Thursday, February 28, 2019

30(ish) minute dungeon challenge

I read about a challenge, which you can read here. I have not the time nor talent to do one a day, but it seemed like a spot of fun. I started with the idea of flavor cultists, which might be cheating. Oh well. 

The Hook:  "There's a new soup-place in town, it's real good. Too good. On top of that, a few people have gone missing in the area. Investigate the place for me and I'll make you wealthy if you turn anything up." 

General Background

A soup serving restaurant that could fit in any urban area. Placed in the basement of a building with a entrance leading down from the street, and an sluice gate exit in the back to some waterway or underground area. The restaurant is only open one day a week, and this post assumes the party is here one of the days it is closed. On its' day open, there would be a large crowd of customers and double the amount of flavor cultists in the building. Also this dungeon assumes a gold standard mostly because I was tired when I wrote it. Aside from some mentioned specifics, feel free to tie the rooms together however you like, smaller numbered rooms should be closer to the store front, larger numbered rooms closer to the back exit. 

1. Entrance: 

The front door is locked, but is easy to break or pick. The room has a few chairs, tables, and a counter where orders are made and picked up. A doorway leads to the back, and there is a small sliding window which connects to room 2. The furniture, as well as the cutlery, bowls, and etc. are all very cheap and poorly made, but wow, does this room smell great. 

Wandering Encounter: Sentient Fruit Fly Cloud 

1HD Swarm traits, Movement: flies fast, 40'/turn. 
Can do no damage, but occupying the same space as the swarm means one is blinded ( they go for the eyes). Standing in the swarm also means  taking -1 to all actions out of sheer irritation. Sentient  Fruit Flies have a standard chance to be encounter in the dungeon but also have a cumulative 25% chance to be encountered anytime a smell is discovered. They love to hide on walls and then swarm those about to fall into traps. 

2. Kitchen: 

Prep-table, cabinets, a wooden larder, knives, ladles, pans and pots. Three large ovens connect to chimneys for ventilation, leading up into the roof. The soup smell is strongest in this room, but none is prepared right now, though various spices and vegetables are stored in the larder. One of the ovens has a kettle on it. When approached, the kettle begins to whistle menacingly. 

 Encounter: Guardian Kettle 

3HD AC: Chain, Movement: Floats, 10'/turn. 
Sprays boiling water up to 60' (1d8 fire damage) and can create a cloud of steam, obscuring vision 30ft around it.) The Guardian Kettle takes damage from cold water as if it were instead acid, (cooling it down) and double damage from any cold damage. The guardian kettle hates fruit flies and will target them first before attacking other intruders. 

There are lots of fancy and very pungent cheeses stored in the cabinets, (6 wheels worth 1d20x10gp each) but anyone carrying them will attract the attention of the sentient fruit flies much more fiercely. 

3. Storage:

Spare sets of bowls and cutlery are in this room, as well as copious amounts of to-go boxes. Hidden in the floor boards is a cash box with 110gp and a key which unlocks the wall safe in 9.  

4. A Bathroom:

 With the usual stock of amenities, and the room is placed inconveniently from entrance and kitchen, as if purposefully out of the way. The door only locks from the outside, which is strange. Dried blood, hair and a finger with a ruby ring (120gp) can be found in the floor drain. 

Trap: A  hallway that leads to the bathroom holds a trap. The hallway seems rather un-used, as if little foot traffic passes through here, and a dark brown stain is lies on the floor 40' down. On the ceiling, inspection will reveal a extended two-pronged fork from the middle of the ceiling. Anyone over 4'8'' passing under the fork or magical lighting will leap from the fork. Those underneath must make a reflex save or take 2d4 electricity damage, and then a will save or be stunned and involuntarily walk forward, where a well-disguised pressure plate will cause a heavy metal bolt to drop from the ceiling killing them instantly. Anyone over 6'5'' would instead just smack their face into the metal fork and take the electrical damage, but it would block them from walking forward into the drop-bolt. 

5. Shrine to Gulaxis:

A dark, cold room, that reeks of rotted food and flesh. Gulaxis is the demon of decadence and wasted food. Inside a statue of a slovenly over-fed man is the focus of the shrine. Gulaxis gave the owners of the restaurant the inspiration for the delicious soup, but in return demanded regular sacrifices of unwitting customers. Rotted food coats  the shrine and statue, the traditional way of honoring the demon. Under the grime, the statue is actually made of jade (250gp) and has magical properties:

Statue of Gulaxis

If a humanoid or expensive and well made meal (100gp+ in value) is sacrificed to the statue, Gulaxis may be entreated to answer any food-related question he is asked. Gulaxis will also take time to offer forbidden recipes in exchange for horrible, food related deeds. 

This room also acts as the meat storage, victims are stored here to honor Gulaxis, chickens are stored here to go into the soup. 

6.  Obulette 

Where victims as well as milk and cream are left to be kept cool. The hole in the ceiling is the only way out, barred iron pipes. Ropes attached to clay jars of milk and cream are nicely cooled down here, and pulled up when needed. Trapped at the bottom is Scrungus a Thief (lvl 1) who broke in here to steal soup, but instead got himself caught and forced down here. He will feign gratitude and grovel but attempt to betray the party at first sign of weakness. Scrungus has the lever to operate the sluice gate in room 10. 

7. Mushroom Farm:

Earthy smells flood the senses when the door to the room is opened. The floor is dirt and hundreds of purple, glowing mushrooms are being grown here. These mushrooms are the secret to the soup, when made into a cream of mushroom then mixed with spices and chunks of cooked chicken. Though discovered through horrid means, the soup is just a really good recipe, nothing more. 

8. Break room:

Smells of sweat and tobacco. A table with cards and ashtrays. Hairnets and personal effects litter the room. Inside sleep 1d6 Flavor Cultists, who have stats of level 1 fighters, and wield cleavers. (1d4 damage) They may investigate sounds of combat or loud noise. They are lead by a level 3 fighter/cleric, who wields a +1 Frying Pan like a club (1d6+1 damage) The leader also holds a key around his neck for the locked drawer in room 9. 

9. Back Office:

A desk with paperwork pertaining to running the business. In a locked desk drawer is the full recipe for the soup, worth 500gp to most, and a larger fortune to a interested connoisseur. Behind a very abstract painting of the demon Gulaxis (you'd really have to be told what you're looking at for it to make sense) is a safe, unlocked by the key in room 3. Inside is a Thermos of Warming with four helpings of the famous soup inside. Opening it floods the room with a powerful smell that makes most humanoid's mouths water. 

Thermos of Warming : Magical item. Metal and with a screw-on-top, the Thermos of Warming keeps anything inside perfectly preserved and warm indefinitely. Anyone touching the outside of the thermos cannot feel the heat inside. Whatever the temperature was upon entering the thermos is the temperature that it will remain. Holds enough for about four servings of soup. 

10. Back Exit: 

A hallway leading to a heavy metal sluice gate, which leads to the sewers, a waterway, or deeper underground. The lever which operates it is broken (by Scrungus, see room 6) Opening it from the other side, or without the operational level requires the strength of at least four people and makes a lot of noise. 

Trap: The entire path of room is covered in cheese wire, strung across at various angles. Walking even 10ft into the room carelessly will deal 1d10 points of damage as well as acting as if the person had stepped on a caltrop. Running into the room at full speed is a reflex save, succeed and only lose a limb, fail and die. 

After editing this took a bit more than 30 minutes, but it was a very, very fun exercise. Thank you to this talented person for posting the challenge. 

EDIT: Here are some other very talented peoples' try at the challenge. Good reads. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Loyal, Undying, Reflection

It had been a bad week

for the Appropriation Syndicate, and their boss Purloin Pete. Recently, the town guard of XIV  (the northernmost settlement of the hyper-effiecent, wizard controlled state "Magi Lamentorious") had made thirteen arrests and foiled four separate robberies (well-planned robberies, too.) It was all because of one man, Sargent "Mud" Malcolmson. The good Sargent was the worst kind of guard for a gang of thieves; the type who wouldn't take bribes, worked too hard, and was really fucking lucky.
The problem with Sgt. Malcomson, however,  is that he was supposed to retire last week, but he's still making arrests. Worse, he's more efficient than ever. Sgt. Malcomson has been personally involved in every single of the above arrests. The thieves who have gotten away have told stories of the old soldier being around every corridor, leading every patrol route.
Purloin Pete is fucking scared, and he'd love to write it off as made-up stories from his shitty employees. When the ruler of your town is a Magus Vizier, however, you can never be too sure.

So Pete assassinates the guy, puts a knife right into Mud's neck himself.

But he's back on patrol the next day. More specifically, he's leading every single patrol group in the city. At the same time.

Plot hook: So Purloin Pete has put the word out, looking for anyone who would be willing to find out the fuck is happening. He'd pay a handsome reward, and double it if whatever is going can be stopped, plus you'd gain the favor of a major CRIME KING.

What's really going on:

The Magus Vizier of Settlement XIV doesn't have time to fuck around, he wants to do wizard stuff. So when crime is on the rise and the captain guard is going to retire, he's in a decidedly non-wizard spot. So he found a solution. He made Sgt. Malcomson into a Mirror Man. Basically turning one loyal and effective warrior into eight mirrored copies, who can be reborn every day.
Artist: Araki, JJBA


The process of making Mirror people is this:
Feed the poor bastard a mixture of deadly poisons and vital mimic essences. This will kill him over the course of a single night. As he does, strap him down in front of a large mirror, shine a night’s worth of constant moonlight onto them, and then letting them dissolve in agony. Spread the person-juice onto the mirror, and begin casting commanding spells to sustain and control the beings which will come out.
 Then, depending on the purity of all the components, (poisons, moonlight, and the victim’s loyalty to their master) anywhere from three to hundreds of Mirror People will pour forth.
They are perfect copies of the original, with whatever basic materials they were wearing when they died. (Anything too magical or sturdy won’t melt with the corpse, however). They can be slain, but will re-appear the next night, bleeding out from the mirror.


Mirror Men are perfect copies:
They have the same stats as their original version, in Sgt. Mud's case, a 3rd level fighter. They have the same thought processes, skill with their gear, etc. 

Mirror March
Mirror People are incorporeal to each other: They can occupy the same space as each other, and as their weapons count as part of their form, they can fire and attack through each other as well. This can lead to some interesting tactics, they can dog pile on top of you while their copies shoot crossbow bolts right into you, five of them can hold a single door frame, attacking from the same exact spot, looking like a multi-armed god of death. (When they do this, successfully attacking one will hit them all, however.)

Mirror People don't need to eat, breath or sleep. 
They simple persist, like a semi-tangible illusion. This makes for excellent guards that you don't have to pay any sort of upkeep for.  The laws of gravity only sort-of apply, they walk through liquids like air, unless it would cause immediate bodily harm (acid or lava).


Mirror People are chained to the mirror which spawns them. 
If the mirror is broken, the Mirror People explode into a shower of glass. Due to the specific natures of the ritual, the mirror cannot be altered in size, shape or durability, so the creator needs to guard it well. The drawback is, if a Mirror Man is killed he reforms the next night from the mirror, so you can't really have it locked away too much, or you're gonna be running back and forth to let them out, giving them instructions, etc. Safe but accessible are two things which are difficult to have together. In our example, the Magus Vizier just keeps his in his central lobby, disguised as a decorative full-length mirror. 

Mirror Men stay the same:
While they can remember orders and instructions as well as anyone else, they do not gain levels, and when killed come back from the mirror with the same memories. Any non-original gear as well as assignments/instructions need to be handed out over and over. The Magus Vizier particularly hates this monotony.

It's weird to be a Mirror Man.
They are only partially aware of what has happened to them, and will not naturally fight or coordinate to the full extent of their abilities. Mirror People are all copies, so they all think exactly alike, but they are not linked by a greater hive mind, or are capable of explicitly interacting with each other. Because of this, their reactions to problems is often quite similar, only changing depending on their situation. Some examples of this:
If we took all eight of the Mud Malcomson clones and stacked them on top of each other in the same exact space, and then swung at them, they would all block with their dominant hand, in the same spot, in the same way. Or they might all duck, or jump back to the same exact spot. 

If an intruder was detected in an area some Mirror People were guarding, and the original would have ran for the alarm instead of fighting, they would all do that. They wouldn't say "ah, some of us should run for the alarm, and some of us should fight the intruder." The strangeness of their condition makes it so they simply are unable to strategically or creatively think about themselves that way.

In order for mirror people to be able to use their abilities (moving/attacking through each other, etc.) they must be specifically instructed to do so (you, stand here with a shield, the rest of you shoot crossbow bolts through him, or everyone stand in this one spot, but you hold up a shield, you attack with a dagger down low, you use a spear up high etc. etc.) Having such instructions helps, but the longer combat goes on for a mirror man or woman, the harder it is to plan for every possible circumstance. Therefore, the longer a fight or other situation is drawn out, the likelier the Mirror People will just wind up stacking onto themselves fighting one person the exact some way.

Same strengths, same weaknesses. 
Troop diversity is often a good thing. An army consisting of one person has all of that person's strengths, but also all of that persons' weaknesses. Sgt. Mud Malcomson is (to his shame) terrified of rats, so all of his mirror clones are going to panic when lots of rats are around. Long standing injuries, verbal/emotional quirks, etc. Learning about these can allow you to easily manipulate Mirror Men.  and this  is why a smart wizard will never rely on just Mirror People to guard his stuff. Having a more traditional sentient creature to guide a few Mirror People around is a much better strategy.


Learning about what happened to Sgt. Mud Malcomson proves challenging. The local magic archive has been purged of all literature about Mirror People, by order of the Magus Vizier. Savy magic users in the party may know a bit about the process. The best bet would be breaking into/infiltrating the wizards tower, or killing some Sgt. Malcomson clones and observing the tower to see what happens.  Non-violent options may included gaining an audience with the Magus Vizier or bribing the few servants/advisers they keep. Purloin Pete is true to his word and pays well for info on the Mirror People, and may decide to keep the information to abuse it (thieves in XIV start carrying bags of rats), or he made decide to pay the group to just smash the mirror. If they already have, he'll pay them extra. Purloin Pete may have other jobs for the group, but beware the ire of a Magus-Vizier.

I hope any of this makes sense, Mirror People are a tricky and persistent enemy that can allow for players to further master a dungeon in a creative way.

Originally I was going to name them "Speculum" the Latin word for mirror. Thank god I googled it first.