The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Interesting Area - Bath

Bathing in Rome was a communal activity. Romans build their baths with fireproof terracotta bricks. They finished the area with fine mosaic floors and marble-covered walls. Statues decorated the area. A public bath contained many rooms. The rooms were vastly different temperature and humidity. For example, bath often had hot dry and hot wet rooms to sit and sweat. The pools were hot, warm, and cool.

A bath could have an assortment of oils. A bath often had massage tables. A masseuse could rub down a patron of the bath with various oils. Scented oils are common. A pressure plate in an archway could trigger a shower of water mixed with a scented oil showering anyone who enters. Musk has a powerful smell. Anointing the party with the musk of some animal (or monster) could attract that creature with the intent to mate with the source of the scent. Floral and fruit based scents. The table below lists a variety of scents.


Bath toys can be a source of entertainment while bathing. Bath toys include ships. Imaging the party finding large sunken tub filled with water and an entire armada of wooden toy ships. The ships could include small figurine.

But, who could forget about the rubber ducky.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Interesting Areas - Dressing Room

In eighteenth century France, a maid would groom and sponge bathe her lady in private. The mistress would spend hours to having her hair dressed, eating breakfast, entertaining friends, and picking the clothes she would wear for the day in her dressing room. The wealthier the woman, the more elaborate her morning ritual. In a fantasy kingdom, a wealthy lady would have servants and possibly magical assistance in her morning ritual. Daily showering is a recent custom only practiced in parts of the world.

Jonathan Swift wrote a poem titled, "The Lady's Dressing Room". Wikipedia describes what the man finds when he sneaks into his lover's dressing room, "He finds sweaty smocks, dirt-filled combs, oily cloths, grimy towels," and so on. Worst he finds the chamber pot.

Consider this scenario. The party finds a painting of a beautiful woman in an elegant gown. As they advance through the mansion, they find the lady's dressing room. Instead of elegance, they find dirty clothes, grimy towels, used feminine products, and a smelly chamber pot.

Dressing rooms are not exclusive to women. Men can have dressing rooms. Consider the noble knight. Where does he put on his armor? Does he strap on the plate mail himself or does he have his squires help him? Depending on the personal hygiene of the knight, his dressing room could be as bad or worse.

Dressing rooms would have lots of shelves and places to hang clothing. Where does Superman hang his clean Superman suits? Would they be out in the open, or hidden behind some secret panel in his dressing room? A dressing room is an obvious place to have a secret panel to hide your alternate identity or sexual fetish costumes.

Consider this scenario. The party searches the dressing room and finds a secret passage into an adjoining secret dressing room. The room contains a set of skin-tight leather armor. However, the armor has opening in the crotch and provides no protection for the gentiles. Wearing the armor provides +3 to your sexual attractiveness.

What dressing room would be complete without at least one full-length mirror? In the movie Legend, Mia Sara dances with the mannequin in the black dress. Suddenly, the dress appears on Mia Sara's character. If you hold up a piece of clothing and stand in front of the mirror, the mirror could magically show you how you would look wearing the clothing. Alternatively, the mirror magically teleports and transforms your clothing.

Depending on how diabolic the Dungeon Master wants to be, the mirror could change the gender of the character depending on the type of clothing. For example, if an adventurer picks up a dress and the adventurer happens to reflect in the mirror while holding the dress then the mirror could change the gender of the adventurer to female and outfit her with the dress.

All dressing rooms need a place to store shoes and boots. What evil overlord is complete without a collection of highly polished boots? Imelda Marcos was infamous for her huge collection of shoes. No shoe collection is complete without at least one pair of magical elf-skin boots.

Mannequin are the perfect place to show off special outfits. For example, a female mannequin wearing a chainmail bikini, or a male mannequin wearing a chainmail jockstrap. How lifelike are the mannequin? Were they once alive and transformed into a mannequin? Do the mannequins come alive?

Dressing rooms often contain a variety of substances to improve the appearance of the owner. In the movie, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Vincent Price puts on his wax face. Imagine the party finding a drawer full of various types of ears and noses.

Every dressing room should have at least one table for various creams and potions. For example, skin cream made from real skin. The table could have lots of pretty tins and boxes. Bell jars filled with a variety of preserved objects can add interest.

The key is to make each area interesting to the party. The area does not need to be harmful or helpful. The party needs to have a tale to tell when they get back home.

I found the picture of the armor here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Interesting Areas - Courtyard

Romans grew gardens inside their homes. The Roman name for a courtyard is peristylium. The peristylium was a key area in Roman homes. Courtyards were a central feature of many ancient homes. Homes today often have patios. An enclosed patio is a courtyard. A courtyard provides a pleasant place to relax and entertain guests.

A party of adventurers exploring a ruin of a city or town will likely find the remains of homes with courtyards. Courtyards can exist in underground dwellings. Dwarves can build courtyards and bring in sunlight via mirrors or crystals.

Courtyards tend to be larger areas. Courtyards provide a dungeon master the opportunity to be creative. Everything in the courtyard can be a point of interest for the party.

Courtyards are usually tiled or paved. The party enters the dusty courtyard. They notice a pattern in the paving stones not covered by dust and dirty. Sweeping away the dirty the party finds a mosaic of a large blue monster holding a cookie with the caption "Me eat cookie!"

The floor of the courtyard provides an opportunity to continue the story of the campaign. The floor could give hints at what lie in the catacombs below or show the prowess of the original owner. A classic example is the mosaic in Pompeii of a dog with the caption "Cave Canem!" which means, "Beware of dog!"

To make a courtyard interesting provide the players with the opportunity for discovery and interaction. For example, cover part of the mosaic with dirt or make the mosaic incomplete. Impress on the party how lifelike the creature appears in the mosaic; however, someone pried the pieces with the eyes and mouth out. Does the party put the pieces back? If so, is there any kind of reaction?

Ceramic tiles can act as trigger mechanism. Traps are obvious. What is not as obvious are sounds. For example, when a character steps on a specific ceramic tile it triggers a small hammer to strike a tuned metal bar making a sound. The floor is a form a xylophone or metallophone. Dancing across the floor will play music. The party could dig up the floor, follow the wires or strings, and find the xylophone.

Plants can decorate a patio or courtyard. Plants could provide a variety of alchemic ingredients. In a fantasy world, plants could do more than just look pretty. A courtyard would be a good place for an Audrey II plant from the movie "Little Shop of Horrors". A large tree in the courtyard could be the home of a Dryad. Alternatively, the plants could be a non-player character giving a vegetables view of the party. A plant non-player character may consider vegetarians horrible monsters.

A reflecting pool could function as a magical mirror. Looking into the reflecting pool could allow viewing other places. Magical fountains offer other diversions. For example, positioning a potion to reflect in the reflecting pool causes the fountain to spray out that potion providing a limitless supply of potions (or not).

Statues commonly adorn ancient courtyards. Some statues could be previous adventurers who did something wrong with the pool and ended up drinking a potion that turns the drinking into stone.

The key is to make each area interesting to the party. The area does not need to be harmful or helpful. The party needs to have a tale to tell when they get back home.