In a recent adventure with my group of players, I used the following passage as inspiration for an encounter in a mountainous region. They came across an isolated mountain village, where a villager had disappeared, or more exactly, had been taken by the Hollow-Men:
“The Hollow-Men live in solid rock and move about in it in the form of mobile caves or recesses. In ice they appear as bubbles in the shape of men. But they never venture out into the air, for the wind would blow them away.
They have houses in the rock whose walls are made of emptiness, and tents in the ice whose fabric is of bubbles. During the day they stay in the stone, and at night they wander through the ice and dance during the full moon. But they never see the sun, or else they would burst.
They eat only the void, such as the form of corpses; they get drunk on empty words and all the meaningless expressions we utter.
Some people say they have always existed and will exist forever. Others say they are dead. And others say that as a sword has its scabbard or a foot its imprint, every living man has in the mountain his Hollow-Man, and in death they are reunited.” – from Mount Analogue, by René Daumal
Here is my creature adaptation for the Hollow Men:
They appear as slightly shorter than man-sized shadows moving along the ground or wall or roof of the cave. To attack the PC’s they will leap, and take on a form similar to a shadow, and they will throw their bodies at the PC’s, attempting to pull them into the rock. They hit for 1d8+3, with a chance to knock the PC’s over if the PC’s fail a saving throw vs. paralysis. The PC’s will become Hollow Men if they lose all HP, being sucked into the void-space that the Hollow Men occupy.
They have 3 HD, and 1d6+2 will appear. AC: 2. No treasure hoard. However, any items belonging to people who have become Hollow Men will be found in the vicinity. The Hollow Men are only found in mountainous regions, especially caves and glaciers.
I’ve included these other passages to further describe the hollow-men, and try to illustrate what an encounter might be like.
More from Mount Analogue:
“He strikes with his hammer, and his hand sinks into a hole. There is a hollow under the rock. He breaks the crust around it and sees that this hollow has the shape of a man: a torso, legs, arms, and hollows in the shape of fingers spread in terror; he has split the head with one hammer blow. An icy wind blows over the rock. Mo has killed a hollow-man.” – 74
“Watch out for the hollow-men. They will avenge his death. They cannot enter our world. But they can come up to the surface of things. Beware of the surface of things.” – 74
“The hollow-men have taken your brother. They have changed him into a hollow-man. He will try to escape them. He will try to escape them. He will search for light at the seracs of the Clear Glacier. Put his medal around your neck along with yours. Approach him and hit him on the head. Enter into the form of his body. And Mo will live again among us. Do not be afraid to kill a dead man.” -74-75
“Ho looks as hard as he can into the blue ice of the Clear Glacier. Is it the light playing on the ice, do his eyes deceive him, or is he really seeing what he sees? He sees silver shapes with arms and legs, like greased underwater divers. And there is his brother Mo, his hollow shape fleeing from a thousand hollow-men in pursuit, but they are afraid of the light.” – 75
I’ve been running my players through a long treasure hunt, which has lead them through 4 or 5 different dungeons. I’ve designed them all myself, really pushing myself to design dungeons properly. However, we are approaching the final dungeon, in which the Pirate’s real and final treasure is hidden, and I wanted to make this a multi-session dungeon delve, really challenging the characters. The players I have these days are very new to d&d, and so they really don’t know what to expect. Being new myself, I’ve found it very challenging to design dungeons that actually challenge the players and aren’t just simple encounters that will be overcome so easily.
But anyway, in browsing Dyson Logos’ amazing blog, I’ve come across his 4-level dungeon, Erdea Manor. I’m reading through it right now, and I’m thinking that I will use it for the last treasure dungeon. I’m going to use the first two levels as he has them stocked, but for a couple reasons, I am going to take liberties with the other levels. The reasons being that there are particular encounters that I would like to happen (such as Lizardmen and Derro, and an epic Dragon-Battle to top it off).
I am going to spend the next few evenings of my spare time stocking the lower depths, using the Labyrinth Lord stocking method, while filling in those encounters I want. I am going to try to compile this all into a .pdf once I am done, and I will upload a link. I’m hoping this will all prove to be useful learning experience for me.
The first Mystik Hertz compilation is on its way, I just have to figure out the exact format. Stay posted (if anyone is out there reading this).
In setting up this new blog of mine, I came across this new post by Dyson Logos: http://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/effectively-using-music-at-the-gaming-table-2/
It’s an insightful treatise on the use of music in gaming sessions, but most importantly for me, it is uncannily related to one of the main reasons for starting my blog, the sharing of dungeon adventure soundtrack mixes.
I’ve always made an effort to use music in my gaming sessions, and it has usually gone well (although it can sometimes be a little overwhelming as a DM).I always use a laptop. I DM with a laptop because I make my adventure notes in a text editor. I combo with these notes and other random papers on the little tables I set up (such as character sheets and maps). Using music has thus been fairly easy, and something that I have done from the very beginning of DMing.
I agree with Dyson in that music with lyrics should be avoided. I use a lot of songs from soundtracks, such as anything composed by Ennio Morricone or Eduard Artemiev. A lot of the music I use is more atmospheric, to set a mood essentially, but during battles I like to take a moment to queue up something a little more upbeat, like some good instrumental psychedelic rock (see this). I personally don’t mind taking the time to do this, because I feel that it adds so much more excitement to the battle. Otherwise I usually let iTunes play randomly in my large “adventure” playlist (although if a silly song, or one that just doesn’t fit comes on I will switch it.)
Anyway, this post is long enough, so I will end it here. I will be posting the first Mystik Hertz dungeon adventure soundtrack within the next week (hopefully).