Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Reckoning

The final chapter of the Apotheosis Campaign is now available from It takes an inventory of the adventures that have come before it, suggesting ways in which to tie up any loose ends. For that reason, I've made it a Pay What You Want item. 


The Reckoning

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Preview of The Reckoning

This is it--the final chapter in the Apotheosis Campaign, a series of linked scenarios for use with Treasure Hunter Adventures and the Savage Worlds RPG. It's a relatively short scenario, because it focuses on tying up any and all loose ends from the previous adventures. That's why I'm posting the entire text, so that potential purchasers know what to expect from it. 



For a long time now a band of treasure hunters has been investigating clues to lost relics and lore, including ones that relate to an ancient mystery. As they have done so, they've found a number of allies, but also numerous rivals and even a few dedicated enemies. After a mystical expedition in which they saw glimpses of the past, present and future, they have mostly concluded their search. Not everyone is satisfied with the how that expedition ended, however, and a few people seek to do something about the grudges that they hold.


This adventure begin for the heroes once they have finally discovered what they could beneath the shrine of the Sybil, and are now reacting to what they learned and moving on with their lives in the aftermath of those discoveries.

Scene 1: The Powers That Be

To begin, it's important to take stock of any allies and enemies the heroes have accrued during their adventures, along with the locations where they might be spending their time. The chart that is included below lists many possibilities from the scenarios in the published campaign; of course, there could be others if the GM has been modifying those scenarios or adding customized adventures. With that in mind, then, there are a few ways in which the action can proceed.

The NPCs Seek Revenge

This option is highly probable. Unless the heroes have neutralized all of the rivals and enemies whom they've faced during the campaign, there is probably someone who has a grievance against them. In this case, some or all of those people decide to strike out against the heroes. This could simply involve raiding the heroes' base of operations to steal what they can—especially if they believe the heroes claimed relics or lore which belong to them—or even to bring about a more permanent end to the matter.

The Heroes Seek Justice

On the other hand, the heroes might seek to bring their enemies to justice. This could easily happen if they have become involved with the Office for Strategic Services, or if any character has other connections to law enforcement. In this case, they are the ones who are staging a raid to recover illicit antiquities, looking to make arrests for crimes committed, and the like.

Adding Details from the Heroes' Own Stories

Finally, this is a chance for the GM to work in characters from the heroes' background details. For example, the enemy might kidnap one or more of the heroes' loved ones, if they are known, to use as leverage in exchange for valuable items or information.

Scene 2: Settling Scores

With all of those details established, then, it remains for the confrontation to begin. Here are some suggestions for how that might start.

  • The heroes are pursuing a lead that someone uncovered during the events of Past, Present & Future. In this case, the location related to that lead determines where this confrontation takes place; who else is involved depends on the inventory, as is detailed above. The villains might be monitoring the heroes' movements, and strike when they think the heroes are most vulnerable.

  • The villains kidnap someone who is important to the heroes, and thus they can choose the time and place for a confrontation. That might be on their own turf, in a place like Throckmorton's compound or Bob Anderson's storage facility, or in a neutral location. Whatever the case, they seem to have the advantage, and use it to pressure the heroes into meeting their demands.

  • The heroes and their allies stage a raid on one of the locations mentioned above, and so they decide when and where it happens. This is likely to be a villain's own domain, with the intention to find illicitly acquired relics along with evidence that can be used against them in court. Such action is especially likely if the heroes have become involved with the Office of Strategic Services, in which case they may be able to call upon additional agents to assist with this business.


While it is never possible to anticipate all of the twists and turns that this adventure can take, here are a few suggestions for some of the more likely developments.

  • If this is not already the case, then it becomes increasingly likely that the long arm of the law becomes involved in this business.

  • It is possible that the heroes stage multiple raids on different locations. In that case, the villains are likely to start working to remove items and information from those places that have not yet been raided.

  • There's always the chance that action taken by one side in the conflict provokes a counterstrike by the other side. For example, if the heroes and their allies raid Cyril Throckmorton's compound, then the charlatan's allies could send their own people in the hope of rescuing Throckmorton and recovering any valuable relics or lore that are hidden there before they are confiscated. Or, if the heroes suffer a setback, then their allies could send help to rescue them.

  • Evidence from a raid might provide clues to another lost treasure, setting the heroes off in search of it. That would be a fitting final quest for a hero who has long been trying to solve a particular mystery.

  • Finally, such a development could give the villains one last chance to ambush the heroes, since they would already have possessed the item or information and thus could position themselves to catch the heroes unaware.

Scene 3: Denouement

Once this business has been concluded, there are still questions that need to be answered. Here are a few possibilities.

  • What happens to each of the items that the heroes have discovered throughout the campaign? The old saying is that, “It belongs in a museum.” It is more appropriate for these items to be returned to people from their cultures of origin. This could lead to the heroes attending gala premiers of exhibitions, with the items in question being important parts of the displays.

  • There is also the question of what the heroes do now that this business is resolved. What is the next step for each character? They might work on writing a book about these adventures, help curate items or locations that were discovered, decide that it's time to settle down for a bit and start a family, or even continue their lives as globetrotting treasure hunters. This is a chance for each character to have a short scene—just like during the end credits of the movie—to show what happens next.


In this case, the events that are glimpsed during Scene 3 provide the resolution to the overall story. It has been a lengthy adventure, indeed, and hopefully one that has won the heroes fortune and glory, along with illumination and contentment.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

I Will Be on a Savage Universe Podcast!

This is a first for me. On Thursday I'll be joining J-M DeFoggi for a SWAGtember podcast episode over on Savage Universe! Here's a link to the announcement on the Pinnacle website, along with a screen capture of the site itself. 


PEG News Update

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Past, Present & Future

Now available from, this full-length scenario is designed for use with Treasure Hunter Adventures and the Savage Worlds RPG. It is a direct sequel to The Shrine of the Sibyl, taking the heroes into the tunnels beneath that shrine, where they can discover secrets about themselves, the world around them, and even, perhaps, what lies beyond it all. This scenario can also be run as part of the Apotheosis campaign. 


Past, Present & Future

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Second Preview for Past, Present & Future

This post presents the maps for the scenario Past, Present & Future. Rather than detailing the entire location, they can be used in varying order depending on when and how the "gas leak effect" hits each of the heroes. 


Flooded Chamber

This is the water-filled passage that the heroes must traverse, and it can also be the place where they run into the nest of vipers.

Chamber With No Exit

There are many false doors on the walls of this cavern, but no real one. This is the end of the line.

The Crossroads Temple

This structure could play a role in certain visions, as detailed in the Visions & Vignettes section, above. It consists of a raised platform on which sixteen columns support the stone roof above it; the roof is open in the center, and a big, old tree stands in the middle of it all.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

First Preview for Past, Present & Future

Over the past three to four years I've been writing a series of scenarios for Treasure Hunter Adventures, starting with The Death Mask of Hatshepsut in June of 2020 and building up to last month's The Shrine of the Sibyl. The forthcoming scenario Past, Present & Future is meant to be part of the culmination of that storyline, in which the heroes face physical and metaphysical challenges, and great secrets are revealed to them. Those experiences are listed below. 


Finding a Lost Loved One

This is one of the more straightforward vignettes. A character who, as part of their background story, has been seeking a lost loved one, has a glimpse of what happened to that person. This takes the form of witnessing a scene that reveals the person's current whereabouts.

For example: Gavin Kline knows that his brother, Garrett, disappeared while pursuing a treasure hunt of his own. When Gavin “wakes up” after succumbing to the gaslight effect, he finds himself on the heaving deck of a boat in stormy water. If he succeeds as Strength and Agility tests to cross the slippery and fight through crashing waves, then he sees his brother in the passenger compartment, poring over a map that reveals his destination.

Solving a Mystery

Similar to the previous one, this vignette can help lead into another adventure for the hero in question. In this case, the vision provides a clue to locating something that the hero has been seeking.

For example: Magdalena Gonzalez has long been seeking the treasure hoard taken by the Spanish Conquistadors after defeating Emperor Montezuma during the conquest of Mexico. Through research she knows that it was taken aboard a treasure fleet returning to Spain, which was attacked by pirates. When she regains consciousness, she finds herself flying through the sky, in the form of a bird! Through a series of Notice checks she can see a shipwreck, along with something that helps identify the location.

Fixing a Mistake from the Past

Ideally, this vignette involves something bad that happened earlier in the campaign; the character in question relives that experience and has a chance to handle it differently this time around.

For example: During a snowmobile chase on a frozen river in England, Linh Soung tried a risky jump and lost control of her sled; her rider was thrown off of it and badly injured (or even killed?). When she comes out of her stupor, she is driving that sled, during that chase scene. Does she attempt the same maneuver this time, or try something less dangerous?

Facing a Hindrance

This vignette forces a character to confront a fear, make a decision regarding loyalty, or the like. This could include giving up loot in order to save an ally, or even sacrificing oneself.

For example: Vaughn Adkisson, who is Heroic, wakes up to find that his friends are pinned down by the mercenaries, sure to be overwhelmed in battle. The mercenaries, in turn, have positions of cover in an ancient temple from which they can casually snipe at the heroes. Vaughn might recognize that, by toppling one of the columns holding up the roof of the temple, he can bring it down on top of the mercenaries. In doing so, however, he might not survive.

Having a Religious Experience

It is important that this vignette be handled in a tasteful manner, since it touches on topics that are important to a lot of people. With that in mind, the experience that this character has can take any number of forms.

For example: Thaddeus Woodward is a Christian. When he returns to consciousness, he is lying on the ground in the desert, with a stone for a pillow. Nearby he sees a ladder that stretches up into the heavens; angelic figures climb up and down it. (This is the image depicted on the cover of this scenario, taken from the Book of Genesis 28:10-19). One of the figures—perhaps even the angel Gabriel—approaches him to talk. He might be very tempted to ascend the ladder himself, but he could be torn between that and staying in this world to continue his good works.

Seeking Unlimited Power

This vignette has the potential to be the most dramatic, since it provides a glimpse of how the world would be changed if High Magic and the No Power Points setting rule, are unleashed. While this might be appealing to some occultists, the dangers inherent in such a world might quickly become apparent.

For example: Magdalena Gonzalez is Driven to learn the mystical secrets of the world. It might appeal to her, then, to learn Powers such as Blast, Bolt and Burst. When enemies press Magdalena and her friends during combat, she could also be tempted to unleash such magic. The resulting carnage should be an unpleasant surprise. What is worse, if her enemies gained access to such Powers, then they would not hesitate to use them, too.

Confronting Oneself

In this vignette the hero can face oneself. This could be to gain some kind of insight or to confront a character flaw.

For example: Throughout the course of the campaign, Vaughn has done a lot of fighting. While he has done this to protect his friends, the persistence of their enemies has pushed him to become more ruthless in his efforts. In this vignette, Vaughn comes face-to-face with a different version of himself—one that has become Bloodthirsty instead of Heroic. He might need to defeat himself in combat, or perhaps show himself mercy.

Meeting a Historical Figure

This vignette is a chance for a character to meet someone they admire. There is a chance for conversation, and thus perhaps to gain important insight.

For example: Gavin has been intrigued by what he read about the Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang Ti, who had the Terracotta Army built for his tomb and is said to have sought the alchemical Elixir of Life. Gavin could wake up in the Emperor's tomb, where the two of them discuss how you use the time you have on this Earth, and what you leave behind as your legacy when you are gone.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Shrine of the Sibyl

This complete scenario, available from DriveThruRPG and for use with Treasure Hunter Adventures and the Savage Worlds RPG, takes the heroes to a seemingly ordinary chapel in Rome, beneath which they can reveal the secrets of the prophetesses known as the Sibyls. 


The Shrine of the Sibyl

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Second Preview for The Shrine of the Sibyl: Puzzles and Art

This post adds more preview details, including two of the puzzles from the scenario along with the corresponding artwork. 

Here is the message that starts this treasure hunt. 

These statues, and the engraving, are very similar to the ones found in the temple. 

A fresco like this is painted on the wall in a hidden chamber. 

The stairs in this stairway are engraved with names. Beware making a misstep!

In the Shrine itself is a slab containing a mechanism with levers that correspond to each of these letters. What is the correct order in which to pull them? 


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

First Preview for The Shrine of the Sibyl

Here is the first preview of the forthcoming scenario The Shrine of the Sibyl; it features the maps for this adventure. 

We start with a chapel in Rome that might not seem noteworthy, but it hides an important secret. 

Then there are the catacombs and shrine hidden beneath the chapel. 


Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Lucasfilm Lofi: Travel with Indiana Jones

I am relatively new to this Lofi stuff, but I have been looking for good background music to play in my classroom at school. This just popped up on Youtube for me, and I am sharing it here in part so that I can find it while I am reading or writing in the future. The background video is fun to watch, too. 


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Support Material for Light of Xaryxis

Here's a list of material from the Dungeon Masters Guild that can be used to supplement the Light of Xaryxis campaign. Feel free to post in the comments if I've omitted something. I did not include material intended specifically for VTT play.

Stars Over Stormwreck

This scenario acts as a bridge between Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, the scenario from the D&D Starter Set, and the Light of Xaryxis campaign. Although I used Spelljammer Academy to launch my campaign, I'm thinking of using that pairing to launch a future campaign that would then lead into Graveyard of the Gods.

Spelljammer Academy Expanded

I've previously posted about this supplement, which adds more content for use during the PCs' time at Spelljammer Academy. If I had had more time for running my campaign this year, I definitely would have used it.

Orc Chief's Throne

This scenario is intended as a bridge between Spelljammer Academy and Light of Xaryxis, one that gives the PCs a chance to acquire their own ship. It looks like it could be pretty combat-intensive, and ultimately I decided not to use it, but I was tempted.

Saving Commodore Krux

This is the first of three scenarios that supplement specific chapters in Light of Xaryxis. This one expands on the events of Chapter 4, adding more activity while the PCs are on the Rock of Bral. The preview looked solid, but I ended up not adding it.

Of Mercanes and Megapedes

This scenario expands on the PCs' interactions with Vocath the Mercane and the factions of Doomspace during Chapter 8; once again, I chose not to use it due to time constraints.

Mind Flayer Over Matter

In a previous post I mentioned that I added this scenario to the campaign. It worked well for adding a few encounters between Chapters 9 and 10 during the lead-up to the campaign finale, buying some time for a player who needed to miss a couple of sessions and allowing everyone to advance their characters to level 9 before the big final fight. I did not do a good job of preparing to run it, however.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Watching Again: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Here are my thoughts while watching this one again.

  • I've played in awesome campaigns that had great endings, but we were tempted to try playing the characters one more time. One was Shadowrun, and the other was Spwlljammer. In both cases, the new adventures did not go well, and we ended up feeling like we should have left well enough alone. I think that could be relevant here.

  • One can feel the influence of George Lucas strongly in the opening scene, with Elvis Presley's “Hound Dog” playing as a hot rod car speeds along the road. Along that line, this installment has a 50s science fiction feel, which can be fun, but is notably different from the 30s pursuit of holy relics and fight against the Nazis.

  • And then they nuke the fridge.

  • After that, during interrogation, Indy mentions that Mac was MI6 while Indy was in the O.S.S.; they undertook twenty or thirty missions together in Europe and the Pacific. That's some really cool world building, but we won't likely see what came of that.

  • That is followed by the implication that agents of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI don't trust old OSS operatives, and even suspect them of being communists! That is quite intriguing.

  • This movie tells us that Marcus Brody has passed away. I wonder what other characters from previous films, such as Willie Scott and Short Round, are doing now.

  • Mutt Williams has a great introduction. That is followed by some exposition, a soda fountain brawl, and an inspired motorcyle-and-car chase through the college campus.

  • Then there is more exposition, some research, and riddle. This is solid.

  • In Nazca, Indy tells Mutt that he learned Quechua while he rode with Panco Villa—a reference to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. That is good world building.

  • It's a touching scene when Mutt sees Ox's cell and thinks that Ox has gone mad; Indy puts his hand on Mutt's shoulder.

  • The graveyard scene is atmospheric and exciting, a good set piece.

  • Then we have some exposition after Indy and Mutt are captured. Indy is hooked up to psychic monitoring equipment and hears a message while staring into the crystal skull. If any players doubted the apparent change in style for the campaign, it should now be clear.

  • That is followed by a jungle chase and fight scene that is, in my mind, rather goofy. I can imagine the GM telling the players, after this session, “I let you get away with this stuff tonight, but I won't allow it in the future.”

  • The lost city of Akator makes for a cool area to explore, even if it really leans into the new style.

  • I like the wedding at the end; it is the kind of narrative conclusion that I can see happening at the table after a campaign finale.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Watching Again: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Here are my thoughts while watching this one again.

  • The opening flashback, to a time when Indy was young, could be a fun idea for a campaign. The players have a chance to work through such an experience, with one focusing on their regular character, and the others playing different ones, like Herman. It wouldn't be anything too dangerous, but helps build background and give insight into a formative experience.

  • The scene aboard the train is a great example of using the rules for Chases. In this case, each card in the sequence can represent one train car, with different obstacles and hazards—crates and baggage, a rhinoceros, snakes, a lion, the magician's caboose—for each card/car.

  • We move from there into a good series of clues, not too hard or too easy, with atmospheric exploration and then another good example of a chase aboard boats.

  • The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword is a good example of a rival organization—not enemies, but people who opposed to the heroes. They want to protect the location of the Holy Grail, but Indy knows that seeking it will lead to his father.

  • Indy's ruse of pretending to be Lord Clarence MacDonald, followed by a punch, is just the kind of hare-brained impersonation that one of my players might try.

  • We move from there into a series of encounters highlighted by great roleplaying and fast action. There's the confrontation in which Elsa's betrayal is revealed; a fiery escape and motorcycle chase; venture back into Berlin; escape on a dirigible; and airplane chase. The GM does a good job of keeping things moving here. At the same time, the two players do great work playing their characters and digging into their father-son relationship.

  • Then we have another convoy sequence, reminiscent of the one from Raiders, but with more characters and elements in play. Kazim and the Brotherhood make their return, too, showing that Indy gained some allies by showing mercy.

  • I can imagine the tank chase playing out on the tabletop, too. Indy and the tank are moving from card to card, as are Sallah and other vehicles, and there's combat taking place on and in the tank. This is fun stuff!

  • I can imagine that, when the out-of-control tank drives over the cliff, both Indy and Vogel make Acrobatics or Athletics checks to jump to safety; Indy succeeds, and Vogel fails. Henry, Brody and Sallah all fail Notice checks to spot Indy, and we have some more good roleplaying while they respond as if he is dead.

  • That is a cold-blooded moment when Donovan shoots Henry. What a way to sell the villain!

  • Then there are four cool traps/puzzles/tests. Donovan's failure at the fourth test is a nice throwback to the end of Raiders.

  • It's a cool image, seeing Indy with the Grail Knight.

  • Of course, the final test is whether to try claiming the prize, or letting it go. Elsa fails the test, but Indy and Henry are able to pass it. We've moved from pursuing “fortune and glory” in Temple of Doom to seeking “illumination” in this one.

  • And then they ride off into the sunset. That could have been a great end to the campaign, if that was actually the end of it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Watching Again: Raiders of the Lost Ark


Here are my thoughts while watching this one again.

  • I watched this movie many, many times on VHS—so many times, in fact, that the tape broke and we had to tape the tape. When it came out on DVD, it was amazing to watch it on my computer. Now I can see the high-definition quality on a big TV screen, and I love it.

  • The opening sequence is a great example of how a GM could use the end of a previous adventure as the start of a new scenario, kicking off the action in media res before slowing things down t introduce new plot elements.

  • The subtitles help me understand lines that I've misunderstood for more than forty years.

  • The opening sequence also introduces one of the main villains for the film—and Indy's fear of snakes—which is sensible story development.

  • It is fun to see Indy go from fieldwork to the classroom. This could also be interesting in an RPG, with characters having to shift between roles and skill sets in different settings.

  • Yes, the implication that Indy took advantage of a young Marion is discomfiting. There is no getting around that.

  • Toht is just one in a series of excellent villians; the GM did a great job of creating NPCs for this adventure. He, along with Bellog and the German mechanic, are so solid that the German boss villain, Dietrich, does not need to be so distinctive.

  • When Toht unwittingly burns the imprint of the medallion into his hand, it's a good example of how a failed roll can still bring about success.

  • I love the use of “travel by map” as a segue between scenes. It shows off just how much of the world Indy is covering in this globetrotting adventure.

  • We have some great foreshadowing here, when both Brody and Sallah warn Indy about messing with the Ark. This comes up again when Belloq is so excited to pursue it, whether or not he must then turn it over to Adolf Hitler.

  • Indy is presented with a chance for an awesome bullwhip vs. sword fight, but goes for his pistol instead. I could see many of my players making the same choice.

  • We see more use of Bennies to manipulate the story when the monkey gives away the fact that Marion is hiding from the attackers in a basket, and that the Nazis switched baskets before loading one onto the truck that ends up exploding.

  • The map room is a fun example of a puzzle that does not require puzzle solving. As long as the heroes acquire the needed item and made some skill checks, then they can find what they need to learn from this encounter.

  • That is a tough spot for Indy, having to decide if he frees Marion or continues his search for the Ark without her. This is a tough GM.

  • Continuing that theme, the GM clearly plays upon the hero's Hindrance in the Well of the Souls. “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”

  • When Dietrich has Marion thrown into the Well, we see some dissention in the ranks among the villains. That's good writing.

  • Indy's player has to be spending some Bennies during the fight with the German mechanic, and must be making some good Soak rolls.

  • That is the greatest love scene of all time.

  • When the Nazi stencil is burned off of the crate, that should be a warning to the villains.

  • The deus ex machina ending might seem disempowering for the heroes, but in this case I think it is entirely appropriate. After all, the foreshadowing (mentioned above) should make it clear that this is a sacred and powerful relic, not a magical item for them to use or sell.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Reflection on Light of Xaryxis

Earlier this month my group finished playing through this campaign; here are some thoughts from my players and myself. Here's a link to my notes from it. 

Spelljammer Campaign Notes

  • This was the campaign that I needed for this school year. We are still playing every other week, during the school year, which means we have some eighteen sessions for the campaign. That worked well, with one for each part of Spelljammer Academy (four total) and one for each part of Light of Xaryxis (twelve in all). It was exciting for me to see the new Spelljammer books and to delve more deeply into 5th Edition D&D.

  • The storyline was pretty straightforward, with each chapter leading into the next one. My group was okay with this, although I wouldn't want it to be the play style for every campaign.

  • Juggling three books at one time was sometimes challenging. In one scene, for example, the PCs faced some psurlons aboard a nautiloid, requiring me to have all three of them open. I understand why they're organized in that way, but it was a little cumbersome.

  • Along that same line, it would be nice to have the Astral Adventurer's Guide available by itself, rather than requiring people to buy it along with the adventure book and Boo's Astral Menagerie. Players don't need the Menagerie, and certainly not the adventure.

  • Some of my players were surprised by the scope and scale of the scenario. I felt a little guilty running a campaign in which all of Toril was at stake, seeing as I haven't done much with the Forgotten Realms in the past. My players were familiar with the setting, though, and enjoyed the references to it in Spelljammer Academy.

  • It became a running joke when we referred to their “lengthy and comprehensive” training at the academy, seeing as their characters gained four levels in as many sessions and about twelve hours of play. That setup did work well for bringing them to 5th level to start the campaign book, at which point the pace slowed to an advancement every three sessions.

  • I was impressed by the amount of support material that was available from the DM's Guild website for use with this campaign. I only ended up using one of them—a scenario called Mind Flayer Over Matter—but there were many more available. While the Dungeons & Dragons game has long had third-party content available, I'd not previously seen it to be designed intentionally for use with an existing campaign storyline.

  • In the end, my players enjoyed the campaign, and that's what really matters.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Watching Again: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Here is my first reflection on these movies, which were highly influential on the development of Treasure Hunter Adventures


Watching Again—Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Here are my thoughts for the film that comes first in chronological order.

  • What if the engraving of the mountain on the gong in Club Obi-Wan was a treasure map in its own right? That could be a fun challenge, making a copy of the engraving (or even stealing the gong outright!).

  • Lao Che makes a good recurring villain, one who is not crucial to this adventure, but who is powerful and could seek revenge against Indy.

  • Given the tendency in the 1980s to add young kids to aging TV series, one might first balk at having Short Round as Indy's sidekick for this adventure. I disagree, for two reasons. One I will explain later. The other is seeing these two actors reunited during the recent Academy Awards, and recognizing the respect that they have for each other.

  • I'm not sure that I could handle the Willie Scott character for a whole campaign, but she makes a fun foil for Indy on this adventure.

  • The bit about using the life raft to jump out of the airplane may seem silly, but it's just the kind of thing that, if the players wanted to try it, then the GM should let them. I can imagine Strength checks to hang on during the fall, and then Boating to steer it, first down the mountainside and then through the river rapids.

  • It is an interesting plot element, to have the heroes crash land due to previous conflicts, when the locals interpret it as divine providence.

  • Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.”

  • I recognize the risk of portraying different ethnic groups as villains and running into negative stereotypes, which is an issue in this film. The dinner scene is evidence of this.

  • The dinner scene does provide an example of a character's previous actions catching up with him, as Indy is called out about his “misunderstanding” in Madagascar.

  • The “black sleep of Kali” is one of those plot devices that can be fun if used once, but should not be overdone. Players don't like having the GM take over their characters.

  • That brings us to the point where the heroes' decisions raise the emotional stakes in the scenario. Once they decide to free the children, this is about much more than finding fortune and glory through treasure hunting.

  • And then we move into a great sequence of set-piece combat scenes. From the fight on the conveyor belt, to the mine cart chase, to the confrontation on the bridge, the story moves from one exciting and dramatic moment to another.

  • I can picture the Chase rules being used during the minecart scene, with the opposing parties finding themselves in better or worse situations.

  • The bridge scene, then, seems like one of those times when the players' decisions have put their characters into an untenable situation, but one of them devises a strategy for turning the tables. Kudos to the GM for allowing the tactic to work, if the rolls confirm it.

  • Short Round's fight with the Maharaja pays its dividends when the ruler—having himself been saved from the Black Sleep—brings Captain Blumburrt brings his soldiers to snipe at the Thuggee archers.

  • The conclusion, given that we don't see Shortie or Willie in Raiders, leaves me wondering whatever happened to those characters. In an RPG, of course, they could pop up once again in future adventures.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Generic Heroes for Treasure Hunter Adventures

Generic Heroes is not available from DrivethruRPG. It takes the eight archetypal characters from the first Treasure Hunter Adventures supplement, adds the Technician from THA6: Expeditions & Excavations, and then reformats them as print-and-play character sheets that players can make their own by adding names, descriptive information, and other such details. 

Generic Heroes for Treasure Hunter Adventures


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Preview of Generic Heroes for Treasure Hunter Adventures

This product takes the eight archetypal characters from the first Treasure Hunter Adventures supplement, adds the Technician from THA6: Expeditions & Excavations, and then reformats them as print-and-play character sheets that players can make their own by adding names, descriptive information, and other such details. 

They are great for GMs who want to let players dive into a treasure hunt quickly, without having them play the Iconic Heroes or other pre-generated characters. 

There's even room for a character sketch. 


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Modifying Even More THA Material for the Raiders Time Period

Presented here are tips for using more recent releases for Treasure Hunter Adventures in the pulp time period of the 1930s and 40s, including World War II and its immediate aftermath.

THA6: Expeditions & Excavations

As a toolkit, this supplement requires little modification. The stats for Scout characters remain quite relevant. While the equipment used by the Technician would change, such a character would still be on the cutting edge of technological development. One is reminded of the Nazi program working on V2 rockets as an example of such work, along with the American Operation: Paperclip, which helped lead to the creation of Nasa. Those elements would certainly apply to the time period during and after World War II, when Indiana Jones is working for the Office of Strategic Service, as is referenced in the fourth movie. The rest of the supplement, with plot suggestions, hazards, and locations that serve as prizes, all remains useful.

Bad Blood and Operation: Portmanteau

As mentioned for previous scenarios, these two can take on a greater sense of urgency if they are set during World War II. The prior takes place in Bamberg, Germany; the latter, in BΓΌrgeln, Switzerland. If the Nazis are still in power, then they would have agents actively investigating both of these locations. The Inquistion stronghold in Bad Blood could even be the local Nazi headquarters, where they are studying material gathered there. On the other hand, the betrayal which lies at the center of Operation: Portmanteau could be happening at the time of this adventure; perhaps the nun, Sister Margaretha, suspects that Emmanuel Grey is in danger and comes to the heroes seeking help for him. Grey would certainly have family members with an interest in this business, too.

The Meybohm Museum of World History

This location makes an excellent hub of activity in this time period. During the Blitz—Nazi Germany's bombing campaign against England in 1940 and 1941—it would have been crucial to protect the museum's displays from damage. As is mentioned in the supplement, too, the building became a center for distribution of food and even medical aid. At the same time, the Nazis could send spies who try to discover an important artifacts or lore that are stored there. Finally, Louisa Meybohm would have been a contemporary of Henry Jones, Sr., perhaps being around during some of the early adventures depicted in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

The Wages of Sin

This scenario takes on a really interesting dimension if Cyril Throckmorton is a Nazi sympathizer, or even just a greedy zealot who agrees to work with them toward achieving his own goals. In either case, his unholy religious organization becomes a threat to national security, perhaps using drugs and other influences in tricking Americans to reveal wartime secrets. Exposing him and his plans, then, becomes all the more important for the heroes to accomplish.

For suggestions regarding previous scenarios and supplements, please refer to last year's post.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Indiana Jones Coming to Disney+

This pleases me. I've been frustrated that the Indiana Jones movies have been unavailable to stream recently, but now they're coming to Disney+ on May 31st. What is more, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles have not been available for a long time. 


Thursday, April 20, 2023

New Trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

This trailer was released almost two weeks ago, and I am finally taking some time to look at it. 

Here are my thoughts: 

  • My first thought was that the use of the song "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones was rather jarring. In previous films we've seen the use of music from the time period, such as Sallah singing "I Am the Monarch of the Sea" from HMS Pinafore and Willie Scott singing "Anything Goes." Those were both released before 1936, however, which is the more familiar period in which Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place. Seeing that this fifth film is set in the late 1960s, however, I guess it is appropriate. 
  • This trailer really seems to play up the idea that Indy feels out of place in this time period and, in fact, is about to retire from his job as a college professor. 
  • The lyrics of the song clearly refer to temptation toward wicked deeds, including the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Bolshevik uprising in Russia and the slaughter of the royal family, World War II and the Hundred Years War. 
  • There remains the question of just what the titular Dial can do. Helena clains that it "can change the course of history." Voller takes that a step further when he says, "Hitler made mistakes, and with this I will correct them all. Does that imply some kind of time travel device? I don't love the sound of adding time travel to this setting, but what else could it be? 
  • Finally, this film seems to create the potential for Helena Shaw to start her own series of adventures. Could this be a setup for a spinoff series, much like The Mandalorian and other shows build upon the events of the Star Wars movies? 

As usual, only time will tell. 


Friday, April 14, 2023

A Belated Preview: The Wages of Sin

Only after I'd released The Wages of Sin on DrivethruRPG did I realize I'd forgotten to post any previews of it. Here, then, is a preview. We'll start with a map of the religious compound in which the action takes place. 

Next there is a painting that plays an important role in the story. 

Finalize, here is a cryptic clue to unlocking one of the scenario's mysteries. 


Saturday, April 8, 2023

Influence & Inspiration for Spelljammer: Jungle Cruise

It is my annual New Year's resolution to get more exercise; this leads me to jogging on the treadmill in the winter, since the sidewalks can be dicey. This year I have incorporated my son's iPad into the process, allowing me to watch movies and TV shows while I jog. After watching again Season 1 of The Bad Batch, in preparation for Season 2, I was casting about for something else, and settled on Disney's Jungle Cruise. It seemed, of course, like a fun film that wouldn't require too much concentration, and something in the vein of Treasure Hunter Adventures. About halfway into the movie, however, I realized that it would make a great Spelljammer adventure. Here are some more specific thoughts.

  • The opening sequence, in London, could be moved nicely to the Rock of Bral, with the theft from an institute of higher learning, and a chase through the streets.

  • The Amazon River and jungle, then, could be replaced by an asteroid belt in just about any planetary system, or perhaps an unusual world like Garden in Realmspace, which has asteroids connected by the massive plant known as Yggdrasil's child.

  • While the movie takes place against the backdrop of World War I, the second Unhuman War would make a good replacement. Alternately, local conflicts—such as the War of the Lance on Krynn—would work well, too.

  • In place of Frank's boat, I think that a smaller type of vessel makes sense. This could be a Shrike Ship, a Wasp Ship or a Dragonfly Ship, depending on where it needs to be able to land.

  • For Prince Joachim's submarine, something well suited to combat would be appropriate. This could include a Scorpion Ship, or perhaps a Squid Ship or Hammerhead Ship that carries extra weapons.

  • The obvious suggestion for the Conquistadors is that they are undead. That still begs the question, however, of who they were originally. If this adventure takes place during the second Unhuman War, then they could be soldiers who fought in the first go-round of that conflict. It makes sense that they were also seeking the prize, and still seek it after death. Vampirates are an easy option for this, but lots of other undead would work, too.

  • The native people—in the film it is Trader Sam and the Puka Michuna tribe—could be native to Wildspace, or they could inhabit a world that is the PCs' destination. In the latter case, the possibilities are pretty much endless. In the prior case, creatures such as the chwinga could be a good option.

  • The arrowhead that leads the party to their prize could be something like a collection of star charts, a crystal ball, a sending stone connected to someone who knows where to go, a relevant spell scroll, a well of many worlds, a sentient magic item, or even a portable hole that contains valuable clues.

  • Finally, the Tree of Life could be replaced with—or might function just the same as—items such as an elixirs of health, potions of longevity, a ring of regeneration, a rod of resurrection, or the like.

The Wages of Sin

Now available on DriveThruRPG is The Wages of SinThis scenario, for use with Treasure Hunter Adventures and the Savage Worlds RPG, finds the heroes trying to discover the secrets behind a rapidly growing but isolated religious organization.

The Wages of Sin

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Da Vinci Code--20 Years Ago in Campaign History

Today, March 18th, marks twenty years since the first publication of The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown. At the time, even though I was working on what would become D20 Modern Treasure Hunter, I somehow missed the initial release of the novel. I certainly heard about it later, though, as it went on to sell 80 million copies. When I did finally read it, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Here are some of my thoughts about it, both at the time and now in hindsight. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, I thought that the puzzles were created well. It is a difficult balance to make them not too hard but not too easy, and Dan Brown did a good job with them. 
  • I also enjoyed the pacing of the story. It is perhaps a Dan Brown trademark to have chapters that are as short as one page, but it certainly helped keep me turning the pages. 
  • As with the other novels featuring Robert Langdon as the protagonist, this provides a good example of how one can create an exciting adventure that is not so heavy on combat.
  • The MacGuffin in this novel is both good and bad. While it makes for some high stakes, there is also a sense of irreverence. This is something that occurred to me a while after I read it, but especially after watching the movie. I was, admittedly, a little surprised when the movie did well, but not extraordinarily so. 
  • Part of the reason for that, I think, is because the villain's hope is to find irrefutable proof to contradict the story of Jesus from the Bible. That stands in stark contrast to movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which respect the idea that there is a higher power beyond our reckoning. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Captain Quin's Logbook: Oni Space Pirate

Huh. It seems that, while I released this short supplement online at the start of the year, I neglected to post about it on this blog. So, now available on DriveThruRPG is this Oni Space Pirate, which includes deck plans and descriptions for a junk, crew stats and plot hooks. 


Captain Quin's Logbook: Oni Space Pirate

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Captain Quin's Logbook: The Ghost Ship

This two-page supplement presents a ghost, with deck plans and stats for the galley, suggestions for assembling the crew, and plot hooks for incorporating it into Spelljammer adventures and campaigns. 

The Ghost Ship


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Review of National Treasure: Edge of History

Two weeks ago we saw the season finale for National Treasure: Edge of History. It came at a busy time for me, just before consecutive weeks with a professional conference and a gaming convention. Now that those have passed, however, I've decided to share my thoughts on the series. 


Thoughts on Season 1 of National Treasure: Edge of History 

  • First and foremost, I enjoyed this show. 
  • Yes, it had a lot of early-twenty-something relationship drama. I remember what it was like to be in my early twenties, however, and there was certainly relationship drama happening in my life. We should remember, though that, if relationship drama is an element that the players want to explore, then the GM should let them do so. 
  • I like how the series used Agent Sadusky in Episode 1 to introduce the main plot elements. This connected it to the two movies, while giving it some room to follow its own path. 
  • In Episode 2 we find our young protagonists in over their heads, with one of their number captured. I like how that takes talented, but inexperienced, characters and throws them into the action. 
  • The scene at Graceland in Episode 3, with Liam playing guitar and singing, is a great example of how the GM should let the players be creative. You want to distract everyone with a song? Give me a Performance check!
  • Episode 4 introduce a couple of plot elements that expand the possibilities for the setting, with  Sadusky's treasure room--awesome--and the "board of directors for a mysterious organization. That is good campaign planning! 
  • The action at the Governor's ball in Episode 5 reminds me of times when the GM lets the players take the ball and run with it, which has allowed for interesting character development and created some memorable moments. 
  • Episode 6, then, puts Jess into a position where she is separated from her friends, and needs to work with her enemy. This would be hard to do in an RPG session, but is certainly intriguing. 
  • In Episode 7 we have a great moment that mirrors the movies. While Ben Gates made such dramatic statements as "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence" and "I'm going to kidnap the president," Jess is given her own such moment.  
  • I am reminded that in Episode 8 we see more of the NPC, Agent Ross, who both helps and hinders the heroes. That seems like just the kind of element a GM would want to add to a campaign. 
  • Episode 9, as the session before the finale, does just what it should. There are discoveries and revelations, important decisions and betrayals. It sets up the finale, of course. 
  • Finally, Episode 10 is the finale. It provides some closure, while leaving open other plot hooks. This reminds of many RPG campaign finales, which are often a mixed bag. Sometimes they are epic and resolve all of the story, while at other times they leave me wanting more. The latter is the case here, where I want to see what more lies ahead for these characters. 

Campaign Pacing 

If I were running this as a Treasure Hunter Adventures campaign, then I think I would award four Advances throughout these adventures. One comes after the finale, of course, when the heroes become Seasoned characters; the others would happen after Episodes 3, 5 and 7.