Sunday, February 20, 2022

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 5


Machodor War Flag

Welcome back. This final instalment covers another month in the life of the Machodor domain, with some tips to make life a bit easier, and a big conflict at the end. 

In the encounter periods so far I have generated monetary & magic item treasure by hand, which is a great way to learn how all the tables work; but, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, takes quite a long time!

I now use this Generator for the task, which I highly recommend. I use it for monetary treasure, magic items, and NPC generation too. Though I still do some magic item rolls by hand just because I like to. The generator also taught me some things I didn't realise before now; like, every magic sword has a 25% chance of having unusual powers, and, most treasure type rolls should first determine if the item is a treasure map. These processes are detailed in the DMG on page 166 & 120 respectively, but the treasure map generator in particular seems like a really great way to quickly turn something into an adventure hook. You'll find examples of both of these being used below. The only downside to using the generator is that it includes Unearthed Arcana items, which we don't use in the Trollopulous campaign, so I have to modify those results manually. Of course, that is not a problem for doing the monetary treasure. 

Third Period Encounters

The "Uninhabited" table no longer being required, these were the results for the third period of encounters on the "Inhabited" table;

  • Week 1
    • 250 Merchants (d6 result 5)
    • 270 Nomads
    • 210 Orcs
  • Week 2
    • 12 Ogres
    • 80 Bandits
    • 140 Gnolls
  • Week 3
    • 140 Brigands
    • 240 Dervish
    • 200 Merchants (d6 result 4)
  • Week 4
    • 120 Brigands
    • 5 Giant Rats
    • 90 Pilgrims

Suitable Encounters

This was not nearly as good a month for merchants as the previous one. Once again, the d6 result for their base number is also multiplied by 10,000gp to derive the value of their goods. With a total of 9 rolled that becomes 90,000gp in goods which breaks down to;
  • Duty at 2% = 1800
  • 10% Luxury Goods Tariff at 5% = 450
  • Sales tax of 10% = 9000
For a total of 11,250 gp. 

I assume Entry Fees are incorporated into the gate guards' salaries and don't bother calculating them anymore.


These guys are Neutral and fiercely independent, but also influenced by their Lawful Good Dervish brethren (who now form a large part of the Machodorian defences) and do not want to get on their bad side. After meeting Macho Mandalf and having a positive reaction, they paid their citizenship fees and were assigned the region North of Murkwell in exchange for patrol duties in the area.

Total 1,123 in tribe (+100 slaves)
          L 1   2  3 4  5  6  7 8 9 10 11 12 T
Fighters    0   12 9 6  5  4  1 1 0  1       39
Clerics     0   0  2                         2
Mages       0   0  0 1          1            2

Group Treasure (Items)
Cloak of the Manta Ray, 
Scroll of Protection from Demons, 
Map to Monetary Treasure: outdoors, 31 miles distant and is secreted in a town. [4000 copper pieces, 4000 silver pieces, 30000 electrum pieces, 1900 platinum pieces, and 9 pieces of jewelry]

Group Treasure (Gems, Jewelry, Coins)
2000 cp, 3000 sp, 
Gems (47): 10 gp Blue Quartz, 10 gp Lapis Lazuli, 10 gp Malachite, 10 gp Rhodochrosite, 10 gp Tiger Eye Agate, 100 gp Blue Quartz, 100 gp Blue Quartz, 100 gp Chrysoprase, 100 gp Chrysoprase, 100 gp Chrysoprase, 100 gp Jade, 100 gp Jasper, 100 gp Rhodochrosite, 100 gp Rock Crystal, 1000 gp Topaz, 14 gp Azurite, 1400 gp Star Ruby, 200 gp Chrysoprase, 200 gp Moonstone, 200 gp Rock Crystal, 200 gp Star Rose Quartz, 35 gp Hematite, 5 gp Hematite, 5 gp Malachite, 50 gp Blue Quartz, 50 gp Eye Agate, 50 gp Eye Agate, 50 gp Hematite, 50 gp Lapis Lazuli, 50 gp Lapis Lazuli, 50 gp Moss Agate, 50 gp Obsidian, 50 gp Star Rose Quartz, 50 gp Tiger Eye Agate, 50 gp Turquoise, 500 gp Amethyst, 500 gp Jade, 500 gp Jet, 500 gp Topaz, 60 gp Rhodochrosite, 60 gp Sardonyx, 600 gp Coral, 7 gp Rhodochrosite, 70 gp Moss Agate, 750 gp Aquamarine, 900 gp Emerald, 900 gp Fire Opal. 
Total Value: 10106 gp., 
Jewelry (23): 13200 gp Pendant, 1100 gp Coffer, 5000 gp Chalice, 1000 gp Medal, 3000 gp Bracelet, 900 gp Medal, 3000 gp Small Box, 6000 gp Sceptre, 5000 gp Goblet, 5000 gp Decanter, 2000 gp Chain, 5000 gp Choker, 9000 gp Anklet, 1000 gp Headband, 6000 gp Pendant, 6000 gp Fob, 500 gp Buckle, 20000 gp Headband, 5000 gp Pin, 6000 gp Choker, 500 gp Coffer, 12000 gp Sceptre, 7000 gp Coronet. 
Total Value: 123200 gp.

The above was generated rather than done by hand. It is very useful to know how much treasure various groups in your domain have, as this will give you an idea of what they might have the resources to buy or build. For example, each of the Dervish groups in Minas Mandalf have charge of a single gate, and are building additional stone fortifications and a Church as well. Together with Macho Mandalf they are chipping in to finance the Minas Mandalf Cathedral. In the case of these Nomads, they are really doing well for themselves, so much so they might make a good target for Thief PCs.

Anyway, continuing on with the Nomad encounter and giving all the details;

Nomad Leader Heez Amad Bast'd
Neutral Male Human Fighter, Lvl: 10, Atr: 17/11/14/11/13/15,  HP: 64
Secondary Skill: Husbandman
Personality: Inquisitive, Weird

Items: Chainmail  +4, Potion of Sweet Water, Sword +2, Dragon Slayer [Unusual Abilities: Int: 17, Alignment: Neutral Good, Communication: speech and telepathy, Languages: 1 (White Dragon), Extra Ability: read non-magic languages and magic, Powers/Abilities: detect elevator/shifting rooms/walls in a 1" radius, locate object in 12" radius, detect evil/good in a 1" radius, clairaudience, 3" range - 3 times/day, 1 round per use]

Other Fighters
  • Chain mail +1 *3, Chain mail +2, Chain mail +3
  • Shield +3 *2, Shield +4 *2 Shield +1 *3, Shield +2 
  • Sword +2, Giant Slayer
  • Sword +2 *2
  • Sword +1, +2 vs. magic-using and enchanted creatures
  • Sword +3, Frost Brand: +6 vs. fire using/dwelling creatures
  • Sword +1, +4 vs. reptiles
  • Sword +4
  • Sword +4, Defender [Unusual Abilities: Int: 13, Alignment: Neutral good, Communication: empathy, , Powers/Abilities: detect secret doors in a 1" radius]
  • Sword +1 [Unusual Abilities: Int: 13, Alignment: Neutral Good, Communication: empathy, , Powers/Abilities: detect sloping passages in a 1" radius, detect gems, kind, and number in a 1/2" radius
Misc. Weapons
  • Javelin +3
  • Bolt +3, 3-12
  • Spear +2
  • Hammer +3
  • Morning Star +2
  • Mace +1
  • Dagger +3
  • Potion of Heroism, 
  • Potion of Treasure Finding, 
  • Potion of Plant Control, 
  • Oil of Acid Resistance,
  • Potion of Speed*2,
  • Potion of Sweet Water
  • Shield +4, 
  • Chain mail +2
  • Spell Scroll (Mage: Continual Light, Protection From Evil, 10' Radius, Clairaudience)
  • Wand of Magic Missiles
  • Ring of Spell Turning
Also 540 women, 270 young, 400 horse, 800 other animals, and 100 slaves

Citizenship fees 12,230gp 

Dervish (240)

       L 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 T
Fighters 0 0 8 6 4 4                22
Cleric   0     1       1       1    3
Mage           2       1            3

(Money and Magic Items generated in the same way as for the Nomads, not included here)

Citizenship fees 2,690gp

Pilgrims (90, Chaotic Good, horsed)*
       L 1 2 3  4  5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 T
Rangers  2 1 0  0  2 1 0 4            10
Thief                  1              1
Cleric     0 4 1  1  1 1 0 1          9

*worked out as per Monster Manual entry p69

(Money and Magic Items generated in the same way as for the Nomads, not included here)

Note; as these Pilgrims are Chaotic Good, they do not automatically become citizens the same way the Lawful Good encounters do (since Macho Mandalf is Lawful Good). A successful reaction roll is required first. Since the Level 8 Rangers, Level 6 Thief (and Level 8 Cleric) were made offers to join special units, I rolled for their individual alignments; with the Rangers coming up Lawful Good and the Thief Chaotic Good. For Pilgrim Clerics I always assume their alignment matches that of the Pilgrims themselves (so Chaotic Good in this case). 

Citizenship fees 1,100gp

243 Refugees from the chaos of Trollopulous.

Unsuitable Encounter

There were 5 main monster encounters worth considering;  Orcs, Bandits, Gnolls, and two groups of Brigands. The roll came up for the Brigands. The location came up on the Road west of Gnomesville.

Encounter Location 

Brigands 140 + 120 = 260 total base
       L 1 2  3  4  5  6  7 8 9 10 T
Fighters 0 12 18 8  6  5  2 0 1 1  53
Clerics  0 0  0  0  0  0  0 0 0 0  0        
Mages    0 0  0  0  0  0  0 0 1 1  1

Brigand Leader 1
Santxol: Lawful Evil Male Human Fighter, Lvl: 10, Atr: 13/11/13/16/16/12,  HP: 57
Secondary Skill: Limner/painter
Personality: Foolish, Miserly, Incompetent
  • Platemail +1 
  • Sword +1 [Unusual Abilities: Int: 14, Alignment: Neutral Evil, Communication: speech, Languages: 4 (Troll, Medusian, Salamander, White Dragon), Powers/Abilities: detect evil/good in a 1" radius, detect traps of large size in a 1" radius] 
  • Dagger +2, +3 vs. creatures larger than man-sized
  • Potion Fire Breath

Brigand Leader 2
Baiona: Lawful Evil Male Human Fighter, Lvl: 9, Atr: 15/9/13/8/9/14, HP: 53
Secondary Skill: Limner/painter
Personality: Contrary, Suspicious, Criminal

  • Platemail +1 
  • Sword +3
  • Potion of Animal Control - Fish
Brigand Mage 1
Hodge: Neutral Evil Male Human Magic User, Lvl: 9, Atr: 10/10/8/14/14/14, HP: 22
Secondary Skill: None
Personality: Ruthless, Moody

Spellbook: First: Read Magic, Detect Magic, Magic Missile, Charm Person, Affect Normal Fires, Enlarge, Taunt, Tenser's Floating Disk, Alarm. Second: Locate Object, Invisibility, Shatter, Preserve. Third: Detect Illusion, Explosive Runes, Leomund's Tiny Hut, Fireball. Fourth: Fire Trap, Confusion, Evard's Black Tentacles. Fifth: Avoidance, Fabricate.

Wand of Magic Missiles

Brigand Mage 2
Thukydides: Lawful Neutral Male Human Magic User, Lvl: 10, Atr: 8/16/12/13/13/11,  HP: 26
Secondary Skill: Hunter/Fisher (line) & Fisher (net)
Personality: Mysterious, Ruthless

Spellbook: First: Read Magic, Identify, Ventriloqism, Tenser's Floating Disk, Comprehend Languages, Charm Person, Shocking Grasp. Second: Shatter,Detect Invisibility, Third: Water Breathing, Fly, Hold Person, Phantasmal Force, Leomund's Tiny Hut, Protection From Evil, 10' Radius. Fourth: Plant Growth, Fumble, Remove Curse, Minor Globe of Invulnerability, Dispel Illusion. Fifth: Cone of Cold, Transmute Rock to Mud, Extension II.

Looking at that combination of personality types as well as the secondary skills, I could easily believe the two Brigand leaders previously worked together as skilled painters before some misfortune compelled them to become successful bandits and finally evil brigands. Looking at the personality types of the mages, they had nothing that would make up for the shortcomings of their leaders and were not likely to work together.

Encounter Resolution;

The Brigands initial plan was to intercept the merchants who were passing through in week three; but, their heavy escort, which included a new dervish force of over 200 troops, made this impossible. Instead they joined with another Brigand group in week four and planned to waylay a group of Pilgrims. 

Unfortunately for the Brigands, their overconfident and poorly directed scouts were discovered by Rangers among the Pilgrim group, and then, with the aid of some Pegasi, tracked back to their hidden Castle in the mountains to the south east. There they hunkered down complacently behind its walls.

 so inaccessible only a Pegasus can reach it

Using scrying, Macho Mandalf was able to discover their plans and take the usual steps to capture the leaders. However, he also discovered a cave complex accessible from below the Castle that the Brigands had been using, and realised they could escape via this route if a siege was attempted. So, using a Mirror of Mental Prowess, he deployed a company of Gnomes deep into the cave complex with orders to prevent any such escape by sealing all passages to the castle that they could find. 

Finding themselves under air assault from the Mandorian Pegasus Corps, with Wizards in support, and failing their morale check after the capture of their leaders, the rank and file Brigands fled into the caves, leaving their captives and slaves behind in the castle. The brigands did not the respect the resolve of the Machodorian forces blocking their escape route, and found to their dismay that Gnomes are not to be taken lightly on their chosen battlefield. 

1st Gnome Division Heavy Weapons Squad

Caught between the passages sealed by the gnomes and multiple Cloudkill spells from Macho Mandalf, the Brigands came to a sticky end. The castle is currently occupied by the Gnomes, but this is not to their liking. To ensure it can no longer serve as a base for evil forces, the Ragnar Clan of dwarves has agreed to occupy the castle and explore the cavern complex below, which may lead to an alternate route through the mountains to the east.

The monetary treasure retrieved from the Brigands was worth; 194,786gp
The magic items XP was; 63,010
Combat XP was; 26,813

This is a very much larger total than the previous month, and, once split 50/50 with his allies, the remainder allowed Macho Mandalf to complete the long journey from Level 11 to Level 12! Now he has all the resources required to do some serious spell research (except time to himself).  

Thanks for reading this series of posts on Domain management in AD&D 1st Edition, you are now up to date with the domain of Machodor (as per January 2022). I wish you the best of luck applying what I've shown you in this series to your own domains, and leave you with one last thought:

"Once these territories become settled and population abounds (relatively speaking) they can be used as centers for activity — good or evil or whatever. That is, they can attract more of the ilk which inhabit them, draw opponents sworn to exterminate them, trigger raids or reprisals, etc. Much of this depends upon some action being taken — hopefully by the player character forming active groups from the population base and doing something(..)" DMG pg. 94 

I would extend this to say that it is incumbent upon the Domain player to do something to make an impact on the campaign with all the many units, treasures, and funds that will come his way using this system. Otherwise, why amass them?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 4


Second Period

This post will focus on covering just one month in the life of Machodor Domain management.

After the first large period of 3 month's worth of encounters, the procedure I use now is to start rolling for one month of encounters about a month in advance. Just the encounters themselves to begin with, then the base unit numbers, types, spells and magic items etc, as time moves on, so that with a week left before the next month starts I can work out what the possible “encounter of the month” is and how it may be handled. It's surprisingly time consuming so resolving a bit here and there really helps.

Machodor is quite large, nine 30 mile hexes wide, but with only a few populated areas, the largest by far being Minas Mandalf. Therefore I treat the whole area as one Domain. This is also due to the historical accident of other parts of Machodor existing before I knew exactly where the road was or how these rules worked. 

In the case of the city of Minas Mandalf, the vast area within its one mile diameter walls was crying out for development, so I assumed most things such as merchants would go there regardless of where they might be initially encountered. Alternately, I could have ignored everything but Minas Mandalf and assume all encounters happen in that hex or an adjacent one as I did in the first 3 months, but that would not have had the same flavour.

Another option with the above map; you could easily imagine Fordebridge and/or Murkwell being the capital instead of Minas Mandalf, they could actually be separate domains, or they could even accrue their own encounters for the single Domain in addition to the other 3 (I'm not going there though). 

Another way to look at weekly encounter generation is that the Domain gets one encounter for its "capital", and two more for its road, if it has one, and these latter encounters can occur anywhere along the road's length within the region the Domain patrols.

Second Period Encounters

The "Uninhabited" table no longer being required, these were the results of the first normal month of encounters on the "Inhabited" table;

  • Week 1
    • 200 Merchants (d6 result 4)
    • 200 Merchants (d6 result 4) 
    • 150 Merchants (d6 result 3)
  • Week 2
    • 160 Gnomes
    • 80 Bandits
    • 150 Merchants (d6 result 3)
  • Week 3
    • 120 Elves
    • 300 Merchants (d6 result 6)
    • 1 Hill Giant
  • Week 4
    • 150 Merchants (d6 result 3)
    • 90 Berserkers
    • 200 Merchants (d6 result 4)

Suitable Encounters

This was a very lucrative month for merchants! The d6 result for their base number is also multiplied by  10,000gp to derive the value of their goods. With a total of 27 rolled that becomes 270,000gp in goods which breaks down to;
  • Duty at 2% = 5400
  • 10% Luxury Goods Tariff at 5% = 1350
  • Sales tax of 10% = 27,000
For a total of 33,750 gp. 
  • Entry Fees (I assume these are incorporated into the gate guards' salaries)
    • 5cp per head of people = 1350 copper pieces
    • 5cp per animal (10 animals per 5000gp merchandise) = 2700 copper pieces
    • Total 4050 copper pieces

The Gnomes, having first pledged their allegiance to Machodor and all that is good and true, payed their Citizenship fees and joined their brethren who had previously established Gnomesville.

Lawful Good Gnomes base 160
   Level  1 2 3 4 5 Total
Fighters 0 5 6 1 1 13 
Clerics   0 4          4
Females 88
young     44
Total Citizenship fees = 3,980gp

Based on subsequent events, it seems likely that gnome groups have hidden amongst them some undeclared Illusionists!

Items, note that Gnomes have a 10% chance per level of magic items. The finer details in the Monster Manual are a bit vague on the break down for each kind of item, my interpretation is; each fighter that makes his roll gets one roll on the Armour, Swords, & Miscellaneous weapons tables but no re-roll in the case a cursed or otherwise unsuitable item is rolled. For each Gnome cleric item I roll a d10 to determine if it is a potion/scroll/ring/RSW/Misc Magic. When rolling for this stuff for a non-human race also I assume all items rolled are sized for that race if possible. So, for example, all Gnome swords are short swords.

I track the items by level of owner, which gives me a basic idea of who has what. 

Level 5 
  • Short Sword +1
  • Shield +2
Level 4 Nothing
Level 3 
  • Shield +1
  • Leather Armor +2
  • Plate Mail +2
  • Plate Mail +1
  • Sword +1
Level 2 
  • Short Sword +3 [Unusual Abilities: Int: 14, Alignment: Lawful Good, Communication: speech, Languages: 2 (Manticore, Gnome), Powers/Abilities: detect precious metals, kind and amount in a 2" radius, strength, 1 time/day (on wielder only)]
  • Sword +2
Level 1 
  • Miscellaneous Magic
Level 2 
  • Wand
  • Miscellaneous Magic
Level 3 
  • Miscellaneous Magic
  • Wand
Level 4 
  • Miscellaneous Magic
  • Rod
  • Potion 
As per security protocols, the names of the magic items rolled for the above are classified.

The Monster Manual entry lists various subtypes of Elves but no means of determining which of them are encountered. I assume the default is High Elves, but others should be possible (though rare). I've decided to do this with a d10 as so;
  • 1-7 High Elves
  • 8-9 Wood Elves
  • 10 Grey Elves
The Elves in this period were High Elves. Due to the unique history of Trollopulousian Elves I'm counting these as visiting representatives from the Domain of Chaz the Elf, so, due to their diplomatic status they did not provide any income. However, some of their funds were probably spent on things that attracted sales tax, so that is some comfort. If and when I encounter Grey Elves I'm going to make the case to the DM that they have come from the alternate material plane home world of Macho Mandalf, which, like himself, is a cross between Middle Earth and 80's WWF.

During this period, 0-level humans fleeing the chaos of the plague & siege & undead of Trollopulous arrived in Machodor at a rate of 1d100 per week. In this month 201 arrived. No charges are made on these people and suitable work is found for them within the Domain.

Note, the subject came up on Twitter as to whether the funds raised above should result in XP accruing to the Domain lord on a GP = XP basis. I have not been doing it this way so far, but I find the argument that I should be quite strong. In the end though, even a really good month like the one in this post amounts to only about 15% of a level for Macho Mandalf, so counting GP=XP is not at all game breaking. It also has the advantage that these funds clearly go 100% to the Domain Patron, where as XP and treasure from encounter victories are often split with henchmen and troops.

Unsuitable Encounters

Finishing with the Suitable encounters leaves three Unsuitable monster encounters; 1 Hill Giant, 80 Bandits, & 90 Berserkers. I rolled between the three and the Beserkers came up (which actually made sense I thought; you'd have to be berserk to take on Macho Mandalf). Note that, unlike in earlier periods where they were considered to still be at large if not dealt with, at this stage of Domain development the non-selected Unsuitable Encounters are deemed to have never happened.

Using a d12 plus d8 combo like this
as suggested on pg 138 of Monster Manual 2

To work out a location for the incident I assigned numbers along the road from Fordebridge to Minas Mandalf. I assigned the hexes along this section of the road in the picture below numbers from 9 to 12, since it seemed the location most ripe for the Berserkers to attack.

A likely ambush spot

Again, anything plausible is good enough to start with, and the DM can choose to micro manage as much or as little as he wants to. I imagined that the Berserkers had a plan, and this is what it was;

By mingling with the locals in Fordebridge, they learnt of the Merchants who would be travelling the road and picked their spot above. However, they did not know about the construction of a Pegasus Express tower just south of this location.

Wikipedia entry


The Berserkers achieved near total surprise, attacking from the forest just as the sun was going down. They fell upon the merchant troops who took significant damage, but their morale held. Since it was a case of foot versus horse troops, the berserkers' plan was to then retreat into pre-prepared locations in the nearby forest with whatever loot they'd managed to grab, attempting to draw the enemy in to a killing zone.  

However, the Machodorian Dervish escort troops galloped in and intervened to prevent pursuit of the enemy, assuring the merchants that all would be well. The Pugmen, who had formed part of the escort where the road passes through the forest near Tregard, were sent in to cut off any retreat via the forest, if possible, and if not possible to track them. Then a message was relayed by Pegasus express from the nearby tower to Minas Mandalf, enabling Macho Mandalf to teleport to there by morning. 

The Berserkers had slipped away by then; but, as it is hard to evade the nose of a Pugman, they had been tracked to their secondary base further into the forest. 

With this camp identified Mandalf then relied once again on the proven process of using clairvoyance and aerial servant to locate and capture the leaders. The remainder refused to surrender however, so they were forced out of their position by the use of the 5th Level Cleric spell Insect Plague, and defeated in detail. None survived.

So tough they fight without shoes!

Berserkers (90 base)

    Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total
Fighters 9 4 3 2 1 0 2 0 0 1             22
Clerics            4       1                      5

Leader Execution ( 3 Level 7 and 1 level 10) XP =  5170. 100% of this XP goes to the Domain Patron.

(Other combat XP assumed to be split between the various supporting forces, essentially lost in this case)

Berserker treasure

One item of Jewelry worth 3000gp, 10g gem, 1000gp gem, 70gp gem, 2000gp

Monetary XP 6080

Magic Items XP 20750

Total XP 26830

50% of this XP goes to the Domain Patron. Where it is possible to identify them from the nature of the encounter resolution, the other 50% of the XP can be allocated to Henchmen, Commanders, etc.

Total Domain XP = 26830/2 + 5170 = 18585


That was a fairly straightforward month worth of encounters to resolve. Next time I'll go into detail on another month with quite different encounters and show how I use a certain generator to make life a little easier.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 3

Machodor today

In Parts 1 & 2 I tried to be reasonably generic so as to have the widest possible application, but in this post I will begin delving into detailed specifics with examples, focussing on encounter evaluation.

First, a brief history. In the aftermath of the July Trollopulous Patron game, Macho Mandalf found himself in possession of a ruined keep to the west of Trollopulous and in command of 150 Pugmen. He garrisoned the keep with 50 and then did a wide loop around the map in the Skiff (a floating ship captured from Tharks which he named Swift Sunrise) travelling much of the western part of the Trollopulous map, stopping at all the major attractions to memorise safe Teleport spots for later use. 

FOB1 aka Barad Pug
FOB2 aka Tregard

He also dropped off groups of Pugmen at two strategic locations (FOB1 & FOB2) far removed from the Keep. This was both to stake a claim to the locations and give himself options if the Ruined Keep was wrested from his hands.

Initially a revenue raiser,
Fordebridge is now the western
gate to Machodor

FOB3 to the north of the city

Later, when the campaign continued, Mandalf created the race of Puglins (bred from Pugmen and Goblins utilising the spells Polymorph other and Haste) and mass produced several hundred of them, giving him the man(?) power to construct and occupy two more outposts, as well as digging a huge ditch around the now repaired keep, which he renamed Minas Mandalf. He was also able to patrol the area in strength.

Fordebridge (Pugmen can be seen in the foreground)

Time passed, and the ditch around Minas Mandalf gave way to a stone wall using many spells over many weeks. After an unfortunate episode, Macho Mandalf was forced to occupy the village of Murkwell to the west, lest it fall into ruin after all its inhabitants were murdered. Studying the map, it suddenly dawned on him that he did not have simply a city with various outposts under his control, but a realm, which, in a fit of creativity, he named Machodor.

First Period

When I first grasped the domain rules described in Part 1, I went back through my chat logs and worked out when the local patrols had first cleared the immediate area (30 mile hex) around Minas Mandalf.

This worked out to about 3 months worth of encounters to generate from the "Temperate and Sub Tropical Conditions Inhabited and/Patrol Areas" table (DMG p186) and the "Temperate and Sub Tropical Conditions Uninhabited/Wilderness Areas" table (DMG p184) which below I just refer to as Inhabited and Uninhabited. Note, I now use the equivalent tables at the back of the Fiend Folio. 

Because some of this was back dated I also had to work out when, as the Minas Mandalf sphere of influence expanded, the 30 miles radius condition kicked in. It more or less coincided with the 14 weeks detailed below, so in future periods only "Inhabited" encounters are still required.

14 Weeks of Encounters

As you can see, the majority of first period Uninhabited encounters were with wild animals of different kinds. Since the patrols were made up of 50 Puglins, I ruled that they were simply chased off. There was one outlier, a Pegasus lair. A DM mediated encounter saw this group join Macho Mandalf for his promise of protection and glory.

Incidentally, a domain's initial uninhabited encounters are important because these are where you get a chance to encounter things like Pegasi, Blink Dogs, and even Dragons. Who wouldn't want some of these fine creatures on their side? If you roll such an encounter, roll to see if it is in lair (i.e. your forces found the lair while out patrolling), and, if so, contact your DM asap to adjudicate the encounter. It could be foundational for your budding domain.

The Inhabited encounters had their share of wild animals as well, but also;
  • Bandits (Neutral) these became the major encounter
  • Merchants (Neutral) these sold their wares in Minas Mandalf
  • Gnomes (Lawful Good) these became citizens and settled in a place in the hills called Gnomesville
  • Dervish (Lawful Good) these became citizens and the back bone of the realm's defences
  • Pilgrims (Lawful Good) seeking the legendary blessed fountain housed in the Keep, these became citizens and their Paladins formed the Order of Saint Michael
  • Nomads (Neutral) these negotiated the use of a wide territory south of Murkwell in exchange for patrol duty and tribute
There were also some monsters that are still roaming the area, including a single Manticore. The Manticore became an unresolved encounter and then became a PC mission, which the DM turned into a fun session (with more adventure still possible).

Flier distributed around Minas Mandalf

Once I caught up on and processed the "suitable" Inhabited encounters, I needed to resolve one big "unsuitable" encounter for the full period. Since this was such a long period with lots of encounters I will only describe this "unsuitable" encounter, which was three sets of Bandits base 20, 40, and 80, in detail here.

Now, in principle, you could resolve these encounters with just handwaving or putting the load entirely on the DM; but I've tried to put some thought and random chance into it as much as possible to help add to the campaign world.

To resolve the 3 bandit groups I allocated a number to the hexes around Minas Mandalf and rolled for each. The results placed the Group with 20 in an 'informal camp' in hex 3, the group of 40 had a hidden cave complex in hex 2, and the group of 80 had a "Medium Small walled castle with keep and 2 light catapults" in hex 5 (the swamp, the original builders must have been very persistent).

From their sorties and rumours I allowed that the hex locations for each group were known, but not where they were in those hexes. They would have to be searched out before they could be dealt with.

How Macho Mandalf got Gust
 working for him is another story
Macho Mandalf requested Gust the air elemental to search for the group in hex 3, rolling a d10 each week and counting a 1 as a success (since they were in plain sight from the air) and found them in week 4. By that time some Pegasi had been recruited and were also involved in searching. They found the Castle in the swamp hex after 2 weeks of searching.

The Gnome settlers discovered the group in Hex 2 in the cave complex while setting up Gnomesville. I apply a principle of  Edgar Rice Burroughs logic so that if two things are in the same area of course they will bump into each other.

Since the Bandits had been left unmolested for some time, I assigned a probability that they might join together, which they did at the Castle in the swamp.

I had intended to try to do a chainmail battle for this encounter, but it was now a siege, and in the event Macho Mandalf had other means to deal with them once the bases were located.

He set out in the Skiff along with 300 Dervish troops and 200 Puglins to lay siege to the castle. Then, using Clairvoyance to discover who and what was there, he found the customary prisoners and slaves the bandits held and realised that Cloudkill was out of the question.  The alternate plan was far less messy; having identified the leaders, he requested the several level 12 clerics who were on hand cast successive Aerial Servant spells to capture them. When this was successful and the leaders were restrained on the deck of the Swift Sunrise, he prevailed upon the remaining bandits to surrender (using Audible Glamour at full volume to drive the point home).

The resulting morale check required a d100 roll under 50 modified by; 
  1. Leader slain or deserts check at +30% 
  2. Outnumbered & outclassed by 3 or more to 1 +20%  
  3. Taking casualties without receiving any +10% 
  4. Foolish enough to oppose Macho Mandalf +50%
  5. d100 roll of 73 
Even with #4 existing only in Mandalf's head, the result was still way over the mark, resulting in morale failure and they all surrendered.

The Bandits were escorted back to Minas Mandalf where a mass trial was held, with detect lie and ESP being used to determine guilt (and level of guilt). Those guilty of murder were executed, the remainder were given varying custodial sentences of hard labour (the Minas Mandalf sewers won't dig themselves). About 100 were executed in this manner, including all the leaders except the Magic User. I roll for any spells an opposing Magic User has in their spell book so I can apply them when resolving the encounter. This Magic User had no offensive spells and his Alignment came up as Lawful Good! Clearly, he had been pressed into the service of the Bandits but his heart was never in it. He now toils around Machodor casting Wall of Stone until he has served his sentence.

Once again, the idea of this method of resolution is to find some plausible description of what happened with the encounter, drawing upon the rules as much as possible, but also without needing more adjudications from the DM than are necessary. As always, the DM can veto or change any part of this. 

Bandit Treasure recovered

Because this was a total victory, all of the Bandit treasure was removed to Minas Mandalf. There were 27 pieces of jewellery and 40 gems with a round total of 130,000gp worth! There was also coinage of 2000ep, 2000gp, 1000sp, and 1000cp, and of course the Castle itself is valuable it its own right.

The swamp Castle now manned by Puglins

The Bandits had numerous Magic Items which added up to a total 33,000xp. Note that I generate the Magic Items as much as I can, before resolving the encounter, and determine if perhaps any of them can influence the outcome. For example, in one case I was excited to roll up a suit of Plate Mail of Etherealness, but then, since it was owned by one of the lower level officers and not a leader who was grabbed by an Aerial Servant, I decided that the owner would simply have used it to escape capture and so the armour was not part of the treasure haul at all. Another time a desperate lower level Magic User activated a Wand of Wonder, only to get the result of "grass grows in area of 16” square before wand, or grass existing there grows to 10 times normal size". This result, although of little use in defence, is now greatly appreciated by passing Pegasi.

I could give you a full list of the Magic Items acquired from the Bandit encounter, but Macho Mandalf thinks that would be making things too easy for Machodor's enemies.

After the example of this encounter, I expected that the incidents of banditry would dry up in the immediate area, and so in future weighted encounter locations so they were more likely to be further afield in Machodor.

I hope you enjoyed Part 3 of this series. It turns out that I will need at least a Part 4, and maybe more, to cover everything I wish to on this subject. So I hope you'll look forward to the next instalment.

Friday, February 4, 2022

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 2

Making them pay. 

So, having rolled a month's worth of encounters, let's say the results include Merchants, some Settlers, and some Bandits. What do you get out of it?


“The town charges a 1% duty on all normal goods brought into the place for sale — foodstuffs, cloth and hides, livestock, raw materials and manufactured goods. Foreigners must also pay this duty, but at double rate (2%). Luxury items and precious goods — wine, spirits, furs, metals such as copper, gold, etc., jewelry and the like — pay a tariff in addition to the duty, a 5% of value charge if such are to be sold, and special forms for sale are then given to the person so declaring his wares (otherwise no legal sale is possible). Entry fee into the town is 1 copper piece per head (man or animal) or wheel for citizens, 5 coppers for non-citizens, unless they have official passports to allow free entry. (Diplomatic types have immunity from duties and tariffs as regards their personal goods and belongings.) Taxes are paid per head, annually at 1 copper for a peasant, 1 silver for a freeman, and 1 gold piece for a gentleman or noble; most foreign residents are stopped frequently and asked for proof of payment, and if this is not at hand, they must pay again. In addition, a 10% sales tax is charged to all foreigners, although no service tax is levied upon them. Religion is not regulated by the municipality, but any person seeking to gain services from such an organization must typically pledge to tithe. Finally, several tolls are extended in order to gain access to the main route from and to the municipality — including the route to the dungeon, of course. Citizens of the town must pay a 5% tax on their property in order to defray the costs of the place. This sum is levied annually. Citizenship can be obtained by foreigners after residence for one month and the payment of 10 gold pieces (plus many bribes)”  DMG page 90

Although the above quote is expressed as an example rather than a rule, I've been applying it as written since it seems to work just fine.


The above quote on its own, particularly the part I've bolded, could be mistaken as applying just in NPC cities, or to PCs who are trading, but of course it applies to PC Domains as well. The encounters that are suitable to "move in and settle down", as discussed in Part 1, must pay a citizenship fee first. For simplicity I assume this fee is paid in advance at the beginning of the one month waiting period.

Roll for the "No. Appearing" as listed in the Monster Manual and work out the number of additional higher level characters, but note, because the group is moving into your domain to become citizens, the floor on this number should be any "In Lair" numbers and in addition there may be females and young.

For example,  Dervish have a 30-300 base number, but a minimum of 200 "In Lair". Being fanatical warrior types, they don't have women or children with them, but, they did have "1-4 each ballistae and light catapults and 1 -2 heavy catapults" in the fortress they have left to join your domain, so I think they bring those with them.

Another example, Gnomes have a 40-400 base number, no minimum in lair number, but do have in their lair: "from 2-8 fighters of 2nd or 3rd level, 1-4 clerics of 2nd level, and females and young equal to 50% and 25% respectively of the number of adult males." They also have a chance to be accompanied by tamed animals like badgers (don't charge for those).

All suitable encounters then become a 10gp per head income in that month as they apply for citizenship. Add up all of these for each group and work out the monthly citizenship total.

The "many bribes" part is open to interpretation, and seems inappropriate in a strongly lawful good setting, but I think the idea is that some other object of value, like a magic item, will be shared with or given to the Patron on a per group basis.

The yearly 5% property tax will be a challenge to adjudicate, suggestions in the comments section would be greatly appreciated.

Taxes etc

For each merchant caravan, the number appearing is determined by 1d6 times 50. You can work out all the higher level mercenaries etc, since they will be in the area for a while, but they will not be paying citizenship fees (unless perhaps the domain Patron is Neutral). I use same d6 result to calculate the value of the merchandise (from 10,000gp to 60,000gp) the merchants are carrying. The outcome has duty and sale taxes applied as above. For simplicity, I assume 10% of the merchandise are "luxury items and precious goods" and so this amount attracts an addition 5% tariff. I suppose I could roll for this instead to simulate merchants who specialise in such goods but having everything directly proportional to the initial die roll makes resolution faster.

I allow that a new stronghold with room to grow has the capacity to absorb all the merchandise coming in, so a sales tax of %10 is applied to it, but in other situations this may not be the case. Also, the sales may not actually occur all that month, but I treat them as if they do. A more complicated system could be devised to work out when a given merchant has sold everything they intend to and so then move on, but instead I simply add their number to the population for the first 6 months and then cap it at that, assuming that their coming and going results in much the same number after that. 

A new stronghold under the best conditions will be in a boom state, but after some period (say 6-12 months) it will settle down and the nature of the market will change. Eventually some of these merchants may take the opportunity to become citizens to avoid some fees (noting that only 10% of merchant groups are actual merchants, this makes citizenship quite affordable for them). After this point a rule to randomly determine if a given merchant encountered is a citizen or not will then be required. 

The monthly encounter

Surprisingly, often, the monthly encounter will be where the real treasure is. Bandits, Brigands, & Berzerkers, the three B’s never seem to learn and keep invading a Patron’s domain. 

Determine the significant monthly encounter from the subset of rolled encounters that are unfavorable (i.e. not merchants or settlers). This can be done entirely randomly, but sometimes it is appropriate to weight it towards more congruent looking results. 

Using the example of a group of Bandits, roll for the "No. Appearing" as listed in the Monster Manual and work out the number of additional higher level characters, but note, all "In Lair" results should be ignored unless the encounter resulted in the capture of the Bandit's lair. I'll go into more detail on how to resolve the monthly encounter in Part 3.

Let's say in this case the domain Patron did vanquish the Bandits in their lair. Individual treasure type (M in this case) is generally not worth the bother, chump change to a domain lord. The Bandits' in lair treasure type of A is the most important factor.

Just look at the Gems and Jewelry chances!

Not every piece of monetary treasure will go to the Patron directly, it also depends on how the monthly encounter is resolved. By default I apply a 50/50 split between the Patron and his supporters, as this seems fairest. This division serves as a strong motivation to the Patron's forces.

Note also that the following table applies to all encounters with “Men”;

Monster Manual pg 66

This means that any large group of men will likely be in possession of many magic items. The best chances are not actually with the highest level characters, but with the large number of lower level characters in the range of 4th & 5th level. If you have 10 level 4&5 fighters rolling 5 times each on the above table, that can really add up. You can use this table to discover what items your new citizens have in their possession, since they are motivated to use them in your cause, but it is the items owned by the Three B's that are the real prize; if they are defeated this loot rightfully becomes the domain player's plunder!


Some may think this paragraph is an unjustified extrapolation of the rules, please comment if you do. The domain Player accrues experience points for resolving the monthly encounter. It is usually split in the same manor as treasure (of course, some of the XP is a direct result of obtaining the treasure) except where circumstances suggest otherwise e.g. execution of captured enemies accrues XP directly to the domain lord. As a large domain treasury need not be entirely in coins, monetary treasure does not have to be converted to gold pieces to count for XP purposes*. Even with this source of XP coming in, it will normally take many months for a Patron to earn enough to increase in level, so I think it is well balanced.

*Update: subsequently found the rules explicitly account for this in the DMG pg 85.


Doing all of the above each month (1:1 time is assumed of course) will see significant amounts of monetary treasure, XP, and items coming into the domain. This is commensurate with the kind of activities a domain Patron will be wanting undertake; construction is expensive and slow, but can be sped up with more funds, the casting of some magic user spells consumes expensive gems as spell components (I'm looking at you Wall of Force), spell research itself requires vast funds, and henchmen supplied with coin and items will be the most loyal. This also helps explain why domain lords are not adventuring, they can pay hungry adventurers to do so instead. All of this is affordable with domain income, though not all at once and not without thought, spending resources wisely is part of the fun of playing. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 1

The peace time flag of Machodor

The Castleport Campaign has no Patron players, yet, but I wanted to cover how I intend to run them by using an example from the BROSR exemplar Trollopulous Campaign. This entry starts with the assumption that a Patron character has acquired a stronghold, either by construction or conquest, in a suitable territory. The following rules then apply to growing that stronghold into a powerful domain;

"By patrolling the territory regularly — about once per week on a sweep basis, or daily forays to various parts of the area, the character will need only check once each week for incursions of wandering monsters (see APPENDIX C: RANDOM MONSTER ENCOUNTERS) on the Uninhabited/Wilderness table. Checks must also be made on the Inhabited table. If no road goes through the territory, then but one such check per week is necessary. If a road goes through, then three checks per week must be made on the Inhabited table."
"At such time as a territory has more than 30 miles of inhabited/patrolled land from center to border, then only the second type of monster checks are made, and all unfavorable ones, save one per month, are ignored. This reflects the development of civilization in the area and the shunning by monsters of the usual sort — things such as anhkheg might love it, however, and bandits may decide to make it a regular place of call. As usual, any monsters not driven off or slain will settle down to enjoy the place."
"In territories hacked from the wilderness, the “fame” of the owner will eventually spread so as to attract inhabitants to the safety (?) of the area. They will begin to appear after the player character’s stronghold is finished and patrols have generally cleared the area. The populace will match the area and the alignment of the character. When a random monster check reveals some form of creature who properly matches the potential inhabitant type for the territory, then have them move in and settle down, making proper subservience calls upon the master of the territory, naturally."

These Dungeon Master Guide quotes from pages 93-94 are the most important part of the domain rules in the 1e DMG. The instructions transform the relevant random encounter tables into domain building tables, and make the Monster Manual (and/or Fiend Folio) central to the task.

One thing that stands out from this is that a PC's alignment and race are very important for establishing the character of a domain. The implied setting of human dominance comes into play here with all the “men” encounters, and there are a lot of lawful good encounters too. The choice of alignment has a long term effect on the domain a character can build, so choose wisely (i.e. lawful good).

Note also the massive impact on encounter frequency that a road has. You will never look at roads the same way once you grasp this rule.

All of the above applies mainly for growing domains for Fighters, Clerics, and Magic Users in accordance with the class descriptions of their strongholds. The rules could also be applied to other classes but not directly in relation to their strongholds.

The real beauty of this system is that most of the load can be on the Patron players themselves, only a small subset of things absolutely require DM adjudication. And of course the DM still has a veto over his campaign.

Like many of the rules in the DMG, what is written has the feel of an illustration showing the application of wider principles to the situation described, which, once understood, also apply in other situations in similar but distinct ways. For example; what if I have a port instead of a road (or in addition to a road)? What about evil domains? What if my domain is spread across multiple caves in a large jungle?

It is not hard to imagine applying the principles to non-human cases, such as for demi-human cities, or even monster domains, but the actual rules would be case specific and worked out by the DM, possibly in conjunction with the Patron player.

In Part 2 I will discuss the rules for determining how the encounters translate into income for the domain, and in Part 3 how I applied the domain rules to Macho Mandalf in his city of Minas Mandalf and the wider Realm of Machodor.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Session 5: Back from a break

Welcome to session 5. Wasn't sure we were going to ever make it as real life got in the way, as it is wont to do.

This session was played on 06/Jan/2022 and the PCs adventured for 1 day.

Three players available; Clyde Foot the Dubiously Strong (Half-Elf Fighter Level 2) and Dorf, just Dorf (Human fighter Level 2), Kevin the 53rd (Dwarf Thief Level 2)


Having survived an attempted dungeon assassination by Wererats, the party had levelled up in town, with Kevin achieving the distinction of increasing his HP by 300% (from 2 to 8). During the long period of downtime the three had taken up an offer to be trained in 'roof running' by the suspiciously knowledgeable trainer at the Mercenary Guild Garius (Fighter/Thief? level?). The last few weeks saw them learning to leap from building to building in the ramshackle thieves' quarter, among other locations.


  • Crown Prince Orion has fallen gravely ill, and this is why troops have been returning to the homeland in unprecedented numbers, in order to bolster the succession claims of his three brothers, and two sisters.
  • A caravan of merchants has failed to arrive at Tregard after leaving Briar Village two weeks ago.


The NPC, Burghast (Mage level 2), has succumbed to the power of the cursed amulet and died during the week. Even in death the amulet could not be removed, although it stopped glowing sickly green, and he was entombed with it under the Church of St Istra by Father Thomias. His companions, Thigru (NPC Fighter level 2), Glasses (NPC Mage level 2), and Danha (NPC Fighter level 2), have left the village of Briar, with Glasses returning to the Tower of Wizardry since his gap year had so abruptly ended, and the two fighters staying at the Mercenary Guild for now. Arlina (NPC Cleric level ?) still seems to be stable in her coma, but her sister Arlia has become frantic and wants to return to the dungeon asap to destroy the 'Source of Evil' present there that they believe is somehow powering the amulets.

Session Report

Map entries translated by Glasses

With the unusual situation of being in possession of a fully annotated map of the labyrinth beneath the ruins of Briar Mansion, the party could see that there was little left that they had not already explored. This seemed to engender a desire to try new hunting grounds, which I'm also looking forward too, but the pleading of Arlia (NPC Cleric level 1) was enough to convince them to go back down there and cleanse the source of the evil.

However, this would not prove so easy after they traversed the now familiar streets of the Old and East quarters of Castleport and arrived back at the village of Briar. 

Arlia explained that she had chosen to try to go back down the spiral staircase leading to the dungeon herself, which, given her skittish nature, impressed on the party how desperate she was, however, her attempt to do so was blocked. Corporal Minuta of the Royal Army and ten heavy infantry mercenaries had been deployed there with orders to prevent access to the stairwell leading down into the labyrinth, for ‘Public Safety’ reasons, notably the death of Burghast and Arlina’s illness. What to do?

Because of their location at the top of the hill on a cloudless winter's day, there was no way the guards could be avoided if the party wanted to reach the stairwell; but, was there another way? Immediately Dorf checked the map and saw mention of a chimney, it correlated with their memory of one goblin escaping up a chimney in an earlier session. If a goblin could go up that way, maybe they could go down.

They still had to mollify Corporal Minuta, Clyde gave him the excuse that they were searching for a lost sheep, which, given the plethora of mundane tasks Clyde had been doing to improve his reputation with the local priest, the soldier found plausible.

Extrapolating from the map they were soon able to locate what looked like a simple series of bricks laid out in a rectangle, but which upon examination proved to be a shaft leading down into darkness. Thanks to the layout of the rough hill upon which the soldiers stood, the party could only been seen from the waist up at this location, so one by one they ducked down and examined the chimney, before sending the dwarf down first. They decided to leave Clyde's henchman, Garion, on the hill to continue their ruse of looking for a sheep. Spontaneous sheep impressions erupted from the party and then, lead by Kevin, they climbed down. There was a brief problem when Kevin rolled a 100 on his climbing check and got caught up on a hook, but after that mishap they were soon down in the room that had been the goblin head quarters, which was now silent as a grave.

There was some discussion about which way to go. Obvious targets such as the clearly marked secret doors were at the top of the list, but, in the end, they decided to check out the room marked 'Traitor' on the map. They made it to the room in question and forced open the stuck door without drawing the attention of any monsters ( a theme for the day, I must have rolled 15 times for random encounters and nothing happened). Inside they found a body, a human male who had been dead for a few months, and appeared to have been in the room for a long time before that, scrawling meaningless symbols on the walls and floors. After a thorough search the party found some decipherable writing with a single phrase repeated over and over, "I never wanted to be a were-rat" sometimes the 'I' was instead 'Marcus'. It seemed that, what ever had happened here, the party had missed it, but they did not miss the chance to loot a small gold statue and a stack of coins hidden under some refuse in a corner.

Now it was time to check out an area they had not yet explored. At the end of the corridor the gelatinous cube from session 4 had lived in, they searched and found an odd indentation in the wall, pushing it caused the whole wall to open, revealing a new room. The room was unlike anything they had seen thus far, an oval shape and looking like a natural cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites that blocked their view of much of the interior. They cautiously advanced and saw something that glittered in the centre of the room. 

This all seemed too suspiciously trap like for Clyde, I used to love to drop stuff on parties back in the day, and some old memory of this must have been haunting Clyde's player.

The party called forth their remaining henchman, Flevion, and I thought they were going to order him to take all the risk, but instead they got him to go in far enough to have a clear view of the ceiling. His job was to watch for any attack from above with Arlia while the three PCs crept forward.

Soon the PCs could see in the centre of the room four tattered leather sacks, obviously bulging with coin, and a single bottle of swirling blue liquid between them. Traps were searched for, but it was only when the more sturdy Clyde swapped out with Kevin and grasped the bottle that they heard Flevion yell, "Watch out!" This somewhat non-specific warning was still enough for Clyde to dive out of the way as the first of four Piercers plunged down towards him. 

I love this picture

This was a bit difficult to adjudicate, as the Monster Manual describes Piercers as having a 95% chance of achieving surprise, but the party had deployed in such a way as to negate this, in my view, so I rolled for surprise as normal. What would piercers do with multiple segments of surprise anyway? A series of really low attack rolls followed and the party was unscathed for the moment. The piercers flipped themselves over onto their feet and glared at the party as they scuttled back towards the walls in an attempt to get back up there and drop again. 

Piercers are quite slow, but I gave them a bit of leeway here in lieu of the surprise business. Three were cut down by the party but the last, and biggest, managed to get above Clyde again and this time thwacked him for 11 hp. The party managed to gingerly dispatch this one without injuring Clyde, and the enterprising Kevin collected some samples for presumed sale to Myzarn (NPC Alchemist) later.

Now with time on their hands the party leisurely transferred the coins into their own sacks and in doing so found they had 6000 electrum pieces marked with elven writing from antiquity. They explored the rest of the cavern before returning to the last room left in the complex (and presumed location of the 'Source of Evil' they were searching for).

"No rats returned from here," the map was marked at this location. The party guessed that the Were-rat assassins had used the plentiful giant rat population down here to scout out the place, and none had returned from scouting this room. The door was apparently not trapped, Kevin asked what it smelled like, which in fact was considerably fresher than the rest of the dungeon so far, and opened it easily, to reveal a large room, 70 feet by 30 feet, constructed of stone in a similar manner to the other parts of the labyrinth, with the exception that the far wall was made with bricks and mortar. In the centre of the far wall was a shut wooden chest.

The party stepped inside and, looking about, found the remains of over a dozen rats lining the wall the door in which they had just entered.

Certain that some form of trap was in play, the party tied a rope around Flevion and he carefully moved forward into the room. This turned out to be nearly the perfect precaution, as Flevion reached the halfway point between the doorway and the chest, the latter suddenly sprang open and tornado strength wind threw the party back, but, since they were all roped to Flevion, and he made his strength check, even the weaker members of the party were able to hold on and not be thrown against the back wall like all the unfortunate rats before them.

The wind blew out their torches but not before the caught a glimpse of the the chests contents. Within was a number of silver objects, circlets, arrows, a dagger, but standing out from among them was a green glowing heart shaped stone. It pulsed evilly and with the torches extinguished this was now the only light available.

The party quickly surmised that they would need to overcome the force of the wind and reach the chest somehow. To handle them pushing against the wind I used an obscure rule for ability checks from an early Dragon magazine. It proved interesting, the weaker Kevin held his own against Clyde, but it was too fiddly and time consuming after the first check. After some false starts, the party put their faith in Clyde's strength and his plan to use a holy water vial.

As he crossed the half way point the incredible wind became even more ferocious and, incredibly, its force was now enough to launch bricks out from the far wall at the party, which they all managed to evade by throwing themselves to the ground. This was just as well, as the bricks hit the far wall with enough force to put holes in it. They examined the gaps where the bricks had been, but it was pitch black back there, it could be anything from a Hollywood style wind machine to a rift leading to the elemental plane of air, for all they could tell.

Clyde's strength and agility eventually allowed him to cross the room, but, in resisting the force of the wind, while at the same time trying to get the flask of holy water as close as possible so he could pour it onto the green heart shaped gem without it getting blown away, his hand brushed against the inside of the chest. As soon as it did so the wind expired with a loud, almost human shriek, which then subsided and slowly faded into silence. This all had no effect on the gem, almost as if the magic of the room was something altogether different in nature to it. Clyde then upended the flask and dowsed the gem in holy water as Arlia ran up and cast bless on it from beside him. As she completed the spell the light abruptly went out of the gem, it crumbled into dust and disintegrated, leaving not a trace.

This was immediately followed by a sort of psychic shock wave which left the party with a strong impression that the they had come to the notice of some powerful, evil being, yet it seemed they had won the victory this day. 

Some combination of the forces at play had undermined the structural integrity of the place, and their relief was replaced with concern as large chunks of the ceiling began collapsing around them. They briefly considered retracing their steps and going back up the chimney, but quickly decided this would be even more dangerous. They ran through the dim corridors relying those with infravision, dragging their treasure with them and avoiding falling masonry, heading for the main exit. As they raced back through the entrance room with its two rows of pillars, they could see that the large toad statue had collapsed and its magic fire was extinguished.

All that was left was to explain to Corporal Minuta when they got to the top of the stairs. "No sheep down there!" They said as one. 

We called it a night there.

When the party returned to St Istra's church, they found Arlina already recovered and sitting up. She will likely face an interrogation from them next session (or in downtime).

New adventures await! If anyone reading this would like to play and can do so in Australian (UTC+11) time, or you'd like to be a Patron, let me know.


Treasure and Experience Total XP 1770

Monsters: 4 Piercers 360xp, cleansed 'Source of Evil' 500xp

Treasure 6000 old Argonesti Electrum Pieces*, Potion of etherealness, gold statue worth 150gp, 80gp, 6 silver bracelets worth 50 gp each, 10 Silver Arrows 10gp each, 1 silver dagger 20 gp, Two silver signet rings 'R' & 'W' worth 100gp each, 3 silver ingots worth 20gp each

* need to find a way to sell these in order to reap the XP.


Session PCs

Clyde Foot (10% XP Bonus) Half Elven Fighter Level 2 487 XP Gained. Total 2812

Dorf (10% XP Bonus) Human Fighter Level 2 XP  487 Gained. Total 2880

Kevin the 53rd (10% XP Bonus) Dwarf Thief Level 2 487 XP  Gained. Total 2298

Supporting Characters

Arlia Human NPC (10% XP Bonus)  Cleric level 1  243 XP Gained. Total 705

Garion Human Henchman (10% XP Bonus)  Fighter level 1  0 XP Gained. Total 357

Flevion Human Henchman (10% XP Bonus)  Fighter level 1 243  XP Gained. Total 600

Campaign Grave Yard

The Unnamed Henchman, Fighter level 1 DECEASED. Killed by spider poison in session 3.

Waxxion Human Henchman, Fighter level 1 DECEASED. Had his throat torn out by a Wererat Assassin in session 4.


How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 5

  Machodor War Flag Welcome back. This final instalment covers another month in the life of the Machodor domain, with some tips to make life...