The Minions of the Werewolf Lord DCC RPG

What would the Werewolf Lord be like? What would his minions be like? Why wouldn’t there be a natural Wolf Lord?

There is mention of a Werewolf Lord on Page 123 of the DCC Annual Number One.

It got me thinking, what would such a creature be like? What would his minions be like? Why wouldn’t there be a natural Wolf Lord?

Werewolf by Seda YAZICI is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Werewolf, Dire: Init +7; Atk bite +8 melee (1d8+2,) claw (1d6); AC 16; HD 2d6 +2; MV 40’;Infravision 100′; Act 1d24 + 1d20; SV Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +5; AL C. The beast’s mystical nature reduces the damage of all blows against it by 5 points, save those of magic, Silver, and Wolfsbane.

Werewolf Mage: Init +2; Atk Claw +5 (1d6) or harmful spell (see below); AC 12; HD 3d4 +3; MV 40’; Act 1d24 + 1d20; SP prestidigitation, harmful spell 3/day; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +4; AL C. The beast’s mystical nature reduces the damage of all blows against it by 5 points, save those of magic, Silver, and Wolfsbane.

Dire Werewolf Fighter: Init +3; Atk axe +2 melee (1d6) Claw +2 melee (1d6); AC 16; HD 1d8+1; MV 25’; Act 1d24 + 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL C. The beast’s mystical nature reduces the damage of all blows against it by 5 points, save those of magic, Silver, and Wolfsbane.

Demon Wolf (Type II Demon): Size: Large; Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (2d6+2) Victims bitten by demon wolves must make a Fort Save DC 14 or become afflicted with the curse of lycanthropy. A new save is made each time the creature does damage; AC 14; HD 4d6; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL C.

The Demon Wolf servants of the Werewolf Lord are larger than average wolves with thick black fur, red eyes and sabretooth fangs. Their bite carries the curse of lycanthropy. Usually found in packs of 2d6 with one alpha. (Alpha gains +1 Init, +1, +1 Atk, +1 HD, 1d24 Act, +1 all saves.

These horrible minions and more will be pursuing our heroes after their visit to The Catacomb of the Wolf Lord.

Made for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you! The conclusion of my short dungeon crawl, Catacomb of the Wolf Lord will be wrapping up soon featuring some of the monsters mentioned above. Happy gaming!

DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord Room: 2-2

The floor inside is grassy, covered in autumn leaves in many colors and shapes. The room has a warm, homecoming feel to it. The group is flooded with happy memories of warm meals and family at home. It’s as if they were being welcomed back after a long voyage.

You’ve faced the trials in the Happy Hunting Grounds, and now you emerge back into the hallway as if you had never left.

There remains about 10′ of dusty hallway before a tall stone arch decorated with faintly glowing blue arcane symbols all the way to its point. The room beyond appears a bit hazy, but parts of a very large skull can be seen in the room lying on the floor.

As the group approaches the arch, the runes glow a little brighter. No one has disturbed the dust on the floor in centuries.

Note to the Judge: the runes are intended as a red herring. At your discretion, there could be a force field barring the entry of the impure, but if they survived the trials of the Happy Hunting Grounds, then they should be allowed access. The mundane explanation for the runes is that they were part of the ritual allowing the body of the Wolf Lord to be entombed.

(Map to follow)

As the group passes through the archway, the room is illuminated with the warm glow of autumn dusk.

The room lights up and the bones of an enormous wolf lay in front of what appears to be a gigantic tree on the back wall. Puzzling, because there is no tree on the surface that corresponds with the roots/trunk.

The floor inside is grassy, covered in autumn leaves in many colors and shapes. The room has a warm, homecoming feel to it. The group is flooded with happy memories of warm meals and family at home. It’s as if they were being welcomed back after a long voyage.

There is a great deal of open ground in front of the party. In front and to the right are the bones of the Wolf Lord’s corporeal body. To the left are the bones of a human skeleton dressed in ceremonial robes. A grimoire and a journal lie next to the body, along with a medium sized chest.

Before the group gets a chance to investigate the body, a portal opens on the left wall. 5 large, snarling, hideous, frightening werewolves led by some sort of huge wolf demon burst through it!

Demon Werewolves: Init +7; Atk bite +8 melee (1d8+2) Claw +6 melee (1d6+2) ; Crit 19-20; AC 16; HD 4d6+4 ea; MV 40’; Act 1d24+ 1d20; SV Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +5; AL C. Infravision. Return to home plane when destroyed.
Immune to non-magical weapons or natural attacks from creatures of 3 HD or less; half damage from fire, acid, cold, electricity, gas. Vulnerable to Magic Weapons, Silver, Cold wrought Iron and wolfsbane.

Being bitten by one of these creatures causes a debilitating form of Lycanthropy. Fort Save DC 15. If afflicted, the character will rise on the next full moon as a minion of the Werewolf Lord under the control of the Judge. A meal of raw meat must be consumed each time the character transforms or lose 1 point of Stamina each night and transform again each night regardless of the moon until such a meal is consumed. The character’s alignment will also gradually change to Chaotic if it wasn’t already. The disease can be cured by the Remove Disease or similar higher level spell.

These Large werewolves are led by the Demon Servant of the Werewolf Lord. Their sole purpose is to prevent the reawakening of the Wolf Lord. The Demon Wolf servants of the Werewolf Lord are larger than average wolves with thick black fur, red eyes and sabretooth fangs.

Alpha Servant of the Werewolf Lord: (Type III Demon) Init +7; Atk bite +10 melee (1d10+2) Claw +9 melee (1d8+2) ; Crit 18-20; AC 17; HD 6d6+6; MV 40’; Act 1d24+ 1d20; SV Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +5; AL C. Infravision. Return to home plane when destroyed. Immune to weapons of less than +2 enchantment or natural attacks from creatures of 5 HD or less; half-damage from fire, acid, cold, electricity, gas; Vulnerable to Magic Weapons, Silver, Cold wrought Iron and wolfsbane. Being bitten by this creature applies a debilitating form of lycanthropy. (See above.)

This Huge beast has been sent to kill anyone attempting to awaken the Wolf Lord from his slumber at any cost. He appears similar to the Large members of his pack, but more horrible, frightening, and hunched over.

*At the Judge’s discretion, the werewolves may teleport away at 3/4 of their starting hit points, choosing to face punishment at the hands of their master.

After the battle, the Wolf Lord appears.

Read aloud:
As soon as the last of the demons falls, they all vanish into dust. The Wolf Lord appears as a light blue, glowing ghost of his former self.
“Thank you for coming to me after these long years of rest. Unto you I will bestow a few humble gifts. After you return to your world above, please spread the word of my return to the forests and hills of my home world. You are akin to my pack now. I will forever be in your debt.

The group will have the opportunity to speak to the Wolf Lord and ask as many reasonable questions as they like. The Judge is free to fill in the details. The Wolf Lord is benevolent and considers the group to be his new pack.

The Wolf Lord will allow the survivors to speak with fallen members of their group. He would be able to revive a fallen member of the group if they request it. Otherwise, fallen PCs may be resurrected as wolves or allowed to return to The Happy Hunting Grounds if they wish.

Loot: The sword Wolf’s Fang will be awarded to whoever carries the wolf’s tooth. The cloak will be awarded to a suitable roguish type. The Grimoire that explains the Wolf Lord’s Coven and benefits of converting to being one of his followers. Finally, the witch’s journal details 3 new spells specific to the Wolf Lord and those who follow him.

Once the group is done collecting their loot, a portal appears in the tree roots behind the wolf bones. It leads back to the surface above. It closes once everyone steps through.


Let’s Talk About: More Classes in DCC RPG.

Here are some classes I’d like to see come into DCC RPG. Please remember Races have their own class in DCC, just like Basic D&D and some other OSR games. Some classes deemed mention in order to be ruled out or suggested as variants within preexisting classes.

One of the few issues I have with Dungeon Crawl Classics and some other OSR games is the lack of variety in the character classes/races.

I know. I know. It’s the Interwebs. I’m sure if we can think of it, someone out there has already done it or something similar. With enough time and digging, I’m sure I can find the magical answer to the question: Has this already been done? I will do that digging later. Then again, “Do yer research,” has some people believing the Earth is flat, so…

Here are some classes I’d like to see come into DCC RPG. Please remember Races have their own class in DCC, just like Basic D&D and some other OSR games. Some classes deemed mention in order to be ruled out or suggested as variants within preexisting classes.

Let’s start with some of the classes from AD&D:

Acrobat: They’re nimble, dodgy and athletic. They may excellent second story burglars. This simple adaptation of Thief would focus on Strength, Agility and mobility in combat.

Assassin: I feel to properly capture this class it would need to be a blend of Warrior and Thief. The variation on this would be Ninja, much as Samurai are an adaptation of Warrior.

Barbarian: Is pretty much just a Warrior with a gnarly attitude and usually some sort of large weapon. Strictly a roleplaying choice unless the Judge wishes to modify it.

Cavalier: Cool as it might be, this class would only be a fit for certain campaigns and maybe be better relegated to a variation on Warrior. Originally I did consider it.

Druid: I have two schools of thought on this and the Shaman. One is they’re just dressed-up Clerics. The second one is, heck yeah. Separate class! Shapeshifting, different spells, different social orders, exciting spellcasting restrictions. Let’s do it! Druids are in tune with nature more than their gods. Maybe they would require a different casting table with new and exciting consequences?

Monk: This is somewhat the Mystic from D&D Rules Cyclopedia. It’s a freaky cross between the Shao-Lin tradition and like a Benedictine monk. I think it has a place in DCC. I suppose an argument could be made for making them a roleplaying variation of Warrior or Cleric. I would give them a little of both.

Paladin: Again, seemed like a cool idea at first, but maybe not. This can be played as a slightly holier-than-thou Warrior or a zealous, more aggressive Cleric. Probably not a good basic OSR choice overall.

Ranger: As I love this class is other games, I’m really tempted to convert this. But, it could just be a very woodsy Warrior or Thief. Again, somewhat like the Mystic from D&D Rules Cyclopedia, living alone in the woods, studying Wizard spells while practicing with a bow and two-weapon fighting, stealth… Yeah. This one has the potential to get out of hand real quick, so probably no.

I think a good case could be made for less powerful versions of the Ranger such as Scout, Archer, or some sort of Dual Wield specialist. It’s ultimately up to the Judge as to whether or not to allow a class to make Warriors almost completely obsolete overnight. Maybe it is best left as a simple roleplaying variation on Warrior, Thief, or Elf.

Shaman: “But Jeff, that’s just another Cleric!” Yes, it could play out that way. But I think it’s a very viable class. For those who remember 2nd Ed AD&D, there were some pretty cool Druid and/or Shaman spells. Shaman would also tap into the spirit world a lot more and their spell table would reflect it. It seems a very viable option to me, but could be a roleplaying variation of Cleric or maybe even Wizard.

Porting a couple of classes in from video game land.

I’d like to see a few classes brought over from newer editions of D&D and/or a couple of my favorite video games.

Necromancer: I would dare say there are a fair number of players from Everquest, Diablo 2 and 3, as well as other games who would eat this up as a class beyond Wizard. A similar argument could be made for Enchanter/Artificer with automatons or suits of magic armor.

Warlock: Take the magic table and make it super harsh. Have some sort of Void beings, Fell hounds, Succubi, or other nasty demons as servants. (*ala World of Warcraft.) Give them supernatural patrons that would make the player’s skin crawl a bit. With great power comes great sacrifice. Maybe not quite so evil, just creepy.

Things I think would be fun to bring in from Blizzard properties:

(Oh don’t sue me. Please don’t sue me…) I would like to see the Diablo 2 AD&D magic item tables converted for DCC. I think it would be fun to give players the Wailing Fiery Broadsword of the Whale, as a made-up example. That way if they find a really cool item, they know it’s legendary. I might work something similar into my game. I also like the idea of using green, blue, yellow, purple, and gold sticky notes with the items on them to denote rarity. Could be fun.

I also think it would be cool to bring in a lot of the spells from both Diablo games and WoW. They’re mostly quickly cast offensive spells for Wizards. The only downsides I could see to this would be failed casting checks and the poor Wizards wearing out rapidly from repeated casts.

“Third wizard this week that had to be put down because he sprouted extra tentacles and an eyeball in the middle of his forehead.” –Bob, Warrior Extraordinaire

I’m sure there could be cases made for bringing in all kinds of things unofficially from other RPGs, video games, and even movies/tv. (Krull’s spiky blade thing, for example.) I’m also giving thought to making my own campaign world where I can slip in a bunch of these character concepts, spells, and items.

Next time, I’ll cover races and possibly a few other class options that might be fun. I appreciate you! Thanks for being here!

Artifacts of the Wolf Lord DCC RPG.

These items will be available after the final boss fight in Room 2-2 in the Catacomb of the Wolf Lord to be released soon. It’s not as easy as one might imagine to obtain one of these items.

I make no aspersions about game balance. Use at your own risk.

These items haven’t been fully tested in DCC. The items are built around the two base classes of Warrior and Thief but could be used by Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling. Please also note the wielders of these items won’t know immediately what they are capable of. Some trial and error may be in order.

These items will be available after the final boss fight in Room 2-2 in the Catacomb of the Wolf Lord to be released soon. It’s not as easy as one might imagine to obtain one of these items.

Both items can easily be adapted to other RPGs, especially OSR games.

Fang of the Wolf Lord:

This sword is forged from the physical fang of the Wolf Lord. It is granted by him to a wielder who he deems worthy. If the owner of the sword dies, the sword magically returns to the Wolf Lord in 1d6 days.

The sword is a short sword, long sword or two handed sword depending on the owner’s preference. It can be stored in the sheath of a dagger when it is not in use. It grows to the full length chosen when drawn.

In any form, it is a +2 Lawful 10 INT, 3 Banes, 3 type 1 powers, 1 type 2 power. 1d12 Special Power. Empathy.

Bane 1: Lycanthropes. +1 Damage Bonus.
Bane 2: Un-dead: +1 to hit and damage
Bane 3: Demons: +1 to hit and damage. (This is not listed in the DCC book.)

Special Purpose: Protect the Weak
Power 1: Detect Evil 1d4x10’
Power 2: Detect Invisible 1/day.
Power 3: Gives the owner Infravision 120’.

Special Power (Not listed in DCC.) Summon Spirit Wolf 1/Day:
Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2); AC 14; HD 3d6 (18hp); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL L. Always appears with Max HP. Will follow the instructions of the wielder as long as the Purpose and Banes of the sword are being followed. Disappears for 24 hours if destroyed.

May be summoned again IF the sword deems it necessary.

(Artwork to come)

Cloak of the Wolf Lord:

Granted to a roguish servant of the Wolf Lord. Upon declaring allegiance to the Celestial Pack of the Wolves, this items attunes to the person to whom it was granted. Wearing the Cloak bestows the following:

+3 AC or acts as +3 Hide Armor if none is worn (AC +6, 1d8 Fumble, No Movement penalty.)
+2 to any check involving smell or hearing while the armor is worn.
+2 Sneak Silently
+2 Hide in Shadows* Hide and Sneak bonuses also apply in woodland surroundings with sufficient cover.
Wearer will automatically be regarded as friendly by regular wolves.

More to come! Thanks for stopping by!

Items for use with Dungeon Crawl Classics and other OSR games.

Does the Number of Books Matter?

I strongly considered Basic D&D, literally just Basic as opposed to OSR or all of the variations on OSR. I considered Pathfinder 2E, but the rulebook is pretty hefty and there are so many character options. And last, there was good old 5E. So many options, but what would work best for me?

I submit to you 4 systems, one dungeon.

I’ve wrestled around with what system I want to write in as my primary game system for fantasy dungeon crawls. I mean, technically I could pull out more than four. Open Legends, Mythras, ICRPG, Bare Bones, FATE, and more all got pulled up as possibilities. But I was determined to go with what I know best.

My latest dungeon effort, one room at a time on my blog here, The Catacomb of the Wolf Lord, is done with Dungeon Crawl Classics. I strongly considered Basic D&D, literally just Basic as opposed to OSR or all of the variations on OSR. I considered Pathfinder 2E, but the rulebook is pretty hefty and there are so many character options. And last, there was good old 5E. So many options, but what would work best for me?

So much source material to choose from.

My meager Pathfinder Second Edition collection. But is it good for dungeon crawls?

One thing I love about D&D 5E is that it is probably the single most expanded upon RPG in the history of games. I thought I had a lot of 3E monster books from various publishers. Some folks in the community call it “bloat.” Regardless of what it’s called, there are hundreds of variations on classes, monsters, spells, etc. Given the amount of options, I decided to go for something a little simpler.

Let’s be clear, though. The amount of options isn’t as negative as the Old Grognards Society might have you believe. The massive amount of options is less daunting as long as the DM and the group agree on what can be used or not used. At some point, there just comes a point when the group agrees this far and no farther. The same applies to homebrew.

Too much material sort of my issue with PF2E, but not the only one. Paizo has printed some seriously impressive books, especially monsters, for Pathfinder 1E. PF2E has three bestiaries to date. Their conversion of 1E source material has been fantastic so far.

Recently Paizo announced a new title that would be 5E compatible. PF2E sales are not as stellar as maybe they could be according to some. If I were going to try to make some cash on DriveThruRPG from this dungeon, maybe PF2E isn’t the way to go? I’ve also never been a fan of the Pathfinder’s campaign world. It’s okay, just not my jam, maybe.

DCC has a whopping two books of official content, not counting modules, zines, and Lankhmar. Basic D&D has surprisingly few monster books as well. T$R was pretty good about not flooding the market back then. Of course, back then it was presumed DMs were creating their own homebrew monsters. Third party companies weren’t going bonkers with anything but modules as far as I remember. DCC is pretty much built for modules.

It’s not so much quality over quantity.

DCC Annual Vol 1.
So far the only major DCC sourcebook of note.

There are other factors at play. Sure DCC is extremely homebrew friendly and pretty easy to publish modules for it. Sure it’s familiar from the 3E D&D days. (Yes, I’m enamored with it as of late.) It’s got a lot going for it!

What D&D and Pathfinder both need (IN MY OPINION) is a narrowing. At its very core of any game is a basic set of stats, abilities, weapons, spells. The wheel can only be reinvented so many times over, right?

DCC offers that exact notion that rules can be narrowed. I’m not spending endless hours as the GM trying to dig through classes, subclasses, feats, skills, and so on. DCC is pretty basic Fighter, Thief, Cleric, and Wizard. The races are classes unto themselves. Nothing complicated.

I can go nuts (re)creating monsters, spells, items and even demigods all I want. Goodman seems cool about everything. But DCC isn’t bloated, either. The field is wide open like back in the Basic D&D days. Which is not to say the Internet isn’t absolutely thick with expansion material. But the DCC Core and Annual are all I’m using, plus whatever I can borrow, steal or create on my own.

D&D Basic is inspirational for DCC because of its classes, spells and weapons. Races were still considered classes in DCC and the monsters translate from Basic to DCC freakiness pretty well.

The best part is I can look at all the other books for PF2E and D&D 5E for inspiration. Outright plagiarism is not cool. NEVER EVER directly copy something and claim it as your own. It’s not fair to other creators.

The only two Basic D&D books I will ever use. These are reprints because my original Rules Cyclopedia fell apart after years of service. You can still get these titles from DMsGuild.

Borrowing concepts and abilities from other games is legit. Out-and-out plagiarism is not.

However- you can re-skin, change abilities, reorganize and rename creatures any time the situation dictates as long as you’re doing most of the above at the same time. An Orc by any other name is a Klurg, hailing from the far desert, with orange skin and wielding a khopesh made of solid obsidian. (Steal at will, I don’t mind.) Orcs in my campaigns typically behave like Star Trek Klingons, anyway. You can be original without doing all of the legwork over and over. (Remember that whole thing about reinventing the wheel?)

I see DCC has a Werewolf Lord, so why not a Wolf Lord? They compete with one another. One represents nature in three different aspects. The other represents the horrible abomination of man and nature. This will be fun! Clerics and Wizards will both benefit.

Thanks for stopping by!

The homebrew potential in DCC is immense. Plus it can always convert to other games quite easily. ICRPG is an easy conversion. D&D 5E and PF2E are also possible with a little time. I think the in-depth systems are awesome for more serious role-playing where DCC is great for beer-n-pretzels dungeon crawls.

Game on, family! See you soon. Hope you’re having a fabulous week.

DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord 1-5: The Long Hallway.

After the first 40′ it becomes apparent they are no longer in the dungeon they entered, but have walked through a portal into a densely forested realm. The sun is perpetually dimmed by cloud cover and there is some patchy fog around the trees in every direction. From behind, it just looks like the group kept going down the hallway. After the last PC steps in, a kodama spirit appears.

So far, it hasn’t been so bad.

The group will have to put in some effort to find these doors, but they aren’t as difficult because of their size. They are still covered in mud, but if the group takes a little time to excavate, these doors are gorgeous and telling.

Read aloud:

It took some effort, but you’ve uncovered two large, ornately carved, bronze bound doors. They are heavy and rounded at the top, probably to match the hallway beyond. You feel a slight chill go up your spine when you touch the door, as if touching the lid to an occupied coffin. The doors themselves give off a somber energy, as though one were taking their final walk after a life well lived. The two old, bronze rings are heavy with age and mud.

If the players clean the doors off, the left door has an ornate, lovingly carved picture of a wolf, standing on a cliff, howling. On the right door is a moon over a forest. The moon is faintly glowing. The doors are magically locked.

This was the Wolf Lord’s one last chance to howl at the moon. If the players read through the journal, it chronicles the Wolf Lord’s final journey to his resting place. The coven gave him one last chance to howl.

Unless the characters have a way to magically unlock the doors, they may howl at the moon and the doors will magically unlock. They are extremely heavy and require a DC 15 Strength Check to open.
Read aloud:

Your mighty howls seem to activate the magic in the lock and you pull the doors open with a stout heave. What lies beyond may not have been for mortal eyes. You see a painstakingly carved round stone hallway. There is a faint glow of magic in the doorway. The hall is round and tall, except for the floor, which is squeaky clean and flat. Magic globes faintly light the wall.

The Hallway seems normal for the first 20′ or so.

After the first 40′ it becomes apparent they are no longer in the dungeon they entered, but have walked through a portal into a densely forested realm. The sun is perpetually dimmed by cloud cover and there is some patchy fog around the trees in every direction. From behind, it just looks like the group kept going down the hallway. After the last PC steps in, a kodama spirit appears.

The diminutive creature rattles its head to sort of communicate. It walks among the PCs and checks them over. It stops and waves its arm. Suddenly 36 kodama appear and begin wandering through the party. They appear to be looking everyone over, but are harmless. If the group attempts to harm them, remind them that the little spirits are ethereal and mean no harm. They’re just studying the group for what comes next.

They will climb onto the PCs, inspect their gear, maybe even try to interact a little. The little spirits are trying to determine alignment. Check their alignments. This will determine which wolves they will face.

IF the group tries to turn around, all they see is forest and fog.
MAP:
Since the encounter takes place on the spiritual plane of The Happy Hunting Grounds, the Judge is free to produce any large forested area desired or throw down trees randomly. There should rarely be unbroken line of sight for more than 20′-30′ aside from the 20′ wide path the characters are travelling along.

The kodama scamper off after a few minutes except the first one. It motions them forward. As the group walks forward into the dense forest, wisps of fog surround them. It becomes readily apparent that they are not alone in the forest. Wolves are moving among the trees, yipping and growling.

There are three wolves per PC. The wolves are all the same pack, but each PC will be “tested” by the wolves matching their alignment.

The Lawful Spirit Wolves:
Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2); AC 14; HD 3d6 (18hp ea); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL L.

The Neutral Wolves:
Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 2d6 (12 hp ea.); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL N.

The Chaotic Dire Wolves:
Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2); AC 14; HD 3d6 (18 hp); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL C.

Tests:
The Lawful Wolves will approach and insist the characters follow. They will ask telepathically why the characters wish to see him. As long as the Lawful characters are pure of motive, no one will be attacked and they will be permitted to move on. It will be a pleasant conversation.

The Neutral Wolves will surround the group. They will circle cautiously and sniff out an alpha to challenge. Then, a Large wolf with a scar over its left eye will approach. It has AC 16 and 4d6 HD (24hp) and will only fight until significantly injured or the group’s alpha is injured.

The Chaotic Wolves will single out the Chaotic characters and fight to the near-death. They may even drag the weakest looking character off into the woods until the battle is decided.

The character who rescued the large tooth from Room 1-3 may show it, if he remembers and be automatically chosen as alpha/party leader/representative of the whole group as an emissary.

IF the group becomes frightened and attack anything but the Chaotic Wolves, ALL of the wolves in the encounter will work together to fight the group. They will surround, pull, and double team the group as much as they reasonably can. They will attack weak-looking characters, spellcasters, and Halflings first.

However, the wolves will not intentionally kill any of the party. The goal is to test the group’s resolve and pure intentions for wanting to see the Wolf Lord. If accidents happen the slain party member will discover they are already in the heavenly realm of The Happy Hunting Grounds. They may choose an afterlife destination or remain has ghosts where they are.

After the encounter, the group will be led, escorted, or dragged out into the long, sloping hallway that leads to Room 2-1.

DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord Room 1-4

This room may seem a little lackluster compared to the others once unearthed.

This room may seem a little lackluster compared to the others once unearthed.

Room 1-4: Much like the door to Room 1-3, this door is caked in mud and earth, taking considerable effort to find. However, once discovered, the door swings into Room 1-2 with considerable ease. It opens to a narrow hole in the packed mud about 3′ in diameter, about enough for one adventurer at a time.

Once a light is shone into the room, the walls and ceiling are caked with thick mud and packed earth. At least half of the room is completely filled in. The glint of gold can be seen a little over 10′ across from the opening on what remains of the stone floor. There is about 5′ of operable space from floor to ceiling within the dimensions indicated on the map. What is possibly a hilt of a weapon or the end of a staff covered in dirt can also be seen. There is also a mud covered goblet and a bowl of a brazier sticking out of the dirt farther into the room.

And then there was trouble!
Once an adventurer enters the room, they can see the corner of a chest buried in the mud next to the coins. If they try to extract the chest, the handle, the goblet or the brazier, or do anything that disturbs the room in any way (Yell, tap the walls floor or ceiling, swing a weapon, etc) a full collapse is triggered. DC 15 Ref Save to get clear in time. The room is filled with earth! Anyone in the room takes 1d8 damage and is buried in the dirt. Suffocation Fort DC 10+1 per round buried, 1d6 Sta damage per failed save. The characters not trapped in the dirt can be excavated from the wreckage. The GM can determine how difficult it will be to dig any given player out depending on how far into the room they are buried.

IF the group managed to befriend or play nice with the elementals, they can excavate trapped PCs with ease and will gladly do so. They won’t help with the treasure, but they will save the adventurers, who clearly don’t belong in their element.

Thanks for stopping in. Room 1-5 is on the horizon. I love old fashioned dungeon crawls.

Catacomb of the Wolf Lord: Room 1-3

Room 1-3 of Catacomb of the Wolf Lord. The group may have found treasure, but is it cursed?

The “Treasure” Room.

The entrance to the Treasure Room 1-3 is concealed under a thick layer of old mud and gravel. In the dim lighting and all of the mud, the door will be difficult to find. If the group “plays” with the elementals, more earth will be caked onto the old mud. Ask the players if/how they are searching.

If the group finds the door and excavates it, it opens into Room 1-2. Beyond the door, there is a 5’x5′ unlit hallway leading to another door. Across the way, is a wrought iron bound locked door. The lock is trapped and will drop a 1 ton granite block on the trap victim and blocking the hallway. (Detect Trap DC15.)
Pick Lock DC 18. 8d6 damage from the block + being pinned. Reflex Save for no damage.

If successful, the door opens into a magically lit 15′ x 15′ room, domed ceiling with a faint glowing light in it, with a magical circle drawn on the floor. Inside the circle are four items. The first is a dagger (athame) in an ornate wooden box. The second is a leather bound book with a lock and key. It looks to be very old. The third is a gray fur cloak with an ornate wolf’s head clasp. The fourth and final item is a wolf’s fang.

Once the first character fully enters the room, a ghostly wolf appears. It speaks clearly to the group. It points to each item with its nose and states, Cleric, the dagger; Wizard, the book; Thief, the cloak, and Fighter, the tooth. Read the following aloud:

The ghost stares at you, or possibly through you. It points to each item and states clearly a second time Cleric, the dagger; Wizard, the book; Thief, the cloak, and Fighter, the tooth. Choose wisely. You make only keep one. Bring it to my final resting place for your real reward if you are so worthy.The rest are cursed.

It sits and says, “I’m waiting for your answer. You may ask one question of each item if you wish. One I shed. One was my end. One was my life. One is my gift to you if you are worthy.”

The ghost, a spirit messenger of the Wolf Lord, will answer truthfully one question of each item within reason. Its answers will always be cryptic and vague. It won’t try to encourage or discourage the group from choosing any of the items. It might also answer a little more about itself.

The Wolf Lord wasn’t always a wolf. It lived for a while as a man to better understand men. He took an elven bride and had two children: Koga and Kei. Koga became feral and ran away at a young age to join a wolf pack. Kei grew up to be a refined elven lady. (Current whereabouts unknown.) The Wolf Lord eventually rejoined his spirit pack and left his mortal family behind.

After many centuries, the great animal lords were forgotten. In turn, each returned to a sacred place where a coven of followers put their bodies to rest and sealed them away from the mortal world.

*Note: If any of the cursed items have the curse removed, the item is rendered permanently inert.

A) The athame is a cursed dagger +1. It radiates strong magic. The wielder must feed it one hp per day or lose 1 Stamina each day the hp requirement is not met. The wielder may not give its own hp.

B) The Coven’s Spellbook: The Coven’s Spellbook is a cursed antithesis of all that is Lawful or Neutral. Any mage who opens it will automatically become Chaotic, and will turn more toward being un-dead with each page read. Any/all spells copied or cast from the book with automatically backfire. Any creatures summoned automatically turn on the caster. It was never meant for the world of the living.

C) The Cloak of the Gray Wolf: At first, this cloak appears to not be cursed. It offers a +1 Agility bonus to Stealth and +1 bonus to AC. Once per day it allows the wearer to shapeshift into a normal wolf. All items become part of the new form. Mental stats stay the same.

Wolf, common: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD
as wearer; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1;

The ability resets at sunrise.
But the cloak is cursed. At the first full moon after acquisition, the wearer transforms permanently into a wolf under the control of the GM until the curse can be lifted.

D) The tooth is a regular tooth. It is not cursed, nor is it terribly useful yet. However, it is the key to unlocking the real treasure in Room 2-2, the Wolf Lord’s burial chamber.

While the Wolf Lord is considered a demigod and will grant certain spells to his followers, this is clearly not the book to do it with. The Wolf Lord will be available as a Mage Patron and as a Demigod to be detailed elsewhere.

Once an item is chosen, the rest vanish along with the circle and the lights in the room. The eerie outline of the spirit can still be seen, but it will not interact after the choice is made.

That’s it for this room. It’s obvious the other party never made it to this room. The journal makes no reference to tests or treasure beyond a vague mention of some kind of treasure believed to be buried with the bones of the Wolf Lord himself.

Thanks for being here! I appreciate you. Can’t wait to see what happens in Room 1-4 and 1-5? Hang in there. They’re coming soon.

Fantasy TTRPGs- Starting a Dungeon

Dungeon crawls. Why do they exist and who would build such a thing?

Giving the dungeon, and the module, a backstory.

Whether I’m creating a typical five room dungeon or a massive underground mega sprawl, the first question that always comes to mind is: why? And the why actually goes both ways. Why would anyone in their right (medieval fantasy) mind want to build the complex, possibly underground at all? Furthermore, why would a group of characters want to go into a dank underground complex full of terrible traps and drooling, slobbering monsters?

Now, not every dungeon adventure the party is going to face is necessarily underground. It could be a hedge maze, an old manor, a shipwreck, or something even stranger. The question always remains, why is it there?

Who built it and for what purpose?

Not every dungeon is built for a reason. Some occur naturally. But every dungeon is inhabited for a reason. (Or worse, abandoned for a bigger reason.) I mean, every creature needs a home, right? Even drooling, slobbering, scary monsters gotta live somewhere.

But a true dungeon, a real stereotypical fantasy underground complex, springs to life with a legitimate reason of some sort in mind. I find it important to decide on a cause before I start construction so I know what the centerpiece of the place is going to be. Bear in mind, a truly huge dungeon would take thousands of man hours and gold coins or lots of magic in order to build it safely. Guards and traps are extra, of course.

Then we come to the who. Sometimes it’s obvious from my GM/DM’s perspective that said BBEG or villain needs a cool lair. Sometimes (Out of character) I need a particularly deadly place to stash some epic loot the party might need some time down the road. Other times yet, it’s just for flavor, like a sidetrack or incidental.

The builder’s in-character motive always comes to mind as well. Maybe it’s a tomb full of stone soldiers constructed in memory of a forgotten general. Perhaps a power mad necromancer needed a secluded place to build his golem in peace. (Darn villagers with their torches and pitchforks…) It’s possible a well meaning group of beings long ago wanted to seal away a gate to their realm. It could be the lair of an innocent Ancient Red Dragon that just wanted to keep it’s modest filthy lucre mountain safe before he can donate it to the orphans. Maybe a group of well meaning good samaritans wanted to seal something truly horrific away forever and throw away the key. Still another reason might be to bury a powerful artifact away from those who would abuse its power.

These are mere examples. We could go all day and night coming up with cool reasons to build a dungeon. The history and lore should play an important role in the next step: getting the player characters in the door. To be continued…

Fantasy TTRPG: The ‘Why’ of Dungeon Crawling.

One of my favorites is the group stumbles onto the thing completely by accident through a buried entrance or random hole in the ground. “While doing your character’s business off the trail, he stumbles into a hole and plummets 30 feet into (dungeon room number 1.)”

I like to give players a reason for their character to enter the spooky underground maze of despair and certain doom.

Picking up where we left of yesterday. Why would anyone in their right mind enter an underground complex full of locked doors, deathtraps, and horrifying foul creatures of every sort? Okay, beyond the motivation of, “We’re perpetually angry thieving murder hoboes looking for the filthy lucre mountain to steal.”

What is the hook of the dungeon going to be? What can I put out there to get at least one player, if not the whole group motivated to go traipsing down into The Lair of the Vampiric Devil Dragon? What logical reasons could there be for wanting to cheat death? Okay, aside from it being a fantasy game.

The two most basic kinds of motivation: Intrinsic or Extrinsic.

We’ll start with the complicated reasons- the intrinsic kind. Maybe the group wants to rescue someone. Maybe the lost component of someone’s backstory lies within. Perhaps the lich that built the place is someone’s great grandfather. In extreme cases, it might be to keep some really frightening thing from ending the world. Whatever the intrinsic reason is, it’s something motivated by the characters themselves.

By comparison, extrinsic reasons are pretty simple. The group has a reason to believe wealth, fame and fortune lie within. They’ve been promised a great reward for braving the depths and retrieving the MacGuffin. Gold and magic items top the list of extrinsic motivators.

There’s always basic curiosity and dumb luck.

All of us veterans know some hooks by heart. For example: a ragged looking wizard stumbles into the inn with a map in his hand. He falls over dead in the middle of the group’s table, dropping the map in the unsuspecting rogue’s lap after muttering something about an ancient curse.

One of my favorites is the group stumbles onto the thing completely by accident through a buried entrance or random hole in the ground. “While doing your character’s business off the trail, he stumbles into a hole and plummets 30 feet into (dungeon room number 1.)”

Last, there’s always basic curiosity. Rumors abound at the inn about a miner’s discovery of a door covered in an ancient, unknown dialect. The cleric’s order recently unearthed a series of forgotten vaults underneath their oldest temple. Why is the humble town of Tristram suddenly under siege by hordes of demons and undead? Who lives in the Death Fortress on Skull Island? There might be some sick loot in the old ruins at the top of the hill.

Whatever the reason, good luck to you and your players. Thank you for being here. I appreciate you!

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