I’m no genius game referee. I am just a regular gamer like you who works to keep their game fresh for their players. In order to do this I try to expand on what is in the rules of my game. I do it in order to create more lore about what the people places and creatures that can be found in my world are like. I assume all referees do this with their game.
Often it is within the little details that one can expand their setting. Just take something seemingly ordinary and give it a little bit of a twist and you’ve added some flavor to your world setting that can be discovered by players.
Here is just one example for how to slightly alter what is written in the game rules in order to add flavor.
Salt is a very valuable commodity in early cultures. So much so that it has been attributed with both magical and economic value. Don’t believe me, here is a link proving that salt has the power to ward off evil spirits.
Now that I have established the real world power of Salt Magic via Scientific Research and web sourced corroboration we can move on to applying this to our RPG games.
Many traditional warding concoctions use common herbs mixed into salt such as Rosemary. The resulting mix is known as Black Salt. My encounter only has salt, but you may want do some some research of your own.
I have a tendency to riff off of tiny comments people make. The other day someone mentioned that one of the D&D books has a passage saying that zombies are somehow averse to salt. I can’t recall what book this comes from and I am too lazy to look it up right now. What matters is that I got to thinking and quickly added a zombie salt encounter to my next week's game session.
Salt vs. Zombies:
In AD&D Zombies are hurt by flasks of holy water. In OD&D this does not apply.
Let’s change zombies and make it so they will not approach salt. Why? Because salt has purifying magic in it.
Thus a solid line of salt on the ground, say an inch or more in width, is enough to keep zombies from advancing across it.
A line across the typical 10 foot wide passage would require several pounds of salt to create a barrier large enough to deter zombies.
Throwing salt on zombies might be another tactic, but I think most of it would fall off of them and it might cause them to be confused for 1-2 combat rounds is all.
Immersing a zombie in salt might paralyze them.
Salt does not harm zombies, it merely confuses them and keeps them at bay.
A Zombie Room
Our players arrive at a place where someone has placed a treasure in a chest.
What they see as they come down a hallway is what appears to be a sack leaning against the wall and a scattering of pure white powder across the floor. Foot steps can be seen that may have scattered the powder, yet the powder effectively covers a 10 x 10 foot area. An examination reveals this may be salt. A tasting 100% verifies this for the players.
The sack leaning against the wall is partly empty and still contains about 4 pounds of salt.
About 30 more feet farther and the players come upon a closed door at the dead end of the passage. It seems to open outward and there are wood wedges jammed into the door to keep it from opening.
The players can listen, but zombies do not make noise, so they will not detect anything.
If the players remove the wedges they can pull the door open. Roll for success and surprise as always.
What do you want to do?
Now it is up to the players to decide what they want to do.
The clues are there for them to deduce a non combat solution.
If they retreat back to the salt the Zombies will only chase them as far as the salt on the floor.
Arrows, pole weapons, even ten foot poles can then be used to beat them into submission. Yet, some may simply wander back away from the salt.
It really is up to you how you handle specifics. In my case a player opted to carry the salt bag. This was enough to keep the Zombies from outright attacking. I did do a 50% chance that a zombie would wander close and take a swipe at the PC. I rolled to hit and to do damage, if they did hit, another D20 roll equal or under Dexterity for the PC would be required to keep from dropping the salt bag which could spell disaster for a lone PC in a room full of zombies.
Once inside the zombie room the players found a half circle line of salt poured near the back wall that encircled a treasure chest. It makes sense that the treasure chest had to be guarded from having the zombies gnawing on it - they do get bored and chew on things.
In my game the players have entered a dimensional rift called the Zone. The treasure chest turned out to be an ammo box full of bullets. This is a group of adventurers who came from medieval Blackmoor and they have yet to discover guns.
Of course anyone they encounter who has a gun will know how to use it. An encounter with an armed NPC is sure to come in the near future much to my game group's dismay.
Now It's Your Turn
Ok, this is not the kind of encounter that will make or break an adventure. My main reason for sharing this is to hopefully re-inspire some of you about going a tiny bit farther when creating encounters.
Yes, you can make a combat and treasure situation into an easy puzzle for your players to solve.
You probably have similar ideas in the back of your mind already. See if you can create just three little situations for your players to resolve using their brains.
Keep Gaming and Having Fun with Friends!
SECRETS of BLACKMOOR part II
If you are reading this Blog you likely have already seen Secrets of Blackmoor.
The other day Chris and I had a long meeting where we reviewed projected costs for making the follow up film a.k.a. Part II: Imaginary Worlds.
We would love to use more of the footage we have and also get more interviews that talk specifically about Blackmoor and maybe even some other early RPG settings.
In order to raise funds for another film we will need to do a KickStarter project and its success will rely on how many people have already seen the first film. It will be an all or nothing 'make it or break it' KickStarter with a very high goal minimum to reach funding.
I urge everyone to keep telling gamer friends about the film and sharing the link to this website everywhere.
Where else can you think of that gamers may not have heard about Secrets of Blackmoor?
We really appreciate all the support you've already given us. We work hard to produce things that have value to you. Don't worry, we're still working on other games too!
Thanks so much, The Secret Team (Everyone involved in the making of Secrets of Blackmoor)
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Secrets of Blackmoor is a Feature-length documentary about the birth of the “Mother of all Games;” Dungeons & Dragons.