Friday, July 31, 2015


GP Adventures has just launched a kickstarter for their Marmoreal Tomb Starter Campaign. It is an expansion of the Marmoreal Tomb Dungeon they introduced in Gygax Magazine Issue 3. I spoke with Benoist Poire (who is the P in GP Adventures) about the kickstarter campaign and the module. I should mention for full disclosure that I am friends with Benoist and have worked with him on projects in the past.

BRENDAN DAVIS: You are in the middle of a kickstarter for The Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter; what can people expect to see when it is released? You call it a module but also a campaign starter, can you explain the concept a bit?

BENOIST POIRE: They can expect to see a complete kit to run a campaign in the lands of the Duinnsmere or their own setting, published or homebrew, similar in scope or greater than such classics as T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, and based on the design ethics and values of the early Advanced game, circa the Giants series and the like. An open setting of adventure where modules are locales you can plug into your campaign however you want, rather than scripts or story lines you have to plug wholesale to make them work. We're bringing back the "modular" in "module", in fact.

BD: What system does the module use?

BP: We wanted to both deliver the Gygaxian castle and campaign nobody's ever gotten entirely in full, in the original format in which it was supposed to be played, and make the material amenable to people using various editions and variants of the game, even shifting to different genres and role-playing games, including your own Sertorius RPG. The way we do that is by presenting the material as original and authentic as we can get it, using 1st edition compatible rules, and we include guidelines and advice on top of that for GMs using different editions, variants, games and genres. The stretch goals of the campaign get more precise from there, including complete detailed guidelines for use with Sci-Fi and Science Fantasy settings, or with 5th edition, Pathfinder conversions and whatnot.

BD: Why did you decide to launch it as a kickstarter? Did you have any concerns going in?

BP: We had no idea the type of response we were going to get. It was paramount to remain true to our vision and lay it all out for people to see, including the design goals, the maps, the type of artwork we are shooting for and the like. The response has been nothing short of amazing so far! And we are just a few hours in into the campaign. We decided to launch it as a Kickstarter because we could then produce exactly what would fit the demand, and not over- or under-shoot it. We are ambitious with the project, and would like to make it stellar. But you can't do that without the funds to do it and that means that people want it. As far as we can see, there's a thirst for our kind of non-linear, expert crafted approach to adventure settings. I think gamers are tired of the "love letters" and BS. They want gaming that's fun and that delivers, whatever their game of choice, and that's great. 
The Marmoreal Tomb
Main Module

BD: How would you describe your partnership with Ernie?

BP: Ernie is not only my partner, he's my friend. We have a relationship that's unlike any I've had in my life really. We're working great together, we have similar tastes and senses of humor, and yet we're very different, which makes us combine our imaginations and efforts in different ways. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That kind of synergy. Ernie's an awesome, deep guy. I'm proud to be both his friend and partner in this adventure. 

BD: The first level of the Marmoreal Tomb appeared in the third issue Gygax magazine; will there be any alterations to first level with this release?

BP: We've added two encounter areas in some spots where we thought they might make sense, but the main drive was to continue on what was already done, to push on and add to the experience, rather than redesign the whole from the ground up. So if you have the Marmoreal Tomb's first level from Gygax Magazine, rest assure: the Campaign Starter plugs right into it with no issues. Your Gygax Mag isn't suddenly obsolete. 
The Marmoreal Tomb
Wilderness Expansion

BD: You describe The Marmoreal Tomb as reflecting the "Lake Geneva Gygaxian play style”, I think most people have an idea of what you mean by this but could explain what that means in terms of gameplay (both on the GM-side and the PC-side)?

BP: The Lake Geneva play style means the way Ernie, and Gary Gygax, and Rob Kuntz, and others run the game. Which at its core is an exploration game, where you manage and mitigate the odds via smart play, where you explore the unknown, where the bulk of the experience of the game is not contained within the page of the rules book, which by the way meshes really well not only with the Original and Advanced versions of the D&D game, but with the 5th edition as well. 

BD: This approach seems to have resonated strongly with you personally. Why is it significant to you?

The Marmoreal Tomb
Underworld Expansion
BP: I think it's the core of what attracts me, as far as role-playing is concerned. The ability to say "I want to do this", and not be confronted with a plot or a storyline that tells you you can't to see the GM then trying desperately to keep the game together. That kind of thing just doesn't happen in a Lake Geneva exploration game, because there is the setting, the dungeon or hex map with a key attached to it, right, and no further expectations as to the way the game's going to go. That's what excites me most both as a player and GM. Especially the latter. When players come up with stuff I had not foreseen in a million years. That's when the game gets really interesting. The Marmoreal Tomb explains what the adventure sites are, what they are made of, how inhabitants relate to one another, and the GM takes it from there. If you want to plug it into a plot line of your own making or a published campaign you've been running for a while you can, because there's no conflicting expectation in our products in that regard at least.

BD: Can you describe the setting and its scope?

BP: The Marmoreal Tomb is located in an area called the Lower Midlands, which have been left to humanoid populations with no significant human presence for a while. It's not too far from the village included with the Wilderness expansion, Crom Caemloch, a village which can also serve as the home base of the PCs going into the Hobby Shop Dungeon proper. The Viscountcy of Poy has its civilized areas, but these are few and far between. There are multiple types of human ethnicities and cultures mixed into that sandbox, different factions, overt and secret, vying for control in the area, and a sort of diversity that lends choices and options to the PCs that way. The feel is somewhat medieval, kind of like Greyhawk actually, very reminiscent of it and yet not quite the same, inspired on the fiction of people like Poul Anderson, on the Matter of France (Charlemagne) and the Matter of Britain (Arthur), very loosely so. The Swords & Sorcery vibe comes from Howard and Leiber. We tried to emphasize those sources that were left aside from modern D&D and meant something to us, both for Ernest from his original campaign and for me creatively speaking. It all blended into a big soup that is the Duinnsmere, of which the hex map of the Marmoreal Tomb Wilderness Expansion pack is but a starting area.

BD: What is next for GP Adventures LLC?

BP: First we fulfill the Kickstarter. We won't start a second kickstarter until we fulfill the first one. Then we attack the publication of the Hobby Shop Dungeon proper. Then the Gazetteer of the Duinnsmere and the Shades of the Eurth (think multiple material planes in which the geographic area of the lake of the Duinnsmere blends and links them all). Then the Hobby Shop Dungeon part 2. Then more modules like the Marmoreal Tomb. We have a special project to announce after this first kickstarter if it is successful, but it depends a lot on its overall success. We shall see!


Thursday, July 30, 2015


Here is a Dio-inspired Inkstone for my Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign. This will not be appearing in the rulebook as we have have already exceeded word count. This could also be used in any campaign or system with minimal changes. 

This is an inkstone made from a rock recovered after a “rain of stones” that occurred when the Demon Emperor was defeated. It is very powerful and presently protected in Infinite Sky realm by 5th Brother. The Enlightened Goddess issued an edict forbidding it from entering the human realm.

It looks like a normal inkstone save that on close inspection one can see sparkling flecks on the surface. If one grinds ink into the stone and mixes it with water, this produces a luminous fluid that lights up an entire room. The Starlit  Ink can be used to write text that illuminates the page so the content can be read easily in the dark.

The Inkstone’s most spectacular ability is it can render anything written with the Starlit  Ink true. To do so merely requires a TN 7 Talent (Calligraphy) Roll. On a failure it still works but the result is an uncharitable and literal interpretation of the words that rarely favors the writer. On a success, the text comes true but only in the most general way (ignoring very specific aspects of the phrasing) and it must rely on existing conditions and personalities to reach its conclusion. So if a person writes “The empire falls”, this will set into motion threats already positioned to defeat the emperor. On a Total Success, the specifics of the text all come true.

Even if the Talent (Calligraphy) roll is successful, the wording of the text is very important. It won’t warp what is written into something unless but it follows the letter of the words exactly.

Because the effects of the Inkstone rely on existing conditions, it can take time for them to unfold. Grand events come true in 1d10 months, while smaller scale events come true in 1d10 days.


The Riders of Fortune are three identical Sertori sisters who believe themselves sent by the gods to unleash a second Great Anguish and usher in the new age. The sisters roam the land on horseback issuing divine vengeance against all who provoke they wrath (particularly other Sertori). Their true identities have long been lost to the madness that's embraced them, now they are named after the three instruments of the Anguish: Sister Death, Sister Fire and Sister Blood. 

The lives of the Riders of Fortune were filled with coincidences too striking to ignore. The chances of three siblings sharing Sertori powers are small, this was the first sign they were destined for greatness. Also by coincidence they each came upon a horse imbued with Sertori-like magic (Monstras) which they now ride. Sister Blood mounts a green scaled steed named Chaos. Sister Death rides a horse with billowing breath named Ash. Sister Fire rides a red Aetic steed named Vengeance. They take such events as signs from the gods that the time is at hand for civilization to collapse once again. 

The Three Sisters all have mental and physical afflictions from their magic. Their mental afflictions are a shared Explosive Rage triggered by anything that reminds them of Dosikan's crimes against the gods. Their physical afflictions simply alter their appearances slightly. Sister Blood has red skin with the texture of stone (this also enhances her Hardiness). Sister Fire has bright orange hued eyes that illuminate the darkness. Sister Death has white hair and eyes that are completely black. 

They have amassed something of a following as well. Followers and Disciples of the Three Sisters do not travel with them, as they forbid this, but spread news of the coming Anguish.  Occasionally they seek out one of their Disciples to issue proclamations. 

Each Sister specializes in a particular kind of mayhem. They like to attack settlements but have learned to exercise caution. Usually Sister Death Strikes First with Plague of Fear, followed by Avalanche of Flame from Sister Fire. Sister Blood protected the group. If Sertori are present, these are usually handled by Sister Fire with Obliterate Magic and Sister Blood (who can use Costly Bargain if she must). 

The sisters are mostly identical. Their spells and Emotions are different but they also have minor variations in Defenses and skills (these are noted with parenthesis)


Hardiness 6 or 8 with scale (Sisters Fire and Death);  8 or 10 with Scale (Sister Blood)
Stealth 5 or 4 with Scale
Evade 4
Parry 5
Wits 6
Resolve 10

Wrestling: 3d10 
Light Melee: 2d10 
Heavy Melee: 2d10
Large Ranged: 2d10
Speed: 2d10 
Muscle: 2d10 
Swim: 2d10
Persuade: 2d10 
Deception: 3d10 
Command: 3d10
Ritual: 3d10
Talent (Singing): 3d10 (Sister Death only)
Divination: 2d10
Languages (Khubsi): 3d10
Languages (Singh): 3d10
Creatures (Sertori): 2d10
History (Nong Sai): 3d10
Survival (Wilderness, Mountain and Desert): 3d10

Equipment: Long Swords, Scale Armor

Wounds 5
Divinity 4

Death's Spells/Thauma (Deimos 2, Penthos 2): Song go Lament, Drowning Sorrows, Seeping Wound, Cacophony, Plague of Fear, Grasp from Beyond, ;Spark of Life (Thauma)

Fire's Spells/Thauma (Misos 3, Penthos 1): Avalanche of Flame, Bend Gravity, Blades of Wrath, Immolation, Obliterate Magic, Vow, Iron Refuge; Rain of Fire (Thauma)

Blood's Spells/Thauma (Agape 2, Deimos 2): Arch of Protection, Captivation, Heal, Servitor, Summon, Costly Bargain, Flight, Majesty (Thauma)


Hardiness 4 or 5 (Vengeance)
Stealth 4
Evade 6
Parry 4
Wits 4
Resolve 8
Bite 1d10 (Damage 0d10, Vengeance 1d10)
Kick 2d10 (Damage 3d10)
Speed 5d10 (80 feet), Vengeance 6d10 (90 feet)
Fly: 3d10 (60 feet), only Chaos has this ability
Command: 2d10
Muscle 3d10
Detect 3d10
Wounds 5 (Ash and Chaos), 6 (Vengeance

Ash: Ash can release a cloud of choking mist that expands to covers an area of about 200 feet. The mist is completely under Ash's control and usually he centers it on the three sisters. It does not affect any of the three sisters or their steeds but anyone else is unable to breath while inside the mist and must make Endurance Rolls each round to avoid passing out and dying (See SUFFOCATION RULES). The TN for this roll is TN 1 + 4 for each round (beginning at TN 1 the first round). 

Vengeance: Vengeance can causes the blood of his foes to boil with a simple stare. He must make a Command Roll against the Resolve of a single target. On a success the Target immediately feels hot and begins to perspire. For each round that this effect is maintained, the target takes a cumulative 1d10 points of fire damage.  

Chaos: Chaos is able to fly. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The oddly placed 'entrance' to Salem Willows
As part of my ongoing Everyone's at Gen Con so why bother series, where I relax the tone and content of the Blog, I am going to talk about going to Salem Willows and Derby Street for a relaxing day. 

My wife, Anoma, got back from Thailand yesterday so we decided to go to Salem today before she has to return to work. Salem is pretty close to where I live (one town over) and it has a lot of nice places to go. It is a bit like a smaller, cozier Boston with a lot more New Age stores. It is also a bit of tourist trap because of the whole witch trials thing. Interesting fact: the neighboring town of Danvers is actually Salem Village where the craze started (present-day Salem was Salem Town where the trials were conducted). Danvers changed the name from Salem Village because they didn't like the bad publicity. Salem embraced it, so you can find all sorts of witch house and haunted tours throughout the city.  For locals we mainly go to Salem willows or hang out in the town town. 

The gazebo uses stealth to ambush unsuspecting
Salem Willows is an old fashioned amusement park by the sea with a classic arcade, food, gazebos, rides and miniature golf. They are also famous for their chop suey sandwiches and popcorn. Neither of us are really into any of these things, so we just walked around for a while and spent time by the beach. Then we headed to Derby Street, another section of the city where there are cafes and shops. 

There are a ton of new age stores in salem. You really can't go forty feet without bumping into a fortune teller or magic shop. Most of them are Wiccan but there seem to be a few different types. This isn't something I know a whole lot about, so I could be incorrect. We walked by some of them but didn't check any out today. 

The best part about walking around Salem is the food. I am not really able to enjoy that these days, but they have all kinds of ice cream places and candy stores. The Ye Olde Pepper Company on Derby Street is a great place to get some salt water taffy or a specialty they call Gibralters (they taste a bit like they sound). 

Yin Yu Tang Exterior
Photo by Fletcher6
There is also the House of Seven Gables, which is near Ye Olde Pepper. We usually like to stop there for the tour, but today we opted to just walk around. Basically you can get a live tour of the house that was purported to be the inspiration for Hawthorne's classic novel (my understanding is he didn't live there, but visited a cousin who did). I am not a big Hawthorne reader, but I like the tour because the house was built in the 17th century (though it has been altered and moved over the years). 

Another interesting spot is the Peabody Essex Museum (which is closer to the downtown). Again we didn't go there today, but one of the main attractions I like there is the Yin Yu Tang house. This is a house built in Huizhou China during the Qing Dynasty that was sold and moved to the museum (where it is complete and furnished). I really enjoy this exhibit. Apparently I have a thing for old houses. It may seem an odd choice for Salem, but the museum has long had a nautical and Asian focus (due to Salem's prior role as a great port). 
The Bunghole

My wife loves the bubble tea at Jaho, so we headed there and then went to an antique store. Even though I studied history and despite my love of old houses, I never really understood antiques. Anoma seems enjoys them though so we spent some time there. I spent most of my time contemplating buying an vinyl record of Cat Scratch Fever. The problem was I am not into vinyl and I don't have a record player. The record itself was only like 12 bucks, but the record player (which I wasn't sure even worked) was 124 dollars. I don't know what possessed me to consider the purchase. I'm not even a huge Ted Nugent fan. I think it was because I was so uninterested in everything else. Wisely I didn't give into the impulse and we left empty-handed (which I think the best possible outcome when antiquing). 

Outside the antique store is a strip of shop, restaurants and cafes by the water. So we walked around there for a bit before heading home. But not before I got this The Bunghole liquors sign. A bunghole is the whole in a cask that liquor pours from, but obviously it has other connotations. 


This is a new series on the Bedrock Blog where I will be posting campaign notes from my binder. These are all posted as they appear, raw. So they will get messy at times. The purpose is just to show I run some of our games. Keep in mind that while this appears here as one continues entry, these are taken from different sections of my binder that are relevant to the adventure or events in question. I did occasionally include parenthetical notes explaining terms that make no sense without context for the blog. 

This adventure came on the heels of the party killing Darios Tyrna with the Pestilent Smile of Tiresias. This causes the person to die from a virulent plaque of joy. They used it to lure him into a tar pit where they believed he died. The effect of the spell made Darios see their actions in the best possible light, so he didn't carry a grudge when he came to. However Darios, being a Minotaur, was immune to this sort of death and effectively became a carrier.  When he returned to his castle, the plague spread into the village.

The update in my notes is something I added as the campaign progressed (because the players had not yet arrived). 

Enemy Present: Goresios Maorides

Enemy Goals: Spread rumors tying Dreckergael to the Gru invasion

Darios Tyrna contacts the party, letting them know he is alive, has no ill will, is dealing with plague in Glaver and would like to see their translation of the pillar (which he assumes they have). The players may wish to put an end to the plague or help Darios Tyrna cure himself of his condition. The only way to do it is bring him to a god or to The Lady of Ramos.

Darios died from the Pestilent Smile spell and the Tar Pit, but his body regenerated because he is a minotaur and he found himself in the woods wandering aimlessly the next day. He returned to Tyrna Hauch and encountered a rebellion led by Eparkos Gregorian. This he managed to put down and he imprisoned Gregorian in his tower. He believes Gregorian is mad (he accused him of turning into a beast at night). One week after his return his lover, Gurhella, died of a strange smiling disease. This soon spread to others. Darios is a carrior of the plague and doesn’t know it. So far 15 people have died and it threatens to wipe out the village if nothing is done.

UPDATE: The death toll has risen to 35. Word has spread south and a Jurista will arrive in two days.

JURISTA NUTESH (HALFLING): Nutesh is a Halfling from the Qalah family, a distant cousin of the Queen. He is loyal to Gesara and to the King. His primary aim when he arrives is to stop the plague as a threat to the king and find the Sertori responsible. He has 12 Dwarven Spearmen and 3 Ogres with him.

Defenses: Hardiness 7*, Stealth 3, Evade 5, Parry 7*, Wits 6, Resolve 8
Key Skills: Heavy Melee: 2d10, Light Melee 2d10, Medium Melee 2d10, Large Ranged 2d10, Muscle 2d10, Survival (Wilderness) 3d10, Khubsi 3d10, Ronian 2d10, Gruskel (Varran) 2d10, Singh 1d10

Wounds: 2
Equipent: Heavy Spear (4d10 or 2d10), Scale Armor, Small Shield, Helmet, Long Sword 4d10)

Defenses: Hardiness 8*, Stealth 4, Evade 5**, Parry 8**, Wits 6, Resolve 8
Skills: Heavy Melee 2d10 or 1d10 (Dab Yai), Medium Melee 2d10, Wrestling 2d10, Muscle 4d10, Speed 1d10,  Detect 3d10
Damage: 7d10 (Dab Yai), 5d10 (club/mace)
Resist: 2d10
Wounds: 6
*Breast Plate, Helmet, Medium Shield and Arm Guard

The Gesarians are followers of Gesara. They are part of the Church of Ramos, respected by many within it, but viewed as extreme by some adherents. They have many monasteries dedicated to their cause and their leader, Gesara, has the ear of the king. They are sometimes called the Gesarian Order and the king recently created new a new office filled by 18 men called Juristas, a position that grants them the exclusive power to try suspected Sertori and executed confirmed Sertori.  In pursuit of this mission, Juristas each have 12 spearmen and the right to detain anyone they wish provided it relates to Sertori. All Archons must by law not interfere with or resist the Juristas. Trials can occur without the knowledge of Sertori, and require 2 eye witness accounts and 1 article of physical evidence. They also require if possible testimony for or against by two people who know the suspect well. The Juristas are led by a Probo. These titles are Latari because the King felt that gave them greater credibility.


To my dear allies and friends, the company of the illustrious Lord Gaius Eliades; Darios Tyrna Maorides, lord of Glaver and Tyrna Hauch, sends peace and greetings, glory and honor in the light of Ramos.

I am finally compelled to write to you, my good and worthy friends, now that the Lord of Light has carried me to safety and the warmth of my hearth. Much has happened since we last met, but I must first humbly ask your forgiveness for my inexplicable bout of madness that surely endangered not only our efforts to recover the pillar but also our very lives. Who knows what foul beast my outcries brought from the heart of the forest. Last I remember you were desperately trying to save a raving and wild Dario Tyrna from the bubbling tar. After that it grows hazy. When I awoke, all was dark. In a haze I found bodies, ripped and savaged. For a time I feared these were your remains, but I heard word of your success from a contact in Tongtel and am joyous that you at last found the pillar and are unharmed. Excellent news! My esteem for you grows boundless by the day.

I understand the pillar was sold to the Order of Justinian (a fine organization, they will do well with it) but I trust my friends were wise enough to copy the text. Regardless you should come see me when time permits, but I beg do so urgently as plague has befallen Glaver and I need help curing them before Gesara sends her Juristas to bring harm upon my people.

Here I must be blunt, and I trust you will burn this letter after reading to purge any evidence against us. I am aware of your gifts dear friends. News of your achievements brings rumor of Sertori. But fear not. I too am Sertori. I know well the dangers you face and fear that you understand the dangers I face should news of this plague reach the capital. No doubt Gesara will send her Jusristas and they will snoop, and eventually they will discover evidence that I am Sertori. So I must eliminate this confounding illness. 

I suspect the plague is a kind of madness, as the victims descend into a state of crippling mirth that is lethal in most cases (we have had a few recoveries). So far 15 have died. In a village of one hundred and eight that is substantial. And I think I know a possible source.

When I first arrived in Tyrna Hauch, I was met by rebellion. My trusted Eparkos and friend, Gregorian, led his men against me. He uttered non-sense and accused me of things that still boggle my mind. But he is a good man and I care for his well being. Clearly madness befell him. So I’ve placed him in custody and kept him well fed until we can find a cure for his condition.

I believe there is a link between his madness and the plague afflicting Glaver. Who knows what evils the forests have unleashed this time. I certainly could use your keen minds finding a solution to this puzzle.

Also I hear Gaius Eliades’ Uncle and our esteemed Lord of War is besieged by a foul army of hill tribes. Darios Tyrna is a great admirer of Hamil alu-BoraKar-Harba. My soldiers are at your disposal. My men are few, but they are brave and I am loyal. Together we can slaughter the invaders and bring Hamil to safety.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I recommended people watch Come Drink With Me on Netflix earlier, so I decided to watch it again to see how good the image quality is (my copy at home is slightly different). It looked fine to me and was a pleasure to see for the umpteenth time, but I did notice that they didn't sub Drunken Cat's songs in the inn. I realized that may leave some folks confused. The lyrics are actually pretty important to the plot. 

The songs are essentially cryptic messages to Golden Swallow, revealing information about the bandits and their headquarters. Perhaps it is easy enough for people to figure out from context but I thought it would be helpful to clarify this. 

I went and transcribed the lyrics from my version of the movie. These are exactly as they appear in the subtitles (unless autocorrect has decided to mess with me again). The first song is the one he sings before Golden Swallow comes down stairs, the second is the one he sings after she pays him. 

Green bamboo pole
Thin and long
Living the world from South to North
Standing a severe rainstorm and burning under the sun
Going to beg door to door
Meet the world
Looking through the ways of the world
The fickleness of human relationships 
High post and high salary are not wanted at all
The achievement, wealth, and honor are up to you
All one’s life is only for
Miles away long
Regardless, the treasure or broomcorn
Forget them all if I have a drink
Whatever heartbroken things in the world
Gourd stands alone
Happy drunk lightly

On the high mountain
There is an evil gang
They are the mobsters 
Grab under the sky 
And hide it underneath
Do not want gold, do not want silver
Just want the crown to be returned to the folks
And the capital of governor gives up the wealth
Swallow flies singly 
To the hill height

One point and one across long
One is cast aside to Nanyang
One rock is to one rock
The sun is to the moon

*This is also the verse Golden Swallow repeats in her inn room