Monday, May 29, 2023

Simple Naval Combat for Cairn

Naval Combat for Cairn

Ship rules for Cairn, partly based on my Space Ship Rules from Meteor. My Space Ship rules are about creating a ship occupied only by the players, where you're going to treat the ship as a sort of extra character and spend a lot of time upgrading bits and pieces and repairing things when they go wrong. For naval combat I wanted something snappier, where its more about the players directing a crew and hitting the notes of cinematic combat where actions are on a grander scale than you as an individual.

These rules assume the players are in control of a ship that has its own Crew beyond the PCs themselves.

If you’re in a ship by yourselves, use the normal Cairn rules to adjudicate the situation.

If you’re engaging with a ship significantly larger or smaller than yours, see Ship Scales.

Ship Attributes

  • HP: As HP for a player. A ship’s ability to avoid or compensate for incoming damage.

  • Hull: The ship’s durability and structural integrity.

  • Sails: The ship’s speed and maneuverability. Includes masts, sails, rowers, rudders.

  • Crew: The ship’s crew, and ability to support its crew. Includes food and water stores, as well as crew morale.

Ship Combat

On each round of combat, each Player Character may direct the crew in a single action. These will usually be Maneuver!, Fire!, Board!, or Repair! but could be anything else appropriate.

Actions are limited by the ship’s facilities. For example, if you only have a single set of cannon on board you can only Fire! once per round.

If an action is risky, make a Save as usual. If success depends on the ship’s capabilities use the ship’s attributes, if it depends more on personal skill use the character’s attributes.

Combat is simultaneous with both ships acting at once. If a ship is ambushed or taken by surprise in some other way, make a Crew Save to see if the Crew can prepare fast enough to act in the first round.


Move the ship! Try to line up the optimal shot for you cannons, “cross the T” of the enemy ship, becalm them by blocking the wind with your own sails.


Make an attack with one of the weapons on board the ship.

Attacks are done as usual for Cairn combat :

  1. Roll damage die
  2. Subtract armor
  3. Reduce HP
  4. Deal remainder to Attribute
  5. If the Attribute is reduce, make a Critical Damage Save

Unlike normal Cairn combat, an attack can be directed at a ship’s Sails, Hull, or Crew depending on the weapon being used. Critical Damage Saves are made with the impacted attribute, and each have differing effects.


Applicable only when close enough to plausibly do so.

Treat this as normal Detachment combat, with damage being dealt to a ship’s Crew attribute.


Restore 1d6 HP or fix a problem.

Attempt to patch a hole, put out fires, calm a panicked crew, or any other such thing.

Depending on context this might require a Save, promises made, bribes, or anything else that might be appropriate.

If a specific problem exists (such as those caused by taking Critical Damage) this fixes it. Otherwise this action will restore 1d6 HP (but not any Attribute loss).

Ship Harm

A ship at zero HP has its crew already stretched to the limit. Any further damage will start causing permanent harm to the ship.


Critical Damage to Hull means a significant breach. Lose 1 Hull per Round until repaired.

Hull at zero means the ship is taking on water and sinking fast.


Critical Damage to Sails means the ship is becalmed. Unable to maneuver until repaired.

Zero Sails means the ship is unable to maneuver under its own power, stuck drifting with ocean currents until repairs are made.


Critical Damage to Crew means the crew is panicked! Unable to command the crew to take actions until calmed.

Crew at zero means the ship’s company has been killed or disabled. There are no longer sufficient crew members to operate the ship.

Ship Scales


Under normal circumstances ship weapons are instantly lethal against individual targets, while personal weapons are completely ineffective against ships. If applied cleverly, powerful personal weapons or explosives could bypass this restriction.

The same is true for ships of dramatically different scales. A small ship’s weapons are ineffective or impaired against a massive ship, whereas the massive ship’s armaments are likely to be instantly lethal, or at least enhanced, in return.

Example Ship Weapons

This is where I’d list a bunch of different naval weaponry and example ships but unfortunately I am both not a naval buff and also too lazy to go look things up. I have, at best, a vague recollection of a single Horatio Hornblower book and I don’t think that’s enough to work with.

Instead have a Cannon with a few different kinds of shots.


  • Standard Cannonballs: d6 damage
  • Chainshot: impaired against Hull, enhanced against Sails
  • Grapeshot: imparied against Hull, enhanced against Crew
  • Heated Shot: enhanced against Hull, risky to use on a wooden ship

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Play Report & Micro Review: The Titan's Cliff


Play Report & Review: Titan Cliffs


Titan Cliffs is written by Jim Hall of Brooklet Games (, patreon, and storefront). The module is available as a stand alone, system agnostic PDF on drivethrurpg or with OSE stats in KNOCK #3, which is where I found it.

It’s a small, self contained module about a group of cultists attempting to reanimate a buried Titan. The adventure takes place within the dungeon-like interior of the magical mecha.

I’m running this using my own system, Brighter Worlds, in part as a playtest. Brighter Worlds (PDF, SRD) is a hack of Cairn, Electric Bastionland, and Macchiato Monsters. Without going into too much detail if you imagine Cairn, but with modular classes and a more whimsical tone you’re most of the way there.

I’ll include the Brighter Worlds conversions I used for the stats at the bottom.


You may remember most of these characters from their previous adventures in The Fangwitch’s Falls.

Granny Hexwhistle

A Witch on a flying broom with a small frog that sweats hallucinogen as her familiar. Slowly accumulating more arcane power with which to terrorize innocent bystanders. All-around bad person.

Jierdan Havarian

A Grimblade with a giant, floating (and possibly sentient) obsidian zweihander named Lilicore. He’s able to cast spells by hitting people with said sword.

Tibbius Sacrum

A skeletal Bag of Bones who delights in comic relief, pranks, and occasionally flipping the “horror switch” and turning from spoopy to spooky. He is accompanied by an undead skeletal river bear, and an undead fish skeleton he stores in his ribcage.


A Cleric of Small Gods with a small, divine, volcano headed golem (the God of Magmatic Renewal) riding around on his shoulders. She can change the nature of the world by speaking with her god’s voice.

The Session

Drawn by rumors of local apocalyptic cult activity, the party approach an area where a massive stone figure is visible, partly buried in the ground. Its huge open mouth spews a thick fog, while a lighthouse perches on large stone hand nearby.

My signature post it note "fog of war" ready to go.

 The party decides to visit the lighthouse first, hoping to glean some information on the situation. Inside they find Sable, a pernickety wizard, who holds a deep grudge with the local cult. She worries they will awaken the Titan, which in turn will send her tower tumbling.

GM’s Note: The module does an interesting thing here, where a die is rolled to see how she feels about the cult. The result determines what degree of support, or sabotage, she will offer the party.

She offers them an invisibility spell to help them, with the understanding that they will prevent the Titan from awakening, or at least stop it from destroying her lighthouse.

GM’s Note: I quickly ad-libbed an invisibility spell, which previously had not existed for Brighter Worlds. Thinking it’d be fun to put a twist on what is otherwise, IMHO, a pretty boring spell I added a limitation to it. It made you, and anyone touching you, invisible as long as you held your breath.

Silly me, I’d forgotten that one of my players is playing a skeleton who explicitly doesn’t breathe. Whoops! We decided to roll with it for the duration of the session, but reworked the spell into a more restrictive ritual afterwards.

Tibbius gladly accepts the spell, which he promptly casts, and then spends nearly the rest of the session fully invisible. To extend the abuse clever use of the spell, they take further advantage of Tibbius’ skeletal state by detaching his arms to remain “in contact”, and therefore invisible, even while physically separated.

Thus prepared, and privately planning to reanimate the Titan for their own use, they enter the mouth of the Titan. Inside is an empty, dark room with a ladder descending into further darkness. Down the ladder and through a hallway, they enter a torch-lit circular room. The room is dominated by a magical circle filled with arcane runes, and pierced through with a large silver shaft bursting through the wall at an angle.

Granny Hexwhistle examines the circle for a few moments and is able to discern that it is designed to collect arcane energy, although the damage is diminishing its effectiveness. The party decides to leave through the door labeled with the image of a helmet, and manages to shrug off the poison trap that sprays across the group.

GM’s Note: I usually run very close to the ICI Doctrine where traps and secrets are heavily telegraphed. In this case, however, the players made it clear that they were deliberately taking no precautions and moving quickly, therefore: poison sprayed as they opened the door. Lucky bastards rolled well though, so no lessons were learned.

Through the door is a dark staircase, and halfway down the invisible Tibbius nearly trips over a figure lying injured on the stairs. After some invisible skeleton hijinks, the party becomes acquainted with Taba, an adventurer who had previously been investigating the cult but broke her leg on the stairs and has been stuck. The party helps her splint her leg, although she declines the extremely suspicious blood rituals Granny offered to fully heal it, and shares that she’d learned the cult leader, Gazuk, is deathly afraid of rats. Now mobile, and somewhat put off by the party’s (typical, by this point) unhinged behavior, she exits the Titan and leaves the party to finish their task.

At the bottom of the stairs is a criss-crossing intersection of pipes and conduits, among which two spider automata are drinking a strange fluid leaking from one of the pipes. After the most cursory of attempts at diplomacy, the party smashes the spiders to bits, and Granny Hexwhistle decides to sample the liquid. Of course. She grows a foot taller and declares this a victory.

GM’s Note: Props to the module for including the effect which occurs when someone drinks the fluid. In my experience players will always drink the fluid, no matter what or where it comes from.

Climbing up a ladder, they find a room in which a single cultist stands motionless while wearing a strange, steampunk-esque helmet and goggles which connect to the walls via a number of tubes. Tibbius opens “negotiations” by drop kicking the paralyzed cultist across the room.

The cultist finds himself on the ground, being attacked by a party of apparent lunatics all speaking to an invisible friend. Despite this, he keeps his loyalty to his leader and refuses to divulge any information, at which point the party promptly kills him.

Pele dons the helmet the cultist was wearing and finds herself looking at the sky, and fully immobile until Jierdan frees her.

This is where the obligatory Granny Hexwhistle war crimes begin, although it’s really more Tibbius’ fault this time around. Tibbius has the brilliant plan to reanimate the murdered cultist to act as an infiltrator, but is stymied by the fact that his ability only reanimates the skeleton, the flesh will simply slough off.

Granny comes up with the solution: they will take some spikes (harvested from the witchspawn in Fangwitch’s Falls) and use them to pin the flesh to the skeleton beneath.

Horrifying abomination in tow, they continue their exploration of the Titan’s inner workings. Returning down the ladder, they leave the pipe intersection by following the newest looking pipe until it runs directly into a wall. On close examination the wall looks like it’s been built much more recently than its surroundings. The party collectively decides that this couldn’t possibly be meaningful, promptly ignores it, and continues on their way.

GM’s Note: Guess that secret room will stay secret.

Around the corner the party enters what appears to be the living quarters of the cult. Bunk beds, chests, and the remains of a meal on a large table. Granny, who’s been on the lookout for rats since talking to Taba, manages to snag a rodent who had been picking on the leftovers with use of her Staring Contest spell.

Continuing through the quarters, the party finds the reason the rooms have been mostly deserted thus far, every cultist in the place is gathered together with Gazuk, their leader, in a large chamber containing a huge metallic heart!

GM’s Note: Here’s a place where random chance worked out in a serendipitous way. I’d rolled way more “no encounter” results than I expected, leading to tons of empty rooms. And then in this final room, I rolled the maximum number of cultists that could be there. Everything makes sense!

The party watches as the cult attempts to restart the Titan’s heart through a combination of compressions (by way of a battering ram) and shocks (by way of a lighting bolt spell). Rather than rushing in, the party makes a careful plan which involves Granny spending 10 minutes performing the Summon Swarm ritual to use her captured rat to create a horrible swarm of the things.

Just as the heart is resuscitated and the cult begins to celebrate, the party sends in their reanimated cultist flanked by a swarm of rats to interrupt the festivities. A horrible mess of a fight ensues, with spells, blades, and rats being thrown about, all against a backdrop of the floor moving wildly as the Titan begins to pick itself up.

GM’s Note: This timing was genuinely coincidental, despite how cinematic it turned out.

Outnumbered by the cult, the situation begins to turn against the party until Pele makes a dramatic move. Speaking with the power of her god, she attempts to flash boil the Titan’s blood within the largest artery leading into the heart to destroy it, and hopefully interrupt the revival. This succeeds, but in a way that creates a huge explosion impacting her, along with a number of nearby cultists. Pele is taken down by a face-full of boiling Titan blood, but her sacrifice allows Jierdan to defeat the (mildly panicking) Gazuk with a combo of blade and spell. The loss of their leader breaks the spirit of the remaining cultists, who flee for the exit as the half stood Titan begins to collapse.

The party makes it out alive before things truly fall apart (dragging Pele’s unconscious form with them before she bleeds out), in time to see their “good friend” Sable’s tower smashed to pieces across the ground. They console themselves that this couldn’t possibly be their fault, and make the decision to not go check on her before heading on to more adventures.

Thoughts on the Module

This module was a lot of fun to run, and I was able to do so with very little prep (just jotting down the stat conversions below). There’s lots of opportunity for shenanigans, and I think most groups will jump at the chance to try and take control of a giant fantasy mecha (even if my group entirely forgot their plans to do so in favor of ruining the cult’s day).

I would have had a complaint about the room encounters all turning up empty, leading to a somewhat austere interior, but it ended up working out and honestly that’s not something entirely within the control of a module like this to begin with.

Places where I think things could be improved is that I wish the interior did a bit more to emphasize the feeling of being inside a Titan. Aside from the occasional “lub dub” noise of the heart beating, this mostly felt like a (quite fun) normal dungeon crawl.

Second, this is by no means unique to this module, but I dislike when enemies are tagged as being “fanatically loyal” or “always hostile” because it cuts out so much potential interaction and politics. Obviously this is something I can adjust myself as a GM, but I’d prefer modules were written with more flexibility in mind (see my play report of Lair of the Gobbler for a module that does this really well).

Overall though, neither of those issues actually got in the way of what was a very fun session. I will highly recommend giving this a shot if you need a small crawl on short notice, especially if you’ve already got Knock #3 on your shelf.

Brighter Worlds Conversion

Room Specific Changes

Room 2: Poison Spray deals 1d10 damage and deprives on Critical Damage for 1 day or until treated.

Room 5: Grimoire contains incoherent scrawling about the titan, along with the following spells and rituals:

  • Finger Flare - Make finger guns and fire a bright, but harmless, magical flare.
  • Augury - Toss bones, draw cards, or otherwise cast lots to immediately divine the outcome of a specific action. There is a 3 in 6 chance of a meaningful answer of weal, woe, or uncertain. If the roll fails it is always uncertain. Increase the chance of a meaningful answer by 1 in 6 for each of: burning an offering, taking 10 minutes, involving a living creature.
  • Summon Swarm – [vermin] Kill an insect, rat, or other vermin with your bare hands. Summon a swarm of the sacrificed creature with total mass equal to a cow. You can control the direction the swarm moves in for ten minutes, but afterwards the swarm will act on its own.

Room 6: Lightning deals 1d12 damage.

Room 12: Scroll of Lighting Bolt: Launch a 1d10 damage electrical bolt that impairs the next Save or Attack the target makes on Critical Damage.


Spider Automaton

3 Grit, 1 Armor, d6/d6/d6, Bite (d6)

  • Automata: Unharmed by gas, fire, and mind altering spells.
  • Abilities
    1. Nothing
    2. Nothing
    3. Flaming Blood: Deal 1d8 damage to attacker upon recieving Critical Damage (DEX Save to avoid).
    4. Rush: Move at four times speed. +1 Armor while doing so.
    5. Acid Spray: 1d6, damages equipment on Direct Damage, take 1d6 damage next round on Critical Damage.
    6. Web: Spit nylon web (1d6 blast, damage to DEX, trapped on Critical Damage)


3 Grit, d6/d6/d6, Quarterstaff or Crossbow (d6)

  • Fanatical: Cannot be persuaded, intimidated, or charmed.
  • Rarely make Morale Saves, enhanced when they do.


5 Grit, 1 Armor, d8/d6/d8, Mace (d8)

  • Grimoire Contains:
    • Freezing Missile – Fire a d8 magical dart, Critical Damage freezes the target in place for a turn. Concentrate to hold them longer, they can break out by beating you in a STR vs WIL Save.
    • Cause Fear – Force Morale Saves for NPCs. PCs make a WIL Save or are impaired on any aggressive actions until the next round.
    • Silence – Anyone attempting to cast a spell in your presence must beat you in a WIL Save.
    • Lightning Bolt – Launch a 1d10 damage electrical bolt that impairs the next Save or Attack the target makes on Critical Damage.
Select a repo

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Wallet Dungeons - Text

 Just a place to host the text of Wallet Dungeons for reference.

 I'll eventually have all the versions and languages stored here.

Colorful/Logo Version

Wallet Dungeons

Create a dungeon by rolling a handful of six sided dice and assembling based on results:

  1. Dead End: Cannot touch more than 1 die
  2. Passage: Cannot touch more than 2 dice
  3. Split: Cannot touch more than 3 dice
  4. Crossroads: Can touch up to 4 dice
  5. Tower: Stack all, must touch at least 2 dice
  6. Hall: Merge all, can touch up to 4 dice

For each room, add its value to all neighboring dice to find its contents. Halls and Towers are single rooms with all dice summed. 

 3.    Quarters
 4.    Jail
 5.    Sepulchre
 6.    Statuary
 7.    Store Room
 8.    Courtyard
 9.    Kitchen
 10.    Forge
 11.    Armory
 12.    Garden
 13.    Guard Post
 14.    Library
 15.    Arboretum
 16.    Crypts
 17.    Shrine
 18.    Gallery
 19.    Workshop
 20-22.    Temple
 23-25.    Throne Room
 26-28.    Laboratory
 29-31.    Menagerie
 32+.    Labyrinth

Use the difference in values of the two dice where each room connects for the type of doorway.

0: Fully Open

1: Open Doorway

2: Locked Door

4: Trapped Door

5: Hidden Door.

Finish with an entrance where it makes sense.

For more go to

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Lair of the Gobbler - Play Report & Micro Review



Two of my usual players in my Thursday night game were out of town this week, but I really wanted to run a playtest to try out some changes to Brighter Worlds. I was poking around for a small module I could run in a single night, and was pointed towards Lair of the Gobbler by Emiel Boven as my Sunday group is currently in the midst of another Emiel module the Rot King’s Sanctum (although heavily reskinned in that case).

It was a great suggestion! It’s immediately evocative, has good hooks, requires next to no prep, and has enough there to really feel substantial without so much that I thought I’d struggle to finish it in a night.


I’m running my own game, Brighter Worlds (SRD) which is a hack of Cairn, Electric Bastionland, and Macchiato Monsters.

It has lightweight core rules, “modular crunch” isolated within character classes (called Callings), and a whimsical storybook tone illustrated (literally) by the inimitable Evlyn Moreau.

The game is designed for tables that want low bookkeeping, options during character creation, some degree of mechanical advancement, and nothing that will clash with not taking it very seriously.

However if you just think “whimsical cairn with class abilities” you’re close enough for the purposes of this play report.

I’ve included my conversions at the bottom in case anyone has use for them.


Granny Hexwhistle

A returning, fan favorite from my Fangwitch’s Falls play reports, Granny is a Witch and also the worst person to exist. She flies around on a broom with her tiny frog familiar (which excretes hallucinogenic poison) while terrorizing whoever she can find.

Jierdan Havarian

The player of Mercutio from the Fangwitch’s Falls playthrough agreed to make a new character to help me test some things, and created Jierdan, a Grimblade. He has a giant, floating (and possibly sentient) Obsidian Zveihander named Lilicore with which he is able to cast spells by hitting people.

Jay/Dan Shades

Played by my wife, who plays in my usual Sunday game, Jay/Dan is a Sneaky Bastard and also apparently a tiktok zoomer. Jay/Dan can split a clone off of himself (Jay and Dan while doing so) and teleport (snap) one to the other, carrying anyone else in contact along for the ride.

Owner of a crystalline donkey used for transporting heavier items.

The Session

My post-it note "fog of war" read to go.

We jumped in with the party having been hired by the owner of their favorite local restaurant to find her new Sous-chef Moira who was supposed to arrive recently with a caravan. Instead she reportedly went missing while passing through the Berrenmoot Swamps after she wandered off in search of the burial place of an ancient mage (the bit that Granny actually cared about).

After some searching, they find a large earthen mound sticking up from the boggy swamp, with evidence of both ruins and current habitation. Guarding the entrance is a borgle, a salamander person, with a spear. The group, lead by Granny and leaving Jay/Dan’s crystalline donkey tied up, approaches in an obviously hostile manner which causes the borgle to dash into the mound along a narrow hallway with a strange hop-skip gait. Granny rushes in after him while Jierdan casts Anti-Gravity on the borgle causing him to float into the air. Granny Hexwhistle, in her rush, triggers the pressure plates the borgle was avoiding which causes the (previously unnoticed) carved faces to breath fire into the area.

Granny hits the deck and manages to avoid most of the blast, but the floating borgle is less lucky. Jay/Dan scouts ahead, and the party opts to not pass through the flooded chamber on the lower level, instead heading up the stairs. They find a guard room with six borgles shooting the shit, drinking beer, and complaining about the Elder Mother and her recent obsession with her “Large Son”.

Granny sends her frog in to poison their beer jug with hallucinogens, and three of the six are dosed out of their minds before the rest realize what’s going on. At that point the party rushes in, beats the living daylights out of the rest, and threatens them into cooperation.

GM’s Note: The module specifically notes that the guards are distracted, and players should have an easy time sneaking past. I extended this to Granny’s poisoning attempt, deciding that they also wouldn’t notice a tiny frog crawling into the room.

I rolled a d6 to see how many of the 6 drank the poisoned beer before the rest realized something was going on. After one round of combat, each (non-poisoned) guard had been injured and failed a morale save to keep fighting.

One borgle agrees to lead them to where Elder Mother Elharr is, thinking this might be a good chance to displace her while maintaining plausible deniability.

They reach a large room containing the Elder Mother, her “large son”, a few borgle guards, and a harried looking Moira, the chef they were sent to rescue! Elharr’s large son turns out to be the Gobbler: a massive, rotund, and immobile toad. Moira has been gang pressed into chopping and cooking a massive earthworm to feed the Gobbler.

Granny immediately gets into a shouting match of insults with Elharr, with Jierdan being a tall imposing presence, while Jay sneaks around to Moira and Dan stays near the room entrance.

Jay snaps back to Dan with Moira in tow as the shouting match erupts into violence as Elharr shoots lightning at Granny and Jierdan. Jierdan uses his giant floating sword to attack one borgle guard while he attacks another with an axe.

Despite rescuing Moira, Jay’s teleport leaves him exposed as the Gobbler flicks out it’s massive tongue and gobbles the clone into his huge mouth. Dan snaps Jay back to him, but as the Gobbler is in contact the huge toad comes alone for the ride and gets jammed in the too-small hallway, where the rescued Moira takes her revenge using her meat clever. Sadly this fails to get Jay out of the Gobbler’s stomach, leading him to perish within.

Jierdan finishes the battle with Elharr with a flying leap that reunites him with his sword. He brings the zweihander smashing down on the Elder Mother while simultaneously casting Chain Lightning to electrocute all the nearby borgle enemies. Upon seeing Elharr defeated, the remaining borgle guards decide it would be in their best interest to flee.

Granny intends to interrogate Elharr for mystic secrets but the Elder Mother’s will is too strong, which ends with Granny simply finishing her off and looting her corpse. Jay gets resummoned, although at considerably lower stats (Jay/Dan’s Attributes are split between the original and the clone).

Granny, having seen Elharr heal one of the borgles during the fight, believes the staff may contain healing powers and attempts to activate it on the newly summoned but very weak clone. Instead she discovers that the Twinning Staff can be used to copy spells, and accidentally double casts Painful Truths on both Jay and Dan, nearly killing them on the spot.

GM’s Note: I specifically asked Granny’s player if he prefers to simply be told what magic items do, or if he wants to experiment with them. He firmly chose the latter.

Moira carves some roasts out of the Gobbler’s corpse as the party catches their breath. She tells the party she’d really like to rescue Willow, a root-kin who she says was also captured by the borgles.

As the way they entered is now blocked by a dead, giant toad the party heads down the other path (where the fleeing borgles went) and discovers a soggy library. Within they manage to find an unknown tonic as well as a spell scroll, and eventually a secret passage hidden behind a bookshelf. Through there is the mage’s tomb! Inside is a dark stone sarcophagus and four faceless statues holding unlit braziers.

Within the tomb the party lights three of the four braziers prior to opening the sarcophagus.

Jierdan: “Don’t light all four, it might be a trap!”"

They open the tomb and the statue holding the sole unlit brazier releases a shadowed figure which immediately moves to attack the party. They defeat it with magic, and magic swords, but not before Moira has her shadow consumed by the creature.

GM's Note: The tomb is what I like to call a “player trap”, as each unlit brazier releases a shadow when the sarcophagus is opened. It’s positioned perfectly to impact players who try to be clever (as mine did) by not lighting all of them in an attempt to avoid a trap.

The party loots the tomb of treasure, magic items, and spell scrolls. Then, with the help of Granny’s flying broom and Jay/Dans teleportation, they rescue Willow and escape the ruins without further conflict (in spite of my efforts to tempt them into tentacle-filled water with shiny treasures).

Me, “Yeah you can cast spells, you just don’t currently have a Grimoire to copy those scrolls into.”

Jay/Dan’s player, “Grimoire,” putting a guttural emphasis on the second syllable. “It’s only a Grimoire if it’s from the Grimoire region of France, otherwise it’s a sparkling spellbook.”

However once outside, they discover that Jay/Dan’s crystalline donkey is missing. Granny flies into the sky and (due to the high visibility of the donkey) spots it being lead away by a group of borgles fleeing the ruins. Granny flies Jay ahead on her broom, and Dan teleports the rest of the group together. They rest up (giving Jay and Dan specifically a chance to recover a bit) before they ambush the borgles in the dead of night. Granny sufficiently impresses her terrifying nature to them, cementing her as a thing that goes bump in the night for future generations of borgles, while the rest recover the donkey along with the looted treasure the borgles had taken on their way out.

Micro Review

Both my players and I had a fantastic time with Lair of the Gobbler. I was able to run it with just reading it through once, and writing up stats for the creatures and items and honestly I could have done that on the fly without issues.

The art is fairly minimal, but what’s there is extremely fun. The map was helpful and managed to portray stacked floors without turning into a huge mess.

This ended up being the perfect length, with the party exploring nearly everything, and still finishing at a reasonable time even with the bonus borgle hunt at the end.

I really appreciate the extra guidance for each location as to the disposition of the borgles or creatures within. The added “lever” of the borgles’ dissatisfaction with their leader was fun, and something my players immediately grabbed onto. A less bloodthirsty group could have certainly found a way to navigate the ruins and politics therein without violence, but as I wanted to test out some combat mechanics I’m not going to complain about this outcome.

Overall, fantastic module that I highly recommend. Especially for anyone looking for a single session adventure that doesn’t require much prep.

Brighter Worlds Stats for Lair of the Gobbler



3 Grit, d6/d6/d6, Spear (d8) or Blow-Pipe (d6, paralyze on Critical Damage)

  • Lil’ salamander guys.
  • Slippery little buggers, difficult to pin down or grapple.
  • Wants: A relaxing swamp time.
  • Often found: Kvetching about the Elder Mother.

Elharr, the Elder Mother

4 Grit, d8/d6/d10, Twinning Staff (d6)

  • Borgle shaman, communes with bog spirits to cast spells (only loses 1 Grit to cast spells).
    • Bolt - d8 damage, impair next attack or Save on Critical Damage.
    • Bog Heal - Heal 1 Step of STR Damage and refresh Grit. Only works on bog creatures while in a bog.
  • Wants: To love and protect her Large Son.
  • Often Found: Neglecting the other Borgles in favor of cooing over the Gobbler.

The Gobbler

6 Grit, 2 Armor, d12/d4/d10, Tongue Lash (d8, eats target on Critical Damage)

  • Overgrown toad, can’t move or speak.
  • Vulnerable to ranged attacks.
  • Wants: to eat and sleep.
  • Often found: eating and sleeping.


6 Grit, 1 Armor, d8/d8/d6, Tentacles (d6,d6,d6,d6, grapples on Critical Damage)

  • Four tentacled swamp predator.
  • Wants: Easy meals.
  • Often found: Lurking in dark waters to ambush prey.


3 Grit, d6/d6/d6, Shadow Touch (d6, consumes shadow on Critical Damage, step up this attack’s damage)

  • Conjured shadow, only effected by spells or magical weapons.
  • Victims are turned into more Shadows.
  • Mindless, not effected by mental magic.
  • Wants: To consume living creature’s shadows, and create more of its own kind.
  • Often Found: Bound to protect tombs and burial places.


3 Grit, d6/d6/d6, Shovel (d6)

  • Little living root guy with glowing eyes.
  • Can see in the dark.
  • Wants: to not be eaten.
  • Often Found: distracting itself from its current troubles by reminiscing of its favorite pastries.


3 Grit, d6/d8/d8, Cleaver (d8)

  • Trained chef, forced to cook for the Gobbler.
  • Wants: To get free, and cook for someone who actually appreciates it.
  • Often Found: Prepping huge worms for Gobbler chow.


Ring of Protection

  • +1 Armor
  • Makes your voice sound funny while active (like speaking through a fan).

Staff of Night (d6)

  • Wielder can see in the dark, and seems to melt into shadows if stationary.

Tonic of Health

  • Drinking restores on step of attribute loss and refreshes Grit to Max.

Cloak of Starlight

  • 1 Armor
  • Discharge to release a flash of light, dazzling nearby creatures.
  • Recharges by absorbing starlight for 6 hours.

Twinning Staff (d6)

  • Step down WIL as you cast a spell to double-cast it.


Grasp of Yahzahar

  • As “Black Tentacles”

Shadow Blade

  • Condense shadow into a sword with damage equal to your WIL. You can immediately attack after casting this spell.


  • d8 damage bolt of electricity, impairs next Save or Attack on Critical Damage.
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Simple Naval Combat for Cairn

Naval Combat for Cairn Ship rules for Cairn, partly based on my Space Ship Rules from Meteor . My Space Ship rules are about creating a ship...