Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ware the Queen of Faerie Twisted

More on my scribblings as I collect my themes for The Lower Caves. As you can see this is a work in progress, and much of this will evolve as the adventure itself is hammered out. This theme will encompass three distinct regions of the adventure, and will provide the main storyline for this level of the dungeon. Another theme, which will serve as a subplot for the adventure, is based on information provided by Calithena, the original designer of The Darkness Beneath. A great adventurer, Jalen Longspear, has established and maintained a safe haven within the depths here on this level, the infamous Halfway Inn. I have grand plans for Jalen and his inn, as well as his staff, and as soon as I flesh these details out more I'll add some tidbits here to the blog.

Ware the Queen of Faerie Twisted

Ylfrit, Dark Faerie Queene of the Unseelie Court, is imprisoned within an ancient Labyrinth of Fae Magic deep beneath the surface. Cursed by Hjorvart Alfar-King with Eternal Slumber, Ylfrit dreams restlessly hidden away from mortal eyes for centuries uncounted. Unaware of the coming of the Time of Man, and the sundering of the world that heralded that epoch of great change, Ylfrit continues to plot her nefarious plans. Ylfrit’s dusky, lithe figure trembles and murmurs as her fell dreams roll on, unabated by the ages. While Fae Magic has dwindled and continues it’s steady decline within this world, there are still wildly potent pockets and nodes of this ancient magic tucked away in remote locales. The Lower Caves is one such place with hallowed wellsprings of Fae Magic, given rise by the presence of both Ylfrit and the Alfar.

The dark dreams of the sleeping, imprisoned Ylfrit have influenced the surrounding area with the chaos of unreason. Men tell tales of the Twisted Faerie Queen, as she has come to be known. Legend holds that the grim visage of the Twisted Faerie Queen visits men in their dreams, promising wealth and power if they but follow her call. It is said that she is the harbinger of ruin, and that those who seek her out wind up mad, gibbering fools. The tales of her vast treasure have propagated this legend, that the wicked Queen holds what men desire most, and can grant wishes, or fulfill desires.

The Alfar

The Alfar are an ancient race of immortal Fae who once held domain over this world in a bygone era. Their life essence is tied to the abating Fae Magic which at one time was the very force which held this world together. Cursed by the Unseelie Court and their Dark Faerie Queene, the Alfar became imprisoned in the depths of the world, unable to ever again see the light of day. After the demise of their King, many of the Alfar left their brethren behind as the once unified race became fragmented and disparate. The Alfar who remained near the Mound of the Alfar-King established a unified group of Loyalists amidst the damp, dark stone of what was to become, in later ages, The Darkness Beneath.

As the chaos of unreason born of the gloomy dreams of the sleeping Dark Faerie Queen began to enfeeble the Fae Magic which is the Alfar existence, the Loyalists eventually became separated as well. Now there exists within The Lower Caves two separate factions of Alfar at odds with one another; those still loyal to the long dead Alfar-King, and those who blame him for their plight. The Loyalists and the Denouncers have been at a stale-mate for decades; neither faction strong enough alone to actually deal with their dilemma, and neither willing to sustain the costly toll on their own number that outright conflict would incur. Instead, the Loyalists and the Denouncers undermine one another’s efforts at every turn, both blaming the other for their impasse while the insidious dreaming of the corrupt Ylfrit continues its unraveling effect.

The Loyalists protect and gain power from one of the three venerable sources of Fae Magic here, the Mound of the Alfar-King, and wish to redeem his reputation by destroying the Dark Faerie Queen for good, and in so doing ending the encroaching chaos of unreason as well. The Denouncers guard and receive power from another of the age-old nodes of Fae Magic extant within these caves, the Alfar Spirit-Circle, and believe, incorrectly, that the Dark Faerie Queen must be awakened to lift the Unseelie Vex, thus granting them the ability to again see the light of day. Both factions know that if they could control the other’s source of magic, they would be that much closer to accomplishing their goal. Additionally, both have tried, thus far in vain, to further their efforts by allowing mortals to become entangled in the struggles of the Alfar. Many men have sided with the Loyalists, or the Denouncers, but the deadlock has not shifted while the souls and minds of the mortals involved have been shattered and lost for all time. The factions have found that the promise of the legendary treasure of the Twisted Faerie Queen has lured many mortals to their cause, willing to risk both life and limb in the pursuit.

“Ware the Queen of Faerie Twisted
Promises not oft resisted
Scheming, somber eyes of sorrow
Recollected on the morrow
Night’s long shadow never-ending
Greets the sleeping death impending
Dreams of men afore the Dawn
One by one, your souls be gone
Ware the Queen of Faerie Twisted
Damned before this world existed.”

No, I'm neither a poet nor a writer, but I sure enjoy putting D&D adventures together, and I hope you'll do the same while reading and playing this one once its in a completed format.

edit: Revised version (thanks Coffee!):

“Ware the Queen of Faerie Twisted
Promises not oft resisted
Scheming, somber eyes of sorrow
Recollected on the morrow
Night’s long shadow never-ending
Greets the sleeping death impending
Dawn breaks forth reveals the dreaming
One by one, your souls fade screaming
Ware the Queen of Faerie Twisted
Damned before this world existed.”

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Dark Faerie Queene

Here's a bit I've been kicking around tonight which might serve as the Background portion of The Lower Caves of The Darkness Beneath.

The Alfar, Hjorvart their King, and the Dark Faerie Queene

Before the shadow of man stretched across this land, and before it was split asunder by fiery volcanoes and shattering quakes, this world was governed by the laws of Fae Magic. The Fae ruled the Four Corners and oversaw the Day and the Night as well as the Four Seasons. The Dawn of Man heralded change, though. Fae Magic began to lose some of its sway over the world, and the magic of man, or Young Magic, began to drain away the power of the Fae Magic. During that age when the Dawn of Man was a prelude to the Time of Man, one of the most powerful Fae races was the Alfar. The Alfar ruled the Four Corners, while the Seelie Court ruled the Day, and the Unseelie Court ruled the Night. The Four Seasons of the world were the domain of the always quibbling Lesser Fae.

The Alfar King, Hjorvart, knew that the once potent magic which held this world together, and was the very life force of the Fae, was slowly diminishing. Across the years, the Alfar had been forced to relinquish much of their rule over the Four Corners to mankind and the Lesser Fae. Seeking to muster the forces of the Fae, Hjorvart wished to beseech the Seelie Court to form an alliance between Alfar and Faerie, that together they might form an insurmountable front against the encroachment of this magic of man. In his desperation, the King of the Alfar unwittingly allowed himself to be duped by the Dark Faerie Queene of the Unseelie Court, Ylfrit. Ylfrit wished to claim the Fae Magic of the Alfar for her own dark designs, for she knew her sister, the true Faerie Queene of the Seelie Court, would never include Ylfrit and her Dark Faeries in such an alliance. The Dark Faerie Queene needed to conduct her treachery far away from the eyes of the Seelie Court, and so lured Hjorvart and the remaining Alfar deep beneath the surface, where she had convinced the King that the Fae Magic was strong and vibrant.

Ylfrit’s plan was to enslave the Alfar in the dark recesses of the underworld and put their Fae Magic under her control. Albeit waning, the collected arcane Alfar magic would allow Ylfrit to topple and disband the Seelie Court once and for all, while she laid claim to the title Queene of Fae. Ylfrit hadn’t counted on the Alfar resilience being her own undoing. Realizing that he had possibly led his people to their doom and finally recognizing Ylfrit’s true identity, Hjorvart gave instructions for his Alfar to construct a Labyrinth of Fae Magic. The King then sacrificed every iota of his magical life force to empower a Curse of Eternal Slumber upon Ylfrit. The Alfar then imprisoned the treacherous Dark Faerie Queene within the Labyrinth deep beneath the surface. It was too late, though, as Ylfrit’s plan had already begun, and her own Unseelie Vex had taken hold. The Alfar had been cursed by Ylfrit and the Unseelie Court to never again see the light of day; they were also imprisoned far beneath the surface despite the valiant efforts of their heroic King, Hjorvart.

The magic of man was able to move forward unimpeded now, as the Seelie Court alone was the only cohesive group of Fae left to witness the coming of the Time of Man. Fae Magic is now more fleeting, elusive and ephemeral in nature compared to that bygone age when the land was ruled by the Fae in their myriad incarnations. The Fae have survived to this day, but their world governing power is now a thing of myth and legend. The Lower Caves are the very spot where Ylfrit enacted her devious plan, and the Alfar are still there, along with the sleeping Dark Faerie Queene. They are, of course, not the only ones in the Lower Caves, as you shall soon see.

It needs some work, but this will be the predominant theme. My ideas are swirling around, but are finally beginning to find their way into written form. Now if I can possibly translate it all into a cohesive adventure, it will gain momentum very shortly.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Sneak Peek

Something I'm working on at the moment that I figured I'd share with my fellow gaming fans follows. I'm finally fleshing out the 'pumpkin-headed' jack o' lantern Bugbears, inspired by the illustration in Supplement I, Greyhawk. Why am I sharing this? I'm currrently working on another level for the Fight On! megadungeon project, The Darkness Beneath. Bugbears will be one of the featured monsters within Level 5, The Lower Caves that has received a whack from Sham's home-brew stick.

I was hoping it might be completed, submitted, edited and included in an issue of Fight On! that might see print in time for Halloween, but I doubt that's a possibility. Not to say that the adventure will have a Halloween theme, just that the creatures below would certainly be relevant to such a time of year.

Bugbears: AC 5, Move 9, HD 3+1. Bugbears are giant versions of Goblins with large round pumpkin or jack-o-lantern heads which emit a faint fiery glow from their eye, nose and mouth openings when provoked or enraged. These massive, monstrous creatures range from eight to nine feet in height, and are covered in thick, shaggy grey-brown fur. Bugbears are deceptively nimble, and possess a strong awareness of their surroundings. As such not only are they able to surprise foes half of the time (3in6), they themselves are surprised half as often as normal monsters (1in6). Bugbears are crafty but not particularly bright, possessing a low intelligence. These fearsome monsters are immune to Charm, Hold and Sleep. They have been known to use both armor and weapon, but often hunt prey without such encumbrances in order to maintain their stealthy nature. The rake of a Bugbear’s sharply clawed hand is often as effective as any weapon it might otherwise use. Bugbears excel at instilling fear and legends of their horrific appearance are often told to children in order to keep them away from places not meant for them to wander into; a ‘bogeyman’ of sorts. While engaged in melee, the target of the Bugbear’s attacks must Save vs. Paralyze at the beginning of each round or become Frozen with Fear and unable to move or act in any way during that round. Bugbears receive a bonus of +2 To Hit against foes who are Frozen with Fear. Bugbears delight in torturing their victims before boiling them alive in iron cauldrons or slowly roasting them over a hot fire. Due to their lack of teeth, Bugbears have learned more than a few gruesome recipes that produce nightmarish stews, soups and puddings. The speech of a Bugbear is like the whispering of a chill breeze, and their howls are like the thundering clouds. Bugbears despise the light of day, and will never be found outdoors while the sun is shining. Particularly bright light will cause Bugbears to lose 1 round of action until they adjust to it, and they have been known to target light bearers first when facing surface dwellers. Like their standard sized relatives, Bugbears are created from the very essence of chaos within the underworld. While there are a variety of methods in which Goblins are spawned, Bugbears require specific rituals, crafting, and, most importantly, seeds from the pumpkin head of a Bugbear. These Bugbear seeds are highly prized by evil spell casters, but lose their potency within a half dozen days. From 5-8 such seeds can be harvested from a split open pumpkin head and if planted in a large vessel containing the properly enchanted soil, then watered with the blood from a slain man, there is a 2in6 chance that a vine will successfully grow forth in 7-10 (1d4+6) days. This vine, if left undisturbed, will yield a single pumpkin which will grow to a ripe stage in another 7-10 days. At this point, the vine withers away and dies, and the pumpkin containing the Bugbear essence will await the crafting process that can release its chaotic energy. Bugbear Pumpkins will ‘live’ dormant in this state for decades before losing the essence within. Such a pumpkin can be smashed open to harvest the 5-8 magical seeds within, or it can be used to create a Bugbear. If the Bugbear Pumpkin is carved with two eyes, a nose and a mouth while the proper incantations are invoked, the essence within will be released and the rest of the monster will grow forth from the underside of the pumpkin in a matter of minutes! Bugbears do not age, and are spawned thusly in full ‘maturity’. Only chaotic Magic-Users of level 8 or higher and certain powerful evil beings can learn the involved process required to create these Bugbears.

Great Bugbears: AC 4, Move 6, HD 5+1. Certain rare Bugbear Pumpkin seeds are known to spawn Great Bugbears. Ranging from ten to twelve feet in height, Great Bugbears are twice the mass of their standard kin, with huge leathery pumpkin heads. These Bugbear leaders are of higher intellect than their smaller relatives, and it is believed that some Great Bugbears have actually been able to master the spawning method used to grow Bugbear Pumpkins. The lair of a Great Bugbear is always enveloped in an Eerie Presence which extends out to a radius of 90-180 feet or more, determined by the age of the Great Bugbear and the depth of its lair within the underworld. Surface dwellers and mortals who enter the Eerie Presence detect its tell-tale signs immediately, and the intensity of the magical aura increases as its center is approached. The area within the presence is downright spooky; cold drafts, constant whisperings of dark omen, shadows moving at the edge of vision, and a certain ominous feeling of dread. The Eerie Presence creates an otherworldly unease, which causes all characters to suffer a penalty of 1 on both Rolls To Hit and Saving Throws. Great Bugbears are only hit by silver or magic weapons, and share the same immunities to Charm, Hold and Sleep that Bugbears possess. Attacks from these fearsome magical creatures cause 1d6+2 damage. In addition to the Bugbear Frozen with Fear power, the mere sight of a Great Bugbear will Cause Panic. Anyone seeing the huge shambling monstrosity will have an overwhelming sense of self-preservation, normally expressed by dropping everything, screaming, and running away as fast as possible. Saving Throws, against Paralyze, are rolled as follows: 1 HD or lower: No Save, flee in panic; 2-4 HD: Save or flee in panic; 5-7 HD: Save at +2 or flee in panic; 8+ HD: Immune. If the Saving Throw is successfully made, that character is immune to Cause Panic for the rest of that encounter. Those fleeing in panic will run nonstop at full speed for 5-10 rounds, normally in the direction from which they came. Great Bugbears are formidable opponents; ferocious, tenacious, bloodthirsty, cunning and diabolical, they are evil incarnate. Woe to the unprepared Magic-User who spawns one of these twisted forces of chaos.

More updates on The Lower Caves to follow in the near future. Once I've sorted out more details I will share my map design with you as well.


~Sham, Quixotic Referee

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Link and a Reminder

I've added the new Fight On! website to my Linkage list, and I wanted to remind everyone that Issue Two became available in print form last week! Here's a teaser with the contents of Issue Two:

Table of Contents:
Dedication to Dave Arneson…………………………….1
The Tower of Birds (Gabor Lux)………………………..3
The Devil’s in the Details (Kesher)……………………....6
The Penguin as Player Character (Patrick Farley)………...8
The Dragon-Blooded (Calithena)……………………….12
Knights & Knaves (Karen Collins)……………………...13
The Monster Machine (Vincent Baker)…………………14
The Darkness Beneath (Hackman)…………………..….19
Tables for Fables (Age of Fable)……………………..…26
The Seven Swords (Jacob “Badelaire” Boucher)……...…27
Shields Shall Be Splintered (J. Brian Murphy)………...…28
Panicked Mounts and Falls (Geoffrey O. Dale)…………30
The Entourage Approach (David Bowman)………….…31
Ye Olde Magic Shoppe (Jeff Rients)……………………32
Unusual & Magical Spirits (Max Davenport)……………35
Random Inn Generator (James Edward Raggi IV)…...…36
Adventure Flowchart (Dan Eldredge)………….……….44
Education of a Magic User (Douglas Cox)…………...…45
The Outdoor Map (James Maliszewski)……………...…46
The Wilderness Architect (Victor Raymond)………...…52
Barbarian Magic Items (Baz Blatt)…………………...…58
Handgonnes & Cannons (L. William Schneider)……..…59
The First Dungeon Adventure (Greg Svenson)……...…60
Dave Arneson, Blackmoor, & Me! (Robert Lionheart)…62
Interview with Dave Arneson………………………..…63
The Red Gem of High Cartography (Edsan)………...…64
The Magic of Mistworld (Steve Marsh)…………………82
Oceanian Legends (Del L. Beaudry)………………….…84
Finish the City! (Andrew Reyes)…………………...……86
Creepies & Crawlies (Jeff Rients)…………………….…87
Artifacts, Adjuncts, and Oddments (Gabor Lux)……..…88

Fight On! is growing! I'm currently waiting on my own copy to arrive at my doorstep from If you haven't ordered Issue Two, click on the Fight On! link over to the right and nab a copy!

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

Friday, August 1, 2008

Two Whole Weeks!

The past two weeks have flown by since I last posted anything here at Ye Auld Grog 'n Blog. I'm still here but my posting has certainly left the building. I won't bore anyone with details, but my free time of late has been scarce. I'm sure once I catch my second wind I'll be back to daily posts...whether you like it or not!

Thursday was a marathon day of work with an extended meeting and subsequent dinner which found me arriving home well after 11 PM. Much to my surprise, Mr. Rients had posted here directing me to a thread over on the Original D&D Discussion forum (where my posting has likewise slowed down recently). Much to my surprise, my humble little entry into the Otherworld Miniatures and Fight On! adventure writing contest, Spawning Grounds of the Crab-Men, came out as the winner.

So, I picked my nifty prize and am anxiously awaiting that parcel with the awesome Orcs from Otherworld Miniatures!

I'd like to thank Richard at Otherworld Miniatures, the Fight On! crew Calithena and Ignatius, all of the judges as well as all of my fellow gaming fans who have personally congratulated me on this very unexpected honor.

I am currently preparing to work in earnest on another adventure for Fight On! which I hope to have finished and submitted before the end of this month. As soon as I get around to mapping the dungeon, I will share some of the details here on that next project.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee