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Dug into the side of the Boloi ridge is Smudgerock Mine 4. Abandoned for centuries when the Smudgerock clan moved out, it sits as an intact ruin just north of the Jyperia plains that Boloi ridge boundaries. An ancestor of the original owners, Thew Smudgerock, would like to reclaim the mine but they need to know if it’s safe. The characters have been hired to explore the mine and hold, clear them of any dangers and report back. In particular Thew wants the party to get rid of the ghost of Derex, the coward king who haunts the mine.

This is a problem solving adventure. The Ghost of the Coward King is quite the annoyance and will require a clever and/or innovative solution to get rid of. Annoyingly, Derex is immune to the traditional methods of dealing with a ghost. The mine and hold is mostly an empty template for GMs to add content suitable to their setting and system.

As soon as the party enters the mine, they are accosted by the ghost. The ethereal apparition is only partial and fades off below the waist and appears to be haggard and sleepless with a broken crown on his head and a dirty shirt. Derex complains constantly about how they were treated in life and death, about the quality of their tomb, about the weather, about the mine, about the characters behaviour and appearance and about long ago slights and grudges. When not complaining the ghost tries to convince the characters that running away from the battle was the right thing to do, that the battle wasn’t that important and wasn’t his fault, that it was Kiltbiter’s fault, that reinforcements didn’t arrive or that Throgbeard’s scouts led them into an ambush and various other excuses. If the party ignores Derex, his complaints become more petulant and whiney. He is unable to physically interact with anything and cannot cast spells or use scrolls; in short he’s quite useless. His unfinished business appears to be his justly deserved reputation. He will resist attempts to remove him in the only way he can – by being increasingly annoying.

Smudgerock Mine 4

The Tomb of the Coward King

The stone work is of good quality and has withstood the tests of time. The damp course is intact and the ventilation has kept the air moving and fresh. All the hallways and corridors are three minecarts wide.

(1) The Front Doors are stone and unadorned apart from a basic address rune and ownership seal of deed and claimant. A suitable magic stone of identification is required to unlock and open them.

(2) The Guard House is a square room with two inset bunkers on the interior wall facing towards the outside door. Two large stone tables run along either side where the goods and details of visitors were once checked.

(3) The Goods and Cargo Area has a set of iron tracks in the floor for mine carts. There are many marks on the floor indicating that much equipment was once mounted here. The tracks lead down into the mine. There’s one mine cart with a broken wheel.

(4) The Hold is built around a great hall which has a great stone table in its centre large enough to seat 100. The entrance doors are tall, narrow and made of thick wood. Light wells have been cut into the roof to let in the midday sun. Off the hall is the kitchen (4a), the store rooms (4b), and the quarters (4c). There is an empty room (4d) whose purpose was lost when the furnishings were taken. All the rooms are bare and lack even broken debris. Even the small doors that separate the rooms in the quarters have been taken. The store contains a well and a partially full rain trap. One of the light wells has weathered enough that it’s open enough for a large beast to enter and exit. There are signs around the hold that something might be using the rooms as shelter.

(5) The Mine tunnels are cut in a professional search pattern until they encounter an iron ore vein, then the tunnels follow the ore. There’s plenty of medium quality ore to be extracted. A single large iron bar gate is securely fastened to prevent exit from the mines.

(6) A Spiralling Slope leads off from the goods and cargo area and climbs and climbs.

(7) The Tomb’s entrance is just along the spiral slope. It’s a small stone door that’s unlocked leading to a small corridor. It opens up to a large pair of dark stone doors 3 metres high and 3 metres wide. The carving is professional but utterly unadorned. There’s a simple plain dwarven rune that says “ Derex: Coward King: Lies Within”. The doors will open when pushed and stay when held by a person but if let go they close inevitably. If blocked either the blockage breaks or the door does. There is no purchase on doors and they push inwards into the tomb. A sarcophagus rests on the floor. It has no markings and is flat and sharp cornered. The dwarf within is dressed in only a plain grey robe. There are no weapons, armour or treasures. In the dwarf’s hands is a stone tablet that says “Here is Derex. They fled the battlefield and left our warriors to die. They lie here now forever in dishonour”.

(8) A Watch Tower sits atop the Boloi Ridge that has been carved from a rock spire. The spiral slope ends at a locked door that requires the stone of identification from the front door. It’s 3 stories tall and there’s no interior floors, only a staircase leading up to an enclosed roof. From here you can see almost to the limits of the Jyperia plains to the south and much of the badlands to the north. Getting up here without taking the spiral slope would require professional climbing gear and expertise and would take at least a day.


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10 thoughts on “The Tomb of the Coward King

  1. Hey, guys, I'm curious: how many of you speak Portuguese as your first or even second language? I'm sure there are Brazilians here (like myself), but I want to find role-players from other Portuguese-speaking countries. Maybe we could start a Discord server for Lusophones together!

  2. I mean as in you don't play a traditional single character, you might play as multiple or a society/army. Maybe a planet or a tree. Something completely wacky

  3. Alright guys I'm desperate, how the frick do you meet people when you live in a small town, and the population is 33% retired religious nuts, and 33% the spawn of said religious nuts failed attempt at raising offspring (grandkids).

    The demographic is either too old, too young, or too strung out on whatever they can get their hands on.

    We want to build a community of like minded, creative, improv capable ttrpg players who aren't so socially awkward they'll need their hands held throughout every session.

    All recommendations are welcome, heck I'd even love to hear about some failed attempts at meeting people if any of y'all are in the same situation. What SHOULDN'T I do, y'know?

    For comparison: We moved from San Antonio and had a lovely, LOVELY, wonderful community of players.

    Don't take that shit for granted.

  4. I am a big fan of hexcrawls, something about the fantasy wilderness clip on me.

    BUT being honest, I never actually played a campaing with a huge map, most of the settings are maps with 7 to 19 hexes and even them not every place is actually visited or even explored, looking at you West marches.

    My take is, in a game like AD&D or OSE would a huge hexcrawl map work for long term campaings? If not what should be the take to make it happen?

  5. TLDR: Recommend your favourite base building mechanics for a west marches-style game, preferably sci-fi.

    I'm planning to start a sci-fi West Marches-style campaign this fall and I'm looking for recommendations for rules to develop the PCs' base over time. My wishlist is:

    Terse OSR-style writing and elegant rules. Not too crunchy and no walls of text, please. (I make exceptions for products by Kevin Crawford). A system I can bolt on. I'm planning to use Mothership for the main mechanics. So it's handy if the rules are self-contained or easily portable. A system built for sci-fi. I can reskin if necessary but if the rules are already sci-fi or sci-fi adjacent that makes things easier.

    I'm organizing this post like a news article – most important info to least. Below are some of my ideas for the campaign as well as the general pitch. Bonus points if the system hits on some of these ideas but no worries if not – I've already covered the important points.

    The first 15 minutes of Alien: Covenant, when they are exploring the alien planet, are awesome. I want the campaign to be that. Scouts or maybe marooned colonists exploring an alien landscape full of mystery, weird layered secrets and danger. Raised by Wolves is another good touchstone. After each session, the players return to base and potentially improve it with resources they've recovered or information they've learned. The base kind of becomes the throughline for the whole campaign in this way (I'm hoping).

    Ok, that's the gist and the question. I would love to read your suggestions!

  6. Inspired by first two episodes of Rings Of Power I've started to think about Middle Earth campaign. I see that One Ring 2e is newest rpg about this universe. Do you have any opinions about this system? I can say that I've played other Free League system and I've liked them.

  7. i noticed quite a few posts on /r/rpg about monty python. i just noticed my first post about this was removed as the article i linked to was deemed inappropriate, so i'm going to see if i can post a sanitized version of the main discussion point here:

    for me the most interesting thing about it are the toolboxes present in the RPG to make it more “monty pythony”:

    in the RPG, the DM role is changed to “The Head of Light Entertainment”. I guess the book will include ~20 different suggested judge personas, “each with their own interests and whims that influence how a session might play out – from the on-the-pitch action of a diehard sports fan to an anachronism-averse history buff who will punish the players for any out-of-time inaccuracies”.

    weirdly “The Head of Light Entertainment” can also suffer consequences in the form of player meta actions (???) and “receiving complaint letters from ‘viewers’ and ultimately being fired in favour of a replacement”.

    it all sounds a bit absurd but i'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out. if anyone has any other information about this please let me know!

  8. For those who are paid to run games, either online or at LGSs, how did switching from running games for fun to running them on the clock affect your perception of the game? Is it not fun anymore? Any roadblocks or attitude changes you ran into? What was your journey like? And fundamentally, is it worth it?

    I'm looking for potential new jobs at the moment, and my players have suggested I could go pro, but I've also been told that monetizing something you do for fun ruins it, and I've experienced that before with other things in my life I've turned into “side hustles” or jobs. However, I am tempted because 1) everyone is always looking for a GM and 2) like I said before, I'm looking for a new job.

    Curious to hear about your experiences!

  9. Drop some of your favourite GM alternative names you found in different games!

    Mine is Master of Ceremonies from Urban Shadows!

  10. In case you wanted to set up a game at your school or work with a open table, do you have any game you would recommend?

    Bonus points if it's pbta adjacent (I admit myself biased). But anything easy to pick up for beginners and veterans alike could be fun.

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