Patreon Supported 5-minute Adventures - The Coming of the Night Train

A little early because the month is nearly done. Below you'll find the Basic Modern adventure "The Coming of the Night Train" made for my WIP Basic Modern source book for Swords & Wizardry. Most, if not all the rules can be found on the blog just do a search for "Basic Modern". Patreon holders, your pdfs have all the rules in it and your monthly anthology will have the rules and the classes.

Enjoy and as always feedback is greatly welcome.

The Coming of the Night Train

Adventure Set-Up

The Alby train station, which has laid vacate since the R&L Railway declared bankruptcy in the late 1940s, has recently entered into the local news and social media spheres as several bodies have been found on the tracks leading to the station. While investigation by local police have determined that the bodies had been moved to the tracks from elsewhere, a few people in town aren't so sure.
Chief among the dissenters to the official investigation is Jacob Greely, the uncle to one of the murder victims who believes that the station must be central to the murders. Unable to find local help and afraid to investigate on his own he hires outside help; the adventurers.

In truth the station is a focal point of magical energies and was the site of an occult experiment nearly a century ago. Since then the train station has collected spirits, ghost and other forms of undead within its walls and has slowly feed on the necrotic power of these otherworldly beings. For at least twenty years the station has been alive … in a sense, and has lured hobos, transients and others who would not be missed to it for reasons dark and yet strangely simple. The Station wishes to become a focal point again … and the coming of the Night Train will make that happen.

The living servant of the Station, a former hobo who now calls himself the Conductor murdered the young men and women who have been found and tied their souls to the rails of that lead to and from Alby station. With the souls of the innocent bound to the station it can now summon the Night Train to it … and if that happens the whole of the area will be warped over time for the Night Train is the Devil's train a form of mobile hell in the modern world.

Adventure Overview

The Coming of the Night Train takes place over three acts. The adventurers mission focuses on investigating the Alby Train Station and discovering by what means it was used in the murder of the victims found nearby. The adventure is planned for only one session, however, as with everything in life human interaction, chance and good times may extend it beyond that time limit or cut it short.

Act One, opens with the players meeting Jacob Greely at a roadside diner outside the town of Alby. Players may quickly figure out that Greely has personal reason for why he thinks the train station is at the center of the murders. Investigation, either through questioning or researching old town newspapers will reveal that Greely was arrested and charged with his girlfriend's murder nearly twenty years before. The players will also be confronted by local police and an FBI investigator who attempt to “scare them off” with threats of impeding an investigation and tampering with a crime scene.

Act Two finds the players at the Alby train station and meeting, very briefly, the Conductor who comes off as a Historical Site Worker who works at the train station while the local government attempts to remake it into a tourist attraction. While in and around the train station the players experience several minor and major hauntings, ending with an attack by Conductor and his death.

Act Three is a race against time as the players are forced to discover how to free the trapped souls before the Night Train breaks into reality while the station does everything it can to stop them from this task and in the process showing just how much of the local landscape it controls. The players also once again come up against Agent Crane who attempts to arrest them but who can possibly be convinced to aid them.

Important NPCs

While it is possible for the players to interact with a number of other characters throughout the adventure (it is strongly suggested the GM have fun with this) the following named NPCs are part of the main story of the game.

Jacob Greely – Uncle to one of the murdered people, Jacob is the employer of the players in this adventure. He is a pouchy, balding man in his mid-thirties, who smells of stale beer and has a slightly wild look in his eyes. Twenty years ago he and his girlfriend went to the Station after a football game to get drunk and make love, she died and he ended up in an Asylum for five years due to his utter believe that the shadows killed her.

Agent Crane – An FBI agent from the Harrisburg branch office, Crane is obsessed with solving the case in hopes that it will get her an appointment to the main branch. Crane is young and athletic and typically very rational. She is afraid that if a third party solves the case she will lose out on her promotion and be stuck at the Field office for the rest of her life.

ACT 1 – A Dark History

Jacob's letter to the adventurers asked them to meet him at an old worn dinner on the outskirts of Alby. On the night the players arrive the ground is wet from a recent storm and the smell of oil and fresh rain mix in the autumn breeze. The parking lot is empty save for a broken looking old pick-up and a glowing reflection of the “Rich's” on the rain-soaked asphalt of the parking lot. The diner itself is a small tin pill-shaped building, the kind that was common in the 1950s. The Red trim is faded and chipping and the metal is tarnished and showing signs of rust. The windows – the ones that have not been replaced by plywood – are fogged from decades of grease and cigarette smoke.

A wisdom-based check with a Success Rating (SR) of 12 will reveal a car partially hidden behind a nearby sign that proclaims “Free Coffee with every Order!”. A Street-Thug or Street-Wizard will recognize this car as an unmarked police vehicle if they notice it or it is pointed out to them.

The police car is occupied by Agent Crane and a local police officer who is aiding Crane with murder case. If approached, Crane will attempt to use her authority and badge to intimidate the players, but will not inform them as to the reason for her presence. In truth she is there to observe the meeting between Jacob and the players. Her hope is to convince the players (through either reason or strong-arm tactics) to not take the case.

The inside of the diner is not much better than its exterior. The stench of stale cigarette smoke and ancient coffee wafts through the air in a pungent miasma, mixing with the smells of hamburgers and eggs. The narrow diner is lined with booths that look as if they're rarely cleaned and are covered in graffiti spanning at least two generation. From Somewhere unseen “Hey Jude” plays.

Jacob Greely is sitting near the back of the diner, his back to the wall, his eyes darting wildly around. When he notices the players Jacob will make them over. Despite his jumpy manner Jacob proves to be rather friendly and open with the players. While talking with Jacob the players can discover the following through interaction and roleplay:

  • Jacob is the guardian of Samantha Greely, his brother's daughter. She went missing three months ago and was the last of the victims found.
  • Jacob started to care for his niece after his brother and sister-in-law went missing ten years prior.
  • Jacob is a suspect in the murders but has not yet been formally arrested. This is due to the death of his girlfriend, Kim, twenty years ago.
  • Jacob believes the station is a portal to hell.
  • A total of 6 bodies where found on the tracks, 3 (all males) about a mile north of the station and 3 (all female) about a mile south of the station.
  • The sites were the bodies were found have been taped off by local police and have a patrol attached to them. However, the abandoned train station has been left alone.

The last thing Greely does before leaving the diner is to press a small locket into one of the players' hands. If questioned he'll simply state “I was holding it when I came to, if she had it then maybe ...” Greely. When the players leave they find that their vehicle has been towed and Agent Crane and two police officers are waiting where the vehicle had been parked. Again, Crane attempts to dissuade the players from taking the case, threatening to arrest them if they get in the way of her investigation.

If the players decide to ask questions around town or of the staff inside the diner they won't find much as the town folk aren't very trusting to strangers and are already spooked due to the presence of the FBI and the murders.

  • There's talk of turning the station into a museum like the folks in the Electric City did to bring in tourism. (False)
  • Greely was the star quarterback for the high school football team before he went crazy. (True)
  • Every so often a train whistle, like the ones from the old steam trains, can be heard in the distance. (True)
  • Those kids weren’t actually murdered, its all a hoax by the Sheriff’s department to get Alby attention. (False)
  • Strange lights can be seen at the end of the old train tunnels to the north of the old station. (True)
  • There's an old hobo that leaves in an abandoned boxcar near the tracks who talks to God … and gets replied to. (False)

ACT 2 – Last Stop

The forest of the Allegheny foot hills have long since swallowed up the tracks and train station that once serviced as a major hub for the people of the Alby area. Oak and maple trees fight for precious soil and the cool breeze threatens of another cold rain. The station itself is only fifty yards into the young forest, its old and weathered stone chipping and discolored to a faint moldy yellow. Besides the breeze rustling the autumn leaves there are no sounds that would normally be associated with a forest.

Once the players step foot in the station they notice that despite its age and lack of upkeep it appears very well persevered. No animals have made their dens here, the wood floors are free of all but a few fresh leaves, there is still electricity, and the windows and doors remain intact. While in the Station a number of strange things can possibly occur.

  • No door while remain open for more than six rounds. Even doors that are wedged open will close.
  • Lights, whether electrical or flame, while either burn too brightly or go completely out in six rounds.
  • Every so often a previously closed window will open or an open window will close (hard).
  • The old clock in the Waiting area will chime midnight every twelve rounds, the chimes will sound like they belong to a much larger clock than the small one in the Waiting Area.
  • Any player left alone for more than three rounds in General Waiting will blink and find themselves pulled through time to the 1940s as a unit of soldiers readies to get on a training. To all other players this player is standing utterly still as if in a trance.
  • Any failed SR checks will result in the player seeing shadowy figures in the forest around the old station.
  • Temperatures inside the station fluctuate greatly between extremely cold and extremely hot. The only room that does not seem subjected to this is General Waiting.
  • The distance from one side of General Waiting to the other changes every time the players enter it. From wither Waiting or the Office areas.
  • The toilets in either the Men's or the Lady's Toilet overflow with blood only to quickly disappear.
  • A scream can be heard from the adjoining area and black blood will seep from under the door. When investigated nothing is amiss.
  • A Figure, typically a young girl stands just at the edge of a single player's vision. When that player turns to look a cold wind comes from nowhere to wash over him or her.

While it is the Game Master's realm to decide such things it is recommended that must of these situations only occur once or twice. However, the doors and station clock are recommended to be reoccurring.

Area 1 – General Waiting

Pristine hardwood floors lay bare of any scratch or marking. The smell of pine wafts through the area, barely covering the smell of burning coal and engine grease. Benches line the walls, waiting eagerly for travelers to sit and rest. Four pillars of carved wood hold up the arched roof, each describing two of the levels of Dante's hell.

Besides the random phenomena listed above the reliefs switch pillars on every visit to the General Waiting area. If the players have Greely's locket, a faded chalk outline of a woman's body will appear on the floor after the third time the players enter the area.

Area 2 – Lady's Toilet

The small room is immaculately white, the tiles reaching from floor to ceiling are carved into reliefs of ivy that seem to constantly move and pulse like veins in a body. The old-style pull toilet’s string has been replaced by a gilded noose and the smell of flowery perfume is overpowering.

Besides the random phenomena listed above on the first entrance to this area the players most overcome a SR 15 Constitution check or be overcome by the stench of the phantom perfume. After this first encounter the perfume can still be smelled but is no longer dangerous. During every other visit after the first it is possible that the pulsing ivy reliefs will be replaced with giant cockroaches that will attempt to overtake and cover the player. After several rounds everything returns to normal as if the roaches had never been there.

Area 3 – Waiting

Marble floors echo every foot fall. Old electric lights, shaped and designed to mimic gas lanterns line the walls. All the shutters to the windows have been closed tight. This room appears to be empty save the dozens of benches that line the room, turning the area into four corridors leading to two sets of double doors.

On a random bench is a single briefcase of the style popular in the 1920s, every time the players enter this area the briefcase is on a different bench.

If the players have figured out the meaning of the tickets found in the Ticket Counter area after the chalk outline appears they may attempt to open the briefcase. However, this will illicit the first aggressive action by the Station. When the players attempt to open the case a woman's voice will be heard whispering “run” just as the Waiting area is filled with deranged looking ghosts dressed in style ranging over a two-hundred year period. If the players do manage to open the case they will find in it a single brass key.

Enemies – Deranged Dead (12)

Area 4 – Ticket Counter

The ticket counter stands empty of any adornment it once had. The cold, hardwood floors are pristine and slightly reflective like a mirror. The windows overlooking both General Waiting and the Platform are closed, but a soft breeze can still be felt. A single teller window stands open to the Waiting area as if no one ever thought to close the slim glass window that stands latched to the wall beside it.

During the first visit to the Ticket Counter the players will find some money laying on teller window. If any player attempts to pick-up the money a hand from the other side will grab hold of the player and attempt to pull him or her though. If the players look out the teller window they will see nothing but darkness from the Waiting area. If the grabbed player fails an SR 20 Strength Check he or she is pulled through the window (under the bars) and will be dealt 2d6 damage.

After the chalk outline appears in General Waiting the players will discover three tickets laying on the ticket window. The three tickets have no origin or arrival station but list three trains: Train 2 arriving at 1248, Train 4 arriving at 0610, Train 8 arriving at 1756.

The numbers on the ticket, when placed in the correct order (from earliest arriving to latest arriving) are the combination for the briefcase in General Waiting. Once the players take the tickets the room's door will shut and lock. Whatever players are trapped inside will feel the temperature falling quickly to below 0. A SR 15 Constitution Check will allow the trapped characters to survive several rounds, however the temperature will continue to drop during this time and it is imperative to find a way out. Game Masters are asked to be fair and creative with the results.

Area 5 – Men's Toilet

The small restroom is covered in tiles of rustic earth tones and smells, new. The sink in the corner drips slightly and the door to the stall is locked tight.

Besides the random paranormal events listed above any player who stare into the mirror over the sink will see a small boy standing halfway in the doorway to the stall. Should the player turn away from the mirror two hands will shoot out from the mirror and grab hold of the players head. If the player succeeds a SR 15 strength check he or she can break away from the hands and nothing else will occur. However, should the player fail the SR strength check they will be pulled into the mirror and replaced by the young boy from the image who will proceed to attack the players with an overly large butcher's knife; this event happens only once. Once the boy is defeated the missing player will be found in the stall of the Lady's Toilet covered in blood and may suffer from a Major Sanity Event (SR 17).

Enemies – Butcher Boy

Area 6 – Offices A

A large oriental rug covers the hardwood of the floor, several large leather easy chairs are scattered in careful appointment around the room and a large ebony desk dominates the far corner, stacked with paperwork as a small desk lamp burns with hellish light.

The first office area looks to have been preserved with time. The first time the players enter this room they will find a large, well built gentleman with iron colored hair and beard. He is dressed in a business suit reminiscent of the height of the railroad and is busily scrapping away at paperwork.

If noticed the man will address the players with a small bit of surprise but eagerly engage them in conversation. The man will introduce himself with a chuckle as “Conductor” and will explain to the players that he is working with the National Park Service and the City Council of Alby to convert the old station into a museum. While happy for the company he does inform the players that currently the station is closed and that they are trespassing. If asked about the ghosts and other weird phenomena he will dismiss it all as superstition. If Conductor is bother too much by the players he will fly into a fit of anger sweeping things off the desk and become threatening.

After the first encounter with Conductor in this area the Offices A will be abandoned during any other visit and the desk clear of anything.

Area 7 Offices B

Large picture windows look out over the track and platform, dozens of small oak desks form four corridors and an old analog clock rests above the door, forever stopped at 6:06:06. A single die-cast type-writer lay on the floor in the center corridor, a piece of paper sticking out of it. The smell of coffee and cigarette smoke fill the air with a small undertone of floral perfume.

Whenever the players are at the door to this area they will be able to hear the sound of someone typing on a typewriter. A SR 18 Wisdom Check will also reveal the sounds of a woman sobbing. Whenever the players enter this area the piece of paper in the type-writer will have one of eight messages typed on to it.
  • it locked us all away ... away into the iron ... the cold, cold iron …
  • tell him I love him still … tell him he is not to blame … tell him he doesn't have to wait … tell him for me …
  • we didn't know what we did … it was only meant to test an idea … only meant to confirm a suspension … the tracks are the key … the tracks are a rouse … the wood holds the memory of our misdeeds.
  • mommy … mommy I'm scared … teddy fell of the platform … mommy why did you push me … mommy …
  • his ring is still here ... he was going to give it too me … find his ring … tell him I love him … my Jacob … tell him …
  • at first it was only animals … found dead by the tracks … birds, dogs, raccoons … nothing strange … but … but then the “accidents” started … god forgive us … god forgive us we know not what we did …
  • hands of ice and cold … he is as much a victim as … the night train comes … the night train comes … the night train comes … soon it … I … we … will have voice … the NIGHT TRAIN COMES
  • I … love … you … mommy … please … please … the train was coming … mommy … mommy I love you … mommy help me up … mommy help me up … mommy … mommy …

If the players should happen to read any of the messages out loud a scream will echo through the offices as the file cabinets and desk drawers fly open and hundreds of pieces of paper beginning to twist and swirling in the room as if carried by tornado and attack the players.

During any visit if the players open any of the drawers or filing cabinets they will find them bare. However, there is a 2 in 6 chance that one of the drawers will hold a high school ring. A SR 10 Wisdom Check will reveal the name “Jacob Greely” on the inside of the band.

Enemies – Paper Storm (6)

Area 8 – Baggage

A plain stone floor lay bare save the drain in the middle. Rust marks flow from the drain to the walls where hooks lay empty save for several mail bags left empty. The smell of mildew and rot fill the air.

There is a 2 in 6 chance that when the players come to this area they will find six bodies on the hooks (three male and three female, all charred as if burned to death). Each with a ticket locked in a cadaveric grip in their hand. Should the player examine the tickets they will find each is for the Night Train with an arrival time of 6:06:06 PM.

If the players attempt to remove the tickets from the grip the dead will attempt to attack the players, ripping themselves from the hooks.

After the first encounter with the bodies any other visit to this area will show a plain room full of empty luggage and mail bags.

Enemies – Burned Dead

Area 9 – Platform

The long platform extends about fifteen feet out from the train station proper and covers the length of the building. The hard wood is painted in forest green with a narrow line of yellow and then another length of red as the platform nears the tracks to indict where travelers should and should not stand. The branches of large ash trees from the far-side of the tracks hang over the platform obscuring the sky.

The first time the players visit this area they will hear a little girl singing from the tracks below. If any player investigates (and crosses the yellow line) he or she will feel hands on his or back and be forcibly pushed onto the track. This can be avoided by a successful SR 13 Dexterity or Strength Check.

Should the player be pushed onto the tracks the whistle of an oncoming train will be heard. If the player does not succeed an SR 17 Dexterity Check they will be hit by a wall of force that deals 3d6 damage and carries them to the end of the platform.

The Child's Song

While it is not required to actually sing the song the child is singing it could help maintain the atmosphere of the game.

'Come follow, follow, follow, follow me.
Whither shall I follow follow follow,
Whither shall I follow follow thee.
To the Gallows
To the Gallows
To the Gallows, Gallows Tree'

Area 10 – Storage

This small room has a sickly red cast to its light. The sound like the beating of drum comes from all sides, the wall pulsing in time with the beating. A small, filthy cot lay against one way, a rat's nest of rotting coats and blankets resting a top it. Against one wall, hanging on a hook is a Conductor's uniform.

This area can only be accessed after the players receive the brass key from Area 3. Once inside an inspection of the area will find a notebook with hurried, mad writing in an unknown language. A Council Mage with an SR of 18 will be able to tell the writing is antkoin but is unable to read it as the Council has forbidden the language from being learned.

Antikoin is an artificial language created by the followers of the Morning Star during the time of Alexander. The only known complete work in Antikoin was in the Great Library but it vanished when the Library was destroyed. It is rumored that the Council were the ones truly responsible for the fire that destroyed the Library.

Antikoin is typically used by black hat mages and demonologists in their summonings and other black practices.

An SR 15 Wisdom Check will reveal a small crate of black railroad spikes under the cot, each head etched with a blood red pentagram and sides etched with more Antikoin writing. Another SR 15 Wisdom check will reveal that the Conductor's uniform on the wall appears to be made of dyed human flesh.

Once the Storage Area has been explored a return trip to General Waiting will find the players encountering Conductor again. This time, however, the man is visible agitated from the beginning and doesn't at first notice the players as he appears locked in an argument with himself. When he does notice the players or when the players attempt to speak with him read the following:

You … you its fault, its all your fault … you and your bugs … little bugs, little bugs, little bugs. I'm the master's hand, not you … no you wanna cut off the hand (laughs) but where's the hand, I don't know, do you? ANSWER ME!!! No, no little bugs won't answ … of course I'm going to kill them my lord, be patient … er me. (laughs). No, no little bugs you're all to late … the girl can't help you, I locked her away, locked her like all the others … she tried oh she tried but I'm master's hand (laughs) and you can't me off!”

The Conductor will after this rush toward the nearest player at near super human speed and attempt to cut him or her with a small knife he holds in his hand. For the first half of combat the Conductor is near impossible to hurt, only taking half damage from any attack made against him. When he has reached half health, however, read the following.

The crazed man lets out a laugh the strangles in his throat as the chalk outline of the woman begins to glow a brilliant white. “No, nonononononononono … I locked you away little sparrow, I locked you aw ...” A form of a young woman dressed in a cheerleader's uniform rises up from the glowing outline and zips toward Conductor and right through him. The man lets out an anguished cry and falls to one knee before charging again.

After this event Conductor can be hit for full damage and his speed is reduced to that of a normal human. When Conductor has been defeated the Alby station will shake and the wood of the area around Conductor will split apart like the teeth of a predator and swallow him whole. Any player within ten feet of Conductor when this happens must succeed an SR 12 Dexterity Check or be swallowed with Conductor.

After the battle is completed the sound of a train can be heard from the north and the whole station begins to quiver. The cheerleader ghost will appear again, and picking one player at random will zip into him and her causing the following:

Images and faces flash before you, Conductor and others. Blood and gore feel your vision, and you see the conductor mouthing words in an indescribable language while soaking black railroad spikes in blood. The scene changes and you see Conductor hammering in blood red spikes into the railroad tracks still mouthing words in that indescribable language. A voice, a soft whisper fills your head. “Time is short. The Night Train comes and brings hell in its wake. The spikes are the key!”

Note – The possession of the player counts as a Minor Sanity Event SR 12 and the player should roll to preserve their sanity after the possession ends.

After the possession is over the player knows that in order to stop what is about to happen the spikes that were soaked in the blood of the murder victims need to be found and removed from the railroad tracks and soon as the train is coming.

Enemies - Conductor

Act Three – End of the Line

As the possessed player finishes explaining the situation to the other players a blinding light overtakes them from the station's stairwell and a female voice bellows “hands up, don't move!” The light pulls away and Agent Crane is visible moving toward the players her weapon drawn and taking in each of the players. She explains in a matter-of-fact tone that the players are under arrest for trespassing, tampering with a crime scene, and impeding a federal investigation. Agent Crane can be convinced of the player's motives and the Night Train with either a SR 18 Charisma Check or leading her to one of the haunted areas.

Roleplay over SR Check

While all that is needed to convince Agent Crane of the situation is a good SR check it is recommend that the Game Master and players roleplay through the situation and even allow the convincing to take place without the need for a roll if the players do well in their roleplay.

If the players are unable to convince Agent Crane she will attempt to arrest them and lead them back to her vehicle (a local police van big enough to hold up to 8 passengers). IF the players attempt to get away from Crane she will shoot them, causing the need for a successful SR 15 Dexterity check to avoid. If Agent Crane is convinced she should be treated as a 3rd lvl Soldier Hireling for the duration of the adventure and will aid the players in the location of the spikes and destruction of the station.

Thanks to the possession the players should know that there are a total of twelve spikes. Six of these spikes are to the south of the station and six are to the north. It takes an SR 13 Wisdom Check to find the spikes and an SR 15 Strength Check to remove them. While moving up and done the line the players have a chance of encountering the following every one hundred yards on a roll of 15 or better on a d20.

Roll (1d10)
1d6 Deranged Dead
2d6 Zombies
Possessed Tree
Invisible Hounds
Possessed Vines

The players have a total of 30 minutes real-world time to locate and remove all twelve spikes. If this task is not completed in time the night turns a blood red, the sound of an oncoming train bellows in the minds of everyone within a mile of the tracks and then there is a blaze of hellish white light and then nothing more. The train has come and all within a mile of the station died when it broke into reality.

If the players are successful at removing the spikes they will hear an explosion from the direction of Alby Station followed by the light of hungry flame. Returning to the station they find their employer, Jacob Greely, standing nearby (a gas can in his hand) watching the station burn with a solemn face.

The night, however, is not long silent as the crackling of burning wood is replaced with the sounds of snapping and grinding wood. The players watch as part of the station twists and buckles into a vaguely humanoid shape. In it center, lashed to the pulsing Storage Area, is Conductor, he appears partially burnt and black spikes have been hammered though parts of his body.

I will be free! Comes an inhuman voice from the Conductor's mouth. I will have my will!

The station has, at least in part, managed to finally get its wish to be free of its birthplace.

Enemies – Alby Station

After the battle thousands of motes of light rise from Alby Station toward the sky. One lingers and forms into the shape of the cheerleader. If Greely is still alive he will whisper his dead girlfriend's name, she will smile sadly at him and after a nod to the players vanish with the other motes.

Concluding the Adventure

While not happy about having to partially falsify a report Agent Crane agrees to leave out the supernatural aspects of the murder and will call in a forensics team to collect Conductor who she charges with being the murdered.

If the players recovered Greely's ring and give back to him he will break down into quiet tears but state that he finally feels that he can move on and that he knows that Kim is now safe. No matter what he pay the players their $1,500 fee and offer them a ride back to town.

Once back in town the players find their vehicle has been returned to the diner. On the windshield is Agent Crane's business car with a small note of thanks and a cell number written on the back.

Concluding Adventure Experience Points: 700 + creature defeat XP.


Alby Station: HD 6; AC 4[15]; Atk 2 Bash (1d8+2); Move 1; CL/XP: 8/800; SPC Arcane magic half damage.
Butcher Boy: HD 2; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 slashing (1d6+1); Save 15; Move 18; CL/XP 3/60
Conductor: HD 4. AC 5[14]; Atk Slashing (1d6+2), Save12; Move 12l CL/XP 6/480, SPC see game text.
Deranged Dead: HD 2; AC 7[12]; Atk 1d6; Save 15; move 6; CL/XP: 3/60 SPC Receive half damage from mundane weapons and can only be banished for a time equal to 1d6 days, immune to charm and sleep.
Invisible Hound: HD 4; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 bite (1d6); Move 12; Save13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Invisible (SR 14 Wisdom Check to see).
Paper Storm: HD 1d6hp; AC 8[11]; Atk 1 slashing (1d3); Move 0 (Fly 6); Save 18; CL/XP B/10; Special: Immune to sleep, charm, fear and cold
Possessed Tree: HD 3; AC 6[13]; Atk: Bash (Limb 1d8); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP: 4/120; Special: ½ damage normal weapons, cold, electricity, acid, double damage fire.
Possessed Vine: HD 4; AC 6[13]; Atk 4 vines (1d6); Save 13; Move 0; CL/XP 4/120.
Zombie: HD 2; AC 8[11] or with shield 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon or strike (1d8); Move 6; Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Immune to sleep and charm.

Quick Note - Working on a New Sanity System for Modern Basic

I got a hold of Call of Cthulhu d20 and found that the sanity system is amazingly complex. Being that I dislike complex things and knowing that my previous sanity system was a tad bit broken I decided to go back to the drawing board as it were.

Sanity is derived from the the combination of the player's intelligence and wisdom scores. The base sanity of a player can never exceed this score and the score does not increase with time or level. When a player is confronted by something that could cause his or her sanity to waver the the Game Master will ask for the player to roll a Wisdom Check with an SR of determined by the Game Master. Should the player fail the Wisdom Check he or she loses sanity equal to the level of event that has occurred (see table below). When the player reaches half of their sanity he or she can start to experience delusions and breaks from reality. These episodes are the realm of the Game Master and should be handled delicately.

Sanity can be recouped by either extended rest or psychological aid over a period time at a rate of 1d6 per week of rest or psychological session. Should the player reach a sanity of zero he or she is hopelessly insane and cannot recover from the psychological damage and is removed from play as a PC.
Sanity Events
Success Rating
Sanity Loss
Nil Event
06 – 10
Minor Event
11 – 15
Major Event
16 – 20
Epic Event

If a character is brought under half of their Sanity more than three times they are inflicted with a permanent insanity marker and take an insane condition as listed on the table below.

Permanent Insanity
1 – 2
3 – 4
5 – 6
Night Terrors
7 – 8
9 – 10
Impulse Control
11 – 12
Extreme Phobia
13 – 14
15 – 16
17 – 18
19 – 20

If a player acquires more than 3 permanent insanity markers then he or she is considered hopelessly insane and removed from play as a PC.

Quick Note - 5e Style Ability Checks being added to Basic Modern

As I'm writing "the night Train" adventure for my Patreons (and seriously thinking of limiting the variety of choices for next month's poll) I've found the need to add in the ability checks of 5e with some minor editing to stay in form with Modern Basic's (eventually I will rename that) core tenet of being a modern sourcebook for S&W Core.

Here's an Example:

The Game Master wishes to set an object (the faint chalk outline of a person's body) up as a major clue to the investigation the players are conducting. The outline has been there for a number of years and is partially faded and covered over with debris making it a difficult task to find it. The GM, however, doesn't want this to be impossible so he sets the Success Rating (SR) at 16, just over the cusp of the "hard" rating.

Success Rating
01 – 05
Simple – no roll need
06 – 10
11 – 15
16 – 20

The reason why 21+ is impossible is due to the inability to have higher than a +1 to any ability score. Other means, such as alien technology, magic equipment, divine or demonic aid could make the  Impossible possible but generally speaking this SR is not achievable.

Unlike 5e, however, the ability check system is left with just itself without skill proficencies or the like leaving the checks to the simple + or - 1 mechanic. 

Quick Note - Assault on the Southern Horn Reviewed

Merricb over at Merric's Musings has reviewed the 5e version of Assault on the Southern Horn. The review is relatively nice but does point out some issues with my interpretation of the 5e rule set (issues I hope to solve in the next week after I review my incoming copy of the Monster Manual). Of course there are also spelling errors which I will fix before the PoD version of the adventure is released, that is an issue on my part. Hopefully with the adventure away from my eyes I can see what I missed during the two rounds of proofreading and editing that I've already gone through.

One thing I'm really proud of is the praise that +Frank Turfler's interior art received.

Quick Map - Old Alby Station

The Modern Paranormal adventure for my monthly free adventures is underway ... and causing me a nervous breakdown in the process. The reason is I cannot find any of my notes (outside the blog) for my Basic Modern rules. This leaves me with 2 options, publish the existing rules to Patreon as is or also re-write the two cleric classes and the few other small rules changes from S&W core that I made.


The adventure was also supposed to be a One-Page Romp ... I'm now on page 2 and haven't even gotten to the map yet! So here's hoping I can finish tonight. I may be able to as the wife promised to take the kids and give me an hour or two of solid, uninterrupted work time ... feel bad about that though.

The adventure involves an investigation of an old train station near a site of a few murders. Here's the map!

Quick Note - A very minor AotSH mention!

There is an article over at ENworld about the slew of Unoffical 5e products up for sale at Drivethrurpg. While very small Genius Loci Games and "5Next) are specfically named. Now I have many times in the past gotten overly giddy about any mention anywhere of GLG or one of my adventures so it should be of no surprise that my "huzzah!" woke my kids (one of which I'm currently rocking back to sleep!)

Next up actual reviews and the awakening of my entire neighborhood!

And if anyone is interested the 5Next (or 5th Edition) version of Assault on the Southern Horn can be found here.

Quick Note - Work Begins

Just started my next two Patreon adventures. The shorter one-page romp will be first and will be a Swords & Wizardry adventure about dinosaurs and a wizard's tower. The second will be a 5-page adventure using the free version of the Westwater rules and take place in a dusty town in the Navada's that is out of water and features the trapped tomb of a disposed Mayan King, grave robbers and chitin.

Question for the community at large, what sources should I look to for traps ... I'm already planning on forcing a day of young Indiana Jones on my kids but what other places can I search through? What are you GMs inspiration for such things.

I should be getting my 5e monster manual in today or tomorrow so I can't wait to break it open and start learning the ropes.

Also, sleep ... I am in need of sleep.

Quick Note - Assault on the Southern Horn 5Next Edition Release

Yesterday I finished up and released the 5th Edition version of Assault on the Southern Horn yesterday. I did a soft announcement over G+ but now, as the printer is deciding if I can have a print version, I state it here with some more information.

The fifth edition version of the adventure is still stated for players of the 3rd through 6th level and should take one to two short or one long sessions to complete. New features added to the 5th Edition are as follows:

New Monsters for 5e - Gliding Frog, Lesser Pseudomorph, Ragmen, Thelidu, and Unseelie
New Magic items for 5e - Ael's Sword (greatly expanded from the S&W release) Unique Wondrous Magic Item, Firarm Uncommon Wondrous Magic Item, and Spell Gem Rare Wondrous Magic Item
New Elvish Sub-Race for 5e - The Unseelie
New Background for 5e - Exile

In addition options for hirelings has been added as well as complete stats for both major NPCs (Tyor and Cami).

The 5e version clocks in at 21 pages and as said up top I'm looking into a print version as I type this! 

Quick Note - A symbol for the Future

The conversion of Assault on the Southern Horn is nearly complete! To celebrate here is a new logo to be used for all 5e/Next adventures I may do in the future!


As for the 5e/Next version of Assault I am let with the tables for the new background to go along with the tale!

Creature for Any Setting (5e) -Thelidu

The Thelidu are one of my favorite monsters from +Matt Finch's 0e Reloaded Monster Book for the Core Version of Swords & Wizardry. They make some pretty big appearances in Tomb of the Past Revealed and in Assault on the Southern Horn.

Since I'm currently converting Assault on the Southern Horn to 5e I had to update the Thelidu to 5e rules are well. In the spirit of the OGL and the Thelidu's original source of the 0e Reloaded Monster Book I present to you for all to use the 5e Thelidu!

+Matt Finch and to all those who worked on the 0e Reloaded book, I once more thank you and a praise the efforts of that book!

Medium Aberration, Lawful Evil

Armor Class 15
Hit Points 68 (12d8)
Speed 30 ft

Skills Perception +6, Persuasion +6
Senses Passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Outsider
Challenge 6/2,300

Magic Tolerance The Thelidu has advantage on all saving throws against divine and arcane magics.
Telpathic Thelidu can communicate in one direction with any creature with 500 yards of it and in two directions with one of its own race as long as the target speaks or understands the Thelidu’s language.


Pseuodpod: Melee attack + 5 to hit, reach 10, one target. Hit 8(1d10+2) bludgeoning damage and a small to medium creature is grappled. If target Is successfully grappled they receive an additional 1d4 psychic damage at the beginning of the Thelidu’s next turn until the grapple is ended. The Thelidu can grapple up to two targets at a time.
Extract Brain: +7 to hit, reach 5, one grappled target. Hit: The Thelidu devours the target’s brain regaining one HD of health and boosting it’s Intelligence modifier by 1 for a number of rounds equal to the target’s HD. Brain extraction takes one full round to accomplish and during this time any attacks against the Thelidu have advantage.
Psychic Rend (Recharge 3): The Thelidu releases a concentrated storm of psychic power over a 60 ft radius. All targets in that area must succeed a DC 16 Intelligence saving throw or suffer 18 (2d8 + 4) damage and be considered stunned until its next turn.

Quick Note - Monster Hunter! Monster Math!

Almost finished converting "Assault on the Southern Horn" to 5e and a big special thanks must go out to +Surf Archer and his deconstructing series on 5e monsters.  I'm not going to lie here, I like monster creation in S&W it is simple and fast and although I think I'm doing okay with the 5e creation atm I can't wait for the monster manual and DMG to hopefully make understanding the blasted process a little easier. Way to much math for my Arts Degree mind.

Patreon Supported - Dinosaurs of the Protected Zone

Today we see the general release of my first Patreon offering for September, the Sci-fi themed One-Page rump for +Brave Halfling Publishing's Xplorers OSR sci-fi game.

This month we are trying something different, not only do the Patreons get a dirty and anthology Pdf but they also get a 72 hour head start. I'm hoping this solves the small problem I was having with trying to show how excellent I think my Patreons are!

Anyway, here is a one-page romp for the week, a little different from my normal offerings as it is not fantasy and the characters may not be the good guys!


Dinosaurs of the Protected Zone

A 5-Minute Adventure for Xplorers

Words - Johua De Santo
Cartography - Johua De Santo W/ Elements created by CaptScott

Adventure Background
You and your crew have been hired by the Nostreum Group to recover a research satellite that went missing several months ago from the obit of Planet – PZ4. This is considered an Omega Level assignment due to the fact that PZ4 is a protected planet under the protection of the TEPA (Terrain Extraterrestrial Protection Authority) and knowledge of your mission or the satellite will be disavowed by the Nostreum Group.

The protected planet holds a form of life that is a genetic match for hundreds of species of dinosaurs from Old Earth's history. Nostreum's illegal satellite was recording genetic data of the creatures in the hopes of selling the genome to parties that wished to own their own dinosaurs or exploit the genome in some other means.

While the satellite has crashed it still emanates a sub-space signal on a frequency only detectable by Nostreum equipment. This equipment requires a Computer Skill check to successful triangulate the general direction of
the satellite.

1. Recover the Satellite's core which holds the data Nostreum requires. Failing that destroy the core utterly to main proprietary technology belonging to Nostreum.
2. OptionalCollect a living sample from planet-side. An egg will do.
3. OptionalLocate and disable automated surveillance station controlled by TEPA located in Sector B.

PZ4 (Protected Zone 4), is an Earthlike planet with traditional atmosphere and gravity but with a 12 hour day. Currently PZ4’s Northern Hemisphere is in the Earth equivalent to early Spring; mating season. The Satellite crashed on the Northern
landmass in a mountainous region, it is believed to be in Sector C. While traveling through the Sectors in search of the satellite the players have a 3 in 6 chance of encountering the following:
Sector A
Sector A has herds of migrating Sauropods. Sauropods will generally leave small creatures alone, however, the may not notice such small things as humans and step on them by mistake. There are several hunter dinosaurs following the herd. While in Sector A Players are three times as likely to encounter Raptors and T-Rex.

Sectors B & D
These mountainous regions have few of the larger dinosaurs, but is the realm of the mating Pterodactyls who may see the players as an excellent gift to prospective brides. The automated security station is located in Sector B’s northern edge,
have buried in a toxic lake.

Sector C
Heavy forests mask the predators who are on a consist hunt for food. The Satellite is in the forests of sector C and is being guarded by 5d6 Security Drones.

Concluding the Adventure
Should the Players recover the satellite They will be rewarded with 500 Credits and a promise of further employment. Should they be unable to recover the core and must destroy it, they will receive 100 credits and no promises. A Live egg will earn them another 100 credits. Finally, should the automated station not be destroyed the players will find a 10,000 credit bounty on each of them contracted by TEPA.

Creature Guide
T-Rex: AC 18; HD 8d6; THB +8; ATT 3d6/3d6; ST 11+;MV 8; SPC Cause Fear, Swallow, XP 1,500
Raptor: AC 14. HD 2d6; THB +4(+7 Gore), TTT 2d6+3; ST 15+MV 6; SPC Gore; XP 180
Pterodactyl: AC 12; HD 2d6; THB +2; ATT 1d6; ST 13+; MV 4[6]; SPC optional movement Flight; XP 120
Stegosaur: AC 17; HD 8d6; ATT 3d6/3d6+3 (gore); MV 8; SPC Cause Fear; Gore, XP 1,600
Triceratops: AC 14; HD 4d6; ATT 2d6/2d6+3(gore); MV 4; SPC Gore; XP 800

Security Drone: AC 12; HD 1d6; THB +1; ATT 1d6; ST 18+; MV 12; XP 15

Hyground has Failed

About a month ago +Daniel Loche from the Google+ heroscape community announced a kickstarter for +HyGround - 3D Terrain Tiles,  a 28mm hex-tile terrain build set (ala Heroscape) it has since failed by not reaching its funding goal of $150,000.

Honestly I can say that had I know about this sooner (I had unfortunately turned notifications off for that community) I would have been barking the crap out of it. As I've said before I feel that Heroscape was by far and large the greatest small-unit skirmish game every created and anything (ANYTHING) that could have added to the unfortunate dropped brand would have been highly welcome.

I don't know if Yeti Militia Games will reattempt the kickstarter or go a different route but I sure hope so. I may be in penny-pincer mode right now, but for a protect like this I would have tried to find a way ... or at the very least barked it up and help to spread the signal.


Kickstarter Barking - Revelry in Torth

+Venger Satanis is at it again! This time around he is focusing on a heavy pulp Swords & Sorcery adventure bathed in the shades of gray one is typically used to seeing in the torrid pages of 50s and 60s era S&S. 

Venger as we know is the writer of the acclaimed Liberation of the Demon Slayer and The Islands of Purple-Hunted Putrescence as well as the publisher of the shiny new Draconic Magazine! He is a unique voice that carries through and harkens back to genres and styles that many have attempted to imbrace but few have successfully emulated. In other words, the man does some fine damn work and if you haven't heard of him you should look him up over at the Venger's Old School Gaming Blog.

As for Revelry in Torth, well let the Kickstarter talk about itself:

Revelry in Torth takes place in a post-holocaust world (7 of the most powerful wizards created one gargantuan fireball to destroy the world in order to prevent a machine slave revolt).  The people of Torth live in cities surrounded by a desert of endless night and peril.
This particular adventure is set in the city called Aryd's End, during a time of festivity.  Several factions are making plans and hatching schemes.  No one is all good or all evil, merely shades of grey.
PCs will become entangled in a murder and the fate of Torth is at stake.  Sandbox, urban adventure, dark, Conan-esque sword & sorcery, just a hint of scifi, and very little gonzo.
You can bet that somewhere along the way, Revelry in Torth will include some "inappropriate material", but nothing too hardcore, grindhouse, or shocking.  Check out my blog to see what I and my previous products are about: adventure will be about 21 pages long, give or take a couple pages.  For characters level 1 - 3.  Hopefully, Revelry in Torth is part one of a trilogy.  But that depends on you guys.  
Revelry in Torth is funding through the end of the month with a final goal of $2,500 dollars. If Venger's past kickstarter is any indication he'll be sure to make it!

Quick Note - Map a'random

Goofing off with some stamps while I continue to train and actually get moderately good with my by hand mapping.

Just for fun:

Endhome - The last surviving home village high up in the plains of the Star Seal. The humans of Endhome do not know that they are the last of their kind and the dwarves of the Starforgere Cairn fear telling them would lead to something horrible.

Starforgere Cairn - Once a small dwarven settlement near the Fjord, the Cairn has become the major hub of dwarven science, metallurgy, and commerce since the Night of Fallen Stars. The Cairn is the only known place in the world that produces Cosmiteral - or as the laymen call it: Star-Metal.   The source and production of Cosmiteral is kept secret, placing Starforgere under constant threat of invasion. The Starforgere Clan also keeps a legion of soldiers on patrol near the Star Plains and the human village of Endhome.

Tower of the Fallen Star - No one is yet aware of the crystalline tower that appeared in the wake of the Night of Fallen Stars. However, the music it produces can be heard on the whispers of wind that travel towards Endhome. This music is believed to be the cause of so many disappearances.

In Truth the tower is the remnant of an alien craft that crashed during the Night of Fallen Stars. While its remaining HUMA crew remains in cyrosleep the ship's systems have set about repairing itself as well as acquiring suitable biological matter for the sleeping crew.

Quick Note - Mutant Future

I recently picked up the free, no-art version of Goblinoid Game's "Mutant Future" and I must say that I'm having fun with it. First please remember that I am relatively a kid in the Hobby having only 12 years under my belt. I missed out of the Golden Age of gaming and products like the original Gamma World (I own 2 of the 4e box-sets which often get brought out as a party game) and have since really only been involved in the traditional fantasy branch of the hobby (seriously, anyone have a good space opera game going?). So finding this (oddly enough thanks to Knotty Works) produced a mild happy dance from me.

As many of my readers know from the various Usarm games I enjoy a certain level of Science Fantasy. Since coming into the hobby I've hunted down and obtained a copy of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks ... then since I only knew 3e at the time got completely lost ... and have often used golems as stand-ins for ancient robots.

I'm on my second read-through now and am hoping to gain a good idea of the game before the weekend's out.  Possibly enough to run a breakfast club one-shot down the road!

Note - I will say this has reminded me that I still have a long way to go before descending AC feels natural to me.

[White Star] Race - Husk

  White Star Core edition – Military Campaign This race assumes a campaign structure that is primarily human-centric and takes cues from my ...