This is the second in my series of Downtime Activities. Today I feature allies for a Mage Guild. Check out suggested Mage Guild rivals here
- The janitor Jon Greenlake (commoner/m/human/55 years old/unranked). Jon has been the mage guild’s janitor for 10 years, a position given to him by the head mage after Jon lost his left arm and right-hand fingers in an accident that may have been the result of poorly packed shipment of alchemy fire headed to the guild. Jon may take a an interest in a character who is kind to him.
Assets: Keys to every single room, including any sort of ‘forbidden’ areas. Not only can he offer access to any part of the guild to a friend, he can also retrieve items. In addition, he has overheard a fair share of gossip and ‘secret’ meetings during his cleaning duties.
- Erwel Fenwick (cult leader, but with any good alliance (change the spells as you see fit)/f/half-elf/70 years old/Owl). Erwel mainly hangs out in the Owl Restaurant scarfing down oysters while flipping through library books. However, she also loves tea and cookies and can be found in the coffee shop in the morning and mid-afternoons. She doesn’t enjoy traveling herself, but loves to hear adventuring stories.
Assets: As an Owl, Erwel can help her friends move up the rungs quickly. She often will ask younger guild members to help with her research by verifying information she reads in her books, or provide her with the ingredients for spells. She is on good terms with Gweneth Fireiron, and can use her influence to soften any animosity Gweneth may hold against a fellow guild member.
This is the start of a new series of posts I plan to do which focus on downtime activities. First up is suggested rivals for a Mage Guild:
- The head librarian Gweneth Fireiron (archmage/f/dwarf/300 years old/eagle) has been head librarian for the past 150 years, and part of the Mage’s Guild for the past 250 years, and doesn’t like new mages who think they can rise through the ranks quickly. It took her 75 years to reach eagle status, so she doesn’t see why anyone else has to be in such a rush.
- Goal: To keep things the way they have always been.
- Assets: As a voting Eagle and head librarian, Fireiron has great influence on who gets promoted to higher levels and who has access to the library (yes, a member’s rank entitles them to access, but sometimes certain areas might need cleaning or Gweneth might be out to lunch).
- Actions: Fireiron doesn’t have any kind of master plan, but she will oppose any PC who tries to rise too quickly and will need persuading to vote for them. If the PC annoys her, she may limit their access to the library or get other mages to vote against them.
- Gavin Frostfields (acolyte/m/human/17 years old/member) joined the Guild a few months ago as its youngest ever member. He’s always been good at everything he’s done, so he doesn’t know what it’s like to fail. He instantly resents anyone who criticizes him or gets in his way. If it weren’t for the fact he’s so good at magic, he would probably be kicked out. He’s determined to make it to Eagle in record time, and resents anyone who ‘shows him up.’
- Goal: To be the darling of the Guild
- Assets: Although only a Member, his grandfather, Harold Frostfields, owns a very profitable liquor wholesaler and is sponsoring him. His grandfather has also bought a small Inn in town, The Lonely Pelican, which he lets Gavin ‘run’ (in reality, Harold’s employee runs it). The Inn is very popular and well-run, making Gavin very popular.
- Actions: If Gavin thinks someone is getting more attention than him, he will try to sabotage them. Perhaps by buying off people who would otherwise help that person or sending bandits to make things difficult for the rival.
Today’s inspiration is a campaign idea. Enjoy!
After death, the souls of the departed must find their way across the Underworld to reach the Heavenly Realms. Monstrous beasts, cruel demons, and unnatural hazards riddle the Underworld and claim many of these souls, snuffing them out of existence forever.
For generations, people have had to endure that their beloved may have never reached the promised lands, but perished in the jaws of a dire crocodile or been burned by a demon. Most spent their lives sacrificing to the gods, hoping they will guide them to safety.
When a goat herder accidentally found an entrance to the Underworld in the remote Green Mountains, King Ovin knew he could change all that. He hired teams of adventurers to chart the Underworld and publish the findings in a guidebook all could use to reach safety. Unfortunately, the dangers of the Underworld do not limit themselves to the dead, and three teams have already fail to return, save for a lone adventurer, too traumatized to be of much use. The King has had to search ever wider and up the reward to find any adventurers brave enough, or stupid enough, to face the Underworld.
Inspired by Ancient Egyptian mythology of the Underworld, today’s inspiration is a random encounter table:
||A group of hostile undead mindlessly attacks the PCs.
||A dirty river filled with hippos or crocodiles who might be hostile.
||Shadows unpeel themselves from their hiding spots.
||A pack of roving Hell hounds attack.
||A group of souls living in rotten structures. They are determined to stay here instead of moving on to the next phase.
||A lost pet soul wanders across the PCs path looking for its master.
||A friendly traveler hails the PCs. She’s here on a mission to recover some rare Underworld plants for her research.
||A group of fading souls meander aimlessly. They will soon vanish if nothing is done.
||An angel, its wings chained and broken, pleads the PCs for help.
||A solitary door covered in ancient runes.
||A temple with a group of strange creatures performing some kind of sacrifice.
||A small woods in which the trees seem to fade in and out of existence.
||A broken machine in scattered pieces, its gnome owner sits nearby trying to fit two back together.
||A crashed boat, its captain dead at the wheel.
||A Glabrezu offers the PCs a deal.
||New souls arriving. Most begin to silently make their way across the Underworld. Some don’t seem to realize they are dead and rush about confused.
||Giant boils rupture out of the ground. Some of them pop, releasing a noxious slime.
||Gold, honey, and fruits suddenly appear, reflecting sacrifices made on the material plane.
||The ground becomes soft and gives way into a cavern.
||A group of manes eating souls.
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”
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”
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.