Friday, July 31, 2020

The Point Crawl and Spatial Resolution

Introduction and the "Linear Point Crawl"

I was taking the train across town (now a few months ago, none take the train across town in these times) and looking at the transit map when I realized that they had created the most basic kind of a point crawl: a sequence of locations (stations) and vectors (the track between them) without the opportunity to change the order of those locations (you can't skip a station). I am a geographer as well as a forester, I work in the geospatial world and spend a lot of time and energy thinking about the locations of things in relation to each other. 

Many in the RPG community praise the adventure structure of a point crawl. The premise is this: the adventures take place in discrete locations (dungeons usually), while exploration occurs in the vectors between those locations (the wilderness usually).

Many of the "mainstream" RPG adventures published follow this most basic point crawl structure (as well documented by Joseph Manola in his series of Consolidating Pathfinder Adventure Paths). Just as you "finish" one location you are directed (not gently!) to the next one by plot contrivances, hence the abhorrent accusation of "rail-roading".

Lets call this form of the point crawl the "Linear Crawl". Its features are this:
  • Locations are the only places where the game "happens"
  • The order in which you visit them is constrained absolutely
The minimum requirements to run a Linear Point Crawl are: 
  • A series of adventuring locations that you have planned for players to visit
  • An order in which the adventuring locations may be visited
Of course even the most egregious example of a rail roading adventure is flexible enough to allow the adventurers to return to town between adventuring sites, an implicit allowance for non-linear travel, but only to places where adventure "don't really happen". Sometimes this hub changes during an adventure, for example the party now always returns to a big city instead of the small town they started in.

The travel between locations is often hand waved (after all adventure doesn't happen there), but some times these published adventures use a technique to mask the linear nature of their adventures:  wilderness encounters (see D&D 5e's Tomb of Annihilation). These wilderness encounters occur between locations, and sometimes are even supported by random encounter tables. These help the adventure feel like it has the opportunity for exploration with a non-linear structure, but this is an illusion. This style of wilderness "exploration" rarely gives the players any real autonomy to explore beyond the encounter, it functions as a way to tax the character's resources while they travel and as content filler.

An example of a Linear Point Crawl style adventure.

The "Multi-Path Point Crawl"

The next order of complexity up is what I would describe as the "Multi-Path Point Crawl". This is where locations are connected in a more complex way, with the opportunity for multiple vectors leading to or from a single location. This means that locations are still the primary focus, but not all locations have to be visited and the order that they are visited in can be influenced by the player, though there may still be constraints (like time, more on that later). To use the train map analogy, this train system has multiple lines who share some common stations, riders can choose from several routes to get to their destination.

Many adventures have an in built time constraint: an impending orcish invasion, a lich gathering strength and corpses for an undead army, the king is dying and needs a drink from the fountain of virility, etc. With this structure, adventurers are incentivized to move quickly and efficiently twords their goal, meaning that choosing the correct path/destination has consequences and that they will not get the opportunity to visit every location or travel every vector. This structure is common in a more narrative style of play, generally not the style of play so well described and explored in these articles by Ben L: Pleasures of the OSR Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Sandbox style play does not rely on these drivers, it has many other conflicts and motviations.

An excellent example of this tension comes to us from the Fellowship of the Ring, where the Fellowship tries and fails to cross through the Redhorn Pass and has to turn back and travel through the Mines of Moria (also an interesting example of wilderness like exploration and travel through a dungeon like environment). They had three choices as laid out in the book: travel south and pass near to Saruman's tower (dismissed out of hand), to travel though the Mines of Moria (a dwarf stronghold gone strangely silent in recent years, Gandalf resists this option) or travel over the Rehorn Pass (a perilous journey but preferable to the Mines). Tension is achieved by the slowing of their important journey and their choices having consequences.

To summarize: the multi-path point crawl still places and emphasis on the locations visited, but the order those locations are visited (if at all) are removed or relaxed. In a multi-path crawl you need:
  • A set of adventuring locations that players may visit
  • A set of travel vectors between those locations
  • Information provided to the play on the consequences for those deciding which path to take or local to visit (for example they might get more treasure for traveling through the Wight Wastes to the Mound of Misery as opposed to the easier travel along the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City)
An example of a Multi-Path Point Crawl adventure structure. If you can find a way to activate the Standing Stones you can skip the Keep of the Meta-Fungi altogether (an avoid the mind altering spores!)

The Hex Crawl and the "Spatially Relevant Plane Crawl"

The level of resolution that I am currently enamored with is what I will call the "Spatially Relevant Plane Crawl", the logical extreme in complexity of a Hex Crawl.

The problem: The highest level of spatial resolution possible is a to-scale map where every point on the map is in a sense a location.  This is the resolution that we are trying to simulate with the Spatially Relevant Plane Crawl, we want players to feel as if they can point to any point on a map and say that is where they want to visit. Of course planning a to-scale map would take a prohibitively long time and take up a large amount of space. Because we have limited time, space, and creative juice we should not attempt to create a to-scale representation of the play world. These valuable resources are better spent on things that players will actually interact with. The goal of this approach is to simulate the experience of a to-scale map. So how do we do this?

A common approach is to use a Hex Map, a map with a grid of hexagons projected onto it, often with a series of rules of thumbs for the correct amount of content for each hex: a monster lair, the dominant ecosystem, some hidden locations, etc. Often these maps may not even have hexes projected onto more detailed maps, but instead have some visual shorthand for the content of a hex:

This is... fine. It uses a few basic topographic/ecological features to indicate the content of a hex (forest, hilly forest, marsh, grass land, hills, mountains, water, etc). There are usually accompanied by a keyed table telling you what you can find in each hex.

While the above map is perfectly serviceable, it is not especially compelling aesthetically nor does it have the little bits of weird detail that real world maps have or the fun landmarks and style of the best fantasy maps. It also restricts/abstracts choices into which of the adjacent hexes the party wants to venture to next, leaving little room to study the terrain between the players and their destination.

A nice solution that appeases my aesthetic sensibilities is to simply project a hex grid onto an existing/generated map. It removed the clunky and harsh divisions between hexes, and allows the topography to tell more of the story. Getting the grid to match perfectly to labels/features can be a bit clunky and doesn't solve the problem of abstracting choices into which hex to travel into next, so lets discard the hex grid entirely.

Using/drawing/generating a good map can help you create challenges and interesting choices for your players. The features I look for in a "good" map are these:
  • Topography is indicated, preferably with actual topographic lines, but maps with a hillshade effect give a good idea of topography as well
  • A reasonable scale. Do you really expect your players to walk from New York to San Francisco? If not, then you probably don't need a map at that scale. I find that getting an idea of what a reasonable scale can be a little hard, think of hikes/runs/bike rides you've been on, how long did it take you to travel that far? Could you keep up that pace over many days? There is no need to plan a map in detail where most of it's content will never be seen (an argument for localism and a discussion of long distances/time).
  • Some idea of the dominant ecosystem (as you know I like to build systems around ecosystems), this will help fill wilderness travel content. This can be represented in a choropleth map with color codes for land cover.
Using the above basic requirements as a guide I generally like to enrich my map with the following:
  • Place settlements and the paths/highways between them
  • Place adventuring locations (ruins/keeps/monster lairs/etc)
  • Name some major wilderness areas and think about their major features/gimmicks

With a good map with the above elements, I feel like I have what I want to run an adventure. I can build random encounters/locations for the wilderness areas (see an approach to this here) and flesh out dungeons and settlements as usual.

So when my players look at their map and point to some far and whimsically named place beyond the mountains and say they want to visit there next I can nod and say "Great, go ahead and roll the first wilderness encounter as you make your way into the foothills bellow the Unpathable Peaks..."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Fountain is Dry

I fear this blog has gone the way of previous endeavors of mine. I have curated online spaces before, and gone into the spiral of self conscious approval seeking where I write/showcase things I think folks want to see. Once I realize the vanity of the project I tend to abandon it.

I don't think my time writing here has been wasted, but I grapple with half finished ideas and the uncertainty of publishing something that is uninteresting/derivative/etc. Perhaps I simply need to pretend that I have no audience (and perhaps I no longer do?).

The Nature of a Dry Fountain

Since my last media consumption update  my life has changed somewhat. I have moved from one end of the West Coast to the other, from a rural town to a major American city, and I finally was able to move-in with my long time significant other. Like many people my life has been disrupted by the pandemic, but I am among the privileged that get to continue my work from home.

My days are general absorbed by work (now chained to a desk, no field work for this forester), exercise (I am running semi-seriously for the first time since college), cooking (one of my great joys), reading (perhaps a blog post on its own?), playing video games when I have the time, and of course playing RPGs with new friends.

I actually rather enjoy the routine, but perhaps cabin fever is getting me anxious to write again.

So, perhaps the fountain might yet trickle?

Here is some bread I baked

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Time Travel, Chronomancy, and the Hard Working Men and Women Who Make it Possible

Time Travel Disclaimer

You need to be very very careful when introducing time travel into your game. Its tricky, lots of fantasy is ruined by it. So how do we play with one of the most explored ideas in modern fiction? Carefully, with moderation.

This means introducing time travel to your party at the right time, and limiting its use either through prohibitive resource scarcity or unique circumstances leading to its application.

This guy is clearly a chronomancer, who else has the time to learn to balance on their cane like that?
Source: ReznovKG


But of course some wizard somewhere fucked that right up and invented time manipulation magic, Chronomancy. They probably thought, "Oh, I'll just go back in time once to kill the Dark Lord when he was a mortal and zip back to the modern day", and then ended up causing some horrible paradoxes that ripped up the mortal plane.

Luckily in this timeline the wizards haven't done anything too stupid yet and if you are very rich or powerful you too can toy with the sands of Time like a child plays with dirt. Here are some of the most common services for sale in the exclusive Time Market:
  • Chrono-experiential effects: This is time magic cast on the mind, to let you relive times past or to make time go by faster for you. Be careful, walking down memory lane is tilt shifted into the red spectrum of light, lending these experiences a rosy hue...
  • Time rate adjustment spells: Haste and Slow are the most common examples of this form of chronomancy. Its relatively easy to change how someone or something flows through time, their hearts just might not like beating at 240 bpm every fight though.
  • Time stoppage: Pausing time is much more major magic, though it carries none of the dangers of tampering with the timeline. Some Chronomancers have made mistakes meddling with this magic, and have trapped themselves inside a single moment as TIME HERMITS (thanks Arnold for the idea).
  • Time travel: The pièce de résistance of time magic, flinging a whole person through the timeline. Its not accurate, and its not cheap, but you can do it. Be careful when traveling forward in time, you don't always land in the most probable timeline. For example, if the odds are 1 in 10 that the Chancellor to the Emperor will successfully assassinate him and take the Empire for himself, there is a 1 in 10 chance that the future you travel to will be in the reign of the new Emperor. This gets nuttier the farther into the future you go, as possibilities branch and timelines fork. Its much more reliable to travel back in time, though you may have trouble finding your way back to your origin point.
The primary constraint on chronomancy is getting enough raw resources, specifically Time, to work with. Thats where the Time Market comes in...

The Time Market

The Tardy Sifters and other groups who preform Time accumulation labor are the bottom rung of a tall ladder of movers and users of Time. This economy can't really be altered, indeed if they were any more efficient at collecting Time their Time would be lest potent and thus would be Time wasted. No, grueling and inane labor are the best ways to accumulate a lot of Time.

Tardy Sifters making making their way to market
Source: Artur Sadlos

Its like crack cocaine or a pyramid scheme, its a viscous cycle designed to keep more and more people down while those running the show profit. The chronomancers don't pay in gold, but rather chrono-experiential potions.

Here's how it works: Say you miss your first cat. You go to the Time Market and ask a chronomancer for a way you could hang out with your cat again. The chronomancer prepares a draught for you that lets your mind travel back in time and play with your cat while your body is catatonic. You get snapped back to the present after the potion wares off. You ask the chronomancer for more time with your cat, but you are out of gold. He says its no problem, just go into the desert and collect me some sand, its easy work and in return you can hang out with your cat more. And so you are well on your way to chrono-experiential dependency where you are locked in a self reinforcing cycle of labor and blissful visits to a more rosy past as your body withers and the present feels like a prison.

Keep in mind this is not memory magic, this is a way to actually send the mind back in time. This is relatively easy because minds don't weigh anything and can't mess up the timeline like whole bodies can.

He might not have intended to visit this future, but he's making the most of it.
Source: Nate Abell

Monday, May 28, 2018

Raccoons Might be Real Life Goblins

I've a growing suspicion.

It has to do with raccoons.

And our favorite green men, goblins.

Here me out here: Raccoons may be as close as we in the mundane world get to interacting with goblins.

Think of the attributes of a goblin: small, mischievous, stupid but devilishly clever, creepy hands, they are most active at night, their teeth are small but sharp, and while they are a nuisance alone they are a terror in large groups.

Now think of raccoons, everything in the above list can be applied to them.

So for your delight, photographic proof that raccoons and goblins might as well be the same:

A failed goblin ambush

Might as well be a raccoon


The situation would be the same if they were all raccoons
Source: Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), from “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, George G. Harrap, 1933

They both seem fascinated with shiny things

And to finish it off, a gif of a raccoon climbing a crane (when I saw this i was genuinely surprised, it moves like a humanoid!):
Assassins Raccoon
I rest my case.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Limáni, the City of Wharves

City of Wharves

Limáni was once a small crescent shaped atoll, barely sand bars at low tide but with sturdy (and treacherous breakers) keep the worst of the surf off. Located just to the southwest of the patrolled waters of Minoan Republic, these sand bars were used as a way for traders to exchange goods and avoid Minoan taxes before entering the Republic's domain.

It started small, a few boards lain in the sand and a few crude moorings. Through time docks were built in the shallow water, and pilings were driven into the sand. Not through careful engineering but sheer weight of  convenience and shortcuts a lattice of gangplanks and derelict vessels formed the bones of the floating town.

An atoll
Source unknown

In the modern era hardly anything is built on the shifting sands of the atolls, they are used more like a unstable foundation upon which the rest of the city is tethered. There are no great structures in the City of Wharves, nothing is taller than decks of the ships that make up her body and the masts swaying above. The bulk of living and business actually occurs below the waterline in the hulls of ships, where psári oil lamps burn in damp claustrophobic cargo bays never built to be used as a tavern in the sticky humidity.

Few people call Limáni home permanently, most of the stable population is of descendants of merchant exiles from the Republic and pirates. Most are just passing through, though they may stay for a night or a year they are all trying to get their ships free and sail to less rank waters. 

Hazards in the City


As the tide rises and falls, so does the City of Wharves. You may go out to dinner in the central part of town, and find you have to hike up to the rim and down the other side to return to your ship. The city is only roughly level at hightide, and with three moons the tide in Ánemos are erratic at best and extreme and deadly at worst.

Because of the extremely flexible topography of the city navigation can be difficult, the path you took out will look very different if it is there at all when coming back the same way. The decks of ships moored in the city are considered open to the public, there would be no other way to get around if everyone kept each other off their decks.

Think of the city as a large net, at every node a wooden block of variable size and buoyancy floats, and there are little people trying to get their little block out of the net all the time while other little people try and shore up sagging parts of the net. Its chaos.

Medieval Venice was much too organized

Use the below table for generating random events when chasing across the decks of the city:
2: Rapid low tide! As you jump from deck to deck the sea seems to drain like a bathtub, and a great rip sunders this part of the city. A successful Dex/Reflex save will get you on the far side of the rip away from your pursuers, a failure will trap you on with no where to run from your pursuers.

3: Falling mast! +6 to hit, 2d8+4 bludgeoning damage to the (1d3): Pursing party, the pursued party, or the deck (it may smash open!) between the parties (this makes the pursuers loose a turn to clamber over it)

4: Dead end! Either dive into the water of face your pursuers.

5: A crane is lifting cargo crates, if you jump you might be able to grab on and get swung far ahead of your pursuer. This is an Str/athletics check, on a failure you 1d3: get thrown into the water, get thrown right into your pursuers, or you miss to no adverse effect.

6: Popup market! Roll on the goods table a few times and thats whats being sold. Make it effect the chase: resins means people might get stuck to the deck, silks can be hidden behind, pottery can be smashed, etc.

7: No chase event

8: You dash into a tent-tavern on the deck of a large ship. Its very dark compared with the glaring sun outside, giving you enough time to hide. The party all roll stealth checks, using the highest, against the pursuer's perception checks, again using the highest. Even if caught here a tavern brawl can be easily started.

9: Float Patrol gang sinking a ship directly in your way! You can try and dash over it as it sinks, a Dex/reflex check; or you can face your pursuers.

10: Rotten gangplank! A random party member of the either the pursing or pursued party must spend the next 2 chase turns struggling to get free, or 1 turn if their party helps them.

11: Rouge wave! You can see it coming, the decks a few ships away violently surge up and then down. Dex/relex save or be thrown into the drink.

12: Fire! As you run someone accidentally kicked over a lantern and the inferno is burning brightly behind! 2d6 fire damage, Dex/reflex save for half. Loose all pursuit but their is a 2 in 6 chance someone saw it and thinks it was you that started the fire, they will report you to the Float Patrol for justice, which in the case of arson means death. They will come looking for you in 1d4 days.

*Its very hazardous to swim in the middle of Limáni, you are always at risk of getting crushed between rocking ships. Smaller players have it a little easier. Everyone is vulnerable to drowning if they get tangled in the many nets/mooring lines in the murky water.

The Float Patrols

These roving bands of  "public servants" are half police force, half protectionist racket, half public works crew, half vigilante mob, and half fire brigade. They haphazardly patrol the city tightening lines between ships, adjusting gangplanks, maintaining pilings, condemning sinking vessels by cutting them loose, collecting "docking fees", and generally working twords keeping the city afloat.

Think of them like douchey lifeguards: they are doing something important for public safety, but you can't help but roll your eyes at them.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


You may remember Treanets. That was half the story of magic tree people, dryads are the other half.

Yes, dryads are the "free flowing avatar of the id of a tree and forever tied to their groves." And yes, they are whimsy fucks.

But they also hold something within their coils that the treants rebel against, a true and abiding love for their home.  Treants are born of agony and hardship, they survive a cataclysm and find it within themselves to (literally) uproot themselves and leave the place of their birth to make the best of their circumstances. They have cracks and scars in their bark, sun seared leaves and bundles of hard roots, but they wear their history and triumphs in their bark proudly.

Conversely dryads only ascend to consciousness when their grove reaches some level of abstract beauty in the eye of a passerby. Perhaps a maiden pure of heart and of taste wanders into a glade in the fever of spring to find just the right amount of flowers, lush grass, and shady sweetly blooming trees. She sighs and traipses on, and in her wake a dryad is born of the collective narcissism of the grove.

If treants are bonsia, dryads are English landscape gardening.


..vs this.
The Stowe House

Once a dryad is born they immediately begin to manicure and cultivate their grove to reach even greater heights of beauty. They will obsessivly turn over every rock until they find its perfect face and orient it just so to go with the lilly line pool. They will prune their trees of dead wood so that the breeze can whisper through their crowns more sweetly. They will train squirrels and other woodland creatures to do cute things like frolic and sing.

Every time a sentient being passes through their grove the nymph will take careful notes on how they respond to their grooming. If the passerby seems unimpressed the nymph will confront them and interrogate them as to why they are not captivated by the (psuedo)natural beauty that the nymph strives for. In this way the nymph's concept of beauty grows and adapts to their audience, though the firmest stamp on their aesthetic remains the first observer's impression of the grove.

In this way dryad groves will reflect the society of their neighbors and the drifting standards of beauty, A grove in orcish lands will look very different from a grove in gnomish lands. A dryad born of the whimsy of a child playing make believe in a forest is very different from the bleak observation of beauty on a winters morning by a starving man.

The elves understand some of the mechanics of the dryad-aesthetic relationship and send their most tasteful landscape artists to hike around their lands and appreciate beauty in hopes that dryads are born with their tastes imprinted upon them, thus creating a dreamlike landscape of diligent dryads cultivating elvish ideals of beauty.

A dryad grove in elvish lands

Dryad Encounters:

When traveling players may encounter an area of astounding beauty, the dryads grove. 

Its center piece is:
1: A majestic and ancient tree
2: A quiet pool in a cool running stream
3: An open glade
4: A rock outcropping on a hill
5: A dell nearly hidden by shady trees
6: A waterfall

If the party is suitably impressed the dryad may appear and gloat, if they are unmoved it will appear and attempt to enchant them so as to get constructive criticism (though they take this very poorly).  They are laughably easy to flatter, and are happy to share what they know about the locality. Their ultimate goal is to ensnare a suitably appreciative paramour to appreciate the loveliness of their grove. The bones of great heroes entranced by the dryad may fertilize her flower garden, and they are known to give artifacts of power to those that earn them as they have little use for magic swords and staves.

If you are lucky the dryad might have exactly what you need! Just make sure to compliment her pond.

If any part of their grove is threatened the dryad will call on it's animal allies to divert the threat. When truly incensed they become elemental avatars of rage, as they are effectively demi-gods of their grove, having absolute control of the limited geography.

If a dryad is killed or forcibly removed from their grove they will lay a curse upon their foe: to slowly turn to wood, (mechanically 1 Cha save per month or 1d4 Cha damage) but if they survive the curse for a year and a day the blight stops spreading. Their grove dies with them, any beauty is scorched and mutilated and it becomes an weeping sore of the homely upon the land.

The heart of a dryad is exceptionally valuable, wizards use them for spells and potions that affect perception of beauty. A fresh heart will sell for 5,000 gp, a dried heart will sell for 1,000 gp.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

1d20 Idioms as D&D Monsters and Encounters

1: The Bird in the Hand is Worth the Two in the Bush
The small flightless birds are in a brushy courtyard. They will lunge at the characters and try and latch onto them. When one latches on, another two burst out of the bushes. The fight is multiplicative, if you can remove birds two others rush to hide back in the bushes. They aren't terribly dangerous, and could provide many rations for the desperate adventurer.

2: Back to the Drawing Board
Upon entry into this room the party finds itself on a balcony overlooking a large maze. The maze is diagrammed on a board on the balcony with notes on traps and monsters. If they change what is drawn on the board the maze alters to match. (They should try the maze first, then drop some hints about the drawing board)

3: I'm All Thumbs
These are just a monster made of thumbs, like the thumb-thumbs from Spy Kids but even more horrible to look at. They can wield a bunch of different weapons at once, because they are OPPOSABILITY INCARNATE. The trick is that they are pretty short, have poor reach, and are rather clumsy.

4: Barking up the Wrong Tree
The room of the dungeon is open to the air with a grove a trees growing. There is a small man with a crossbow who, after taunting the party and shooting them, nimbly scampers up a tree. If pursued the party wont find him, and he'll shoot them from some other tree.  He'll keep appearing in a different tree. The solution is to cut down all the trees.

5: Beating a Dead Horse
This thing just wont die. The party will defeat it, move on through the dungeon and it'll drag itself in still wanting to fight at the least opportune moment. Its like the black knight from Monty Python, but stretched out over a whole dungeon.

6: By the Skin of Your Teeth
You have to beat this monster by exactly its HP or it wont die. Its like the very end of parcheesi where you are waiting to roll the right number to go home. Forces you to adjust weapon load out to do less damage. Need to project this situation to the players, otherwise this fight will just piss everyone off.

7: Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch
...or else they will be demon chickens. Found in a room with a bunch of nests and eggs about to hatch, and if one of the players asks how many there they will hatch as a lot of chicken monsters. Otherwise they just hatch as cute lil chickens.

8: Elephant in the Room
A behemoth ineffectively hiding in the corner of a room that wont attack unless you acknowledge it. Probably has a lamp shade over its head.

9: Get Bent Out of Shape
This is just how this monster attacks, it tries to bend you out of shape. Its magical so it wont break your bones, but it will bend them into horrible shapes and leave them that way. It has big strong hands.

10: Head in the Clouds
This monster keeps its conscious non-locally, specifically in the clouds. Its reaction times are pretty slow but it is protected against psychic attacks, and killing their remotely controlled bodies will annoy them and they will probably hunt you with their next ones.

11: Heard it Through the Grapevine
These magical grapevines run through the whole dungeon, whispering what they hear all over the place. Useful and dangerous for a party! Who knows who else is listening?

12: Hit the Sack
A big ol room with a bunch of big ol baddies. Suspended from the ceiling is a sack. If you hit it they all fall asleep.

13: Ignorance is Bliss
These poor guy have been in this dungeon for a long time, probably from kinder times in the past. They will ask about the outside world and the more you tell them the more upset they will get. They eventually fight you, but if you leave them ignorant they are happy and docile.

14: Let the Cat Out of the Bag
There is a bag that the party might find in some loot. Its decorated with embroidered kittens, and seems to have a live cat in it. If you let it out of the bag it becomes a massive cat monster and is quite upset, it will fight to get back in its bag.

15: Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
The dungeon's goblins are giving the horse as a peace they say. Don't look it in the mouth or you will start to notice that its a horrible horse construct (like Arnold K's fucked up horse monsters). Once they realize they are compromised the goblins operating it from inside will cause it to self destruct. Could be weaponized if given to other unsuspecting people.

16: Pull my leg
A giant crab monster who's legs are really easy to rip off if pulled, otherwise quite dangerous.

17: Shoot the Breeze
A shootable but antagonistic wind that harasses the party. When they try and climb something the breeze is there to blow them down, it'll blow dust in their eyes when they are fighting, and just make a general ass of itself. It also really likes to talk.

18: Straw that Broke the Camel's Back
This talkative dried stalk of grass has grown too proud of its defeat of a camel, it'll try and get someone to put it on your back. If it succeeds it breaks your back.

19: Two Birds with One Stone
These huge carnivorous bird must be killed in the same round or else they wont die. The room they are caged in has a few mounted ballista that pass through foes.

20: Devils Advocate
There is a devil in this room with a normal guy. The devil will engage the party while the guy says things like "You know, [the devil] really isn't that bad", "I know its an unpopular opion, but maybe it [the devil] is right", or "Okay, okay. For  the sake of argument you folks look like the bad guys here".


Most of these are bad puns, but it could be fun to populate an idiom dungeon with these if your players are down with a slapstick dungeon. They are really easy to write, so share yours below!