some wyverns and some mind flayers perhaps (for spice), stir well and heat until boiling, then simmer a few hours.
Greyhawk: The Theocracy of the Pale works, or perhaps the Duchy of Tenh with the wyverns coming from a forest nearby. Ahlissa, especially in the south, is also a good location.
That's a Big Bug -- Eberron
During the Last War, the nations of Khorvaire were using just about every kind of creature or ally they could (which is great for DMs since it allows you to tailor your campaign with new creatures as needed or desired). This was especially true of the last years of the war, when resources were running very low. And Cyre was the most desperate of nations. Situated in the middle, it was attacked on all sides throughout the Last War. The leaders of Cyre used both House Cannith devices and creatures from other planes. When the Day of Mourning came, these creatures were left behind to survive as best as they could.
Valenar is a land of warlike elves that continues to make raids on its neighbors (not the Mournland, but Karrnath and the Talenta Plains). But some elves engage in more peaceful lifestyles, and many small communities exist in the northern part of the country near the Blade Desert and the Mournland. The PCs are visiting one of the major cities of Valenar when they hear rumors of destruction in the north. The rumors are crazy and varied, running from "it's nothing" to "a whole village was destroyed by demon beetles!"
House Lyrandar has land in the northern part of the country, and a lesser member of this house named Zeradu sends a note to the PCs asking them to meet him at his favorite tavern. He explains that the rumors are probably nothing, but they talk of events that have happened very close to House Lyrandar land and the senior members of the house are concerned. He offers the PCs either gold or an exchange of services (depending on what will motivate them) to go north, see what is going on, and make sure that whatever it is doesn't affect House Lyrandar.
d100 Motivations
00-45 Zeradu hopes that his swift action in this "crisis" will bring him to the notice of senior house members and lead to a promotion. He hopes there is something horribly wrong, and that the PCs can take care of it so that he can claim credit for as much as possible.
46-75 Zeradu hates this assignment and wants out of this elf-infested country. He hopes that by solving this problem he can come to the notice of house officials elsewhere and get a transfer. His hatred of his current situation is poorly hidden in his attitude, and he would not mind at all if some elves died so that he could be transferred.
76-00 Zeradu is being manipulated into what someone thinks is a fool's errand. The manipulator knows of Zeradu's ambition (see first option) but thinks that there is nothing to the rumors. By taking a lot of effort over nothing, Zeradu can be made to look like a fool and a waster of house resources, and the manipulator can remove him from the house. Perhaps the two are vying for the same woman?
d100 Complications
00-75 There are destroyed villages and even a small town. Siege beetles (see Monster Manual V) from the plane of Shavarath were called into Cyre during the Last War, and they remain still. They have wandered over the border and through the Blade Desert looking for food, since they have cleaned out the corpses in the southern part of the Mournland. They are mindless but hungry vermin who avoid armed traveling groups but attack settlements.
76-90 Siege beetles are involved, but only two. Karrnathi war groups that are tired of the Valaes Tairn raids use them. They seek to lure a raiding group into a trap and are using the beetles to create havoc in the hope of tricking the elves into preparing for the wrong foes.
91-00 A demon prince of Shavarath sent the siege beetles to exact revenge on the elves because a group of Valaes Tairn invaded the demon prince's fortress and disrupted a major offensive against a devil lord's forces. The siege beetles might be half-fiends as well, and other demons may be waiting to tear apart vulnerable elven flesh. The PCs would simply be in the way of the demon prince's goal of obliterating Valenar a little at a time.
Campaign Adaptation
Because siege beetles appear near fields of carnage, or are used there by spellcasters, this adventure idea doesn't fit just anywhere. But, once you find a good spot for the beetles, all you need is your core books and Monster Manual V to run it.
Forgotten Realms: The area around the High Moor is very good for this adventure, since the High Moor is the blasted graveyard of the destroyed Miyeritar elven kingdom. Siege beetles could have come from Acheron to clean an area of the Moor so that someone else could establish a fortification.
Generic: The siege beetles should come from a battlefield area, preferably in the wilderness, because they eat corpses.
Greyhawk: Ancient battlefields are not plentiful, but you could set this adventure in the Shield Lands where they meet with the Lands of Iuz. A lot of battles take place there, and it would be natural for siege beetles to be called to the area.
About the Author
Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda and son Owen.

Devilish Doings

When devils get involved with a scheme, the complexity of it all spirals almost beyond mortal imagining. And this is not surprising, as hell is perhaps the greatest bureaucracy in all of existence. All the devils plan and plot and try to outplot each other without being, in turn, outplotted. This month, the new Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of Hell comes out, and boy is it cool. It contains a whole lot on devils, including a section on playing devils and some information about the deviousness of devilish plots. Thus, this month's hooks all involve devils in some way. So enjoy, and we may see you again next year. Unless the devils get us, that is.
Devils from the Sea -- Forgotten Realms
Ravens Bluff has been called the City of Adventurers, because almost nowhere else on all of Faerûn will you find so many in one place. The Vast is a dangerous place, and something always happens that requires a hero. This night is no exception. The PCs are walking the docks of the city, perhaps looking to spend the evening at the unique underwater bar called Sharkey's. The sea, however, comes to them as dark shapes rise from the waters and move into the pools of light created by the street lamps. They also swarm the ships tied to the docks, and start killing everything that walks on land. The creatures, sahuagin, seem driven to recklessness and their attack has a ferocity not normally reported for sahuagin attacks.
Once the PCs have helped drive the devils of the sea back beneath the waves, they are approached by Corwin Stark, a representative of the Merchant's Guild. Stark invites them into a tavern, and in true Ravens Bluff style seeks their help in preventing further attacks. This is the second, he reports, in the last month. He has wealth to offer, but he also knows that the sahuagin probably have wealth too, and the less he can offer the PCs the better.
Campaign Adaptation
Sahuagin raids are pretty common in any campaign world in which the creatures exist. Here are some suggestions for other campaigns. You may find Stormwrack very useful for the underwater part of the adventure, and Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of Hell can help with the general tactics of devils. If you actually use Ravens Bluff as the setting, you might want to get your hands on LC4: Port of Ravens Bluff (a very old TSR publication) for information about the dockside businesses. Cityscape could also be useful in this regard.
Eberron: Sahuagin are prominent underneath the main water approach to Xen'drik, so that might be a good place for this adventure.
Generic: A coast near a sahuagin settlement is all you need. It doesn't even have to be a coast, since the sahuagin could be raiding ships or floating cities or small island communities. Having some aquatic elves nearby could add some complications.
d20 Modern: I can picture sahuagin living in the Ring of Fire area of the Pacific, so perhaps Japan would be a good site for this adventure. Or Australia.
d100 Motivations
01-40 The merchants are sincere; they really want the attacks prevented.
41-65 One merchant has made an alliance with the sahuagin and is using them against his or her rivals.
66-85 The Merchant's Guild senior members really want to enslave the sahuagin, and think they can do so. They want the PCs to find the sahuagin and report their location.
86-00 Some demons led by an aspect of Demogorgon, along with some ixitachitl, are working against the sahuagin, but don't want interference from the PCs either.
d100 Complications
01-50 The sahuagin raids, which have happened all along the coast of the Vast as well as in Sembia, are motivated by the presence of an aspect of Sekolah (watch for the web enhancement for Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of Hell on the Wizards website), the sharklike god of the sahuagin. He is driving the creatures to show greater devotion to their devilish god.
51-75 The raids have been undertaken by different clans of sahuagin. Each of the clans involved is raiding the surface for weapons and wealth to use in the conflict in which the clans are involved. If not stopped, the conflict could devastate cities along the Sea of Fallen Stars.
76-90 Groups of aquatic ghouls are following the sahuagin and using the chaos of the attacks to claim weakened victims to eat.
91-00 A blue dragon is stirring up conflict among the sahuagin, and then picking them off slowly as they return from their raids with loot. Thus, the dragon increases its treasure hoard. [You might want the blue dragon to be Gargantuan, so you can use the new D&D Icons Gargantuan blue dragon mini coming out in January.]
Heartfelt Devotion -- Eberron
Walking the bridges that make up the "streets" of Sharn can be dangerous. Things can happen to you at any time -- especially at night when fog obscures the way on the upper walkway levels. This particular night, the PCs are on their way through the fog to somewhere when they hear a muffled scream and then a thunk. Running to the scene, they find either nothing at all or track marks of someone being dragged away, or maybe even a couple people dragging someone away.
They later find that a number of people have disappeared in the last few months in different ways. It's hard to determine exactly how many are connected because lots of people disappear in Sharn, but they eventually find a common link with enough of the victims to see that there is something going on.
If the PCs are not interested in looking into the one incident they (almost) witnessed, then a day or so after telling someone about it they are approached by the wife of a merchant who disappeared two months ago. She wants to hire them to find out what happened to her husband, and she hopes that there is some connection between her husband's disappearance and what the PCs told that they saw.
Campaign Adaptation
Cityscape would probably be quite useful for much of this adventure, though you could make the city part smaller and move the action to the wilderness. In that case, Races of the Wild or one of the environment-series books might be useful to you. And, of course, the two Fiendish Codex books should help if you play up the demon/devilish aspects.
Forgotten Realms: Any large city with a diverse religious panorama is suitable. Waterdeep may seem the best, but Selgaunt in Sembia is equally good.
Generic: Any large city with a diverse religious panorama is suitable. I just said that, didn't I?
d20 Modern: Any large . . . okay, okay. Try London, or Rome, or Cairo, or even Shanghai.
d100 Motivations
01-30 The merchant's wife, if she comes into it, is sincere.
31-60 The merchant's wife is a devil in disguise (or a demon, depending on who is behind the kidnappings). This creature does want the PCs to solve the disappearances, because that weakens the other side's current plan without any effort on the outsider's part.
61-75 Law enforcement officers don't want the PCs involved, and they hinder the PCs as much as is reasonably possible. One of the victims is a high-profile NPC and this person (or someone else close to the NPC) doesn't want certain details to come out.
76-00 The merchant's wife is a cultist who hires the PCs. Then the cult kidnaps anyone the PCs talk to, so that all the disappearances can be blamed on the PCs.
d100 Complications
01-40 Glasya, recently made an archdevil, seeks more power to use in the manipulative games that archdevils play. She hopes to open a large portal from Shavarath to Eberron and pull a whole city into the plane of endless conflict. This she would add to her realm. She needs a lot of hearts to be sacrificed to complete the spell, and her cult in Sharn has been collecting them. Over sixty people are imprisoned in the abandoned levels at the bottom of one of the oldest towers.
41-55 In addition to the above, a demon lord has learned of the plan and wishes to co-opt the whole endeavor at the last minute and steal the city out of Glaysa's grasp.
56-65 A cult that thinks it is following a devil is actually enslaved to a rakshasa. This creature is trying to free one of the greater rakshasas from its imprisonment in Khyber, and it needs living victims to do so.
66-85 Whoever is behind the kidnappings, the PCs are the final planned sacrifices. They are being drawn into the adventure by false information so that they come to false conclusions. At the "final" battle, if they are slain because they have miscalculated the opposition, whatever ritual the DM has chosen is completed.
86-00 The Blood of Vol is stealing the victims from the kidnappers and making them into vampire servants of Vol.
Beauty and the Ogres -- Forgotten Realms
Triel, south of the Western Heartlands, is a bustling but small town on the road between Waterdeep and Scornubel. A lot of trade passes through the town, but since it is not an endpoint, the merchants there do not see as much wealth as they might in Scornubel. The town has a direct road to Elturel, so folk can make some money by means other than service industries.
The Lord Mayor of Triel constantly schemes to bring more money into the city and more prestige to himself. Aside from a lot of raw talent, he is blessed (sort of) with a beautiful daughter named Melomine, who has a reputation for hanging with a lower class of crowd than her father would want. She also has a certain reputation among the young men. One evening, just after the PCs arrive in town, she returns from a party to her father's house and disappears. Tracks at the scene show that her coach stopped and a number of ogres surrounded it. No human tracks leave the area, but two of the ogres were carrying something heavy. A few drops of blood fell between the tracks as they led out town.
The following morning, the lord mayor's chamberlain finds the PCs where they are staying and hires them to find the missing girl. He offers either money or a part interest in a business venture that the lord mayor has just started.
Campaign Adaptation
Kidnappings are, unfortunately, oft-heard news stories, plus they aren't unusual in most published campaign settings. Thus, most campaign worlds can support this adventure. This adventure makes heavy use of material from Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss and Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of Hell. You might also want the new Cityscape supplement to flesh out your town environment.
Eberron: For variety, set this in Dragonroost in Zilargo, and make everyone gnomes. Or to be even crazier, set it in Grellreach in Darguun and make everyone into hobgoblins.
Generic: A town with a lord mayor that the PCs have never been to is what you need. If they have been there, then you have to explain how the mayor's daughter's disposition changed.
d20 Modern: Las Vegas, baby. It has to be. You can use humans, or bring in some shadow creatures and have the story unfold in a small, segregated community of weird creatures.
d100 Motivations
01-40 The lord mayor is sincere in wanting his daughter back, and the chamberlain does not lie to the PCs.
41-60 The lord mayor sold his daughter, who was too loose for his reputation to bear, to the ogres to pay off a debt.
61-80 Merchants in Elturel are responsible for the kidnapping, and they plan to use the girl as leverage to acquire controlling interest in the lord mayor's newest venture.
81-00 The lord mayor is sincere, but he is afraid that a political rival is behind the kidnapping. He doesn't want to be forced into an awkward situation and will sacrifice the girl, but he wants to try to find her first.
d100 Complications
01-35 Melomine is actually a pleasure devil (see Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of Hell) and has been for some time. The real Melomine was killed over a year ago, and the pleasure devil has been using her identity to corrupt the local priests and law officials. That is why Melomine is known to be somewhat loose with her affections. She wants to move on, so she set up this escape from Triel.
36-50 While the PCs are looking for Melomine, the lord mayor receives an ultimatum and must release some dangerous criminals to buy time. The PCs have to track them down too.
51-65 If Melomine dies (the PCs fail), she returns as a ghost and haunts the PCs and her father until put to rest.
66-90 While the PCs are searching, some spawns of Tiamat or cultists of Malcanthet (see Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss) grab Melomine from the ogres and leave few clues behind. The PCs have to contend with this new factor.
91-00 Melomine is actually a succubus servitor of Malcanthet, and an erinyes or a pleasure devil becomes allied with the PCs in a dubious way against the common demonic threat. The rewards from devils for success could be very interesting, including access to feats in Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of Hell.
About the Author
Robert Wiese entered the gaming hobby through the Boy Scouts and progressed from green recruit to head of the most powerful gaming fan organization in the world. He served as head of the RPGA Network for almost seven years, overseeing the creation of the Living Greyhawk and Living Force campaigns, among other achievements. Eventually, he returned to private life in Reno, Nevada, where he spends as much time as possible with his wife, new son Owen, and many pets.
He is still involved in writing, organizing conventions, and playing, and he models proteins for the Biochemistry Department of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Living Greyhawk

[Elder] Minions of Set

The Minions of Set are powerful fighters that can turn into giant snakes. The Minions are agents of the evil deity Set from the Egyptian mythos, and act as go-betweens for him and all other creatures in the multiverse. Once petitioners from the plane of Baator, Set imbued them with special powers needed to carry out his will. They command Set’s forces when he is drawn into conflict with other deities or with the Baatezu, watch over his realm, and even carry out his will on the Prime Plane. Combat Minions of Set usually begin combat in human form unless they are already in animal shape when first encountered. Most Minions prefer not to make their capabilities known, because once discovered they effectively compromise their usefulness to their deity.
Animal Form (Su): Minions are able to assume the form of a giant snake, and a few are able to change into a second form, usually that of a black bear, a medium-sized crocodile, a giant hyena or a medium-sized monstrous scorpion. (Refer to the Monster Manual entries for these animals for complete statistics), this transformation is divinely assisted, and as such only requires a partial action to complete.
Fear Immunity (Su): Minions of Set are immune to all spells and effects that create fear or doubt, such as cause fear and scare.
As Set is a lawful power, he will never destroy one of his proxies on a whim, like some creature from the Abyss might. In return Set demands complete loyalty and servitude from his minions, which they all willingly give. Minions are so fanatical in their service to their god, that they will follow Set's instruction even to their deaths. Despite this they are not mindless automatons.
When viewed as part of the twisted ecology of Baator, Minions are nothing more than predators. When not undertaking a mission for Set, minions steal larvae from the baatezu to bolster their own hordes.

Elder Serpent/Minion

Set is said to bless long-lived snakes with exceptional wisdom. These cunning elder serpents can speak humanoid tongues (although with a sibilant accent) and have learned the value of stealth and the power of intimidation in dealing with humanoids. They show no fear of open flames and have developed an almost humanlike fancy for glittering treasures and magical devices. Some even take class levels, becoming druids, clerics or sorcerers. Yet despite the dangers these creatures pose, their sagacity and unique insights often lead humanoids to consult with them about important matters.

The Skondarr

Summarizing the Results

What the Heck

Metagame Metamorphosis

Enter Obmi

The Enigma Conquered

Excerpts: Famous Dragons

Some sages collect names of stars, spirits, deities, or exarchs, in hopes that the possession of such lists might make them wise or even grant them mastery over the workings of the world. In the same way, masters of arcane arts might assemble lists of dragons past and present. Within these lists, such masters seek keys of power in hidden congruencies and subtle threads.

No compilation has so far bequeathed anyone with such power, but lists continue to grow. Here follows a list of famous dragons from various worlds of the D&D game—a list by no means comprehensive. It is a mere sampling of the reams of known dragon names.

Dragonlance Setting

The world of the Dragonlance setting may contain more dragons than any other.

This smallish dragon had the body shape and acidic breath of a black dragon, but his scales were white like snow. Albino was mistreated both by his fellow hatchlings and his own mother, the Snake of Blackness, for his small size and oddly hued scales. Albino got his revenge one day by walling off an underwater lair entrance while the Snake of Blackness was outside with bricks he etched with his acid. Fleeing from Malystryx (see below), the Snake of Blackness descended beneath the surface to the lair entrance, only to find it blocked. Too short on air to return to the surface, she drowned. Albino appears in the story “The Albino” in the collection Search for Power.

This fierce red dragon was the mount and protector of Verminaard of Nidus. Verminaard was in charge of Pax Tharkas’s mines, supplying ore for weapons and armor to the Dragonarmies. Ember is referenced in the War of the Lance sourcebook.

A massive, sinuous black dragon, Khisanth guarded a fabulous treasure called the Disks of Mishakal in the ruined city of Xak Tasroth. In her underground lair in the sunken, ruined city, Khisanth gathered many other treasures to her besides the Disks, including a spellbook of Fistandantilus. Khisanth appears in DL1: Dragons of Despair.

When the Age of Mortals began, Malystryx was the first of the great Dragons to come to Ansalon from across the sea. Unbelievably massive, this fantastic monster measured more than four hundred feet from snout to tail, with her wingspan reaching almost five hundred feet. Her deep red scales were each as large as a shield and as hard as steel. Her rule was finally ended by the hero Mina who slew the mighty dragon overlord. Malystyx appears in the novel Age of Mortals.

D&D (Greyhawk) Dragons

The oldest D&D campaign setting boasts many famous dragons.

In forgotten barrows in a lonely swamp lurks a vampiric lizardfolk whose grasp on power is aided and abetted by the black dragon Aulicus. This black dragon appears in the adventure I2: Tomb of the Lizard King.

Brazzemal the Bright
Brazzemal has unusually light scales for a red dragon, and a particularly bright flaming breath. The dragon is given to long periods of sleepy torpor. But these habits do not make it too vulnerable, thanks to the location of its lair in a deep cavern under the volcanic ground in the Hellfurnaces. Above his chamber, fire giants lair. This red dragon appears in the adventure G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King.

Calcryx was the white dragon wyrmling mascot of a kobold tribe that lived in the ruins of a fallen fortress known as the Sunless Citadel. The white dragon was stolen by enemy goblins, and its fate afterward was never fully established. Calcryx appears in the adventure Sunless Citadel.

Near the Tower of the crazed mage Zagig is the cavernous lair of the ancient red dragon Farcluun, who knew full well of Zagig’s unstable state, and took what advantage it could. Farcluun appears in WGR1: Greyhawk Ruins.

This young black dragon lairs beneath the fallen dwarfhold of Khundrukar in a sunken cavern called the Black Lake. The dwarves are long gone, but various goblin and orc bands now inhabit the tunnels, but view visit Nightscale, because the black dragon is always hungry. Nightscale appears in the adventure Forge of Fury.

Forgotten Realms Dragons

The dragons of Faerûn are legion. All the dragons described below appeared in Dragon Magazine’s Wyrms of the North feature.

Daurgothoth, “The Creeping Doom”
This male black dragon has embraced undeath, and hunts the world as a dracolich. This great dragon lairs not too far from Waterdeep, and through bribes and threat of death, “employs” several agents to purchase or steal interesting items in the City of Splendors to continue building his hoard.

Hoondarrh, “The Red Rage of Mintarn”
This male ancient red dragon keeps several lairs. His main one on the isle of Skadaurak is a vast complex of subterranean rooms with easy access for a flying dragon. The dragon has a deal with the folk of Mintarn; in return for a yearly tribute, Hoondarrh won’t lay waste to Mintarn, and sometimes he even protects it.

Mornauguth, “The Moor Dragon”
This female adult green dragon lairs in the Misty Forest in an area of steep-sided, breakneck wooded ravines. Rumor has it that Mornauguth is a human transformed, trapped in green dragon shape by a curse. Formerly a priestess of Shar, her reckless ambitions caught up with her.

Olothontor, “The Minstrel Wyrm”
This elder blue dragon lairs not far from Waterdeep. Olothontor loves music above all else. He is rumored to grant extravagant gifts to minstrels whose songs please him. Intruders who stumble into his lair and then play or sing won’t be attacked, so long as they furnish good music and plenty of it.

Voaraghamanthar, “The Black Death”
This elder black dragon has learned something of sorcery. It lairs in the Mere of Dead Men, a salt water swamp. Rumored to have the ability to be in two places at one time, in truth Voaraghamanthar and its clutch sibling, Waervaerendor, fool the incredulous by posing as each other as need demands. No one suspects the flitting black ghost of claws and jaws that strikes out of nowhere, that lives in black swamp waters that hide the bodies of victims soon to be dined upon, is really a team of two.

Found in an Old Book

By Doug Beyer
Spellbook by Ciruelo and Book of Rass by Sandra EveringhamWelcome again to Steal This Hook! This edition's theme is found in an old book: adventure hooks that begin with someone cracking open the pages of a careworn tome, for good or for ill. (Hey, who are we kidding? Of course it's for ill). Unleash one or more of these on your players, and show them that ignorance may in fact be bliss!
The Blank Codex
The uncle of one of the PCs dies and leaves his adventuring nephew or niece a curious old codex bound in leather and locked with a keycharm (Shadows of the Last War, pg. 24). The cover has no title but is decorated with circular sigils. When they get it open, its pages are blank -- yet the book radiates magic! It turns out that each page is written with a special kind of illusory script: unreadable unless certain conditions are met. Some of the pages are time-based: one becomes readable when the plane of Dolurrh is waxing, for example. Others are based on characteristics of the reader: only elves or those with the Mark of Handling can read certain pages.
What can be read there? The book is the journal of a wizard and Last War veteran in the uncle's family (the wizard's arcane mark is probably on it somewhere). The wizard traveled extensively and saw many wonders and mysteries, making the book a gold mine of potential adventures. Now that it has emerged, the book may also draw attention to the heroes. A representative of House Sivis would pay handsomely for such a work of scribing; enemies of the old wizard may try to steal it; and an obsessed cultist who believes it may contain a map to a protected seal may threaten or kill the heroes for it.
The Henge in the Gloaming
In the Eldeen city of Xandrar, Gatekeeper druids are concerned about signs that the poaching of good creatures in the Towering Wood has increased. They ask the PCs for help investigating these crimes against their faith. It turns out that someone has been buying up pixie wings, giant eagle feathers, and unicorn horns, and payment has always been in the form of letters of credit from Morgrave University.
Meanwhile, in the thickest, darkest, most claustrophobic grove of The Gloaming, a Druidic Studies student and his horrid ape companions work tirelessly to build... something. They fell trees. They move huge, oblong stones. They arrange a collection of wings, feathers, and horns on a rune-covered stone slab, following exactly the diagrams and directions in a set of Old Galifar scrolls titled A Dialectical Discussion of the Planes, by Professor Uric Helbaine, paying special attention to the third scroll: "Musings concerning the Early-Walkers and their Connection with Mabar." The heroes must not only confront the misguided student but also deal with the disastrous consequences of focusing the Gloaming's negative energies through the mystical henge dreamed up by the long-dead Professor Helbaine.
The Almanac of Tomorrow
In a dungeon beneath the Mournlands, the heroes discover a chamber full of loose parchment pages (note: fire hazard!). Buried under the pages are the remains of a magical almanac that adds a new page to itself each day. Years ago, the book's cover burst under the strain of the stream of new pages, and now the dungeon room is packed with them. Each page carries the date it was created and makes predictions about what will happen tomorrow (that's tomorrow from the day the page was created). They predict weather patterns, casualty numbers, troop movements, and other significant events.
The most recent page reports that a disaster will occur tomorrow, and the heroes may be able to prevent it! Perhaps it reports that, despite the Last War being over, tomorrow's "casualty numbers" are in the hundreds, and it states "Cyre" is moving troops toward the border of Thrane (which could mean the Lord of Blades is planning an attack). Perhaps it reports a weather disaster brought on by a rogue member of House Lyrandar. It may report pestilence and famine that the heroes know to be caused by an evil curse.
The almanac loses accuracy if it is removed from the dungeon chamber but still produces useful information. Investigating its origin might lead to further adventures.
Expedition of the Tome of Glyphs
The heroes' patron informs them of rumors that the true Tome of Glyphs, a legendary book detailing the history of giants in Xen'drik, may be located in a dungeon in the misty jungles of Q'barra. An archaeologist and linguist of Sharn, Brenna Dowen, will accompany the adventurers and help them follow a set of clues to the whereabouts of the dungeon.
At the dungeon entrance, they find the deserted camp of a rival expedition. They may be too late! Inside the dungeon, the party comes upon a hexagonal chamber containing six enormous books (each about the size of a noble's bed) on heavy display stands. Which is the right one? Bloody smears on the floor lead to one wall. Then the books attack! The party has been lured into the lair of six mimics (or whatever number your PCs can handle). The previous expedition was subdued or destroyed, and their remains are poorly hidden behind a secret door at the end of the trail of blood. Is the real Tome of Glyphs somewhere in this dungeon, or was a crafty illithid using the legend to lure adventurers into its mimic-lair? Perhaps Brenna Dowen tricked the party for her own reasons.
Monsters in the Library Basement
Mr. Pumble Dombibbin, a night clerk at the Library of Korranberg, calls the adventurers' for help one moonless evening. He trapped two monsters in the bottom floor of the Library, which houses books in storage. Only the heavy door leading to the stairwell has kept them at bay. Dombibbin has no explanation for how the monsters got into the Library; he just wants them captured and removed. He insists they not be killed and will give the heroes a handsome reward if they succeed quickly.
The PCs stalk the monsters among the dark corridors and dusty stacks. Behind an iron door labeled "Rare Books," whose lock is broken, they come face-to-face with a pair of fihyrs (Monster Manual II, or substitute any aggressive monsters with appropriate CR). The fihyrs are actually Mr. Dombibbin's sons, ages 12 and 10. There were accidentally transformed by a spell they read out of a nearby tome. The spell affected their minds, too, so they believe themselves to be ferocious fihyrs. Mr. Dombibbin knows what happened but he will be in big trouble if his employers find out he allowed his boys to play in the stacks. He believes he can reverse the spell if the PCs trap the monstrous boys and recover the book they read.
Still hungry for more adventure hooks? Here are some bite-sized book-themed ideas to chew on.

  • What appears to be a book of spells is actually a recipe for an extended magical ritual to call down meteors from the Ring of Siberys -- with the power to destroy an entire city.

  • In the ruins of a half-sunk Shadow Marches temple, the heroes discover a set of stone tablets describing the location of an ancient artifact related to the daelkyr.

  • A book of poetry with pages of fine vellum is found at an estate sale. The author turns out to be the personal scribe of old King Jarot. It could be full of clues of historical import, coveted by many nations.

  • A financial ledger in the Mror Holds reveals evidence that an underground organization seized a huge amount of resources through shrewd, almost prophetic business deals. Perhaps the Aurum has enslaved an earth weird to guide their business practices.

  • The PCs are hired to steal a book from a private collection. The book itself is unimportant but it contains a magic dagger hidden in a hollowed-out space in the center pages, and the dagger is happy to be free.

  • A student of the magical arts must finish her dissertation on necromantic phenomena before her academic deadline. She needs the heroes to bring her tissue or bone samples of at least three specific undead creatures within one week.

  • A famous novel is delivered to one of the PCs -- with a message from the author penned in blood inside the front cover.
About the Author
Doug Beyer spent a lot of time getting philosophy degrees until he figured out that he should just move to Seattle and become a web developer for Wizards of the Coast. Now he spends his days working on games and his evenings playing them. Doug uses the time normally allotted for sleeping to lurk on the message boards as his alter ego, WotC_Doog.

Mysterious Disappearances

By Doug Beyer
Welcome to "Steal This Hook!," a new column of Eberron adventure hooks. Every other week this column will bring you, the DM, a bevy of Eberron ideas to steal for your campaign. Think of yourself as a picky, bib-wearing, hungry monarch and "Steal This Hook!" as platter after steaming platter heaped high with juicy delights. Grab whatever looks appetizing, your majesty, and toss the rest to the dogs! (You know, because there're always dogs.) You'll find several entrée-sized hooks and then a bevy of bite-sized mini-hooks in each installment.
Each "Steal This Hook!" column will have a topic that ties the hooks together -- kind of an Iron Chef-style theme ingredient that flavors all the ideas. The themes will vary from straightforward fantasy motifs to ludicrously bizarre Eberron headtrips. Our first theme? "Mysterious disappearances." So glad you asked!
The Case of the Locked Vault
A House Tharashk bounty hunter hires the heroes to investigate a rash of thefts from their private stores of Eberron dragonshards and other treasures. The treasures are kept sealed in a windowless stone vault behind an impressively warded iron door, and the vault is guarded day and night. The thefts have happened every night. The guards swear they didn't open the door or even see anyone -- the loot just mysteriously disappeared. Is a mystically skilled thief using teleport to enter and exit the vault? Could an ambitious ethereal filcher be coming back each night? Might someone have dug a tunnel under the vault? Or are the "thefts" a ruse to distract from the real crime -- many of the treasures are illusionary, and are disappearing as their spell durations end? The heroes need to bring their forensic skills to bear to solve this mystery.
Runaway in the Reaches
A farming family near the edge of the Eldeen Reaches' Towering Wood sends a call for adventurers to find their missing daughter. The girl was last seen three days ago, when she disappeared along with a heavy wool cloak, an antique shield, and two weeks' rations. Investigation may reveal that she had been receiving letters in the Sylvan tongue -- was she wooed by a charming satyr? Invited to join an unknown sect of Eldeen moon-worshippers? Or was she kidnapped by mischievous fey, who also stole the supplies to confuse the issue? Is her family covering a dark secret -- that they sold their daughter to evil druids in exchange for a bountiful harvest? The heroes must locate the girl, and time may be of the essence.
The Eyestalks Have It
A kalashtar scholar was away at a conference when his collection of preserved beholder eyestalks was stolen. When the heroes come to investigate, the first thing they discover is that the scholar is obsessed with the crime: he follows the PCs wherever possible and uses psionics to "eavesdrop" on the investigation when he can't personally be on the scene. Furthermore, the crime scene is perplexing -- the scholar's front door was apparently chewed open by something with powerful jaws, and his wood floors are gouged with claw-marks, yet the wards and locks on the glass display cases were carefully dispelled and disabled. Who would have taken the eyestalk collection? A purist sect of the Church of the Silver Flame persecuting the man for his kalashtar heritage? A mad artificer (with iron defenders) interested in the eyestalks as wands or as components for some bizarre, eldritch machine? A summoner (with a bound rast at her side) needing odd gifts for her hungry, conjured demons? Some poor, blind monster that believes the beholder eyes might grant it sight? An actual beholder and its servants that wants to end the kalashtar's abominable collecting?
The Missing Mummy
When the Historical Museum of Sharn's exhibit, "Ancient Rulers of Galifar," opens to the public, the most anticipated item on display is the recently-discovered sarcophagus of Bruudash the Third, a centuries-old Galifar lord. The docent of the exhibit throws open the sarcophagus to reveal Bruudash's mummified body, but besides the musk of embalming spice, it's empty. Did the local rich aficionado hire thugs for "grand theft mummy" to add to his private collection? Has a curse somehow shriveled the mummy to dust? Perhaps worst of all, did Bruudash walk out of his box of his own accord, bent on punishing the living for his centuries-long dirt nap?
One Carload Short of a Lightning Rail
The lightning rail train from Wroat arrives in Sharn -- missing a car. The train's conductor and security personnel explain, in half-shock, that while the train passed through some heavy fog, the private sleeping car simply vanished, leaving the train severed in two. They stopped the engine, reconnected the train, and continued on, hoping to get help in Sharn. What force could have snatched a car from a moving train? Was it disintegrated or teleported? Was the rest of the train somehow frozen in time (by a mass sleep spell, or even time stop), allowing the culprit(s) several undisturbed minutes in which to spirit away the car? Or was it snatched by a roc in the fog? A wrinkle: When the train left Wroat, the missing car carried the famous Brelish Last War veteran Forv Yannar, who was to speak at a rally in Sharn. Were Yannar's enemies intent on stopping that speech? Did Yannar himself stage his disappearance to get attention or to avoid assassins? Was he traveling with a valuable cache of Last War weapons? Finally, where is the train car and its passengers or cargo now?
Still hungry for more adventure hooks? Here are a few bite-sized ideas to chew on.
  • The Library of Korranberg hires the adventurers to locate certain crucial maps from a Last War refugee's journal that went missing during a bizarre raid by savage halflings.
  • A dragonmark heir contacts the PCs to interview her family members when their dragonmarks begin disappearing.
  • A living mass invisibility spell somehow gets transported to a crowded market and causes havoc when people and objects begin vanishing at random.
  • A Cyran expatriate hires the heroes to explore the ruins of her hometown in what is now the Mournlands, but now only a misty lake remains where the town used to be.
  • An important Karrnathi official goes missing but reappears just before a crucial vote involving policies on changeling rights; the heroes are hired to investigate what happened.
  • A warforged thespian takes a break between scenes of a high-profile play and is never seen again.
  • An Old Galifar-era village once thought lost to time reappears on a misty night during the conjunction of four planes -- and may vanish again when the conjunction ends.
  • An arcane marked letter of credit from a House Kundarak bank in the Mror Holds must reach Korth, Karrnath, in two weeks' time, but witnesses at a small inn along the way say that the courier vanished, leaving his traveling equipment in his room.
  • The stone gargoyle decorations on Queen ir'Wynarn's castle in Aundair have gone missing overnight; royal scions hire adventurers to aid in their recovery.
  • Morgrave University loses contact with their team of archaeologists on a dig in Q'Barra. Coincidentally, a cell of Dreaming Dark spies and assassins have taken up residence in the vine-covered ruins the scientists were uncovering.
  • A pair of wererat criminals are captured but they vanish from their locked coach during their transfer to Dreadhold.
Editor's Note: For those of you lucky enough to be too young to remember 1970, that was the year Abbie Hoffman (Google him -- yes, him) published a book called Steal This Book. It had nothing to do with D&D or Eberron, but in the spirit of anarchy, we decided to hijack his title for our series anyway. Abbie would approve.
About the Author
Doug Beyer spent a lot of time getting philosophy degrees until he figured out that he should just move to Seattle and become a web developer for Wizards of the Coast. Now he spends his days working on games and his evenings playing them. Doug uses the time normally allotted for sleeping to lurk on the message boards as his alter ego, WotC_Doog.

Dot to Dot

By Michelle Bottorff
Ideas for interesting towns
Exciting Actropolis is where the vile underlord Morticus spins his cruel plots. The adventurers have discovered a message from him on the body of one of his hirelings and are heading toward the mighty city. Fewmar eagerly looks at his map. ‘Look here! If we travel across country we’ll cut weeks off the journey’.

The adventurers head out into the wilderness, make a few bad rolls during a river crossing, and finally, sick and tired of roughing it, they run across the road to... Poketon? The DM stares blankly at the dot on his map. The players are sick of random wilderness encounters and are ready for some real role-playing, but he knows absolutely nothing about this place!

Just because the DM is improvising doesn’t .t mean that all the small towns on the map need to end up generic and boring. The players may want a change of pace, or the characters may need a bit of nudging to get them back on the path of the planned adventure, or maybe the DM just wants to add some realism to his campaign.

Whatever the reason, here are some ideas for making improvised towns interesting, exciting, memorable and maybe even useful.

The personality of the place
One method is to give the town its own mood. The original edition of the AD&D® DUNGEON MASTER® Guide has many splendid lists of adjectives. (If you don’t have it, try a thesaurus.) These were originally intended for the fleshing out of NPCs but work equally well when determining the character of a town. Pessimistic, aloof, dreamy, soft-hearted, spendthrift; all these adjectives, and a host of others, can be used to describe towns as well as people. With practice a DM can generate a whole town from a randomly picked adjective.

DM: Tall fences line both sides of the road. Past them and to the left you can see a farmer working in his fields. Though he shouts no greetings, you seem to sense his head turning as he watches you go by. Soon you find yourself among the stone buildings of the little village. Stout oak doors with peep holes line the narrow street. A little boy playing with a cup and ball game stops to stare at you. Suddenly a door is flung open. A young woman runs out and grabs the boy, hauling him inside. The door crashes shut behind them.
Lady Ariadne: (Placing her hand on her rapier and frowning after the vanished child.) My friends, this town seems less than friendly.
Beran the Brave: Much less!
Fewmar: I wonder why so suspicious...
When creating a ‘mood town,’ most of the people in the community will share its dominate characteristic, but be careful not to overdo it. Even the most suspicious of towns probably has one or two friendly characters.

The inhabitants are not the only thing that affects the mood. Architecture is an important factor, and it is much more likely that the buildings fit the adjective better than the people. A friendly town for instance, might have thatched roofs and brightly painted cottages; an extravagant town would have peaked arches and impressive façades. Other things to take into consideration are the town layout and the types of businesses. A town with numerous taverns built around a bustling town square conveys a totally different mood than one built on a grid, with one small tavern and no inn, with only a way-house at the nearby religious retreat.

Another more subtle indication of town personality is how quickly it accepts new ideas. Progressive towns are interested in news of other places and are delighted by anything that is innovative and new. Anti-progressive towns aren’t interested in the rest of the world and are scornful of any device (or fashion) they haven’t seen before. Some towns are mixed, with half the populace eager for change, while the other half clings desperately to the past. This alters not only the mood of the town but also its technology level. The technology levels that are possible depend largely on your campaign world, but don’t hesitate to go to extremes. Inventors do not always live in the city, so Poketon may well be a few years ahead of the rest of the country, while the neighboring town is centuries behind the times.

If the players are bored, the DM may decide not to take the time to build a mood but opt instead for quick action. The easiest way to do this is to have the town already involved in some kind of fight. A special dispute not only keeps the players happy but also serves to make the town stand out in their memory.

Feuds work well. Take, for example the story of Romeo and Juliet. It’s about two important families whose feud is so severe that they manage to involve a good part of the city. In a small town this sort of situation is even more deadly. It’s virtually impossible for anyone to remain neutral; even chance visitors need to take sides at least to the degree of deciding whose inn they will sleep in that night.
DM: You awake to the smell of smoke and the sound of shouting. Footsteps are clattering down the hall outside your door.
Beran: (Leaping to the door and throwing it open.) What’s going on here!?
DM: A peasant boy turns to face you, waving his dagger and shouting, ‘Death to all Saiger-lovers!’
Beran: (Picking the boy up and shaking him.) I love only Galyna, Lady of Hearthkeep, and I’ll kill anyone who says otherwise!
Fewmar: What’s a Saiger? Wasn’t that the name of the innkeeper?
Lady Ariadne: Never mind that; I think the inn is on fire!
Another interesting situation occurs when the town is divided politically. For instance, the last election was a tie, and both candidates now consider themselves mayor. If the situation is violent, the players will be called upon to choose sides, but there is always the possibility that there is no fighting, just two town sheriffs enforcing two sets of laws, two tax collectors, two places they must get their weapons licensed, etc.

Each mayor could have his own distinct territory, but it is generally more fun to just have each mayor claim the whole town or to at least have the border line between sections irregular and indistinguishable so the players never know which set of laws they are subject to at any given moment.
Guard: Ho there!
Fewmar: Yes?
Guard: You just used magic!
Fewmar: Err, yes.
Beran: You got a problem with that?
Guard: It’s against the law to use magic in Poketon.

Lady Ariadne: Nonsense, my good man. That fellow in High street didn’t say anything!
Guard: High street is in Upper Poketon. You’re in Lower Poketon now. Come with me.

If Poketon has a close neighbor, then it would be quite likely for them to have developed a rivalry. This rivalry is most commonly expressed by strong competition in sporting events, with a number of towns going so far as inventing their own events. For instance there are two towns in England that annually compete over a side of ham. The ham starts at a midway point between the two towns, and the town that gets it into their own town square first gets to keep it. A fun variation could be to have a whole live pig, which would, of course, be doing its best to get away. Any type of contest will do: and there are many to choose from; team sports, wrestling, greased pole climbing, target shooting, seeing how high you can count before taking a breath. Try to pick something that will interest your player’s characters.

Whether there is a sporting event actually going on, there are many people in a rival town willing to bore the players to death by giving blow by blow accounts of every event that occurred during the last 10 years. It is important to remember that according to Poketon’s loyal citizens, Poketon is clearly superior. Anything Rivalburg does, Poketon does better. This attitude carries over from sporting events to industry and almost all other aspects of small town life; Poketon’s cows produce better milk than Rivalburg’s cows, their priest is more pious, their blacksmith better skilled.

In extreme circumstances a rivalry develops into a war,
DM: The small shifty-eyed man behind the bar leans towards you.
Bartender: Are you from Rivalburg?
Lady Ariadne: Use your eyes, my good man. Do I look like somebody from Rivalburg?
Beran: Never heard of the place.
Bartender: Then I’m glad you’re here. You two look like you’d be useful in a fight. The sheriff asked me to look out for anyone who might be willing to join our march on Rivalburg!
Fewmar: Why are you attacking Rivalburg?
Bartender: (Ignoring Fewmar.) What do you say?
Lady Ariadne: Hmmm. Why not?After all, a good fight is always amusing.
Bartender: Well, we’re not attacking them, precisely, you understand. It’s a protest march.
Beran: A what?
Fewmar: What are you protesting?
Bartender: Those scurvy knaves have been under-cutting our prices! We’re going to lay down the law to those dastards! Either they put their prices back to where they used to be or we retaliate! (The bartender shakes a fist in the direction of Rivalburg, then realizing he’s making a scene, looks back at the adventurers.)
Lady Ariadne: I’m sorry. I don’t do demonstrations.
Bartender: (Shrugging.) Sheriff wanted some heavy-weights around in case there was trouble. We’ll pay you, of course.

Poketon doesn’t need to be fighting another town; they could be fighting outlaws, a renegade magic user, an appropriate monster or some kind of spell effect gone wild.

Points of interest
Some ‘points of interest towns’ are considered so interesting that they expect people to come visit them. The PCs are not likely to turn tourist, but the townsfolk don’t know that and will expect them to be fascinated by the local points of interest. Some points of interest can even prove useful to the characters. Tourist towns are usually easy for the DM to invent, since he can ‘borrow’ a town that he has actually been to and alter it to fit his campaign world.

Buildings are common points of interest, though they rarely contribute directly to a campaign. Buildings are generally notable for their architecture, purpose, and historic association. Good choices for small towns are: the Deserted Tower of Joe the Ultra-magical, the tavern where Black Bart the famous Outlaw ate his last meal, or one of the Royal Hunting Lodges. Haunted buildings are also good, especially if the characters actually get to meet the ghost.

When inventing a notable building, keep in mind what people might be staying there. These people can often be useful to the characters. For instance, the country residence of a VIP will be populated by his dependents, who can act as a source of valuable introductions and provide an excuse for getting the players back on the road to Actropolis.

Lord John: You wouldn’t by any chance be heading to Actropolis?
Beran: Yes.
Fewmar: Why do you ask?
Lord John: I was hoping you could deliver a message to my brother, the Earl of Swaite.
Lady Ariadne: We’re entirely at your service, milord. Where is he staying?

Other points of interest are a trifle harder to make useful. Natural features, for instance are mostly just boring for the players because most of them look interesting. Of course you can use boredom to convince the characters that they are in a hurry to get out of town. After hearing eight or nine people tell them how spectacular the local waterfall (mountain, rock formation, centuries-old tree, etc.) is they will be happy to climb right back on their horses.

Much more interesting is the town with historical associations. This is the town that has a real place in history and capitalizes on it. Some towns may invent a place in history, and, unless one of the characters has an education, it comes out to much the same thing. As a rule of thumb, half of the people in a ‘historic’ town have an encyclopedic knowledge of the historic event in question, and the other half thinks the whole thing is a great bore. At least half of those who know exactly what happened will know a vastly different version from the other half, and at least one person from each side likes nothing better than to argue about it.

Historic towns are a lot of fun but are easier to improvise if you already have a good grasp of the history of the campaign area. If the campaign area has no predetermined history and you are inventing it, remember to take notes. Absolute consistency, however, is unnecessary since most history tends to get distorted. In fact, it is more authentic to have several versions of a particular historical incident.
Miller: Don’t you sneer at me milady! I’ve a respectable trade. And it was a miller, after all, that hid King Connie when his brother Ed tried to usurp the throne.
Lady Ariadne: I sneer at whom I like.
Fewmar: Besides, it was a blacksmith who hid King Connie.
Miller: Nonsense, it had to be a miller. Who else would have such a large supply of grain sacks?
Fewmar: Grain sacks?
Miller: Didn’t you know that he was smuggled out of the country disguised as a sack of grain?
Fewmar: I thought he disguised himself as a serving maid.
Beran: The brewer told me he hid in a keg of ale.
Lady Ariadne: What? Not a cart load of cabbages?
Miller: It was a grain sack, I tell you! I know all about it.

It can be difficult making a historic town useful unless the town also contains a collection of historic artifacts. Often some historian or collector lives in a small town so he can pursue his hobby in peace, and many of these can provide genuine assistance to adventurers. He might lend them some special magical item, or they might be able to peruse ancient documents for clues to the location of this ancient ruins, or that powerful item.

Usually a collector demands yet another item to add to his collection as payment. This often leads to another adventure. If you do not wish to create another adventure (it does not have to happen immediately; the collector may be willing to wait) then another form of payment must be found.
Collector: I call it a collusion detector. It’s a very rare item, and not very useful in a fight, but invaluable for uncovering secret plots. It’s how King Connie finally discovered Prince Ed’s treachery.
Fewmar: It must be very valuable. You wouldn’t want to lend out something so unique!
Collector: Well, I offered it to his majesty when I first found it, but he preferred to rely on the services of the Royal Wizard. It’s terribly easy to counter, you see, so it’s really only useful if no one knows you have it.
Beran: What price? Collector: You wouldn’t happen to know where King Connie’s Crown has gotten too?
Fewmar: In the capital? Collector: Oh dear me, no! That one is quite fake. (Looks at adventurers and sighs.) Oh well, I could use some help about the place. There is a terrible manpower shortage here in Poketon. Inventory perhaps, and if you could help me move some of the larger pieces and do the dusting...
Lady Ariadne: Sir! I’ll have you know, I don’t dust!

Some collections are singularly useless; old theater props for example, and decorated chamber pots; but they still add immeasurably to the flavor of the town. In fact, useless items are often more distinctive than useful ones. Who could forget a giant hammer, a floating building, an illusionary organ grinder and monkey, or the statue of a moose? Things that are odd or out of place are noticed and remembered. You must use this technique sparingly, however, because if there is something peculiar in every town the players will come to expect it, and it will no longer be memorable.

Unforgettable Characters
Often a town is remembered not for itself, but because of someone who lives there. You don’t even have to make up a character; you can just steal one from another source. Just remember that when you are in a town, character is established not just by how the DM describes a character but by how the other townspeople talk about them. A character that is interesting to the players is also likely to be interesting to his fellow citizens.
DM: It’s a town, about average size. Only one street is paved, the one you are on, the rest are packed down dirt.
Players: Where’s the tavern?
DM: A sign showing a foaming mug hangs over a building ahead and to the right. As you approach you pass close to a young man. He wears tattered rags, and his bright red hair looks like it has never been combed. He is looking about vacantly, but when his eyes pass over Lady Ariadne he starts and rushes over to her, grasping her sleeve.
Lady Ariadne: Hands off, sirrah!
DM: One of his eyes stares earnestly into your face, while the other eye wanders about. ‘Who?’ he asks. ‘Who?’
Lady Ariadne: I am Lady Ariadne Wynn. Hands off knave!
Townswoman: Don’t mind him none, Milady, he’s just Moe, the town idiot.
DM: Moe releases your arm and wanders off to the side of the road. As you enter the tavern, the bartender, a tall man with a mop of improbable yellow curls addresses you.
Bartender: So already met the town idiot.
Beran: He seems harmless enough.
Bartender: Surely, but there is something about him. Normally he seems to have the wits of a rabbit, but then he says something so remarkably apt... (Shakes his head wonderingly.) And then there’s the way he arrived!
Fewmar: Oh? How was that?

The town’s interesting character may not live there any longer. This is potentially very useful. If he is a personage of importance in your planned campaign, this is a great way to let the players dig up some back-ground information on him. Not only do the townspeople know all about his childhood, but they likely have a very good idea of what he is up to now.

Establishing the legal limits
A small town may have developed its own set of laws and rules. Though most of these rules had a very good reason behind them when they were made, not all reasons last as long as the rule does. Not knowing the reason for the rule, (which may indeed no longer exist,) the players are likely to find some of the villagers‘rules ridiculous in the extreme, such as: anyone walking down main street must wear a hat; no lighting fires out of doors; no talking in the town square; or anyone who sleeps in town overnight must first introduce himself to the priest.

Other rules are obvious as to the reasoning but irksome to the players: one way bridge, no wearing of unregistered weapons, no mounts allowed in the village proper, no killing the local wildlife without a license, taxes.
Sheriff: Have you got a license for that there creature?
Fewmar: Shasta is a marmot. She’s my familiar.
Sheriff: Doesn’t matter. All domesticated animals require a license if you want to bring them into Poketon. You also need licenses for your horses.
Lady Ariadne: Don’t be ridiculous, my good man!
Sheriff: Oh, you needn’t worry, horse licenses are easy to get. Just walk into town, take a left at the Mermaid, and pretty soon you’ll find Jasper’s stables. Jasper will come out here and inspect your beasts for a reasonable fee, and then I write out your license. Simple! I don’t know about that marmot creature though. Never done a license for a marmot!

Getting any kind of a license requires finding the person with the proper authority. This is not necessarily any easier to do in a small town than in a big city. A common problem is that no one is sure who the proper person is. The landlord sends you to the mayor, who sends you to the sheriff, who sends you to the priest, who thinks that really Lord So-and-such ought to be the one to sign it, only he’s off hunting or something and no one knows when he’ll be back. By having the locals waffle back and forth you can keep the characters running around for some time. This is not a good idea if you are trying to hurry the players off to Actropolis, but it works fine if you just thought of a neat adventure they could have right here if only you have enough time to work out the details.

Another important thing to remember is the powerful effect that organizations can have on a town. At some points in history, the guilds were more powerful than the monarch. A guild (or local equivalent) flexing its muscles is a good way to make a town memorable. Merriment and cheer are in short supply at the tavern if the brewers are on strike; the players may have to brave the picket-lines in order to buy supplies at a non-union grocer, or the Tanner’s Guild may have picked this very town for their annual conference, and the stench is making the place uninhabitable. Even lesser organizations can have quite an impact. Never underestimate the power of the PTA or the Civic Improvement Association; the local busybodies may well decide that adventurers make rotten role-models for their children and attempt to run them out of town.
Townsman: Are you a member of the Magistar and Wonderworkers. Union?
Fewmar: No, I can’t say that I am.
Townsman: In that case we would really rather you moved on, this being a union town and all.
Fewmar: Can’t I just promise not to use my magic?
Townsman: If I just say a few words to my fellow citizens this town would become less than comfortable: ridiculously high prices, full inn, that sort of thing.
Lady Ariadne: We will not be threatened!
Beran: We are trying to get to Actropolis. We only stopped here to get some more supplies.
Townsman: Oh? Well in that case I would be happy to direct you. Our grocer is on High Street, he carries hardtack guaranteed to survive flood, spell, and hard journeying. Our armorer is just there, across the square, and...

Yes, Poketon is certainly an interesting place. It will be long remembered by your players, who are now back on the road to Actropolis. At least they were back on the road to Actropolis until a random encounter with some horse thieves somehow put them on the road to Sameville. Sameville is another dot on the map, but there is no problem making it distinctive. The dots themselves may look identical, but by using one of these ideas you can guarantee that Sameville won’t be the same at all!

Things to remember:
1. Pick an adjective, any adjective
2. Technology level
3. Feuds
4. A Town Divided
5. Sporting Rivals
6. Other battles
Points of interest
7. Buildings
8. Natural features
9. Historical
10. Collections
11. Oddities
12. The Character
13. He used to live here
Legal Limits
14. Ridiculous rules
15. Bureaucracy
16. Guilds
17. Other organizations