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Howling Tower: So You’re a Noob

Gustave Doré’s illustration of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King”, 1868.Welcome to the end of the Howling Tower hiatus—thanks for coming! The Tower has been silent for too long. During the past year, I’ve been so occupied with huge writing projects that no time or energy was left over for small ones. Lots of good things came out of the past year — Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat for Kobold Press, and a trio of Fifth Edition books published by Necromancer Games: Fifth Edition Foes, Lost Spells, and Quests of Doom. But now that those massive projects are wrapped up, the light is flickering again atop the creepy tower at the dismal end of the valley, and eerie wailing can be heard wafting through the pre-dawn mist again.

This six-part series of columns will be aimed squarely at RPG players instead of GMs. Gamemasters have reams of material to peruse when they want advice on how to do their jobs better, but the pickings can be slim where players are concerned. The goal is to help readers develop better roleplaying habits and attitudes so they can get the most enjoyment from their time around the game table.

Just because the advice is aimed at the players’ side of the screen doesn’t mean GMs should look away. They’re sure to find some useful tidbits here, too. You can’t be a good GM without understanding where your players are coming from.

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Collection of Curiosities: The Bard’s Haversack

"Jiro the Kobold" by Pat LoboykoThe entertaining wizard might leave you with some lasting impressions—and perhaps even some strange little items. You can roll randomly for a result below, or use the handy number provided with each entry to figure out your result on a d12. You can also pick the one that works for the area in which your characters currently linger.

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Prepared!: Dungeon Props

booksYou’ve made a great dungeon. It has riveting plot hooks, compelling challenges, custom-made traps, and all the atmosphere of an ‘80s goth music video. Now it needs few flavorful bits to finish it off. Prepared! is here to help with a worthy dungeon prop ready to drop into your spelunking masterpiece.

The Enchanted Bookshelf

Read the following when the party initially discovers the bookshelf but have not yet investigated:

You discover a simple bookshelf made from wood leaning against a wall. The bookshelf is five feet square and consists of four shelves. The shelves are crammed full of various books; the spines of the books seem in good shape. From a distance, you can see the wood has been stained with a thick crimson-colored oil. A small glowing stone set into the top suggests an enchantment of some sort.

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Curses for Your Campaign

Théodore Chassériau - Musée d'OrsayOn this day, Friday the 13th, we have for you a list of curses you might wish to level at characters in your campaign. Whether the adventurers are digging into things best left alone or have angered someone who has the ability to gain an unusual sort of revenge that doesn’t involve actual death, you’ll find the following curses useful—and they might even help you gain some ideas of your own! As with other articles on this blog, you can roll for a curse randomly or pick one that suits the immediate situation.

d12. Curse

  1. Every 24 hours, the adventurer cannot speak for 30 minutes. Add another 30 minutes to this time for each day that passes without the curse being removed.
  2. The adventurer phases into and out of existence at least once each day for a period of 1d20 minutes. This can be a random occurrence or it could happen at a specific time each day.
  3. On a specific day each year, the adventurer must do everything asked of him or her.
  4. Any time magic is used around this adventurer, the magic has a 1d20 change of failing in a spectacular way.
  5. Healing that this character provides or receives is halved.
  6. The adventurer must spend at least an hour under water each day until the curse is removed or turn into a crow for 24 hours.
  7. Roll a d20 secretly. The next time that player rolls the same result on a d20, that player’s character turns into a spirit that cannot affect anything on the material plane until he or she tithes an item that this adventurer has used daily to a priest, vowing never to use the item again. Until the curse is broken, repeat this process.
  8. The adventurer creates a doppelganger each time he or she looks into a mirror.
  9. Everything tastes like peppermint to this adventurer.
  10. Each time the adventurer turns a corner, a maniacal laugh rings out loudly.
  11. Until the curse is lifted, the adventurer slowly starts to change into wood. In 1d20 days, the character will have transformed completely into a wooden form.
  12. Any metal touched by the characters forms rust. If the metal is in continuous contact with the adventurer, it will dissolve into rust within 1d12 hours.

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Treasure Tables: Objets d’Art

Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fogLobbies and foyers are decorated with the strangest things. If a local official or minor dignitary isn’t sure how to pay their bill, use the following table to add a little variety to your loot or let it serve as inspiration for a story hook. The value of the items can vary at the GM’s discretion but are suitable replacements for a significant amount of coinage or as the centerpiece for a more significant collection, although they could be worth more to the right person. You can roll randomly for a result below using the handy number provided with each entry to figure out your result on a d20. You can also pick one that works for the area in which your characters currently linger.

1. An elegant, polished driftwood sculpture depicting a griffon and small dragon mid-combat. The intricate detail and delicate features demonstrate a mastery of the craft, even to a layperson.

2. A shoulder-height rough cut blue crystal spire surrounded by a handful of gently orbiting uncut crystal fragments. The floating fragments resist movement as though tethered to the spire by steel cord.

3. A finely sculpted marble bust of a middle-aged, balding bureaucrat. The moment that you make eye contact with the statue, it acknowledges your presence with a wink.

4. A large, fat gray rodent with bright eyes, enormous ears, a lustrous coat, and a brush-like tail gazes out at you from the confines of tidy, square black cage.

5. What you can only assume is meant to be an enormous glass depiction of a crab.

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