Tag Archives: adventure

Kaurak Kholzil

I could very easily have titled this post “How to Use a Published Adventure to Establish an Adventure Site“.  I didn’t because that title would be ridiculously long and foolishly boring.   People already click past my posts at near the speed of light.  So, instead, I used the name of the dwarven castle in the above published Dungeons and Dragons supplement from 1995.  The name means “griffon nest” in the Kundarak dwarven language.

The supplement provides the interior floor plans of the castle embedded in the mountainside.  It saves a lot of work.  Making castle floor plans takes time.

Once you have the place established, then you have to populate it with non-player characters.  This dwarf castle has a mining operation.  You only reach the castle site by air, so there is an exterior tower that contains a griffon aerie.  You have to ride a griffon to enter the castle.

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If you don’t have a crazy griffon rider like Madryk Featherstone to give you a ride through the air to the castle in the side of the Graywall Mountains, then you have to come through the mines which are so deep they connect to the underworld.

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Solfaera Dezzav, the drow dark elf, was exiled by the drow people in the underdark of the Khyber realm.  She came to Kaurak Kholzil as a refugee and helped to set up the protective network that shields the castle from the terrible things that lurk under the mountain.

The rulers of Kaurak Kholzil are Daggan Mastersmith, the King Dwarf, his wife, Rorrina Gembright Mastersmith, and his father-in-law, Dennin Gembright.  They mine the precious and martial metals of Kaurak Kholzil.  Daggan is a particularly severe and demanding ruler, rather joyless and humorless.  His wife is much younger than he and is a bright soul who often suffers in the darkness her husband rules.  She often seeks solace and entertainment from visiting adventurers.  Dennin, the old dwarf, once ruled here.  but now is a bit of a doddering buffoon, no longer capable of thinking in straight lines.

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Of course, there are a lot of other colorful characters that live in Kaurak Kholzil.  They all have their personality quirks and know things that could lead to future adventures.

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Some of them, like the Mastersmith Twins who raise and cook giant spiders to feed the castle on spider steaks, are potential comedy relief.  But they can also serve as noble castle defenders, using meat cleavers and enraged spiders to take on any invaders.

So there is a little insight into the mind of a dungeon master who steals good adventure ideas from published sources and embellishes them at will to continue to make the game interesting.  If you are a dungeon master too, feel free to steal all these ideas for your own D & D game.

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, Paffooney

What Happens at the Castle, Stays at the Castle

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Part of being a dungeon master is the responsibility for creating the dungeon.  Now I do intend to fully explain the events of the siege of Castle Evernight in a future Saturday D&D post, but today I want to show you my dungeon setting, the Keep of the Duke of Passage, Dane Evernight.  This is me thinking like an insane architect to build a tall, spindly castle that no real-life king or duke would ever try to live in.  But insane as it was, it had to be drawn to scale and the inner workings had to be mapped out on grid paper where every little square represented a space of 5 feet by 5 feet.

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Level one shows the areas you would enter coming in through the front gate.  Colored-in areas represent the solid stone from which this castle is built as well as the rock spire it was precariously perched upon.   The usual dungeon-master map symbols apply.  The little empty rectangle thingy blocking passageways and interrupting walls is to be interpreted as a door.  You can also see that to visit on horseback requires your trusty steed to be able to climb stairs.  So, unless you have a verily dexterous and unusual horse, you should probably ride in griffin-back or dragon-back.

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Moving to Level 2 brings you to where the Duke’s Great Hall would receive you as a visitor.  There are also places you would like to get to, especially if you are a teenage boy, like the harem and the bathing pool attached to the harem, and maybe the Magic Lab, but you will most likely not be allowed into those places.  But you see the dark spots in the walls?  Those are the garderobes.  You probably will be allowed access there, because, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and that is the proper place to go.  Medieval castles have primitive plumbing.

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Level 3 is the level I would most want to see if I were touring this place myself.  Not only is it the place that has the library in it, but it houses the limner’s studio, and the limner is the resident painter, picture-maker, and white-washer of fences and garderobes.

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Level 4 contains the “Party Central” places that every highly social and only mildly psychotic nobleman seeks to spend his schmooze time.  There’s a ballroom for dancing, a solarium for getting sunburn when you drink too much wizard’s ale and dance naked in the sunshine for too long, and a hall of mirrors for admiring the way the sunburn makes your behind glow bright red.

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Level 5 is getting up to the top of the towers.  In a vertical dungeon like this one, this should be nearing the adventure climax.  That was not how it happened, however.  I will tell you more about that in another post.  This is where the belfry bats and the Duke’s treasures are stored.

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By the time you reach the Summit of the Keep, you are beginning to think that something is seriously and morbidly wrong with this Castle.  This is where you will find the Evil Doctor Zorgo and the animated remains of Duke Dane Evernight.   And golem labs next to sarcophagus rooms?  Something has gone terribly wrong here.   But don’t have nightmares about it, or anything.  Rest assured that Gandy Rumspot and Mira the Kalashtar have already solved this problem or I wouldn’t be telling you about it.  Dungeon masters, at least the good ones, never reveal a secret before the dice are rolled.

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, humor, making cardboard castles, maps, Paffooney, plans, surrealism

Saturday Night D&D

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“The party now rushes through the front gate of Castle Evernight.  Gandy swings down from the room where he operated the pulleys that opened the drawbridge and barbican doors to rejoin his fellow fighters.”

Princess Mira the Kalashtar- “Do we see any more golems or other fighters to stop us?”

“You do not.  Since you took away Dr. Zorgo’s wand of golem control and Zorgo himself died in the plunge from the tower, there no longer seems to be anyone to keep you out of the castle.”

Gandy the hafling rogue- “Then the castle is now ours!”

“Perhaps the Duke’s daughter would dispute that.”

“Sien, I’m sorry.  But the Duke and all his servants are now dead.  We liberated the castle and have a right to claim it.”

“Sien Evernight looks at you sadly.  She says, “I do not dispute your right to the castle.  But my father, remember, had been changed into a gold  golem.  And even though he grabbed Dr. Zorgo and pulled him over the tower’s rail, he may have survived the fall.  Of course, that doesn’t make him actually alive.  But with no one controlling him, we may be able to talk to him once again.  You can have the castle for all I care, but I want to know what my father thinks.” …and I think you need to be reminded by the DM that your leader committed to replacing the Duke and ruling the city. “

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Yes, I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons with my own kids, and the pencil and paper characters we use for the silly story-telling game have become, over time, real people to us.  But the game has slowed way down since number one son left to be a Marine and number two son got a weekend part-time job.

So, the conquest of Castle Evernight might end up being the last adventure actually conducted around the D & D table in the upstairs library.

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So I created a Facebook page for the family game and intend to post stuff on there that may keep the game at least a little bit alive outside my own stupid head.

I intend to post stuff there to update everyone on what is happening in Eberron to the members of the ongoing quest.

Just as a reminder, I will show you the player characters again;

Number one son’s character is retiring to be the new Duke of Evernight, married to Duchess Sien Evernight.

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Number two son’s character is the irrepressible halfling, Gandy Rumspot.

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My daughter, the Princess’s character is Mira the Kalashtar.

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My intention is to use Saturdays, the traditional game night, to post more D&D stuff to this page and the Facebook page.  I need more creative ideas to keep filling this blog daily, and I have done considerable work setting up the game as Dungeon Master.  I don’t want it all to go to waste.  You will be welcome to come anytime and take a look.  But I am just too immature and set in my ways to totally give up D&D.

 

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Filed under autobiography, Dungeons and Dragons, family, goofy thoughts, heroes, humor, illustrations, imagination, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Trudging Towards Tomorrow

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My three kids used to be cute, even with goblin grins.

I spent a lot of time yesterday looking at old photos.  The journey seems a lot longer looking back than looking at the trail ahead.  But there are good things beside every signpost on the road behind us.  I am proud of where we’ve been.

The Three Faces of the Princess at the Kingdom Hall;

  1. “We’re going to MacDonald’s afterwards, right?”
  2. “What do you mean REAL FOOD?”
  3. “Yes, that was me that farted.”

We are basically right with God.  Oh, I know I haven’t been a very good Jehovah’s Witness the last three or four years.  Being an atheist might have something to do with it.  But I actually  believe in God.  It is just that my God is a bit bigger than theirs.  My God is not some old man with a white beard on a golden chair in some invisible dimension.  He is everything there is.  And he doesn’t have to promise me eternal life and goodies for a lifetime of doing what I believe is good and right and benefits the lives of others.  I don’t do it for theological dog treats.  I do it because I know in my heart it is right.  And I live for the here and now.  Because that is the only part of existence that is relevant to me here and now.  “I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, I have a right to be here.” (from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann)

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We used to do a lot of camping and traveling.  We have seen some amazing things in amazing places.

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The Grand Canyon is improved by having my middle son posed in front of it.

At the Grand Canyon Railway Station;

In a land where dinosaurs once roamed;

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You can find dinosaurs for tourists without spending big bucks to visit Jurassic World.

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Don’t worry.  The Princess is the scariest dino running with this pack.  That goofasaurus rex is going to regret that nose-bump to the back of the head.

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In the end, she ate every last one.

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But my kiddos hatched a replacement, so they are not personally responsible for the re-extinction of the dinosaurs.

Appreciating nature;

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Posing with dead nature.

Posing with living nature, including wild and feral cousins, is also fun.

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Filipino nature and wild and feral Filipino cousins.

And we have allowed ourselves to have fun along the way.

But children grow up and begin to have their own lives.  They get jobs.  They learn to drive.  And we have to fearfully accept the consequences of the monsters we have probably created.

As I continue trudging down the road of life, I am somewhat weary because I am old.  My bones have a lot of walking-around mileage on them.  My heart has a limited number of beats remaining.  But my biggest regret is… you can only go back and walk the path again through memory and old pictures.  Time and I march onward.

 

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, compassion, daughters, family, feeling sorry for myself, goofiness, humor, kids, photos

Travel Troubles

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My wife visited her home in the Philippines as a consequence of her father passing away there at the beginning of the month.  It has been a mixed bag of treats and tragedies.  Yes, there was a funeral involved.  But it has been years since the six sisters and one brother have been together.  They were able to re-connect with friends and family, eat their favorite foods from the old days, and gain weight.

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Here’s what they looked like once upon a time before anybody came to the United States.

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They are a bit bigger now.

But things always happen to complicate simple happiness-es.  Somehow, before she left she managed to put her green card in the wrong pile while sorting stuff to go and stuff to stay.  As a resident alien for more than twenty years, she absolutely had to have that green card to get back into the country.  So, my daughter and I tore the house apart for three days trying to find it.  Then, after throwing my hands up in despair of ever finding it, I managed to sit on a pile of stuff near her bed in the bedroom and realize with my very intelligent behind that I hadn’t searched that pile yet.  There it was!  I rushed it to UPS with the carefully copied address triple-checked against the text my wife sent me with the warning that it should be written exactly as it appeared in the text.  But, naturally, the clerk at the UPS Store was confused by the idea that the zip code had to come before the name of the province.  I should’ve asked to see how he wrote it down.  The green card finally arrived there two weeks late because the Filipino UPS couldn’t find Tatang’s house.  They called the US twice asking for other ways to contact the household.  Of course, on our side, we had the advantage of there being no convenient phone in the neighborhood.  I finally had to send my wife the tracking number, and she tracked down the package herself.

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Of course, we were not home free on the whole return trip thing either.  During her journey home, my wife encountered a flight delay in Shanghai that made her miss a connecting flight in Los Angeles.  It was a gift of an extra day of travel courtesy of terrorists in Turkey.  So, it was a huge relief when yesterday, we were finally able to pick her up from the airport.  Of course, now her luggage is missing.  Virgin Air had to comb through their entire inventory of lost bags and still didn’t find it.  So, there’s a continuing battle we didn’t particularly need either.

Still, in spite of the fact that so many things went wrong, and it was all about a loss of a treasured family member, the adventure has ended, and she is back home again, safe and well.

 

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The Force Awakens (with tornadoes thrown in for excitement)

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At long last I got to see it, another thrilling Star Wars movie.  I couldn’t wait for it to reach the dollar movie theater where I could actually afford it, so I saved up my money to take the family to the theater in Valley View Mall off LBJ in Dallas. (This is a doomed and dying mall that no one ever goes to, so the tickets cost only half as much as elsewhere… but it was still necessary to go an hour early to get tickets before it sold out.)  I have seen every single Star Wars movie within the first two weeks of its run, dating back to the original Star Wars which I saw in college at Ames, Iowa in 1977.  And I confess to loving every minute of every one of the movies.  I even like Jar Jar Binks as a character, which gets me kicked out of the Serious Star Wars Aficionado Club for reasons I still don’t understand.

I was predisposed to passionately love this movie.  And I understand why the critics are saying that it is the exact same plot as the first Star Wars movie, Episode IV; A New Hope.   I am not going to review this movie here because I could not do it without those dreadful spoilers that I had to duck for weeks in everything I read about the movie.  Things happen in this movie that directly parallel the first movie, and that means an unexpected death that tore my heart out as much as when Vader kills Obi Wan Kenobi in the original.  Over time, through movies and books and role-playing games, these characters have become real people to me.  I care deeply about what happens to them.  I almost had to care deeply about what happened to us as well.

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Yesterday was a bad-weather day in Texas.  Tornadoes ripped through the Dallas area  last night.  Eight people were killed as three different funnel clouds touched down and did damage in the area.  As we left the theater and started out for the restaurant where we would get a meal, a tornado warning started ringing on our cell phones and the tornado siren started blaring.  My sister-in-law and her family, visiting from San Antonio, took refuge in the mall we had just left.  They told us that the theaters on the top floor of the mall were evacuated as they sheltered there.  If we hadn’t gone to a matinee, we would’ve been interrupted during the movie.  As it was, we made it to Chili’s Restaurant just ahead of the wind and rain.  We had dinner while the rain poured down, and the Independence Bowl on the restaurant televisions kept getting interrupted by weather coverage like you see above.  We watched the danger zones creep by on three sides of us as we ate burgers and tilapia  in a glassed-in restaurant.  Needless to say, our relatives were unable to join us as they cowered back at Valley View Mall.  The after-movie party and discussion proved to be almost as thrilling an adventure as the movie itself.

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But I simply can’t help myself.  No line or threat of sell-out or adverse weather condition is going to come between me and a Star Wars Movie.  I loved it.  And if I’m still alive when the next one comes out, I’m watching that one too… no matter what.  I love Star Wars!

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Mickey’s Blue Summer

The SuckerOkay, this is not going like I had hoped.  Medical bills are overwhelming.  Impacted molars are going to cost my family over three thousand dollars when we still can’t afford bills of bigger than 50.  And I got word today that I did not win in the Chanticleer Book Reviews novel-writing contest.  I was beaten out for the prize by Elisabeth Hamill’s book Song Magick.

I am bummed out.  It is not that I expected to win that contest, but Magical Miss Morgan is a better book than Snow Babies, and that one at least made the list of finalists.  I seem to be getting further away from the goal.  If I placed, or got a prize in that contest, I would at least get the attention of literary agents and big publishers.  Perhaps it is God’s wish that I remain an unknown novelist who makes no money at writing.  It is consistent with His divine sense of humor.  The angels get a good laugh whenever I fall on my figurative face for wishing too hard for money and success.  God wants people to be happy being poor.  Right?  That’s what Republican politicians in Texas keep saying.

But if I keep playing the same sweet-sad songs and singing in the lonely darkness… at least I can make a melody or two that lifts the souls of my fellow dwellers in the dark.

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But, wait a minute… something is not right here!  Why are the winners the same ones they told me about a couple of months ago?  Ms. Hamill’s book is also listed on this… 2014 list?  Did I jump the gun?  Look at this list for me; Dante Rossetti Awards

Am I wrong, or does that say these are the 2014 winners?  There’s the due date by which I sent in my novel for the NEXT COMPETITION in 2015!  That means I won’t actually hear about my novel until next summer!  Hang dang it!  Both bad news and good news in one fell swoop. So, I am not out of the running yet.  Perhaps there is time to do more and be more and write more after all!

Francois spotlight

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