Sophistication Stinks

I don’t mean to sound arrogant but my players and I have become more sophisticated in our gaming tastes and styles. I think it’s a natural progression. In middle school, I as the DM, used to hastily scrawl maps on graph paper on the bus on the way home….some random encounter charts and a few traps sprinkled in and we are off and gaming!

Burn Out….what a pain…

Burn Out……the bane of every creative person out there. I’ve been suffering from it massively as of late, and that’s the reason for the hiatus in updating this site as well as lack of new products beyond Vexing Sands.

I realized I had to get “back in the saddle” so to speak so this is a first step. I’m going to address some of the ways to fight “burn-out”, “writer’s block”, whatever you wish to call it.

Ready for some desert tiles?

Escape Velocity has teamed up with incredible U.K. artist Billiam Babble to produce, Vexing Sands, a collection of “desert details” for use with any fantasy rpg system! Check it out at!

What’s Next?

Haunting Trio is now available! Three free 4e monsters each illustrated and each in the newest stat block format! Check it out at!

Today’s Post Brought to You by the Letter “Bee”

Bee art courtesy of Karen's Whimsy Public Domain art.

Bees?  Fantasy RPGs have had giant bees and wasps, killer bee swarms, and the like for years.  However, if you just tweak the “Bee backstory” a bit you can take otherwise mundane insects to a new level.  What am I buzzing on about?  Read on for a few buzzworthy ideas….

“That Poison”  – Perhaps a notorious group of assassins uses a particular bee’s venom in all of their killings.  Finding the famous bees in question might lead to the assassin’s hideout and further adventures.

Perhaps the bee’s poison is only usable by the King’s elite bodyguards and owning the poison or a hive of the bees could be a crime punishable by death.  Maybe the party is hired by a shady patron to steal a bee or two… what harm could come of stealing two simple bees?

“That Color” – Rather than a honey prized for its taste, your special bees produce a honey that is used as a dye.  Maybe Crimson Glade Bee Honey is the premier color of red for all well-to-do gentleman’s capes and hats.  The value of this dye would make it an enticing target for low-level adventurers trying to climb the social ladder and get some more coin.

“That Sound” – Maybe the bees in your world are kept by almost all noble families for their melodies.  The buzzing of each hive is slightly different and they create a harmonious whole.  In this case, perhaps a family has three out of the four “singing bees” they need and hire the adventurers to track down a hive of the fourth kind.

“That Sting” – Perhaps giant bee stingers are immensely popular as dagger blades in your world.  Tracking down these bees while keeping their stingers undamaged would be key (guess the fighter-types will have to leave their thick metal armor at home!).

Minor Quests but Major Fun!

I recently saw an online discussion thread where people were requesting “Minor Quests”. Basically, they wanted “things to do” in between the bigger plot points. I decided to sit down and cook some up. There are two versions of each “Minor Quest” and these are not system specific. Enjoy!

The Final Coin
Who needs help? Gonper Silverspinner, dwarven coin collector
Gonper has a gap-toothed smile and is perpetually flipping a coin and catching it.
What’s the problem? Needs to complete his collection of an ancient kingdom’s currency
The details: Gonper is a prolific collector of coins from an ancient kingdom and now finds himself one coin from a complete set. He has discovered that the last coin he needs is:

  • Part of a vast dragon’s hoard filled with tens of thousands of coins from nations around the world.
    Solutions: A roguish and stealthy party might be able to sneak in, find, and steal the coin in question. A tough, high-level party may just slay the dragon claiming the rest of the loot for themselves and procuring the coin for Gonper. A crafty, diplomatic party may challenge the dragon to an intellectual game (like chess) with the coin as the prize.


  • Part of a rival collector’s private collection.
    Solutions: The party can diplomatically persuade the rival to part with the coin, or scare/intimidate the rival into selling the coin to Gonper. A less moral party may simply break into the rival’s display and steal the coin replacing it with a clever (but worthless) forgery. Perhaps, in the ultimate twist…the rival is the wronged- party. Gonper has been stealing from the rival for years and the party needs to unravel the situation and bring Gonper to justice and aid the rival in recovering what is rightfully his collection.


Farming Legacy
Who needs help? Thadis Sumpner, human farmer and the Sumpner family
Thadis is a broad-shouldered and quiet man with a protruding jaw.
What’s the problem? The famous Sumpner squash crop needs saved.
The details: In this part of the world, Thadis Sumpner and his family are famous for their beautiful and robust squash. However, this year there may be no squash as the heirloom seeds have been stolen. The seeds have been taken by:

  •  A mischievous group of fey who realized that the Sumpner’s squash would grow perfectly in the faerie realm.
    Solutions: The party must devise a way to journey to the fey’s home realm and recover the seeds through negotiation, trickery, or force. The party might also lay a trap for the fey, baiting them with additional seeds to get them to return to “the scene of the crime”.



  • The seeds have been taken by otherwise innocent ground squirrels who have stored them in their burrows. 

Solutions: The tiny squirrels pose no threat to the party but the giant [insects, tunneling worms, or other farmland-loving creature] that lair nearby will attack when disturbed. The party may also attempt to magically reduce themselves so as to explore the ground squirrel’s tunnels and recover the seeds in true dungeon crawl fashion.


Seeds of the Mind are here! What are seeds? They are ideas that aren’t quite fully germinated. Ideas that we may come back and re-explore or might simply leave for you to run with. Think of Seeds as the stuff that’s still in development that might just trigger some of your best ideas! The first seed you’ll see? The lowly carbuncle inspires! check it out!

Welcome to Escape Velocity Gaming!!!

Our first monster is an April Foolishness Special (but that doesn’t mean it’s not a balanced and playable creature)


Cycloptic Rhinocerine Airborne Violet Human Consumer
Level 9 Solo Soldier XP 2,000
Large natural magical beast
Initiative +8 Senses Perception + 9, darkvision
HP 400; Bloodied 200
AC 25; Fortitude 23, Reflex 20, Will 20 [see also Cycloptic Vision]
Vulnerable 5 Illusion
Saving Throws +5 (+3 vs. Illusion)
Speed 6, fly 8 (hover), overland flight 12
Action Points 2

[MB] Bite (standard; at-will)
                     Reach 2; +16 vs. AC; 1d12 + 8 damage

[R] Spitfire (standard; at-will) * Fire
                      Ranged 8; +14 vs. Reflex; 2d6 +6 fire damage

[M] Consume All (standard; recharge 5,6)
                       The C.R.A.V.H.C. makes three bite attacks.

[C] Horn Blast (standard; at-will) * Thunder
                       Close burst 5; +14 vs. Fortitude; 2d8 + 6 thunder damage and target is deafened

                      (save ends).

[R] Quick Spit (immediate interrupt, when an enemy
                   moves adjacent to the C.R.A.V.H.C.; at-will) The
                   C.R.A.V.H.C. makes a spitfire attack against the triggering  enemy.

Human Hatred
                   The C.R.A.V.H.C. receives a +1 to all attacks and a +2 to all damage versus human foes.

Cycloptic Vision
                    Thanks to its lack of binocular vision, illusions are particularly effective against this creature.

                    The C.R.A.V.H.C. takes a -2 penalty to all defenses versus illusion attacks. 

Alignment Unaligned                     Languages Understands Common (does not speak)
Skills Intimidate +11
Str 21 (+9)            Dex 15 (+6)              Wis 10 (+4)
Con 18 (+8)          Int 12 (+5)                Cha 15 (+6)

The C.R.A.V.H.C. is a large, bloated creature with sickly purple skin, a single bloodshot eye, and an enormous yellow horn protruding from is snout. It would be a comical sight if not for its wickedly sharp teeth and white-hot spittle which it uses to dispatch tasty humans.

Nature DC 16: Many primitive societies worship these flying aberrations as “sky-gods” and will often sing songs about them and their bizarre anatomy.