The Splendid Spa of Two Angels

Today’s inspiration is a setting and plot idea for a one-shot adventure, an abandoned spa reachable only by a portal in an alley. Terrible monsters who feed on thoughts inhabit the spa and caused its ruin.


 Background:

Long ago, the City of Two Angels was the most fashionable place to be seen. The streets lined with shining cobblestone, the shops windows filled with expensive clothing and exquisite jewelry. Artists, politicians, entrepreneurs all called Two Angels home. Tourists came from far and wide to spend a few days being part of the hustle and bustle of the influential city. But mostly they came for The Splendid Spa, a luxury resort existing inside a pocket universe in Two Angels. The Spa claimed its hot springs cured all ailments. The salts, it said, made a person more beautiful, wiser, and even younger. But then one day, shadow creatures began to secretly visit the Spa. Strange creatures that at first appeared as only a haze, but grew more solid and stronger from feeding off a person’s thoughts, especially those of imagination. And few thoughts are more imaginative than that of fear. Guests began to die, found withered up like raisins. The resort was at a loss to explain this, but as the deaths grew more frequent, the creatures grew more plentiful. The Spa was forced to shut down, and the portal to it blocked and buried, least the creatures break through. After the news of the deaths spread through the population, Two Angels began to decline as people moved avoided it out of fear. Today, no one remembers exactly why Two Angels became the cesspool of poverty and crime it is today.

Box-Texts:

The Portal’s Opening

Elderly mansions line this street, their once proud awnings now torn and faded. Trash clutters the yards and banks of mailboxes crowd the space next to the doors. In the alley between two of the houses, cats fight in the piled-up rubbish. But from a crack in a bricked-up door, a blue light glows. A closer inspection reveals that it appears as some kind of window looking out onto a grassy meadow.

Inside the portal:

A deep blue sky peppered with wispy clouds hangs over a grassy meadow, blue mountains obstruct the horizon in the distance. The remnants of stone walls peek through the tall grass and overgrown flowers. Cottages with sagging roofs stand in a semi-circle.

Inside a cottage:

Dead ferns in cracked pots flank a reception desk. An iron sculpture of fish swimming hangs on the wall. Whenever one looks away, the fish appear to move, but when the viewer looks back, they hang still again. In the next room, rows of tubs sink into the floor. Mud fills them, and a few plants have taken root, fed by the sunlight streaming through the cracked roof. A rotten smell wafts in from another room, making one instinctively cover their nose. On the wall, someone has craved the words “Don’t Think” in jagged letters.

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The Rough Part of Town

This week, two more ‘box-texts.’ These are not as random as they might seem at first, they are part of what I’m calling “The Rough Part of Town,” and go with Dragg’s Drug Den


Rundown Racetrack

Giant metal wheels rust in heaps around the racetrack grounds. Only a few spectators cheer from the stands. Most don’t seem to truly understand the sport, screaming loudly whenever the drivers crash and splashing beer on each other in their excitement. Except for an elderly gentlemen sitting in the first row leaning heavily forward on his cane to view the race. The giant wheels spin around the track, the drivers, seated where the spoke would normally go, wipe the mud from their goggles with each turn.

Gambling Hall

Noise, flashing lights, and smoke clog the gambling hall. People in fancy, but cheap, evening wear crowd the tables. Most people play games of chance, their eyes fixated on balls whirling around tables and spinning discs. But the most popular tables are the races where tiny creatures race around tiny tracks. Drunken gamblers shout at the creatures to move. Anytime hands get too close to the race track, bouncers step in to pull the offenders back. Behind the games of chance and a curtain, gamblers engage in more serious games. The players pick up and put down cards, only speaking when needed to instruct the dealer. The dealers’ voices call out the losses and wins in a pleasant monotone. The ruining or making of fortunes means nothing to them.

Dragg’s Drug Den

This week I’m trying something slightly different. Like I’ve done before, below is a box-text description of a drug den. But, below that are three ‘hooks’ to choose from, various activities that you can use to get an adventure started. I’ve kept the setting non-specific enough that it could be used in both fantasy and sci-fi.


 

Giant hookahs hang from the ceiling of The Den. Glittery pieces of tile arranged on their surface give each the appearance of an octopus swimming through the thick smoke that clouds the place. Patrons lounge on dirty couches, sucking on the hoses dangling from the hookahs, eyes half-closed. Others gyrate on the dance floor, their eyes blood-shot from the Dizzy they’ve consumed.

Hook One – The Mysterious Group

In one corner, a group of people dressed in clean white garments talks in low voices despite the loud music. Only water glasses sit on their table, the hookah pipes unused. Anytime someone tries to sit with them, people in crisp red uniforms firmly pushes them away.

Hook Two – Behind Closed Doors

A man walks up to the counter and whispers something to the den keep. He’s led into a back room where a boy pulls back a heavy curtain. Behind it, Dragg, the Den’s owner, soaks in enormous tub filled with some kind of thick, foul-smelling substance. An old woman kneels before the tub, a golden swan held out in her hands. Dragg gives a short nod. A guard takes the swan from the woman and in return gives her sacks of rice and guns.

Hook Three – The Unseen Children

One of the hookahs has a “Pardon Our Cleaning” sign. Small children scramble over the hookah with rags, trying to shine its chipped tiles. Other children with coarse brushes climb through the hoses and into the hookah itself, scrubbing off the thick build-up of creosote. A locked brace encircles each child’s leg and prevents them from running away.

Aquatic Peoples of the Oceans

More aquatic peoples! Hope you enjoy these. I just did Dungeon World builds this time, but might add Pathfinder later.


Merfolk

The most well-known of the aquatic people, merfolk live in the open seas and come in a variety of vivid colors. These beautiful people are the most human-like: farming kelp, waging wars, creating art. They engage with other humanoid races as much as the next and the important trade routes depend on their good favor.

Dungeon World build:

Intelligent, Group, amphibious

8 hp, 2 armor

Attack, close, spear (d8)

Special Moves:

  • Disarm with their beauty
  • Disappear into the waters.
  • Attack in numbers.
Deep Merfolk

The day I fell off the ship, I thought the sea was going to take me. I blacked out after gulping down mouthfuls of sea water and falling under the surface. But then I found myself dry in some kind of dark cave. Huge eyes loomed at me and at first I thought I was in hell. But they were kind and helped me heal. Although I never did get over that weird translucent skin. Once I recovered enough, they put me in this odd contraption made from jelly and junk and brought me to the surface near a shipping lane. Never seen one of them since. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed it.

Deep Merfolk live at the oceans’ bottom. Their translucent-blue skin and large eyes  may give a fright, but they are mainly peaceful. From the junk that collects at the bottom of the sea, they build elaborate structures and contraptions that would rival the best wizard’s constructs. Deep merfolk communities are often semi-nomadic, tending to gardens along the lava vents which can stretch for hundreds of miles. They harness giant sea crabs to carry their belongings, and if they can find them, gargantuan sea crabs to carry the entire village, houses and all.  While usually a quiet, laid-back race, deep merfolk will war over the best ‘trash spots’ under shipping lanes. Scores of war sea crabs are harnessed for these struggles, and the sea above will froth with the fury.

Dungeon World Build

Intelligent, group, amphibious, terrifying

8 hp, 2 armor

Attack, close, clenching jaw (d8)

Special Moves:

  • Build something amazing out of junk
  • Use light magic
  • Slip into the darkness.

Aquatic Peoples of the Brook and River

Today’s inspiration is two variations of a mermaid with stats for Dungeon World and Pathfinder. One is inspired by the Amazon River Dolphin and the other my own invention, a small mermaid suited for life in streams and brooks.


Rivfolk

A woman washes her clothes near the river when a splash of water catches her eye. She barely misses the sight of a pink tail disappearing back into the muddy waters. The washing board drops from her hand as she turns to run, but she slows to look over her shoulder and catch the eye of the handsome man now standing on the shore.

Making their home in deep rivers and lakes, rivfolk possess the most magical abilities of all aquatic peoples. At night, rivfolk can turn their tails into legs; rivmen use this ability primarily to seduce human women. Some even believe that there are no rivmaids, and that the rivmen depend on human women to continue their species. All rivfolk act as guardians of the river they live in and will drown those who seek to harm it. Continue reading “Aquatic Peoples of the Brook and River”

Contessa Moldred’s Mad Winery

An adventure prompt for Halloween! This is slightly darker than I usually like to write, but it is Halloween. Hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think in the comments.


The cold floor seeped through her dress, through her skin, through her muscles and came to rest in her bones. She waited for It to start again. The clawing, the screaming, and the pain. The door squeaked open, a figure slipped in.

“Hold out your arm.” Continue reading “Contessa Moldred’s Mad Winery”

Adventure Front: The Hollow Manuscript

Another Adventure Front using the Dungeon World system! I do not plan on making this into a detailed adventure as I did for The Crystal Dust Road, but I did test-run this and it was a lot of fun! My party ended up dramatically disrupting the Book Thieves’ Auction and then fighting Prof. Werther in an undersea bunker.

Description:

Merlin University dwarfs all other magical libraries. Its vasts collection spans four ground structures, two floating ‘sky’ buildings, and one underground cavern. The library’s collection includes everything from the extremely popular “The Children’s Big Book of Common Beasts” to the mysterious Hollow Manuscript. Many books can be checked out by the public, but many more due to their rarity, danger or both are kept locked under layers of protective spells, enchantments and trustworthy stone and iron. These require special permission to view.

Recently, though, books have started to vanish and more than books; nothing with words upon it is safe. Journals disappear from satchels, newspapers from patrons’ hands, even call slips. Luckily, so far only reading material located within the public area of the library has vanished.

Continue reading “Adventure Front: The Hollow Manuscript”