“The adventure is suitable for a lucky mid-range party, a stupid high-level party or an exceedingly clever low level party.”

posted by Metallia Original SA post

Deep Carbon Observatory is an indie OSR adventure module by Patrick Stuart that has sat in my mental library of ‘things I’d like to play, but realistically won’t ever be able to’ for a long time. Not because it’s bad, or offensive, or asks too much of players and GM, but because Deep Carbon is incredibly bleak and incredibly weird, and it’s a tough sell for a group of 4-6 adventurers of various classes that probably were expecting something different when you told them about your old-school leaning dungeon crawl game. I’m reviewing it here for the sake of going back to it myself - because I think it’s a very interesting adventure in terms of aesthetics and also partly because I want to share the evocative, frenzied art, done by Scrap Princess.

Part 1: “The adventure is suitable for a lucky mid-range party, a stupid high-level party or an exceedingly clever low level party.”

Blanket trigger warning here as a whole for general body horror in the rest of the adventure and a few brief descriptions of violence against minors.

The narration to the book as a whole is very terse, and contributes greatly to the ambiance of the entire thing as a whole work. The stat blocks for all creatures are given in the format of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and the descriptive blurb on sites where you can buy the pdf describes the module as being easy to convert to any D&D edition, which is probably not untrue, since most creatures appear to be MM thematic re-skins with an occasional special ability. The module itself is the picture of AD&D for the most part however; the entire thing could be an easy Dark Sun addition, I feel.

The narration begins immediately, and tells us how the adventure starts - that once, long ago, there was a Kingdom, where, well:

After this brief bit of background info, the scene immediately shifts to Carrowmore, said village on the river. The GM is asked to quickly make note of how many days of food the PCs have left on them, and to also note almost all friendly NPCs will trade lamps and other hand-held illumination for food.

Carrowmore, in so many words, is a bit of a disaster. The PCs arrive incredibly soon after an incredibly destructive flood washes through the town, and the towns people have lost all of their livelihood, possessions, and hope. You’re instructed to immediately show the PC group three scenes of tragedy, with the implication the PCs must immediately choose to intervene in one, if at all. If the characters split up, they are rapidly separated from each other. This repeats itself several times, ending in one of three scenes of violence. Each scene also introduces an NPC or group, important to the overall plot. This all results in an Action Flowchart of Despair:

The game provides a minor amount of characterization information and short adventure hooks for each NPC below the flowchart, and also offers some hit or miss black comedy to help with the fact how bleak everything is. The town would be a pretty unsettling place for PCs to visit even if the flood hadn’t happened.

A brief summation of the events’ provided backstory, ordered by their number on the flow chart:

1. Curtis’ wife Sonya was a fortune teller. She predicted her own death - and told Curtis that a band of helpful strangers would help take her corpse to her family’s tomb. Sonya also mentioned that Curtis should never try to take her body to the tomb alone.

2.Tem is a cleric of the Optical God, the local religion of Carrowmore. He has the keys to the church, which is currently engulfed by the river.

3. Callao is saving the children of a place called Pollnagollum Village. If you intervene on their behalf, one of the children shares an ominous bit of muttering:

4. The children are named Oscar, Signus, Latikat, and Drone. If their mother isn’t saved the children are noted to eventually all become murderers or cultists. Drone becomes a baker.

5. Kon-I-Gut only speaks by denying things in the third person.

6. Busla Rant will show you her latest catch: a corpse with gold dust in its mouth. She will trade the dust for food, and also tell the PCs that many of the corpses ashes pulled out of the flood have such things in their mouths.

7. Hans Gokgul is in a state of pure despair. He demands the cause of the flood; the book notes the cause is 'Time,' but Hans will accept any true story that explains the events. He’s legit despite his grief, and has 30k gp buried nearby he will offer half of to a party that gives him an honest answer.

8. Sue Trouin is trying to shepard, no shit, 5d6 orphaned children. None of the children have any means of support if Sue dies.

9. Wit Tamdoun ‘Has a knife, a chipper grin and a Dex of 18.’

10. Uli Guria has 3d6 secret cannibal friends. You’re asked to roll on a 1d6 chart twice when you meet them for their personality.

11. Terbil Tem is perfectly innocent of all crimes, or so all the townspeople earnestly believe.

12 & 13. Both these characters are noted to be ‘as dull as they sound’.

14. Torca Jou is the child about to rob the scholar, and he doesn’t know what the scrolls are. However, a rival gang of adventurers in town called the Crows have his sister Christina and are demanding the theft of the scrolls for her return. If the PCs try to use the child to track the Crows and fail any ‘significant number’ of checks, the Crows will catch on and kill Torca at the first opportunity from a distance.

The scrolls are various useful dungeoneering cantrip and low level spells: Mending, Message, Identify, Locate object, and Speak With Animals. The last scroll contains a cryptic clue to a location later in the adventure.

Tzani herself knows several useful facts about the area, including knowledge of some encounters later on in the adventure, and will provide them freely if her scrolls are saved from the child.

15. The throng of people are threatening to lynch an obviously innocent man. The pack the man is accused of stealing is several feet away, in a puddle of mud, easily visible to anyone with a calm head.

16. The first of our capstone encounters. Stary Hrad is being meanced by another group of adventurers for protection money - they are a fighter, wizard, and cleric and all of them are weird in some manner: the fighter wears flashy armor, the sorceress has half her body wizened but the other half young and beautiful, and the cleric constantly wears an ominous smile and has shifting magic tattoos. He also has an obviously magical weapon, a mace. They won’t fight an obviously superior group of PC adventurers, but will sandbag and warn player characters they’ll be back while shaking their fists.

They won’t; the previously mentioned OTHER group of adventurers the Crows will kill them all by capsizing their boat and drowning them. The Crow's necromancer will also turn them all 3 of them into subservient zombies.

The Crows themselves are watching this entire scene with care from a distance - the GM is encouraged to only describe them in vague terms at first, only going into detail if the players specific ask. I feel like this is kind of a bad idea in general, since in my experience OSR players are going to immediately ask about anything that seems suspicious at all in the background.

Getting back to Hrad; she wants to hire helpful PCs to go upriver and prove there’s no treasure before her town is ruined by, well, adventurers. She reluctantly will pay 5000 gp for a report on the treasure, and 1000 gp extra for hard evidence there isn’t any. She will also provide a skiff boat to the party if they ask.

17. Tham Ruesie is the bishop of the local Optical God’s church. He stares out at the dark pillar of smoke rising on the riverbend and mutters about a spoon. Inside the church is a religious centerpiece featuring a concave mirror on a long metallic stalk. The stained glass portrays a man with a lens for a head, waving a spoon at a adoring but ‘obviously starving’ crowd. The votive corner features a lot of broken ceremonial clay bowls. If any of the PCs politely inquire what the fuck any of this is to any surviving cleric, they will immediately look stupefied briefly, and then sprint into the church screaming about ‘the spoon’. They are looking for a religious relic that has been stolen. It was stolen by Torca Jou, the child from 14. The acolytes do not know this and Torca will not volunteer any information about the spoon without being interrogated about it.

18. Snail-Shell Zarathusa is the captain of the ship Lapitan. He also wants to know what’s going on upstream, and will pay 500 gp for any information from the unknown zone. If PCs take him up on the offer, he will provide a boat and equipment. His crew is selling the 2500 units of rations in the ship’s hold at about 50 per day. Both he and his crew value the ship heavily and will fight to the death to defend it.

So that’s the first chapter of Deep Carbon Observatory. I have mixed feelings about the Carrowmore chapter - A lot of the humor falls flat in the face of the sheer tragedy of everything going on, but at a certain point wraps back around again to genuine absurdity. I'm not fond of the child directed violence at all. The scenario also doesn't really mention what can be done if you have spellcasters that can create food and water. The antagonistic adventurer parties are a fun touch, though; 'evil power rangers' is basically my favorite trope in all of media so I always enjoy when modules make sure to include examples of antagonists in similar straits as the PCs.

Next update will be Chapter 2: The Crows.

“The Crows survive. At any cost.”

posted by Metallia Original SA post

Deep Carbon Observatory
Part 2: “The Crows survive. At any cost.”

This chapter contains character sheets, biographies, magic items, and tactics for the recurring antagonist force in the rest of the adventure: The Crows. The Crows are a sociopathic mirror of a PC party, and you’re encouraged to use them as such. They uniformly seek power and wealth, and will almost never engage in a straight fight with the players.

They are depicted in the following order:

Hoolloch Frosen

Holloch is seemingly the leader of the Crows, or at least directs them with the least trouble. He has a photographic memory, especially when it comes to distances and speeds, and can learn these things in an instant by being witness to them once. His plans are always sound, and at the very least, will never endanger himself. He will never betray his sister; everything else is expendendable to him. His silent-moving mail armor leaves faint black stains on the fingers of the dead as a calling card, and this frustrates him.

He has a single magic item, the ‘ghost-like cloth’ in his inventory. If you wear it around your eyes, you gain ghost-sight and can see anything ethereal and with darksight. You become immune to blindness. This is because you are seeing from the point of view of a ghost that haunts the cloth - it walks behind its user for 12 hours or until the cloth is removed, at which point the ghost most feed on the soul of a named intelligence. Naturally, it eats you if none are available. Seems like a lot of work for darkvision.

Echo Frosen

Echo is Hoolloch’s sister and is just as loyal to him as he is to her. Echo believes she can smell distrust. She ‘senses discord like sharks smell blood drops in adjacent seas’. She is, probably, insane. But she hides it well. This is all that is said about her, though her item list also notes she has what is obviously a Murlynd’s spoon as well. It is not noted if this is Carrowmore’s spoon or not; given the relative mood of the module I’m guessing this is implication she takes it from Torca before moving on.

Ghar Zaghounan

Ghar is...honestly, I kinda just want to paste his descriptive block, because it sells itself pretty well.


Ghar has a magical bow. The bow was assembled by an alchemist-smith from a single piece of an ‘ultralight alloy’ that shines with a slight rainbow sheen over a blue-black plastic-esqe depth. Ghar keeps the smith’s wife at knife-point during the process; she lived.
The string of the bow is made of daemonweb, which was stolen from the church of a dead god by a thief that Ghar hired and subsequently murdered, burying his body and soul underneath a glacier ‘for some time’. The body is laminated dragon bone, the pivot-point of a wing; Ghar hunted the dragon-killing host of adventurers on their way back home, eventually killing them all one by one in a swamp. Naturally, he left the dragon’s hoard of gold in the swamp. It’s apparently still there.

Anyone who has unravelled the workings of the bow and what they’re holding (by means of d6 consecutive INT tests, separated by any passing of time) may use it to strike as if they were attacking as a thief of equal level, so long as you’re doing so from a concealed position.

Ghar also has a selection of poisons and trick-arrows he will use without hesitation.

1. Corpse and carrion meat-carrying-sickness
Doesn’t do anything until an hour after contact. If you don’t receive a cure disease spell by then, you save vs Poison. The actual infection causes you to lose 1 HP per HD each day, starting at 1 HP and then moving up by 1 more each day. It takes one heal spell per infected HD this way to cure the disease - if you get any less heals than the amount needed, the disease will resurface.

2.Mushrooms in jellyfish bile
Causes hallucinations and fear. The DM describes a hallucination to the player once per hour. The player rolls a fear test at the start of each combat or must flee. It lasts for 3d6 hours minus your CON modifier.

3. Eel cyst
Basically tapeworms. Eats all the food you consume before the food does anything for you. To get it out of you, you have to win initiative against the eel (??????) and then hit it on an AC of 19. Just like a real surgery, I guess. I’m skimping on this one a bit because it’s frankly sort of gross.

4. ‘Liquid dyslexia’
Lasts for d4 weeks. You can’t cure it like a disease, and it’s not a curse, either. Ghar uses this on wizards, presumably so...it makes it harder for them to read their spellbooks? I don’t know? There’s no negative effects listed here, so?

5. Thaumo-Conductor
A barbed bolt with a meter long hair thin copper wire attached. It does one HP damage on hit, 2d6 when you pull it out. The real nastiness is that it grounds all offensive magic cast within ten meters to the flesh of the person its in, regardless of who casts it. This is pretty neat, but will definitely kill one of your PCs if you have a trigger happy wizard around and you don’t explain it immediately.

6.Eye bolt
Tiny silver arrowhead that breaks off in your skin. Causes one of your eyes to develop a hemorrhage that doesn’t impede vision, but Ghar has a coin-sized mirror he can use to scry through your infected eye. Let’s move on!

Zolushika Von Der Linth

Zolushika is a socialite, prodigy, and pianist. She lost those things in scandal, and is now mostly a necromancer, which she approaches with the same level of ingenuity she shows for everything else she does. Her last name carries weight, and she tells the dying her name as they pass, hoping for some small flash of validating recognition. She hasn’t quite got it yet.

She has two magic items: the Snakewood Staff and the Displacement Doll. The Snakewood Staff can cast raise dead indefinitely, making permanent zombies that are stupid, but loyal. Each use of the staff costs 500 xp in debt. Once you use the staff, it cannot be discarded, and will animate nearby corpses if needed to bring itself to you. If destroyed, it reforms over the course of a day. If politely asked to leave, a zombie will take the staff up to 50 miles away, at which point it will turn around and come back.

The displacement doll deflects all mental based magic to itself. Reading the mind of the doll gives you the thoughts of a woman lost in the dark on the back of a giant. Zolushika invented the doll herself, if you couldn’t tell by her item list.

That’s all of the Crows. The next small section tells you what kind of tactics the Crows use and their methods of engagement. There’s nothing super surprising here; they mostly use corpses from the Snakewood Staff as ambushes. Zolushika will have zombies lay in wait in shallow water. Sometimes she’ll give one a rope snare that if a player steps into, the zombie will simply grab and start walking upstream with. Echo exploits any interpersonal conflicts with planted gold and treasure. Ghar hates magic users and fires on the PCs once an hour at night to prevent sleep and spell renewal. If pushed into a corner, Holloch will negotiate seriously, but will always find a way to use his terms to separate the party. They leave poisoned food out and sleep away from trapped campfires. They’re bad guys. You get it.

Next Chapter: The Drowned Lands.

"It has returned: the most dangerous duck-billed platypus to ever walk the earth. The battle begins once more."

posted by Metallia Original SA post

Deep Carbon Observatory
Part 3: "It has returned: the most dangerous duck-billed platypus to ever walk the earth. The battle begins once more."

Last time we left the PCs, they had just been (probably) asked to head upriver from Carrowmore and figure out exactly what the fuck is happening upriver, in the Drowned Lands. While natural curiosity and promise of ancient treasure is probably sufficient to get them moving, several Carrowmore npcs will offer gp and boating equipment to help get them there. Boats can navigate upriver at normal walking speed, but anyone trying to trudge through the water is going to be moving at a fourth of their movement speed and is going probably going to be deeply unhappy, I imagine.

The land here is still flooded pretty badly, and flotsam and jetsam from destroyed dwellings and villages still float down the river, borne on beds of fish and other odd aquatic life. The water is unnaturally full, in fact, and everything from pike to pale, ugly squid to alien patterned cuttlefish flit to and fro just under the surface of the water. To top this all off, a huge pillar of smoke or ash or grey cloud rises in the distance, carrion birds circling it. The book has a number of set encounters here before players reach the source of the river, but there is also a random encounter chart featuring some...more colorful monsters.

The Three-metre Pike has armour as leather, HD5, HP25, move 40' in water, and a d10 biting grapple attack. It is a stalking enemy, and will trail PCs taking dives at their boat(s) until seriously injured or presented with easier prey.

The Cow-sized Killer Platypus has armor as chain, HD6, HP33, moves 35', and a d8 bite/poison barb attack. Its descriptive bio provides the header quote and little else.

A single Child-sized Scavenging Lungfish has no armor, HD1, HP3, move 5', and only has a d4 bite, but they come in large packs and very vicious. They can leap out of water and will never give up a chase until killed. They are perfectly capable of moving through wet mud with ease, and can also breath on land and water alike.

A House-sized Horseshoe Crab may block your way; it has armour as if it were plate and wielding a shield, HD9, HP50, move 5', a d10 bite, and a 2d20 crush + underlimb scour. This guy is totally uninterested in the party unless they actively try to attack it, which just generally seems like a bad idea. His shell is covered in deep scars and is battle rent, and the descriptive text notes he was the main opponent of the 'Chief of the Lake. Long did they battle, but no more.'

The Turbine Golems are the last entry in the Drowned Lands monster list, and their obviously fantastical nature separates them from the rest of the 'terrifying water life but big' list. There are only six of them, and they're all possessed of the minds of trapped, ancient engineers. Their stats are the same as MM Stone Golems. (chain armor, HD14, HP60, move 30' 3d8 smash/drill hand) Every golem has a different face stone, separated by how many sides the face stone has. They all have names:

The first four golems are available as random encounters or can be sought out, but final 2 are static encounters. This is useful, because the golems are important to a puzzle that lets PCs into the dungeon, further up ahead on the river.

The rest of the Drowned Lands chapter is dedicated to the various set encounters throughout the area, arranged in ascending order number as you get closer to the smoking pillar on the horizon. They are present on the map at the start of this post.

1.Sarcophagus of Ambatoharanana

Two children at 1 on the map float down the river on a large log. If the PCs stop to help them, they quickly realize beneath the moss and mud is stone; the log is actually a sarcophagus. Once they open the sarcophagus, players will find a mummy, wearing a death mask of lapis lazuli and gold. In his hands he holds a Branching Key and a magic iron sword, crossed over his chest. If his mask or weapons or taken, he will awaken and attempt to take them back (armor: as chain and shield, HD6, HP33, move '15, undead, 1d12/causes disease, causes fear.) He is Lawful Good and does not speak, and will dissolve if submerged in water for more than d4 minutes.

His sword is 'Varistor', and is covered in rust and spotted iron. It can never be fully cleaned of these imperfects, one flaw will always remain. Varistor protects its wielder from any unnatural fear effect of any kind, and if the sword prevents an effect in such a way, it radiates an aura of despair that drives all enemy living and undead foes to their knees with hopelessness; the save on this is equal to the fear spell that caused it. Varistor can't break, too. Pretty nifty.

2.Fool's Duel

Two wizards hung out in Carrowmore and rapidly rode out together to check out the mystery of the forbidden zone upriver. After spending more than 5 minutes in a canoe with each other, they have done what most wizards do and realize they hate each other. Now, they face each other in a duel on the river, standing on the surface of a sunken bridge. They are: Rem Koolhaus (Pompous, plump, well-dressed, 'sounds vaguely Dutch'. No armor, HD5, HP12, move '15. He has Fly, Mirror Image, Phantasmal Force, Enlarge, and Magic Missile x2 prepared.) and Ruskin Behaviour (Anaemic, bedraggled, quick to anger. Has a hat 'like a collapsed flan'. Same stat block as above but with HP9. He has Water Breathing, ESP, Wall of Fog, Sleep, Shrink, and Shield prepared.) Neither of the wizards will accept help, unless they are losing, in which case both of them will demand it. An unnoticed pike nearby is likely to eat them both.

3. Church of Selminimum Tem

The church of the Optical God that the cleric back in Carrowmade attended is here. It is hanging on its side and its steepe is a broken mass of crystal that was once a lens, but the floor (was once a wall) and its sides (was once a floor and ceiling) are whole and surprisingly sound. The door on its side sits ten feet in the air and is locked. Inside, the pews are destroyed and the shrine is naturally oddly angled, but the area is safe and otherwise functions as a normal church. Hidden in the askew altar are relics of the Optical God: ten tasteless 'communion wafers' and ten vials of clear, watery liquid. If you introduce the wafers into the liquid and shut the vial again, the liquid becomes chemiluminescent for 30 minutes. While it glows, it functions as both a source of light and generic holy water, and undead will react to its presence as such.

If you break into the church without Tem's keys, the 'relics' lose their power.

4. Corpse Toads

A field of toads, all noted as being as large as a bloated adult man. They've been eating the corpses that have washed up near them. They are hostile (Armor: as leather, HD2, HP12, move 5', d6 bite) but will rupture if they lose more than 5 hp in a round and collapse into toad guts and d6 corpses. This encounter is largely just gross, but has the potential to be a huge boon for the Crows, who are likely behind the PCs.

Next Time: Drowned Lands part 2, and The Dam

"The people here are sitting on their roofs. They are not hiding from the flood."

posted by Metallia Original SA post

Deep Carbon Observatory
Part 4: "The people here are sitting on their roofs. They are not hiding from the flood."

Sorry for the delay, got busy.

When we last left our hypothetical party of adventurers, they had just started up through what the book calls the Drowned Lands, which are the river lands between Carrowmore and whatever lies to the north of their city. The way is choked by displaced flood waters and an extremely odd amount of hostile river life. Under threat from gigantic pike and lungfish, the party will also be under constant pursuit from the Crows; while there isn't much in the way of direction to how quickly the Crows travel, (the book sort of implies that the Crows should basically use the PCs as pathfinders, shadowing them but otherwise not directly interfering for now) it is easy to assume that they're always within striking distance of one of their dirty tactics.

As a reminder, we're currently at four on this map:

5.Corpse Copse

A small copse of trees here peaks out of the water, serving as nesting for a murder of carrion birds. The birds are soaked but gorged on fresh meals, and sometimes the fatter vultures will simply pass out and fall from the trees into the water. If the players investigate this area, they'll only find a crew of d6 freshwater crocodiles flitting through the roots of the trees, feasting on the birds that fall into their hungry mouths.

6. Electrical Eel

Here is two felled trees, a hooked fishing net caught between them on their branches. From the net, the body of its owner, a fisherman, hangs upside down. He is surrounded by a crown of bobbing carrion birds who are working up the courage to start taking bites out of him. If the players investigate the corpse, they'll find a bruised but functional fishing skiff for the taking, and also find the man has a number of fresh welts and burns on his body. If the skiff is disturbed, it shakes the trees and displaces an 20 foot long electrical eel that was caught in the branches as well. (Armor: as leather, HD3, HP15, move 30', d4 Bite/D8 electrify) Despite the eel, this is a pretty big boon for any party that has had to walk so far.

7 'Logs' of Fun

An ancient, huge log rolls by here, and curiously, the people sitting on it seem to be frozen in a strange tableau, surprise on their faces. For once this isn't a hidden medusa's fault: there's a gigantic velvet worm living inside the log who is quite comfortable, armed with a paralyzing gland on his head, and does never much not want to leave his log. The worm is Armor: as leather, HD4, HP19, move '10, Paralyzing touch but honestly, why would you fight this thing? It doesn't stop you from saving the people on the log if the PCs wish, and is otherwise just chillin' in his log.

8. The Windmill

A low mound by the riverbank here sports a windmill that is...er, under attack by a swarm of child-sized crabs. They grab onto the sail as it turns, trying to climb inside through the crank window. Inside the windmill are 15 children, one old woman, and no food. A desperate village woman at the foot of the windmill wields a pole and tries to swat the crabs away. She will be overwhelmed shortly.

9. The Hill

A host of farm animals of every kind have escaped the rising waters here by grouping themselves on the only remaining arable land. They live next to a pack of wolves in temporary truce. Both groups of animals are likely to be eaten by a grue gigantic squid circling the hill.

10. The Tombs
Roofs of tiny stone grave homes breach the surface of the water here: a burial ground, tomb doors forced open by the surging river. Nearly translucent man-eating cuttlefish prowl this place in packs, sliding in and out of the grave doors. If you have the corpse of Sorla the fortune teller from Carrowmore here, this is where you can inter her, preferably with her husband's help. When the PCs place her in the sarcophagus, they find a warning scratched in its roof:

If they didn't agree to help Sorla's husband, the warning isn't there. She was a fortune teller, after all, she'd know.

The cuttlefish mentioned here are basic swarming creatures that are weak individually but have AC as plate if they're camouflaged against natural backgrounds.

11. The Scratch Built Dam

This is what remains of Pollnacrom Village, now in tatters. The village has been neatly dismantled by a Turbine Golem (Kabibona'kan), who wrecks and pulls apart the village homes, carrying off the wood and stone out of sight. If the players follow him, they find a strange effigy he's constructed: a huge sheet of piled up wood, a hole placed in the center to allow some water through. The golem kneels here and presses its engine mouth against the water gap, trying to take nourishment from an invisible source. While it does this it whirrs loudly, and then eventually falls silent; the golems are all dying, trying in vein to reproduce their method of obtaining energy. This doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, though.

12. The Tall Oak

Corpse tree. Dead folk caught on the trees as the river raged past, coming to a final resting place among a knotted band of branches. d20 corpses. Seems mostly like an encounter for The Crows.

13. The Mill-Wheel

A Turbine Golem (Kalevan) is here, sitting silently in the river. He is alive, but barely, the water up to his chin racing all around him. He stares at a nearby water mill and tries to reproduce the exact sound its water wheel makes. A hint for a later puzzle.

14. Pollnagollum

A village, surrounded by dense fields of drowned corn. Flocks of starlings try to peak and grab at the corn without being washed away by the tide. The people sit on their roofs and huddle together. They are not hiding from the flood; under the water, gliding between the stalks, is a Witch. She presses at the water's surface like a solid mirror and looks for victims. She has been killed numerous times by boys and girls of the village, who threw her corpse down the well in the northern field before the flood washed her out. (Remember the rhyme from Carrowmore?) She is a Magic User who is only HD5, HP10 with no armour, but possess complete immunity to piercing, crushing, cutting, burning, drowning, and poisoning damage. She also has a nasty attack that force changes your alignment to Chaotic Evil and auto-charms you if she knows your True Name. Pretty convenient for her that she can also divine True Names by drinking someone's blood. She has Suggestion, Change self, Invisibility, Sleep, Message, and Charm Person.

15. The Golden Boat

Remember the undead king from the first entry on this list? This is his 'ritual heaven-ship'. It is made of gold shaped like rush and reed leaves, but is buried here in a literal hilltop of mud, requiring careful attention and study to even discover. It is all nearly impossible to retrieve, but is worth 50k gp if you return it to any civilized citizen that isn't Carrowmore. Anyone you hire will try to kill you for the ship, or at the very least demand a hefty cut. Trying to retrieve the ship will always provoke an encounter with a Turbine Golem.

16. The Lifesaving Library

A family of four children and two parents have been stuck here, starving, for days now, lost in a isolated copse, trying to avoid the wandering golems. They haven't yet frozen from the rain and water yet because of their trove of dry paper to burn - they found a huge amount of scrolls, stored in watertight tubes. One by one, they've been burning them for warmth and to roast any meager food they can manage. d10 - days the adventure has occurs is the amount of scrolls remain, and you guessed it: they're all magic scrolls, of incredibly potent Cleric and Magic User castings. Earthquake, Part Water (!), Shape Change, Polymorph Anything, Permanency, Trap the Soul are all examples given here for spells. The family has no idea what they're destroying, but anyone who is intelligent enough in magical studies can discern the scrolls are insanely valuable by looking at them. Careful study over days is required to actually cast from them, as they're all written in the language of our friend Ambatoharanana, the undead pharaoh from the first encounter.

17. A Handy Rock

A useful outcropping. You could use it to tie up a boat, or perhaps as leverage to dredge the heaven-ship out of its tomb of shit. Every 6-8 hours a 'fucking huge crab' (the book's exact words) will fall to its death and explode on the rock from high above. 4d6 damage in a 20 feet raidus from 'crab shrapnel'. The crabs are being dropped by a starving Roc who lands and eats the remains shortly after. The Roc is very territorial but not looking for a fight. If you observe him, you'll notice him flying over the nearby dam to hunt the crabs in the exposed valley on the other side. Roc stats are Armor: as chain, HD18, HP72, flies, 3d6/3d6 claws + 4d6 bite.

That's all the River Lands encounter! Next time we'll explore The Dam.