On Collective Nouns for Fantasy Dungeons & Dragons Monsters & Creatures

Ankheg - An army of ankheg
Animated Objects - A clutter of animated objects
Azer - A cinder of azer
Aboleth - A horror of aboleth
Angel - A grace of angels

Bugbear - A filth of bugbears
Beholder - A gaze of beholders
Barghest - A nightmare of barghest
Basilisk - A statuary of basalisks
Bulette - A shudder of bulette

Carrion Crawler - an army of carrion crawlers (or infestation)
Centaur - a herd of centaur
Chimera - a nest of chimera
Cockatrice - a flock of cockatrice

Devil - A sin of devils
Dragon - A weyr of dragon (or generation, wing, or flight)

Elemental - A core of elementals

Gargoyle - A gallery of gargoyles
Ghoul - A rot of ghouls
Gnoll - A clann of gnolls
Goblin - A chaos of goblins (or mob, or horde)
Griffon - A pride of griffons (or convocation)

Harpy - An aerie of harpies, (or a colony, or wake of harpies)
Hippogriff - A herd of hippogriff (or a cast)
Hobgoblin - A troop of hobgoblin

Kobold - A warren of kobolds (or pack, or nuisance)
Kuo-toa - A tide of kuo-toa

Lizardfolk - A tribe of lizardfolk
Lycanthrope - A curse of lycanthropes

Manticore - A destruction of manticores
Mind Flayer - A ponderance of mind flayers
Minotaur - A maze of minotaurs
Mummies - A wrap of mummies
Nightmares - A terror of nightmares

Ogre - A club of ogres
Ooze - A slime of oozes
Orc - A horde of orcs
Owlbear - A congress of owlbears
Otyugh - A filth of otyugh

Sahuagin - A catastrophe of sahuagin
Salamander - A heat of salamanders
Skeleton - A horde of skeletons
Shadow - A darkness of shadows
Sladd - A bane of sladd
Spectre - A sneak of spectres, (alternately, a vision)
Sphinx - A riddle of sphinx
Stirge - A swarm of stirge, A blood of stirge
Sprite - A mischief of sprites

Tarrasque (!) - An armageddon of tarrasque
Troglodyte - A slope of trogs
Troll - A growth of trolls, (or a soak of trolls)

Umberhulk - A siege of umberhulks, (or a confusion)
Unicorn - A purity of unicorns (or grace)

Vampires - A coterie of vampires (alternately a lick, or a den or coven)

Worg - A route of worg (or pack)
Wraith - A shade of wraiths
Wyvern - A quiver of wyvern (or nest)

Zombie - A horde of zombies (or invasion)

If during your augury of far realms you come across any other terms used in the common parlance, please leave them in the comments below, and I will note the phrase, and if given, the realm of origin.

This post was originally published on June 2011. If you like posts like this, support me on Patreon!

Spellbook Traps

1. Alarm
2. Explosive Runes
3. Contingency (To trigger any spell)
4. Symbol
5. Dusty pages (spores, disease)
6. Contact poison
7. Twisted spells (harmful spells unless the caster knows the code or key)
8. Ink Golems
9. Cloud of a million papercuts (Targeting eyes, nose, and mouth.)
10. Something that looks like a linking book, but actually triggers an Imprisoment spell
11. Mimics
12. A book with the same words on every page, with the spells coded into ink, or texture / material of the pages
13. Beartraps
14. Cursed (Polymorph for anyone reading the book who isn't the caster
15. Superglue
16. Touching spellbook triggers a teleport trap
17. Spellbook has teeth
18. Touching spell triggers electric shock
19. When turning to a certain page (say 341) the book sucks the reader into it.
20. If anyone other than the owner holds it, it appears to be full of vile acts
21. Snake Sigil
22. Forcecage combined with monster summoning
23. Magic mouth (annoyance can cause a penalty to learn)
24. A book of random spells, one you turn a page, the previous page is changed.
25. Actual traditional (poison needle on lock) traps on the cover.
26. Pages made of flammable, acidic,or poisonous material when exposed to air.
27. Have some pages be explosive when exposed to air, and the cover be metal for shrapnel damage.
28. Animate object, causing the book to attack.
29. Trapped with a poverty geas
30. Yellow mold dust
31. Analine ink
32. Trap the soul in an object in a 'cutout'
33. Dimensional portal
34. A book bomb.
35. A book poison container
36. Cause feeblemind
37. A deadly creature inside a hollow cutout.
38. Animate object on nearby objects (clothing of the person who opens the book)
39. A book that leeches something from the user
40. A book that alters the user mentally in some way
A) gain a emnity to monster/race/class
B) gain a phobia
C) gain a mental quirk
D) gain an insanity
41. Book opens to a page that scrys on a location that shows a mirror of opposition or soul trapping.
42. Pages with razor edges
43. Fire trap
44. Something is bound to guard the book
45. Arcane mark would allow you to locate the stolen book.
46. Have some green slime or a black pudding permanently 'phantasmal forced' to look like a spellbook.
47. Have the spellbook located inside a safe (like a prismatic sphere)
48. Illusory script
49. Arcane lock on a mundane lock
50. A lock lurker
51. Disguise it using 'item' and 'magic aura'
52. Spells scribed incorrectly to fail or backfire

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On The Thursday Trick: Underground Hazards

This post was originally published in December of 2011. If you're interested in Tricks and Traps like these, be sure to check out Artifices, Deceptions, and Dilemmas, collecting all of these along with beautiful illustrations. 

Underground Hazards 

Description: The Sub-world is not like the world above!

Dungeons aren't supermarkets and there are dangers that exist only beneath the world. What features can be used to create interesting organic underground spaces?

Accidents and falling. This is interesting, because this hazard must be applied and telegraphed before used. Environments underground are not always smooth and level. This is naturally taken into account in every version of Dungeons and Dragons by the movement rate. It is bad form to punish your players beyond that for the underground and cramped movement space.

But that doesn't mean you can't use uneven ground. You just have to clearly communicate to the players where it is and under what conditions it applies. You can say "This ground is uneven enough that if you wanted to cross it at full speed, you have to make a dexterity check." You can inform the players of unstable ledges that could cause them to fall if they walk along them unless a check is succeeded. It's not that the basic level of these checks should be difficult, but that emergent events in the hazardous environment creates tension, tactical puzzles, and entertainment.

Note how I'm just assuming you would never present any sort of space without a vertical element, right? We're in the future of Star Trek II, where three-dimensional thinking rules.

Another thing that must be considered underground is light. Without a light source, movement becomes more hazardous. Stating that any movement out of bright light requires a balance or dexterity check can create an environment that feels hostile, held back by the characters light. This is extremely compelling, because it psychologically mirrors the activities during the game. They are exploring the literal unknown dark, and straying from their light is dangerous.

Again, not in every environment, and not by surprise. Variety is the spice of life.

Rockfall. Man, rocks fall from space under the open sky. You can sure bet they fall underground. Have a talk with your miners and dwarves about the stability of the underground areas. Some might be very stable. Some might cause rockfall due to the use of some sonic or thunder damage. Some might be so unstable simply passing through the room is dangerous. This should be another factor in underground environments that reward characters for playing dwarves or taking the appropriate skills.

Dehydration and Exhaustion. When Dungeons and Dragons was a more focused game about exploring dungeons, there were explicit rules to handle these.
RESTING: After moving for 5 turns, the party must rest for 1 turn. One turn in 6 (one each hour of the adventure) must be spent resting. If the characters do not rest, they have a penalty of -1 on all "to hit" and damage rolls until they do rest. 
Pretty straightforward. Adventures are heady stuff.

Flooding. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single cave, in possession of adventures and near a large body of water, must be in want of a flood. They know it's coming before it happens. Water dripping from the ceiling, deep roaring noises, slick walls covered in algae. Often the best way for flooding to work, is to have it be a triggable factor in the environment. You're underground. The cave is multi level. Popping the pimple of the water will change that environment, depending on the situation, to the monsters advantage or yours.

Becoming lost is too large a topic to cover here. Disease is also a serious hazard, but is its own topic.

Detection/Disarming: Falling and balance hazards just must be full stop presented to the players. They literally function as hazardous zones. By their nature and how humans deal with movement, we can easily tell the stability of an area and our capacity to cross it. (As you would well know if you ever walked through the woods and crossed a stream). The thing is, even if we don't know how dangerous it is, we can almost always tell that it is some degree of dangerous. Of course you can make an argument that there might be some hidden danger, but we are playing a game and designing an encounter. Putting in a "F&%k you, you're prone/take x damage" isn't fun, or particularly game like. It's not a choice, it's a tax.

Rockfall. Anyone with the appropriate skill or background should absolutely be able to tell what's going on mechanically here. If they ask. When presenting rooms with rockfall, make sure you note what's on the floor. Dust, small stones, loose rocks, a boulder, spiderweb divots and cracks in the ground. If it is a rock fall area, then rocks fall. Before entering any area where it's stable unless shatters or fireballs start going off, dwarves and characters should have a  handwaved check to determine if that is the case. It's more interesting for the game if the know the consequences of using loud, damaging, area of effect spells.

Flooding. Players are going to shrug their shoulders and move ahead when you give them clues that the cavern will flood. They will say, "Well, I've got to go on the adventure!" They will often feel that they have no control over when you will flood the cave. So it's important to present it clearly to the player so they understand the dynamic. Is it a dangerous area with the risk of instant death, not only from crushing damage, but needing a way to breath water? Will it wash the characters away? Will it destroy the temple? If you're using as part of a load-bearing boss, then it really doesn't matter, right? To make it interesting in the game, the players have to understand the threat, and you should be able to communicate it to them, so they can make meaningful decisions.

This post might be more useful than the entire Dungeoneers Survival Guide. If you liked it, and you'd like to see more monthly posts, please consider joining our hierarchy on Patreon for special Discord roles!

Hack & Slash 
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On Megadungeon Hooks

As part of my series on mega-dungeons today we are going to talk about hooks.

First my rockin' table.  Roll a d100. Divide by 2
  1. You'll find his daughter. She's probably a princess anyway.
  2. Magical Glyphs? In my hovel?
  3. The moon talks to you and it told you to go into the dungeon. You do what you're told.
  4. By the gods, the legendary pewter mug of epic drinking is said to be down those stairs!
  5. Tonight's the night. You can always satisfy your need for murder within the ancient halls beneath the earth.
  6. You hunt vampires, and vampires live underground, right? It's your calling.
  7. It was a stupid bet, but it shouldn't be too hard to reach the Ghashghaei Paisley stone, acquire a rubbing of it, and return, should it?
  8. Stupid ghost won't stop haunting you. Let's see how well that goes for him in the Eradicator Of The Dead. What level was that on again?
  9. You are a dragon-slayer, and within the depths lies a dragon. Probably.
  10. A powerful sword can resurrect a legendary paladin? You're just the guy to fall for tha-I mean go find it!
  11. A reporter is paying good coin for a 'tour' of this fabled underground realm.
  12. A young councilman is concerned about a prophecy that he will find his destiny inside the dungeon. You'll take him down with you. You might not even rob him, if he's worth as much as he says he will be.
  13. An alchemist is asking for rare components found in a specific dangerous area in the dungeon.
  14. They said you were the only one who could perform the holy rite at a lost site within the great dungeon. Yet you still wonder if it was your cooking that made them send you.
  15. You are looking for a lost family member. Now if you could only remember which one. . .
  16. A lycanthrope has escaped into the dungeon, you know her and seek to rescue her.And possibly continue your relationship. Is that possible without a cure? It should be!
  17. You seek the secret to controlling magical iron men, rumored to lie deep within the dungeon. Then you'll show them who's a 90 lb. weakling!
  18. An evil cult lurks in the dungeon and must be joined! Or maybe eliminated! Or you've heard they have good drugs. Maybe you'll just buy some and leave them alone.
  19. You are fleeing a forced marriage, and falling in with a group of adventurers is a great way to hide.
  20. A powerful wizard in town is rumored to have allies within the depths. Is this true, and if so is there a way to turn it to your advantage?
  21. A rare cure to a nasty disease is said to exist in the depths.
  22. Your ancestors may have been royalty. Proof of your heritage in the form of a ring or deed is said to lie within the underground expanse.
  23. The players have visions of a trapped spirit or deity inside the dungeon.
  24. Stars are disappearing (or constellations are changing) and there is rumored to be a way to control the paths of the stars deep within the dungeon.
  25. A secret gateway is said to lie deep within the nether-realms and must be reached for some important purpose (to return home or to destroy an artifact.)
  26. Undead are seen around a forgotten entrance, and you have been sent to find the source of the dead and eradicate it.
  27. A specific race (gnomes, say) continues to disappear into the depths. Rumors of them changing into other creatures (perhaps giants) run rampant.
  28. You have been hired to retrieve an object from the depths. You're sure whatever you bring back will be close enough.
  29. Illness pours from the dungeon and you seek the source.
  30. Strange eerie figures are seen entering and leaving the dungeon. What's up with them?
  31. Crops have failed. Clearly it is the fault of something within the underdark.
  32. The moon has turned to blood, and the gods must be appeased by a sacrifice deep within the dungeon.
  33. Statues around town are weeping a strange black substance, and sometimes they are said to move. The cause is rumored to be in the dungeon.
  34. People and animals are being born mutated, and the fear is that some sort of radiation from the underground is causing it.
  35. You were digging for treasure on your property when you found a hole to the dungeon. Some monster stole your treasure!
  36. You were drunk. Real drunk. You ended up in the dungeon and saw something while you were there that was amazing. You've got to get back to see it again.
  37. Someone is selling a map to treasure down in the dungeon. They are looking for help, and you have an in with them. Is there anything to the map?
  38. The squire of a legendary fighter has escaped the dungeon and says that he's lost his master, but has seen fabulous treasure within the dungeon. Is he full of s*&t?
  39. Humanoids are using another entrance of the megadungeon to infiltrate the city. They must be stopped. . . or bargained with. . . perhaps joined.
  40. There's a slave underground that runs right through this dungeon. And you're going to put a stop to it.
  41. You're a prisoner, and in exchange for your freedom, you've agreed to serve as champion and retrieve a translucent black rose from the dungeon. Or escape to freedom. You forget.
  42. He was your best friend of your whole long life. Why did he ask to be buried in the depths of this hellhole? 
  43. Elope with him, will she? Stupid girl, running off to this pit. You'll find 'em, and you'll kill 'em again if they already died!
  44. You really want to be a member of the council, but to prove yourself, you have to gain the wisdom from the crystal brains! They should be easy to find!
  45. There is a new standard of beauty. And rumor has it, it can be found within the depths. You're sure the price will be. . . reasonable.
  46. It will be the best party ever! And we'll have it, oh, on level three sounds swell. Go on, get it ready for us!
  47. Evil Unicorns. I s&*t you not.
  48. You've had dreams of the old realm. But these new ones say, though it is long gone, it might be found underneath the ground. 
  49. They sent you down into the dungeon. But they don't understand. You're not trapped in there with them. They're trapped in here with you.
  50. I luuuuvvvvvvvv to kill 'em rats! sooo many rats down below. They are good f'r eaten. You can fry 'em, boil 'em, scallop 'em, roast 'em, broil 'em. . .
I haven't combined these into 1 table, so you may roll d100, and if it's over 50, subtract 50 and use that value here. Or use either table and divide by 2. Or pick.

  1.  There's a slave underground that runs right through this dungeon. And you're going to get your property back.
  2. Give up immortality for eternal love they said. It seemed worth it at the time, but after the divorce, they can burn in hell for all you care. Only one way to get your immortality back, and maybe send them to hell to boot.
  3. So, you've got the information your demon master needed, but those jerks burnt down your lab. You've heard there's a way to reach him down below, so off you go
  4. Ah, Monday, time to beat back the endless hordes of the damned. Hours could be better, but, eh, it's a living.
  5. Where else am I supposed to collect my spiders?!
  6. Elves ruin everything. Surely their won't be any down below.
  7. And they said you'd never collect a gold coin from every empire in the tolemic era! Why you know for sure this hole in the ground goes through the ruins of the previous five cities before this. Five! You shouldn't have to go any deeper than level 7.
  8. It's not your fault you didn't want to join the church like daddy. You'll just go and bring back the largest gem he's ever seen and he'll eat his words then.
  9. You thought it was so cool that his job was 'ancient artifact negotiation and acquisition'. You didn't realize that meant murdering things in decrepit holes in the ground. Since your husband hasn't come back, you're going to go find him and rescue him, or maybe kill him. You haven't decided yet.
  10. You'll avenge your brothers and sisters! All 12 of them!
  11. He wants me to collect what before he'll let me marry his daughter?
  12. You weren't no goods with numbas or maths before yu mama dropped you on your head anyways. And they needs the monies so your gonna go get them sums from that hole people keep coming out of with the monies.
  13. I have this deed for property here, and I was wonder- You mean down that stairway?
  14. You're best friends with a goblin, it's true. And now he's disappeared. It's likely he's in trouble. Probably something to do with the trolls on level 3.
  15. Every single member of your tribe dead. Only below can you achieve the means of revenge.
  16. If I hadn't lost so much money on dog racing, I wouldn't be messing around trying to steal a dog from The Kennel of Gold Tales!
  17. Killing your sister was an accident. The only way to cleanse your soul is to reach the Mural of Judgment.
  18. You only need one Arcanite stone, but as long as you're there, nothing stopping you from getting more. Other than the curse, and who believes in those.
  19. My god can only be worshiped in the Abolished Dark Iron Church. He's the god of, uh, . . . clowns and sunshine. Why do you ask?
  20. All we have to do is to find the Golden Mud Sleep, bottle it up, and sell it for riches! Let me see that map again.
  21. It was this or become the Baron. 
  22. I mean, you liked the guy, and it's true his murderer is down there. Just a shame the will said you had to avenge his death. Note to self: a diviner for a mentor is not the best plan.
  23. They'll never find me in here!
  24. The church will never look for me in here!
  25. They'll never assassinate me in her- oh, wait, I'll probably die anyway. Screw it, lets go.
  26. Yes my brother is a paladin. No, it never struck me as a particularly bad idea to rob his church of a holy artifact.
  27. You'll find your cousin who disappeared thirty years ago.
  28. Wait, Who am I? Who are you? Where am I? Why am I in this room!?
  29. I mean it was bad enough that your uncle murdered your father to marry your mother. But then to hunt you because he's worried you're gonna try to take the throne? Nonsense!
  30. I really like hats. Yes. Hats. Yes. No I'm not. The best hats are the old ones!
  31. Well, at least in this career no one will find out about your killing and eating your family.
  32. It's not really the money, though that's nice. It's just nice to see the look in their eyes when you betray them. It's worth it just for that.
  33. Secretly? I almost have a complete kobold suit. Just a few more trips.
  34. Nope, I'm just gonna hold this torch and your gear. No need to worry about me. No Sir.
  35. I didn't set nothing on fire.
  36. You just really like dungeon fungus. Well, and the poison it makes also.
  37. The drow are a beautiful people, and they'll understand me!
  38. My dog likes to hunt, see?
  39. Gold. I like Gold. Gooooooollllllldd-aaahhum. gold. Just like it is all.
  40. Ancient knowledge in ancient places I always like to say!
  41. The best spells (weapons etc.) are always the ancient ones.
  42. They speak, so they must have a culture, see? I'm just going to go set up an embassy, and we'll use discussion to solve our problems.
  43. o/~One, two, three, four, that's the way we count the hoard, when we lift the bloody corpse, after slaying Mr. Orc.o/~
  44. Sure, it looks like Bob, but something seems off. He wants you to go with him, so why not?
  45. You know what's delicious? Ogre brains. Also, candy.
  46. I need yarn from the reclusive dungeon ox.
  47. I can reach the bottom.
  48. I can kill 100 foes.
  49. To win the legendary challenge, you must head down to qualify.
  50. hate the outdoors!
There are some general assumptions in play about mega-dungeons. Because they aren't clearable, what is the point of adventurer's going down into the dungeon?

The mega-dungeon isn't the adventure, it's the locale for adventure. It is no different than a wilderness, or a city. It is a place for adventure. The general thrust of plot hooks for mega-dungeons is that the players are poor and the dungeon is there. The secondary hooks should come from within the dungeon itself, as they become familiar with it's mysteries. Each discovery they make should cause them to ask additional questions.

Because the goal isn't clearing the dungeon, it has to explicitly be something else.  Each character should have their own motivations, and through exposure to the dungeon more should be generated. First we're going to talk about motivations that come from within the dungeon itself, then we will provide a table with a ready to go listing of pre-existing motivations.

The dungeon should be designed with several secrets in play. These do not have to be earth-shattering secrets, but should be logical conclusions from the histories of certain areas or zones within the mega-dungeon. These mysteries can become driving forces for the campaign. Is there some strange sign? A symbol repeated throughout the dungeon? These types of goals are the most engaging, because they develop organically through play.

You will not (or will rarely) have the opportunity to tell the players plot points or mysteries within the dungeon.  Therefore it is in your best interest to let the clues and information come from the environment and construction itself. Weird objects, repeated symbols, strange sights, ancient tomes, unusual opponents and general dungeon weirdness can create a very dynamic environment full of goals for the players to investigate.

A second source of goals consists of interactions with the inhabitants of the dungeon, both random and planned. One of the advantages of a closed environment like a mega-dungeon is that you are likely to encounter any nemesis you create again and again. These can create exciting rivalries, and many opportunities for engaging role play.

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On Ecology, Goblins

 "Can't get rid of 'em less we get rid of nasty thoughts" -Unknown

Nomenclature: Goblin, Gobblin, Gobeline, Gobling, Goblyn, Gobino, and Gobbelin

Description: A monstrous creature, small and grotesque, malicious, and full of greed.

Things that are known:
  • They are never more than half the height than the most intelligent creature they know of.
Rumors and other whispers in the dark:
  • Some say goblins can fly, using wings. Sages have never found wings, but some skin that stretches between their arms and body allow them to fly. Still others claim these are nothing more than matted cloaks, not part of the goblin body.
  • Goblins are creatures that haunt a specific place or country
  • Goblins are born every time an evil thought or idea occurs. Once the mind is done with it, the thought seeks out a pile of filth and animates it, becoming a goblin
  • They are a fungus that grows on the unburied dead
  • Goblins are a myth, the name is simply a slur for a tight-knit guild of craftsmen who make and sell tumblers, beakers, and cups—they are Gobloters 
  • They rest in hollows made in rocks and earth, making it dangerous to have unpacked and wild earth
  • The belief that they rest in hollows is wrong, those are actually access points to the world where goblins live. It's how they enter the prime material plane
  • Because goblins primarily take items from all humanoids, locating a goblin market will give access to many unique, rare, and hard to acquire items
  • The problem with goblin grown fruit, is the uncertainty of what soil they fed, hungry thirsty roots?
  • The only thing more delicious to a goblin than horseflesh, is man-flesh
  • Goblins are both mechanically and magically inclined, but their thoughts run counter to all right thinking people
  • Goblins are manifestations of chaos, limbo made manifest, and they are driven mad by the structure around them
  • Goblin isn't a name for a race, certain creatures are just born too ugly. This physical grossness corrupts their spirits, turning them into the spiteful creatures we all know
  • Goblins are invisible to everyone, only their target of mischief can see them
  • Goblins have terribly sensitive feet, this is why smart goblins wear stone shoe
  • Goblins are actually sentient toads. They have grown larger and more disgusting. This is why they all wobble when walking
  • This is actually why their voice sounds so cracked and broken, they are just croaking words. 
  • Goblins are clearly tiny narrow creatures who's limbs look just like sticks, and who's heads look like piles of refuse
  • Goblins, like moles and other burrowing animals, can burrow through earth and stone, this is why all gnomes know the goblin speech
  • Goblins are disturbed by cleanliness. Where humans have a disgust threshold, goblins have the opposite. Goblins are repulsed by areas that are well-kept, and are free of germs, dust, bacteria, fungi, mold, rot, filth, refuse, and insects
  • Goblins are so hard to catch and kill, because they move through the most difficult lands as if blessed by the god of swiftness. Briars, bushes, trees, boxes, limbs, rubble, none provide any impediment to their speed.
  • Pious men and women are blind to the presence of goblins
  • They will flee from the crowing of a cock because they fear the coming of the day
  • Fully half the grown-ups and one-sixth the children can never see goblins, even when capering in front of their noses
Redcaps Some goblins stain their bodies and clothing with human blood, they are aggressive and violent
Hobs are masters of deceptions, pranks, and tricks, following a target and help luck turn against them
Erlking a forest goblin that stalks children for not giving them respect when they enter their land
Trasgu is a nervous goblin with holes in his palms who move things around at night while making spoooooooky noises

Combat Tricks 
Slippery:  When an attack misses against a goblin, they have scrambled out of the way and may move anywhere nearby: Behind a table, on top of a helmet, hanging on to the wizards backpack. . .
Goblin Shaman: Goblin shamans can summon swarms of stinging insects, entangle players in writhing vines, and curse enemies with misfortune. When they do any of things things, goblins heal and gain morale
Leader strike: When a goblin leader strikes an enemy, it provides all of the goblins surrounding that person the opportunity to strike
Poison Blades: Goblins coat their weapons in mild poison. Goblins with goblin poison cause people to become sick when struck, causing nausea
Riders: Goblins tame and ride wolves and horses
Valuable Resources 
Goblin Bezoars are said to be of great use for enchanting potions, able to reduce the cost of crafting and increase the power of the tonic by intensifying ingredients. Like all things goblin, this is not without side effects.

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On the new era

Human beings are very lazy.

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you had to consider how you were going to get access to fresh water?

This was the overriding concern of humanity for about twelve thousand years. It was such a big problem, we went to tremendous effort and expense, millions of man hours, billions upon untold billions of dollars (accounting for inflation) that we effectively solved it. 

They did the work. We benefit. 

People don't intuitively understand exponential increase. I'm just going to say a number of easily verifiable facts. There is no natural law or physical reality that will prevent us from completely replacing the body with factory synthetics, it's simply a matter of taking the time and refining the techniques to do so. We don't know what consciousness is. It very functionally isn't relevant to artificial general intelligence. Machines that will think, and take independent action, and functionally be superiors to humans in every measurable way are coming. Already, non-general artificial intelligence significantly outperforms medical professionals in diagnostics. 

Futurists generally place the development of Artificial General Intelligence by 2060, but a significant number consider this a hopeful estimate, considering it's arrival sometime in the early 2030's. After artificial general intelligence, things will begin to happen very quickly. Assuming we don't all instantly die because it wants to kill us (and be sure, there will be no war. If an AGI wishes to kill humanity, we won't even know it's attacking before it wins), we will have a being that can solve problems better than we can, and will be able to implement and apply these changes much more quickly and efficiently than we can. 

That's what exponential increases mean. By the time you're aware of the radical irreversible change it's already fait accompli. That's literally what our laziness will bring. We actually talk about it all the time. We will destroy anything if it saves us a walk to the fridge. 

Look at the water system! The internet! Electricity!

Assuming we don't murder ourselves with evil robots, you know it doesn't end. There was a 1000 bc. There will be a 4000 AD. People are going to uplift house animals and give them vocal cords. They will genetically design creatures who are sentient. We will travel in space, tear apart worlds, create stars. People will 100% build creatures in flesh vats to use as sex slaves. Do you have any doubt?

So really, we already know what we are going to do. First we are going to do it in virtual worlds—as we already are already. People stake spaces in virtual games, build communities, and create economies. We always have a fascination with gods, superheroes, and magic, so we'll probably make that happen in reality. We already have magic black mirrors, why stop there? You can already control things with brain interfaces. That's a tech that's got a ton of room to improve. 

You're thinking I'm talking about the far far future. But 2060 is the late estimate. That's 40 years. 

Not so far away after all. 

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On a Guide to Illusions: Figment Creativity

This was originally published in April of 2014. Hack & Slash compendium III is available in print in  from Lulu and in PDF from DTRPG, and contains this series of articles on illusions, as well as many other class ideas. 

General Guidelines

A good rule of thumb is that a figment effect has its subdual damage limited by caster level.
Phantasmal Force (or Silent Image) might be limited to 1d4 subdual damage per two caster levels.
Improved Phantasmal Force (Or Minor Image) Might be limited to 1d6 subdual damage per two caster levels.
Spectral Force (or Major Image) might be limited to 1d8 subdual damage per two caster levels, or a minor or temporary status effect.
Having a Spectral Force of a Medusa would cause a save versus spell because seeing a Medusa is interacting with it. But if that saving throw failed, a viewer would save versus the gaze and believe themselves turning to stone perhaps actually acting as if they are being held. Even on a success, the victim would avert their eyes. Of course a shout from their friends that "it's an illusion" would quickly reveal it to be nothing more than an image. (Hold Person is a third level spell, requiring a third level illusion for this to work)
Often players will attempt or want to use a figment to mirror the effect of a more powerful spell, e.g. making a stairway appear infinite so the person just keeps stepping on the same step. But that spell is Maze and figment isn't designed to replace other spells. Figment spells make non-solid holograms and that is their strength and weakness.
The original intent of Figment spells was to create illusionary soldiers and troops (the apocryphal 'force' from Phantasmal Force)—so using it for that purpose should be encouraged and successful.

Other Creative Figments

Figments, even if disbelieved, still generate or block light, sound and temperature. An illusionary fire can light a room or keep you warm. Out of light? Phantasmal Forces works in a pinch. A Phantasmal Forces parasol won't protect you from the rain, but it will cast a shadow.
An impromptu wall can hide an entire party.
An image of a bucket over a monster's head might give him some problems (first level light can grant a -4 to hit, which is equivalent to blindness)
Pits, crevasses, brambles, and walls and other obstructions can provide battlefield control that is rarely tested. Even better if the battlefield is split, allowing you to make ranged attacks with impunity.
A low level image of silent roiling gasses can appear both mobile, threatening, and obscuring.
Outside, a shadow of a dragon or a bird of prey is all that is needed to spook most humanoid groups. You don't even need to bother to create an illusion of the creature.
An illusionary bridge won't be disbelieved until it's interacted with, but by that point it might not matter to the target.

Making it appear that doors and walls are further away than they are could cause people to run or walk into walls, seriously creating chaos during a retreat.
A combination of Change/Alter Self and one of the Figment spells can create halos, glowing lights, subtle music, glowing eyes, etc. providing excellent bonuses or triggering morale rolls.
An Illusionary opponent can engage with someone, but when hit, a save must be made for interaction. (Concentration allows the illusionist to make the creature appear to react realistically). A good rule of thumb for the maximum AC of such an opponent is 10 - the illusionists level - the level of the spell (or + for ascending AC systems) Or armor class 0 (20) whichever is worst. Most require at least some auditory components to be believed, requiring an Improved Phantasmal Force (Minor Image) or greater.
Creating an illusion of a dangerous creature (dragon head, tentacle, giant hand) reaching out from a door or pit to scare opponents, into an actual dangerous area.

The Figment spells are specifically used to enhance things that are already happening. You can trigger a morale roll earlier by making the party and number of attacks appear greater than they are (archers or people throwing javelins). You can use it to make it appear that more enemies (illusory ones) are dying, or that the players are more powerful or dangerous than they are making the morale roll less likely to succeed.

A visual only spell can make an existing force look larger or more dangerous. A visual spell with sound can convincingly create opponents. A figment with visual, sound, and other qualities can create extremely convincing opponents. Making it look like the creatures are summoned provide a good excuse for them to be on the battlefield.

Silent or unusually dangerous opponents (shriekers, undead, or hazardous plants) often make good subjects for an image illusion.


In 1st edition, illusions are more powerful then the guidelines given in this series. There is precedent for the illusion turning characters to actual stone (ToEE, Page 86), and stories from older games contain instances of illusionary dragons breath burning people alive. The DMG specifically notes illusionists creating illusions of  monsters the caster has never seen.

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