Tag Archives: Adventure Seeds

The Adventures, My Friends, Are Blowing In The Wind

Here are some adventure ideas based on last week’s post about windmills on medieval maps.

1. Murder Mystery – The town has suffered a rash of thefts and vandalism; Windows have been broken including the stained glass of the church. Jewelry taken from bedrooms while their occupants slept. Small mirrors vanishing. Silver and gold pieces plucked from counter tops when nobody is looking. The incidents seem random and no suspects have been identified.

The old windmill on the outskirts of town has been abandoned for many years. Stories tell of the miller going mad and murdering his workers, whose souls are said to still haunt the place. Two nights ago a watchman noticed flashes of light glinting from the mill as the sun set, its blades glittering in many colors. Investigators approaching the windmill will see that the tattered cloth sails of the blades have been replaced with a thick mass of black feathers with all manner of shiny objects, including broken glass and the stolen items, woven into the bizarre tapestry.

Stranger still is the enormous flock of crows gathered around the windmill, silently watching the investigators. As the setting sun’s rays begin to glint off the illicitly adorned windmill’s blades the entire flock begins to beat its wings, creating an unnatural wind. The sails begin to turn, causing a hypnotic glare to be thrown across the town.

2. Drawing Conclusions – The court magician was well known to be a bit off, but he served the king well and his knowledge of unearthly beasts saved the city against the forces of chaos. So when he asked to move from his tower into the city’s great windmill, the king was happy to grant the request.

In the years of peace that followed the magician became more and more absorbed in his studies. He has sent out adventurers to retrieve all manner of arcane objects for him, including strange inks and feathers from increasingly exotic and powerful winged beings. Other magic users speculate that he is researching spells related to the wind, possibly looking to tap into the Elemental Plane of Air itself.

The magician has also begun drawing strange figures on the sails of the windmill, having several more blades installed to accommodate his designs. One of the adventurers or a local bard may remember having seen devices meant to entertain children that have figures drawn on a wheel. When the wheel is spun it gives the illusion of movement to the figures. The magician may be planning something similar on a much larger scale, but to what end? And the figures he is drawing don’t appear to be any creature you’d find in the sane world.

3. Fe Fi Fo Fum – The town has suffered a rash of grave robberies and a reward has been posted for anyone who can solve the case. Investigations of local magicians and surgeons have turned up nothing. A warren of ghoul tunnels may be discovered, but the ghouls within have already been destroyed. Recently by the looks of it.

A new miller has been producing fine flour, which the baker has been turning into a most excellent bread. The bread is so good that it has become the talk of the barony and demand among the nobles has made the miller and baker quite wealthy.

Years ago the miller and baker were clerics in the cannibalistic Cult of Vaprak. The cult was crushed by the baron’s forces and the other clerics tortured and executed for their crimes. The two survivors swore revenge.

The clerics are behind the grave robberies. They are grinding the bones in the mill and using it as flour for the fine bread. The Feast of Vaprak approaches and on that day they will unleash a curse that will cause all who have eaten the consecrated bread to transform into ogres.

4. Winds of Change – The sea walls of the port city are lined with a battery of unusual windmills. These windmills are capable of generating gales powerful enough to swamp ships and through their magic the city has resisted all invaders. The mills also create gentler winds, capable of speeding allied ships on their way. This has lead to peace and prosperity for many generations.

Recently there have been accidents; a ship blown off course, a storm drawn in instead of repelled. Most recently a group of fishing boats were overturned when the mills’ winds unexpectedly surged with power.

The secret of the windmills is that the wizards’ guild summoned and enslaved Air Elementals to power them. Over the decades the wards have begun to weaken as the guild became complacent. There are few remaining who have the skill and power to restore the wards. To do so will also require rare ingredients and adventurers to retrieve them.

If they fail the Air Elementals will break their bonds and wreak vengeance on the city. A vengeance that some would consider justified. Guild spies are ready to eliminate anyone who discovers the secret of the windmills, especially among the adventurers in the guild’s employ.

5. When the Wind Blows – A great mountain towers over the city and at its peak is the opening of a mighty cavern. Smoke has begun to emerge from the cavern’s mouth.

This heralds the awakening of Ashterath, an ancient red dragon of terrible power. Long ago Ashterath’s fire destroyed entire cities and the plunder of kings was taken for his bed. Armies fell before the dragon’s might.

The reign of terror was finally ended when the Goddess of Night Breezes sent four artifacts down to her faithful clerics. These artifacts were large whistles, cast from mithril and adorned with diamonds. The whistles were attached to the sails of a windmill standing in the shadows of Ashterath’s mountain and as the blades turned the whistles generated soothing music that lulled the dragon into an enchanted sleep.

The whistles of the goddess have been kept safe within the vaults of her temple, or so everyone thought. When the vault was opened the reliquary was empty except for a silver ring engraved with the symbol of Dirk Tongue-Lasher, the legendary Thief of the North.


Have you ever used a windmill in your game? Do you have any more adventure seeds? I’d love to hear them.

If you’re looking for inspiration, I recommend checking out the 1937 cartoon short, The Old Mill. It’s a classic piece of Disney animation. I would expect Mouse Guard players in particular could get some mileage out of it.


Plus it has bats! I’m kind of partial to bats.


Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Dungeon Design, Fantasy


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Design Ideas from History – Why is this Here?

Greetings Programs,

I just returned from a long weekend of celebrating my anniversary. For the last few years my wife and I have picked a state park lodge for our anniversary and spent the weekend hiking and poking around the area. It’s a nice chance to get away and relax.

This year our destination was Spring Mill State Park in Indiana. Among other features, Spring Mill has a fantastic pioneer village. They have around 16 structures dating back to the early 19th century that have all been restored to wonderful condition. There are several history interpreters on site who are knowledgeable and happy to talk at length on the village’s history, including a weaver who has been with the park over 20 years and a blacksmith who has been at the trade for fifty.

I had to laugh at myself. As I was walking through some of the homes I noticed that the walls must have voids behind them. Looking closer I noticed some walls of a different construction than the rest. I had succeeded in my Discover Recent Woodwork roll, but failed my Search for Secret Doors, as I didn’t see a way to access the voids. No doubt this is due to the restoration process.

After all, it was a large home two centuries old with a walled off room. What else could it possibly be?

The center piece of the village is an amazing three story grist mill. This impressive structure has three foot wide stone walls and a large mill that still functions. The mill is powered by a large fly-over water wheel that drives a maze of axles and gears, all made of wood, to turn the heavy mill stones. The mill is powered by water from a cave that feeds the stream flowing through the village. The stream is dammed and the water directed to the wheel by a long and impressive elevated sluice, with the flow controlled by a lever inside the mill. The whole thing still works and you can see it grind meal at the top of every hour. It is an impressive feat of engineering and I have never had the pleasure of seeing a structure like this in such outstanding condition.

The reasons why the village was founded on that spot and how the resources define its history struck a chord with my gamer-brain. It’s not something we always worry about when we’re setting up a map. Harbors and rivers make good locations, but moving inland we often don’t think about why a town is there. At Spring Mill the reasons are clear, right down to the name.

The heart of the village is the cave and the water that flows from it. It flows in abundance, allowing it to power the mill’s mechanisms. The flow is so strong that the villagers added a second, smaller wheel to power a small sawmill, which they attached to the grist mill. Except during the driest periods of the year the flow allows for both to run simultaneously. The cave keeps the water at a constant temperature, meaning that the water never freezes and the mills can work year round. The water is pure, a boon for the villagers, and proved to be good for distilling whiskey. This was a further draw when the village added a tavern and stagecoach stop. Spring Mill became a place where travelers could stop for lodging, clean water, food, and alcohol.

Everything in Spring Mill revolved around that water supply. It was a treasure worth more than gold.

Adventure Seeds:

Details like this do more than add verisimilitude to your game world, they provide foundations for your adventures. In the case of Spring Mill, the water is the life blood of the town. What happens when the water stops running?

Hobgoblins, Dam It:

The elders of the village approach the adventurers and ask for help. One week ago the water stopped flowing from the cave, bringing life in the town to a halt. A few men entered the cave expecting to find a cave in. They never returned. A larger group entered to search for them. That group also vanished.

The people are desperate and this situation is beyond their ability to handle. The mill has been prosperous, so they can offer a good reward, but unless the water begins flowing again the town will start to die.

Unknown to the villagers, a group of hobgoblins have entered the cave through other tunnels. They are well armed, organized, and well equipped. The hobgoblins have diverted the water so that it pours down a passage deep into the ground. They have set up a camp within the cave from which they manage the water flow. Patrols roam the caverns and traps are set up to deal with any incursions from the village. To save the village the adventurers will have to eliminate the hobgoblins, survive their traps, and destroy the dam. An astute party may realize that the hobgoblins’ attention is focused more on the abyss than the village.

Dwarven Jones Locker:

With the stream restored and the hobgoblins driven off the town seemed to be safe. However, their nightmare was only beginning.

The village was never the hobgoblins’ target. Unknown to the villagers, deep below the cavern that feeds their stream is a dwarven settlement; a temple and seminary for dwarven priests. The hobgoblin’s plan was to flood the settlement, then restore the water’s natural flow and plunder the dwarven treasure.

The first part of their plan was a success. The dwarves were caught unaware by the torrent of water that came crashing down into their town. The caves quickly filled with water, drowning many, and the hobgoblins kept the water flowing long enough to suffocate most survivors who had made it to air pockets. Any dwarves left alive would be weak from hunger and lack of air, making them easy pickings for the hobgoblin raiders.

However, they had underestimated the vengeful natures of the dwarven gods.

The slaughter of his followers angered the deity who placed a curse upon the town. The drowning victims have been empowered by divine wrath, rising up as undead warriors and climbing out of the deeps in search of those who had murdered them. A foe that has already been destroyed.

But the minds of the undead are cloudy and not open to reason. They know only a thirst for vengeance, and finding the upper caves empty some of them have emerged into the forest to follow the aqueduct down to the village.

Only a few will arrive on the first night, terrifying but quickly dispatched. Their bodies collapse into wet clay, their souls fleeing back to their watery graves beneath the mountain. There they will reform and spread the news of the human settlement. Each night more will come until the town is destroyed or a way is found to lay the dead to rest.






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The Ghost of GLaDOS!

A group of ghost hunters has been researching the basement of an old building.  Part of their research has been to set up a chalk board in the basement, leave it alone, and see what messages the ghosts have written on the chalkboard.

After all, no human being would ever break into an abandoned building and write on a chalk board.

Take a look at this video from the local news station, who were hard up for a Halloween fluff piece.  Jump ahead to about 2:25 seconds and check out the cryptic message left by the spirits.  Thankfully the ghost hunters have been able to discern its mysterious meaning.


This gives new meaning to the term “ghost in the machine”.  Or, I guess it would be “ghost of the machine”.

Still, this could make for an interesting adventure.  A group of local ghost hunters, woefully lacking an understanding of pop-culture and the habits of teenagers, have been the source of amusement around the town for a few months.  However amusement fades as teenagers begin disappearing. 

Suspicion falls on the ghost hunters, who claim that the real culprits are evil spirits that are growing in power.  They point to their grainy footage and records of electromagnetic disturbances as evidence, which doesn’t help their case with the authorities but does strike a cord with other paranormal investigators who begin flocking to the town in droves. 

The disappearances and electrical disturbances continue to happen as the investigators have to navigate through a carnival of ghost hunters, psychics, UFOlogists, and other paranormal investigators who are constantly getting in the way. 

Meanwhile, in a forgotten military bunker beneath the town, a recently re-awakened experimental AI continues to kidnap subjects for its insane experiments.  Will the investigators be able to uncover the true threat in time?


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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Weirdness


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