Friday, November 1, 2019

Notes on a Bad Meat Pile

I've been running players through a "proper" dungeon, with multiple levels, random encounters, and treasure tables. So far it's been great fun and I originally thought to post it in its entirety here. However, much of the dungeon's actual structure is uninteresting, so instead I will simply record all of the details and ideas which I think make "the Academy of Harmonious Ringen" worthwhile.

  • First of all, the town in which PCs make base is populated entirely by intelligent skeletons after the original inhabitants were killed by the necromancers who now inhabit the academy. This gives everything a melancholy air and gives plenty of little quirks. I decided that since they don't need to bother to farm, they endlessly write and perform plays. They totally make plays to commemorate the death of PCs.
  • The first "level" of the dungeon is the academy's buildings and training ground. Random encounters are mostly the leavings of fledgling necromancers, including an animated pile of meat (Bad Meat Pile, what my players dubbed the opposite of a skeleton;) vascular squids which wrap around their prey, and animate hands of glory.
  • The second "level" contains the necromancers, their followers, and their creations. Necromancer spells include:
    • Viscerakinesis: Telekinetically move anything made of meat. Give a -4 to the save for each additional die invested.
    • Runaway limb: target’s limb runs away in a random direction. (Can be reattached by pushing them together. D4 damage per die. Successful save prevents the damage and keeps the limb from getting too far.
    • Manipulate wound: You can communicate with an injury and convince it to act in various ways. This can do damage, but takes too long to use in combat.

  • The third "level" is the osteo-temple, the secret school of skeleton martial arts. This is what the academy above was meant to conceal, and what the necromancers are trying to break into.
  • The osteo-temple's encounter table includes Emerald-Eyes, a lich/osteo-martial artist. He will be encountered as long as his phylactery in the dojo is intact.
  • It is satisfying to weave together encounters from each level. One level three encounter is "two level two encounters, exploring," and I think it's elegant that this can provide new context to old elements. It's also an easy way to foreshadow. Level one encounter: broken skeletons. Level two encounter: intact skeletons. Level three encounter: broken Ancient Master. Level four...
  • The fourth and final level is the Ancient Master of the Osteo-Temple's strange menagerie. Among more mundane exhibits there is one for goblins, and another one with fish swimming in water enchanted not to leave its chambers. Bio-luminescent fish shed light on treasure, and it's only a 40' walk through the aquarium. Hidden tickle-fish make you lose your breath.
  • There's also a bird exhibit and it totally has a megoosa (or gorgoose.)

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