Thursday, February 5, 2009

Barnacle Men

As I spoke of below, this is typical of a starter homebrew adventure for me. The first half of it is mostly role-playing, the second half is a small excursion into a nasty place with a couple 'what the hell is that thing' moments.

I wrote this for Scott Driver sometime last year. I have ran it a couple times and I think Ardell is running it now for a group of soldiers (I would give my left nut to see a group of Rangers and Green Beret players run through something like that - just damn curious how they would play the game). I would say I give out magical loot and treasure in an average amount. Note that his is written for OD&D although it is easily modified for B/X or 1st. This is made to be ran in one session.

PDF here
if you prefer to download.

Hook: The PCs are asked to deliver a lockbox to the Ulerishian Temple, which is 12 miles outside of town. The path can occasionally be treacherous with highwaymen and forest drakes, so no one heads that way alone. It is preferred a known contact of the PCs give them this task.

The lockbox contains a magic amulet that is fairly valuable. The PCs arrive to Ulerishian Temple unmolested and are invited to stay the night by the priestess and the two nubile maid acolytes. The PCs will be fed, bathed and generally treated well for transporting the amulet. The temple has some other guests, three vagrants, which are invited to come and go (the temple inherently repels evil, so they feel safe with those who come).

Amulet of Ulerishia – Amulet of ESP. Must hold to use and can read the thoughts of anyone in 20’. Roll 1d6, on the '6' the user's thoughts and transmitted to everyone in 20’.

Ulerishian Temple - Ulerishia is the goddess of ‘noble causes’ and ‘rewards that are well earned’. The temple has a permanent Protection from Evil effect upon it which wards most horrors from its vicinity. Many of the town folk make the trek here at least once per season, as do many pilgrims from distant lands. Avrareen (44 years old, Cleric 2) is the Priestess and is always escorted by two virgin maids that assist her (Aileena 16 and Bingood 15). Avrareen is practical enough to drink and tell jokes with the travelers and is down to earth to speak with. She is highly respected, wise and it is said she can perform genuine miracles (clerical spells).

The two maids that escort Avrareen are chosen among the village girls and it is seen as a great honor. They serve for three years, taught a great number of things and then released to be married.

Merchants, drunks, vagrants and others with out a place to sleep are welcome to spend the night in the temple should they travel this far. Free meals and drinks are offered by the trio of women. The villagers are highly protective of the temple and prevent its services from being abused (along with the Protection from Evil).

The PCs will notice Avrareen chains a small nameless creature in the garden. The humanoid creature is diminutive, has no hair, no eyes and has vestigial wings on its back that look vaguely like chicken wings with no feathers. It toils until told to stop. At night the creature is chained in the kitchen where it is fed and curls up next to the stove on a pile of wood. If asked, Avrareen tells the party the creature, Hooduk, arrived on an Ulerishian holy day and has served the temple faithfully for three years.

Three Missing - The PCs wake up the following morning and the Hooduk, one of the acolytes (Bingood) and one of the vagrants (Dronlar) are missing along with the amulet. The Priestess will ask the PCs to investigate. In truth the Hooduk stole the amulet after escaping its bonds in order to present it to its God in the cave (the Derkomai), one of the Acolytes was studying, tried to prevent the theft but failed. Not wanting to fail her matron, she followed the Hodduk to the cave to get the amulet back. One of the vagrants (Dronlar) saw her leave in the dead of night and followed her to spy on skinning dipping or whatever. Once at the cave the Acolyte was forced to flee and hide deep within the cave from the Shell-less Crab. Dronlar was attacked by the steam turtles and barely made it out alive.

The PCs will find the vagrant Dronlar, badly mauled nearby, struggling to return. He says he saw the Acolyte wandering the woods alone and night, and followed her (to protect her of course) to a cave. He can describe the cave location, about 2 miles away in the hillocks. He was attacked by a dark shapes near the cave entrance and he fled. His wounds are burns cause by steam and a few large beak marks are on his legs.


1 – From a distance, the outside of the cave has steam billowing forth from its 10’ x 5’ entrance. Smallish ehite and blue toadstool cover a large area outside the entrance, along with bones from a variety of creatures that are bleaches clean.

2 – The entrance climbs up a 10’ incline with rocky debris built up to the entrance. Dragging tracks can be seen (from the steam turtles) but it is difficult to tell what the tracks would be from.

3 – A white ‘river’ of crystalline rocks lines the floors in this large cavern (30’ x 90’ roughly). Large toadstools cover erratic areas and the floor emanates heat. Six Steam Turtles are here, milling about in no particular method. They are not hostile (well, not yet), but will defend themselves if attacked.

Cave paintings can been seen on the walls, painted by primitive hands many ages ago. They depict mammoths, large lizard beasts, and vaguely humanoid creatures with wings that look quite a bit like Hooduk.

4 – This chamber opens up into the main gallery which spreads as far as lantern or torch light will reach. Toadstools here can be as large as tall as 10’. A large waterfall cascades from the southern wall, fifty feet tall. A small lake and whirlpool violently drain the water coming from the waterfall. A plateau can be seen to the north and another to the east, each rises 10’ off of the ground.

The toadstool have a number of large barnacles attached to them, among them are 10 Barnacle Men. Who attack when a good opportunity presents itself, preferring to force PCs into the whirlpool. When half of them are slain, they will sucker themselves to the underneath of the toadstools and retreat in their shells (AC 2). Then the following round if any are left alive they will make a shrill droning noise that will summon the steam turtles from area 3, indicating dinner time. The turtles will attack when they arrive, two rounds later.

The polished coral spears the Barnacle Men carry valued at 5g per (50g).

5 – This large crystalline cavern radiates subtle golds and purples from the various fungi here. The cavern is very warm and smells sweet, like heated fruit or honey.

This is the home of the Derkomai that sits atop a rocky outcropping and is easily seen from the center of the cavern. The Hooduk is here also, prostrating itself and offering the amulet, which the Derkomai seems to be wholly unaware of. Seeing a large group of intruders, the Derkomai will unwind itself and attack. The Hooduk will be genuinely baffled at the conflict, and attempt to aid the Acolyte if she is present. Otherwise the Hooduk will stand back and watch in awe of the battle.

The Hooduk will offer the amulet to the victor and will gladly follow the PCs or Acolyte to the temple. It will flee if attacked.

A pile of coins and objects are scattered about the Derkomai lair. 575g, 732s., 822c. Also among a pile of ancient lichen-covered skeletons, a Hammer +1 that radiates golden light and three potions (random).

6 – This is the main room of the gallery, with a large central plateau. The top of the 50’ chamber is very hot, with blankets of steam rolling along the roof which radiates downward. The chamber is very large with many rock piles, toadstools, piles of sand, and farms of fossilized coral. A sandy path leads up towards the central plateau. The chamber continues far the west and a passageway is to the North East.

12 Barnacle Men and the No-Shell Crab inhabit the upper plateau which rises 10’ from the floor. Piles of sand are neatly stacked between the toadstools along with fossilized coral growths and lichens. They will attack if the upper plateau is trespassed upon.

The barnacle men have a stash of polished coral (value 350g) and coral spears (5g each, 60g value).

7 – This plateau is scalded clean of anything living. A muddy geyser is here that erupts every 4 minutes. The Barnacle Men make offerings here, 7 pearls, one of which is Black (total gp value 1200). The pearls are jammed in the muddy walls and will take 2 minutes to work out for each one. Geyser spray will cause 3d6 damage to someone foolish enough to be hit.

8 – The north section of this cave is the home of the Molluetuesk, which appears as a tranquil pool of water with several small fish swimming inside. The pool is faintly radiant and is lines with stalactites and stalagmites. Should a PC disturb the pool the Molluetuesk will attack relentlessly. If the PCs are 15’ or further back and somehow disturb the pool, the mouth will snap shut and the creature will slowly ‘reset’, ignoring the party.

A passageway is in the South East section of the cave which vaguely reeks of sweet cooking smells, like heated fruit.

In the refuse under the Molluetuesk a Shield +1 sits along with the bones of its previous owner.

9 – This sloping cave holds dozens of mineral pools and toadstools. The Acolyte Bingood (hp 4 ac 9) lays hidden in the very north section and 6 Barnacle Men are hunting for her methodically. If found Bingood will gladly join the party and will insist on finding the Hooduk and the amulet (see area 5).

The coral spears the Barnacle Men carry valued at 5g per (50g).

Four of the three dozen pools radiate magic if detect magic is cast or if the pools are tested one at a time.

  1. Pool A – A yellow pool with long spindly mineral crystals within. If drank, the drinker vomits profusely for 4 rounds. Any metal coated in its waters no longer rust or dull.
  2. Pool B – Murky gray water which has dozens of fist sized Molluetuesk swimming within (harmless). If the waters are drank, the drinker will gain 1 permanent hp and will feel profoundly rejuvenated for the rest of his life. The drinker will no longer catch normal ailments or diseases and their natural lifespan is increased 1d20 years. This effect will only work once.
  3. Pool C – Blueish water drips from the ceiling into this shallow pool. The water appears to drip and move in slow motion. This is in fact fossilized magic, harmless if drunk but potent in the hands of a very skilled Wizard (applicable bonus for creating magic items and whatnot, DMs discretion). It will take much investigation to reveal its true nature, but can be stored in any vial or other waterproof container.
  4. Pool D – Clear pool with a muddy floor. An albino frog lives in this pool, it is the size of a dog. Should anyone reach down and pull it out, it will follow that person and obey simple orders until its death.


Hooduk – hd 2 hp 10 ac 8 att: bit 1d6
Hairless humanoid creature is diminutive, has no hair, no eyes and has vestigial wings on its back that look vaguely like chicken wings with no feathers. Can be told what to do and toils tirelessly. The Hooduk has a simple and straightforward mind. He stays at the temple simply because he wandered that way one day and they fed him. He knows of the Derkomai in the cave and worships it as a god. He seeks to appease it with sparkly goods, which is why he took the amulet to it.

Steam Turtles - hd 1 hp 4-8 ac 4 att: steambreath or bite, 1d6.
Large loggerhead snapping turtles. Usually quite docile unless spurred on by the promise of food. They are very hot the to the touch and can breath super-heated water in a 5’ cone (1d6).

Barnacle Man – hd 1/2 hp 1-4 ac 4 att: short spear (melee or short range) dmg:1d4
Large barnacles, about the size of waist-high trash can. The barnacle men can detach whatever they are adhered too and protrude lanky arms and legs from out of their ‘shell’ opening. Their head, eyes and torso remain in the shell, thus they walk in a gangly fashion while throwing and stabbing with coral spears. (ac 2 when fully retreated)

No-Shell Crab – hd 3 hp 15 ac 7 att: 2x soft-claws, 1 dmg. open digestion 2d6
Shell-less Crab is 15’ wide with all of its organs exposed, mostly bound together with transparent sacks (organs will spill out when breeched). If both claws hit the same target the no-shell crab will pick up the victim and drop them on his back, which is a mass of exposed organs; gills, ropey tubes and an open sack of digestive juices (2d6 acid damage, save petrifaction for half).

Molluetuesk – hd 3 hp 18 ac 5 att: bite 1d6, on max dmg swallow whole.
Very large cave-lurking beast that looks similar to a huge horseshoe crab, which opens itself up into a cavernous opening. Its ‘mouth’ very closely resembles an iridescent tranquil pool of water with some small fish in it, stalactites and stalagmites lining the sides above and below (teeth). Should the pool be disturbed, the ‘mouth’ will snap shut.

Derkomai – hd 4 hp 22 ac 5 att: bite 1d6 or breath (20’ cone of stirges, 2d6 first round, 1d6 second round, save vs breath for half)
Twenty-foot cave lizard with black oily scales, an overly large head with large milky white eyes. Similar to a dragon but with no wings and not nearly as intelligent. Can live on eating minerals and rocks but prefers squirmy prey. Likes shiny objects and will make a home near such things. Breaths stirges that reside in its overly large head, can only do so twice in a encounter. (stirges will fly off after 2 rounds)


  1. Played this adventure (the one page dungeon version) with my players recently. I really enjoyed it, but I wish I had come to your web pager earlier I especially love the colour and the unique creatures you created.

    You can get some sense of how the Barnacle Cave fits into our campaign on our wiki:

  2. Glad you liked it. I'm surprised this blog is even around still, and more surprised that people still come across it.