Monster Design and Execution

Monsters, the back bone of any good campaign! My players are highly experienced, I can litterally describe a creature to them and they can tell me what it is, how many Hit Dice it has, the Armor Class, weaknesses and attacks to watch out for. This is no good! Sure, sometimes, if I feel that I can establish the correct amount of tension with a monster, then I’ll use one as written, and I’ll put minimal work into a monster whose soul purpose is to simply slow the party down, and throw some d20s! An activity that all players love to be engaged in! But what about monsters that are more then just sword fodder, that you want to make more of a big deal about? The kind of monster which will test the party to their limits and really move the campaign forward? Do we need to create our own monster?


This is a big factor with a party. If everybody knows how to take out a troll in 5 rounds or less, then it is probably best not to use it in the first place. We could still use the troll, but we should alter it some. Do trolls worship a god? If so, then they would have clerics! What would happen if the troll was already dead? Surely a zombie of a troll would be highly valuable to a necromancer, but what would happen? Would the things regeneration still work? Could it possibly dominate the wizard who attempted to enslave it? We must ask some questions, or we can simply mess with the things stats.

There are tons of different species of trolls, so lets pick a different monster. The Zombie would be a good one! In D&D the zombie is a slave which will do only as instructed by it’s maker, a necromancer. Zombies make excellent 1st level challenges. They never win initiative, which when your most powerful PC will be lucky if he has 10hp, this can make the difference between life and death. A zombie is also incapable of pursuing the party if they retreat. They aren’t intelligent and will fall for the phoniest of traps, but what makes them work is their numbers, which the DM can control.

Zombies are great!!!! But what about levels above 5? Sure, you could throw hundreds of zombies at the adventurers, but they will chop right through them. What we need is a more powerful zombie!

We can increase the zombies attack speed, or give him a better THAC0, but if we do all of this, why not just go with a stronger monster? BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT TO!!! We want a zombie, and there for we have to build a better zombie!

In movies, zombies are MUCH scarier and more dangerous then D&D zombies, especially the really fast ones that have appeared in today’s films. Zombies also eat people, their bites are infectious. THIS is different. These zombies aren’t created by wizards, but by evil magics gone horribly wrong! Perhaps this wasn’t the exact monstrosity that the mage was going for, but while researching a better zombie . . . Maybe one that is faster, he accidentally creates doom!

Cannibal Zombies! They are faster, they get an initiative and can outrun a standard human. They never get tired, they are capable of running at top speeds until something breaks or they locate another source of food. The cannibal zombie is uncontrollable, and cannot be dominated by anyone. Their AC is better, as the only way to harm them is a direct attack on their heads, depending on the level of the adventurer this can be any number that you want, with a minimum of AC6 and they must specify their target. The Cannibal Zombie also has a mean attack that is a Save or Die. If the player saves, then the damage that they got came from a fall or something, but they avoided being bitten, a failed save means that they will loose a point of CON every turn until they get to 0, at which time they will die and be infected, thus THEY are now cannibal zombies.

Walking into a city in the aftermath of this horrible infestation would test the resolve of even the most skilled PC, even characters of epic levels. Is it TOO dangerous? I don’t think so, but I’m the kind of DM that will knowingly drop the PC’s into a situation where they are completely outnumbered and they’ve got to rely on their brains over their brawn. This kind of monster would challenge my PC’s, and it would absolutely murder and piss off other groups, so when tinkering with monsters, it is important to know and understand your audience, the PC’s.

Many monsters simply need to be altered to give the sense that this is a new creature, but when you do do something to this effect, you have to make sure that the characters can spot that something is amiss right off the bat . . . Well, unless you think that you can gain more drama by holding off on it until the right time presents itself.

Some monsters are capable of classing. This can be as difficult or as easy as you want it to be. We do want to reserve it for specific things, so don’t put a Lizard Man Mage on a list of random encounters, if we are going to do this, then we should do it right. Give the Lizard Man a history, why is he so intelligent? How did he learn the art of spell craft? What level is he? Does he flaunt it or does he hide it. I think that the rule of thumb should be that a classed monster shouldn’t have more Hit Dice then normal. We look at our Lizardman Mage, he should be a King, thus he’ll be 8th level. WON’T THAT SURPRISE THE SHIT OUT OF THE PARTY! He also might have an apprentice or two, depending on his character, either way it will force the PC’s to change their course of how to handle this situation at a very inopportune moment. It will also keep them thinking further on down the road, and they won’t take anything that you do or say for granted, which is good!!! Obviously this is a tactic used for experienced Players who can easily wipe out a clan of lizard men, not novices who haven’t ever fought them before. We do want to play fair!

So, we’ve got classing a normally non-classed creature, and modifying established monsters to different established monsters who still follow the rules of their fictional counterparts. Now we go into an area where some DM’s refuse to go, actually sitting down and creating a brand new being.

We look at the Monster Manual, and I will tell you that damned near everything in that book is based on myths on this planet. I say this because the most heated argument is that there just isn’t enough room for everything, but I think that DM’s tend to over think things. Yes, clans of Ogres take up space, and you should refrain from creating your own brand new races, unless that is what you want to do! The game is about being creative, and that is the first and most important rule of the game. Creating your own races will bring about a different set of headaches, but if that is what you are willing to endure then more power to you! You still have to ask yourself what is the best way to flesh this race out. It is during prep sessions, or have you a player that you think might be talented enough to do the fleshing for you and introduce it to him as a PC. THIS MIGHT WORK! And it might not, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Creating UNIQUE monsters is much easier, but you shouldn’t create a unique monster simply to express your creative side, the thing has to breath and live of its own power. Again, we’ve got to give it a background, we’ve got to establish it’s history. Perhaps it escaped from another plain of existence? Perhaps it was called upon by a powerful wizard, or maybe it lay buried in ice from some forgotten catastrophe which happened before the time of man? These are questions that you have to ask yourself. Another good resource for new monsters that you’re players may not had heard of lies in the past. Former editions of the game offer a wealth of knowledge that have been cut from the game. For instance, devils and demons were cut because of public outrage at the time, they were replaced by Tanar’ri and Baatezu. Why not pick up an old Monsterous Manual and take some time converting them over to your edition? There are lots of monsters that were left out of the great MM, for no other reason then that there just wasn’t enough space!

Picking and Mixing

One of the most mutable monsters are your undead. The MM has about 9 different classes of ghosts, taking a ghost and borrowing powers from different forms will give you a brand new monster. Just as an example, I took a weak spirit for my last active session, a womans ghost which was totally nuts, no thoughts or emotions except for sadness. Her motivation was locating her daughter who was also dead and she won’t find the girl on her own. She has two attacks, which are purely incidental. The first is a weak aura of sadness and despair that is always around her when she becomes corporeal, also not up to her, she only appears during the three days of the full moon. Her main attack is a keen, exactly the same as a banshee, however instead of issuing a siren-like scream, she yells, “Where is my baby?” and all of those around her must save or die. She has no idea that she has this ability, and refuses to even engage in combat.

Her daughter is a ghost as well, with completely different powers, and completely different motivations, but I won’t go into those yet, as the PC’s haven’t figured her out yet. But the point is that with monsters such as ghosts, you can easily mix and match abilities. The more abilities that a ghost has, the more HD and XP it is worth. A ghost which has all of the abilities of the ghosts would be a fearsome adversary worthy of only the greatest of PC parties to take it out.

Vampires are much the same way, with the exception that the older they get, the more powerful they become. Most vampires that a player will ever run into are stupid fledglings, these guys are under 100 years old, but imagine a vampire who is thousands of years old! He would be able to control humans with his will alone, he would have the strength of a god, and a wisdom to match it.

Speaking of D&D vampires, I’ve never liked the typical Level Drain power they get. I change that, and only use unique vampires. The usual vampire would drain the Con ability, 1d4 ability points per round with a successful attack, 1 point being permanent lose each round. If the player loses all Con then it is up to the vampire if he wishes to turn them or destroy them. Of course you can have a vampire feed on something other then blood, some feed off of spinal fluid and drain the INT of a character in the same way. Vampires should have their STR altered, as well as more stats. They also keep class abilities that they had when they were alive. Maybe it isn’t a totally new monster that your campaign needs, but a specific and unique take on an old idea?

Study your monsters, get a good feel for them, and put them in nightmare situations! The purpose of a monster is to insight fear and terror into those that are forced to bear witness to their atrocities. They should be rare, the typical 0th level folks that make up your world will never see one (well, be able to tell about it anyway)

Setting up Encounters

Now that we’ve got our perfect monster, we don’t just want to throw him out there. That would be pointless! We want to establish some foreshadowing first. This should be a combination of different things.

Myth & Gossip

Folks talk, but of course we don’t want our NPCs to ever just come out and say what it was. This thing is going to have everybody spooked, and most folks won’t talk to strangers . . . In fact, it could had been the strangers that brought the thing on to begin with! Force the PC’s to use those CHA scores! Modify the check and have the PC’s make Cha checks to get anything out of a NPC, and even then we can keep things to chance. Roll a d6, if it is even, give them something true about your new monster, if it’s odd, feed them bad information. Folks will be talking about it, but that doesn’t mean that the things that they say will be true. This can go either way, you can describe a monster that isn’t there, that way when they think that they have it figured out and bring the correct tools for that monster, they will be caught off guard.

Let the townsfolk do your setting for you, don’t ever give anything away for free. Let the PC’s track down folks who might had seen this thing, or that had a loved one killed by it. Maybe the town will declare that an old witch who lives in town is behind the matter, perhaps this is true and perhaps it isn’t. Investigations work real well as long as there is something there to actually investigate!

Crime Scenes

Murder most foul! The PC’s will run across different scenes. First scene should be a clean one that the constable or guards have cleaned up already. We have to know what went down, what was the motive of the monster? Something about this scene should give small physical hints that something is amiss, and it should be evident that perhaps it wasn’t a man that did this, but as the adventure moves along, we want to slowly move the monster more towards the PC’s. Eventually they will run across a fresh kill. THIS is where they will see the horror first hand. We must know our creature, did it attack with a weapon or with it’s bare hands/claws? Did it kill because it was seen, or did it kill for food? Did it take the body, or try to before it saw the PC’s coming and it got scared off? Give it emotions, does it hide and aware that it is being hunted? These questions should be answered with this encounter. Again, you don’t come out and say anything, the PC’s must worm every scrap of info out of you. Just describe the scene, if they get false impressions, then so be it! Next we’ll bring the thing all the way home. Look at your NPC list, and pick a victim from it. Somebody who the PC’s trust and love, or maybe someone that they suspect? Give them an opportunity, that if they think quickly and do exactly the right thing, then they can stop what is about to happen, but if they screw up or waste time, then the monster will claim another victim and it will be their fault! Eventually it will be time to unleash this thing upon them with it’s full fury. It is time for them to see if they can survive its rage. The entire time, especially with an intelligent creature, you’ll have to keep an eye on your PC’s. If they screw up at any time, such as separate from their companions, then kill them . . . Well be fair about it. The monster should be strong enough to make short work of one PC, don’t describe it to them, but if they can’t work together then let them have it. Keep it in the shadows, and use their fear of the unknown against them. If it has a lair, then make them work to find it. If it is living among them, give hints but not details. Give rewards, not gifts.

If an investigation isn’t what you want to do, then just shorten it. There may be some chatter about this thing out in the hills, evidence of it’s existence will be stumbled upon. When it attacks, keep it hidden for as long as possible, treat it like a monster in a movie! If it can, then let it win. You did the extra work on it, you might as well milk it for all it is worth! Let the characters discover it’s history, or marvel at it as it does things that it isn’t suppose to ever do. Make it more real then just a bunch of numbers, give it flesh and a heart beat and a purpose and it will reward everyone who encounters it. Good Luck!

Goblins: His Forsaken Children

Howdy fellow role-players! I’m still deeply buried with my prep work, but the DM needs a break from such matters. Today I want to talk about something about the game that has always bugged me. A race that just doesn’t seem to get the respect that it should, and I really don’t know why?

When I was a boy, my grandmother used to come visit from Washington State once or twice a year, and stay at our house. Being that young my internal clock demanded that I wake up at some ungodly hour of the morning that is totally beyond me now, but back then I’d be up at the crack of dawn, and there would be my grandmother, sitting at the kitchen table with a full ashtray and a cup of coffee. The stories that she would tell me! Nothing about where I came from, or why Uncle Jack can’t seem to ever stay sober for more then a day or two, but fiction stories that she’d just kind of make up as she went along. To me, however, these little yarns of hers were gods good truths! I even had to defend her honor with my fists a couple of times out at the school yard.

Tales of knights battling evil wizards seemed to be her favorite . . . Or more then likely, she sensed that they were MY favorite, so she told lots of them. This is where I first got exposed to many beings of fantasy, especially the most fearsome beast imaginable, the GOBLIN!!!

Now goblins weren’t ever the masterminds of evil plots, but they were the life-blood of those whom weaved them. They weren’t giants, such as the trolls of my grandmother’s yarns, but they were the perfect size to crawl into the places where boys hid from the monsters who fed upon them. I don’t know if she ever described them to me, I’m sure she did, but it was the very idea of them that entertained and scared me.

Of course, it wasn’t my grandmother that made them up off the top of her head, back in that orange and brown kitchen. Goblins have been in myths and legends for years! I am by no means a master of the subject, but just a simple student. You don’t have to be surprised when I tell you how let down I felt when I got to fight goblins in a game. D&D goblins are, in a word, pathetic. They can’t hit the broad side of a barn, wooden doors have more hit points then they do. Even to 1st level PC’s these poor creatures are boring, just there to give experience points and slow you down. BORING!!! But the question that I pose to anyone how may have an answer is, Why? Why have these things which have haunted our collective subconscious for centuries become low level adventure fodder?

You can tell a million stories about a prince falling in love with a princess, but just watch the young ears perk up as soon as a goblin enters the story! It turns a boring romance into a thing of awe and wonder. Now goblins are pussies? Why?

Well, THIS has to be changed. Things can’t just sit the way they are. Goblins have influenced to many good stories, art, cartoons, and spooky campfire stories to be left to rot by RPG geeks who dictate that they are simply as annoying as some two legged insect without any special attacks beyond digging. DIGGING!!! How pathetic is that?


In my grandmothers stories, the goblin wasn’t a little pest who rode on the backs of wolves, they were servants of evil! At one point, they had been human, however they were cursed by weavers of evil magic!

Somewhere between undead and the living, the victims of this spell were trapped! Their minds were not their own, for they will only act when their masters tell them. They don’t tire, they don’t get bored, and they never question, but they do feed! This isn’t an act that keeps them alive, a goblin can live for centuries without food or drink, but these habits are an addiction to them. Hunger is perpetual and always hangs over them like the stench of filth that surrounds them. Hunger that won’t kill them if it goes unanswered, however when the opportunity arises, they feed with terrifying abandon, and only upon human flesh. The mere sight of witnessing this terrible act has driven strong men permanently mad!

THIS is what the goblin should be, at least in my opinion.

CREATE GOBLIN (8th Level Wizard‘s Spell-ALTERATION)

Range: 5 yards/level
Components: V, S, M
Duration: Variable
Casting Time: 1 round
Area of Effect: Special
Saving Throw: Special

This spell changes one human into a goblin. Victims who are engaged in committing an evil act during the time that the spell is being cast will automatically fail their saving throw, those who are not committing an act of evil at the time of casting are allowed a saving throw vs. polymorph with a -4 penalty to their roll.

Those that become Goblins will begin to polymorph immediately, and will not be able to perform any act until the metamorphosis is complete, which takes 2-12 rounds. The caster will have full control over the goblin, and able to instruct the creature through a telepathic link. The goblin will retain this form until the caster dies, at which time the Goblin will (if it has been kept alive beyond it’s normal life cycle) die as well, else revert back to being human and remember nothing.

There is no limit upon how many goblins a wizard can control at one time. The components of this spell requires the tooth of a hobgoblin, a raven’s eye, and a whole fingernail from the caster, (or, in the case of a lich, the nail of someone in his bloodline will suffice)


Traditionally the goblin has always been magical in nature, this is, or course, intended for 2nd Edition, but you can alter it to fit with any campaign system in which the goblin isn’t quite up to par with his mythic counter-part. This is based entirely off of the Goblyn which was created for the Ravenloft setting and is now in the public domain.


DIET: Carnivorous
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil

NO. APPEARING: 3-24 (3d8)
THAC0: 13
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 or 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d6/1d6 or 2d6
SIZE: M (4-6’)
MORALE: Special/Fearless (20)

Goblins are hideous creatures with slightly bloated heads, pointed ears, and glowing red eyes. Their skins are greenish grey and pulled taunt against their twisted skeletons and powerful muscles. They have long, mangy hair which grows only on the back of their head and necks. About half of their face is taken up with a wide mouth full of needle-sharp teeth.
These creatures are formed by powerful evil magicians which has transformed them into these twisted beings. This transformation causes them to become very evil and totally submissive to their master’s every whim.
Goblins have a telepathic link with their master and, through him, with all of the other goblins that he controls.

Combat: Goblins are very nimble creatures causing a -2 adjustment to their opponent’s surprise roll. Furthermore, when a goblin is unexpectedly encountered, it will suddenly flash its teeth and glare into its opponent’s face in a terribly frightening manner, this action causes a -4 penalty to surprise. Those surprised will be so stricken with fear that they will be unable to move that round.

Goblins seldom attack with weapons. Instead, they strike at their victim’s throat with their clawed hands. Each successful claw attack inflicts 1d6 points of damage. If both of their claws hit, the goblin is assumed to have gotten a solid hold on the target’s neck. On each subsequent round, the victim will be bitten (usually in the face) for an additional 2-12 points. In addition, the victim will have difficulty breathing and must make a saving throw vs. spells or suffer an additional 1d4 points of suffocation damage. Both of these attacks are assumed to be automatic hits. The goblins refer to this as “feasting” and it is so frightening to observe that all who see someone attacked in this manner must make a saving throw vs. spells suffer the same effects as the 4th level Wizard spell Fear.

In addition, for every 10 points of feasting damage done, the victim will suffer a permanent -1 adjustment to their CHARISMA due to facial scars and deformities.

Any attacks made by someone who has a goblin at his throat suffers a -3 penalty on all attack or damage rolls and saving throws. Others who are striking at a goblin which is “feasting”, gain a +2 on their attack and damage rolls while its attentions are focused on its victim.

Goblins are similar to undead creatures in that they never check morale.

All goblins have the ability to move silently (80%), hide in shadows (70%), and climb walls (25%). They have infravision which functions at a range of 90 feet.

Habitat/Society: Goblins are totally controlled by their master’s desires. If they are told to attack another of their kind, they do so without pity. They never instigate combat on their own, but eagerly leap to the attack if challenged or instructed to so. (Alternatively, DM’s can roll a saving throw for the creature against spell, else its hunger gets the best of it.) Goblins have no apparent desires, other than to fulfill their master’s every whim with an emotionless devotion.

Goblins do not sleep, tire, or become bored. Furthermore, they can go for a considerable amount of time without food or drink.

Ecology: Goblins are strict carnivores. They will eat only freshly killed meat, in addition to drinking the blood of their victims.

Goblins are often sought after by certain wizards and priests, for they are useful as components in spells and magical items that control humans.

See, now this is something better, more fitting for these awesome creatures! Maybe it is just me, but I’ve always thought that the goblin was cool as hell. This reminds me of the classic movie Phantasm!

Well, I had best get back to work now, let me know what you think . . . Well, if your master will allow it.

Adventure Notes #6: Weathermay Estate Revisited

Finally got to play some D&D again, had to miss last session because I was in Mo. This one was impossible to prep for, because of the location that everybody decided to quit. They had defeated the guardian Naga and acquired the second piece of the artifact, but they had yet to escape.

If they went the route that they came in, then they would run into the 6-Fingered Hand and risk losing the artifact, but there was a second option of bombing a corridor that the Naga had blocked, which would had enabled them to escape.

Well, the players only have one person on the team that is expert enough with explosives to be able to handle such a risky undertaking safely enough so that the entire dungeon didn't land on their heads, and he has always been itchy to use this cool ass skill, however, as luck would have it, he had to work lastnight. Isn't that always the way that it is? You put a spot for one person to finally get to use a skill and they don't show up! Well, this meant that the team only had one option, going through the Hand.

I've got two villains out there that are deadly as hell. The Beetle (an Irish thug), and Hanz (a German Sharpshooter and quick-draw expert), their magic-user was slain on the Orient Express by Fu Manchu's men and they haven't received a fresh adept yet, which was good. The rest of their men were simple boobs that they had hired.

It's January yet, in Bucharest and cold as sin! The men were keeping an eye on the pit and keeping warm with gin and a fire while placing bets on if the heroes would come out or not. Spending the night in a archaeological dig site wasn't high on their lists of stuff they enjoy, thus they did a terrible job of it. Beetle and Hanz would check the pit every so often, but they were grumbley as well for being duped by the PC's, especially Beetle who even got inside of the Tomb of Horror, but he was overwhelmed by the heroes and tossed out on his ear. A very sad day for the Beetle, it was. A very sad day indeed!

Well, he was itching for some revenge, but it was just too impossible to tell when the PC's would appear. It was finally at 3am when they quietly emerged, and were able to sneak up and out of the pit they were in, and into a different one that would take them closer to the exit. The men checked the pit twice, but didn't notice that the latter down was missing, Beetle did, but by this time they had already started making their getaway. Everyone except Shannon's character escaped unharmed. Shannon tripped on board, Hanz heard it and shot him. Shannon didn't believe what a badass this man was until he took that round.

The heroes all escaped and were able to take refuge in the hotel of their new allies, which we repaired before the game started. Both were use to 3e rules and did too much min-maxing so that the Explorer wasn't all that exploreresc, nor was the sailor very sea-hearty. This was all changed. Now the Hand knew about the original 4 members of the party, however their spies have no idea about the explorer or the sailor, thus everyone was able to escape Bucharest undetected via several trains that took them through Europe until they could take a ferry to London.

In London, they gained permission to return to the Weathermay Estate. Now I had done tones of prep for this badboy and it is huge!!! They finally finished exploring it. During the night, poor Giorgio (Shannon's Henchman) perished, via the ghost of a woman who was crying for her baby. Shannon drug his dead corpse out to the shed, but in the morning he was no where to be found. Footprints led to a private family crypt, were they discovered a staircase and a door, however it was all underwater.

The party needed some redirection, they didn't know where to go, so I had to remind them that they returned to get the heading they needed to locate the next piece of the artifact. Captain Kidd's treasure island was finally located, they discovered an old treasure map of an island, thanks to the sailor, they were able to discover the barrings and are now ready for the next part of the adventure!

They have purchased a ship, one of those cool three masted steamers that are simply brilliant!!! I wrote down the stats that I need, for my prep. They've got to hire a crew, and they made the sailor (only 5th level) their Captain, which should make things interesting.

NOW!!! I can finally do my prepwork! I'm going to run the ships course myself, and only roleplay the highlights, and I've also got to design the treasure island, as well as the next dungeon which I can make as nasty as I want. PIRATES AHOY, MATEY!!!! I simply love this game! It takes place on the 28th of this month, so I best get to prepping.

I do have my next add-in in the works, but it is massive as well. We'll explore law and justice, as well as explore a dungeon (a real one!), but my prepwork of course comes first, but I'll whittle at it little by little and eventually it's see digital print! Till then . . .

Add-In #5: The Dwarven Metallurgy

Dwarven Metallurgy: Fine Crafter of Armor, Weaponsmithing, & General.

Sharp swords, and Chainmail that the owner can trust to stand up to the challenge are not things that one wants to buy cheaply, especially when it comes to using these items to defend one’s life! For centuries, Dwarven Steal has maintained the highest standard of hardness, durability, and beauty. With artists such as Belim, Norana, and Bolvi, this proud tradition will continue for hundreds of years to come.

The Metallurgy, as it is called by locals, is a tall triangular building crafted of rock and thick timbers. It at one time was the lodge of the great hero Nero, however upon his death, it was willed to Nero’s closest friend Belim, a Dwarf from the mountains whose abilities with handling and managing humans has made him the perfect spokesman for the race.

Two different signs hang above two separate doors, one marking the Metallurgy, and the other marking the storefront itself, however both doors give access to the showroom.

The Metallurgy: Belim’s employee, Adam Berney mans the Metallurgy counter. Here is where people can sell their scrap metal. Adam normally pays 1 gold piece per pound, however he also buys used armor and weapons. Broken armor and weapons will be purchased per pound. Adam will haggle the price of each piece of reusable weapons and armor, always starting at half the value of what they are worth, but never higher then 75%. If a special piece is commissioned from specific items (for example: gemstones, or gold metal) then Adam will take the items here and store them until the metal workers are ready to begin construction.

The Storefront: Belim’s can make up to Plate Armor, but he also sells used items. New items are hand made, Belim’s wife Norana will measure the buyer to insure a perfect fit, half of the amount is due before construction, and the rest is due when it can be picked up. Armor takes the standard amount of time to complete as listed in the PHB. Weapons are constructed daily, Belim makes shields, swords, axes, spear heads, arrow tips, as well as small things such as knives, jewelry, goblets, or practically anything that a buyer wishes to contract him to make. Belim does not make pole-arms as there isn’t a big market for these items, however he can if specifically requested to. Weapons are also constructed per the directions in the Players Handbook. Small tools such as nails, shovels, horseshoes, and such are offered outside, in the back of the building, as well as sharpening and shoe fitting and basic repair work.


The Metallurgy contains a front yard which purchasers may test their wares before purchasing, as well as providing a place for demonstrations. During summer festivals many contests are held in the yard, contests of skill and strength being the most popular, the winner earns himself a special weapon which was crafted especially for this purpose. There is an entry fee involved to compete, which makes the Metallurgy some extra income. In the backyard is a fenced area for mounts to be measured, and shoed, as well as a small shop for locals who have no desire to enter the store itself.

1. Storefront (12’x14’)

Wooden weapon stands hold swords, spears, axes, and other weapons crafted of metal, a small area is designated as used weapons, these items are slightly cheaper but still of good quality. All items of shabby craftsmanship is melted down. Shields line the walls, most hanging above the weapon racks. Shields are made of either wood or metal, the wooden shields are always recycled, but sometimes they are reinforced with steel. They come in many sizes and styles. Different types and styles of armor is also displayed, these models are not for sale, as all armor is constructed individually, and only of the metal variety. If leather is requested Belim has a contract with a local leather worker who supplies him with scabbards and other small items he needs, he will send customers to them, Belim will, however, gladly stud a leather armor and have it back to the customer usually by the next day. The storefront is manned by either Belim (01-45), his wife Norana (46-90), or (in a pinch) Nynwin (91-00). The storefront attendants job is to guide the buyer to find exactly what they want, and what they can afford, he also watches out for thieves. Besides arms, other equipment is sold here as well, fine jewelry, beautiful goblets, fine tableware, and other objects of art which the DM can think of.

2. Metallurgy (4’x8’)

A sign directs all sellers to enter through this door. It contains only a counter manned by Belim’s human friend Adam. He will inspect all items, he will buy all metals, gems and precious stones, plus any wooden items as long as they are still in good shape. If an item is too large to get through the door, he will go outside with the seller and inspect it there.

3. Sales Counter (4’x8’)

A sign directs all buyers to this room, it contains a small counter and manned by Belim’s friend Finkin the gnome. He takes care of all of the money coming in. He also functions as the stores accountant.

4. Treasury (6’x8’)

This room is filled with chests and contain all money earned, as well as personal items from more adventurous days of Belim and his party. DM’s can put whatever they want in this room, however security is very tight, the locks are all of expert quality and the dwarves don’t think very highly of being robbed and will spare no expense to get this money back. A wooden staircase goes up to the second floor.

5. Armor Room (6’x9’)

Completed armor is kept in this room, it is also protected with expert quality locks.

6. Weapons Room (6’x5’ respectfully)

Completed weapons which were specially ordered are kept here, as well as any overflow since Belim likes to keep the storeroom as full as possible. This door is protected with an expert quality lock.

7. Metal Room (6’x8’)

Metal is kept here, most will be melted down, if it is exceptional quality it will be resold. The metalworker is a slob, this room is cluttered with materials waiting to be smelted, as well as raw metals ready to be crafted into usable items.

8. Smelting Room (5’x6’)

Bolvi the dwarf works in this room. A large hot smelting oven dominates the area, as well as a small area for blacksmithing small metal items such as nails and horseshoes. A double door is normally kept open to give some air into the room, this leads to a yard where horses can be fitted for new shoes, as well as a small goods counter were locals can buy nails and such without having to go into the store itself.

9. Material Room (11’x9’)

Raw materials are kept here, as well as supplies and items that can‘t be constructed by the dwarves themselves. Large armor is constructed here, two large doors provide access to measuring mounts for armor. Exceptional metals are always kept in this area, versus the metal room.

10. Armor & Weapons Crafting Room (11’x21’)

A convenient smelting oven sits against the north wall, and two forges are on either side, as well as two tanks. Belim and Norana share this workspace to construct there wares.

11. Hall

This hall is narrow and can be lit by gas lamps hung from the ceiling, however it rarely is.

12. Kitchen & Dining Room (4’x12’)

Nynwin normally spends all of her time here, preparing meals. All meals are served in this area, except lunch which Nynwin brings to each worker. A wood burning stove sits against the wall, as well as several counters and cupboards which hold dishes and dry goods. Nynwin goes to the market daily to buy fresh produce, she is paid for this job.

13. Privy (4’x2’)

Small room with a drop stool. It is kept dark at all times.

14. Bedroom #1 (12’x6’)

Belim, Norana, and Bolvi share this room equally. Their beds are all lined up against the west wall. Personal items and clothing are all kept in separate wardrobes.

14. Bedroom #2 (12’x6’)

Finkin, Nynwin, and Adam Berney share this room. Two tiny beds are on the south wall, and a large bed is on the east wall. Each occupant has their own wardrobe. A small desk is next to the door which Finkin uses to do his billing and accounting paperwork. All keys are kept locked up in this desk as well.


Belim Smithy (6th level Mountain Dwarf Fighter): AC 4 (10); HD 6+1; hp 41
SA as mountain dwarf; SD as mountain dwarf; MR as mountain dwarf; #AT 3/2;
THAC0 15; dmg 1d8 battle axe (or by weapon); SX M; INT 11; AL LN

Balim is a moody little man with a long grey beard, he almost always wears his armor, unless he is crafting, then he works bare-chested. He is solidly built with well defined muscles. He prefers dark blue clothing, and can be rather immoral when dealing with customers. He loves money, but his real weakness is jewels. He has been known to take jewels and trim them a bit before embedding them into weapons, or giving them to his wife to decorate armor, most of the time the client is so impressed with his handiwork that they forget all about the missing pieces, which he keeps. There is always a chance of him minding the storefront. He will attempt to sell items which are expensive, if not push for custom-made items whenever he can. Balim also knows everything that is going on in the town or wherever the DM wishes to place his shop. If there is adventure to be found, chances are Balim knows where to go . . . For a price of course.

Norana Smithy (0th level Mountain Dwarf): AC 4 (10); HD 1+1; hp 7
#AT 1; THAC0 19; dmg 1d8 battle axe (or by weapon); SX F; INT 12; AL LN

Norana is just as moody as her husband, most of the time the two can be found squabbling while they work in back. She has a well trimmed black beard which she keeps in dwarven locks (much like dreadlocks), her hair she ties back into tails. She prefers dark reds in her dress, and detests human-life. She has no taste for the local foods, and always goes out of her way to help her race out. There is always a chance that she will be minding the storefront. She will try and push the used goods, because she doesn’t like them there and detests it when Balim keeps buying more. She doesn’t hate humans, but she does distrust them. Most folks assume that she is a male, and she won’t correct them on this because she feels that humans are all sexist pigs. It is her job to construct armor, which she is well known and famous for. Her trademark is a small dragon head which discretely decorates either the left or right breast.

Bolvi (4th level Mountain Dwarf Fighter): AC 4 (10); HD 4+1; hp 30;
SA STR of 18; #AT 3/2; THACO 17; dmg 1d4+1 war hammer (or by weapon)

Bolvi is young compaired to his companions, and the least suited for being there, he lives like a pig and is very sloppy in his work, however he is loyal and always makes the best of any situation. While he is very dumb, he will do exactly as he is told. He is often sent out and hired as a henchman for a few weeks at a time, as Norana doesn’t like him and is always threatening to kick him out, on any given day he can be fired by her at least 10 times, but he does know enough not to hang up his apron and go wandering the streets, well, not anymore but he used to. Belim will hire him out to adventurers for 5sp a month, of course Belim keeps his wages for him. Bolvi may be a dwarf, but he is a hulk of one! Normally he wears no shirt, as he spends his days tending the hot smelting oven, he is an excellent blacksmith, but not a very good craftsman. He can make simple tools and small items, which he enjoys greatly. Bolvi is a very sociable man who will talk friendly with anyone and laugh at everything that he doesn’t understand, which is most of the stuff that other people are talking about. If hired he will do every task given to him to the best of his ability.

Adam Berney (5th level human warrior): AC 4 (10); HD 5; hp 35
#AT 3/2; THAC0 16; dmg 2d4 broadsword; SX M; INT 12; AL LN

Adam Berney is a tall stout man whose taste of dress is always on the darker shades of black. He wears a mustache that he waxes to make handsome handlbars. He works two functions at the shop, first he operates the metallurgy, he’s got a keen eye for such things. Secondly, it is he that goes out and gets payment from customers who are late . . . Be this break their legs or just threaten to means little to him. He also handles theft, if you steal from the shop, expect a knock on the door from this man! He is loyal to Belim, and has adventured with him in the past.

Finkin (3rd level rock gnome, thief): AC 6; HD 3; hp 18
SD per gnome; MR +5 to saving throws against magic; #AT 1;
THAC0 19; dmg 1d4 dirk; SX M; INT 13; AL NG

Finkin is a small, fat little rock gnome. His occupation is a thief, however he never steals. His craft is sharpened more towards the lock department, which he tinkers at while he mans the sales counter. It takes him quit a while to construct his locks, which are of expert quality and cost 200gp, but impose a -80% penalty on all picking attempts. Finkin also manages all of the monies and earnings, as well as keeping the treasure room organized. He knows were all items are, and if anything needs to be ordered, he’ll handle this as well. Finkin is very opinionated about anything and everything, but at the same time, he is also practical which helps Belim put up with him.

Nynwin (0th level rock gnome): AC 6; HD 0; hp 5
SD per gnome; #AT 1; THAC0 19; dmg 1d3 or by weapon;

Nynwin is Finkin’s wife, most of her time is spent in the kitchen or cleaning the place up. She doesn’t mind doing this, however she is outwardly a sever pessimist. Everything is terrible, or carries some curse with it. She knows millions of old wives tales (and even invented a few). Most of the time, customers won’t ever see her, except if they encounter her at the market or about town, however there is a chance that she’ll be minding the storefront. She has no idea about such things, and will ask lots of questions but be of little actual help unless you already know what you are looking for. She’ll also try to spend this time passively visiting, asking questions that become tiresome quickly, or pointing out all social misgivings that the adventures may be performing at any time.


Scenario #1. An adventure buys a used sword and finds a secret treasure map hidden in the hilt. Once Belime finds out, he may demand his cut.

Scenario #2. Bolvi has accidentally been hired out to an evil party who is using him for no good, Belime may hire the adventurers to return him unharmed, in exchange for an enchanted sword.

Scenario #3. Bolvi had melted down a cursed weapon, and the metal went into 6 or 7 different swords, that are now cursed as well. Adventurers discover a murder weapon (which has killed it’s own owner) and track it back to Belime’s forge. Horrified by what has happened, he requires help collecting the rest of the cursed weapons before they kill those whom purchased them as well. Anyone who holds them may be attacked as they have a 25% chance of animating and attacking all people around them 4 times per day. They must also discover who sold the cursed item to them, for he is the one behind this evil.

Armor and weapons are essential in almost any fantasy game, and The Dwarven Metallurgy gives characters a chance to buy good quality merchandise that they can count on. (Naturally, it will take a good deal of time and money, but this prevents adventurers from misusing the establishment.)

Since armor is custom-made, the DM can allow characters to ask for virtually any reasonable gimmick they like (lighter-weight plate, hooks for special throwing knives, etc.) The key word, of course, is reasonable. Light-weight plate will allow a wearer more freedom of movement, but the protection would be less. However, if the DM wishes, Belime could create special alloys that will give both lighter weight and greater protection, depending on your own campaign.


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