Wisdom Tree City

Wisdom Tree City has always existed, nestled on an island where two mighty rivers pour into the ocean. Every hundred years or so the Goddess Weeps, as the natives say. The two rivers swell, merge into one, and overrun the city. After they retreat, they leave behind a thick sand burying everything except the peak of the great magical library, The Wisdom Tree. The citizens return and rebuild. The library grows taller. Probably no one would bother settling here if it weren’t for its position of a great port, a natural magic aura, the library, and the mines.

The Wisdom Tree stands in the middle of the city, its roof so high it seems to scrape the sky. Underground, floor upon floor descends so deep that no one knows where it ends. Side passageways split off from the main tower and meander through the city’s sand-filled ruins like the roots of a tree. The library’s ancient magic prevents any mud from leaking through and keeps the air circulating at the perfect temperature.

Mine tunnels built by prospectors also twist through the ruins. Every miner hopes to find valuable artifacts from forgotten times, but few do. Most arrive in the city poorly equipped and many perish digging through the ruins. In the upper mine tunnels, petty thieves, transients, and the desperate take up residence in the relatively safety. More sinister criminals live in the mid-tunnels, planning heists and waiting to prey on lost miners. Only the bravest dare venture to the deepest levels where unknown monsters lurk in the dark, and the most valuable artifacts wait.

But by far the most popular attraction for common folk is the Aquatic Arena, a giant stadium built in the middle of the bay where teams compete in impressive water battles. No expense is spared. Warriors clash on top of exotic sea monsters captured from the Far Seas. Gnomes command huge whirling machinery, slicing through the choppy waves  to tear apart their opponents. Wizards using the latest magical discoveries dart across the arena, easily passing from the sky to under the water, painting the battle with the bursts of spells. Continue reading “Wisdom Tree City”

Ghost Origins

A good ghost has a good background, but it can be hard to think up a background on a spot. Here is a list of backgrounds to help.


The Lost Lover: A young woman who ran off away with a sailor, only to be sacrificed by the crew to appease the sea gods when a storm hit.

The Rising star and Fans: A famous singer and his audience who died in a theater fire.

The Time Traveler: A wizard who wanted revenge on his father, but accidentally went back too far and committed the murder before he had been conceived.

The Accidental Tourists: Sightseers who died when their touring carriage accidentally entered a desert pocket dimension with no way out.

The Informer: A barmaid who got caught buying illegal drugs. She became an undercover informer for the City Guard to avoid punishment, but the drug gang found out and had her executed.

The Tortured: Not even after they shoved needles up her toenails or held her over burning coals would she tell them where she had hidden the Book of the Moon.

The Lost: A party goer who got drunk, entered the catacombs on a dare, and never found her way back out.

The Falconer: A woman who trained and piloted giant falcons, but was eaten by her own Red Eye. Continue reading “Ghost Origins”

Dwarven Ruins

This week, three box-text descriptions of unique dwarven ruins.


Dwarven Racing Ground Ruins

Giant racing wheels rust on the overgrown track. A breeze blows through the arena, stirring the wildflowers and rattling the empty stands. The place would be very quiet if it weren’t for a small building on the far end. Light and voices stream out of its windows.  A gruff shout for music and the sounds of fiddles and singing join the noise. Over the inn, a giant bell engraved with Dwarven lettering sways in the air. Each time the clapper strikes, the wheels in the yard seem to twitch as if disturbed from a deep sleep.

Dwarven Moonshine Operation Ruins

Copper tanks of all shapes and sizes spill across the mountainside. The smell of alcohol still wafts up from their broken hulls. On every one is painted a red circle pierced by an ‘X,’ letting all know that the King’s agents have found and destroyed this tax-dodging operation. 

Dwarven Shipyard Ruins

Black slabs of ships float next to docks. On board, rows of golems stand ever ready to load cargo and sail across the seas to wherever it’s needed. Their salt-pitted casings and the slime covering everything informs that no cargo has come for a long time. 

Flikers

Another Dungeon World Monster this week. This is my first try at the “statless” monster – one that relies entirely on its special moves instead of its stats. This creature acts like a virus, harmless when outside the body, devastating when within.


Tulippe smiled at Garyver stretched out on the picnic blanket. He smiled back and told her how beautiful she looked with the sun shining off her hair. Tulippe blushed and told him he wasn’t so bad himself. The afternoon whittled away with the sweethearts eating their paper-wrapped food, talking of small things, and exchanging kisses. With the sun still bright in the sky, Garyver asked Tullippe if she had remembered to bring that dandelion wine with her. She answered by running to the stream and pulling out a glistening bottle of blonde liquid. Garyver looked just as the glass winked in the light. A stinging pain struck through his eyes and down to his feet, but then was gone. He finished the rest of the picnic, but it felt weird. The colors slightly off, the sounds slightly the wrong pitch.

As the days went by, he began experiencing more odd things. He’d feel bugs crawling over him, but no one else could see them. He’d hear people whispering about him, but when he turned to confront them, there was no one there. Despite the summer heat, he’d sometimes feel so cold, he’d cover himself in wool blankets and heavy furs. One day, the light got so bright all he could see was whiteness. He curled up in a ball and lost sense of time. He came to again at night in his bedroom. Tulippe was sleeping in a chair near his bed and a full moon shone through the window. He reached over and shook her shoulder to wake her. She opened her eyes and began to say something when she looked into his eyes. Her face froze for a second, her mouth hanging open, and then she shook her head as if trying to fix her vision.

Flikers appear as the shimmer of the sun on waters, as the sparkle on snow on a bright day, as the glitter cast by a young woman’s sequin dress, and anywhere else light twinkles. Usually they pass through the air harmlessly. But when infused with light, they gain the temporary ability to enter the eyes of anyone looking directly at them.  Once inside the body, they disrupt the host’s senses, slowly driving them insane. The afflicted have run off cliffs, clawed out their own eyes, and dumped boiling water over their head. Only extreme measures or luck will save them. Administering a cure can be dangerous, as the Flikers often appear as the glint in their victims’ eyes and thus spread to another.

Instinct: To infect and spread

Poisonous, Minuscule, Infectious

No HP, Armor or Damage Die. See special moves.

Special Moves:

  • Get inside you and confuse your senses
  • Slowly make you go insane
  • Spread to someone else

Three Caves

Three box-texts of caves for your game.


Ice Cave

Winds howl across the glacier’s top, but can’t reach into its deep channels . In one particularly dark crack, someone has carved foot slots. They descend into the darkness until reaching a corridor which extends out in either direction where purple orbs cast a cold light. Faces and wings flit within the solid ice behind the walls as if they were swimming in water.

Flooded Cave

At high tide the ocean washes into this cave and rummages around in its numerous tunnels like a man looking for something in a drawer. Then it drags the water back out along with anyone or anything it found. But at low tide, most of the cave remains dry but for the very deepest crevasses where a lake forms. Without waves to break its surface it resembles a sheet of black glass. Peering within, you can see a green cloud that hide its depths like spilled ink. Black branches poke out of the cloud giving a hint to what lies beneath.

Beast’s Lair

Cool air wafts up from hidden chambers bringing with it the smell of wet stone. The sound of dripping water echoes off the walls like a drum. From deep in the cave, a scream tears through this peaceful rhythm followed by the crunch of bone and muscle breaking.

Ethan Electric’s Automotive Co.

This is an outline for an adventure set in a Super Hero World. I ran this using the Mutants & Masterminds system, but it can be used with any system. I am using the Dungeon World front system for this, which you can read about here


Description

Zoom City’s car manufacturing industry has been in the dumps for the past several years. Factories closed down. Blocks abandoned. People jobless. But then, Ethan Electric’s appeared. It bought up all the old factories and started manufacturing sleek electric cars at a price every family could afford. They sold like ice cream on a summer day. Soon, Zoom City was back on top. Everyone had a job. Houses filled back up and neighborhoods expanded.

But Ethan Electric is after more than just being CEO of the biggest company in the country. He wants unbridled power and control. So, inside each car he has secretly installed weapons and a mind control device. Whenever he wants, he can flip a switch from his secret lair at the bottom of Grand Lake. A signal will then transmit to the HQ building in Zoom City where an immense beacon transmits the signal to every car. Any occupants in the car will then be compelled to do Ethan’s bidding and the car itself will transform into a weaponized battle vehicle. With this unwilling army, Ethan plots to stage a military coup against the government and become its King. Continue reading “Ethan Electric’s Automotive Co.”

Sleepy Ridge: The Town Built Out of Gravestones

Today we visit the town of Sleepy Ridge which was built out of the stones from a forgotten cemetery.


Although the town of Sleepy Ridge lays less than half a day’s travel from a major trade road, the citizens keep to themselves and the only visitors are those seeking the town’s famous mediums. In fact, houses in Sleepy Ridge all have walled gardens topped with broken glass and the few shops operate on a written-order basis only. A catalogue hangs on a string outside each store along with paper and writing implements for customers to write down their order. Once finished, they place the order through a slot in the wall and within the hour, the order is ready for pick up. However, there is one form of socialization accepted in Sleepy Ridge: the Smokers’ Lounges. Inside these cloudy rooms the mediums of the town set up shop. They’ll see anyone for a price.

Box Texts:

Paved streets march between the walled gardens of the residential houses and an eerie quiet lays heavy in the air. Broken glass stuck in the walls’ mortar glints in the moonlight. The corpses of cigarette clog the streets’ gutters and their stink mixes with the city’s general perfume of  urine and mildew. The snap of someone lighting a match breaks the silence and the bright flash of light  momentarily illuminates a doorway where several figures stand. A pair of gloved fingers lifts the flame to a cigarette squeezed between two painted lips which take a heavy pull and then exhale spirals of smoke. After a moment, the smokers retreats into a doorway. Continue reading “Sleepy Ridge: The Town Built Out of Gravestones”