An Improvised Classic Traveller Convention Game


I was at a local convention a couple of months ago and decided mid-way through the day I wanted to run some Classic Traveller during one of the gaming blocks. I went to the sign up desk, grabbed one of the templates, and wrote out a quick description about hunting for treasure on a war-torn world. Then, during lunch, I set about hacking some notes together.

I’ve moved to index cards for my Lamentations of the Flame Princess game. I have come to prefer them for two reasons:

  • They make me keep my information, ideas, and descriptions short. And I’ve learned brief chunks of information are more practical for my RPG play. I need data I can grasp at a glance and move on. I need something brief that can inspire me for more ideas in the moment and that I can relate to the Players (via their Player Characters) through specific interactions. Lots and lots of detail means I am sitting there reading a bunch of stuff that I can’t get out all at once. So for now I’m in the habit of jotting down what can fit on an index card per subject and moving on.
  • I love that I can pull the cards that I need out from the index card file box, set them out in front of me for reference, and then when I am done put them back.

I got myself some index card tabs that I use to divide the cards into different categories, most of which are NPCs and Encounters divided by location. Here’s an image from the cards from my Lamentations of the Flame Princess game.


I had no other Classic Traveller material with me. But luckily I have stored a ton of stuff on this blog as PDFs and images. So I pulled up this blog on my iPhone and got to work.

I grabbed some pre-made Player Characters from a file I had shared before. I transferred four Player Characters to index cards. Each player would choose one. I made them all Marines so that the Players would have easy hooks to each other. (See the cards at the top of this post.) Normally I love having people roll up Classic Traveller characters. But I’ve learned that simple as the process is the first time someone does it takes a while. And I really wanted to have more time to play the adventure.

While I was working on that I was back-burnering some thoughts for the adventure.

I wanted a clear goal out of the gate. (It was a four hour convention slot after all). So there was a treasure the PCs were after. I decided we’d go in media res–the PCs would already be on the trail of the treasure and were closing in on it when the game started. This way we could just get on with it instead of spending that first hour of everyone trying to figure out if they were on the “right path” for the adventure.

So I hacked together a few facts for the Players to have before we began:


The Player Characters would be chasing down rumors of an idol that was smuggled off a world decades ago and sold for a great fortune. It became a tale told in the culture of travellers, but no one had yet found the world where it had come from.

I decided the Player Character would already know about the idol, already had competition also looking for the world to see if there were more valuable idols (Captain Brand and his crew). Further, before play began I would explain to the Players their PCs had confirmed the location of a descendent of the man who had found the first idol, were meeting with him and got map of where his grandfather had found the idols, but that Brand and his men arrived, killed their contact in a fire-fight, and escaped with the map. Thus, the race was on.

The name of the world was Pherris, and I whipped up for factions to engage the Player Characters:


House Silis were the noble house that ruled Pherris in the name of a failing, ancient empire. The Takar were an humanoid-insect race that the humans had conquered decades ago. Some Takar were loyal to the humans, but others were beginning to revolt against human rule. And then there was Captain Brand and his men.

I started up three types of Takar really fast:


I decided the idols were made by an aboriginal culture and that the properties of the crystals keep a great beast in a great cavern in a state of suspended animation:


I have already designed Classic Traveller Weapon Cards for ease of play, but didn’t have them with me. But using my phone I jotted down some common weapons we’d be using during the game to have them on hand. I didn’t give them to the players. I simply gave them the Throw values as needed.


As for the game, it went gangbusters. Three players signed up. (One was from my regular Monday Night Group, the other two were strangers.)

The Players (by their own accounts) had a really great time. A loose premise, a few notes, a lose structure for an evening’s entertainment… and then winging it in terms of both the players’ choices and the pacing as seemed appropriate.

Lots of fun world-building on the fly. It was a world dominated by high tech humans lording over an aboriginal humanoid-like insect population that lived at a Tech Level 0 capability. But I found I was adding solid details beat by beat to fill out the sense of reality as we went. I described the cold of the world. How the Takar could essentially hibernate as needed to conserve food and energy. I told the Players, “Because you’ve all served you know the imposing architecture of the Silis Palace is not there to defend against attacks from space but to be imposing to the natives of this world.” What I was looking for was not a “Hard SF” but enough details that made sense and an internal logic to give a patina of logic and science fiction–just like the fiction that inspired Marc Miller to create the game.

The experimentation I had done with other con games with Traveller paid off here as I knew the limits of the game and when to simply move things along. I was, per all my blog posts and comments here, a Referee who adjudicated the “logic” of the world and actions of the PCs quickly, often without requiring rolls, and then came up Throws on the fly. No player blinked at that.

Because I had the pre-generated Player Characters I used my time at the top of the session to do a preamble about how the game was going to play differently than most games from the mid-80s on. I talked about the role of the referee. I talked about how they should not limit themselves to the skill list of what they can do but to look at the first line of the PC Index Card in front of them that listed their service branch (former Marines for all), age, and terms of service. “Remember,” I said, “if there is something you think a marine should be able to do, you can probably do it.”

Then came characteristics. And then skills under all that. I described how Throws could be made for almost anything. That they might not be able to try some things at all, but other times they could make a throw and sometimes a expertise rating might be a DM, or a very high or low characteristic might be a DM, or having been a Marine might be a DM. And other times they might simply do what they want if they have the right qualities of skill or characteristic or background without even having to make a roll.

I explained that Classic Traveller has no Experience system for activities or deeds done during play. Which means the Players have to set up their own goals or agendas and judge for themselves if they are getting closer or further way from what they want only through the details of the fiction. This makes it a unique game within the range of RPGs as far as I know. If the Players don’t know what they want the game might well grind to a halt.

I explained the notion that space travel between the stars is relatively slow compared to what we are used to in most mass-media. I watched eyes widen with both sudden comprehension and delight at this notion. I will admit this delighted me — as I could see this novel aspect pulled all of them closer to core conceit of the game and the idea that it could take weeks, if not months, to travel a vast chain of star systems. The idea that space was BIG and travel between the stars was a BIG DEAL was beginning to take hold.

Then I broke the news that communication only moved at the speed of travel. Eyebrows went up. Smiles appeared. This was apparently A REALLY COOL NOTION. “No faster than light communication at all?”

“Nope,” I replied.

“Like ships have to carry messages and communications between worlds?”

“Exactly,” I said. “Like packet boats in the Age of Sail.”

And with the three players really _got_ the core conceit of Traveller’s one core setting element and seemed _delighted_ with this notion.

I asked them to tell me what one item they still carried with them from their time in the service (A jacket; a footlocker; pistols with handle grip designs commemorating a field action of great import).

I asked them to look at their age, terms of service, characteristics, and skills and think not in terms of what their character could _do_ but how this informed the characterization of the character. “Looking at these details, who is this character? How do they see themselves? What do they want? Why are they traveling between stars when most people never do?”

I asked them how they met (after each of them mustered out, kicking around the stars and lacking focus), and what they sought.

One had been a quartermaster, always working to make an extra buck. I handed him the background details: Rumors of a crystal statue of great wealthy sold by a man 60 years ago for a million credits. The world was unknown, but rumor was he meant to go back years ago and get more.

I explained they had met up as this marine pursued this rumor. They were going to be meeting with the man who claimed to be the long dead man’s grandson to get more details: the name of the world, a map.

The crew of a free trader charged into the bar during the meet. The man with the map was killed during an exchange of fire. The map stolen from them.

The PCs worked passage on ships with greater jump capability than the free trader to beat their adversaries to the world. There they worked themselves into the planetary forces dealing with an uprising of “the abos” (aboriginals) who were now fighting against the abos who were loyal to the human ruling class. This allowed them to scope out the situation a bit before the other crew arrived on planet and gave them authority to take action agains the crew when they arrive. (The arriving crew made the mistake of looking like they were trying to sneak onto the planet to smuggle weapons to the rebels abos.)

Lots of adventure, the Players being smart, unexpected mysteries. They realized there was a rebellion happening–and got themselves hired into the local militia. With their imperial training they were a cut above the local forces and managed to get themselves wide leeway going out on ‘patrols” (but really trying to track down the location of the idols) without having anyone keeping too close an eye on them. (Please note: I did not think of this as a plan or expect it at all. This was something the Player Characters came up with on their own… and it was quite smart. I had no “adventure” planned. Just a situation. It was up to the Players to figure how how they would move their characters forward. It was up to me to provide obstacles and opportunity.)

They found the crystal statues and figured out they were used to keep a buried creature in hibernation through psionic energy. They stole the crystals, awoke and unleashed what was pretty much a T-Rex. Hijinks ensued.

It was a sold old school game that could have been expanded greatly both in terms of play time at the table and as a campaign. The players were coming with all sorts of smart ideas that would have paid off for a longer campaign and I had to say things like, “That’s really great. But we have forty minutes left for a con game. What is your objective now.”

One player (former Army, as it happens), as we took a break halfway through the session said, “I have to tell you…. I am having a great time.”

So everyone thought it rocked.

And I type all this up to say–the game was written and designed to play this easy, fast, and loose play–and you can play this way too. No long, detailed introduction from the Referee about politics that the Player Characters can’t influence anyway. No thoughtfully pre-planned adventure the Player Characters are supposed to follow. No expectations of what the Players will do.

I simply came up with some notes. Let the Players move forward with their plans. Made rolls to see how things turned out when required, let them succeed without rolls if that made sense. And everyone had a great time.

Just sayin’.


Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Twenty-Third Session


– Or –
The Characters Finally Head Off to Qelong

Months have passed since we’ve played my Fallen Worlds campaign. I’m slammed with work and prepping my notes for the group’s journey to the Qelong Valley on an alternate Earth.

Other players have picked up the slack in the intermediate months, and I get to be a player for a while. We’re played a kick ass in short campaign set the world of The Last Airbender. We’re now playing in the world of Shadowrun using the HeroQuest rules.

But here’s a recap of the last session we played months ago!

Having cleaned out Graupher’s Keep of the creatures that had escaped from the menagerie and the interplaner creature that Graupher and his men had brought back in their travels to research and destroy, the Lamplighters took some time to sort through gathered treasures and magic.

The magic-user researched spells and set up a new lab in the keep. Two of the characters experimented with the power suits that they had retrieved from the slaughtered Carcosans they found dead in the remains of Death Frost Doom. One power suit was still locked, but they had a weekly chance to find the combination and finally pulled it off. Each power suit had unique abilities I had randomly rolled using the tables from Carcosa.

Carcosa describes the alien technology of the world in the style of Jack Kirby style art. So the players in 17th Century Europe have suits of armor in the style of the image above.

The Lamplighters also hired in workers to clean out the mess left over from the thousands of undead in the Turning Tower, as well as fortifying and repairing the compound as a whole.

Now, in the Session #22 recap I noted that I thought once the Players had found Graupher’s ship they would be heading off to the world of the Qelong Valley to find the Aakom they needed to free their friends who became trapped in Null Space while exploring the ancient Duvan’Ku catacombs under Munich. (It’s a long story… but if you read all the entries you’ll get the details. I realized I can’t keep recapping everything in every recap. It’ll just take too long! Short version: They need to go the Qelong Valley in an alternate dimension, recover the Aakom leaking from a cylinder that is poisoning the valley, travel to Carcosa using The World Stone, get to and enter the Spatial Transference Void in the city of Carcosa which will let them enter Null Space, rescue their friends, and use the Aakom to escape Null Space and return to earth!)

Instead, they decided to return to Bergenzel and clean it out once and for all. Okay, I thought, and then next week Qelong!

But no. After experimenting and cleaning up the keep they decided that since some of the spider cult members of Bergenzel had fled the town, the most likely place they would have gone to would be the Insect Cult located north of Karlstadt. They didn’t know about the Insect Cult, really, but months earlier they had found a map of Europe on the inside of a dead knight’s flesh marked with:

  • the death symbol of the Duvan’Ku which marked the temple from Death Frost Doom
  • an insect symbol which marked the Insect Cult from Better Than Any Man

The Players had decided back in the seventh session that they would be traveling to the bug mark on the map. You might recall that I prepped for Better Than Any Man, the Player Characters stopped in Munich while traveling north to Karlstadt, found out rumors of ancient Duvan’Ku catacombs under the streets of Munich, researched further, and stumbled intoThe God That Crawls. (Which I had moved from England to Munich.) In doing all this they promptly forgot about heading to Karlstadt, my prep was scrapped and they entered a terrific module that took us three sessions to clear out.

More things happened and their focus turned completely from the events to the north and they headed west in an effort to find an adventurer rumored to have a ship that could travel to different worlds so they could go rescue their friends trapped in Null Space. (Again, the recaps keep looping around. In part it is because I have remember for myself how all this stuff went down!)

The point is: Once they Players had declared they were going to Karlstadt I started the countdown that is a core element of Better Than Any Man. The Swedish Army was going to sweep down from Denmark across the Holy Roman empire whether the Player Characters went north or not… because it started and it was up to them to get back up there in time to find all sorts of treasures and adventures or not.

Well, they never went back. And the catalogue of events listed in Better Than Any Man took place as described over the ten days of the adventure–even if the Player Characters were not there to participate in the adventure!

The Players, of course, knew nothing about any of this. Nor did their characters who had spent that last two months in shrines and catacombs built by the Duvan’Ku or traveling through the time-distorted swamps of Bergenzel. By the time they headed back to Munich to see the treasures they had recovered they heard about the onslaught of the Swedish King but did not realize that the adventure that had been waiting for them had been wiped out. (I try to be honest about how the world is moving forward around the Player Characters, whether the Players are aware of it or not. This was one of those times!)

So: We gather for Session #23 and I’m thinking: “Okay, here we go to Qelong!” And the Players decided to go to where they saw the insect symbol on the map. And they had no idea the Insect Cult was wiped out by the Swedish Army (along with the witches of Karlstadt and so on.)

So I pull out Better Than Any Man. Because even though the main adventure sites have been destroyed by the Swedish army Better Than Any Man has a whole list of awesome random encounters I can use to generate content for tonight’s session. Since the area will still be war-torn and ruined almost every one of the encounters will still be viable.



The Player Characters travel to Munich as they head for the Insect symbol on the map. They ask about rumors of the war, of the invasion by the Swedes, of anything to do about insects.

The find out that the Swedes sacked Karlstadt, sacked Würzberg, and killed many witched. They destroyed a tower that no one could see and the rivers ran with blood. They attacked a compound filled with monsters. Few men came out so they used explosives to seal it all up. The details are sparse. It is told more like exotic rumors and tales… but it is all true! This is the aftermath of Better Than Any Man–and the Lamplighters missed the party.

But, more pertinent, the Players hear rumors of dreams that have been haunting the citizens of Munich for weeks. People have been unable to sleep–or, rather, have been sleeping but do not feel as if they have slept. A figure in yellow robes haunts them. The Players begin to notice a strange symbol in yellow scattered on the walls of Munich. People feel that something is coming. That while they had feared what might happen once the Swedish army sacked the Catholic cities, this would be worse.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 8.50.11 AM


The group continues north. They pass Würzberg and see corpses of “witches” that hang from trees. And hear tales of the witch trials taking place. They travel on and I make a random encounter roll. They hear rumors of war elsewhere. But a large portion of the Swedish army has been disbanded after the cities were sacked and mercenary troops took their loot and went home.

They reach Karlstadt. They see the heads of the witches on pikes on the city’s wall. Again, this is the aftermath of Better Than Any Man. They have missed all the events. And yet, by playing out the events as they occurred we have new chances for unexpected adventures.

For example, the adventures decide they want to examine one of the witch’s heads. Why? I do not know exactly. But can I blame them?

Since their journey south along a road to investigate fallen meteorite–upon which they came across a corpse that was later revealed to have been killed by a doppelgänger from another planet come to study the human race–and all the things they had seen from that moment onward until now, would it be truly unreasonable to assume that investigating the decapitated head of a witch on a pike might not yield interesting information? Certainly it was a possibility that such a thing should be looked into. And so they did.

Note several things:

I had no idea the players would want to investigate a decapitated witch’s head. I put it there as a bit of color and to make clear that whatever had happened had happened and the situation had wrapped up.

It is not my place to tell the players there is nothing interesting to be found by investigating a decapitated witch’s head over a city gate. If this is something they want to do I let them do it. Remember, in this game I have no plot, I have no story. There is no place we are trying to get to, no climax I need to guide them toward. Whatever they choose to pursue is the story.

At this point they are providing material for me to use. Again: I have no story. The Players make rolls as they sneak around and try to investigate the head of a decapitated witch.

So they get to the head. It seems to be, I explain after they examine it, a decapitated head and nothing more.

They decide to steal it.

James Raggi once stated there was no need for a Call of Cthulhu insanity-style mechanic for Lamentations of the Flame Princess because after a while the Players would be having their characters do all sorts of crazy things with the characters all of their own volition. Guess he was right!

The group slips the head into one of their sacks and makes their way back out of the city before they are caught with the witch’s head.

They decide to head back south, making plans to travel to Italy to find sailors for their ship and their journey to one of the worlds Graupher discovered. And so they travel south, this imposing group of fifth level adventurers…

  • Werner, Prock a German mercenary
  • Adrian MacBride, a Scottish cleric
  • Vilfolk, a specialist noted for his facility with languages and knowledge of architecture
  • D’Antonio, a warrior from Spain
  • Rauk Bork, a specialist from Germany noted for his sneak attacks and tinkering
  • Anika, a magic-user who has gathered strange spells and items during her adventures

As the group travel the sack with the head begins to move. They open it and the head is speaking. They talk to it, and the witch’s head is trying to warn them.

“I made a pact with the Insect Gods,” the decapitated head says, “because I knew something far worse was coming.”

“What?” the characters ask.

“The gods of Carcosa,” the decapitated head says.

Anika, the group’s Magic-User, decides to place the head upon her staff as an imposing decoration. And so they continue south in this fashion. Because this is, after all, Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Some Thoughts on the Witch’s Head
I want to note here that I simply made up the head talking on the spot. I wanted to crank up the growing tension about the Carcosans and their invasion. I thought the dead witch would spit out a warning and that would be that.

In retrospect I would not have done it this way. I should have let the Players have their characters cast a spell of some sort or come up with some magical shenanigans to get information from the head if that’s what they wanted. I was excited to talk about what I was excited about. And certainly I’m allowed to share what I’m excited about.

But given that they stole the head of their own volition with no expectation it would provide information, I should have let them decide to press the matter further.

Not a big deal… but I did think about this after the session. A lesson learned.

But more: now that Anika has placed the head on her staff it is kind A Thing for me to deal with. Does it just keep talking? Spitting out omens? Or what?

I have decided the head will be an artifact of sorts. It actually isn’t the witch that spoke to them, but an avatar of the Insect God that hopes to manipulate the characters to its own desires. It will pose as the witch as long as it can to deceive them. It will have some powers it will offer to Anika to make its presence more palatable. But I haven’t worked those out yet.



The group continues south, but is still with the territory of Better Than Any Man. I roll on the encounter table from the book. I roll an Encounter!

I roll on the Encounter Table to see what sort of encounter. I roll a 21. Rogue Mercenaries! Interesting! I hadn’t expected that!

I roll again to see if they are foreign mercenaries. 50% chance. They are! I read the description quickly:

these men are simply foreign mercenaries stranded in a strange land trying to survive with no idea how to get home through hostile territory…

Again, unexpected!

I decide these are Swedish Mercenaries who came over for the fight, pillaged, broke off from the army when payments came late. I roll to determine how many. 150 troops!

Huh. I have no idea how this is going to go.

I have each side roll for surprise. No one gets surprise.

I decide the Player Characters spot a patrol of Swedish Mercenaries–and the Swedes spot them. Rather than try to skirt the patrol the Players have their characters walk up to the patrol. Because here is a thing: The Player Characters are like Fifth Level now. In the setting we’ve built that is a big deal. They simply carry themselves differently. They are bad-asses who have seen the shit and when they approach a bunch of Level 0 Swedish Troops on patrol the troops take a step back. Because this strange crew of soldiers and specialists, as well as the strangely powerful looking cleric and the woman who is dressed in sturdy travel clothes but carries herself with the confidence of a woman who has looked the devil in the eyes and lived to tell about it walk like they are the last people you want to fuck with if you want to see another day.

I make a Reaction Roll, per the rules. I give a +2 to the roll since a) the mercenaries are without food or income and in no need to get into a fight they don’t need to get into, and b) the Player Characters look like bad-asses–so they probably won’t want to get into a fight.

The roll (if I remember correctly) was somewhere around the middle. The members of the patrol and the Player Characters trade pleasantries and trade doleful comments on the state of the war-torn world. The mercs explain their circumstances.

One of the Player Characters, Werner, asks to speak to their captain. The mercs are wary of this. But when Werner says it might involve employment they perk up and lead the six travelers to the camp.

Now, Werner is played by Eric. And Eric is a clever guy who comes up with clever plans. (Eric loves puzzles. He takes notes all the time and then goes back to them to put two or three pieces of clues together to make some solution unspool in dungeons.) So I can’t wait to see what is going to happen.

I check Better Than Any Man for more details about the mercenary company they are about to meet:

There will be 10d20 soldiers in all, with as many camp followers (cooks, wives— or “wives”, and children, etc.) in any such band, and the initial encounter will be with either a patrol of 3d6 soldiers (50% chance), 1d6 camp followers (40%), or with the main camp itself (10%).

Officer: Armor 16 (breastplate), Fighter Level 1d6, Movement 90’, 1 musket or sword attack for 1d8 damage, Morale 1d6+5.

Sergeant: Armor 14 (jacks or buff coats), Fighter Level 1d4, Movement 90’, 1 musket or sword attack for 1d8 damage, Morale 1d6+4. Has Strength 15.

Rest of the Troops: Armor 14 (jacks or buff coats), Level 0, Movement 120’, 1 musket or sword or pike attack for 1d8 damage, Morale 8.

Horses: Armor 14, 5 Hit Dice, Movement 240’, 1 hoof attack for 1d6 damage, Morale 8.

Camp followers: Armor 12 (unarmored), Level 0, Movement 120’, 1 dagger attack, Morale 6.

I roll a d20. A 15! So there is a large camp of 150 troops with as many followers.

The patrol leads Werner and the other Player Characters to the mercenary leader, who I quickly name Captain Boris Johansson. I roll the Reaction Roll secretly and tuck it away for later. I know how Johansson will react… but I want to wait until Werner makes his offer.

Werner offers the following: “Your men have no employer, no way to get home, and currently no food or work. We have need of soldiers. More than that, we have a keep that needs troops. And we have a village nearby that is deserted, but with home and lands that you could call your own. We’ll grant you the land and you can settle there and live there as long as you are under our employment.”

At first I didn’t know what Eric meant by all of this. And then I remember that the group had cleared out the village of Bergenzel not only of the spider cult but also the mist caused by the Time Cube that had held it frozen for decades. No one lived in the village anymore. And now it was a small village with buildings, land that was no longer a swamp, a church already built, and so on. He was offering them land that they had cleared. And silver for working for them. And I thought, “Okay! Good offer!”

On top of that I had already rolled a natural “11” on 2d6 on the Reaction table (“Talkative.”) So Captain Johansson is willing to at least entertain the idea.

Negotiations took place using the Hiring Retainers rules. We added up the modifiers, rolled 3d6 and the group got a 16 on the roll. Which meant a Loyalty of 10. (Very good!)

The company began packing up to head down to the Alps and the town of Bergenzel.



So, the next day the Player Characters and the Mercenary Company head off. The players are now in good shape. They thought they might be going to Italy to get sailors to man Das Forscher, but I decided the merc company would have a good number of men also familiar with sailing and could serve as marines.

As they traveled they discussed which world they might go to next. They had not yet told the merc company all the details of the adventures or plans, waiting until the right time. But they had made it clear their adventures would be wild and extraordinary… and that at the same time the rewards would be great. This pleased there mercenaries. And more than that, because of the rolls I had made I decided Captain Johansson was quite taken with the group. He could tell they were survivors and a hardy bunch and he was willing to hitch his fate to theirs.

Now what the Players did not know was that every day since they had left Graupher’s Keep I had been making a secret die roll to see when the invasion of the earth by the Yellow King of Carcosa would begin.

I mean, we knew this was going to happen sooner or later.

Kar-El, the Carcosan they had befriended months earlier had spelled it all out. And they had gotten enough information to know the Carcosans had been working on a method of expanding and re-working the Spatial Transference Void to allow a direct connection between Carcosa and Earth that would allow two way travel. (Currently the Spatial Transference Void only goes from Carcosa to Earth. This is why one needs the World Stone to go back to Carcosa.)


The Players Characters and the merc company are heading south. They hear an amazing rumbling through the air. The ground trembles under their feet. It is something like an earthquake. And here I asked which characters might have experienced earthquakes before. Several Players describe when their characters have experienced earthquakes.

“This is something more,” I say. “Something different. It is as if the whole world has been touched. As if something has shifted in the earth itself, and not just under your feet.”

The look to the east and they see that there is a tear in the sky about a hundred miles away… the bright blue sky TEARING OPEN as a strange swirl of colors is visible. And from within it a MASSIVE BRIDGE OF STONE extending from the tear in space down toward the earth.

Upon the bridge they see, small but visible in formation, AN ARMY walking down the stone bridge.

And visible within the army, glowing with a presence that makes him more visible than he should be at this distance. He is a figure in yellow. He is, in fact, the King in Yellow, one of the avatars of Hastur of Carcosa. Some of the Players recognize this, others do not. I say no more on the matter.

I also do not add that Hastur is imprisoned under Carcosa and needs the sacrifice of millions to free himself. He has come to earth to make this happen. The population and means of war and execution exceed those of Carcosa and it here that he will found the altar that will free him–the planet earth itself.

Everyone is stunned by this sight. Many of the mercenaries drop to their knees and pray.

Werner says, “This is the enemy we fight. Come with us and we will defeat this army in their own kingdom before they can take our world.” Their plan is the same as it has been: To go to another world to find the Aakom, go to Carcosa, and manipulate the Spatial Transference Void. But now the stakes are bigger… not just to rescue their friends, but to destroy the Spatial Transference Void and seal the gap between Earth and Carcosa.

Now, Captain Johansson gets it right away… that this is a big fucking deal and if he can help he’s going to help. And he trusts the Lamplighters because of that Loyalty roll, so he’s all in. And he rallies the troops as best he can.

Eric says, “You know, given what they’re seeing they might not all want to come.” And I think, “True.”

So I make a roll to determine how many men Johansson can keep loyal to the company. And he is able to keep two-thirds of them on board to deal with this new, impossible threat. So the Lamplighters head off with 100 soldiers and their camp followers.

It is a several days walk and I make a roll each day. The Players do not know what the roll is for.

They make it back to Graupher’s Keep without incident. But on that day I roll again and I tell them, “You hear a sound like a terrible trumpet. A wind that rushes across the landscape rushes toward you. It rushes across the whole earth from east to west. You know this to be true as you know you own hands. And as the wind passes by both the Magic-User and the Cleric are uncertain about something. For it seems your sense of your magic in your thoughts and your god in your heart have been lost.”

They try to use their spells. Nothing happens.

The power and logic of Carcosa is exerting itself. The world is changing as the armies of the Yellow King march upon Europe.

The Player Characters and their mercenaries, which I have decided to dub Lantern Company, make haste and prepare to leave earth on their journey to another world and discover the means of stopping the invasion.

They have the coordinates from Graupher’s notes. Inside the underground lake in the Alps they turn the ship’s wheel per the combination written on the page of Graupher’s dream-induced drawings. There is a strange sound as the winds and waters of countless worlds rush by them…

And they are gone…

Notes for My First Session of My Lamentations of the Flame Princess Campaign


I just came across the pages shown in this post. This is how my Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign began, with three people I knew, and three others I found off of Meetup.

I started my campaign with a brief adventure called Stranger Storm from the original LotFP Referee Book and the notes pictured above. (You can get the PDF of the LotFP Referee Book for free at RPGNow.)

The Player Characters started on a road, at night. They had each rolled a rumor from the World Rumor Table I made, as well as rumors about meteorites that had fallen to the south a few nights earlier.

They were looking to find the meteorites, but would encounter the situation of Stranger Storm along the way.

The adventure Stranger Storm has no maps. I grabbed some maps from other RPG books to help me out.


So, I started with:

  1. Rumor Table (which focuses the players, but lets the choose what to do)
  2. Stranger Storm (With a few alterations of the creatures to fit my campaign. Specifically I altered the nature of the Changelings to make them into arcane spies of sorcerers of Carcosa.)
  3. A stack of LotFP adventures that the Rumors on the Rumor Table point to
  4. The notes I have attached in photos
  5. A map of an inn and of a small keep I cribbed from elsewhere (they never went to the keep)

We’ve been playing for over a  year, alternating games on occasion, for a solid six months of play so far.


Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Twenty-Second Session (Return to Bergenzel!)


— PLUS: Thoughts on how I Run My Games and Set Up My Adventures —

SPOILERS for Scenic Dunnsmouth below!

The Lamplighters had journeyed to Bergenzel (AKA: “Scenic Dunnsmouth“) in our fifteenth and sixteenth sessions. They had managed to:

  • Find Herr Graupher, the inter-dimensional explore they needed to find (he was dead, yes, but they did find him)
  • Uncover the nefarious spider-cult that had taken over the village
  • Track down Magda, a witch who had fallen prey to the spider-cult
  • Defeat Magda, the Original Spider, and Uncle Ivanovik (the man who had killed Graupher)
  • They found the location of Graupher’s Keep from a man they rescued, and helped this man rescue the son of one of the cultists

They had done very well for themselves. They had found what they had come for, and they had done some good deeds along the way.

But the mystery of the swamp (“Why did time move differently here than the rest of the world?”) was still unsolved. They could use the information they had found to travel to Graupher’s Keep or they could continue to explore the village.

Their decision was… “Okay, this place is creepy. Let’s get out now!

So, they bugged out, returning to the farm they had rented outside of Munich to heal up, study some magic they had found, and make scrolls.

As recounted in the previous session report, after several seeks they made their way past the ruins of Murnau, past the path that led to Bergenzel, and up into the foothills of the Alps where the cleared out and took control of Graupher’s Keep.

The greatest prize of this expedition was a ship that could travel between worlds, hidden away in a massive cavern with an underground lake within the mountain that housed the keep.

I thought for certain they would gather a crew, board the boat, and travel to an alter reality. This has been the purpose of seeking out Graupher and then his keep. But the group was very excited to have taken control of the keep and wanted to clean it up, hire troops to man it, and make sure the road to the keep through the lowlands was safe.

The meant, one of the players declared, they had to go back to Bergenzel and figure out why a mist covered the swampy town and what was causing the time dilation. (They assumed the two were connected.)

There was uncertainty on the part of a couple of the players about this course of action (“Wasn’t there a spider-cult there!”) while the rest of the group knew they had left a portion of the map unexplored and wanted to return and solve the mystery. And so it was decided they would head back.

As they explored the village they came across only abandoned homes. Apparently the rest of the cultists had fled. They returned to the church–and found poor Herman dead on the altar and Father Iwanopolous hung upside and crucified on the church wall. Parting presents from the fleeing cultists.

The fate of the priest, Herman, and the cultists still alive from the last journey was all stuff I had to decide on my own. (“Make it up,” in the parlance of OSR-Refereeing!)

Scenic Dunnsmouth doesn’t specify what the cultists do if the Original Spider is killed. You may no recall–as I did–that the Player Characters had found a map on the inside of the vivisected flesh of Sir Bruno, a knight of an order doing battle against the Duvan’Ku, and on the map was a mark of an insect.

Here’s the passage from my notes describing this:

A prisoner is here, Sir Bruno, a knight of the Order Medicinal. The order gathered the orphans of victims of the Cult of Duvan’Ku in Bavaria in centuries past. After the temple from Death Frost Doom was sealed up by the Clerics of many faiths, they shifted their focus to helping orphans of crime and war, though the order felt less driven in purpose. With the outbreak of the religious war 15 years ago across the Holy Roman Empire they found new energy.

Sir Boris heard rumors of the meteorites and strange circumstances around Middlehelm and went to investigate. He was captured and tortured by Ulrich and Gunther. They want to know where the Duvan’ku hid the World Stone.

The World Stone is a device that can transport people between Carcosa and Earth. Sorcerers from Carcosa used it to spy on Earth. Duvan’Ku cultists stole it and hid it hundreds of years ago.

Sir Boris refused to tell them what his order knows of the World Stone. So they vivisected him with magical means, peeling the flesh of his torso from him, revealing the truth as he knew it:

The inside of his flesh has become a topographical map of Bavaria.

Along the northern edge of the Alp floats the “Death Symbol” from Death Frost Doom. The Shrine from Death Frost Doom is located here. The World Stone is in Area 22 of the Shrine.

Further north on the map there is the sign of an insect. This marks Goblin Hill, from Better Than Any Man. The Order is actively investigating the rise of insects in the area and is closing in on Goblin Hill.

The agents of Carcosa care very much about the Duvan’Ku and the Insect Gods.

This is a technique I use in every adventure: I leave one or two clues or breadcrumbs for one or more other possible adventures. This way, as the Player Characters proceed they have choices about where the will go next. Note that I don’t leave the clue as to where they “have to go next”–because I never assume I know where they will go next. I give them many options. They can choose to pursue any of them… and even ignore those that I set before them and go off after something goal they decide on their own. That’s why, as in this case, I offered clues to two different adventure locations.

This was the symbol they found on the map marking Goblin Hill from Better Than Any Man:


They had all found the same symbol on the curtain in the basement of Magda’s hut… the curtain over the alcove where the Original Spider was hiding. (The text of Scenic Bergenzel specified that a curtain hung over the alcove. I decided to put the insect symbol on the curtain.)

Spelling all this out is a long way of telling you what I decided to do with the remaining cultists since the text of Scenic Dunnsmouth. Keep in mind, until the Players decided they wanted to go back to Bergenzel I hadn’t thought at all about the fate of the remaining cultists. Honestly, there was so much going on and so many other big events occurring, I’d forgotten all about them.

But this is how, in my view, healthy sandbox settings run. One can go off the mental deep end thinking that you are responsible for mastering and tracking every element in a fantasy world or interstellar science-fiction environment. But this isn’t the case at all.

I recently recorded an interview with Victor Raymond, who played in Professor M.A.R. Barker’s fabled Thursday Night Empire of the Petal Throne game. (I quoted Victor several times in a post about How People Played Traveller in 1977.)

In the interview, Raymond told a story about someone pointing at a spot on the map of Tékumel and asking Professor Barker, “What’s here?”

And the Professor replied: “I don’t know. I haven’t been there yet.”

And the person, very confused, replied, “How can you not know?”

“Well, I named it. I know a little bit about it. But until characters I think of go there and interact with each other, interact with the land, I really don’t know what’s there. I haven’t been there.”

I think that’s a really important lesson for all Referees. The man who created the world of Tékumel, who ran games on that fantastical on a weekly basis for years, who wrote novels about that world, not only did not know everything about it. He assumed that until that patch of geography was put into imaginative, creative motion, he could not know it fully.

This ties into a post I wrote a while back about the value of Random Encounters and Random Tables in Sandbox RPG play. We simply can’t know everything about a fictional environment, and we don’t need to know everything about a fictional environment if it is not in action.

This doesn’t mean that we simply ignore the plots and actions of our NPCs if they are off-screen. I spent time imagining and dreaming about what the Carcosan spies on Earth are up to in their effort build a bridge between Carcosa and Earth. Even when they vanished from the Player Characters’ concerns for many weeks of play, I never forgot about them. I imagined their setbacks, their victories, how they were moving forward with the raid on the Duvan’Ku shrine for the snow-globes of alternate realities that would let them travel to a version of the Qelong Valley and come back with the Aakom they needed to tear a rift in space from the Spatial Transference Void to the central Europe.

What it does mean is that we are wiling to find things out in play. That we let our imaginations be inspired by what happens in play. That we let the tension of the moment, the acts of invention (like my players using The Lost Battalion to defeat 3,000 zombies in the tower they needed to clear).

So, what had the cultists decided to do after the Lamplighters had killed the Original Spider and a good number of the cultists? I had no idea, since my imagination had no need to imagine anything in Bergenzel for a while. But the moment they decided to go back, my imagination was happy and excited to get back into gear.

I decided they cultists would head toward Goblin Hill. There were, after all, the arachnids in conflict with the insects. I decided the Original Spider was of this brood. And the cultists would think they were going “home” to carry on the work of their spider-kin. They tracked down the non-cultists in Bergenzel, murdered them in a horrific fashion, and headed north.

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 9.33.15 AM.png

After sussing out the fact that the cultists had picked up stakes, the Player Characters were left with the mystery of why time moved so strangely in Bergenzel. This was a mystery they wanted to pursue, sine the point of returning to the cursed town was to make sure passage to their new keep was secure and safe.

They had taped a good section of the village on their first visit, but Eric, the sharp puzzle-loving member of my group, noted that the northeaster quadrant of their map was still a blank. He assumed that whatever was causing the time-dilation would be found there. So that’s were they headed.

They saw a faint glow ahead of them as they approached the Time Cube, the light diffused by the moisture in the air that only got thicker and thicker the closer they got…

I won’t go into all the details of the experimentation and time distortion shenanigans they got into as the explored the cube. (At one point they fired a laser at the cube from one of the suits of power armor they had recovered from the shattered expedition the Carcosans had sent into the Duvan’Ku shrine. The bolt shot toward the cube at the speed of light–at first. And then it got slower and slower, until it looked like it was just about to touch the surface of the cube, but never reaching it…)

Suffice to say, like so much from the LotFP product line, it did its job well. It was mysterious, and offered a sense of both danger and novelty. They approached the problem with care and a great deal of curiosity, until the Magic-User cast Time Stop and the cube vanished. (The laser bolt suddenly sped back up, shooting into a tree past where the cube had been and destroying it!)

The water’s of the river suddenly began flowing again. The marsh began (slowly) draining. The mist that had obscured the small village for years vanished, allowing sunshine to illuminate the land around them once more.

I had assumed at this point they would return to the keep, stock provisions and crew, and sail off to Qelong to get the canister their Carcosan friend had told them they had to reach before the Carcosan agents did. But they surprised me (again!). They said they wanted to head north toward the point on the map where they had seen the insect symbol. They want to finish the cult once and for all.

Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Nineteenth through Twenty-First Session (Or: How The Lamplighters found a ship to sail to different worlds)


[WARNING: Toward the lower third of this post there are SPOILERS about a magic item found in The God That Crawls.]

Not enough time in my life for a detailed recap. But that’s fine. The gist of the weirdness is all that’s needed.

Please see this preceding post and this preceding post for context. Those links contain all the setting notes.

So, the Lamplighters approach Graupher’s Keep. They approach carefully, finding the gate locked, the pennants snapping in the wind, but no one at the walls to answer their calls.

They scaled the wall of the towers at the top of the stairs. Saw the corpses of men and strange creatures in the courtyard below…


Their movements and efforts were methodical and careful. Such would be their pace for the next few sessions.

The Nightmare Lizard appeared from the doorway leading into the kitchen. It caught the gaze of the cleric, who was infected with a dream that began pounding in his thoughts–a memory of riding a horse across the Scottish countryside. The creature retreated, thinking, in its dim, lizard-like way, to pick off the intruders one-by-one.

The other Lamplighters moved quick down the walls into the courtyard. As they moved toward the buildings ahead of them, they found the strange creatures, the dead men wearing the crest of Graupher, and a collections of ruined puppets and a puppets stage. (This freaked them out.) They entered the main doors to the hall, found the shattered cages of the menagerie, and started to piece together what had happened as they explored.

They dispatched the creatures that escaped from the menagerie with greater ease than I expected. (I didn’t commit to telling the Players that they had so many rounds before the nightmares in their heads exploded their skulls from the inside out. This would have caused panic… but also might have killed two of them! Instead, I pulled my punches and it the nightmares in their heads were simply description–not a tangible reality that would fuck them up. So, that’s on me. Lesson learned. Stay tough!)

The explored some more. Figured out that the creatures had escaped. But not much more.

They then moved to the entrance of the Turning Tower, which I located at the north west edge of the keep.


The tower took them about three weeks to deal with.

  • There was the slow exploration and looking for traps.
  • Slowly piecing together the strange architecture of concentric elements (even before they discovered the levers).
  • They encountered men raised from the dead as zombie who wore Graupher’s crest.
  • They met Tahneko, a creature built of many limbs and who controlled the zombies.
  • Tahneko asked them to find Baylor and kill her for him, for if they did not he would kill them. They said “Sure. We’ll go kill Baylor.”
  • They found another room with a spiral staircase. As they explored the room, naked clones of three men (a dozen of them) moved down the stairs toward them. These were creatures made by The Mother Of Unused Flesh, a creature summoned from the Plane of Flesh who now possessed Baylor, a sorcerer from the World of the Lost. (Please see this link for all the background details.)
  • Baylor appeared at the top of the stairs, a lovely woman with long, striking white hair, and asked them with two voices (one hers, one the Mother of Unused Flesh) to go kill Tahneko. They said, “Sure.”
  • They explored more. Found corpses. Found the private rooms of Pierre and the Archbishop. Found journals. Pieced together the history of what had happened.
  • They tried to find the lab in order to finish the Holy Word spell Pierre and the archbishop had been working on. But to no avail.

But they did find Graupher’s bed chamber:

  • Inside they found a strange box full of traps. Dismantling them one by one they found a small box with an amazing item in it: A miniature wheel of a sailing ship made of jade.
  • They then found a set of stairs leading to a rough corridor dug into the very mountain (remember the tower is built into the mountain).
  • They followed the corridor until it opened up to a huge cavern with an underground lake.
  • And upon the water of lake, in the huge cavern, was a three-masted sailing ship.
  • The ship, however, lacked its wheel.
  • They put together many clues and realized they had found Graupher’s method of traveling between worlds. When the jade sailing wheel was pulled from the box, it grew in size and could be placed on the steering spindle.
  • The numbers from the drawing they had found corresponded to the number of spokes on the wheel (12). By turning the wheel back and forth like a combination lock, they could travel to the worlds with the combinations they had. (Look for the numbers toward the middle of the folio sheet below.)

LotFP folio Qelong

But before they used the ship, they wanted to deal with Tahneko, the Mother Of Unused Flesh, and help Baylor if they could. So they left the tower to regroup and decide what to do next.


Their magic-user burned lots of magic items and magical library books to build up a really solid bonus to cast a Summon Spell on The Mother Of Unused Flesh and rip her out of Baylor. It took three weeks to prep. But they did it!

But then, when they opened up the doors to the tower they found pressed wall to wall with cloned men. Some were zombies, some where not. The Mother Of Unused Flesh had been building an army of clones in the weeks the Lamplighters had been prepping their Summoning spell. The clones had gone off to fight Tahneko’s zombies. They almost reached Tahneko, but enough died on the way that Tahneko raised them as zombies. The fight was still ongoing. But it was a nightmare in the tower, with clones squeezing out the door.

The Lamplighters struggled to close the door before any zombies could get out. They succeeded, and discovered the that the clones, no longer controlled by The Mother Of Unused Flesh, were mindless husks.

Meanwhile, they were worried about Baylor — still in the tower, but no longer possessed. They assumed Tahneko was still alive, but with an army of two thousand or so zombies in the tower, what were the going to do?

And then the most amazing thing happened.

They remembered one of the items they had collected from the deepest level of The God That Crawls. They had found a series of chambers, each with the word FORBIDDEN on the door, and each containing a unique, bizarre magical item. They had been carrying many of these items around for weeks, afraid to use them, but afraid to simply toss them away.

One of the items was THE LOST BATTALION

The Lost Battalion
Here a cohort of 4″ lead legionnaire figurines are spread out on the shelf and piled on the floor. Under the base of the commander figure is the word “Attack” written in Latin.

If the commanding figure is held and the word spoken aloud, the cohort will animate and fight for the one holding the commander. They will not stop until the commander figure is destroyed.

Lead figure: Movement 30′, 0 level, treat as unarmored, attack does 1hp damage.


They assumed that the figures would attack if the word “Attack” was spoken. But they didn’t know for sure who or what the figures would attack. (Might it be the person who speaks the  word “Attack”? Maybe!)

But they decided to give it a shot.

They snuck up to one of the tower’s murder holes facing the keep’s courtyard, dumped sack containing the cohort through the slot, and shouted the word “Attack.”

The Players were really tense a moment, not even sure if anything would happen. And they they saw the sack begin to shift. Tiny spears sliced through the fabric of the sack. The Players gave up a gasp. And then the Players gave out a cry as the figures leaped down from the ledge over the zombies and clones and set about attacking them.

Now, I had no idea any of this would be happening. I had no idea the Lamplighers would be taking three weeks to build a supercharged thaumaturgic circle in order to, essentially, performa an exorcism on Baylor. Thus, I had no idea The Mother Of Unused Flesh would have three weeks to make clones (at a rate of a new clone every ten minutes). And I certainly had no idea that the Players would have their characters pull out The Lost Battalion after having found it months ago in play.

So, I had to adjudicate on the spot the results of all this stuff.

I reviewed the facts about The Lost Battalion:

  1. There are 500 of them
  2. They each get an attack
  3. They deal 1hp each
  4. They are made of lead

I came up with the following:

  1. Flesh-hungry, mindless zombies will be utterly unaware of these magical lead figures, not only because they are made of lead but because the figures are so tiny and the zombies in the tower were presses up so tightly against each other they would not be able to easily look down.
  2. The figures are going to hit 40% of the time against the naked zombies. (AC 12 for unarmored figures). With 500 attacks a round, even at only 1hp each hit, The Lost Battalion would do (on average) 200hp every round against 1, 2, and 3HD monsters.
  3. I decided The Lost Battalion was going to behave essentially as a medieval-magic equivalent of a nanotechnology grey-goo and would simply mow through the zombies at an incredible rate, killing them with fantastic ease even before the zombies could react.

I came to understand quickly, in a way I hadn’t before, why the ancient monks who had built the catacombs of The God That Crawls, labeled the magic item FORBIDDEN! It is TERRIFYING!!!

So, with this item, the Players cleaned the the tower of the zombies.

They waited for silence. Then entered. Walking the corridors carefully, not sure what, if anything, had happened to Tahneko.

But he was dead. They found his body. He had been torn apart by The Lost Battalion.

Let’s look at Tahneko’s magical abilities (which are stolen from one of the creatures from Death Frost Doom, by the way):

  1. Each lvl drained adds d6hp to Tahneko
  2. Charm Someone by Looking in their Eyes AT WILL
  3. Telekinetically move up to 1000lbs AT WILL
  4. Can cause any item to melt in holders hand and appear in his AT WILL
  5. Control any undead AT WILL
  6. Detect all magic Items within 50′ AT WILL

I had to make one quick, off the cuff decision about ability number 3: Did it affect only 1 item up to 1000lbs, any number of items up to 1000lbs? I decided on the former — that he could, at will, slap anything around up to 1000lbs, but he could only focus on one item at a time.

And so, when the Lamplighters examined the room, they found several of the lead figures flattened against the wall opposite Tahneko. He did mange to fling several of them away from him with his massive power. But it was only one figure around, a magical power capable of flinging 1000lbs used to fling only a few ounces, while the rest of the cohort charged him tearing him apart.

Notice that NONE of his other magical defense could help him at all.

And so the Players defeated an amazing challenge in the most amazing way.

They found Baylor safe in the magical laboratory. (She had retreated to it as soon as The Mother Of All Flesh was pulled from her.)

So, now they had a sorcerous from another world as an ally. They had acquired a keep that now belonged to them. The magical tower now belonged to them. And they had a ship that could carry them to another world.

More on the Prep for the LotFP Fallen Worlds Campaign


I haven’t posted for a couple of months about my Lamentations of the Flame Princes campaign, but we have been playing. (With a few alternate games because of missing players for a few weeks.)

I’m going to lay out the rest of my notes before I get to what happened during the sessions. It’s important you go read this post for context about the environment. But, briefly, The Lamplighters have been searching for a keep in the Alps owned by a man named Graupher. They found Graupher’s corpse in the town of Bergenzel, and learned that he had the means to travel between alternate worlds.

The keep was divided into two main parts. The first is the open courtyard and the buildings of the main keep, as described in the link above.


The second was a Turning Tower built into the mountain itself. The tower consists of three concentric sections that can rotate within each other.

Here’s a refresher on what that looked like:


This is where Grapher and his key lieutenants lived, along with a magical lab, treasure room, and more.

But by the time the Player Characters arrive, a lot has happened to the keep, and their troubles are just beginning.

As noted in the previous post, Graupher’s menagerie in the main part of the keep escaped. Two chaotic elves, captured from an alternate world, used magic to break from of their cell and used magic to free creatures as a distraction for their escape. The entire complex was turned into a horrific melee as Graupher’s men fought to kill the creatures or free for their lives. Every man and every creature died during this chaos.

Well, almost every man and every creature. A few escaped to the Turning Tower (men and creatures), and this opened up a second story of what had been happening at the keep before the escape of the elves and the new, dire circumstances that had taken possession of the Turning Tower.

My notes for the Keep and the Turning Tower are below, along with the backstory of recent events at the keep. These are my notes, so everything might not be clear. If you have questions, ask!

Things have been really busy on the work front, so I haven’t been posting regularly. But this material lasted us about four sessions of play. (There was lots of talking and planning and strategizing!)


Graupher and his men travelled to the world of Parsa. It was his nature to involve himself the affairs of people who needed his help. And on the world of Parsa, he found much trouble.

He discovered a terrible EMPIRE ruled by a shapeless creature made of many body parts. This creature was TAHNEKO. Tahneko had summoned Lysera, THE MOTHER OF UNLIVED FLESH and, with her aid, built his empire.

Not only could Tahneko not be harmed by normal weapons, but The Mother could heal 2d10HP per round.

Since magical weapons were non-existent on Parsa, there was no way to kill him with weapons. And now there was almost no way to insure Tahneko’s death through other means.

When Graupher arrived on Parsa and learned of Tahneko , he was determined to free the people of Parsa from Tahneko ‘s rule.

Graupher befriend a priestess, BAYLOR, who knew certain rituals for banishing demons. She performed the rites broke the bond between Tahneko  and The Mother. The plan was for the Baylor to use her Bone Spur spell to kill Tahneko .

But when The Mother was freed, she battled Baylor and POSSESSED her (Dominated her per the Summoning rules.)

Fearing that he had simply unleashed the same threat all over again, but now involving Baylor, Grapher had his men make a bold attack on Tahneko ‘s palace, captured him, and brought him back from the ship.

Meanwhile, he had his men capture Baylor using a poison gas (attacking would not have worked, as she had The Mother’s powers on her side; killing her would only release the Mother again). They brought her on board as well, brought her back to the keep, and imprisoned her.

Graupher and his Magic-User PIERRE MORDIAN, studied as best they could a method of banishing The Mother. They offered incentives to both Tahneko and Baylor to gain the information.

Baylor, possessed by The Mother, would offer up no information at all. She taunted Graupher and Pierre, or offered them incentives to free her. But Pierre constantly peppered her with questions to see what might slip, what clues might be found.

As for Tahneko , he, too, offered up tidbits about how he had summoned The Mother. He knew that his only chance of staying alive was to offer help. He has lied to Pierre, offering up help on how he first summoned The Mother. Graupher knew full well that Tahneko  might be lying, and wanted to kill him with poisons after no fruitful information came from him. But Pierre insisted on keeping the creature alive in the hope of gathering even one scrap or clue.

Pierre finally convinced Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari from Italy. There are correspondences from Molinari in Pierre’s lab, with confirmation he would be arriving the third week of September to help out.

There are notes of the two men working side-by-side to create the Holy Word scroll.

One of the undead in the building is Molinari, and he holds the secret to the research.

When the fighting broke out when the elves escaped, Tahneko fled to Graupher’s tower. He animated the dead on the way, using them to protect him. Baylor, afraid Tahneko might find a method of banishing The Mother, followed.


So, there are two broad elements to Graupher’s Keep:

  1. The main area revealed on the reddish map above (mess hall, the menagerie, blacksmith, barracks, and so on), which is a very large alcoves carved into the mountain
  2. The Inverted Tower, which is built into the mountain itself. The entrance is located on the northwest section of wall, but not visible on the reddish map since I inserted it into the keep myself.


These are the notes I typed up for the Keep. Note that I only made sure to key rooms that were a) specific landmarks for reference; b) clues about Graupher and his ship (the players did not yet know about the ship or how Graupher traveled between worlds); and c) the story described above. Thus, many rooms do not have descriptions. I made the descriptions up on the fly.

The Keep Walls
(pennants snapping in the wind
(A family crest: two headed eagle

No one visible
(40′ tall
(bolted most likely on other wise
(no one manning the ballista towers
(razors placed in the walls of the ballista towers

No one visible
(quality wood with a stain and finished against elements
(visible marks from carrying goods up this path
(but cared for and repaired regularly

No One Visible
All is quiet
(the inward opening doors move a bit if checked
(the bar is off the brackets behind door
(bodies piled against the door prevent it from opening

Six men and two beasts — car grange and blood
(three of the men in armor, three not
(three armor bears the two eagles
(one beast is purple and white giant cat
(antennae, alien looking
(second beast, four armed white gorilla

To the RIGHT: A Fire Assembly
Beyond that: A craftsman’s station (Leather worker)
Beyond that: A ballista tower
Slightly left of that… A Sparring yard
Other doorways built into the mountain
To the LEFT: Stables

stone stairs rising to a thick doorway building into the mountain face
Doors with ornate drawings

5 men dead on the ground
Three of these are human, wearing the crest
Two are thinner, with pointed ears. No crest. Elegant, strange closes. The hand of one dead ELF has a dagger in the heart of one f the dead men.

An exotic, very large, PEACOCK like thing lies dead nearby.

Four men, with black fur upon them, as if in a state of becoming or stopping being a wolf. They are dead
Their presence radiates a magical force 15′ in diameter

At the doorway, three dead men, all small like mice
Their presence radiates a magical force 15′ in diameter

The tattered remains of a puppet stage and several tattered puppets
Their presence radiates a magical force 15′ in diameter


Smoothly carved, with an artistry that’s is strange

Locked (ten minutes per try)
The crest
Two SNAKE-SHAPED handles

Two men, dead, flesh torn from them.
(Failure, a trap — spears down from ceiling
(Attacks as LVL 1 Fighter

Blood on the floor
(Failure — Flames rise from holes along the floor no front of the doors

Armory Good weapons

A corpse of a man, the flesh mauled as if by teeth
Theology from earth, countless cultures



Door to Room 13 is open
Easy chairs, beautiful art from other worlds
Beautiful statues with gorgeous gems
A treasure haul

5 Rabid Dead Men
Do not fight with weapons, wrestle to bite
Save VS. poison if bitten
Door to Room 11 is open

Bloodspray on floor and walls

Can alter his appearance to appear as any living creature if given a skin to wear
Immune to normal weapons
AC 12
HP 63

1 Grab Attack 1d6
Touch Drains 2d6x100 XP
Each lvl drained adds d6hp to Tahneko
Charm Someone by Looking in their Eyes AT WILL
Save Vs. Magic
Telekinetically move up to 1000lbs AT WILL
Can cause any item to melt in holders hand and appear in his AT WILL
Control any undead AT WILL
Detect all magic Items within 50′ AT WILL

Tahneko is a unique creature from the world of Parsa. He is Chaotic, determined to shape his own fate at all costs. He was an obscene rules of nations on Parsa.

2d10 healed every round by the Mother of Unused Flesh
AC 16
HD 6
HP 42

Flesh Spells
Bone Spurs

From the Primal Plane of Flesh


Method of Summoning
The Circle (per the Rules)
Blood Sacrifices (per the Rules)

Method of Binding
Per the Summoning Rules

Method of Banishing
Holy Word
Lvl 7 Cleric Spell
Banishes all creatures not of this world in hearing distance back to their worlds
Does damage to all other creatures within 60′ (see rules)
The scroll is almost

Pierre has been trying to build this spell. He is not a Cleric, and thus his research has been flawed.

He contacted Archbishop Molinari, who has been instrumental in building a Holy Word scroll.

Molinari has collected all the work, and only had to transcribe the note correctly to create the Scroll.

He is among the dead, however. The group might figure out how to use magic to get the right order of the scroll notes from Molinari’s corpse.

Is there a way to figure out how to assemble the notes without the help of Molinari’s corpse?

Technically, no, since the the spell is 7th Lvl and one must be 13th lvl or higher to formulate the spell.

So, if they WANTED to do it at some price, if there was some CHOICE involved, what would that choice be?


Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Eighteenth Session


– Or –

Shit Just Got Real

The Player Characters had spent several sessions exploring Scenic Dunnsmouth (reworked and renamed for my campaign as Scenic Bergenzel).

In the last session the group had managed to hold off attacks from both Uncle Ivanovik, his hunting dogs, the Original Spider, and the spider’s cultists. As always in this game, the Players had a lot of choices to deal with: Should they continue exploring the village for more effects of the Spider Cult? Should they look for the source of the village’s strange time dilation and solve that mystery? Should they head back to the town of Murnau, where they had left Karr-El, the Jale-skinned warrior from Carcosa they had befriended? Should they head back to Munich to fence their treasure so they could level up (per the Lamentation of the Flame Princess rules)?

Their decision of what to do next was based on two points:

  • They now knew that time moved slower in Bergenzel than in the outside world. They also had no idea how much time had passed in the outside world while they had been in Bergenzel for what seemed to them to be only a few hours. So they were worried about how Karr-El was faring back in Murnau. Getting back to Murnau to check to make sure Karr-El was all right seemed paramount. (They had left him in an inn with a stock of food.)
  • Moreover, they had acquired enough treasure so that all of them were going to level at least once (the Specialist in the group would in fact hit two levels). And those that leveled once would also be gaining enough XP to be just under the level requirement to gain another level very quickly after that. So, getting back to Munich alive to take advantage of the XP gains seemed a wise course. (How sad would it be to continue exploring Bergenzel only to die because they did not get the extra Hit Points awaiting them if they had instead returned to turn in their treasure and gain levels in Munich?)

They group decided it was going to travel back to Murnau, collect Karr-El, and then get back to Munich to turn in their treasure and level up. The group had also rented a farm house for a full three months and had hirelings waiting for them there (an alchemist and two fighters). They would rest up, research spells, and make plans for their next move.

However, as they approached Murnau they saw smoke rising in the distance. Getting closer they saw flame burning low and the charred remains of the town. They could just make out corpses scattered about the land around the town. And at the edges of the town they saw crucifixes with people on them. They assumed, reasonably, that the mad, religious war sweeping Europe had reached the town they had left recently left. But, more importantly, they had left their companion from another world in a town that had just been attacked and massacred.

They rushed toward Murnau, covering distance quickly, leaving caution aside. When they reached some of the corpses outside the town they examined them. They found arrows in the backs of some. But others had cauterized wounds that had punched through the clothes and into the backs. The group was a bit stunned by this, as their 20th Century brains struggled to mesh together what their 17th Century characters were looking at.

“So,” one of the Players tentatively ventured, “might we say this is… laser fire?”


“Not that we would know that.”

I nodded. “Exactly.”

The group kind of went crazy at that moment. Not in an excited violent way. But their imaginations were stirred in a confused way, not sure what the heck to do with this new, important piece of information.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.58.26 AM.png

What the Players didn’t know yet, but that I’m about to tell you, as that the marauders who destroyed Murnau were not Protestant soldiers but a company of warriors and sorcerers from Carcosa.

At this point the Players know that Carcosa exists. They know that there are Sorcerers on Carcosa and learned from Kaar-El that Sorcerers get their powers from making deal with strange gods. They know that there are warriors, but have only seen the warriors use strange, primitive swords carved of stone. They know Carcosa is a brutal place of tribes and clans.

But because Kaar-El would have a difficult time articulating some of the concepts of his world to people of 17th Century Europe, and because it never occurred to the Players to ask, there has been no discussion of the alien technology left behind on the world of Carcosa and now used by its warriors.

And to clarify some of the basics of travel between Carcosa and Earth…

  • People can travel from Carcosa to Earth via Null Space using the Spatial Transference Void on Carcosa. (The Spatial Transference Void is found on p. 31 of Carcosa. I have added the Null Space/travel element for the needs of my campaign. Also of note: The Player Characters know about the Spatial Transference Void on Carcosa because three PCs got trapped in Null Space while adventuring in The God That Crawls. The remaining members of the group wanted to find a means of rescuing their friends, and their research into Null Space led them to understand there was a method of entering Null Space on Carcosa.)
  • There is no direct portal from Earth back to Carcaso. Thus, a ritual was made to create the World Stone. This stone, activated by murdering three people, allows folks to teleport from Earth back to Carcosa. The World Stone is inefficient: It only allows one person to travel per murdered person (the murderer is the one who travels) and it only transports organic material (so no alien technology). Thus, Carcosa has been shuttling spies and limited strike teams back and forth between Carcosa and Earth, but has yet to find the means of efficiently launching an invasion.
  • The Players found the World Stone in a Duvan’Ku temple (it was the McGuffin found in the Sacred Parasite’s chamber in Death Frost Doom), but have so far been loathe to use it. First, because they are afraid going to Carcosa. And second the whole murder thing is kicking them out.
  • Agents from Carcosa have been hunting them to track down the World Stone. Currently, anyone from Carcosa on Earth is trapped here.
  • With the loss of the World Stone to the Duvan’Ku several decades ago, all communication back to Carcosa has stopped. But a cult on Carcosa has stepped up efforts, sending sorcerers and warriors to Earth. The motivating strategy has been successful: in order to survive, the Carcosans have been working their asses off to figure out how to open a fluid gate between Earth and Carcosa. They did research on the Duvan’Ku and discovered the cult, through their research in manipulating time, also found methods of seeing other worlds (the snow globes in DFD!) They are now seeking out methods of traveling to other worlds in alternate earths to get help.
  • Note that the Player Characters are pursuing a similar path of research and exploration, having tracked down the Other Worldly Explorer and having found the codes to three other worlds in the Other Worldly Explorer’s drawings.
  • Note that Carcosa and Earth are in the same dimension, and none of the methods everyone is pursuing right now can help anyone get back and forth between Carcosa and Earth. The issue of traveling between Carcosa and Earth is traveling, quickly, the gulfs of space. These new methods are for traveling between alternate Earths.

So, the Player Characters rushed into town, finding a few survivors amid the ruined buildings as they searched for Karr-El. A young boy told of how the attacks fired weapons of “colored-lightning”–confirming the fears of the Players.

When they finally found their Jale-colored friend, he was burnt and dying. I had set him at -4 HP (meaning, per the LotFP rules, he could not be cured), but hanging on with all of his effort to warn his companions if they could find him before he died.

He was so happy to see them. And so desperate to warn them who had destroyed Murnau and to warn them of what was to come.

Days earlier I had been walking the dogs and this monologue popped into my head. I spoke for Karr-El, pretty much word for word as it had first occurred to me:

You need to know, you need to know, they’ve come… I didn’t tell them anything, they wanted me to tell them where your were, but I didn’t tell them anything. But I listened, I listened to what they said. They’re heading for a temple, full of glass globes that can lead to other worlds. They have used auguries and magic to find a world with a metal canister containing a magical substance, Aakom… they are going to find it. They are going to rip a hole between your world and my world. They are coming to replace your gods with our own. You must not let them do this… 

I was listening, while I was in the room you left me in, I was listening between, I think you called him a priest, I saw him from the window. A young man came to visit him. They were talking. I was listening through the wall. The young man was worried about many things. And the priest said, “Let us pray.”

And I heard the prayer. It began, “Our Father, who art in Heaven… give us this day, our daily bread…” And I thought, I know those words, words like those words, that’s who we beg for food on my world. But then the priest said, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we we forgive those who trespass against us… lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”

And here Karr-El choked up…

We have no words like that on my world. You must stop them. You must not let them bring my gods here.

He looked to the two clerics in the party.

If my friends were to die, I wish they could die on this world. Because it is, what I think you call, Heaven.

And he died.

Well, after that there was this quiet moment from the Players. And then, whereas all options were open, there was a sudden determination on the part of the Players to focus their efforts and find a way to stop the invasion of Earth by the Carcosan gods.

The picked up on what Karr-El had said about the metal container. They went through the handouts and scraps and notes they’d been accumulating for the first 17 sessions of play. And then they pulled out this sheet from the folio they found in the home of the Other Worldly Explorer:

LotFP folio Qelong

“There,” they shouted, “the canister!” as they jabbed their finger at the image of the canister.

“That’s where we’re going,” they declared, focusing their decisions to a specific path.

I explained to the group’s Magic-User that Aakom is rumored in the reality bending texts of the arcane arts. It is the string-theory of magic, I said, and quoted the words from Qelong about it: “Aakom is a substance somewhere between mana, azoth, and plutonium.”

They were all suitably impressed.

They gave Karr-El a burial, and took what survivors they could and made their way back to the barn they had rented outside of Munich. They decided they would level up, research spells, and make decisions on what equipment and retainers to add to the group with all the loot they had hauled out of Bergenzel.

The session then slowed down to them looking through the rule book on the sorts of retainers they could hire, looking at details about estate managers and accountants.

My fiancée was in the kitchen baking, listening to all this talk of monthly expenses and employment concerns and declared: “What are you people doing! This sound terrible!” Because, honestly, it sounded like they were planning a new company at my dining table.

The hour had run late, and there were more planning to be done. I decided to let the group dwell on these matters in the break between sessions before they committed to further action.

As it is, they plan on heading for the Other Worldly Explorer’s keep in the Alps. And there they hope to find the method of traveling to the world with the Aakom, getting to the canister before the group from Carcosa does.

Weeks have already passed in preparations at the barn. Meanwhile, the Carcosans, led by His Magisterial Importance, have followed in the footsteps of the Player Characters into the temple of the Duvan’Ku. They lost several members when they became possessed by the Clerics in the shrine (and were gunned down by their companions.)

But His Magisterial Importance and his troops have found the snow globes hidden away in the Duvan’Ku High Priest’s chamber. Using arcane methods learned by a sorcerer who has studied the ways of earth magic for decades, he has discerned which world contains the Aakom they need to port back and forth between Earth and Carcosa. They, too, wish to travel to the Valley of Qelong…

Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Seventeenth Session


The third session of Scenic Dunnsmouth, the first big fight of the game. Pulled out the battle map and cardboard figures.

The killed Magda (infected) last week. Tonight they went down to the basement.

When the adventurers went down to the basement, they saw a tapestry hanging upon  a wall. Upon the tapestry was the image above, along with smaller images of insects and images of planets and stars…


The adventurers recognized the ant symbol from the map they had found magical marking the topography of a Bavaria inside the skin of a flayed knight. (It’s a long story… you can read more about it here.) The bug shows the location of Goblin Hill in Better Than Any Man. They group almost journeyed to Karlstadt (and thus Better Than Any Man), but got waylaid in Munich searching for rumors about explorers to other worlds, found their way into the The God That Crawls, and never headed north after all. i simply sits there on my shelf, waiting to be unleashed.

So… the players saw the tapestry and were all like, “BUGS!”

There were also three corpses on the floor. Actually, they weren’t corpses. They were cultists, playing possum after hearing Magda cry out upstairs after being killed by the Magic Missiles. When they heard the adventurers searching upstairs for twenty minutes, they decided to play dead and see if they could ambush anyone who came downstairs.

Three adventurers went down to the basement. They were cautious about the corpses. The cultists revealed themselves, combat ensued.

Meanwhile, upstairs, as the fight broke out downstairs, Uncle Ivanovik showed up, screaming “She was mine to kill!” (He had been tracking them for hours, waiting for the right time to strike.)

After the portion of the party downstairs dispatched the cultists they ran upstairs to help the friends upstairs — only to be attacked in the rear by the Original Spider, who had been hiding in a tapestry behind an alcove. Meanwhile, one party member crashed through a window in an effort to race around the cottage and flank Ivanovik — only to run into Ivanavik’s hunting dogs.

So, they were fighting–for a moment–on all fronts. But Adrian, the Scottish Witch Hunter, got the initiative, fired his pistol into the Original Spider’s head for some solid damage, jumped out of the trap door from the steps, kicking the trap door shut, and flinging himself on it.

Anika, the group’s Magic-User, cast Hold Portal on the door, sealing the Original Spider in the basement for at least 50 minutes–giving the party time to focus on Uncle Ivanovik and his dogs.

In the next round everyone gathered around Ivanovik as best they could, with Anika casting Fairy Fire on him. The +2 bonus from the Fairy Fire was augmented by a bonus I gave each attacker for having multiple attacks on him. Moreover, Werner, a fighter, had gained 10 Blessing points by toasting a glass of whisky with Graupher’s corpse the session before (per the instructions in the Scenic Dunnsmouth rules), and The Doctor (one of the Clerics) cast a Blessing on himself to aid in the attacks as well.

So bonuses were flying left and right. Adrian killed one of the war hounds. The rest of the group reduced Ivanovik to 1/4 his Hit Points, and I decided to make a Morale Check. He failed! I declared he would flee on the next round. (In the game, we all declare actions first, and then roll a single initiative die per side.) He won the initiative! He bolted at 120′ into the mist, vanishing from sight. Or at least he would have, except he still had Fairy Fire glowing on him! Everyone chased him out of the house at one third their combat speed, which allowed them to make attacks with the various ranged weapons they had (two firearms, a crossbow, an arrow). I had everyone roll at once, totaled the damage, and down Uncle Ivanovik went!

They then drilled holes into the basement. Anika had prepared several grenades made of glass spheres filled with gunpowder and rusty nails. They lured the Original Spider towards the holes they had drilled by dropping the heads of Uncle Ivanovik and Magda down into the basement. When the Original Spider approached, they dropped the grenades… and did exactly as much damage as they needed to kill the thing.

Of course, the grenades did a great deal of damage in the basement. I had them roll a d100 and divide it in half. That revealed the reduction in value of the magical library and lab equipment they would later find when they searched the basement.

They did win — but they were all certain they would be dead soon enough!

Having a night to sleep on it and a ponder to think about it, I’m not sure I’ll be bringing the battlemat out again.

In previous sessions, where we played without markers and I made quick sketches for reference, the fights were more fluid and a bit more entertaining. By keeping it in the imagination of the players the combat felt more “alive” even though we used all the rules, positing, and modifiers.

Something I’m going to think more about.

Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Sixteenth Session


The Lamplighters (the name the Players have given their group), began the session in Scenic Bergenzel, and finished the session still in Bergenzel.

I thought they would have left, for at the end of the previous session, the came across the Mona Lisa in the home of Rudolph Grauph, the Other Worldly Explorer. This is not a copy, but the actual painting by da Vinci from an alternate Earth. Sure, this means that there are now two copies of the Mona Lisa in Europe. But still, it’s authentic and will fetch the party more than enough silver (45,000sp, to be precise) to level everyone up. But there were still mysteries to solve, and the Players suspect that there’s evil-doing they might be able to put a rest to. And because they have, in their heart-of-hearts, a desire to be heroic, they stayed to deal with the mysteries at hand.

The session began with a lot of throat clearing on the part of the Players. They had a many threads of adventure and danger in front of them, and weren’t sure which way to go or what to do. This wasn’t because they were lost or uncertain of their choices. There were simply so many choices!

The Player Characters left Grauph’s home, riding the skiff they took from Herman van Kaus’ boat house.

The priest, Father Iwanopoulous had seen enough weirdness and terror for one night (the stuffed and mounted corpses, the alien artifacts in the Explorer’s home, the attack by Uncle Ivanovik) and asked to be returned to his church.

The PCs agreed and traveled to pick up Herman van Kaus, who they had left (in a state of shock after seeing his niece’s true nature) at his brother’s house.

Herman was still in shock. And Father Iwanopoulous, missing the safety of his church, asked that he and Herman be brought by the adventurers back to his church. The adventurers agreed, dropping them off, and working out a signal for the priest to mark when it will be safe for the those hiding in the church to open the door.

All of this took time on the part of the adventurers, with everyone with a lit lantern tracking the amount of oil used with the poker chip scheme I came up with.

Father Iwanopoulous had told them that a member of the Dietz family was a servant to Jako and Sue Amster. He often went up to the mountain on errands for the Amsters, and Father Iwanopoulous believed he had dealing with Grauph in Grauph’s base up in the Alps.

The whole purpose of coming to Bergenzel was to track down Grauph based in the Alps, since they had heard rumors he had traveled to other worlds. They had heard that he had a home in Bergenzel that he sometimes stayed at, and so Bergenzel seemed the best starting point for their quest. Since arriving in Bergenzel:

  • Grauph’s corpse, which meant no answers would be coming from him…
  • Images he had drawn from other worlds, each with a code of some sort that most likely allowed them access to the world…
  • No clues as how to access those worlds…

The only way forward to using the drawings they had found of other worlds was to find his keep in the Alps and see if contains the answers they seek.

But first, a few notes about how an Other Worldly Explorer ended up in a published module, and how all this fits into notions I had four months ago…

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 1.51.09 PM.png

If you look back at the Random Rumor Table I created for the campaign, you can see how I began sowing seeds of all these ideas and ambitions into the game from start.

The value of a Rumor table is this: I get to say, “These are the things that interest me,” and present them to the Players. It’s a menu of things to explore. But do I expect them to pursue them all?  No. Do I expect them to pursue them all in any particular order? No. While the Rumor are there to entice and focus the Players, it is up to them to decide what to do.

So, the Rumor Table says, “This is what interests me!” And in turn the Players say, “From this list, this is what interests us!” But note we’re all sharing off the same list. This is important! I get what interests me. They get what interests them.

You can see the references to Grauph in the image from the table above. I didn’t know his name Grauph four months ago, though I did know there was a man who had travelled to different worlds. I thought at first I was going to make his home the home of the last scenario in No Dignity in Death. But then I bought and read Scenic Dunnsmouth and fell in love with it. I decided to place the village at the base of the Alps on the way to the home of the Other Worldly Explorer.

The fun of Scenic Dunnsmouth is that you create the village from scratch, using dice and playing cards. The book contains a whole slew of NPCs, each divided into four families with specific traits. There are also special locations that can come up in the creation process, depending on how the dice fall.

I created the town exactly as described, with one forced alteration: I knew the Other Worldly Explorers . There is, in the setting, the possibility that there will be the home to a Worldly Explorer. Where a particular d12 fell, I decreed it would be the Worldly Explorer’s home… and then made it the Other Worldly Explorer’s home.

[The only other solid change was switching some of the names out, to make them make more sense in the Bavarian setting where I had place the town.]

And when I randomly created the home of Jako and Sue Amster, I discovered they had a servant, Isiah, who “is almost always making treks into the mountains to bring back hay and vegetation for the cows.” I immediately decided that his “treks into the mountains” involved interactions with Graup at his keep. Which would tie into the quest the Player Characters had set for themselves.

Part of the fun of the campaign has been the challenge and delight in taking all these terrific modules and finding the elements already in them to inspire me in my efforts to stitch things together. For example, the snow globes found in Death Frost Doom inspired my notion that there were many worlds, some of them at war with each other using earth as a battlefield, that the Player Characters could travel to. This, in turn, led to the notion that while my game was set in 17th Century Europe, I could use all the wonderful Lamentation of the Flame Princess books I had bought no matter how fantastical. (I already owned Death Frost Doom, Qelong, and Carcosa before play began, and have picked up Isle of the UnknownCastle Gargantua, and others since we started.)


The adventurers, followed Father Iwanopoulous’ directions, heading off for the estate of Jako and Sue Amster on board their skiff. As near the southeast corner of the village they hear gentle mooing from cows. They find a spot to hide the skiff, climb up the bank to the driest part of the village they’ve seen so far. They see cows up ahead.

In short order the following things happen:

  • They come across Jako Amster, who looks down upon them (with the muddy, thuggish armor) and wishes them to go away.
  • They ask about 20 years of back taxes, but he tells them he’s current on his taxes, having paid his taxes for the past five years to the new priest in town. The Players all know that the priest arrived 20 years ago, and this one more piece of evidence to tell them time is _screwy_ around Bergenzel.
  • They ask to see Isaiah, telling Jako they have the authority of the priest in Murnau backing them on this. Jako gets his servant.
  • Isaiah arrives, bent, stooped with age. He is the only person who leaves the village regularly. So, once again, the group knows something is wonky with time in Bergenzel, since those who leave it do not gain its slow-time effects.
  • Isaiah leads the adventurers a little bit away. I have him beg them to help him escape, along with Martin (Jako’s son). Isaiah knows something strange is going in with the village in terms of children born with deformities and something strange going on in Magda’s hut. Jako went to the hut a the instruction of a relative a few months ago. And then he brought his wife. And now they are planning on bringing the boy. The adventurers agree to get Isaiah and Martin out of Bergenzel in exchange for Isaiah leading them to Graupher’s keep in the Alps.
  • Isaiah goes to get Martin secretly out of the house. The adventurers hear shouting, a little boy shrieking. They storm the house from different entrances. One adventurer shoots Jako dead. They find Isaiah bloodied and dazed at the base of the stairs. They rush upstairs and find Martin’s mother about to slit her son’s throat rather than have him taken away from the Original Spider. The two clerics rush in, tackling her to the ground and freeing the boy. But she won’t stop struggling, going for the knife, and two more party members standing over her kill her with arrow shots.

They get Isaiah and Martin to the church and leave them with the priest. They then head to Magda’s cottage.

Carefully they approach the cottage, using trees and shrugs for cover.

Anika, the group’s Magic-User, sends an unseen servant carrying a lit torch toward the cottage’s front door. Everyone watches the torch drift eerily though the thick mist toward the door. The unseen servant knocks on the door.

Everyone waits a moment. The door opens with a creak. A few members of the party can just make out the pale face of a woman, the rest of her hidden by the black clothes she wears.

Anika hears Magda speak… she is casting a Charm Person on one of the clerics. (Charm Person is the only spell she knows, sadly.) Anika casts magic missile. Initiative rolls are made. Magda gets her spell off, and the cleric fails his saving throw. But Anika’s magic missile rush at her with streaks of blinding white light and cut Magda down in one attack!

She falls dead in the doorway. The Charm Person breaks.

As the Players would later say:

“She brought a Charm Person to a Magic Missile Fight.”

The players had their characters carefully enter the house and search the chicken shed attached to the cottage. They searched a full twenty minutes before they could feel the heat from the basement below on the floor and found a secret trap door.

Lifting it, they saw stairs leading down to the basement.

And there we stopped of the night…

Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Fifteenth Session


SCENIC BERGENZEL (AKA Scenic Dunnsmouth)

SPOILERS BELOW! See previous entries for how we ended up here.

The adventurers make their way up from Herman’s Boat House to the cottage of Adolph and Sheila Van Kaus. Hearing voices from the cottage (just audible over the sound of the bleating of the sickly sheep eating moss around the house), they pause and eavesdrop. They hear Adolph and Sheila bemoaning their fate, Sheila wishing she had a husband who could make her marvelous furniture, and Adolph wishing he had a wife worthy of making marvelous furniture for. (It’s all from the module. It’s great.) The players were amused and delighted and disarmed, and walked up to knock on the door.

Now the house has been infected, which means the couple’s daughter, Kaylee is a product of the cult–an attractive girl with six spider arms and able to fight with all of them with a dagger each. She’s in her bedroom, with the door closed, so while Adolph is rude to the Player Characters, they suspect little danger. They get information about where the Church is and decide to move on.

However, Mike, who plays Vilfolk, a Specialist, has decided that he’s going to stay behind and talk to the couple about fixing their leaky roof. The party doesn’t usually split up. But it becomes clear through the evening’s play that Mike is making sure isolate his character in order to draw out trouble to himself and lure the dangers of the village out into the open.

Now, Adolph and Sheila are supposed to be obnoxious and drive PCs away, due to their family nature. But when one of the Player Characters offers to stay behind, I realize that this is one of the few chances I might have for the infected villagers to get the drop on one of the PCs and get him or her to the Spider to be infected. So, first Adolph refused Vilfolk’s offer. And then, as soon as the party is leaving, the door swings open again, and he invites Vilfolk inside.

Eric, another player, decides that his character Werner, is going to stay with Vilfolk, standing outside the cottage with his crossbow ready, in case trouble arrives.

The rest of the group heads north through the swamp for the church, looking for Father Iwanopolous in order to secure the back taxes they’ve bought from Father Jonah back in Murnau.

Adolph tours Vilfolk through the leaks in the ceiling, leading him to the master bedroom, and then his daughter’s bedroom. Vilfolk is on guard. But as he heads back to the main room with Adloph (where Sheila has been sitting the whole time) Kaylee moves quickly from her bedroom, a dagger in each of her six hands, and strikes! She get surprise! I am convinced that I’m about to take Vilvolk down and then move quickly to dispatch Werner!

But… Kaylee rolls poorly, only hitting twice (!), and then only doing a few points of damage (!). The fight is on!

Sheila has grabbed a dagger and rushes for Werner. Werner fires a crossbow bolt into her. Vilfolk fights Kaylee, then realizes he might not last against all of her attacks. He bolts for the door to join Werner outside. Werner meanwhile drops his crossbow and swings the Spear of Longinus he took from The God That Crawls into Sheila. (This is the first time Werner has used the spear. He does not know it yet, but he is now cursed, unable to be helped by spells cast by Clerics.) Sheila is killed by the blow. Kaylee arrives right behind Vilfolk.

They fight Kaylee in the doorway, blocking Adolph from helping… but still… six attacks a turn. They end up fighting defensively as they call for their companions to return.

The rest of the group is a few minutes away up the swamp. By the time they get back the fight will be over one way or another. But they hustle as fast as they can back south.

Adolph sneaks out a window with a club and tries to flank them. Lots of wounds back and forth, until both Kaylee and Adolph are dead.

Now, I didn’t expect this to happen. But now I’ve tipped my hand… the PCs all gather up, examine Kaylee’s corpse, and quickly surmise some sort of Spider Cult is busy in Bergenzel.

The group goes back to Herman’s shack. They aggressively demand he tell them what is going on. (They are certain everyone is in on it and are preparing to string up everyone.) They drag Herman’s ass up the path to his brother’s place and show him the corpse of his niece. He goes paler than he already is, drops to his knees, and passes out. Suddenly they are not sure if everyone in Bergenzel is already corrupt. (Note: Not everyone is.)

They leave Herman in the cottage, take his skiff, and make their way up to the church for more information.

LotFP Player Map Scenic Bergenzel

They find Father Iwonopolous. They know Father Jonah sent him to Bergenzel 20 years ago. But when they ask about how long he has been in in the village, he says about five years. And even then, in his eyes, he seems hazy and confused about the matter.

They tell him about Kaylee, and he begins to understand that Magda, living in a cottage north of the church, might be at the center of this. Many of the parishioners have invited him to go to her home and try to save her soul. The Players now suspect that getting folks to Magda’s place is ruse to get folks infected.

They ask about Rudolph Graupher. He is the explorer of other worlds they are seeking. (Although they might make some money collecting taxes, they really are here to track down clues to find him. They know his keep is in an hidden location in the Alsp. But they also know he might have a home here in Bergenzel.) The priest knows Graupher, though he can’t remember when he saw him last. But he will lead them to the house.


LotFP folio Qelong

They reach Graupher’s house. This was the Worldly Explorer’s Home in the Scenic Dunnsmouth rules. I have made it the Other Worldly’s Explorer’s home. It is the only element I “forced” when setting up the village. Everything else was random, per the Scenic Dunnsmouth rules.

By chance, the Other Worldly Explorer’s Home also is where Uncle Ivanovik (a terrifyingly powerful serial killer wielding a rusty two handed axe) has set up shop in Bergenzel. He is crazy, believes Magda was once his wife, and wants to kill her. He hunts people in the swamp, and then stuffs them like trophies. Here are my notes for the house. Some are straight from the book, others are altered because of my needs for the campaign:


Here lies the abandoned home of RUDOLPH GRAUPHER, a man of wealth who explored the alternate realities of many earths. Trinkets from these other worlds decorate each and every room of his three story brick home.

His parlour contains alien masks carved from a strange, greenish petrified wood, mannequins in Oriental looking silk dresses (three of them, each worth 100sp, though closer inspection reveals there is slit in the back for what might be a tail), and a fez sits on the mantelpiece underneath a shield with an emblem they do not recognize on it and a pair of swords of unseen design behind it. His fine leather furniture is protected by linen sheets. His dining room contains a solid oak table, a set of ten exquisitely carved chairs, and a fabulous oil painting mounted on one wall.

The painting is worth 40sp, but if the player characters have great knowledge of the art world the painting is actually from a famous Dutch museum (actually, a copy from an alternate Earth) (which apparently now houses a fraud) and is worth 45,000sp. No matter what the value of the painting, it depicts a dark haired noblewoman with an enigmatic smile.

At the top of the stairs stands a stuffed creature, like a bear but with feathers rather than fur and eyes all over its face, rearing up as if to attack. Grauphen’s bedroom contains lacquered wicker furniture and a heart shaped bed with zebra fur blankets.

A gem inlaid rapier (worth 650sp) and 4 bottles of expensive scotch (each worth 200sp) are tucked into his dresser.

Per the setup if Uncle Ivanovik has set up house, Graupher is dead and stuffed at the head of the table. There are also several adventurers, naked, gutted, and stuffed poorly, their feet nailed to the floor to keep them upright. They are in fierce poses to mimic the pose of the creature at the top of the stairs. (However, the creature’s taxidermy is done well… the work done on the dead men is not.)

The whole encounter played out with growing terror. At first, looking in the living room from the front door, it seemed like a normal but empty home.

But then one of the characters decided “Since we’re here…” to take a quick look inside. The door was unlocked, after all, so why not.

Stepping inside they saw the first of the stuffed and posed men. And from there the weirdness kept building… more naked and stuffed men. Artifact from alien worlds. And so on.

So they decided to explore the whole place after all. Everyone but Vilfolk made their way through the house, checking for traps, and exploring carefully. Vilfolk waited by the front door with the priest. The water of the flooded swamp reached right up to the doorway.

LotFP folio Gargantua

On the second floor of the house the Player Character found a dozen GLOBES… all showing continents and worlds that did not match any maps they had ever seen before.

They also found THREE SHEETS FROM A FOLIO that had been scattered on the floor.

The pages are covered with DRAWINGS. I described the drawings as looking tentative, as if the hand drawing them were finding the elements of the images “as if in a dream…

There are also, on each page, A COMBINATION OF NUMBERS of some sort. (You can see them you look at the accompanying photos.) The Player Characters will, if they track down the Graupher’s keep in the Alps, be able to use these numbers to travel to the worlds illustrated on each sheet.

Anikia, the Magic-User, meanwhile detects a scent in the room. It is similar to the Lotus Powder the adventurers found in Death Frost Doom, but processed in a different, magical manner. She has enough knowledge to recognize it as a powder used to alter one’s consciousness to dream of other places.

Next to a chair they find a hookah with the residue of the crystalized lotus powder, as well as a small table with a bottle of ink and a red pen which most likely had been used to make the drawings on the pages.

The group looks for other pages, but everything has been torn out of the folio, and most likely burned down in the still warm oven in the kitchen they explored on the first floor.

They also find a journal entry from Graupher.

LotFP folio Isle of the Unknown

So, the folio sheets…

These are props I made that tie directly to images from each of three locations I would love the Player Characters to go to. One set of images is Graupher dreaming of Quelong. Another set of images is the beanstalk that leads to Castle Gargantua. And the third set of images is Graupher catching glimpses of the Isle of the Unknown.

You will note, if you have a copy of Qelong, I stole liberally from Rich Longmore’s fantastic art from the interior of the book.

The Players LOVED the folio pages and are now wondering which world to go to, how to access the codes, and where to go to find their way to these other places.

Meanwhile, down by the front door, Uncle Ivanovik snuck up on Vilvolk and the priest.

Once again, I thought, “This is it! Vilfolk is going down!”

Here are Uncle Ivanovik’s stats:

Armor Class: 14
Hit Dice: 11
72HP (+2 due to 16 CON)
Move: 120 (40)
Attacks: 1 (+13 to hit [HD11 + 17 STR])
(-2 for AC 15 or better for the Daggers and Straight Razors)
     Daggers 1d6
     Straight Razor 1d6
     Rusty Two-Handed Axe 1d10
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Fighter 11
Morale: 8

He’s tough! And the PCs are all Third Level.

He surprised Vilfolk, getting a swing in, but only doing 3 points of damage.

On the next round Vilfolk got the initiative and swung the priest into Graupher’s house, following him, and slamming the door behind him. He bolted the door.

Uncle Ivanovik BANGED once on the door. It would take him a few minutes to break down the door. So he quietly snuck off into the swamp, leaving the group in the house.

The players now have the folio pages. They also know that there is a man in the village who sometimes did errands in the mountains and might know where Graupher’s keep is. They also know that there is a spider cult. They also know that there is something wrong with time in the village. And, most astoundingly of all, perhaps, they have found a painting worth 45,000sp! It’s in their hands and they could head home and forget about the spider cult and the time issues and call it a win.

We left the session there, with the group uncertain about which path they would follow when we reconvened.