Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Harrow Home Level 1 - Entryways and Alchemist's Lair

Here's the next bit of Harrow Home, to accompany the level 1 dungeon map from the other day.  Harrow Home is structured as a series of related lairs and hideouts on each level, with a horror theme, so my approach will be to put together a lair or hideout each week - that seems like a sustainable pace for content on the blog while still doing some work on the Black City.

Crumbling stairs lead from the kitchen ruins to the dungeons beneath Harrow Home.  The chambers of the first level are ribbed vaults of brick supported by pillars.  Bricks show through where the plaster has cracked or fallen away.

Referee's Background:  Dungeon level 1 consists of the wine cellars and store rooms beneath the old manor.  Furtive visitors slip into the ruins by night, quickly passing underground and taking the stairs at area 22 down into the deeps, bypassing the rest of this level.  Unscrupulous traders, bandits, and grave robbers often come to the ruins to treat with the Thurman gang or the alchemist.  The lairs of level one belong to these debased profiteers who offer service to the deeper denizens.

1.  Undercroft
The plaster along the stairs and entry area is almost completely gone due to exposure to the surface elements.  A search of the room reveals a sheet of paper with a recent order for "Prodigioso".  The order covers exotic spirits from the continent ("wormwood wines") and food delicacies worth hundreds of silver pieces.  A merchant sigil on the page indicates the blue anchor (a Scarborough importer).

2.  Hidden Skeletons
Crumbling plaster here reveals a different style of brick and mortar here, added later.  Age has weakened it enough to smash through with a hammer.  The room is piled with hundred-year old skeletal revenants that clamber through the hole to attack!

9 skeletal revenants
(AC as leather, HD 1, attack 1, D 1-6, MV 6, ML 12, AL N)

The revenants wear the tattered livery of church soldiers (men from the Bishop of York) from a century ago.  They wield non functional arquebuses as clubs, rapiers, or rake with their claws and teeth (1-3 damage each).  One of them carries a scroll case tucked away in a satchel - it is a writ of arrest for man named Wil Fuller.

After dispatching the player characters and anyone else that gets in their way, the cursed revenants continue the hunt for Wil Fuller.

Writ of Arrest:
Written in a fine cursive script, difficult to read in the poor light of a dungeon, the document describes a reign of terror between the years 1511 and 1522 stretching across western Yorkshire - kidnappings, accusations of witchcraft, harboring of fugitives from the church, and diabolism - the writ identifies a "Wil Fuller", master of Harrow Home Manor and erstwhile resident of Scarborough, as the accused, and empowers a sheriff to arrest him.

3.  Undercroft
Splinters of wood and debris along the west wall suggest the area was a storage at one time.  On the south wall is a Greek inscription chiseled into the plaster.  "Look left from the eye to open the way".

4.  Alchemist's Entrance
Lurking in the northern corners (shadows) are a pair of living lead.  When characters approach the room, braziers flare alight along the southern wall and a magic mouth appears and speaks:

"In the footsteps of Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus, welcome to the laboratory of the great Oswald Boehm.  Toll the bell to conduct business."

A rope hangs from a bronze church bell hung in the southwest corner.  Besides rousing the alchemist's servant, Edward (see area 7), the bell forces an immediate wandering monster roll.  The locked door to room 7 has a sliding peep hole through which visitors can state their business - only characters wishing to do business with the alchemist are admitted.  Edward won't open the door if the characters are under attack!

The living dead are tethered by ankle chains but can reach the locked doors.  They only shamble forward to attack someone attempting to force their way past doors - otherwise they stand and drool, slack eyed and unresponsive.

Living Dead (hp 9, 8).  Dressed as yeoman farmers with ashen skin.

Note:  Rooms 5 through 10 represent the lair of the nightshade peddler, Oswald Boehm.  The area is lit by intermittent torches and the air is acrid with greasy smoke.

5.  Morgue
At any given time, there are 0-3 corpses laid out on the ground here (0-3 weeks old).  Oswald buys dead bodies from grave robbers in the area for use as ingredients.

6.  Supplies
A trio of living dead are shackled to the north wall by chains - they appear to be sleeping at first glance (and will surprise anyone who leans down to check on them with ferocious grabs and bites).  They're clothed in ragged dresses and bear a familial resemblance to each other - a matron, mother, and daughter.  Characters skirting the top half of the room can avoid their reach.

The south part of the room is full of supplies - barrels of wine and salt pork, lantern oil, greasy torches, and similar necessities.  The supplies could fill a wagon and are worth 200sp if recovered.  There are a pair of rat traps near the supplies.

Living Dead (hp 8, 6, 2).  Dressed as farm women.

7.  Workshop
The available wall space is blocked by workbenches and shelves, covered in jars and pots of every size and shape, exotic dried animals tacked to the wall and hanging bundles of herbs.  The center of the room is dominated by a pair of work tables similarly decked with mortars, pestles, alembics, and other accouterments of the alchemist's art, lit by candles spread around the room.

Oswald, the Alchemist, invariably retreats to the far side of the room, hefting a heavy crossbow and interrogating customers at "gun point".  If aggression breaks out, his plan is to plunk the lead combatant with a poisoned quarrel, cast a Sleep spell the following round (if possible), and uses a pinch of smoke powder from a belt pouch to obfuscate his escape out the back door.  He has two sets of powder, a hallucinogenic dust that needs to be cast into fire, and a smoke powder that creates a 20' x 20' cloud.  If an entire group is subdued, they'll find themselves shackled in the store room while Oswald negotiates to sell the characters to Thurman's gang for shipment below - they don't have long to escape!

Oswald Boehm, Alchemist (Magic User 2)
(AC as leather, HD 2, HP 6, attack 1 crossbow, D 1-6, MV 12, ML 5, AL C)

Oswald typically has Sleep and Floating Disc memorized for daily use - he likes to impress merchants and corpse haulers with his ability to move things around through magic.  He keeps a heavy crossbow handy (loaded with a poison quarrel - Save vs Poison or fall incapacitated \ ill for 24 hours) and also carries a dagger.  The alchemist is a wanted man in Europe for his ghoulish experiments.  He's grotesque, nervous, and "name drops" powerful characters from the depths in an attempt to intimidate aggressors - he conducts business with Prodigioso (Ricardus), Petrus Magnus, and the Mistress (Lady Fuller).

Edward, Addled Servant (Fighter 2)
(AC as leather, HD 2, HP 14, attack 1 club, D 1-6 +2, MV 12, ML 10, AL C)
Edward's brain has been addled by years of Charm Person and chemical abuse by the alchemist, confusing him to the point that he's forgotten the outside world and is fanatically loyal to 'master'.  He has hulking size (strength +2), is bald, goggle-eyed, and walks with a limp.

The room is full of valuable reagents and ingredients, but it would take a trained alchemist to properly identify the materials for use - if collected and sold as a lot in the city, the lab is worth 1,000sp and fills a wagon load.  Oswald has a heavy tome full of recipes written in a personal cipher.  The types of things in the room include nightshades and mandrake, smoke and flash powders, alcohol, exotic specimens in jars, various poison mixtures (ranging from subtle ingestive poisons to blade coats), and many foul reagents crafted from human remains - ashes, bone powders, and candles.  One bowl of powder radiates as magical - this holds a dose of Oswald's zombie powder (see the new spell description).

8.  Ovens
The east wall is piled high with firewood, barrels of kindling, and charcoal; the south wall is dominated by a brick oven, and the east wall features a cook pit with a large cauldron over it, casting the room in a hellish glow.  There's a large work table in the center of the room and a collection of knives and cleavers.  The room is hot and uncomfortable and reeks of rendering.  The alchemist uses the place to dry materials or render fats in the cauldron.  There are also cook pots and some water barrels in a corner.

9.  Servant's Room
Edward, the heavily dazed man-servant, sleeps here on a cot.  He keeps a collection of adders kept in some empty barrels and feeds them rodents he finds in the halls.  The room contains his cot, a trunk with clothes, a barrel of beer, and a pair of chamber pots to clean up after 'master'.

A wooden box under the bed holds another adder, which attacks when the box is opened; it's Edward's gift to thieves.

10.  Alchemist's Room
The alchemist's room features a glowing brazier surrounded by low couches and a few candle-stands.  If pursued, the alchemist throws a handful of powder from a belt pouch into the brazier, which quickly fills the room with a hazy smoke - characters in the area must Save vs Poison or suffer a Confusion effect.  Oswald hopes to recover his spell book and skulk out during the ensuing chaos (he's inured to the effects of the Confusion powder).  He stabs anyone that gets in his way, clutching his spell book with the other hand.

Besides a trunk with clothes and personal effects, the room features Oswald's pipes and smoking paraphernalia (he's addicted to Turkish poppy), as well as his spell book (containing Read Magic, Sleep, Floating Disc, Charm Person, and a new level 1 spell - Make Zombie Powder).  Beneath the clothes in the trunk, the alchemist keeps 1,000 cp, 300sp, and 4 gold pieces in the trunk.


  1. Yep, I'm really happy to see Harrow Home being developed.

  2. I couldn't resist the inscription in the undercroft:


    1. Very cool - if I ever get some art requisitioned, showing some characters puzzling over the Greek inscription would be excellent.

    2. That would be great. Though I must sheepishly admit I omitted an article when I typed it in.


      is what I meant to say... er, inscribe.