Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Template Approach


Bah! After two years of lurking in feckless obscurity I oh-so-much wanted to burst back into action with a flailing crescendo of unbridled awesomeness but I am afflicted with incapacitating self-doubt so I have decided to try to ease back into this thing. Also, a significant consideration to take into account is the probable fact that my humble little dead blog will long since have fallen off the few blogrolls it was on and that amongst the hundreds of lacklustre OSR blogs my own occupied a fairly inconsequential position. I am not really under the illusions that my work measures up to that of the late lamented Valley of Blue Snails or Thool or Mandragora blogs. However, I have been writing on and off this whole blasted time. Perhaps this obscurity will help me to build up something outside the glare of having sometimes upwards of twelve (!) people looking at my stuff each day. Anyway, instead of blathering about Middenmurk-specific stuff (or  the Uttermost South, Antediluvian Earth or Calderia stuff I ambitiously initiated as my fickle brain shrank away from the onerousness of sticking-at-things) I am responding to yet-another-clever-Zak-idea and publishing my Search & Replace dungeon generated from his template so that I can analyse it and speculate on how the tools that produce this can be used to create other interesting
stuff. Anyway here's Zak's map;

And here's my key;

The sound of the Churning Aethermill is audible throughout if PCs enter through the north entrance. The ceilings are 7feet high.

Check for wandering monsters every 3 game minutes or whenever PCs make a lot of noise, roll d10:

1-2 d6 Stingrats

3-4 d4 Rampant Faunlings (with keys to green locks)

5 1 Giant Collecting Bummel-Clock looking to kill PCs and steal their oil flasks

6-10 Nothing


1. Stairs to surface/next level

2. Flitterghul-It is a foot tall & eerily beautiful. It is harmless. If unmolested, it will continue to roam the halls.

3. Fragments of a dazzling walrus ivory mosaic, very damaged, are here--a landscape with only a pair of white legs ending in hooves are visible so far.

Pieces of the mosaic can be found throughout the dungeon, and will fuse to the wall if placed on the mosaic.

The true form of the mosaic is of Aethelburga the Shield-Harlot of the Bramstane Interregnum on a horse--and assembling it will create a work of art worth PC level x 1000gp, however it is possible to construct false forms by accident or design.

Existing mosaic+humanoid upper body = a demon. Zaphiriel the Jabbering Arse-Clowne in 76 will begin calling anyone present to it. Save vs spell.

Existing mosaic+missing front horse legs+human upper body = centaur. Each round, violent madness will be inflicted on whichever party member rolls the lowest on a d20 until they leave the room.

Missing pieces are in rooms 19, 87, 50

4. This Skeblous Quilkin is intelligent & can speak but does not show it because it fears hostility It seeks the Satirical Ikon of the 52nd Underpope and a Merdog Compromised in room 21

5. Dead Rampant Faunling

6. Monster in 7 can be heard from here

7. The Gyre Stag-Fyshe It is too large to leave the room. Drinks from well

8. Three Rampant Faunlings looking for Memling the Hydromancer

9. Echoing corridor

10. Statue of The Leperchrist --vandalized. d6 dead Rampant Faunlings with a Siege Terrapin here dead in the center of the triangle, apparently dragged from 25. The triangle will slowly devour them over the course of an hour, at which point the statue will come to life and seek out Zaphiriel the Jabbering Arse-Clowne in room 75.

11. Droolkinder inside a Churning Aethermill

12. Nonfunctional Churning Aethermill

13. Junk everywhere, vial of Ichorous Zeal

14. As soon as the PCs enter this room the Aethermill (which will attract a wandering monster) will activate.

A wizard will recognize the effect as a product of a special curse that can be removed on the request of a specific livingmaster (the Spectral Scrivener Royale )

15. Kitchen. Pots, pans, the usual. There is a brick oven & a small pantry closet. A halfling could fit in it.

16. This room is full of baby skins that the Spectral Scrivener Royale has collected.

The columns here look weak and can be destroyed with 30 pts of damage. The ceiling will cave in.

17. 2 identical statues. One made of Shit one made of walrus ivory

18. There is a Sackbut here worth 2500gp. Playing it for the first time will cause monster in room 7 to break out and crash through the rooms, collapsing the ceilings until it gets to the player.

19. Library. Full of ogham-scribed bones

-humanoid upper body mosaic pieces from the mosaic in room 3

20. Hall. 11 small portrait paintings. One of each of Naberius' sisters. They

are worth d20 x 100gp to collectors with unusual tastes

21. Paladin of The Leperchrist fighting Rampant Faunling wizard in desperate battle

Satirical Ikon of the 52nd Underpope compromised with a merdog. Worth 600gp.

22. Empty cells.

23. Old dining room. Three paintings here: each eight feet wide, worth 2000 gp each.

24. WC

25. Dying Priest of The Leperchrist, just finished pulling foes to room 10

Siege Terrapin

Spectral Scrivener Royale. It is disguised as Grub and will observe the PCs.

26. A Crakie Bugge is here--it does not speak & obeys the Spectral Scrivener Royale. Crakie Bugge has (as always) hidden a key to room 67 in the gaping aperture of a Sheela-Na-Gig

27. There is a cursed mustard-yellow liripipe. Any creature inspecting it will be afflicted by a desire to Mess with the Aethermill for 1d4 rounds.

28. Channel of Angel Sputum from south ends in a pool here

29. Channel down center of hallway filled with Angel Sputum a Mummified Mouse is floating in it

30. Empty

31. Secret door activated by mechanism in room 85

32. Secret door activated by mechanism in room 85

33. Pool of Angel Sputum

34. Dead Hollowback Ylfen carrying diary, contains biographical details of The Ark Raven - Naberius The Proctor including its birthday

35. Fishbelly white crystal formation. Anything white that touches it will begin to vibrate unnaturally--the object will then reflect magic for one hour and then explode.

36. Walking into this room lowers steel bars where the green O's are and releases monster in 37.

37. Verdigrue in cage.

38. The Ark Raven - Naberius The Proctor's bedroom. If The Ark Raven - Naberius The Proctor is not in this room the (ordinary) doors will be locked. Secret door: behind a Divan--a thin crack will be visible. Room contains a make-up table (no mirror, of course), a canopy bed hung with velvet, (d12 x 100) gp worth of other

trinkets. The bed, painting, Naberius The Proctor 's wardrobe, & the table are each worth (d12 x 100) gp. There is an alabaster pyx with a soporific vapour trap under the bed containing 600 gp & locket with a small painting of Naberius The Proctor

39. Switch raises and lowers bars in rms 36-38

40. Child's bedroom. Belongs to Naberius The Proctor's daughter. Her remaining toys ( Glims and Trinklings) are here.

41. Bile-pit activated by door

42. Stone walls carved into the shape of scaled enormities, hideous to behold

43. Carrion Gunners

44. Purpureal Vortex of Scorne in cage. Sibling of Naberius The Proctor Gone mad long ago. She may aid the PCs if they convince her they can help her escape the dungeon. She hates Naberius The Proctor & will make any deal to be reunited with her, but again, will turn on anyone aware of her existence immediately afterward.

45. Anything made of Shit placed on the altar will be transformed into walrus ivory.

Any Waves of Lassitude in the circle or crossing it will be transformed into fulgurous emanations

46. Texts sacred to religion of The Leperchrist

47. Puzzle room: Carnifexes, Clysterers and Goliards are sacred to this religion. A magic mask asks 3 questions only members of those professions, respectively, would know. Wrong answers = Power Word Melt and it emits an animalistic shriek

48. Statue of a creature of Lassitude. An Archpriest of The Leperchrist is here. (PC level x 1000 gp worth of gold flake on statue.)

49. Murals depicting Aethelburga the Shield-Harlot and betrayal by Donkeyboy

50. Tombs. d6 Priests of The Leperchrist

Fragment of mosaic in room 3 showing horse head and humanoid lower body in a saddle.

51. Tombs. Vial: Substance repels Batrachians

52. Tomb of Aethelburga the Shield-Harlot

53. Mouldering skeleton of hero's traitorous ally, Scrying Mirror of polished bronze

54. d6 Carrion Gunners guarding sacrifice chamber. They have keys to the cage in room 55.

55. Bile-pit

Apparently a two-headed pigeon in a cage. Is actually a Phooka . It is looking for the Skeblous Quilkin because it betrayed her.

56. Prayer room, distinctive to The Leperchrist

57. Prayer room, distinctive to The Leperchrist

58. 2 dead Carrion Gunners

59. 2 dead Carrion Gunners--one muttering "The Hollowback Ylfen, the Hollowback Ylfen" shattered manacles on the floor.

60. 2 Carrion Gunners guarding the entrance to room 61

61. Fingerbone of St. Istvan being examined by 3 Carrion Gunners

Room is full of Corroded Grenadoes

62. Giant Collecting Bummel-Clock. A pile of its eggs obscure the door to the north. Two ogham-scribed bones containing Schemata of the Undercroft of Niphraates are hidden under the pile.

63. Full of Lanthorn-oil flasks collected by a giant Collecting Bummel-Clock

64. Well, rusty water.

Dead adventurers. Burned spellbook. Partially accurate formula for Obscure Consultation with ye Marrow-Sprite remains. Failed int check indicates Curse of the Renegade Marrow

65. Door to north opens easily, door to east seems old and stuck.

66. Grunzel-gullet room. Crakie Bugge throws organic waste into this room.. The Grunzel-gullet covers the entire room, including the wall, obscuring the locked, unpickable secret door there.

67. Abecedarian Hoopoe. It knows all about the Spectral Scrivener Royale, which is why the Spectral Scrivener Royale has had Crakie Bugge wall it up in a secret chamber. The Spectral Scrivener keeps it alive because of resemblance to the plague-taken Sister-bride

68. Murals, int check to read, glyphs and pictograms seem to refer to walrus ivory and fulgurous emanations

69. Empty or stairs to surface/next level

70. Quiet room.

71. Prison Contains d10+10 victims of Naberius The Proctor. A variety of sentient species

are represented as well as a few celebrated & high-level missing persons.

72. Door is large, impressive and locked. Picking is at half chance.

73. Throne room of Regent of the Bramstane Interregnum. Long dead Bramstane Interregnum

74. Star metal globules guarded by Sulphurous Choke-pit

75. Zaphiriel the Jabbering Arse-Clowne It has been trapped here by a mystic seal on the secret door by the Spectral Scrivener Royale and seeks revenge.

76. Clearly a room once built by the Bramstane Interregnum culture.

77. Contains various instruments of Hepatic Auguries

78. Disused Hepatic Auguries room. Naberius the Proctor was having experiments conducted until capture of Memling the Hydromancer made them unnecessary.

Hollowback Ylfen assassin seeking Memling the Hydromancer

79. Disused Hepatic Auguries room d4 Stingrats

80. Disused Hepatic Auguries room Blood, remains of Stingrats

81. d8 Stingrats

82. Statue of The Leperchrist

83. d10 Carrion Gunners plus Toad-Skald Sentry

84. The Ark Raven - Naberius The Proctor, d4 Glisterfraggen - Serjeants of Soot Overturning cauldron of quicklime in ceiling, experimenting with fulgurous emanations. Huge dead two-headed pigeon conceals secret door.

85. Cage containing mechanical model of universe, rotating planets into proper position for the day opens secret door in room 31, rotating them onto Naberius the Proctor 's birthday opens secret door in room 32

86. Pool of Angel Sputum

87. Memling the Hydromancer just escaped, hiding from the assassin in room 78.

-missing front horse legs from mosaic in room 3

88. Walls carved with scenes dedicated to The Leperchrist depicting members of the following professions: a Carnifex, a Clysterer & a Goliard--all kneeling

Careful inspection reveals that carving is not wholly original and the figures have been repurposed. There is a monster with a huge mouth where the secret door to 73-76 is.


I think there is an extent to which I have achieved the visceral, ribald, carnivalesque Northern Renaissance atmosphere I am interested in, but there is definitely work to be done. I'm very interested in creating and utilising tools for the creation of dungeons, or rather the skeletons thereof to be fleshed out with the addition of monsters, items, traps etc.

This thread which uses this generator achieves the fantasy fucking Vietnam tone I am most interested in as an emergent property of very simple basic elements. Onto this kind of framework more evocative details can be added.

Incidentally, Aliens has just come on TV. That film is a meatgrinder tonally very similar to some of the play reports in that thread.


  1. I found your blog about 8 months ago and have kept it in my favourites despite the fact that the latest post was at that point over a year old. You've got some fantastic stuff on here and when I saw your name start popping up on False Machine posts I oh so hoped you'd start posting again.
    Leperchrist and Rampant Faunlings are a good way to return.

  2. Welcome back! Let the unbridled awesomeness commence!

  3. Nice to see you posting again! You stopped blogging before I even started, but I really enjoyed reading the old posts when I first found Middenmurk. I really dig the vibe.

  4. You, sir, deserve to be as widely known as the luminaries you refer to above.