Friday, February 14, 2014

Harrow Home Level 1 - The Thurman Gang

Here's the final bit of Harrow Home level 1.  The map is here:  Harrow Home level 1.  Technically, I still want to put together a wandering monster table and put notes together for "The Diary of Wil Fuller", but this completes the keyed sections of the map.

Thanks all for the lively discussion the past few days around random dungeon generation - it's given me a lot to think about!  Harrow Home level 1 is the polar opposite of the random approach.

The Thurman Gang

Thurman is an aging robber who made a pact with the masters of Harrow Home years ago.  In addition to payment for services rendered, he is supplied monthly with bottles of a unique potion - "Wolfsblood" - a concoction that enhances aggression, strength, and dexterity.  He calls his men "the Reavers" and has organized them into a warrior's cult.  Bandits, robbers, and ex-soldiers are recruited into the Reavers if they're intimidating, violent, and capable of following orders.  The Reavers are sent all over the north to arrange robberies, kidnappings, and black market purchases for the masters in the deeps of the dungeon.  One mission might take them to a distant vicarage, stealing a rare book; the next is in London, to kidnap the descendant of a wizard's enemy.

Thurman thinks of himself as a Viking lord of old, and treats the Reavers like the loyal retainers of a Viking jarl.  Membership involves oaths of service in return for a silver ring, a ceremonial silver dagger, and a brand (the Norse runes for wolf) seared into the member's chest.  Once a month, the Reavers return to the lair in time for the full moon, gathering in the chamber of ritual for the monthly consumption of wolfsblood potion.  Reavers that miss the ritual go through intense withdrawal and suffer debilitating weakness.

In game terms, the Reavers are treated as "berserkers" - while they use firearms and missiles at range, once combat is fully joined they wade into battle and let bloodlust take over.  Their eyes flare red and their features take on a bestial cast, a side effect of the wolfsblood potion.  They don't check morale and always fight to the death.  They have traded humanity for power.  Each reaver carries a silver dagger with a wolfshead pommel (worth 50sp), a silver ring (worth 25sp), and 3-12sp in crowns and shillings.  For convenience, here's the bestiary entry on reavers:

Bandits, Reavers
AC as Leather, MV 12, HD 1 + 1, Atk 1, Damage 1-8, ML 12, AL C.  1-8 appearing.  Reavers are bandits who have joined the Thurman Gang and taken on The Mark of the Beast (a rune-like scar on the chest).  They never check morale and get +2 to hit in combat.  Thurman's Reavers prefer heavy melee weapons - axes, mauls, and archaic swords - and each carries an ornate silver dagger.  (1-2 in 6 carries a firearm).

The descriptions of the lair below assumes a daytime encounter, when members of the gang are sleeping in, under a low state of alertness.  The lair is more active in the evening.  3-12 additional members are present during the days preceding and during the full moon.  (If the referee isn't tracking the lunar cycle, make it a 1 on a d8 chance).

Members of the gang know some rumors about the dungeons.  The "big three" power brokers in the deep levels include a wizard named Gregorius - a cruel mage that appears like a child; the Mistress, creator of Harrow Home; and a creepy specimen they call "the Skull" - some kind of undead monster.  They're familar with the Conways, a gruesome gang of cannibals on the second level, and they frequently do side jobs for Nicoletto, also on level 2.  If asked about the Wretched, they know he was an apprentice to one of the Big Three that stepped out of line ages ago and was cursed.  His servant (the Freak) has been replaced a couple of times since Thurman has been around.

The group has a powerful enemy - the werewolf matriarch of Osmotherly (Osmotherly is a remote hamlet on the edge of the western moors).  Gregorious holds a progenitor wolf (an ancient European werewolf) trapped in the dungeons, and makes the wolfsblood draft from a mixture of the monster's blood and magical reagents.  Thurman has guessed the source of wolfsblood potion, and the ceremonial silver daggers carried by members of the gang are a hedge against lycanthrope attacks on the moors.  Gregorius has warded areas of the dungeon, but the werewolves always find a way down.

The reavers can travel by day and look like ordinary people when not raging.  Members of the gang are good trackers.  If the reavers survive an attack on the lair, they try to track the characters back to any nearby villages or towns.  The referee is encouraged to establish ambushes, assassination attempts, and similar reprisals until the lair is clear and Thurman is finally defeated.  Thurman gains reinforcements as agents on missions return to the lair.

Note:  Rooms 24 through 34 are not built from brick and plaster like other sections of the undercroft; the stone has the texture of limestone but is not constructed of individual blocks or stones - it was stone-shaped through magic.  The doors are wooden with metal hinges and are hand crafted.

22.  Stairs Down
A large staircase descends down here.  It follows the brick and plaster construction of the rest of the dungeon.  The door to room 23 is barred from the other side.

23.  Bandit Entrance

A wooden ladder descends into this room from the trap door in the floor of the gatehouse.

Note:  there is a permanent illusion placed on the north passage, such that the wall appears to be solid.  The door to the south is a false door.  Chimes on the back side of the south door ring when it's opened, revealing a blank brick wall.  The door to room 22 is barred from this side.

The illusiory wall is partially translucent when viewed from the north - like peering through a hazy curtain.  Guards in room 24 are aware of loud noises and light sources in room 23.

24.  Guard Room
Two guards are posted in the room, but there's a 50% chance they're asleep - one is slumped over the table with a tankard, the other on the cot.  Loud noises or the chimes in room 23 wake them up 4 out of 6 times.  During a response, one readies the musket to fire at anyone coming through the fake wall; the other heads into the complex to rouse the lair.

Room contents include a table and oil lamp, stools, cot, and a piss bucket.  There's a loaded musket on the table and 3 extra rounds.

Reavers (hp 5, 8)

25.  Jail
Four pairs of shackles hang from the walls.  Roll to see if there's a current prisoner:

1  A winsome lass facing a fate worse than death at the hands of Nicoletto (level 2).
2  A violent convict destined for Meyer's arena (level 3).
3  A yeoman farmer slated for sale to a monster (Ryksna Sprosna, the undead scientist of level 4).
4  A dishonest merchant awaiting an uncomfortable reckoning on level 5 (with Gregorius).
5-6  No one at this time.

26.  Great Hall
The great hall has a three long trestle tables and benches running down the center of the room.  Nearly a dozen Reavers are sleeping around the room - slumped on the table or sleeping near the walls on bedding.  If the alarm is raised 1-3 awaken each round.

The tables are cluttered with drinking horns, tin utensils and plates, along with dice, knucklebones and some cards.  Wall hangings evoke a Viking hall of old - battered, archaic shields, axes, and Medieval tapestries.  The dim room is lit by smokey torches at intervals.

At the far south end of the wall is a high-backed wooden throne.  Thurman is present, but when invaders first enter the hall, Thurman retreats behind the chair along with two of the nearest reavers.  They disappear through the southern door (concealed by the throne) to make a stand in the gauntlet.

The western door to the stairs lead down to Nicoletto's lair.  It is barred from this side.  If players stop to notice, the outside of the door features heavy scratches and gouges.

Reavers (hp 6, 5, 2, 4, 4, 5, 2, 4, 6, 5)
Thurman (hp 12 - stats like the other reavers, but he fights as 3rd level)

27.  Barracks
6 Reavers are sleeping off their drink, although the room has stacked bunks to accomodate 30.  In addition to wood bunks with rope springs, straw mattresses and blankets, the room features trunks of personal effects and noisome chamber pots.

6 sleeping Reavers (hp 9, 3, 5, 6, 8, 7)

28.  Store Room
The room is piled with barrels of low-grade supplies - 2 barrels of smoked fish (5sp each), 4 barrels of beer (10sp each), 1 barrel of hard tack (5sp), and 2 barrels of water.  There are also useful supplies - crates of torches, a crate of lantern oil, and other necessities the referee deems useful.

In one corner, a blanket is draped over 2 casks of brandy (200sp each) and crate of fine crystal glasses packed in straw (200sp).

29.  Kitchen
A pair of terrorized servants dwell here.  Along the north wall is a crude stone hearth and a fire with a tripod and stew-pot.  The room smells of fresh bread and game meat in stew.  There are usually 40-60 man-days of fresh foods (game animals, flour, barrels of water) piled in the south half of the room - enough to feed the lair for 2-3 days.  Buried in the supplies is a crate with two large bags of imported coffee beans (150sp each).

The servants, a matron and daughter (Annie and Nattie Avery), were kidnapped from a farm near Pickering over a year ago.

30.  Gauntlet
The gauntlet is a series of physical challenges the Reavers use for sport and defense.  Shaded areas are 20' deep pits filled with refuse and the contents of chamber pots (2d6 damage and a 1 in 20 chance of picking up a disease).  Each floor area has a sconce with a dim smoldering torch offering meager light.

Assuming Thurman and a pair of reavers retreated from room 26, the two reavers are posted east of 30b with shortbows and 10 arrows each.  Hiding in deep shadows, they shoot at characters swinging to 30a.  As invaders get ready to swing to 30b, they retreat across 30c with bow and quiver and shoot from there.

30a.  A rope swing requires a character to leap off the ledge, grab the rope mid-jump, and swing to a narrow ledge.

In order to grab the rope and swing, the character needs to roll a 5-6 on a 6-sided die, with the following modifiers:

+2 for unencumbered
+1 for light
+0 for heavily encumbered
-1 for severely encumbered
+  strength ability modifier

A thief or specialist can make a climb check and add +2 to the roll if the check is successful.

Note:  Reavers are encumbered and get a +1 or +2 ability modifier due to wolfsblood enhancements, allowing them to easily traverse the gauntlet.  Over-encumbered dungeon explorers are another matter.

Characters that fail drop into the 20' pit.

Characters need to make a second check (substituting dexterity for strength) to scoot along the narrow ledge to area 30b.

30b.  There is another rope swing here requiring characters to jump to swing east.  Any reavers to the east with shortbows can be seen retreating to the south once characters reach 30b.  If they have arrows left, the reavers retreat beyond 30c for another volley, otherwise they move past 30d and prepare for melee.

30c.  Four 20' wooden poles are mounted here, requiring characters to jump from pole-top to pole-top.  Use the same modifiers as area 30a except only dexterity ability modifiers count.

30d.  Two crude stone-shaped statues of northman warrior stand here - conical helms and noseguards, with hands on axe helms.  Swinging back and forth behind them is a pendulum blade, requiring the same modifiers as 30a to jump past (substituting dexterity for strength).  Characters that fail take 1d8 damage.  The arm of the pendulum can be chopped with an axe in a few minutes of work.

30e.  The floor here is a checkerboard of dark and light 5' squares.  The dark squares are safe, allowing characters to walk diagonally along the hall.  Each light square requires a trap check (on a 1-2, the square swings down, dropping the character into a 10' hole.  Characters can save vs Paralysis to grab the edge and catch their fall.

31.  Ritual Room
This large, vaulted chamber is supported by caryatids carved to look like fierce Vikings holding the ceiling.  The center is dominated by a 10' circular dais flanked by two burning braziers filled with oil.  A pedestal on the dais holds a rune-encrusted bronze bowl and a pair of stained, empty bottles.

If Thurman escaped to here, he'll don a chain shirt and helmet (improving his AC to chain) and come from behind one of the pillars wielding a double-handed maul, entering a berserker rage.  He wears a key around his neck.

The bronze bowl radiates magic and is worth 50sp as a curiousity.  It belongs to the wizard Gregorius.

32.  Exit
A heavy portcullis bars the way down the escape tunnel.  There is a winch just inside the hall.  The tunnel leads up after 300 feet and opens onto the moors.  Large "wards against werewolves" are carved into the stone of the tunnel not far from the outside entrance.

33.  Treasury
The large chamber here is a dump for all of the "valuables" the bandits have collected - ordinary equipment and gear like wagons, saddles, extra boots, shovels, and farm tools.  It also holds treasure.

In the south corner are a pair of heavy chests.  One of them is full of copper pennies - 10,000cp.  The other has 1,000sp in mixed shillings and crowns, 4 of the ceremonial silver daggers (50sp each), and 20 gold guineas (1,000sp equivalent in gold).  Both chests are locked and heavy to move.  The key to Thurman's room also opens the chests.

34.  Thurman's Room
The door to this room is locked (the key hangs around Thurman's neck).  Compared to the reavers, Thurman lives in luxury - an actual cabinet for his clothing, a large wooden bed with comfortable mattress, his own table and wall pegs for cloaks, coats, and hanging weapons.  He keeps a fine set of wheellock pistols on the wall (700sp value) and a bandolier of rounds.  He has a sturdy chair with velvet cushion (100sp), an expensive violin he can't play (500sp), and a quality mirror (50sp).  There is a heavy coin purse on the table filled with 150sp.  The room has necessities and an oil lamp.


  1. John, I like this format. You state some of the main factions, there motivations and allies/enemies, then you present the rooms and descriptions. Perhaps you can use a similar format for your work on Black City?

  2. I'm definitely trying to improve the presentation. The Black City is either rambling blog notes or barebones notes in notepad; it's requiring both editing and writing. As I put up these Harrow Home lairs, I'm trying to get the presentation close to finished.

    Even this one is quite wordy. Do I really need to elaborate the Thurman Gang background that much?

  3. I've been thinking a lot about megadungeon design of late, and think you are handling the nodal way of it really well. I notice that more map based/sprawling megadungeons (ASE at least as I am running it) have a certain feeling of vastness since some area are simply unused or act as no mans land between the factions. Anyhow lovely evocative scenarios you've got feels all Soloman Kane. Have you considered AC bonuses for fighting types who buckle swash - 'cause it seems a low armor world.

    Anyhow back to megadungeons. I wonder how well an evocative random encounter table can tie the nodes together? I kept them all very discrete when running my own and see it as a mistake.