Kobold Press

Grand Duchy: Meet Me at Treadwell’s

Tavern Scene by Jan SteenExperienced travelers, including adventurers, who plan an extended stay in Hirschberg inquire: Are there any vacancies at Treadwell’s?

The boardinghouse sits on the intersection facing the Street of Blades where it meets the Road to Salzbach. It’s hard to miss. The two-story, L-shaped building is painted smartly in maize, with its shutters and trim in white. A canopy with decorative latticework is over the entrance.

In the morning, the inviting smell of baked fruit pies comes from its first-floor kitchen. In the afternoon, it’s the rich spicy odor of a bubbling stew.

The boot scraper and brush at the front entrance are meant to be used. Guests who wish to impress Mrs. Treadwell are advised not to track mud into the parlor.

Rarely is the silver bell at the main desk needed. Mrs. Treadwell has a sense when prospective boarders are calling and arrives at the main desk forthwith.

Eliza Nell Treadwell is a tidy, cheery dwarf with a wide smile who, though broad-shouldered and broad-hipped like many of her race, moves gracefully across the floor and handles her many duties with alacrity. Well into her middle years, her once-golden hair has lightened considerably and is kept in a tight bun. Octagonal glasses are perched low on the end of her round nose, and she wears a plain apron over her clothing, which is usually a blouse with matching vest and long folded skirt with only a touch of decorative embroidery.

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Judge’s Commentary: Monarch of the Monsters 5—Low CR Design

Monarch of the MonstersOne of the joys of a monster design contest for me is always seeing monsters at the low end of the CR spectrum. It is much easier to design a monster at a medium-to-high power level, because you have more options: the creature can have more powers, more magical fallbacks, and elements that only a medium-or-high level-party can handle. So, I want to shine a bit of the judge’s spotlight on two low-Challenge Rating creatures from the recent Monarch of the Monsters contest that I found entertaining and rated higher than average.

The first of these is the cobbleswarm (by Christopher Gilliford), a CR 2 creature that draws on longstanding D&D tradition by resembling a cobbled street or floor. Be still my heart, someone is attempting a monster in the style of the lurker, the trapper, and the mimic! And yes, this swarm of stony crabs is hard to spot, and it somewhat resembles a street—and it knocks creatures prone and it can carry creatures short distances as one of its powers. This has possibilities, to my mind, because it is not lethal, but it is perfect for splitting the party. A nice twist for a creature that otherwise is not a deadly threat after the first couple levels of play. Add in some High Weirdness in the description to your players (“The street below you opens its eyes—dozens of eyes—and begins to move”) and a rudimentary understanding of traps, and you see how this truly odd creature might fit into a dungeon ecology. It’s one of those things that strikes me as quintessentially D&D-ish.

It is very much a niche monster and an oddball, but sometimes those are perfectly entertaining. And certainly what I’m looking for is entertainment from monsters like this!

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Collection of Curiosities: The Pie

"Jiro the Kobold" by Pat LoboykoSometimes adventurers end up in places where bakers provide yummy goodness in the form of pies. But what ARE those pies? You can roll randomly for a result below, or use the handy number provided with each entry to figure out your result on a d12. You can also pick the one that works for the area in which your characters currently linger.

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Prepared!: Not-Quite-Right Magical Treasures

The Love Potion - Evelyn De MorganFor every successfully enchanted sword, there are a score of sputtering failures. A ring of great power must have several nearly mundane cousins—more suited to a smelter than a wizard’s finger. Sometimes your party’s actions deserve a reward that is heavy in flavor but light in power. Today, Prepared! brings you two items from the catalog of not-quite-right magical treasures.

The Weeping Handkerchief

Opening a small hardened leather case, you discover a single light blue square of silk cloth. Folded carefully to display the emblem of its former owner, the cloth appears to be slightly damp. Unfolding the square makes it apparent that the cloth is cut in the shape of a handkerchief. The cause of the handkerchief’s continued dampness is not obvious.

After suffering a series of tremendous losses, a wealthy baron grew tired of drying his tears with damp handkerchiefs. The baron commissioned the renowned Jastrix the Attemptor to create an enchanted cloth that could absorb the baron’s many sorrows. The enchanter made several unsuccessful attempts before being removed from the baron’s court. The weeping handkerchief is one of Jastrix’s failures. Rather than being eternally dry and absorbent, the small square of fine silk is forever wet. Just shy of dripping, the object cannot be dried by any mundane means. It produces approximately four cups of potable water a day, which can be squeezed from it with a successful DC 10 Dexterity-based skill or ability roll. Successful DC 10 Intelligence-based skill or ability rolls reveal the nature of the magic. The moisture from the object does not transfer to other surfaces, and so it can be stored without fear of soaking other items.

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Lost Cities: Ideas for Ancient Ruins in Pulp Adventures

"Maphyboria". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maphyboria.jpg#/media/File:Maphyboria.jpg“But who built it? Who dwelt here? Where did they go? Why did they abandon it?” —Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, “Red Nails”

Nothing stirs an adventurer’s spirit like the lure of discovery in unknown lands. And when it comes to D&D (and its successors), we’re more apt to find players exploring the game’s eponymous dungeons rather than escaping them.

If you’ve read my other work for Kobold Press, you’re no stranger to the fact that I take great inspiration from the works of Robert E. Howard and his pulp contemporaries for my tabletop roleplaying. Indeed, Howard’s Hyborian Age is one of the great prototypes for modern fantasy world-building. This “Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars” is also a time of mystery, when lost cities lurk in the undiscovered depths of shadow-haunted wilderness.

Those of you looking to supplement your game with the stuff of legends need seek no further—this pairing of fantastic locales culled from the pages of Robert E. Howard’s weird fiction is guaranteed to put some extra pulp in your campaign just as sure as the sun sets on Stygia.

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