Ran Trey Causey's, "Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak", for the first time this week.

I really liked;

I felt there were some gaps I needed to fill before I ran it;

Some of what I changed/added;

To foster opportunities for factional play I added some head canon for Mortz, Thedabara, & the Goblins.


He was "dire polymorphed" against his will by a rival wizard and can't change back to a human. I appointed Miszm Throppe, who's hat is in the module, as the culprit. Mortz exiled himself to Mt Geegaw to protect his family from his, then uncontrollable, desire to eat humanoids. His pride has prevented him from asking for help in reversing his fate. The PCs may be able to accomplish their goal by helping Mortz, instead of stealing from or fighting him. I put photos of Mortz pre-dire polymorph (on the wizard of the year issue of "WIZ" magazine) in a new secret lab, along with a photo of his family, & a photo of Miszm Throppe (from a later WotY issue from "WIZ" mag tacked to a dartboard at which Mortz throws his tail spikes).

He's still a prideful, arrogant asshole, but some pathos, maybe a way in if the PCs pursue it.


"Why is Thedabara on Mt Geegaw?" The module says that Mortz visits her occasionally for a drink & a chat. I figured she must be helping him with his magical research, perhaps vampire blood is really important to his work. A captive but treated with respect. I wanted her to be an NPC the PCs could enlist or provoke against themselves entirely based on their actions. Recruitable towards their goals but not easily so. Would never "join the party" to crawl around the mansion helping with fights. At most she'd give information & bide her time for the perfect moment to strike. I replaced the painting of her as an adult with a painting of her as a child with a dog in the sun. She gets to be sad too.

She's mysterious, old yet powerful, & lonely.

The Goblins;

While it may seem like there are tons of goblins, I capped their number at 10 and added a curse. Mortz has cursed the goblins to live for 6 days and then die only to be reborn in the goo vats. Over endless cycles of death & rebirth (sometimes at the same time due to accidents or Mortz' rages) the goblins have come to share a single hive mind. This allows them to meet Mortz' needs much more efficiently, a convenient unintended side effect. Mortz tells his visitors the lie that he just makes new ones from goo to hide the uglier truth. Goblins have escaped, and long term they are working towards their freedom, but until they can break the curse they are Mortz prisoners. The necklaces everyone wears simply tell Mortz if someone has left the mansion or removed their necklace. It doesn't tell Mortz where they are. The goblins can take the necklaces off themselves, it's not difficult. When a goblin is discovered as missing the others suffer at Mortz' hands putting a high price on any escape attempts by the goblins.

I had the goblins always out of breath and arriving out of nowhere to try to pique the interest of the players. The idea being that since there were so few of them they were literally sprinting from one job to the next through the service corridors. The PCs eventually followed a goblin, which lead them to the service ways.

The goblins want escape but fear reprisals. Killing Mortz or simply helping them escape doesn't work for them. They need the curse broken. In my game the goblins had to stay in the goo vats with the Whim Wham Stone for 10 rounds in order to break the curse.

The goblins are a powerful ally if the PCs play their cards right. Access to their service corridors alone is a massive advantage.

Miszm Throppe;

Unwilling or unable to help Mortzengersturm turn back in to a human, despite being jailed in the Oubliette for years, Miszm Throppe projected his mind into his wizard hat to escape Mortz' interrogations. As his body died, Miszm's mind, safely tucked away in his hat, waited for someone to wear it. Miszm expected it to be Mortzengersturm, at which point he would have sprung his trap, attempting to take over the manticore's body. If the PCs, or anyone else puts it on, Miszm will try to offer a deal; agree to get him out of here and give him to the first young, healthy person they see, and he'd allow them to use the remaining 4 powerful spells he still has memorized. (Pick 4 interesting spells)


I wanted someone in the Oubliette that could communicate with the PCs should they end up there on their own, other than the Moonster. I moved Mansfert there for that purpose. Mortz' polymorphing of Mansfert wasn't mere spite, it was a convenient test of the "dire polymorph" spell he's been trying to reserve engineer as part of his goal of undoing the spell on himself. Mansfert knows this, and will be conflicted about helping the PCs. Mortz is probably his best bet in returning to being a dwarf, but Mortz can be cruel and there is no guarantee he will undo the spell on him.

Depending on the PCs' reaction roll, pitch, and progress, Mansfert may betray them in an attempt to gain Mortz' favor. He might also simply wish to escape and live the rest of his life as the world's smartest horse.

The Yama Yama Man

The Yama Yama Man is super creepy. I left the outfit as it is and said that the clothes moved as if there were an invisible person inside them with a creepy deep voice. I decided that he would offer to teach anyone, regardless of class to cast Necro spells, at a cost of the permanent loss of 2 CON for non-spell casters & 1 for Spell Casters. The logic being that as a being with no substance he needed the CON to form a body & escape his imprisonment. At 10 CON he would gain substance and be freed.

The Menagerie and the Oubliette

Fey Ray

I didn't get the joke for the Fey Ray. I replaced it with a "Lion Fish", a giant fish with a lion's mane that swam around in the air as if it was in water. The joke being that Mortz' has a limited imagination & keeps reusing the same tropes/animals. Big Cats/Bears + Other Animal. I also had the sensation of moving through water be a 15' radius effect around the creature.


I decided that Mortz put the Tigerpillar on display because it was scary-looking, despite it having the disposition and diet of a caterpillar. The bones in the cage & danger/warning signs outside it were just to reinforce this false narrative.

The idea that the PCs might be able to observe the fearsome Tigerpillar's feeding on leaves in secret also amused me.

The Oubliette

I put the Hatch to the Oubliette in the Shed in the Menagerie. Instead of being just a deep hole with ledges, I laid it out like a staggered line of prison cells with a path between them. As written, it might be scary, but there is little unavoidable danger there. I felt the opportunity for interesting interactions would be increased if the players were able to move around easier, so I made it more akin to a traditional jail.

As previously mentioned I moved Mansfert to a cell of his own.

I added Griffhippos, aka feathered hippos, here for laughs. As previously mentioned, the idea being that Mortzengersturm misunderstood what Hippogriffs were and created these in error.

I also added a goose to one of the cells. The idea that these goblins were more terrified of geese than any of the monsters here; ascribing to them villainous cunning & evil intent. The players ended up down here with a goblin and it was fun playing that up. "The goose always gets out. It didn't get out did it?!"

The Map

I wanted a more traditional map. I also wanted an aid for myself as I ran the game. Initially I got a large piece of paper & wrote the names of rooms on post-it notes. I then started arranging them on the poster and thinking about where I thought the exits should be, marking those with lines on the post its.

The Blue post-its are the main level and the white post-its are the lower level. The green path shows the main level hallways and the pink paths are secret pathways on the lower level that the goblins have constructed for their own use.

I added Goblin Quarters, a Goblin Workshop, a room/pen for keeping a new monster (The Displacer Mole, displaces crystal 15', destroy crystal 15' radius 3 rounds a day. Pet of the goblins and tool for making their paths & rooms), a Goblin Staging Area, (Ooze Vats is on the poster map, but I ended up removing that), an Outer Vault, Mortz Private Lab/Library (essentially his Imaginarium moved to the main structure), Guest Quarters, & a Dining Meeting Room.

I added notes to the poster to remind me of bits and to reduce me looking anything up. I ran the game off the poster & print outs of the art. It went fairly well.

Poster Map

Player Map After Session 1

We used Ziteboard for this

Cleaned up Map without most of the notes