Saturday 26 June 2021

Publish or Perish: d100 reasons your wizard had to drop out of academia and become an adventurer instead

My department has been interviewing for new academic posts this week - and as I contemplated the mountain of incoming job applications, the vast majority of them inevitably doomed to failure, I found myself thinking about D&D wizards. Becoming a D&D magic-user clearly requires a specialised education, and yet many of these highly-educated wizards end up as expendable dungeon-crawling adventurers. This suggests to me that D&D wizarding, like modern academia, is probably a profession in which supply and demand are badly out of balance, with many aspiring magi competing over every institutional post. 

In situations like these, gatekeepers proliferate like weeds. There are lots of qualified applicants for every position, so having long lists of arbitrary hoops to jump through helps to winnow them down to a manageable level. (If half of them don't even know about the hoops, so much the better!) A lucky few will master all the formal and informal rules of the profession well enough to get one of the coveted seats around the high table at Wizard College. The rest have to settle for a life spent casting Magic Missile spells on goblins, instead. 

So where did it all go wrong for your magic-user? Why are they shivering in a dungeon instead of dozing in a nice warm corner of the Senior Common Room? Why are they plotting how to sneak past a troll, when the only plotting they wanted to do was about how to get a seat on the college wine committee? Roll 1d100 to find out!

  1. Your deep and subtle knowledge turned out to be no match for your terrible exam technique.
  2. Disastrous relationship breakdown just before finals scuppered your chances of a top grade. At the time you thought love was more important. You were wrong.
  3. You coasted through your education, getting by on natural talent, until you finally hit a subject you couldn't master at first glance and discovered you had never acquired any actual study skills. 
  4. You joined a drinking society in your first week at college. You finally sobered up shortly after graduation, which in retrospect was probably a bit late.
  5. You proudly declared your support for one faction in an ongoing intellectual controversy, only to discover that the people assessing your work all adhered to the other side.
  6. You were too busy doing part-time work to pay your extortionate college fees to actually do any studying.
  7. You foolishly prioritised mastering your subject over making the right connections while at college.
  8. Hosting ever-more-legendary college parties seemed like a great idea until you got expelled for setting fire to the accommodation block.
  9. A senior academic took against you and failed all your assignments out of spite.
  10. Impenetrable university bureaucracy meant that a minor clerical error on your part somehow led to you failing on a technicality.
  11. You unwisely took the advice of your tutors at face value and studied the subjects that you, personally, found most intellectually stimulating, not realising that you were rendering yourself unemployable until it was too late.
  12.  You got really into student politics, and were too busy organising protests and having intense conversations with sexy young radicals to do any actual studying. 
  13. You became fascinated by avant-garde theory, and denounced your tutors as a bunch of obscuratist authoritarians too old and scared to recognise the true brilliance of your ideas, which in retrospect may not have been the best way to open the first paragraph of your dissertation.
  14. Discovered too late that you'd enrolled in a low-status college whose degrees no-one really took seriously. 
  15. The one topic you'd revised for most carefully didn't come up in the paper.
  16. You suffered a massive panic attack in mid-exam, destroying your prospects in a single horrible hour.
  17. You devoted yourself to the fearless and objective pursuit of truth and enlightenment, regardless of where it might lead you. Turns out it led you to some very, very low grades.
  18. The exciting new theory on which you wrote your thesis was discredited shortly after you submitted it. 
  19. You staked everything on making a big breakthrough, but someone else got there first.
  20. Your academic supervisor was exposed as a fraud and you were tainted by association. 
  21. Your tutor stole all your ideas and took all the credit.
  22. You unintentionally offended your tutors by turning down too many social invitations, and discovered too late that none of them would write you references.
  23. Your hazy grasp of academic referencing conventions led to your whole dissertation being failed for plagiarism. 
  24. Your breezy, irreverent, informal presentation style made you stand out in all the wrong ways.
  25. You were written off as a hopeless case when you forgot to wear full academic dress to your first formal dinner.
  26. You didn't find the real library until it was much too late.
  27. You made the wrong friends at college, and subsequently discovered that all your applications for funding kept being mysteriously rejected.
  28. It turned out that scholarship you were counting on was not, in fact, a sure thing.
  29. How were you supposed to know that was a secret society handshake?
  30. Invited to dinner with the professors, ordered the wrong wine, career dead in five minutes flat.
  31. Fell asleep and started snoring loudly in the middle of a very boring lecture by a very famous visiting academic. 
  32. Sent to a conference as a representative of your college, completely fucked up your paper, tutors loathed you for making them look bad and failed you in revenge. 
  33. Tutored by an affable drunk who gave you brilliant grades for everything. You believed you were a genius until you met the real competition.
  34. Just because the invitation to meet the Master says it's optional doesn't mean it's actually optional, idiot!
  35. Went to the wrong lectures.
  36. Used the wrong archives.
  37. Cited the wrong sources.
  38. Spoke at the wrong conferences.
  39. Competed for the wrong prizes.
  40. Sent manuscripts to the wrong publishers.
  41. Collaborated with the wrong academics.
  42. Applied for the wrong kinds of funding.
  43. Held visiting fellowships at the wrong colleges.
  44. Chose the wrong referees. 
  45. Wore the wrong shoes to interview.
  46. Used the wrong honorifics when greeting the Master. 
  47. Said what you really thought about the Master's taste in painting while he still wasn't quite out of earshot.
  48. Came from the wrong town.
  49. Went to the wrong school.
  50. Spoke with the wrong accent.
  51. Worshipped at the wrong church.
  52. Patronised the wrong tailor.
  53. Had the wrong opinion about that new play everyone was talking about.
  54. Spent too much time working.
  55. Spent too little time working.
  56. Didn't get the right permissions.
  57. Mentioned the wrong people in your acknowledgements.
  58. Took the same drugs as everyone else, but made the major faux pas of admitting that you took them.
  59. Walked on the grass without permission.
  60. Fought back when viciously attacked by the college cat.
  61. Passed the port right at High Table.
  62. Dared to complain about the food.
  63. Using long strings of on-trend content-free buzzwords may have sufficed to get you shortlisted, but oh God it did not play well at interview.
  64. Did so well as a poorly-paid teaching assistant with no job security that the faculty decided to just carry on exploiting you forever. 
  65. Couldn't compete with the research resources available to much better-funded rivals.
  66. Staked everything on a brilliant job opportunity without realising it was only ever meant to go to the inside candidate.
  67. Loyally followed your boyfriend/girlfriend to a new city, without realising that everyone at college would forget all about you the instant you left town.
  68. Turned down a safe job to follow up a tip about a more prestigious post elsewhere. You didn't realise that you'd only been invited to make up the numbers until you saw the rest of the shortlist, and by then it was too late.
  69. Just because they say they want your 'honest feedback' doesn't mean you should actually tell them the truth!
  70. All those 'unmissable research opportunities' turned out to be unpaid, and you eventually ran out of family money. 
  71. Used as an expendable catspaw in some kind of esoteric power struggle between two senior academics.
  72. Took a few years out and found that the field had moved on without you.
  73. Framed for academic misconduct by an ambitious rival who wanted to remove you from the competition.
  74. The professor you gave up your old post to work with was undoubtedly brilliant twenty years ago, but these days he's just senile.
  75. Applying for high-status posts made you look over-ambitious.
  76. Applying for low-status posts made you look desperate.
  77. Application letter was much too long and nobody read it.
  78. Your interviewer was your grandfather's college rival fifty years ago and still takes the feud extremely seriously.
  79. Your work was too traditional and it made you look boring.
  80. Your work was too non-traditional and it made you look unsafe.
  81. Panicked in the interview and just started babbling.
  82. Couldn't think of anything clever to say when the interviewer asked: 'And now, do you have any questions for us?'
  83. I think you'll find that that term is now considered highly offensive.
  84. No, of course we don't mean anything by it when we say it. Don't you have a sense of humour?
  85. Insufficiently active in defending the college during the latest town vs. gown riots.
  86. Failure to attend sporting fixtures shows unpardonable lack of college spirit.
  87. Insufficiently aggressive salary negotiations meant that your 'dream job' left you a pauper.
  88. 'Yes, I can see that your work is terribly clever. But has it had any public impact?'
  89. 'Is it relevant to current government priorities?'
  90. 'Does it have any commercial applications?'
  91. 'How does it fit into our college strategy?'
  92. Oh God you should have researched this place more thoroughly before you said that in your interview.
  93. How were you supposed to know they hated each other?
  94. Citing too little existing scholarship made you look ignorant.
  95. Citing too much existing scholarship made you look derivative.
  96. Your first book received a devastating review in the field's leading journal and your career never recovered.
  97. It took you years to work out that the reader was rejecting all your articles because he wanted you to send them to his journal, instead!
  98. Failed to keep pace with changing intellectual fashions.
  99. You were stupid enough to believe them when they said that the dinner wasn't part of the interview.
  100. Learned too late that the college tiddlywinks society was the real key to success all along. 

Monday 21 June 2021

Escape from the Ghoul Queen!

This post is about a situation that arose in a recent session. One of my players suggested that I post it, and I thought it might be of interest as a case study of in-game problem-solving.

The situation was as follows: the party had arranged a meeting with the fearsome Ghoul Queen, in order to negotiate future trade arrangements with her people. The meeting was to take place a few miles from the ruined city she ruled over, one hour before dawn. The PCs really wanted to meet with the Queen, but they were also aware that she was very, very dangerous, and they needed to have an escape plan that would allow them to flee the meeting in case she decided to abduct or murder them, instead.

Image by Sam Kennedy

The Problem Stated:

  • The meeting takes place in a blasted, rocky desert, with quite a lot of cover.
  • The Ghoul Queen is accompanied by a large retinue of ghouls, numerous enough that fighting them is not a realistic option. 
  • The Ghoul Queen is known to have hidden dozens of ghouls in concealed pits around the meeting area, so simply running is likely to be difficult - the ghouls will pop out and grab anyone who tries to flee. 
  • Ghouls are relatively weak individually, but have paralytic claws, so anyone attacked by a whole bunch of them is going to end up paralysed. They have no effective missile weapons.
  • Ghouls have a sharp sense of smell, and can see in the dark.
  • Ghouls hate sunlight, and will retreat underground at dawn.
The party's resources
  • Two clerics, whose spells include Detect Evil, Light, and Levitation (self only, long duration, permits vertical movement only). One of these clerics is a crab mutant who can breathe underwater.
  • Three magic-users, whose spells include Illusion (visual only, lasts as long as the caster continues to concentrate), Ghost Sound (creates audio effects, lasts as long as the caster continues to concentrate), Agility (boosts dexterity), Spider Climb, Gaseous Form (self only, short duration), and Gust of Wind. 
  • Five fighters, skilled in archery, riding, tracking, stealth, camouflage, and concealment.
  • One ratman, who can see in the dark and has an even better sense of smell than the ghouls.
  • Three trained giant rats, saddled and ready for use as mounts or pack animals.
  • A ring of invisibility to undead. (Does not conceal smell.)
  • An amulet that grants perfect night vision as long as the moon is in the sky.
  • A bag of half-rotten internal organs.
  • Quantities of rope and strong metal wire.
  • Survival gear: tents, bedrolls, supplies, etc. 
  • One spyglass.
  • An animated prison block, 20' cube on stompy stone legs, which the PCs can crudely steer using an undead lizard-monkey on a fishing rod, but which makes huge amounts of noise and stops dead at random and unpredictable intervals.
  • One preternaturally intelligent trained raven. 
Take a look through the lists. Think about the situation.  How would you solve it?

Here's what the party did. 

  • Step 1: Two fighters ride out stealthily on giant rats and conceal them behind rocks several hundred feet from the meeting place, well outside sniffing distance. 
  • Step 2: Two magic-users smear themselves with offal from the bag, making themselves smell intensely distracting to ghouls. The clerics, meanwhile, wash themselves to minimise their scent as best they can. 
  • Step 3: One of the clerics puts on the ring of invisibility to undead.
  • Step 4: One of the magic-users casts Illusion and Agility on the non-invisible cleric - Illusion to make it seem as though there's no-one there (an illusion of empty ground), and Agility to allow them to move more stealthily.
  • Step 5: The two clerics and two magic-users go to meet with the Ghoul Queen, although the ghouls only see the two magic-users: one cleric is invisible, one is covered by illusions, and the smell on the magic-users is strong enough to distract the ghouls from the smell of the unseen clerics. Each cleric carries a blanket and a rope.
  • Step 6: As they reach the meeting spot, the two clerics quietly cast Levitate. They then levitate straight up until they are hovering, unseen, above the meeting, holding blankets in their hands. 
  • Step 7: One magic-user conducts the negotiations while the other concentrates on keeping the levitating clerics hidden behind an illusion of empty night sky.
  • Step 8: When the Ghoul Queen gives orders for them to be seized, the magic-users both cast Gaseous Form, passing harmlessly through the grabbing claws of the ghouls, and drift straight upwards until they reach the levitating clerics.
  • Step 9: The magic-users rematerialise behind/on top of the levitating clerics, clinging to their backs and shoulders. The clerics shake out the blankets so that each cleric holds the bottom of their blanket and each magic-user grabs the top, holding them vertically in front of them like sails. The ghouls swarm below, but are unable to attack them while they are airbourne.
  • Step 10: The magic-users cast Gust of Wind spells directly into the blankets they are holding and cling on for dear life as they, and the levitating clerics they are riding on, are propelled hundreds of feet through the air until they are vertically above the spot where the fighters and the giant rats are hiding. The ghouls pursue, but the PCs have a substantial headstart.
  • Step 11: The fighters break cover and ride out to meet them. The clerics let go of the blankets and each drop one end of their coil of rope, which the fighters catch and tie onto the saddles of their giant rats.
  • Step 12: The fighters spur on their giant rats and ride away from the ghouls as fast as possible, heading east towards the rising sun, dragging the levitating clerics behind them on the ends of their ropes, each one with a magic-user still clinging onto their backs and shoulders.
  • Step 13: Dawn begins to break and forces the ghouls to abandon the pursuit, allowing the PCs to circle back to their main camp under the cover of daylight. By evening they are many miles away. 
The players were pretty happy with this triumph of lunatic ingenuity. I bet there were other solutions possible, though. They didn't even use the raven in this one.

Feel free to post your own solutions in the comments below!

Thursday 17 June 2021

Condensation in Action 10: Wrath of the Righteous

Part 10 in an irregular series where I take bloated Pathfinder adventure paths and try to prune them into something more useful. Previous Condensation in Action posts can be found here:

Wrath of the Righteous was Paizo's attempt to write a high-level campaign. Normally their adventure paths top out at level 15, but this one goes all the way up to level 20, as well as awarding the PCs additional power boosts in the form of 'mythic tiers' along the way. If you think this sounds like a recipe for disaster, you'd be right. D&D has always had three basic tiers - levels 1-3 for scrappy underdogs, levels 4-8 for tough, capable fantasy heroes, and levels 9-14 for epic heroes and domain level play - and has tended to really struggle to imagine what adventures are supposed to look like beyond that point. (Tellingly, most of the original classic module series like Dragonlance and Queen of the Spiders topped out at level 14.) What are you meant to do once you've outleveled the dragon at the bottom of the dungeon?

Most of Wrath of the Righteous is very boring: just standard-issue dungeon crawling with much, much higher numbers. The situations quickly start to get ridiculous: the PCs are strong enough to take on dungeons full of demons by book 2, so all that books 3-6 can do is fill their dungeons with ever-bigger demons. One late-campaign dungeon has guards who are fourteenth-level demonic clerics made of locusts riding ancient black dragons. In any other campaign, just one of these guys would be a terrifying end-boss whose dark schemes threaten entire nations. In this one whole groups of them just sit around like glorified security guards, keeping an eye out for intruders and waiting for the over-levelled PCs to wander past and kill them all. 

This hexcrawl is what I was able to salvage. About half of it comes from the appendices rather than the adventures proper!

Context: This adventure takes place on a militarised frontier zone, where a crusading military order maintains a string of fortified settlements along the edges of a demon-haunted region of deserts and jungles, blighted by the release of unholy energies a century ago. (The order was founded in response to this event, and has had the same leader, Queen Galfrey, ever since.) Recently, stories have been emerging from the jungles of some kind of magical and/or industrial undertaking by the region's most prominent demon-cult, the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth. Armies fare poorly in the jungles, and Queen Galfrey is in the market for a team of disposable, deniable scouts willing to brave the warped lands of the south and work out what's going on before it's too late...

A Note on the Military Situation: The land north of the jungles is notionally controlled by Queen Galfrey, though the border is porous, and beasts and cultists from the south sometimes slip across. The jungles are inhabited mostly by monsters and cultists, too few in number to meet the crusaders on the field of battle, but amply capable of whittling down military expeditions who enter their territory. Over the last century the crusaders have several times advanced as far as the southern coast and claimed 'victory', but the jungles are impossible to hold and they have always ended up retreating, leaving nothing but abandoned forts and temples in their wake.

Hexes are 12 miles across.

  • 0000: This broken-down old town is sinking into the swamps, and has been abandoned by all but its most misanthropic inhabitants, who are increasingly coming to resemble the toads that infest its rotting buildings. One among them is a master astrologer, an expert in predicting all kinds of ill-fortune, but the only thing he wants is to be left alone. If he could be persuaded to cooperate, his divinatory abilities would provide one way to navigate the ivory labyrinth at 0104.
  • 0001: This shadowy, bat-haunted town is run with psychopathic violence by its despotic governor, who has reduced its people to a state of abject terror. In truth, she, in turn, is a mere pawn of the cabal of vampires who secretly run the town, using its cowed inhabitants as food stock. The vampires are no friends to the Templars, whose victory would ruin their comfortable living arrangement, and could be convinced to ally with the PCs if they were persuaded that the threat against them was serious enough. (Such an alliance would, however, obviously need to be kept secret from the crusaders.)
  • 0002: In this tower lives a crazed cavalier, a defector from the crusades, who believes the victory of the demons is inevitable and hopes to win their favour and attention by committing random acts of pointless villainy. The townsfolk of 0001 hate and fear him, but their governor is in no hurry to apprehend him, as his depredations are a good excuse for all manner of restrictions and curfews.
  • 0003: A succubus lairs in this desecrated chapel. She is served by a band of charmed warriors - mostly ex-crusaders - who believe her to be a holy goddess, and will gladly lay down their lives in her service.
  • 0004: These mountains conceal a ruined and accursed city, among whose shattered buildings can be found an ancient library of stone tablets containing many secrets otherwise lost to the outside world, including maps of the Ivory Labyrinth at 0104 (which was built by the same vanished race who constructed this city). It has no guardians, but its curse afflicts all who discover it with psychotic and murderous jealousy, meaning that expeditions that stumble across it tend to self-destruct long before they bring word of it to the world beyond.
  • 0005: This blasted ash waste is the origin-point of the demonic taint that afflicts these lands. The earth here trembles with magical energy, and the air is full of demonic whispers. Anyone remaining here too long will be tainted in body, mind, and soul. 
  • 0006: The jungles here are roamed by a filth spirit who takes the form of a woman made of mud, rising from foul-smelling seepage of its rivers and caves. She is furious about the mining activities of the Templars in 0105, which are polluting 'her' waters with all kinds of weird magical run-offs, and will gladly assist in any efforts to shut them down. 
    • 0100: These marshy hills are collectively known as the Moonbog. They are dotted with huddled settlements, who live in fear of the werebeasts who roam the moors by night.
    • 0102: Hidden in these hills is a trap-filled dungeon of iron and stone - the stronghold of a cruel demon, the Razor Princess. She is served by a demonic murderer with the head of a stork, who abducts victims for her and drives them through her deathtrapped mazes so that their blood might lubricate her cruel machines.
    • 0103: The jungle here is roamed by a flayed, headless angel, once an ally of the crusaders, now a victim of the Templars. It attacks intruders with its still-blazing sword, its body continuously spurting gouts of boiling, sulpherous blood over anyone who comes too close.
    • 0104: Here stands the Ivory Labyrinth itself, a vast subterranean maze paved and walled with ancient bones. It is inhabited by primitive humanoids who have dwelt there for centuries, but who have recently been enslaved by the Templars, who have claimed the place as a site sacred to their demonic patron Baphomet. The labyrinth is very confusing, mostly due to the demonic magic that infuses it, and navigating it successfully is almost impossible without very good scouts (such as the Pitlings at 0401), magical aid (such as the Stalker's Crossbow from 0205 or the divinations of the astrologer at 0000), or a map (such as the one at 0004). The Templar leadership are all demoniacs, who willingly invite demonic spirits into their bodies, and spend most of their time in states of entranced spirit-possession. Their champion wields an enchanted golden scimitar, which once belonged to the wife of the antipaladin from 0404.
    • 0105: Here, deep in the jungles, the Templars have begun mining enchanted crystals from the magic-saturated earth. Their mine labourers are demonic minotaurs, who use their immense strength to hack their way through the rock. The more of these crystals they mine, the more demonic spirits their leaders will be able to call down into their bodies. If left unchecked for too long, they will become powerful enough to sweep away the crusaders once Queen Galfrey finally meets her death. 
    • 0107: Here a demonic sorcerer dwells with his herd of man-eating aurochs. He is notionally allied with the Templars, but is happy to turn a blind eye to visitors as long as they bring offerings of human flesh for his herd.
    • 0201: This manor house is home to a noble family, supposedly subjects of Queen Galfrey, but secretly loyal to the Templars. Building a labyrinth in their own home was a bit impractical, so instead they settled for a hedge maze, consecrated by unholy stone bull's heads buried beneath its corners. Unbelievers who try to navigate it find themselves becoming confused, their bodies growing heavy, their skin scratched by branches and opening in hundreds of tiny wounds that never, ever stop bleeding. By the time they reach the centre of the maze, where the family wait for them, they're ripe for slaughter.
    • 0204: This ruined temple is full of maggots that constantly squirm across its floor, spelling out heretical prayers with their writhing bodies. If intruders enter, the maggots twist themselves into the shape of unholy runes instead, blasting all those who gaze upon them. Beneath the temple are tunnels made from heaving, cancerous flesh, continuously fed upon by vermin. At their heart meditates an awful cleric made of locusts, the servant of an ancient demon lord of vermin. If he is still alive after the Templars are defeated, he will lay claim to their abandoned places of power and start calling forth horrible insect monsters, laying the foundations of a new demon-cult to replace them.
    • 0205: This Templar stronghold is guarded by obese naked undead armed with scythes, who have the power to cause bloody wounds to open upon all those they gaze upon. Within dwell a nest of cultists who have amputated their own feet and replaced them with enchanted brazen hooves, the better to resemble their demonic master. If their stronghold is invaded they attack in a kicking, trampling mob. One of them wields the Stalker's Crossbow, whose wielder will always be able to find the last person wounded by it.
    • 0302: This frontier camp is the current base of Queen Galfrey. Galfrey swore at the very start of the crusade to vanquish the demons or die trying: she is now over 100 years old, her life prolonged at crippling expense by alchemical means. Utterly weary of her life of endless warfare, she has developed a not-so-subtle death-wish, and has begun provoking new battles mostly in order to give herself a chance to die in them. (It hasn't worked yet because people with alchemically-enhanced bodies and a century of combat experience and are very difficult to kill.) Morale in the camp is low, as the soldiers resent being made to risk their lives in unnecessary battles. They have been secretly infiltrated by an agent of the Templars, Hosilla, who is here posing as a knight from a minor (and fictional) noble house. If the queen actually does manage to get herself killed, Hosilla will hasten back to the Ivory Labyrinth at 0104 and tell the Templars to call down as many demons as they can and strike as soon as possible, while the crusaders are still reeling from her loss. If the mine at 0105 has not been disabled yet, they will probably win. 
    • 0304: The trees here exude a sticky sap into the poisonous, swampy waters below. Anyone who ascends into the canopy is set upon by monstrous bird-creatures, who attack in screeching flocks
    • 0307: Here the jungle is torn open by vast rifts inhabited by warped and troglodytic humanoids, who roam ceaselessly searching for prey. 
    • 0401: This massively fortified clifftop city is the stronghold of the crusaders. The cliffs beneath are riddled with caves and tunnels inhabited by the 'pitlings', deformed descendants of the original crusaders who found their children were born warped by the weird energies to which they had been exposed during their campaigns. The people of the city regard the pitlings with scorn, but the pitlings still revere their warrior ancestors, guarding the graves of their crusader forebears and nurturing a pathetic loyalty to the state that rejected them. They are hardy and stealthy and can see in the dark, making them perfect scouts for any attack on the Ivory Labyrinth at 0104.  
    • 0404: The jungles here are inhabited by giant slugs and dire crocodiles. On its poisoned rivers floats an enchanted barge, pulled by a great skeletal serpent, and manned only by a freezing undead antipaladin as cold as his own frozen heart. He wields a terrible icy halberd, which freezes the blood of all those it wounds. He will curtly question all those who pass if they have seen his wife, who vanished into the Ivory Labyrinth years ago: anyone failing to give a useful answer will receive an icy death, instead. If touched or wounded by her scimitar (see 0104), his heart melts and all his unholy powers desert him.
    • 0405: Deep in these jungles lies a hidden chasm, apparently bottomless, whose walls are lined by the immense fossilised bodies of dead demon kings from ages past.
    • 0502: In this town, the people long ago started to adopt the talking animals that occasionally wandered from the forests, keeping them as pets and messengers. Unfortunately for them, the animals are demon-tainted and delight in defamation and slander, with the result that the whole town is now a tangle of feuds, scandals, and misplaced attempts at revenge. (In particular, everyone is convinced that their neighbours have something to do with all the children who have been going missing recently - in fact these have been taken by the inhabitants of the house at 0503, frequently with the connivance of the talking animals.) The people are highly resistant to the idea that their animal companions are anything other than loyal and adorable. 
    • 0503: High in these gloomy mountains stands a huge house in which kidnapped children tend to a great clockwork mechanism of obscure significance, guarded by cloaked, silent figures and clanking automata who hunt down any who try to escape. What, if anything, the machine actually does is deeply unclear.
    • 0504: A succubus inhabits this mansion, beset by besotted admirers longing for her favour or even acknowledgement. Most starve to death in her courtyards, or kill one another in desperate attempts to win her attention and prove their devotion. Only the most exceptional displays of talent or prowess will suffice to win an audience. 
    • 0600: This steep mountain valley echoes with distant, half-heard songs. (These come from a tragic ghost who haunts its slopes, but finding her is extremely difficult.) It leads to a smug little town, bright with mirrors and loud with bells, whose vain inhabitants are notionally loyal to the crusade but actually care nothing for the outside world. It would be a good source of mirrors with which to torment the rat-demon at 0603.
    • 0601: This town is a prison-colony, to which convicts are set from throughout Queen Galfrey's domain to work as slave labourers, mining gems from the hills. (These are the kingdom's most profitable export.) Because slaves are so much more profitable than corpses, many captured low-level demon cultists have been sent here, and their teachings are spreading covertly among the convicts. If the flow of gems from the mines was disrupted then the crusaders would soon be unable to afford Queen Galfrey's ruinously expensive life-extension potions, and she would wither and die within a year. 
    • 0603: This ruined town was built by the crusaders during one of their expansionist phases, only to be abandoned when the tides of war turned. Now it is infested by flocks of fiendish vultures, and roamed by a ghastly knife-wielding rat demon that hates and fears its own reflection. A band of mad knights camps nearby, utterly unreconciled to the town's abandonment and determined to reclaim it regardless of what it may cost them (or anyone else). 
    • 0604: This ruined shrine is inhabited by a deeply confused demon, who unwisely preyed upon a priestess of the goddess of dreams. The priestess linked their minds as she lay dying, and now the demon has a head full of someone else's emotions and memories and is having a massive identity crisis. She still has her demonic instincts towards cruelty, but her new human feelings mean that she feels revolted by them. If her newly human side was carefully nurtured she might be guided along a path of repentance, but any kind of severe stress will cause her to have a massive breakdown and start lashing out. 
    • 0605: Here a boiling river pours out of the mountains and runs through the jungle to the sea, terminating at a beach of powdered bone.
    • 0607: This graveyard island is surrounded by shipwrecks, driven upon its shores by the regular floods and hurricanes that beset it. It is the home of a powerful ghoul, the Coffin Groom, who feasts upon the drowned dead.
    • 0701: This ghost town was abandoned when its well ran dry. By night it is haunted by the walking corpses of the parched and vengeful dead. 
    • 0704: This desert is inhabited by gigantic scorpion-human hybrids, who know ancient spells capable of calling armies of mummified demons up from their crumbling tombs to do their bidding. They greatly predate the conflict between the crusaders and the Templars, but have been stirred up by the energies released at 0005. If the taint could be lifted from the land they would go back to sleep.