This is the blog. Click here to go to the Zenopus Archives website.

Note: Many older posts on this blog are missing images, but can be viewed at the corresponding page in the Internet Archive


The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave #12: The Bubbly

This is an installment of a new dungeon adventure set in the Portown milieu that I'm writing for Holmes Basic D&D. You can find the Introduction to the dungeon here: Area 1.

Each entry in the series includes part of a "pointcrawl" map showing the area & any exits, which include links. Thus, you can navigate the dungeon by following the links on the map:

Area 11 === 12. THE BUBBLY
C== Area 18
12. THE BUBBLY. This area consists of a large natural cavern with a floor of sand and stones from which bubbles forth the source of the water for the stream of Area 11 and eventually the waterfall of Area 9. The PCs can enter from the west by heading upstream through the stream from Area 11 or from the east via the tunnel from Area 18.  

The Cavern. A large roughly circular space, about 100 feet in diameter, and dimly lit by phosphorescent fungus growing on the rock walls, which arch to a point about 50 feet above the floor, which is covered in deep, dark grey sand intermixed with a variety of pebbles.

The stream exiting via the west wall leads up to pool of churning water and sand with a diameter of 10 feet, fed by water continuously bubbling up from beneath. The output from this forms a stream which exits the room through the western wall to Area 11.

Concealed Tunnel. If the walls are examined, a crevice will be noted just above the sand on the eastern wall. The sand here conceals a tunnel below floor level leading to Area 18. Enough sand can be removed in 3 turns to allow entry to the tunnel. 

The Source. 30 feet beneath the surface of the bubbling pool is a nexus with the Elemental Plane of Water. At this nexus dwells a slurry, a minor elemental composed of a mixture of water and sand, which dwells here, feeding on precious metals found on the Prime Material Plane.

Slurry (DX 15, AC 2, HD 2, HP 9, #AT 1 blast of watery sand for 1d6, SD immune to normal weapons). A full write-up for this new monster can now be found here.

Anything heavy that is thrown or dropped into the churning water will sink and then either be ejected in 1d6 rounds (1-9 in 10) or pass through the nexus to the Elemental Plane of Water (on a 10). This will have a 3 in 6 chance of causing the slurry to surface in the middle of the pool, and begin spraying anyone in the area with a concentrated blast of sandy water until they leave.

If a character enters directly into the churning water, they will take 1 point of damage per round from the abrasive force of the sand in the water.

If the elemental is destroyed, the nexus to the Elemental Plane of Water will close, causing the water flow to diminish to a trickle.

Star Quartz. The churning watery created by the slurry acts like a rock tumbler, polishing quartz stones found naturally in the sand, producing the round star quartz found in the area and downstream. Searching the sand around the pool for a turn gives a 1 in 6 chance of uncovering such a gem (roll on the Gems table for value), but also a 1 in 6 chance of disturbing the elemental.

A gem dropped into the pool has a 1 in 6 chance of resurfacing at the next higher value on the Gems table. Adding gold or platinum (10 GP worth) will increase this chance to 4 in 6, but only once per day.

Chronologically on this blog, the previous post installment was Area 11 and the next posted installment will be Area 13.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave #11: Stream Tunnel

This is an installment of a new dungeon adventure set in the Portown milieu, which I'm writing for Holmes Basic D&D. You can find the Introduction here: Area 1.

Each entry includes part of a "pointcrawl" map showing the area & any exits, including links allowing you to navigate the dungeon:

Area 13
Area 9 === 11. STREAM TUNNEL
=== Area 12
11. STREAM TUNNEL. This area consists of a long east-west tunnel, carved by water, that contains the stream feeding the waterfall in Area #9, and a narrow path running along its southern side.

The Path. This begins at the top of the waterfall in Area #9, and extends east, with an average width of 5 feet. The low ceiling is only 5 feet above, and the rough rock of the walls is slick with moisture, and dimly lit by patches of phosphorescent fungus. The adjacent stream is 10 feet wide but only 5 feet deep, and swift, chilly, and slippery, requiring a dexterity of 15 to remain upright.

The stream and path continue east in the same manner for several hundred feet [exact length to be confirmed by later explorers...], until the path abruptly narrows to one foot and stops.

There are no permanent residents in this area, but Wandering Monsters may be encountered.

The Ford. 10 feet past where the path ends, there is an opening in the tunnel wall on the opposite side, several feet above the level of the water. Thus, the stream may be forded here by wading upstream for 10 feet through the chilly water.

Unaided, the crossing will impossible for anyone with a dexterity of less than 15. However, at the point where the path ends, an old iron ring has been fixed into the rock near the floor of the south wall, and a bit of old rope remains attached. Another ring is attached to the rock on the north side near the opening 10 feet ahead. Thus, the two rings can be connected by rope, allowing anyone to safely cross.

Past the opening on the north side, the stream continues for another 30 feet before opening into a larger natural chamber with a sandy floor (Area 12). Again, the water in this passage requires a high dexterity to traverse. As the chamber is approached, the water and bottom of the stream grow increasingly gritty and sandy, respectively. 

While fording the stream, a character has a 1 in 6 chance of stepping on what feels to be a round rock, but is actually a highly polished star quartz gem worth 1d10 x 10 gp. Roll 1d6 for color: 1-3 = blue, 4-5 = green, 6 = rose. Up to six such gems can be located by searching the bottom, two per 10 foot section at the ford and beyond.

Exits. There are three exits from this area, west (downstream) from the south side of the stream to Area 9, north across the stream to Area 13, and east (upstream) to Area 12. The map posted above can be used to navigate to these areas.

Chronologically on this blog, the previous post installment was Area 10 and the next posted installment was Area 12.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Sutherland Dragon on Exhibit Continues!

The cover of the exhibition catalog

This summer, David Sutherland's original painting for the cover of the Holmes Basic Set has been on display again, this time at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as part of the show Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration, which runs at that museum through September 5th.

Enchanted at the Hunter Museum

After this, the Enchanted exhibit moves to the Flint Institute of the Arts, in Flint, Michigan, from September 23rd, 2022 until January 8th, 2023.

I haven't made it to Chattanooga myself, but the exhibit was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts, and I saw it there last summer. See my long post for more about the show and photos of Sutherland's painting, which I often call the Sutherland Dragon.

Also, I made a post with closer shots of details of the painting. It's beautiful in person and well worth making a road trip to see it with your own eyes!

And of course, the exhibit has a multitude of other treasures, including D&D art by Trampier (the pseudodragon from the original Monster Manual!), Easley and Elmore, and fantasy illustration by the likes of Frazetta, Brom and Tony DiTerlizzi.

DiTerlizzi himself made a great video preview of the catalog for the exhibition, which gives a sense of some of the art that is included. The catalog is available from the Norman Rockwell Museum shop or on Amazon (the latter includes my affiliate link).

(This post adapted from a recent Twitter thread)