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Types of Fantasy Writing

Every day BookBub (a free service I am subscribed to) sends me a suggested Fantasy ebook on Amazon Kindle which is currently on sale - or sometimes even free.

Today BookBub also sent me an email titled "Improve your BookBub Deal Recommendations", suggesting that I visit a website and refine what kinds of fantasy books I actually want to receive suggestions about.

Or at least that is what I thought it was.

Here is the list of categories:

Bestsellers
  • Bestsellers
Mysteries, Thrillers, Action
  • Crime Fiction
  • Psychological Thrillers
  • Cozy Mysteries
  • Historical Mysteries
  • Thrillers
  • Supernatural Suspense
  • Action and Adventure
Romance
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Historical Romance
  • Romantic Suspense
  • New Adult Romance
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Erotic Romance
  • Dark Romance & Erotica
  • Time Travel Romance
  • American Historical Romance
Fiction
  • Historical Fiction
  • Women's Fiction
  • Literary Fiction
  • Chick Lit
  • Christian Fiction
  • LGBT
  • African American Interest
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
Teen and Young Readers
  • Teen and Young Adult
  • Children's
  • Middle Grade
Nonfiction
  • Advice and How-To
  • Biographies and Memoirs
  • History
  • General Nonfiction
  • Cooking
  • Science
  • Christian Nonfiction
  • Politics and Current Events
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Parenting
  • True Crime
  • Business
  • Humor

Now do you see the problem that I am seeing?

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror are all lumped into ONE CATEGORY, and they don't mention the separate genres within sci fi, the separate genres of fantasy, and the separate genres of horror.

Lets take Fantasy for example... Fantasy is actually a very broad topic and includes the following sub-categories:

  1. High Fantasy (lots of magic or monsters)
  2. Low Fantasy (very little magic and few or zero monsters)
  3. Children's Fantasy (eg. Alice in Wonderland, etc)
  4. Teen Fantasy
  5. Historical Fantasy
  6. Fantasy Romance / Romantic Fantasy
  7. Space Fantasy (Star Wars, John Carter of Mars, etc)
  8. Sword and Sorcery (Conan the Barbarian, etc)
  9. Funny Fantasy
  10. Farciful Fantasy
  11. Dark Fantasy (blending things like werewolves / vampires / etc with other fantasy elements, not to be confused more classical horror or ghost stories)
  12. Fairy Tales
  13. Fables
  14. Mythology
  15. Magic Realism / Modern Fantasy (the movie "Big" starring Tom Hanks is an example of Magic Realism)
  16. Urban Fantasy (the Highlander film series and "Bright" starring Will Smith, etc)
  17. Heroic Fantasy
  18. Medieval Fantasy
  19. Detective Fantasy

And so on.

My point is that even with Fantasy, there are lots of sub-genres.

So when BookBub sent me that email I was like "Oh cool, finally I get the chance to refine what style of fantasy I am looking for!"

Nope. Got my hopes up.

Instead every time they send me a suggestion that is Fantasy Romance I have to read the description, and then delete the email. Arg! (Seriously, way too much Fantasy Romance books out there on Amazon.)

Now what I like about BookBub is that once in awhile I get a free ebook from an author I had never heard of before and I really enjoy their book. Someone I would not have normally had a chance to read anything they had written. So it introduces me to new authors.

For example I recently read:

How To Avoid Death On A Daily Basis - Book 1, by V. Moody.

Very entertaining book and I would not have normally read that style of book. Some day I hope to read other books in the series.


 Some of the books I get via BookBub / Amazon Kindle, I read the first 5 pages and I get bored of it. The writing is poor, nothing is happening, or the plot is just not interesting to me. As a parent I don't have much time these days so if I am making time to read something, it better have some Conan the Barbarian style action in there, a good plot or at least be funny.

I think there is a market for a funny version of Conan... just saying. For people like me who just want to be amused/entertained and don't have much time. Robert E. Howard is a great fantasy author, but he was sometimes long winded and formulaic. (Howard did get paid by the word and probably discovered that if he followed a specific formula that his stories sold better.)

Anyway, if BookBub really wants people to narrow down and refine what they are looking for... add more fantasy, sci fi and horror categories to choose from!

How are we supposed to refine our interests if BookBub doesn't refine and narrow down sub-genres that we can pick?

Sheesh!

Devil Worshipper Mountain in the Troll Lands - Mini Adventure

Okay so years ago I got a series of Dungeons and Dragons dungeon tiles that interlock and are interchangeable for creating dungeons and outdoor environs. They are double sided with one side showing the interior of a dungeon and other side showing a wilderness area.

If I recall correctly they came with one issue of Dragon Magazine, which years ago I had a subscription to. Or maybe not. I am not really sure where they came from, I just know I got them for free and I don't recall a friend giving them to me.

Whatever, here is what they look like (complete with camera flash):



Now I would like to find and buy more tiles like these, as they are useful and I have used them a number of times... but most of the time they just end up collecting dust.

But since I have thus far been unable to find compatible dungeon tiles, I have resolved instead to make a "Mini Adventure" which can be used while traveling, visiting family, etc. (It works well that my wife, sister and brother-in-law all play D&D - and sometime in the future my son will too. No choice. Our family plays a lot of board games in general.)

So recently I was watching a YouTube channel called Carpetbagger and saw a video he did about a place called Corpsewood, and he said that the locals referred to it as "Devil Worshipper Mountain" (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUVGZMRER2o if you want to see the video in question).

Hearing the name "Devil Worshipper Mountain" I got an idea. That sounds like a great name for a dungeon adventure, which I later decided worked well as a Mini Adventure because devil worshippers do tend to be small in number.

Creative juices started flowing, and the rest as you know is history...

So here goes...

Devil Worshipper Mountain

The Setting

Now I have chosen to set this in my world in a mountainous region known as the Troll Lands, which is dominated by trolls (obviously) and a variety of other monsters. Demon and devil worshippers have also been known historically to hide out in such places. The Troll Lands has no humanoid civilization, except for one fort known as Trollhaven - which contrary to its name, is actually a haven from trolls and sports a strong number of archers ready to rain burning arrows down on any trolls who attack the fort. Trollhaven guards a trade route between the Holy City of Kost and the elven city of Sylvania. (For more details on this setting, visit www.Korovia.com.)

DMs running this adventure could base it in a similar location, close to mountain

The Hook

The party starts the game at Trollhaven, where they overhear the following from an elderly prospector. They could overhear him speaking in a stables, in the street, in a tavern, at a temple... the location doesn't matter.

The elderly prospector is speaking to a young man, who also appears to be a prospector - although not as advanced in years clearly. It is encouraged that the DM really enjoy doing their best old man voice when saying the following lines. Or even better, try imitating a North Dakota accent for fun.

"Stay away frum dat mountain, ye hear me. Sure, dere be plenty of gold there, but dere be demons afoot as well. And cursed mind ye, ta boot! A place where ye will surely be dying a slow and agonizzzzzzing death!"
The young man listening seems to be paying attention, but his interest peaked at the mention of gold. He responds by saying:

"Sure Old Timer, I will stay away from that mountain. Where is it again so I know where to avoid it?"

The elderly prospector then describes a route that goes north, straight into dangerous the Troll Lands, and several landmarks along the way until a person reaches an ancient and crumbling stone bridge that is over a wide and steep gorge, with rapids below:

"But don't be going over dat bridge during the evening, night or morning lest ye be willing ta fight da troll that be living near it. He seems ta sleep during the midday, so dat is da only time dat is safe to cross it. Once you are across "
The young man seems to be making a mental note of this and then says:

"Right, don't cross the bridge except at midday. Well, good luck to you Old Timer. I will be sure to stay away from that mountain."

The young man then rushes off, seemingly seeking to leave the fort in a hurry.

The elderly prospector disappears into a crowd (perhaps off to find a toilet).

It is assumed the average party then takes the adventure hook, but some might also ask around town for information in which case they learn the following information:

"Devil Worshipper Mountain? I heard they all committed murder suicide. The priest murdered all of his followers and the gold mine has been cursed ever since."

"Oh, I've heard of Devil Worshipper Mountain, yeah sure. The one with the weird hex symbols outside? I'd steer clear of that place."

"Devil Worshipper Mountain? Isn't that place cursed and haunted? They pissed off a devil prince or something and he turned them all into toads."

Various things like that. Basically you want to emphasize the words gold mine, hex symbols and devil prince.

The Background Story

Okay so the real story of Devil Worshipper Mountain is that of a high priestess named Luna, who did indeed go crazy but not immediately. She fell in love with a foreigner named Gustavo, but Luna had a problem... she was a worshipper of a demon named Galzebub - a balor prince - and she didn't think Gustavo would approve of her chosen religion.

So Luna was seeking a way to possibly introduce Gustavo to her religion slowly, like seduce him with magical power so that he would become power hungry like other priests of Galzebub typically are. But Luna made a mistake, a fellow priest named Bismarck found out about Gustavo and decided to abduct Gustavo. Bismarck held him for ransom with the threat of sacrificing Gustavo to Prince Galzebub, but he gave Luna the following conditions to secure his release:

  • Luna must give up the title of high priestess.
  • Luna must pass her title to the priest Bismarck.

However Bismarck made a fatal mistake, he told Gustavo who Luna really was and that she was a worshipper of Galzebub, thus ruining any chance Luna had of being with her beloved.

Luna of course gave up her title and formally named Bismarck the new high priest, but she suspected a double cross so she poisoned all of the food at the ceremony.

After the trade was made, the mouth gag was removed from Gustavo and he rejected her. This is what drove Luna over the edge of insanity. She stabbed Gustavo in the heart and murdered him in the named of Galzebub, cursing poor Gustavo to become a wandering shade.

She then began murdering all of the demon worshippers (the name Devil Worshipper Mountain is a misnomer thanks to rumours and people not knowing the differences between demons and devils). Because everyone had drank poison they were in a weakened state and the task of murdering everyone was relatively easy, but the new High Priest Bismarck did not go down without a fight. He managed to injure Luna and cursed her too, and cursed the entire underground temple.

After everyone else was dead Luna committed suicide by stabbing herself in the heart with the same dagger she had used to kill Gustavo.

Where to Place What

Honestly, you may notice below that I don't talk much about where individual things are like specific skeletons, bones, the altar to Galzebub, and any traps, pits or obstacles. Placement is really up to the DM to decide, as is the total amount of gold ore to give out with the treasure.
The Three Curses

So if you were paying attention there is actually three curses at play here.

#1. Gustavo's Curse

Gustavo is a cursed shade, basically he is a harmless spirit. In life he was a ranger and traveled to many distant lands, so he should be dressed as a ranger with spectral arrows. His bow is missing and he will sometimes talk about looking for it. In life Gustavo hunted demons and undead.

He can speak to people in ominous and vague tones and give them clues as to how to lift the curses, but he cannot have cogent conversations and behaves like he is lost and confused by his continued undead existence.

It is possible to speak to Gustavo normally, but you need to cast Speak with Dead on his bones to do so. He will tell what he knows about the temple and cult to Galzebub, but he doesn't really know much. If asked about hunting demons and undead, he will impart some of his ancient wisdom to anyone listening - giving them a +1 permanent bonus to damage rolls against undead and demons. If the players don't ask about this however then don't mention it to them.

To remove Gustavo's curse his bones needs to be found and he needs to be removed from this place and taken to a temple of a good deity where they can be blessed. Only then will his shade be released unto the afterlife.

Gustavo will say vague things like "Find meeeeee..." or "Bless meeeee... at the templeeee..." which to the DM sounds very straightforward, but PCs might think he means the altar to Galzebub, which is not what he means at all.

Gustavo cannot be freed by a standard "Remove Curse" spell. His bones needs to be consecrated with a Bless spell at a temple or shrine to a good god. That is the only way.

Alternatively, it is possibly to Resurrect Gustavo from the dead. He has been dead a long time so Raise Dead won't work. If the party does this, Gustavo offers to become a member of their party. His ranger level should be 1 level higher than the party's is, but he is severely out of touch with modern society and speaks in a very formal and antiquated way.

#2. Luna's Curse

Luna has a more complicated curse to solve. She is now a keening spirit, an insane banshee who moans about her lost love. While she can be defeated in combat, doing so won't destroy her permanently. She will just reappear in 2d10 minutes anyway, but that doesn't mean she attacks immediately. Sometimes instead she will take actions to try and prevent the party from removing any curses, such as only attacking a person trying to remove the bones of Gustavo.

Depending on the party level you might decide to modify how powerful Luna is and make her a "Weak Banshee" variation so that she is easier to defeat than a standard D&D banshee. Up to the DM to decide how weak to make her, but keep in mind the group might have to defeat her multiple times.

To get rid of her curse, one must first defeat her in combat, find her bones and then cast Remove Curse on her bones.

However Luna will deliberately appear (if she has regenerated) each time the party tries to remove any of the three curses, causing the party to have to pause and defeat her. She will focus her attacks on people moving the bones around and anyone announcing plans to cast Remove Curse or destroy the altar of Galzebub.

#3. The Curse of Devil Worshipper Mountain

This curse covers the immediate area outside the temple, the temple itself, and the abandoned gold mine below the temple. The curse has multiple effects:

  • The cursed area is hard to see in due to a thick black fog that clings to everything and will not dissipate with wind.
  • Casting Detect Magic in the area is useless, as the fog detects of magic and it is effectively like trying to see through thick magical soup. Trying to use Detect Magic makes the person temporarily blinded by the "thick soup of magic".
  • Casting healing and various kinds of restoration spells in the area do not work. This only effects spells that are 5th level or lower, such as Raise Dead, Cure Critical Wounds, etc, but does not effect more powerful spells like Heal.
  • Various kinds of Divination magic also might not work. Up to the DM to decide what doesn't work, but basically this would include any spell that would allow the party to figure out how to remove the curses instead of trial and error guessing. Basically this is to prevent the players from cheating using Divination spells like Augury/etc.
  • All bodies in the area are undead and will rise up and attack intruders who come within 15 feet of them.
  • Undead creatures in the area will regenerate after 2d10 minutes. They cannot be permanently destroyed even if disintegrated.
There are some ways around this however. If someone leaves the area of the fog outside the temple, they can use Detect Magic, healing magic, etc all normally. Bones of skeletons can be carried outside of the fog and will cease to regenerate.

Removing the curse requires destroying the altar of Galzebub and removing all the bones from the area surrounded by the black fog. The bones should preferably be buried, but this is not a requirement. Once both tasks are completed, the black fog will lift.

The Traps

Bear traps are hidden outside the temple under dirt and fallen leaves. Stepping on one deals 2d10 damage and traps the person in place until they manage to remove the trap with a Strength check.

Inside the temple the DM may at their option add pit traps in corners, explosive runes and similar traps. Really up to the DM to play with this and decide what is necessary.

The Monsters

  • The shade of Gustavo.
  • The banshee of Luna.
  • Bismarck's skeleton wielding a magical mace (see Bismarck's mace further below).
  • Skeletons of the dead worshippers. How many is up to the DM.
  • 1 or 2 lesser demons that are summoned by standing on one of the hex marks.
  • 1 troll.

With the demon(s) you have to decide how many is suitable for your party and how powerful the demon should be. There are also 4 hex marks to choose from. If you are not sure, I recommend rolling a 1d2 to determine the number of demons to use and then determine randomly which hex marks will summon the demon in question. It should never be the first hex mark they stand on, the goal here is to lull the players into a false sense of security and then suddenly make them paranoid when a demon appears when they step on the hex mark.

Unlike the undead, the demons can be killed normally but they should provide a reasonable challenge. They are not the boss monster however, that honour falls to Luna.

The Treasure

The Rule of Exponential Gold: How much loot is up to the DM, but most of it should be gold ore that the party finds. No coins, no gems, no magical items. Just lots of gold ore.

So for example they might find 10 lbs of impure gold ore - it is mostly rock with strains of gold visible.

The next time they find 30 lbs...

Then 90 lbs...

Then 300 lbs...

The goal is to weigh down the party with as much gold ore as possible, and also to lure them further into the dungeon with ever increasing amounts of gold ore.

Smelted down into gold ingots each 10 lbs of ore only makes 1 lb of gold (which depending on what edition you are playing is worth either 10 gp or 50 gp).

And then there is magical loot...

Luna's Sacrificial Dagger +1/+3 vs Humanoids. Depending on the edition you might decide to make it a Bane weapon vs humanoids or something similar. Luna's dagger is found with her bones, stuck inside her ribcage where her heart would be.

Bismarck's Mace of Bloodletting +1 - People injured with it bleed 1 hp per round until they receive a heal check or some form of healing. Bismarck's mace is found on his skeleton and he will attack with it when someone comes with 15 feet of his bones.

Gustavo's Penobscot Longbow +1 - Penobscot bows are pretty awesome (see the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones) and have the ability to be adjusted in terms of the amount of power they achieve. In D&D terms this translates into variable damage. The user can take 1 minute to unstring/restring the bow and change its cable settings so that it is either a 1d6, 1d8 or 1d10 weapon. However to use the 1d10 setting the user must have a minimum of 14 Strength. Furthermore unlike standard bows in D&D which uses Dexterity as its primary attack modifier, the primary modifier for the Penobscot bow is always Strength (just like real bows do real life).


Beyond looting the place, there is also the gold mines to consider. The mine is perfectly usable and does have a substantial amount of gold in there, but it is old and needs all new equipment to mine it properly.

A single miner can expect to find 1000 lbs of gold ore per month in the mine, which equates to 100 lbs of gold ingots worth approx 1000 gp (or 5000 gp depending on the edition).

After 82,000 lbs of ore is removed, the gold mine runs dry. There is no more gold to be found here.

Due to cramped conditions only 5 miners can work the mine at once, and they will be expecting to be paid 30% of all gold removed from the mine.

However there is a problem, because the mine is in the Troll Lands and the region is extremely dangerous any miners who agree to work there will want DOUBLE the normal rate - so 60% of all gold they remove.

If the party decides to mine it themselves, they will need at least 500 gp of tools, equipment, food and supplies to restart the mine. 5 miners can find 5000 lbs of gold ore per month until the mine runs dry in 16.4 months. At the DM's option the PCs can mine it faster if they spend more on equipment, like installing wagons on railway tracks to move ore faster. This will cost an additional sum that is up to the DM.

If they try to stake a claim and then sell their claim no offer should exceed 8000 gp to buy the mine. Roll 2d4 x 1000 if they try to sell the mine this way.

The Return via the Trollbridge

Regardless of what time the party passed over the Trollbridge during their return, the troll will be awake and active this time around. He will demand all the gold they are carrying as payment and attack if his demand is refused.

Oh you thought the fighting was over? Oh well. Time to fight the greedy troll.

If the party does fork over their gold ore and later returns, there is a 50% chance the troll has moved on to a new place to attack people. Exploring his cave could be a whole separate adventure... Perhaps a poorly drawn map to his cave - because trolls get lost easily. Wait long enough and a different troll might lay claim to the cave and the bridge.

Return to Trollhaven

There is a smithy in Trollhaven that can refine the gold ore and smelt it into gold ingots. The process takes 1 day for each 1000 lbs of ore and the smith charges the PCs 10 gp per day to use his smelter. Or for free if one of them offers to marry his daughter...

But that is another adventure for another day... And involves rescuing his pregnant daughter from an ogre.

When they visit the ogre, the ogre demands that they kill some trolls for him and holds the pregnant daughter hostage.

Party kills the trolls, gets the girl, and she later gives birth to a half-ogre baby...

Have fun with that!


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