Basic World Building uses the tools from 1981’s Basic Dungeons & Dragons and Expert D&D and re-imagined in Old School Essentials to build a starting campaign setting. Even though it is based on Basic D&D, it could be used with other D&D rules or fantasy RPGs.
Last month column’s covered creating a wilderness setting. Three large islands in the northeast were not detailed. That’s where this month’s column kicks off.
Legend has it that the three islands were once part of the main landmass, but a terrible cataclysm either tore them from the land or the waters rose up to isolate them. These islands fall under Immortal control of a wild and dangerous nature including Immortals of the woods, water, mountains, and beasts. Humanity struggles to build lasting kingdoms on these islands, as nature itself seems to rise up and strike down all that man tries to build.
The farthest island has a tiny island northeast of the main isle. This island is home to two small fishing villages, the ruins of previous settlements lost to flood and famine, and a decaying ruined castle situated between the settlements. Life for the peasant fishermen is hard and for the few hunters and farmers quite dangerous as various monsters stride forth from the wilds to eat and kill the villagers. No one believes that peace and order will ever truly be restored to this tiny island. In fact, if either village was wiped out completely the other villagers across the island would not be surprised.
Into this hardscrabble existence come adventurers. They may simply want to loot the ruined castle and live off the recovered riches. However, if they are truly bold they could clear the ruin and lay claim to the castle. Restoring it and asking to rule it from the duke on the main island would be difficult but a worthy quest. Next month when the villages are detailed, options for player characters using the knight class from Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules will be discussed for players who really want to rule a stronghold like the Tower-Faced Demon.
The adventure scenario is clearing a ruin which requires creating a dungeon ruin. Designing a dungeon consists of four steps: Choose the Setting, Choose Monsters, Map the Dungeon, and Stock the Dungeon. With this map in hand, many of the choices are already made. The setting is a tower and the mapmaking is complete.
This location is designed for 1st or 2nd level PCs and the monsters inside should not be likely to venture forth and destroy either village. I take a look at the level 1 dungeon encounters table for some ideas. While skeletons sound like a logical choice I’m going to tuck that away for an idea near the villages themselves and go with something different. The tower is infested with insects that prey on each other like a tiger beetle that eats robber flies that eat killer bees.
Getting into the tower requires climbing or flying. A tongue like drawbridge will extend and the bottom teeth drop open, but it is currently withdrawn. While the bugs inside do not have treasure, the former occupants did. Treasure scattered around will include treasure chests from the previous owner still trapped with a spray that double the chance of wandering monsters for 1d6 hours.
Here is a list of monsters wandering the tower. Roll every 2 turns (a turn is 10 minutes long) with a 1 in 6 chance (or 2 in 6 if sprayed by a treasure chest trap) of creatures appearing 2d6 x 10 feet away. If your party is only four or five in number instead of eight or nine I recommend cutting the number encountered in half. The sprite and pixie encounters do not have to end in combat although the faeries are mischievous and can almost seem cruel.
Random Encounters in the Tower-Faced Demon
|19||Robber fly stalking killer bees||1 and 1d5|
|20||Tiger beetle stalking robber flies||1 and 1d3|
There is a font on the tongue level that contains a water weird (D&D Creature Catalog) and strange waters. The strange waters are left behind if the water weird is defeated and if drunk take affect randomly like a potion for 1d6+6 turns:
- giant strength
- polymorph self
- treasure finding
The entrance to the eye level is trapped. Anyone approaching within 60’ inside or outside is attacked with a chromatic orb and hit unless a saving throw versus spells is made. Roll a d4 for the type of orb. The optional effect is described on page 17 of Old-School Essentials Advance Fantasy Druid and Illusionist Spells. Inside the eye room is a treasure chest containing 400 gp and a rope of climbing.
|D4 roll||Color of orb||Damage||Effect|
A living crystal statue waits on the top spire level. Lambent green light pulses from its crystalline body and attracts insects and faeries alike. If this monster is defeated the Tower-Faced Demon will be less likely to fill up with monsters going forward. The inside of the statue contains a rod of faerie fire with 5 charges. Faerie Fire is described on page 7 of Old-School Essentials Advance Fantasy Druid and Illusionist Spells.
Other rooms in the Tower-Faced Demon can be randomly generated and stocked with monsters, traps, and treasure. Monsters will mostly likely be insects and faeries or scavenger animals.
One the tower is cleared, the PCs may simply decide to move on. However, they might want to instead take the tower for their own and refurbish it. Since the PCs will be low level, this will require some new options. Some ideas on how to handle this possibility will be covered in next month’s column.
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