Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shock and Awe

Dusk fell upon the heroes, and the chill dread that unseen predators may still skulk in darkness awaiting hapless passers-by. They braved the tunnel from  whence came the grotesque spiders, and burned what webs and egg sacs lay in that dank and hollow recess.  They did not find any sign either of the wayward caravan, for too old were the bodies of the drained and withered victims to be the caravansary gone these five weeks.

Equally daring and desperate, the players made camp, seeking shelter in the spider's cave nestled in shoals of the jutting, craggy Frandor Foothills.  On his nights-watch, Alecks became aware of a rustling in the underbrush.  Creeping through the darkness, he was suddenly beset by a lurching hulk of roots and foliage with a seeming will of its own.  

As he weathered it's punishing assault, his companions roused from their slumber and joined the fight, bringing fire upon the creature.  Together, they brought it down, and Malphus harvested from it valuable sap rich with restorative properties.

Bolstered by a hearty breakfast stew of capons, mushrooms and tubers, the party conferred on what their next move should be.  Hester and Vudu, able to cover ground more quickly, volunteered to search among the foothills for any signs of the caravan.  The remaining party members followed the trade road east, hoping to glimpse some sign of ill-doing.

It was by chance light glinted off an iron pin in the shattered wagon wheel some thirty paces of the main road, within sight of a great bridge over one of Tan'gra's tributaries.  Closing in, the party observed a caravan wagon, broken hastily by rough hands and hidden in a canopy of haphazardly hewn sprigs and branches.  Investigating closely, the party found the remnants of a wagon rut.  Figuring this to be the work of army deserters turned bandit, they followed these faint fracks uphill to a natural cold spring.  Close thereby, they smelled char and meat, and so they crept up unseen (they thought) upon the camp.

In moments, the ragtag band was at the party, most of whom lay sleeping in their tents.  Leanan took a crossbow quarrel to the center of her chest, and her head swam in darkness as she fell to the earth.  Enraged at the wounding of his mistress, the hollow suit of bronze Ser Mercury hewed left and right at men, mowing them down like reeds.

With a bestial yawp, Yama'zhul beset with his greatsword an archer, cleaving him from crown to groin in a single stroke. With incantations hissed and fell oaths uttered, Malphus set ablaze tents and men alike.  Alecks stood as a wall of will and iron between his comrades and the bared blades of their foes.

When the grisly work was done, each battered and scarred companion was still standing, save one.  With the practiced, sure hand of a healer, Malphus removed the quarrel from his patient, applied unguents to speed healing, and bound her wound.  Pulled from the very door of death, Leanan found herself borne up in the arms of her metal man-at-arms.

The bandits had accumulated wealth in their raiding, and some thirteen head of light horses.  The heroes made a disturbing discovery among the contents of the camp: coined gold bearing Orcish markings.  Coercing the pair of bandits remained alive, the party learned the source - these bandits had sold the caravan's host into slavery to the Orkryn Phar'mos, the Moon Barker Orc Tribe.  Yama'zhul grinned through his wickedly sharp teeth, for the Phar'mos were blood enemies of his persecuted tribe, and great honor could be had in vengeance against them.

Driven forth, bound and on foot, the bandits led our party forward to crest the ridge above the Mines of Chaos, the tunnel-riddled walls of a mighty and fertile valley.  Much they beheld from the crest on high: an abandoned quarry with a placid bluish pool, rows of terrace farms, evidence of a forest fire a season overgrown.  The stink of orc hung in the high breeze, and the party did not tarry.  They turned the treacherous bandits loose at the rim, and set off on horseback for the Keep above the triple falls.

At the Tilted Keg, the slowly recovering Leanan chose to share the wealth of fine rye spirits with the guard of the Upper Bailey.  She had also the fortune to befriend and bewitch Erig Cenkaur, Commandant of the Upper Bailey, who was happy to indulge his troubles in cups.  Assuring him of her friends in high places, and with no minor aid of faery glamour, Leanan convinced Erig to divulge his knowledge of a gold conspiracy in the Keep.  She was shocked to learn that, in his urgent need to pay off rising debts, the Keep Prefect Bandrus Far'Raven had delved into the crimes of gross insubordination, treason and counterfeit.

The party returned to Greytar Gentle, and shared this dangerous news.  Greytar considered the matter, and bid the heroes find the mine and recover some solid evidence to damn the conspirators, so that he could bring in a division of the army to wrest control of the keep from Bandrus and his cronies.

And here, we close this chapter of the Little Keep on the Borderlands.  Until next week, readers, when we delve deep into the Mines of Chaos!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reconnoiter the Rim

In need of funds and outfitting, the party spent some precious coin to provision and set out to explore their surroundings.  West and northward along the trade route, one among their number, Malphus, slipped into the cold waters of a tributary to the swift mountain river Tan'gra.  Swept by the current toward the waiting falls at Frandor, he clawed for help, and with a length of rope the swift reflexes and combined muscle of his comrades saw him to safety.

Not long upon the road, the party came upon an upturned wagon, broken beyond repair and feathered with arrows.  Investigating the goods, Malphus discovered a coiled mountain viper, and was struck in the face.  Timely intervention of Alecks with his vial of antitoxin saved the wizard once again.  In the wreckage, they discovered silver candelabras and boxes of silver cutlery - likely a traveling merchant southbound from the gnomes at Drayton's Forge.  The party packed the silver goods, and headed onward.

They came upon a terrifying sight, known to the locals as the Dungeons of Kreatin Farpaang.  

Carved into the side of a lone peak, the party beheld a massive, slumbering human face, mouth agape beneath several rows of jagged teeth.  Distantly, weirdish blue light shone from deep inside the maw.  At one point, a stone bridge had connected the main road with the dungeon, but the bridge had long been shattered, leaving a wide gap between them.  The party investigated the area to find alternate routes inside, but saw only a nightmarish, hours long climb along a sheer face, or a solid week of trekking through the wilderness to approach the dungeon from the rear slope.  Gazing skyward, the party saw evidence of peryton roosts, and decided to return to the Dungeons of Kreatin Farpaang when they had gained strength.

They returned to the keep and sold their silver, reporting the caravan driver as missing.  As they returned to the Tilted Keg, the eyes of many in the Keep fell upon them - some in wonder, some in suspicion, and some in envy.  But unbeknownst to them, a wizard's eyes fell on them from a high tower of the Keep.

The following day, they responded to an invitation to the tower.  There, Greytar the Gentle welcomed them, and told them of many dangers known and suspected in the peaks surrounding Frandor Keep: a madman in the forest, a clutch of lizardmen camped near ancient, evil ruin, a missing supply caravan from the east, sightings of goblins and kobolds by long range patrols, and perhaps most distressing of all, counterfeit coins found in the keep, cast of pure gold. 

For their aid in these matters, Greytar promised the party payment in gold.  The party first scoured the woods, found and subdued the madman, and recovered many treasures buried under the crook of an ancient oak where the madman had made his home.

Returning the madman to the keep, and receiving their pay, the party took a well deserved rest.  Each pursued individual goals, and they resupplied for the journey ahead.  The following day, they headed east in search of the caravan.  The sight of a large bird, roped in thick webbing and hanging from a tree drew their attention.  They searched the area, disturbing the strands of a great funnel web in the high forest branches, and three giant spiders descended upon them!  In a bitter battle, with luck on their side, they defeated these creatures.  They then cast their eyes upon the cave from whence these spiders had emerged; what lies in wait for them, lurking in the foul darkness, is a story for another day.

Into Unknown Territories

In the dim and flicking light of a tavern corner some many months ago, five brave souls met with a hooded and cloaked representative of the Circle of Sequestered Magick.  They signed their names to a contract, in which they pledged to retake the ruined wizard’s tower of Quasqueton from the monsters who had infiltrated its abandoned halls and chambers from the twisting caves below.  

These adventurers met the horrors of the dark with their determination, and with cold steel dispatched them. Though they barely cleared a profit from the risky venture, they were awarded each a writ and signet by the Circle, which authorized them to patrol the Borderlands as allies of Fangaerian City States.  

With the orkin war drums driving the Southern Orc League to victory after victory, and the cunning of their dreaded leader Ahk'Tang, it would be only a matter of time before the lines of defense shattered.  Key points would need to be reinforced, and held fast, to save the lives of countless folk in the Fangaerian interior.

So this small group of valiant men and women set out from the east, down the trade road towards the dwarven lands, seeking the front lines.

Unfortunately, fate has played a cruel trick upon them.  After following the directions of a well-intentioned pilgrim, they became lost deep in the heart of the heavily forested Frandorian Mountains.

For days, they wandered aimlessly as each hard climbed summit presents yet another vista of jagged, impassible peaks for as far as the eye can see.  Days have turned into weeks and the blisters to sores.  What few scraggly varmints they could hunt and roots they could dig in the peaks served as pitiful meals indeed.

Near starved and half-sick with exposure, they finally broke out of the dense forest to find themselves in a narrow gorge on the banks of a raging river, and spied a trail leading west.  A few hours later, after negotiating the winding pass, they came upon a majestic waterfall that plummets almost a hundred feet and, sitting perched in the middle, on an island of jagged rocks, a beautiful keep.

Approaching, the found the keep under the watchful guard of human soldiers bearing the mountain lynx crest on a field of red and white.  They had found Frandor's Keep, a defensive structure unique and ideally placed in the narrow pass traversing the Frandorian Range.

Presenting the writ of the Circle (and with no small amount of negotiation) they were allowed grudgingly into the keep, where they found refuge at the Tilted Keg Tavern, where their silver coins bought room and board.  For a short at least, they set down their cares and took some hard won rest.

Act Well Your Part

The players assembled, here is the cast:

Alecks Aleckson the Sixth
(Human Soldier, Grizzled Talent, Fighter Specialty)
A rank-and-file town guard of the town of Farzey, in the south of the Fangaerian City States.  Son of six generations of proud town guards, Alecks was swept up in events surrounding the party, and found himself traveling as their escort to the western front.  Alecks is a man of singular fortitude and will, able to shrug off blows that would send other men to their graves.

Hester Oxys
(Minotaur Explorer, Merchant Specialty)
A treasure hunter and merchant of rare and precious artifacts and commodities, Hester has trucked out to the frontier with this small band of specialists to be their eyes and ears in dark and forboding dungeons.  She brings to the party her extensive network of contacts to keep them well supplied, a wealth of knowledge of the hazards of tomb-raiding, and no small measure of the legendary minotaur might.

Leanan Sidhe
(Fey-Blooded Human Courtier, Svelte Talent, Swindler Specialty)
Swapped at birth for a changeling child, Leanan was raised in the pernicious madness of the Winter Court.  Sent to the mortal realm as a spy, she has masqueraded as an envoy to the Gnomish Protectorate traveling to their realm.  She is deft and deadly, and two steps behind her is her bodyguard, the animated and hulking suit of empty armor known as Ser Mercury.

Malphus Salaman
(Saurian Mage/Sage, Wizard Specialty)
Vested in purple robes and a conical hat, this lizard wizard has proven himself time and again with clever magicks and wise counsel.  Though distrusted by humans, Malphus moves among them under the protection of the Circle of Sequestered Magic as one of their field operatives.  Unbeknownst to his fellows, Malphus has taken keenly to the study of necromancy, in hopes of gaining power.

(Human Priest, Vigilant Talent, Druid Specialty)
Ornamented with a ram's skull helm and furs from a score of wild animals, Vudu is a local shaman from the mountain tribes of Frandor.  At the behest of her friend and former traveling companion, Greytar the Gentle, she has joined the party as a wilderness guide and tracker.  Trotting beside her at all times is her massive and battle-scarred war-dawg, Beastie.

(Half Orc Martial Artist, Fist Specialty)
Hailing from the exiled Orcish clan of Blackfang, Yama'zhul is a guardian of the dying traditions of his people, and a fierce practitioner of the deadly arts of Krav'ka.  He has come south into the Frandorian Mountains seeking artifacts in the ancestral realms of his people, and to carve out a new home for them in the verdant and forested mountains they once called home.  Yama is not only a warrior, but a cunning craftsman also.  His companions value his prowess in combat, and his expertise in the intricacies of medicine, poisons, and metalworking.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Friends In Low Places

In this game, there are several feats which grant players temporary or permanent access to NPCs, which they may select or even design themselves.  These feats get even better if you take feats of the same variety, because Fantasy Craft is awesome.  I encourage you to consider an NPC companion, especially if you need a bodyguard, skill monkey, or even a spellcaster!

For the sake of reference, I’ll list those NPC follower feats here:

Prerequisites: Player character only, Charisma 13+
Benefit: You may summon your followers once per adventure during a non-Dramatic scene. There are a number of them equal to your Charisma modifier + 3. They act as a group and share the same statistics, each of them having an XP value no greater than 20 + 5 × the number of permanent Gear feats you have. You may choose your followers from the Rogues Gallery (see page 244) or build an original NPC with GM approval. Followers may not possess temporary feats.
Your followers are standard characters with a Threat Level equal to your Career Level minus 4 (minimum 1). They gain no action dice but you may spend your action dice on their behalf. Your followers may not control additional characters.
Followers assist you and your party either with 1 task or until the end of the following scene, whichever comes first (you must define their use when they’re summoned). Of course, circumstances may dictate that followers can’t or shouldn’t leave when their generosity runs out, in which case they leave at the first reasonable opportunity and your Reputation decreases by 1 per additional scene the followers help. Followers may help with Downtime checks but may not make Downtime checks of their own. If any of your followers die or are dismissed, you lose 1 Reputation per individual lost (they’re replaced in the following adventure).
Special: You may not gain this feat as a temporary feat.

Prerequisites: Followers
Benefit: The number of followers you control increases to your Charisma modifier + 10 and their maximum XP value increases to 30 + 5 × the number of permanent Gear feats you have. Also, you lose only 1 Reputation per 2 individuals lost.
Special: You may not gain this feat as a temporary feat.

Prerequisites: Player character only
Benefit: You control a non-animal NPC with an XP value no greater than 50 + 5 × the permanent Style feats you have. You may choose your lieutenant from the Rogues Gallery or Bestiary (see pages 244 and 253) or build an original NPC with GM approval.
Your lieutenant may not possess temporary feats. Your lieutenant is a special character with a Threat Level equal to your Career Level minus 4 (minimum 1). He gains no action dice but you may spend your action dice on his behalf. Your lieutenant may not control additional characters.  If your lieutenant dies or is dismissed, you lose Reputation equal to your Career Level (he’s replaced in the following adventure).
Special: You may not gain this feat as a temporary feat.

Prerequisites: Player character only
Benefit: You control an animal NPC with an XP value no greater than 50 + 5 × the permanent Terrain feats you have. You may choose your partner from the Bestiary (see page 253) or build an original NPC with GM approval. Your partner may not possess temporary feats.
Your partner is a special character with a Threat Level equal to your Career Level minus 4 (minimum 1). It gains no action dice but you may spend your action dice on its behalf. Your partner may not control additional characters. If your partner dies or is dismissed, you lose Reputation equal to your Career Level (he’s replaced in the following adventure).
Special: You may not gain this feat as a temporary feat.

While I encourage players to be creative and faithful to their concept while designing their characters, there are a number of drawbacks to an excessive use of followers.

The most pressing is combat efficiency.  Let me break down a combat with followers in it for you.  Say you’ve tracked a troupe of evil dopplegangers to their lair.

Sally gets a turn.  She stabs a doppleganger in the face with a poisoned blade!
You get a turn.  You melt a doppleganger with flask of powerful acid!
The dopplegangers get a turn!  They claw several of you viciously!
Earl gets a turn!  He casts a spell to buff himself and his minions!
Earl gets a turn for his personal lieutenant, Bulletface Bert, who bashes a doppleganger.
Earl gets a turn for his animal partner, Hamstringer, who chomps down on a doppleganger. 
Earl gets 12 sequential turns for his followers, the Manchester United Football Team, who stomp the snot out of the remaining dopplegangers.
Howard would get a turn to cast that nifty new fireball spell of his, but sadly all the dopplegangers are already dead.

There are also potential abuses of the system.  The game rules state specifically that certain abilities are reserved for special encounters, and shouldn’t be stacked on player controlled NPCs.  For example:

Conversion: transforms creatures damaged or killed into a creature identical to the NPC under their control.  Your NPCs should never be controlling other NPCs.

Damage Defiance or Damage Immunity: Half or no damage from a specific source.  This can be specified as “lethal damage,” making the NPC either highly resistant to or effectively invulnerable to physical harm.

Death Throes: though expensive, this is a profoundly overpowered ability.  The creature, upon death, detonates for an amount of damage equal to half its XP value.  Yikes.

Monstrous Attack or Monstrous Defense: respectively, these increase the critical range of attacks made by the NPC and decrease the critical range of attacks made against the NPC.

Regeneration: see damage immunity. 

Any grade of Shapeshifter: oh my, no.  Nope.

Spell Defense and Spell Reflection: unless truly appropriate to the character, these just don’t make sense.

Splitter: NPC splits when critically struck or killed into two NPCs.  This would incentivize getting your NPCs killed.

Unlimited Spell Points: this ability allows an NPC to cast spells all day, and is not appropriate for a player controlled NPC.  If it were, you could abuse the sale of spell casting rules and turn your NPC into a money farm.  Or worse.

This is not to say that some of these abilities wouldn’t eventually be appropriate, but you want to limit the expenditures to things that make a reasonable amount of sense.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Putting the Focus on Hocus Pocus

I have completed the transcription of all Hackmaster spell entries into Fantasy Craft compatible Sorcery and Miracle spells for spell levels 0 and 1, which should keep the party's spell-casting needs supplied through 5th level.  I continue to labor diligently to make spells available for this game easy to understand and fun to utilize.  I'm particularly proud of the 0th level Sorcery Spells Dancing Lights and Prank, which are entertaining and versatile without being either too cartoony or overpowered.

There are two base classes which can cast spells out of the gate, Mage and Priest.  Three, if you count the Sage, who can pick up the Subtle and Quick to Anger ability, but we cannot honestly rate the Sage as a second or even a third rate spell caster.  A Fantasy Craft Mage is the glass cannon caster, expending a pool of spell points to cast their spells.  Save the switch from Vancian Magic to Mana Pool, the Fantasy Craft Mage is interchangeable with the Hackmaster Mage.  A Fantasy Craft Priest is tougher physically, and gets fewer spells, but more is awarded more special abilities.  They also cast very differently; they access Paths, which allow them to cast specific spells once per scene (read: once per fight).  They are something of a hybrid between the Hackmaster Cleric and Paladin.  As I said, different casters, but each has strengths the other lacks.

I submit to you that these classes can be more versatile.  Allowing the Mage base class to be used to create the sort of Final Fantasy White Mage archetype would afford a more powerful divine spell caster, which I think is entirely appropriate to setting and tone.  Also, those wishing to build a Gish / Magic Knight could easily do so through the Priest class by building custom Paths, and these types of characters also exist in the Hackmaster universe.

Those of you interested in playing a Sorcery/Miracle-driven character should drop me a line @  I can provide you with resources and answer your questions.  Remember, any race and class combination is permitted, so if you want to play a giant Mage, a centaur Priest, a golem Battlemage or a pixie-faerie Zealot, that's kosher.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Introductory Dungeoneering

As a dungeon runner seasoned by the wisdom of crafty GMs and players, and my own numerous, embarrassing, and often painful mistakes, I'd like to share the wealth of my experience.  To you I submit a primer for fledgling adventurers, to aid you in navigating the fantastic and often treacherous world of Garweeze.

Chapter I - Mind Your Head
For a drooling, chthonic man-eater, your average corn-fed adventurer is likely the tastiest item on the menu.  Most of the stab-happy thugs that end up as dungeon barbeque brought with them the same sorts of weapons you have: swords and daggers, clubs and axes, bows and bombs, spells and potions.  All of these are solid armaments.  But the difference between a troll's dinner and the guy who lives to tell the tale of how Frank got eaten by the troll is the weapon most lunk-heads forget to use: the squishy pink meat between your ears. 

Nothing in the dungeon occurs in a vacuum.  There is cause and consequence for every little detail you see.  Ask your GM probing questions about your environment - take in the details, pause, and consider them.  Details are the difference between a long and prosperous career, and a short trip through a dragon’s gullet (which ends about how you’d expect).

Also, remember to duck.  Swinging blades are popular this season.

Chapter II – Good Help is Hard to Find
It is said that if talent is hitting a target no one else can hit, genius is hitting a target no one else can see.  You may bring many skilled and bold souls with you on your adventures, but when the rubber meets the road, you must consider what you alone are capable of doing.  Oft you may find yourself in a situation where no one else can intercede on your behalf, or where the fate of your friends (and the small fortunes they carry) depends on your sole efforts.
Skills an adventure may find handy are numerous indeed.  Adventurers will be experts at the art of killing things without immediately being killed themselves.  You can take that as a given.  But before you set out, you will want to ensure that one among your number is capable of the following:
a.       Someone needs to be persuasive.  To the man who only has a hammer, every problem may begin to look like a nail.  But swords cannot solve your every concern.  The other fellow might have considerably more swords, for instance, or a club the size of a telephone pole, or hideous hot and fiery breath.  A few well-chosen words could prevent those methods of murder from becoming an immediate problem, and a peaceful resolution may prevent their nearly endless supply of familial relations from seeking revenge.  Further, you’ll meet with a goodly number of middle-men in your travels, some of which can be cajoled, bribed, extorted, taunted into error, etc.  A witty ally expands the scope of how you can choose to handle a situation, and options are terribly good to have.
b.      Someone needs to be sneaky.  For many of the same reasons above, it’s handy for at least one among your number to be able to slip through the shadows and get you some much-needed intel, or to bypass certain unpleasantness entirely.  An informed decision is far likelier to have a happy result.
c.       Someone needs to be a big nerd.  Seriously.  At least one of your party members should know little tidbits of information about the world at large, the places you visit, the people you meet, the hideous and cruel things you’re going to meet in the dark, etc.  Knowledge is power.
d.      Someone needs to be handy.  Hauling a motley assortment of gems, baubles, and properties of negotiable value out of some crumbling ruin?  You might need a team of donkeys, and you’ll need someone who can coax them through the hills and heather smoothly.  And if he can fix a broken cart wheel, find potable water, snare a rabbit for dinner and the like, so much the better.

Chapter III – An Ounce of Prevention
You want to travel light?  Sure you do; it has several advantages.  Just know, if you don’t bring a useful piece of gear with you, you will inevitably encounter the circumstances where it would be most useful.  Distributing items among your party members (especially the burly ones) will allow you to compensate for weight, and has the added bonus of giving your fellows a little incentive to keep you healthy.  Here are some items no sensible adventurer should be caught without:
a.       Rope.  You can never, ever have enough.  Rope which is thin yet boasts superior tensile strength is readily available, but so is cheap, heavy, thick rope, and that’s easier on the hands for those long climbs.  It’s also versatile.  Got a stick, a rope and some animal fat?  You’ve got a torch.  Got a rope and an unconscious villain?  Now you have a hog-tied unconscious villain, and you don’t have to be so concerned about when he’s going to wake up.  And before you score that sweet flying carpet or your wizard pal gets his paws on some high quality levitation magic, rope makes swift work of scaling a wall, cliff or precipice.  A climbing kit makes a long ascent easier (read: possible), but for most smash-and-grabs, 30ft of knotted rope and a grapnel will do.
b.      Cookware.  It’s all good and well to buy three weeks of jerky when you have a bag of extra-dimensional space, but carrying a ton of food is extra weight for which you could substitute a handier piece of tackle.  A little hunt and peck will scare up a nice grouse and some wild onions with even a modicum of skill.  And should your spiked club go sailing from your hand, grab your iron frying pan and give that foe a solid beating.  Baffle your cookware with some terrycloth so it doesn’t clatter and give away your position.
c.       Kits: the appropriate kit for your skill set is a must have: some climbing gear, a disguise kit, lock-picks.  Trust me, you will need them.  A first aid kit is appropriate even if you are not particularly skilled, because you can’t have too many bandages and disinfectants in your chosen profession.
d.      Light Sources/Fire-Starters.  Fire is GREAT.  If someone becomes a problem, you stick a torch right in his face.  Then HE has a problem.  The considerate adventurer will carry a torch.  You may have special, see-inna-dark eyes, but your friends might not.  You can get tricky and carry a lens, but that’ll need sunlight to make fire.  A bit of oil or pitch and a good flint will make short work of fire building.  A lantern is very good, especially for making a sudden pool of flames out of whatever becomes an issue, but is often heavy and can be a danger to you also.  If you can make something on the fly, so much the better.
e.       Maps.  Not available everywhere, sometimes out-of-date, sometimes misleading or difficult to read, but so much better than being horribly lost.  Even an amateur can map with a little effort, a pen and a parchment.  A map is light, handy, and in desperate times, good tinder for fire-building or sterile dressing for a wound.
f.       Mirrors.  Signal others at a surprising distance, peek around corner, gussy up a bit before collecting your reward from the king, turn a cockatrice to stone.  Mirrors are great.
g.      Tent:  Cold, wet adventurers with the sniffles, nursing a hundred and a half bug-bites, are unlikely to be as effective as well-rested adventurers.  And it just takes one sneeze to turn your carefully planned ambush into a free-for-all.
h.      Booze:  As an adventurer, you are gonna see some shit.  Liquor might not be the best solution, but when a necromancer turns Jim the wrong side out, you’ll be glad of some liquid amnesia.
i.        Extra Pants:  Because you definitely don’t want to be the adventurer who needs extra pants and doesn’t have them.  Just a simple change of clothes can make all the difference, really.
j.        Leather Gloves: Let me say that again.  Leather.  Gloves.  Why?  Needle traps.  Monster blood.  Contact poison.  Rope burns.  Blisters.  Cramping.  A little added traction when climbing.  Buy.  Leather.  Gloves.

Don’t be misled.  Not all gear is a boon to the adventurer.  Avoid these purchases:
a.       Cards/Dice: gambling partners are rarely friends.  You may think fleecing your traveling companions is a fine pastime, but they’re heavily armed and you’re a long way from civilization.  Games of chance also distract your attention from your surroundings, which is a good way to get bushwhacked.
b.      Chalk: Think you’re clever, making marks on dungeon walls to find your way?  Well, that goblin in the shadows might have a wet rag to wipe away your little marks, or worse, he might have a piece of chalk too.  I don’t think he’ll use that to point you in the right direction, friend.
c.       Expensive Grenades: sure, it might be fun to chuck a whiz-popper at a hobgoblin and watch him dance around howling in pain, but you might as well use a good old fashioned Molotov cocktail.  Cheap, effective, easily made from household ingredients.
d.      Manacles: a well knotted rope is actually a lot more difficult to escape than manacles.
e.       Musical Instruments:  Leave them in the tavern.  As a past-time, music is fine, but out in the open bled it gives away your position.  Also, most of them lack the durability an adventurer needs in their standard issue gear, meaning you might sink hard-won silver into the expensive dulcimer an orc snatches from your back and smashes over your head.
f.       Pick/Shovel: If you’re digging a hole, or tunneling through solid rock, you’re doing it wrong.  Leave mining to the experts; it’s noisy and time-consuming.
g.      Poison Ring: Really, really bad idea.  Get caught with one of these, it’s the noose.  Should you accidentally spill poison in your drink, your food, or your eyeball while climbing a rope, it’s a shallow grave and a short prayer for you, my friend.
h.      10 ft. Pole: What is this, the Olympics?  If you really need to pole vault or poke a chest gingerly, make your primary or secondary weapon a spear.

Chapter IV – The Dungeon is Made of Hate-You
Paranoia is a generally a serious problem for people, but for an adventurer, it’s more a way of being.  Is that a chest full of shiny coins, or a mimic waiting to melt your face?  You’ve been pacing about for fifteen minutes without finding a trap?  There’s probably going to be a trap in the next room.  Is that a regular skeleton, or the kind of skeleton that jumps up and sticks his finger-bones in your poor, squishy eyeballs?  Treating the dungeon like it’s full of giant, angry bees that belch poisonous gas may seem a trifle disturbed as a pattern of behavior, but it falls into perspective when you eventually enter a dungeon and discover giant, angry bees that belch poisonous gas.

But by the same token, you need to relax and have fun with it.  You only go around once, they say, unless you’re a Buddhist, a zombie, or a zombie Buddhist.  So, be ready for a spindly limb to reach out of the darkness and pull you into a horrid spider hole, but be casual and cheerful about it.  No one likes a sourpuss, especially not giant spiders.

Good luck!