Curdlebrook Surrounds (Southfarthing Confidential Map)

The village of Curdlebrook and its surrounds will be detailed in the first issue of my upcoming Southfarthing Cofidential ‘zine, which will provide players and GMs with all the necessary information and guidance to run a halfling police procedural using Fifth Edition.

In the coming months, I’ll be posting a whole lot more from Southfarthing Confidential as I’m wrapping up the writing on the first issue. The plan (as of this moment) is to release four ‘zines to my Patreon supporters and for sale on DriveThruRPG. Following the these, and possibly one of the adventures/cases, I’m hoping to launch a Kickstarter to fund the publication of a full Southfarthing Confidential rule book and campaign setting as well as several adventures/cases in the same setting.

So, time to stop rambling. Here’s the map:
Curdlebrook Surrounds (small)

Southfarthing Confidential (preview) – Tropes for Halfling Constabulary

Previously, I posted a preview of the Hairfoot Halfling subrace and Family Backgrounds for halfling characters. Neither of these really touched upon the police procedural side of things in Southfarthing Confidential, so today that’s what I’m going to share.

Southfarthing Confidential is a genre-mashup. My goal is to breakdown all of the tropes

art_fleeing-e1504822694312

In Southfarthing Confidential, halfling constables have more on their hands than runaway livestock

that have been assembled concerning halflings since The Hobbit and on through their many iterations in Dungeons & Dragons (even those cannibal halflings in Dark Sun–that’s right, you’ll find backwoods cannibal halflings in Southfarthing Confidential).  On the other hand, I’ve got to throw in a load of archetypes from police procedurals and film noir to flesh out the other side of the equation.

That’s where the “Tropes” come in. Each Trope (name is a place holder) functions like a Feat in 5th ed., except in addition to a mechanical benefit, they provide an additional Flaw to flesh out your halfling copper a little more. When the Tropes are combined with the Family backgrounds for halflings o, what you end up with is a character whose personality, ideals, bonds, and flaws are themselves a mashup of the two genres.

Here’s a few examples of “Tropes” for Halfling sheriff in Southfarthing Confidential: 

Hardboiled Halfling

Halfling only, of course.
You’ve lived it. You’ve seen the oozy, crusty underbelly of the Five Farthings that lies beneath the seemingly pleasant, bucolic charade that plays out across the hills and farms and villages. Now what’re you gonna do? Sit back and enjoy breakfast, knowing what you know? Not a chance. It’s gotten to you, spoiled your oatmeal. These days, you’re deeply suspicious. You’ve seen every trick both in the book and not in the book. The days of chasing loose goats is long past. The world’s gone topsy-turvy, and you feel like you’re the only one not standing on your head.

  • Been there and back, again. Once per case, you may use an Inspiration and the GM will roll a Wisdom (Insight) check in secret. If you succeed, some pieces of the case will fall together, and the GM will grant you an additional clue, possibly something you missed. If you fail, however, the GM will grant you a red herring.
  • Seen and heard it all. You gain Advantage on Wisdom (Insight) and Intelligence (Investigate) checks made at the scene of a crime or while questioning suspects.
d6 Flaw
1 I’m fed up with it all. Let the Five Farthings eat itself alive. It’s no fur off my feet.
2 I can’t get close to anyone. Too many friends have gone toes up out on the moors.
3 I got a soft spot for hard luck cases, the down and out, those too proud to ask for help.
4 That one case still haunts me.
5 When I’m sober, I see things too clearly. I see the Five Farthings for what they are, so for me, it’s a pint for breakfast, a pint for elevenses, and two pints for tea.
6 I never put down the pipe.

***

Wound Up Tight

You live on edge. How can you be sure, when you’ve been called to retrieve a runaway goat, there’s not a bigger game afoot, that the seemingly dumb, kind, and oversized farmer’s son hasn’t brought you out into the woods to club the back of your skull? Or that the cartload of dwarves isn’t hauling a crop of pipe-weed to sell stuffed in their load of coal, ore, and kegs? Better to sling now, ask questions later.

  • Sling first, ask questions later. You gain Advantage on Dexterity checks to determine Initiative order.
  • Twitchy sling arm. Even if you are surprised, you may still fire a missile weapon that round.
d6 Flaw
1 I’m terrified of everything, but I put on a tough exterior.
2 Everyone’s gotta listen to me. I’m the law. I’m the halfling holding the sling.
3 I prefer not to use my sling unless I gotta, not after what happened the last time…
4 I’m always itching for a fight, so go ahead, guv, make my breakfast!
5 I never meant to hurt him, it just happened.
6 I never shoot first, and you can’t prove otherwise.

***

Loose Sling

They don’t assign you to cases, they just turn you loose. When they send you out on another wild goose chase because Farmer Crabbe left his pen open again, it’s only because they don’t want you lookin’ closer at what’s really goin’ on. You aren’t afraid to go it alone. They can take your badge, take your sling, but they can’t take your gumption, your grit, your drive to see the case through. They can stuff their rules in a bunghole.

  • Fully Registered Lethal Weapon. You have Advantage on damage with a sling.
  • You’ve Got to Ask Yourself One Question… You may force an enemy to take a Disadvantage on one roll; however, after doing so, your next roll is also at a disadvantage. You’ve Got to Ask Yourself One Question may be used again after a Short Rest. 
d6

Flaw

1 Takin’ orders is for chumps and dwarves.
2 I don’t trust anybody who makes more money than me.
3 Criminals don’t deserve rights. 
4 No evidence, no problem. I’ll make evidence happen.
5 When the going gets tough, I make like a shepherd and get the flock out of there! 
6 Leave me in a hole alone with ‘em, I’ll get a confession… 

Thieves’ Guild Built in the Subterranean Ruin of [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]’s Temple, Completed!

(Three and a half Four years later, after much urging, begging, and near-death threats from the dedicated and vigilant readers of this here blog, I give you the complete and edited version of the Thieves’ Guild write-up. Now, I would say that this little adventure site has been a labor of love and a work-in-progress, but that would be a load of crap. I just recently settled in and knocked it out. What follows, hopefully, lives up to the expectations and demands of those few and far between fans of this blog who clamored for it. If it wasn’t for you guys, I could’ve spent my time on something else! This is for you. Also, I’m going to throw some artwork together and release this soon through DriveThruRPG.)

Note: The intent of the descriptions for this “dungeon,” or adventure site–whatever you wanna call it–is not necessarily to fulfill the needs of a DM to abandon all his-or-her own creativity and play-as-is so much as to serve as a launching pad for the DM’s imagination. Thus, be forewarned, there are no stats included herein, and the content is a bit zany, as it were.

Last time in the dungeon… What follows is a revised version of the post “Thieves’ Guild Built in the Ruin of [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]’s Temple, Part One.” This post includes and supersedes that post, so you don’t need to refer back to it in order to get some use out of this post.

So here it is.

(Totally Optional) Background of the Thieves’ Guild

Generations ago (decades or years–depending on whether you’re counting rodent or human years), the Temple of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] met with a catastrophic end. Enemies of the Rodent God, possibly crudely and mockingly disguised as rodent-kind themselves, infiltrated its hallowed nests and bolt-holes, assaulted its ratty nuns, slaughtered the pups in the nest-orphanage, and plundered the temple’s treasure piles. Agèd wheels of Blessèd Cheeses, which had been stored in the temple’s reliquaries, were pilfered and devoured as heathen hors d’oeuvres in the houses of human nobles and merchants in the city above. The surviving Children of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] were forced to abandon their temple, and for (rodent) generations, it remained so abandoned until…

One evening, an entrepreneurial young man by the name Alvebroso, who had never done no wrong and who was blessed with equal parts ambition, gumption, and city-bred cunning, stumbled upon the Temple whilst being wrongly pursued by a city watch sewer patrol for arrest on trumped up charges of jewel thievery. Ducking into an alley and half-falling, half-diving down one of the old anthropomorphic rodent bolt-holes, Alvebroso found precisely what he didn’t know he was looking for: a place to make his name–or rather, make certain his name, while whispered cautiously in the cant of them-in-the-know along the city’s crooked alleys and in the more gloomful booths of taverns, was a damn well-kept secret.

Before the fattened purses of the city’s upper class knew what hit them, the young go-getter had a crew of like-minded, but decidedly and deliberately less clever, young men (and men only–but not because Alvebroso was a misogynist, but because the types he was able to recruit tended to be lacking in social graces and were already spending too much time in the sub-levels of their mum’s half-timber anyhow) and established the city’s latest guild of thieves.

thieves guild keyed

Keyed Thieves’ Guild Map

Inspirationally Vague Area Details and Ramblings about Rooms
Everything is keyed to the map above. I’ve also bolded the names of any NPCs for easy reference if you choose to use them. And yes, I know it needs more secret doors.

A. Apartment House Basement Entrance. The building above here is a tenant building that‘s residents quite often complain to city officials about the sewer smell seeping from the basement and the sounds of padded footsteps coming and going all through the night. All this just when the place was becoming a good, respectable neighborhood (see the Cult of the Rodent God presence above). Plenty of loose stones to be found here in which to stash weapons, cash, and other illicit acquisitions.

A1. Building Manager’s Room. Thieves of the guild have the building super (or medieval equivalent) on the payroll. This is his room. He’s got a bed, a writing desk covered in parchment scraps with ramblings against the city’s ruling class (alas, his dreams of being a broadsheet publisher), and a small, gold-framed silhouette of a dead prostitute he frequented in his youth who was stolen from him by a libertine noble with a heart of gold. The super’s dealings with the guild may have originated with the acquisition of this silhouette and maybe (you can’t prove nothing) the offing of this women and/or her rich husband, essentially killing Richard Greer and Julia Roberts’ characters in 1990’s hit romantic comedy Pretty Woman.

A2. Really Smelly Room that’s Probably a Privy or that Smell Might be Coming from the Sewer or at least You Hope It Is…

B. Old Rodent Bolt Hole. In past days of the Temple’s prime, this passage was used by its rodential inhabitants as an easy means between the thoroughfares of the city sewer system, the temple, and the surface. The ground is probably pretty muddy from overflow of the sewer during the rainy season. This has made the whole tunnel irritatingly slick (interpret as you will for player torture). Giant rats used to probably slide their bulk down the hole.

C. Bazaar o’ Things Better Left Unspoken. Being that the Thieves’ Guilds Supreme Pilferer is a man of entrepreneurial bent, he’s opened a bazaar for people of less-discriminating tastes in this chamber, which was once the warren/sanctuary of the Rodent God. The pillars and walls will still bear the ratty bas reliefs and stains of rodent infestation–not to mention a number of lesser rodentia who still scamper hither and thither through the shuffling of padded boots, sandals, and the oversized, leathery soles of small, potbellied demihumans herein. The market should have a tremendous assortment of iffy products.

Quick d12 Table of Merchants Found in the Bazaar

1.  Seller of skulls that’s braincases are said once to have housed unspoken secrets which never passed their long-vanished lips. All purchases are random. At least one secret guaranteed. No returns. (Stock low, new shipment perpetually due in fortnight’s time.)

2. A clothier who weaves only the silk produced by underworld worms that is darker than death and allows movement with less friction than thrice-buttered man-pig hams.

3. Haberdasher who claims his hats will make one so stylish and suave you’re guaranteed to die an early death at the ravages of a venereal disease or your money back.

4. Butcher. Prime cuts of the rarest (and optionally nameless) meats. Caters.

5. Subhuman fishmonger who has dragged his eyeless catch from the deep, lightless rivers beneath. Filet available upon request but can only read pictorial representations of orders.

6. Secular confessor. All ears and no tongue, never learned to write or read. Advertises by word of mouth. Did not originally intend this career, just sort of fell into it without choice. (Has discretely sold his skull upon death in advance to the Seller of Skulls above for a comfortable sum of money. Hears confessions now purely for love of the craft.)

7. Classically trained torturer. Has own tools but willing to try new things. Currently advertising the use of puppeteer leeches, buy one torturing, get second half-off when purchasing use of said leeches. Seeking apprentice.

8. Highly educated coffee vendor. Also looking for work as a scribe, barrister, sage, historian, philosopher, or witty hanger-on. Will work on contract.

9. Bunch of beggars. Will loiter outside establishments of any and all repute. Promise 65% share of any alms collected.

10. Urine collector. Moonlights as apothecary. Self-conscious about day job. Sniffs fingers a lot.

11. Procurer of What You Need. Whaddya need? Has lazy eye. Will often repeat things spoken to him. Will return with approximation of request in 1d4 days (+1 day for “oddness” of request).

12. Slaver of humanoids, anthropomorphoids, fungoids, medusoids, androids, icthyoids, trapezoids, etc. Non-discriminatory and progressive for his occupation. Sees all races, species, and aggregations of sentient matter as created equal.

C1. Catwalk and Observation Deck.  This stone walkway is held aloft by arches across the middle of the bazaar. At least two guild thieves of up to the title Filcher stand watch here. The lower their rank, the more likely they are drunker’n whose mother you’d call my…  (60% chance for apprentice Rogues, subtract 10% for each rank above, unless the man is a made Guild Thief, and his chance increases back to 60% because he couldn’t give two shits about no stinkin’ guard duty).

C2. The bridge, before it collapsed (under the duress of ages or mounds of rodent ejecta or both), spanned thirty feet above the pool of sewage below. Now the bridge is lined with more market stalls. This section of the bazaar is unofficially where all of the fences gather to buy the hardworn wares of guild thieves and sell those wares to anyone willing to pay the exorbitant prices, but hey, where else are you going to find that vintage bottle of port of the fallen magical empire, of a batch that is said to change the sex of any who partakes of a glass (great for parties)? Or that water clock built of a stuffed owlbear carcass that gives off a pneumatic hoot for every hour? That’s what I thought. Down below, the sewage is filled with crocodiles, which has given rise to the saying in the local cant, “If it’s missing, it’s probably down with the crocodiles”–applies to both objects and people.

D. Collapsed Chancel. Here is where the lay members of the Rodent God’s cult once gathered for fellowship, worship, and the hearing of the scatomancer’s prophecies. The ceiling has collapsed. One of the doors that leads into this room is permanently half open. It is a favorite place for the prostitutes who gather in the bazaar to slip away to with clients. They have curtained partitions and beds and divans and throw rugs all about the place for proper transactions. Burly guild guards at the door won’t let anyone through without showing their cash first.

E. Guild Storage.  Connected to the bazaar by a drawbridge mechanism that must be operated from both sides, this area is where the guild stores items that are either too valuable, too dangerous to sell in the bazaar itself, or are to be sent to specific foreign buyers. The place is stacked up to the balconies overlooking it with crates. The guild has set up a number of cranes along the pillars to manage this cargo. It is possible to climb upon these crates to reach the balconies if one doesn’t too much mind being filled full of crossbow bolts from the guards who are stationed there.

E1. The Docks. These docks sit in a sea cave (river cave or other cave of watery sort) that allows the guild to discretely ship their goods. The docks can receive only so many ships at once so a number of them are always found out on the water itself (E2). If you’re looking for a rowdy good time, this is not the place to be. The guild keeps a tight grip on what happens at the docks. It’s a really boring place. No fun to be had whatsoever–a point of contention in the guild, whose more traditional minded members believe docks should be a place of no-holds-bar, free-for-all good times.

E2. Western Balcony. Safety rail long collapsed, rope strung along its length. Three guild guards on duty armed with crossbows. Take their job very seriously, afraid of intense flogging from guild torturer Balrack. Secret door not so secret–it fell of its hinges quite some time ago and is now just a jury-rigged crank to lift the door out of the way. The door leads to the chamber of the guild’s warlock, Gabbelax the Unbearable (I).

E3. Eastern Balcony. Safety rail intact. As other side, three guild guards on duty. The shifts on this side, though, day and night, have been recently in cahoots on organizing a union for cutpurses and lower ranks. They believe the cut of their takes is far too low compared to other guilds. Currently considering whether or not to decamp or bring their grievances forth to the Council of Eights.

F. The Sea/River/Lake Cave. It’s a cave. It’s full of water. The sewer dumps into it. Danger: Crab People (tense alliance with the guild). No lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk.

G. Barracks Hallway. While Alvebroso likes to keep a clean house (he doesn’t live in the guild house himself), it’s damn near impossible with a few score troubled adolescents and adults with poorly developed prefrontal cortices living in close-quarters therein. Coming down the hall, the smell of unwashed linen doublets and silk thieving garbs (among other odeurs de délinquant) emanating from the bunk room door sills could damn near double someone over, even after a trip through the city sewers. The quickest way to access the hall is by crossing the wooden beams placed over the broken stairs that lead into the hallway from the Bazaar (E).

G1. Bunk Room of the First Footpads. A few young thieves sleep here. These rooms were once the nests of rodent ascetics seeking to become one with the Great Running Wheel of the Multiverse so as to be closer to the Rodent God. Every bunk room has a few spartan cots and a eating/gaming table and chairs in it. The First Footpads are the newest recruits of the guild, having just left their apprenticeship and allowed, for probably the first time, into the guild house itself. Many of them are overzealous and eager to prove themselves and of course there’s the one jackass fixture in the bunk room who’s been in the First Footpads for about two decades (let’s call him Doug the Blade). He’s 37 and welcomes all the new guys to “the life” with a bit of tough love.

G2. Bunk Room of the Second Footpads. You don’t mess with the Second Footpads. The things they’ve seen in the houses of the wealthy have made them all deeply cynical and reckless. They’ve smelled the rot at the heights of society and looted its corpse. The Second Footpads have a long-running game of Fox & Geese going on the bunk room table. So far the total wagers on the game have come to about 500 gold pieces and four hands (literal hands, as in if they lose the bet, they lose a hand–one guy has bet both of his). Additionally, their bunk room is decorated with the spoils of their most memorable exploits. These may not be treasures in the sense that any e’er-do-wells seeking to undermine the guild’s operations would brave uncharted depths and horrendous troglodytic guardians to attain, but they’ve got sentimental value to the Second Footpads, no question.

G3. Bunk Room of the Third Footpads. The Third Footpads, or better known as the “Girthy Thirds,” are where guild thieves end up who seem genetically incapable of the more subtle arts of thievery, such as burglary, pickpocketry, and not being noticed. These guys are the guild goons. Not a single one of them isn’t packing at least 250 lbs. of pure man-meat when he heads out into the narrow, darkened alleys and streets of the city. When a thief needs physical protection, he calls on the Girthy Thirds. When a thief needs a knee broken, he calls on the Girthy Thirds. When a thief’s little niece is being bullied, he calls on the Girthy Thirds. Their bunk room walls are covered in motivational posters. They also have a number of solid metal weights strewn about for getting their beast on when not otherwise deployed. Footlockers contain numerous earthenware  jugs of whey, which they purchase wholesale from the priests of Ar’nuuld, god of strength and buffness (or if that’s too cheesy for you, you can replace Ar’nuuld with some other, far less awesome god of strength, if you have to).

G4. Bunk Room of the First Cutpurses. In all likelihood the bunkroom hasn’t seen use in weeks because the First Cutpurses will be out and about, casing the city streets because, unlike everybloodybody else in this guild, they actually does their job!

G5. Bunk Room of the Second Cutpurses. The Second Cutpurses do not “does their job.” They’ll often be found here, during the daylight hours, recovering from a hangover and partaking of a bit of the hair of the dog that bit ’em. If necessary, when they’ve run out of coin to pay for drinks and even the most ill-reputed tavern won’t allow them a line of credit, they’ll rob the First Cutpurses for drinking money.

G6. Bunk Room of the First and Only Larcenists. When the First and Only Larcenists enter a room, they do so in a pall of cigarillo smoke and dark clothing. Their movements are swift, graceful, and full of je ne sais quoi (no, really, I don’t). They’ve got a thing you can’t quite put your finger on, mostly because these thieves are the subatomic particles of the trade. At any given moment, you might see one, blade in hand and all your soft parts in their eyes, but they feint and you can’t tell where from which way they’re going. Or you’ll know, by the slight disturbance in the air of a dark room, they are slinking nearby, but their position eludes you, at least until you find a knife at your knackers and a disembodied voice telling you to fork over your life’s savings. Needless to say, their bunk room is posh. It’s like the guild house’s version of a backroom of a club that’s wallpaper you’ll never know the color of. Probably a few (unmarked) secret doors and niches hereabouts that I couldn’t even locate when I drew the map.

H. Meeting Hall. At the calends of each month, herein the thieves gather among the smokey, incense-laden braziers and shadow and silk-draped buffet tables for the monthly Goal-Setting & Core Competencies Meeting. This is when the Council of Eights (the closest thing to a shared leadership Alvebroso has allowed in the guild) gives the egalitarian mob a false sense of influence in guild decisions, while pretending they themselves have any, either. The pillars in this chamber are covered in graffiti, most of it complaints and insults towards the Council of Eights members’ parentage. Two sets of stairs lead up to the old chancel.

H1. Meeting Hall Balcony. Formerly a chancel for the sanctuary, this area is now where the Council of Eights sits whenever there’s a meeting of the guild. A set of nine chairs sit along the balcony. The ninth, much larger and cushioned chair is in the center just behind the altar/lectern. This is where Alvebroso sits whenever he actually attends a meeting. The chair is gilded and made of rare wood. It could go for a hefty sack of gold, if one managed to find a place that’d buy it, considering most fences and thieves in the city might recognize its origin.

I. The Chambers of Gabbelax the Unbearable. The guild’s only employed warlock resides in this chamber, once a secret ascetic cell when the temple was in its heyday. Gabbelax claimed it upon being hired so that he could study the arcane ramblings incised into the wall stones by the claw of some long-dead rodent monk. For the past four years he has been translating and cross-referencing the allusions of this rambling, non-linear text. The warlock’s notes can be found in the massive writing desk he keeps looking out across the sea/lake/river cave (F). So far the translation has only given him glimpses of what might be the true structure of the Multiverse (see Running Wheel Theory above), but he cannot bring himself to accept a trotikocentric (rodent-biased) worldview. As such, his current goal is to become a wererat, which he sees as his only chance to peer deeper into this mystery. Until then, though, he has to settle living like a rat (hence the smell emanating from the secret door that leads to his chamber and the heaps of trash and feces in the chamber).

J. Food Storage. This room is packed with crates, bags, sacks, barrels, kegs, earthenware jugs, and bladders of rare delicacies procured from the many eating houses, taverns, and nobles’ kitchens of the city that the thieves have robbed. There is currently an ongoing gentleman’s bet between the various thieving ranks to acquire the rarest foodstuff possible in the city. Word has recently come from upon the lips of dying men in the back alleys of the city’s ghettos and slums of a noble in the Old City who has ordered an entire hatchery’s worth of manticore eggs. A notice in the hall outside the storage room reads with this information.

K. is for Kitchen. The chief chef of the Thieves’ Guild is the famous, and rumored (among the city’s noblesse who patronized his former restaurant) to be dead, Bantario of Far Kal-pesh. The man, once of famously gigantic proportions, is now but a shriveled and flabby husk of his former self. For the past eight years he has toiled in slavery to the Thieves’ Guild, concocting untasted masterworks of the culinary craft. Bantario long ago gave up any hope of escape but now endeavors himself fully to transform the endless supply of ingredients brought into the kitchen into deadly works of art. While he has become a monkish aesthete of a gourmand, he now seeks to take revenge upon his captors by crafting such calorie-rich fare that in some months time the entire guild will be too fat to operate at peak condition. In fact, the effects of Bantario’s revenge has already begun to show in the paunches of the guild thieves. Only the number of stairs in the guild house has stymied his revenge…

L. Fellowship & Assembly Hall. Though the brotherly atmosphere of this large, pillared chamber has undergone a tonal shift from when it was a place for Fellowship Meals following ritual sacrifices to [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice], it remains a place of general goodwill. Every dusk, the members of the Thieves’ Guild assemble here to receive orders, hatch plots, and generally give one another the confidence boosts needed to successfully pilfer and rob the all-too-suspecting and prepared citizenry of the city above. The guild thieves are expected to assemble here around dawn to file their post-housebreaking and embezzlement reports with Garbo the Asinine, who handles the guild’s “paperwork,” which means he employs mnemonic devices to record in his memory the evening’s take to be recorded in the the Black Ledger, which is kept under guard and within vault in Area V.

L1. Tomb of the Unknown Interloper. A corpse always occupies this half-collapsed alcove. It will often belong to a would-be do-gooder or unchartered burglar who met his-or-her end at the end of a guild thief’s poniard. Upon the do-gooder’s death, the guild thieves will truss the corpse up in a demeaning posture and leave it here, doused in copious amounts of scent-covering unguents and perfumes, as reminder of what happens to those who cross the finest double-crossers in the city. On a 1-in-6 chance, something of value may be acquired from the corpse that the thieves missed, such as deftly tucked bag of 1d3 gems and gold and silver coins.

L2. A Quiet Spot to Conspire. This alcove is out of the way of the main gathering space of the Assembly Hall, but it’s not nearly as out of the way as those who gather here for a little conspiratorial chat would like to believe. On a 3-in-6 chance, at least 1d3+1 guild thieves are meeting here during the usual assemblage to discuss a little side action: It may be a plant to fleece one of their guild brethren, or maybe they’re interlopers themselves working to undermine the guild’s efforts, or maybe they’re engaging in a bit o’ traditional work gossip concerning Alvebroso and/or the Council of Eights.

L3. Smelly Passage. An unfortunate design holdover from the previous owners, this passage between the open sewer and the Fellowship & Assembly Hall was used by worshipers of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Rodent God of Your Choice] to quickly escape any intrusion of heretics or violent skeptics. Today, however, the hall is veiled at the sewer entrance by curtains painted to look like masonry. Unlike the more considerable and effective efforts to prevent access to the guild halls (see Area T), this passage sees regular coming and going by the thieves, so any efforts to remodel have been met with protest.

M. Cellar of Togo the Deaf Lute-maker. Renowned throughout the city and the lands beyond as the absolute worst lute-maker known to man, this middle-aged self-described genius of the strings maintains a comfortable life selling guild members passage through his cellar since it’s the quickest way to reach the Fellowship & Assembly Hall whenever you’re running late. Whenever he’s questioned by the town guard as to the nature of these cellar-bound transients, Togo is contractually required to respond, “What? I didn’t hear nothing.” Togo is not actually deaf, though minstrels and musicians in the city refuse to believe otherwise, considering the shit quality of his instruments.

N. Sewer. It stinks. It’s full of over-sized rats and stray crocodiles. It’s a sewer.

O. Official Headquarters of the Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks. Employed by the City Watch to patrol the gutters and drains, the working stiffs of the Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks meet here nightly to receive bribes, or err… that is receive donations from the Thieves’ Guild. Afterwards, the undercity’s finest take a hike about three blocks down the pipe, ascend a ladder on Cornapple Street, and punch their clock at the Cock’s Ankle Tavern. Members of the Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks are not unwilling to betray the confidence of the Thieves Guild if proper greasing of palms is applied!

O1. Staging Area for the Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks. In years before the Thieves’ Guild, the Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks set out from here to scour the city’s sewers of the menace of rodentia. Of course, the proximity of the Staging Area and Official Headquarters of the Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks to the Temple of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] meant said enemies of rat-kind were completely unaware of their hated enemy lurking nearby. Thus was their DOOM! (eventually). Your modern, post-Temple of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks, with whom the Thieves’ Guild has made arrangements, has been infiltrated by the re-emergent cult of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]. What follows is a list of officials (and infiltrators) who may be encountered in Areas O and O1. You may roll randomly, if you’re inclined, to determine the official/infiltrator encountered, or not. Whatever, your choice:

1. Argus Ransuerheim. Supernal Elder Brother. Jolly, rotund, and, gavel in hand, often eager to get down to business, that is drinking the night’s libation at the Cock’s Ankle. Blissfully unaware of the infiltration of the Fraternity by the servants of rat-kind. Likely wouldn’t care less if he was, but his father’s father’s father was a rat-catcher and this knowledge might awaken atavistic feelings of animosity toward rodents.

2. Cheever. Supernal Middle Brother. Skinny, whiskery, has a tendency to hunch and rub his hands together mischievously. Smells like the business end of a cholera outbreak. Everything about him screams sewer jack. Oddly enough, he’s not an infiltrator from the cult of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]. Go figure. You can never really tell.

3. Shagbat the Twice-dropped. Supernal Younger Brother. Grew up on the streets. Worked his way up to sewer jack from something worse. Totally a were-rat, though… No question about it. He’s got that look, you know? Yeah, you know which one. In fact, I’d be surprised if everyone didn’t actually already know he was a were-rat, but they’re so used to him it just goes unsaid. He’s their were-rat, after all. He’s not a member of the cult of [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice], however. Our Shagbat is a bit of a loner.

4. Orlock Bragginhammer. Supernal Little Brother. As the only dwarf member of the Supernal Fraternity of Ratcatchers and Sewer Jacks, Orlock has a lot of clout with the other members.

5. Brundo “Ratskewer” Baggyhocks. Supernal Biggest Brother. One of those types of halflings who, upon coming to the big city, immediately descends into that dastardly immoral country of the city’s underworld. He is the city’s premier ratcatcher. He’s got a vest made of woven rat-tails. He swaggers when he walks because of his preeminence. Nobody’s got nothing on Brundo “Ratskewer.”

6. Gutter Jack the Sewer Jack. He’s who he is. Absolutely not a were-rat. Nope. He’s a sewer jack, just regular ol’ sewer jack. Not a were-rat. Nope. He’s always got pockets full of cheese.

P. Sewer Tunnel of Total Inconspicuous Nature
Absolutely nothing is interesting along this stretch of sewer. There’s a moldy door, but that’s it. The stink of waste permeates the air, just like everywhere else down here. Occasionally, however, something interesting floats by. Roll 1d8 to determine what:

1. Fresh corpse.
2. Not so fresh corpse.
3. Corpse that’s actually a vampire.
4. 10d10 left shoes, with the feet still in them.
5. Just sewage, coloration a bit greener than usual.
6. The contents of public use privies following local sausage and beer festival, likely causing severe flooding.
7. Clean, clear water…
8. A human baby in a basket. 

P1. Like a Mudroom but You’re Coming out of the Sewer so It’s not Really Mud You’re Knocking off Your Boots. This room smells like a quintessential sewer and serves as a sieve to weed out those too weak-of-stomach or self-respecting to delve further into the sewer. Take this moment to make the PCs roll some sort of check or lose their lunch. That’s what makes this fun, of course.

P2. Lots of Valves and Pipes or Other City Works Type Stuff That Probably Shouldn’t Be Tampered With. . . 

Q. Scenic Overlook. This platform overlooks a great swirling abyss of sewage 50′ below. Pipes and tunnels pour waste into this tempestuous broth from above and below. Don’t fall in. You’d be in for a bad time. Rumor has it, among the sagacious and/or drunken sewer jacks of the city, that a Croc’ of Tremendous Size and Bad Attitude lurks down there, waiting for the wayward explorer or workin’ stiff to slip and plummet to his fetid, undoubtedly cholera-filled lagoon.

R. Cellar of the Flogged Strumpet Neighborhood Winehouse and Rotisserie. The tavern’s cellar serves as both a storage for its vintages and a clandestine drinking hall for the Thieves’ Guild rank and file. Though Alvebroso had forborne his thieves from drinking during or prior to their nightrunning, it is quite common to find a number of obstinate and disobedient or just plain edgy cutpurses, footpads, and larcenous gadabouts down here nearer the dusk hour getting in on a little pre-gaming.

S. Fully Furnished but Understaffed Torture Chamber. Years ago, when the Thieves’ Guild was first settling in, an enterprising larcenist of the first rank proposed that what they really needed to establish themselves in the city was a first-rate torture chamber wherein to dispatch rivals, freelance thieves, uncooperative city watchmen, and whoever else got in their way. The Council of Eights loved the idea and set about hiring one of the kingdom’s top torturneers and dungeon-designers, Marlo Von Schrecklich. They changed their tune, however, once the chamber was put to further use as a method of setting term limits on the Council. Today, the chamber sees little use, but it remains overseen by Thumbscrewer, First Class, Balrack, who relishes any opportunity to put to use the incredible array of devices gathering dust herein.

S1. Makeshift Torture Device Storage
An alarming assortment of medieval torture devices gather dust in this cluttered hallway, many of them having never been broken in or seen a smattering of blood. If Balrack is given the opportunity to torture a captive of the Thieves’ Guild (particularly a PC, if he’s lucky), roll a 1d12 to consult the following table to determine what device he employs (note: he will fret and wring his hands while choosing, recounting to the captive all of the wonderful benefits of each device):

1. Breast ripper.
2. Wooden horse.
3. Iron maiden.
4. Heretic’s fork.
5. Death by sawing.
6. Breaking wheel.
7. Gnomish lampooning.
8. Ye olde rack.
9. Thumbscrews.
10. Pomegranate of anguish.
11. Iron chair.
12. Tongue tearer.

T. Doors of Doom of the Interlopers. Within this rather unassuming hallway are five totally nondescript, plain, uninteresting, slightly rotten-looking (though this is a trick as the doors are actually all very well-made and new but designed to appear unused, moldy, and difficult to open) doors. Only one such door, however, actually functions. The others bear (deadly) traps. Roll 1d12 to determine the nature of the trap corresponding with each false door, which the Thieves Guild rotate weekly to keep things interesting:

1. Spring-loaded smashing door.
2. Panel opens up and 10d6 deadly scorpions burst out.
3. Door is enchanted with Magic Mouth spell that insults those attempting to open it.
4. Door magically transforms into monster of appropriate threat-level but still made of wood.
5. The door opens into a small pocket dimension where anyone who enters will be trapped until the door is opened again (2-in-6 chance someone is inside in a state of irritation, madness, or decay).
6. A puff of hallucinogenic gas is fired from the door sill. Woooo!
7. The door opens, magically, to another door in the room.
8. When the door opens, all light sources in the chamber go out; they come back on when it’s closed again.
9. As the door is opened, the words “Do not open the door next to me” are seen scrawled in what appears to be blood on the wall behind. (Nothing happens if the door next to it is opened.)
10. Sharp, pointy objects stab the opener of the door from all directions.
11. The door opens you!
12. The door doesn’t open.

U. Hallway of Too Bloody Many Doors. There’s a lot of doors. Pick one! These all actually open and won’t kill you (most of the time).

U1. Broom Closet of the Apprentice Pickpurses. Lots of interesting tools inside used to keep the guild’s unpaid interns and applicants busy until they pass muster on their Night of a Thousand Stickups (the test really only consists of successfully mugging a dozen people, but the name sounded ominous), like sword brooms (think sword canes but brooms) mops with daggers amid the yarn, and stuff like that.

U2. Storage Closet of all the Useless Junk Pilfered by Low-level Thieves that has Little-to-No Resale Value. But of course, there’s bound to be something useful among all the ceramic garden kobolds, commemorative tavern mugs, limited edition (silver-plated brass) coins featuring a briefly reigning dictator, symbolic wooden swords granted veteran soldiers following brutal never-ending campaigns in lieu of legitimate healthcare and/or concern for their continued well-being, self-sharpening kitchen knives, gilded ceremonial viking helms, skeletons of rare gnome subspecies in bell jars, cheaply framed likenesses and silhouettes of middle-class widows in their youth, empty or rock-filled coin purses, Priceless Vases from the Mysterious and Ancient East, creepy ass river-troll dolls, the entire Princess Armando Jewelry Collection, sweet ass katanas in faux jade scabbards that likely break on first swing, costume jewelry, and a lot of worthless belonging to the thieves-in-training’s own grandmothers.

U3. Storage Closet Containing the… YE GODS! WHAT IN THE NINE BLOODY HELLS IS THAT THING!? CLOSE THE DOOR CLOSE IT CLOSE IT NOW QUICK!!!

U4. Haunted Closet. Someone died in here some time back and is very, very unhappy about the fact. It could be a particularly important individual for your campaign that you could drop in for lack of a better option somewhere else, or it could be an NPC with an unnecessarily complicated backstory like the one that’s to follow…

Ghost of the Haunted Closet: Less than a hundred fortnights ago, give or take an obscure medieval measurement of time, a young lad by the name of Klaus Trepper met an untimely, gruesome end within this chamber. He had served, as his father and father’s father and father’s father’s father had before him, as a sewer-jack. Jackin’ around in the sewers ran deep in young Klaus’s blood. When he was but a wee guttersnipe, he took on a ratcatching route to make a little extra money to set aside for an apprenticeship and making something of himself later on, but the viscid, rank waters of the undercity called, and he yearned, and they hollered, so at the age of twelve-years he followed in his father’s footsteps, directly where they led through the muck of the overflowing sewage right into the Temple of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] where he met a ratty end. Of course, our story should end here, but Klaus was a strong-willed boy, who was entitled to something better in life, and so now haunts his death site, not only a sewer-jack in life but one in death, which is really kind of getting the short end of the stick, which by coincidence is also what the rat-man who killed gave him. If the PCs are feeling moral, they could help him out by finding a way to help Klaus reach a point of success in un-life that holds a torch to his sense of entitlement, which won’t be easy, of course.

…or, of course, you could just use a standard ghost as a monster and not make this interesting at all, but whatever.

U5. Entirely Empty Room. There’s always at least one. This room is entirely empty. It has no use. It’s not important. Nothing here whatsoever. No reason to hang around at all. You won’t find anything interesting or useful here whatsoever. In fact, you won’t find anything at all.

U6. Mediocre Dungeon Room #49ish. An orc guards this chamber. (Don’t worry, he’s a full-fledged guild member, the only one to acquire the rank of Thug, 3rd Class.) In the chamber is a chest. In the chest is nothing whatsoever. The real treasure is that one orc you met along the way.

V. Abandoned Temple of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]. As long as men have built cities, so have the virulent children of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] dwelt among them, scurrying hither to a grain merchant’s store and thither to a cheese merchant’s cellar. A great rat-shaped idol of copper and a nearly fossilized patina of dried feces dominates this chamber. Once, it had jeweled eyes of the sort adorning the cover of the 1st ed. AD&D Player’s Handbook, but they’ve long since been pilfered or pillaged. The statue is particularly grotesque and gives interlopers who do not have any rats scurrying along the branches of  their family tree the willies (save vs. the willies, of course).

While this temple has been long abandoned (and since put to use by the Thieves’ Guild as a storage space for all those things they’ll eventually, certainly get around to using so better keep them just in case), on occasional nights, every so often as a 2-in-6 roll on a d6, the faithful of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] return to this desecrated site via a secret tunnel leading down from the rubble of the collapsed hallway on the norther end of the chamber. In the event of the faithfuls’ presence, roll a 1d6 and consult the following table to determine the nature of their activity therein:

1. Entreating the [Insert Non-exclusive Lord of City Vermin] to punish infidels and  keepers of felines with a defilement of fleas.
2. Leaving an offering of fine cheese wheels.
3. Getting off an express sacrifice of a buxom city “maiden.”
4. Organizing an attack on the Thieves’ Guild to reclaim the temple complex in the name of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice].
5. Wallowing in filth and wretchedness. A sort of mass. Most likely Saturday night.
6. Converting some (un)willing victim/layman into a were-rat.

Also kept in this chamber, secreted away within a hidden compartment underneath the idol is the guild’s Black Ledger, which contains record of all the comings-and-goings of the thieves, their acquisitions, embezzlements, purloinings, and debts, as well as a list of contacts and corrupted city officials. Very valuable, very dangerous book. Only Garbo the Asinine knows its location. It is called the Black Ledger because it is the uber-document with regard to blackmail in the city.

W. Underutilized Secret Entry Chamber for Nefarious GM Purposes. The possibilities are endless. Go hog wild, and never say that I haven’t allowed room for improvisation or encouraged GMs to add their own details! (Absolutely not because I’ve run out of ideas.)

X. Guild Prison. Herein the guild keeps those do-gooders, e’er-do-wells, skimmers-off-the-top, unaffiliated vagrants, etc. who cannot be released back into the wilds of the city, where they’re bound to cut further into the guild’s bottom line. A few, of course, are bound for Balrack’s Fully Furnished but Understaffed Torture Chamber (Area S), a few might be doing a longer, although less painful stint, while a handful are bound to end up face down in a gutter soon. The guild assigns guard duty on the basis of who’s been mucking up their thieving duties of late. Roll a 1d12 on the following table to determine current occupants of the cells:

1. Gertok the Enchanting. A bard of ill-renown who penned a particularly biting satirical ditty regarding the guild’s method of acquiring ladies’ undergarments. Offers his skills in the composition of a ballad (or elegy, depending on how things shake out) about their escapades, if the PCs (or anyone, for that matter) aids in his escape before he’s handed over to Balrack.

2. Simple Simon. Doesn’t know why he’s been put here. Probably deserved it, though. He’s not one to argue. Has an 18/00 strength, however, or some inflationary modern RPG equivalent to such superhuman prowess.

3. Gurdi Groundsplitter. Knows exactly why he’s been put here, probably deserved it, but, “Get me the bloody ‘ell outta here! I’ll pay ye me weight in gold!” He’s not exactly a dwarf of his word, though, which may or may not have some relationship to the reason he’s been put in here in the first place.

4. Pavel. Pavel is Pavel. Pavel was a torch-bearer hired out to a, since deceased and enguttered, crew of do-gooders who attempted to “clear” the Thieves’ Guild headquarters. Pavel is not all that he seems, however–well, he is all that he seems, actually, because he’s Pavel, but Pavel is one of many Pavels. You see, Pavel is a clone of the original Pavel who was subjected to a series of miscast spells in the nearby Ruins of Castle Wengemerlin, which resulted in a rampant multiplication of his being. Since then, these various Pavels (many of these Pavels distinguish themselves through any means they can, like unique hairstyles, facial hair, weapon choices, clothing style, ideological bent, etc.) have formed a Confederacy of Pavels which operates in the city’s underworld and in the Ruins of Castle Wengemerlin. This particular Pavel, however, is one of the boring ones. He’s simply Pavel, and he will gladly hire out to any who rescue him from this predicament, although he, like all other Pavels, has it out for adventurers and spelunkers of all types, so beware.

5. Tom of East Street. Doesn’t know how he ended up here. Probably drank too much, again. Needs to get to work at Grari’s Millhouse on East Street, though, by sun-up. He cannot afford to lose his job.

6. Sir D’artanione of Ludwicke. A middle-aged and fattened paladin who suffers from serious bouts of manic-depression. In one of his recent episodes of mania, he stormed the Thieves’ Guild headquarters, slew twenty-two lower level purloiners, and trashed the marketplace before winding down and rapidly cycling into an apathetic torpor, at which point he was captured. On a 7-in-12 chance, he’ll work back up into a manic state once the PCs arrive here.

7. Famous Copyright-protected Wizard of Renown. Holy crap, it’s really him! No joke. I’d go into more detail here, describing his condition, the manner of his capture, and his plans for escape and entangling/geasing the PCs into his plots, but my lawyer has informed me that doing so leaves me vulnerable to cease and desist orders and/or lawsuits, so you’re free to fill in the details.

8. Grimgornog the Killmannian. A barbarian from the Arid Wastes of Kr’krek who was working as an unlicensed thief in the city. He is scheduled for torture in 1d3 turns. He will take any and all opportunities to escape and go to any length to gain the PCs confidence and assistance (and I mean ANY length–barbarian codes of moral behavior are totally not the same).

9. Rinny Burrbrow. A halfling of dastardly persuasion who was recently a full-fledged member of the guild, reaching the rank of Third Footpad, but his taste for excessive violence caused a captain of the city watch to filed a request with the guild’s unofficial representative to the city to “Get that bloody h****t under control!” As such, Rinny, who has a particularly violent gleam in his eye, is stuck in the guild prison, but he’s digging his way out, of course, being a semi-professional burrower. If the PCs choose to release Rinny, he’ll offer to join them, but certainly will murder them the first chance he’s got.

10. Falwether Blueleaf. An elf.

11. Dauf Horgan. Man-at-arms who was abandoned by his employers when they recently fled the guild headquarters during a recently failed assault. Once free, he intends to file a complaint with the Union of Hirelings, Henchmen, and Hangers-on (U.H.H.H.) against his employers, hoping to have them blacklisted.

12. One of the PCs’ Twin Sibling He-or-She Didn’t Know Existed. This is awkward. Someone has some explaining to do.

Y. Entrance to the Refuse Pit of [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]. Entrance flanked by the grotesque busts of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] which spew fire or acid or feces on a 2-in-6 chance whenever one approaches the entrance (the mechanism is gunked up misbehaving due to lack of use). A warning sign has been hung across from the busts that reads: Don’t go in there! You won’t regret it, however, ’cause you’ll be dead!

Y1. There apparently isn’t a Y1 on the map. Sorry.

Y2. Refuse Pit of [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]. Really, really stinky pit of trash. Once upon a time, the faithful of the [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice] tossed the sacrificial leftovers into this pit. It has never been cleaned out. There’s a slight chance (1-in-8) that it will randomly spawn a Refuse Demon of a sort appropriate to the level of maturity of the GM and players. As well, Deep within this refuse, below layers upon layers so old they’ve become a geological blackened muck, lies a fragment of the Rod of Innumerable Parts. It is long sought after artifact of great power which ended up here though one of those quirks of fate that only seem to affect such relics and their unfortunate bearers. Climbing down into the pit is foul work. Disease and plague lurk therein. The likelihood of someone finding the artifact is very slim, but it’s down there nonetheless. Just one of those things.

Dwarf Lode – Saving Throws

When I started developing my idea for an all dwarf RPG, I decided that the entire system should be approached from the viewpoint of a dwarf. I felt this was the only way to really evoke the sense that the game was all about dwarfs. If you’re gonna go demi-human, you gotta go full demi-human.

Demihumans

At the same time, Saving Throws appear to be the most malleable of sacred cows in D&Dish-inspired games, so I went full throttle on re-imagining saving throws for Dwarf Lode just as I did with Ability Scores. Here they are:

Saving Throws

Instead of the usual saving throws regarding poison, death, and dragon breath, the saving throws in Dwarf Lode are designed to better reflect the stuff that life throws at a dwarf. Below is a description of each type of saving throw and examples of situations in which a dwarf might be called upon to roll such a save.

Level Fire! What Ails Ye Grudge Curses Gettin’ Outta the Way
1-3 12 13 7 12 14
4-6 11 10 10 10 12
7-9 10 7 13 8 10
10-12 9 4 16 6 8

 

Fire!

It’s hot, it burns, and you can choke on the smoke, it’s fire! A dwarf will be called upon to roll this saving throw whenever he’s avoiding being set on fire, resisting the choking or irritating effects of smoke, or attempting to put out his beard after he got too close for comfort to forge or campfire.

What Ails Ye

Dwarfs are, by tradition, if not genetically, a gloomful and surly people, and as such among their numbers are the greatest complainers in the annals of history. A dwarf might be called upon to save against What Ails Ye whenever he’s at risk of catching a disease, been poisoned, or suffering from madness. To be certain, dwarfs are stouter and meaner by far than other races, but What Ails Ye isn’t only for catching disease or being poisoned, it’s a save against the psychosomatic aspects of being diseased or poisoned such as wailing and carrying on about one’s impending doom. Basically, it’s a save against grumbling. Fortunately, dwarfs are masters at concocting the perfect remedy for What Ails Ye: booze!

Grudge

Whenever a dwarf is wronged, or at least, more importantly perhaps, perceives himself to have been wronged, he may be called upon to roll a save against Grudge. (Players can request a save vs. Grudge, as well, if they feel their character perceives himself to be wronged. ) Success would mean that he’s the bigger dwarf (ed. Sorry!) and forgives the slight, but if he fails the save, then BY THE SURLY BRAIDED BEARDS OF MYRRG AND DOOG THE RAUCOUS THEY SHALL FEEL YER WRATH! Whenever a dwarf fails a save versus Grudge, he is overcome with a need to seek revenge against those who have (allegedly) slighted him, and for a dwarf, revenge is so deeply rooted, so infused into their bones, so epigenetically entwined with their seminal fluids that if the dwarf does not have immediate means to exact his vengeance, the grudge risks becoming ancestral. Treat having a grudge as being under the effects of a Geas spell or the like but less severe, initially. Eventually, the grudge becomes seething. Unlike other saves, a dwarf finds it more difficult to pass a Save vs. Grudge as he attains levels. This is because a dwarf has to maintain his respectability in the face of perceived wrongs the more famous he becomes; otherwise, other dwarfs will start saying things to his face normally reserved for behind his back.

[Note: Grudges play a larger role in Dwarf Lode for calculating experience points and determining the fate of the dwarfs’ clan, part of the domain-level phase of Dwarf Lode campaigns.]

Curses

Anything and everything magical is, to a dwarf, a curse. Of course, there are potentially “magical” things that dwarfs don’t consider magical, such as magic weapons and armor and potions at least of 4.6% alcohol by volume (saves called upon to deal with the effects of alcoholic potions are handled under What Ails Ye, but everything else is a Curse and saves against such sorcery (and non-alcoholic potions) are rolled as such. The other exception to this is when magical fire is involved, at which point a save against Fire! must be rolled.

Gettin’ Outta the Way

A dwarf makes this saving thrown when he, well, needs to get out of the way of anything he doesn’t otherwise believe he should stand his ground against.

 

Southfarthing Confidential (Preview) – Hairfoot Halfling Subrace and Halfling Family Background

Put down the pipe-weed and pin on your badge. You’ve got a job to do.

Nearly two years since I was first approached to put together what, at the time, would be a small, OSR-style adventure set around the bumbling investigations of a team of halfling sheriffs, Southfarthing Confidential is taking tangible, publishable form!

Starting out as a heavily house-ruled Labyrinth Lord adventure, my halfling police procedural morphed into an ongoing campaign for 5th edition. The adventure I ran at North Texas RPG Con in 2017 now looks to become four books: a setting/rule book and three adventures. Soon, I’ll be revealing more details on those adventures, including titles.

So, what we have here is the first in a series of previews from the Southfarthing Confidential setting/rule book.  If you enjoy what you see, please consider supporting my work on Patreon, where you’ll get access to each chapter of the book as the drafts are completed.

Now to the meat: Below are a couple examples of what you’ll find in Southfarthing Confidential. The first is the hairfoot halfling subrace, a return to the traditional furry-footed small folk of yore. They are the standard race for the setting. The second is a example halfling family background, the Thudbelly clan. Instead of the usual occupational backgrounds found in 5th ed., in Southfarthing Confidential halflings will pick a family to determine features, personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws.

(Neither of these examples really focus on the police procedural half of the genre mashup, but instead provide material for players to build halfling characters who will become sheriffs. The police procedural side of things will be fleshed out when players take feat-like abilities I’m calling “tropes,” for the time being. Examples of these, such as “Hardboiled Halfling,” “Loose Sling,” and “Too Fat for This,” will be appearing a future preview.)

Enjoy! And of course, feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Hairfoot halflings

A subrace for Fifth Edition halflings.

0halflingThief

Artwork not officially associated with this book but blatantly stolen from Tony DiTerlizzi

As a Hairfoot Halfling of the Five Farthings, you are a creature of comfort. You’re hefty, round in the belly, and likely easing your way, breakfast by second breakfast, toward a respectably fat middle-age.

You forgo the wearing of shoes, for the leathery soles of your fur-tufted feet offer protection from the elements.

You are not prone to wander far from the village where you were born, and in fact, you look down upon those rare members of your race who seek out adventure alongside “queer folk” and foreigners. You belong to a dearly suspicious and judgmental people.

Hairfoot halflings are the most populous halfling subrace in the Five Farthings.

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.

Creature of Comfort. You have Advantage on hit die rolls to regain hit points during a Short Rest every day your Lifestyle Expenses are Comfortable or higher.

Names of the Southfarthing

Male Names: Arbuckle, Arlo, Bogar, Creevy, Griftoe, Harliment, Odo, Riley.

Female Names: Ada, Carmen, Clara, Edith, Gilda, Mona, Sherry, Vera, Vivian.

Family Names: Thudbelly, Stook, Gummyhocks, Hairysacks, Butterburbuck, Ficklebum, Wettletoes, Burrowback.

***

Thudbelly

You were born to a proud family whose lust for life has fattened its heirs and issues to inspiring proportions in body and purse alike. The Thudbellies hail from the delving of Hearthoven, a many-chimneyed hole with more kitchens than bedrooms up near Curly Bend. Your family built its wealth through bread-making and its reputation for kindness providing alms to the poor, destitute, and even dwarven. Thudbelly feasts and parties are plentiful and draw hundreds of friends, relatives, and uninvited halflings from across the Five Farthings.

Delving: Hearthoven, near Curly Bend.

Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Persuasion.

Tool Proficiencies: Cook’s utensils.

Languages: Big Folk or Dwarven (your choice)

Equipment: A set of cook’s utensils, an hourglass, set of fine clothes, five loaves of gourmet bread and a pouch containing 15 gp.

Gourmet Breads
Thudbelly breads are known far and wide across the Five Farthings, and even beyond the Borders in the nearest countries of the Big Folk. You can select what staples of your family’s bakery you’re carrying from the Gourmet Breads table or roll randomly.

d8 Bread Type Quality & Recipe
1 Dwarf cake Dry bread Hard, made from goat’s milk and barley flour
2 Out-’n’-about loaf Leavened, sourdough Braided, brushed with egg yolk, made with buckwheat flour, to be eaten on journeys
3 Thudbelly bun Yeast Bread Sweet, made with buttermilk and whole wheat
4 Hearthoven Tack Flatbread Flaky, hard biscuit often slathered with honey
5 Fore-after tea muffin Yeast bread Round, hand-sized and dusted in cornmeal and served after lunch/before supper
6 Hole loaf Yeast bread Thick, fluffy made of two loaves with hole punched through middle, often filled with butter or curds
7 Elf biscuit Flatbread Infused with honey and butter, very filling, wrapped in leaves for flavor and presentation
8 Full Farthing loaf Sweet bread Stuffed with fruit, practically a cake.

Feature: Break Bread
You can always attempt to settle grievances and disagreements between parties, even those involving yourself, or forge temporary or lasting alliances by sharing a loaf of your family’s famous bread. However, parties may be unwilling if the squabble between them has already come to blows.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I have a bread-making or baking proverb handy for every situation.
2 I seek to taste all the breads, cakes, and muffins of the Five Farthings.
3 I’d rather be in the kitchen.
4 I make new friends wherever I am.
5 As a halfling of station, I supervise the labor of the lower classes and do not get my own hands (and toes) dirty.
6 I never need an excuse to throw a party or serve a feast.
7 I am a baker and an artist, bread my paint, the belly my canvas.
8 There’s nothing worth doing you cannot take your time at.

 

d6 Ideal
1 Warmheartedness. The heart of every home is its oven and every heart must be warm. (Good)
2 Alms. If any are starving, then all go unfed. (Neutral)
3 Tighten the belt. Lean times have come to the Five Farthings, and while we must all pull our weight, some of us need to lighten the load. (Lawful)
4 Plentifulness. All should share in the bounty of the harvest. (Chaotic)
5 Gluttony. My own pleasure at the breakfast, dinner, and supper table comes before the needs of others. (Evil)
6 Festivity. Enjoyment of life rises above all other needs. (Any)

 

d6 Bond
1 I believe that breaking bread and talking things over is the best way to heal the wounds brought upon the Five Farthings by the Recent Inconveniences.
2 I will not allow my companions to go hungry or taste of lesser morsels than I may bake!
3 I aim to discover a new recipe that will become a staple of Hearthoven’s kitchens.
4 I will defend the peasantry with my life, for without their harvest we’ve got no bread.
5 The reputation of my family’s bakeries must be upheld at all costs.
6 I want to make bread, so I find the best choice is always the most lucrative one.

 

d6 Flaw
1 I cannot pass up any opportunity for a meal or even a snack.
2 I eat only the finest, most expensive, and carefully prepared meals.
3 I will step in to take over any and every kitchen I feel doesn’t measure up.
4 I deserve a life of leisure, not one of work.
5 I am not afraid to criticize others’ or their cooking.
6 I refuse to do anything on an empty stomach.

 

Dwarf Lode – Ability Scores

One of my current projects is the all-dwarf roleplaying game Dwarf Lode, which I describe as a a game of drunken exploration, ancestral guilt, and engineering disasters.  

Although, at its heart the game is built upon the skeletal framework of B/X, I’m building the rules system for Dwarf Lode from the ground up. In this post, you’ll find Ability Scores/Attributes re-imagined through the viewpoint of dwarfish culture. (I’ve done the same for Saving Throws, which are referenced throughout the post below.)

In future posts, we’ll look at saving throws, the dwarf class, armor, and beers. Armor and beer is where the game really sets itself apart from others. How a dwarf arms himself for battle and what libations he drinks determine his abilities.

Ability Scores

 Included is a description of each Ability is an explanation of its uses within the game.

Brawn

A dwarf’s Brawn determines how strong he is, how easy it is for him to crack skulls, tumble boulders, carry treasure, etc. Brawn applies to To Hit rolls and Damage rolls. A dwarf may attempt an Open Kegs check for minor tasks of Brawn, such as opening stuck doors or kegs, etc., or Tumble Boulders/Crack Skulls for more weighty, if not impossible-seeming, feats of Brawn such as bending bars or lifting portcullises.

Score To Hit Damage Bonus Open Kegs Tumble Boulders/Crack Skulls
3 -3 -3 1-in-6 0%
4-5 -2 -2 1-in-6 1%
6-8 -1 -1 2-in-6 2%
9-12 None None 2-in-6 4%
13-15 +1 +1 3-in-6 8%
16-17 +2 +2 3-in-6 16%
18 +3 +3 4-in-6 24%

 

Knack

One’s got a knack if he’s deft at something dwarfs aren’t usually good at, like being nimble on his feet or sneaky, climbing without the use of pitons and rope, ducking from a swing as opposed to letting the helmet take care of it, etc. Knack applies to Armor Class, firing missile weapons, and saves versus Fire! and Gettin’ Outta the Way.

Score AC Mod Missile To Hit Bonus to Saves
3 +3 -3 -2
4-5 +2 -2 -1
6-8 +1 -1 -1
9-12 None None None
13-15 -1 +1 +1
16-17 -2 +2 +1
18 -3 +3 +2

 

Heft

A dwarf’s got Heft to him if he’s robust, stout, or otherwise endowed with bit of extra meat about the belly. The more heft the harder he is to knock over, the more beer he’ll drink, the harder you have to hit him to bring him down. Heft applies to Hit Die rolls, all healing rolls from rest, saves verses What Ails Ye, applies save bonus as a negative to Gettin’ Outta the Way, and helps a dwarf hold his liquor and resist drunkenness.

Score HP Bonus Bonus to Saves Hold Liquor
3 -3 -3/+3 -3
4-5 -2 -2/+2 -2
6-8 -1 -1/+1 -1
9-12 None None None
13-15 +1 +1/-1 +1
16-17 +2 +2/-2 +2
18 +3 +3/-2 +3

 

Tenacity

It’s a nicer way of saying that dwarfs are stubborn. Once a dwarf has set his mind to something, it’s his Tenacity that determines how he sees it through. Tenacity determines how likely (or unlikely) a dwarf is to resist holding a Grudge and how determined he is in his engineering.

Score Bonus to Save Engineering
3 +3 -3
4-5 +2 -2
6-8 +1 -1
9-12 None None
13-15 -1 +1
16-17 -2 +2
18 -3 +3

Wile

Most dwarfs are are as narrow-minded as a boulder heading downhill. Once they’re set on a path, it’s hard for them to imagine getting where they’re going any other way. It’s not Tenacity, this, or even stubbornness, but a simple lack of imagination. But some dwarfs are wily. They see things less literally than other dwarfs. They’re devious, they’re cunning, and even capable of thinking in the moment. Wile determines whether dwarfs can read or write, determines the number of bonus languages, and their ability to resist Curses.

Score Reading & Writing # of Bonus Languages Bonus to Saves
3 Unable to read or write, broken speech 0 -3
4-5 Unable to read or write 0 -2
6-8 Can write simple words 0 -1
9-12 Can read and write native languages 0 None
13-15 Can read and write native languages 1 +1
16-17 Can read and write native languages 2 +2
18 Can read and write native languages 3 +3

 

Lustiness

It’s what gives a dwarf his zest for life, for battle, for ale! A dwarf with a lack of lustiness is dour and grim, and so a respectable dwarf. Dwarfs with too much lustiness are troublemakers, at best, or inspiring warriors who lead other, more impressionable dwarfs  across the wastes of the world to seek the (allegedly) stolen treasures of their ancestors.

Score HP Bonus Reaction Adjustment Bonus to What Ails Ye
3 None -1 -3
4-5 None -1 -2
6-8 None None -1
9-12 None None None
13-15 None None +1
16-17 +1 +1 +2
18 +2 +1 +3

 

Clout

A dwarf with Clout knows how to throw his weight about. This might be through influence, honor, or respect gained on the field of battle, or it might mean literally his willingness to clout another dwarf over the head to get him to listen.

Score Reaction Adjustment Max # of Clansmen Loyalty/Morale
3 -2 1 4
4-5 -1 2 5
6-8 -1 3 6
9-12 None 4 7
13-15 +1 5 8
16-17 +1 6 9
18 +2 7 10

 

Coronado, Gateway to the Deathlands of Alb

The starting town for my Doom Lords of the Atomic Undercity campaign.

Coronado straddles a 100-lane Megahighway-of-Tomorrow that leads to the Deathlands of Alb, beneath which lies the Atomic Undercity of the Doom Lords. The city is ruled by a mysterious being known as the Overmind, who seems universally loved by the populace despite having never been seen. Unlike most other settlements out in the wastes, Coronado welcomes humans, mutants, and robots within its walls, though it does relegate them to slums within the city’s hierarchy. However, under the Overmind’s guidance, Coronado has become the major trading post for technology scavenged from the nearby deathlands and the Atomic Undercity. As a result, factions from the Deathlands of Alb and beyond operate here, no doubt scheming nefariously.

 

Coronada Map.jpg