Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wilderness Evasion and Pursuit

Evasion is another one of those rules I always forget about but actually love in theory. Essentially, evasion is the chance that the PCs are able to get away unnoticed from NPCs and monsters in the wilderness. Essentially, stealth.

First off, while castle inhabitants are likely to make PCs lives difficult if they wish to enter their walls, only hostile castle are likely to pursue the PCs into the wilderness, and only a 3 in 6 at doing that. Neutral occupants, on the other hand, have only a 1 in 6 chance of pursuit. Pretty good odds comparatively.

The chance of success for evading monsters is based on the number of PCs and retainers compared to the number of monsters encountered. Well, not quite the number of monster encountered, but the general percentage compared to the number appearing entry in the monster's stat blocks. As the number of characters increases, so does the difficulty of evasion. Likewise, larger numbers of monsters are easier to evade than smaller groups.

Woods add 25% to evasion chances and give a 10% chance of evasion even if surprised. Likewise, faster parties add 25% to their evasion chances, while slower parties subtract 25%. How that for a decent benefit of not wearing plate mail?

Unlike evasion, pursuit is done on a hex by hex basis with a relative chance based on the relative speed of the two groups:

Pursuit will take place whenever it is so indicated with regard to castle inhabitants or when a party is unable to evade monsters. A die is rolled, and the pursuit then goes in that random direction. If the monster is faster than the party involved there is a 50% chance it will catch the party. The party now moves another hex in a random direction, and a die is rolled to determine if pursuit will continue. If pursuit continues the chances for being caught by a faster monster are exactly the same, and the same procedure is repeated if the party is not caught. This procedure continues until pursuit is ended or melee occurs. Woods or swamp will reduce the chance of being caught by 25% (Underworld and Wilderness Adventures pg.20).

Overall, evasion and pursuit are rules for wilderness stealth just like surprise. Who says non-thieves in D&D can't hide or sneak of?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wilderness Sightings, Surprise, and Getting Lost

Continuing my investigation of the highlights from Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, I'll next be dealing with surprise and monster sightings as well as getting lost in the wilderness.

Monster Sightings: "Players will see monsters at from 40-240 yards...unless the monster has surprised the characters involved" (pg 17). I guess this is where the range of missile weapons actually matters. if you want to make that crossbow a decent weapon, here you go: determine the distance of the monsters from the players and suddenly the advantages of a crossbow become clear.

Surprise: "This is the same as in the underworld, except that the distance is from 10-30 yards, and if there are three or more monsters involved they will have moved into a circle around the adventurers. Monsters at 10 yards distance will be able to attack" (pg 17). So not only do monsters close quickly with the players, but they also circle them, if possible. If you find that fighting-men are dying much more often than the magic-users in your campaign, this rule isn't being use enough (or that there are enough fighting-men to completely encircle the other members of the adventuring party).

Lost Parties: It's easiest (3 in 6 chance) to get lost in the a swamp and the desert where everything looks the same. 2 in 6 chance for mountains and woods. Those are some pretty high chances, in my opinion. Luckily (if I'm reading the text correctly), you won't veer too far in the wrong direction after only a single day of travel.

What confuses me is that there character have a 1 in 6 chance to get lost along a river. If anyone had an explanation or reading on this one, I'd love to hear it.

Wandering Monsters: In mountains and swamps, there is a 3 in 6 chance of encountering monsters and a 2 in 6 chance while adventuring in woods, near rivers, or in the desert.

So remember, adventurers, stay in the plains or near rivers and avoid deserts, mountains, and (especially) swamps.

Castles in OD&D

Of the three little brown books, often refereed to as OD&D, there is one sections I have always found myself glancing over: Volume 3 Underworld and Wilderness Adventures. While I often read over the reference the dungeon portion of the booklet, I seem to gloss over or forget everything past page 14.

Determined to look it over, I'm going to starting writing about a few of the more interesting sections in some detail on this blog. Call is "Selective Underworld and Wilderness Adventures Page 14 to Cover," if you will (although that's a bit of an ungrammatical mouth full even for me).

Castles: According to page 15, castle inhabitants other than Patriarchs are either hostile or neutral towards adventurers. Thus there's a 1 in 6 chance of a castle being friendly to outsiders, a 2 in 6 chance of being neutral, and a 3 in 6 chance of being hostile (I'm counting Evil High Priests in this category, as well). Not very good odds for the survival of low level adventurers, in my opinion.

Castles ruled by Fighting-Men can be made more friendly by defeating the castle's champion in a jousting match. Otherwise, the party much pay a 100 to 600 gp toll to enter the city at all--quite a steep fee in my opinion, but the payoff of one month's room and board, two week's additional rations, and the use of the castle's heavy warhorses is quite a nice reward for a successful tilt.

Even neutral a magic-user will send the party on a quest via a Geas spell "with the magic-user taking at least half of all treasure so gained" or demand a 1000 to 4000 gp toll or a magic item. I guess players need to have a good reason to deal with a magic-user in order for that deal to be worth it. Actually, I quite like this set up, as it keeps high level magic-user from becoming too frequent or friendly.

Clerics, on the other hand, only demand at 10% tithe--which is a manageable feat for character of any level. Although the cleric could also send the players on a Quest (as per the spell) if they do not want to pay the toll. Not as bad as the magic-user if the players are low level, but much worse for higher level characters (unless they accept the quest).

In addition to a magic-user, fighting-man, or cleric ruler, there will also be a number of guards and retainers in the primary occupant's service. Each type of occupant will have a different type of head guard, which can be rolled for. For example, a Superhero may have 8 Myrmidons, 4 Roc being ridden 4 heroes, 4 Ogres, or 10 Swashbucklers. A Wizard, on the other hand may have 4 Dragons, 4 Balrogs, 4 Wyverns, or 4 Basilisks.

The walls will also be manned by 30 to 180 (3d6x10) men, half light footmen with crossbows and half heavy footmen. Likewise, A Fighting-Man has of chance of having a mid- to high-level magic-user or cleric in his service; a magic-user for a Fighting-Man or Apprentice; and a cleric for 1-6 assistants.

Overall, I think the use of these rules could make for a very fun campaign, albeit a difficult one for lower-level adventurers. The only real problem I have is that these rules don't make for very inviting home bases for characters. They are much better suited for castles in distant lands or small kingdoms previously unknown to the players.

Playing with Hexographer: A New Map and a Brief Key

I was playing around with Hexographer yesterday and created this new map. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, so I'll go ahead and post it here.

Brief Map Key:

Glyndwr: A walled city and kingdom of 3,000.

Cayr Pavill: A fortified castle and kingdom of 2,700.

Cayr Efflur: A small kingdom of 2,400 centralized in a fortified castle.

Camelot: A small forest village of 300, generally forgotten by the three major kingdoms.

Sulis: A farming village of 500, in constant contest between Glyndwr and Cayr Pavill.

Ruined Monastery: The ruins of a Monastery dedicated St. Gaxyg the Grey. (See FO! issue 1 for the adventure by James Maliszewski)

Tower of the Drowned Jinx: The ancient tower, once the estate of the suicidal queen of Mandragora.

Malchester Keep: Once part of the Kingdom of Efflur, no controlled by a band of ogres.

Tower of a Thousand Faces: A many faced tower located in the center of the deadlands.

Darking Wood: The eery forest separating the world of Men from the faerie realm.

Midmere Forest: The northern, less creepily-inhabited forest.

Mardrake Marsh: Once the mighty kingdom of Mandragora, now writhing, goblin-infested swamp. (pretty much stoled from this blog)

Wintertops: The domain of a small kingdom of frost giants. (name stolen from the Dwimmermount campaign map)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dragons At Twilight

Remember Dragons at Dawn by Daniel H. Boggs? I know I do. For those of you that don't, Dragons at Dawn in an attempt to recreate Dave Arneson's "original, largely forgotten methods of play developed roughly in the period 1970-1973," and, in my opinion, its a fantastic piece of work.

Shortlty after the game's release, a little more than a year ago, the author announced that he was in the process of writing a supplement, titled Dragon's At Twilight. I've been looking into this for some time and am again considering starting a Dragons at Dawn campaign, but not much information has thus far been released.

Luckily, the release isn't too far away. How do I know? Because I've offered to edit it (free of charge, of course), a process I will hopefully be starting later tonight.

I'm not going to say too much more on the subject. Mr. Boggs is, of course, in charge of the project and any announcement will come through him (but I will likely post them here shortly thereafter).

The important point is that the wait is coming to a close. I can't wait.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monster-Based Campaign Design: Characters!

After many, many hours of thinking. I've come to a few major decisions about my monster-based campaign setting. One of those is the available character types and what they represent. Another is that the character's home Kingdom, a Grecian island kingdom known Kull, has no more than bronze-age technology. But more on those later: this post is about characters.


A Fighter is a proud and haughty noble, veteran hoplite, or expert wrestler of Kull. Due to their extensive training and coordination, two or more Fighters fighting in close proximity may form a shield wall, improving their AC by 2, but always act last in the initiative order unless all members of the group are wielding spears, in which case they always act first. If any member of the shield wall breaks or is killed, it requires a full round to reform the wall.


A Cleric is a priest or priestess of the Olympian gods. A Cleric worships the entire Greek pantheon while also serving a patron god or goddess. Some choices include: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Athena, Area, Aphrodite, or Demeter.

Clerics have no restrictions on weapon use or Turning ability, and there is no need for a cleric to meditate, pray daily, or study to use spells. Instead, there is a cumulative 5% per day since the cleric’s last sacrifice that the cleric’s request will not be heard or simply ignored. The sacrifice must be worth at least 100 gold pieces per cleric level to be accepted, otherwise, the offering is taken as an insult.


A magic-User is a philosopher who studies the ancient, magical lore of Babylon, Egypt, or Atlantis. They have no restrictions on usable weapons and may wear armor, but there is a 50% chance their spells will merely fizzle and fail (no matter the type of armor worn).


A thief is a miscreant of ill repute or a criminal exiled from Kull. A Thief may wear copper scale or plate armor, but while wearing such physically taxing armor the thief’s skills are halved. In additional to its more conventional uses, the Hear Noise skill can be used to fight in darkness or against invisible creatures.


A Barbarian is a furious warrior from uncivilized lands. They are treated as B/X dwarves, but do not possess infraredvision nor have any particular familiarity with stonework or weapon restrictions. Instead, they have a 4 in 6 chance of spotting traps, ambushes, etc. in the wilderness. When completely unarmored (other than employing a shield), a Barbarian adds twice his strength adjustment to damage in melee.


A pygmy is miniature savage. They are known for their deadly slings and riding goats into battle against armies of cranes. Pygmies are treated exactly as B/X Halflings.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

6 Jungle Hexes

Brainstorming some ideas for my jungle hex map has lead to creation of a new random table off you readers to plunder, pluck, transmute, and use in your own games.

1. Ancient monolith car a thousand screaming faces. Each face in the shape of a thousand screaming faces. In a bygone age, the each of the visage’s eyes beheld a tiny shining sapphire. Now only 1d8 remain—claimed by the hands of gluttonous thieves. Each sapphire is worth 500 gold pieces, but cursed. After 2-12 days the pilferer will awake that morning covered in a sticky, aqua colored mold. Unless burnt to ash, the mold will, after another 1-6 days, form into a fungal mummy, and will stop at nothing to being about the thief’s demise.

2. An ancient pit, tunneling deep into the earth--much further than torch-light will shine. The pit is a remnant tunnel of a purple worm that roams the surrounding region in search of its mate--who was long ago imprisoned below the earth.

3. A bramble of thick vines that conceals the entrance to a mad-wizard's lair. If the vines are disturbed, they will come to life and assemble into a abomination of swamp muck and thorns: AC 4; HD 7; #AT 3; D 1-8/1-8/1 + poison (save vs poison or die), MV 90' (30'), Save F1, ML 12). Within the mad-wizard's lair is a well stocked library, comfortable living quarters, a summoning circle filled with skeletons of four sets of conjoined twins, and slime filled vats (also used as a kitchen).

4. A skeleton with a gold signet ring. If closely examined, a thief or any character with at least 9 intelligence will notice that the spine has been delicately severed--likely the cause of death. The ring is the symbol of a lost royal line. Whomever possesses the ring can, by "birthright," claim control of a nearby kingdom, but doing so may have dire consequences if the right precautions are not taken.

5. A group of cultists have constructed a giant stone statue in the shape of a kneeling man in the middle of a small clearing. The statue is hollow, but can only be accessed via the statue's mouth. If encountered at night, 3d10 cultists will be gathering for a sacrificial rite. An albino priest in purple and gold robes will be performing a act of human sacrifice from within the mouth of the statue. The cultists are normal, but their leader is a level 7 magic-user.

6. A gold citadel built into the jungle itself. If detect evil is used, the whole site will radiate evil so strongly that the user is blinded for 1-4 hours afterwards. The citadel is barren except for a blind hermit of a lawful alignment - the last guardian of an imprisoned demon. He fights as a level 5 cleric with but 5 hit points, and will defend the citadel against any intruder. If the hermit is killed, a Carcosian beast will be released once again into the world above.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monster-Based Campaign Design: The Fungal Tombs

Any potential players of mine, stop reading now! Spoilers below.

Now that that's out of the way...

I've started work on the first dungeon for my monster-inspired campaign setting: the Fungal Tombs. I've got about 30 rooms mapped out, about a quarter of those keys, and many of those left to actually put down on paper floating around my head.

The Fungal Tombs are loosely based off of James Raggi's Death Frost Doom and inspired by an old post done by Michael Curtis from the Knights and Knaves Alehouse forum considering fungal mummies. How much more awesome does it get, right?

The basic gist of the the tombs are that a group of chaotic cultists once disguised one of their strongholds as a shrine to Artemis. They specialized in the cremation of bodies after death, but instead of cremating the bodies, the cult kept them below in the catacombs, slowly transforming them into fungal mummies. When the catacombs filled up, the cultists destroyed the village and likewise killed themselves within the catacombs, leaving the mummies to fully mature and themselves to immortalize as the greatest of their specimens. The cult left the tomb moderately filled with treasure, to encourage adventurers to wander into the bygone temple and one day awaken the spongy flesh that has waited for decades below the ruined temple.

Fungal Mummy

Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 5
Move: 60' (20')
Attack: 1 touch
Damage: 1d12
No. Appearing: 2-8 (50-500)
Save As: Fighter 5
Moral: 12
Treasure Type: D
Alignment: Chaotic

After decades of transformation, the flesh of a fungal mummy has become a spongy, greenish-fungoid mass. The usual mummy wrappings are covered in vines and poisonous mushrooms--which have a 1 in 6 chance to explode in a mist of violet spores, engulfing all within 10' whenever the mummy is hit. Creatures caught in the spores must make a saving throw versus poison or fall dangerously ill with hypnotic flashes, overcome by the effects of confusion, as per the magic-user spell, for 1d6 melee round. Furthermore, the spores are extremely convulsive and will completely ingrate if there is a torch within the cloud, sending fiery blast out to a 25' radius for 2d6 points of damage.

The fungal flesh renders the mummy immune to the attacks of blunt weapons that rely on impact rather than the splitting of flesh to deal damage, such as maces and flails. They are, however, extremely susceptible to fire. Burning oil or fire-based spells which cause damage deal an additional 1d6 points to fungal mummies. Torches can be used to set a mummy afire, dealing 1d6 points of damage the first round, and 1d4 points of damage each subsequent rounds until a 1 is rolled for damage. Fungal Mummies can be turned my Lawful clerics as they do normal mummies.

Any creature killed by a fungal mummy will rise as a fungal mummy in 2-12 years until the body is completely burned to ash or left in a climate nearly complete devoid of moisture.

Greater Fungal Mummies have 7 hit dice, save as level 7 clerics, and attack twice each round per 1-10 points of damage with each attack. Their spores instead send out a lethal poison (save versus poison or die) and cause confusion on a failed saving throw. Greater Fungal Mummies can likewise be turned by lawful clerics, but as vampires rather than mummies.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Monster-Based Campaign Design (part 1)

After coming up with my list of favorite B/X monsters, I'm realizing that hardly any of them are used in the adventures I've been looking at (B1-B4).  I guess I'm just not a big fan of the typically D&D humanoids, goblin, kobolds, and the like. That isn't to say they can't be made to work well; Waysoftheeath's Hinterlands player by post campaign on the ODD74 boards, for example, has been fantastic. But I think I'd like to do something a little more pulpy.

So I'm going to try a little different approach to adventure design. Looking at my list of monsters, I can see that many of them are either typically found in desert (mummies, efreeti, djinni), jungle (frog men, giant lizards, insect swarms), or coastal (buccaneers, sea dragons, water termites) regions. Thus, those will become the basic geography for the campaign.

The only monster that doesn't really work in any of those environments are the Titans from the B/X Companion. Luckily, I had an idea of them already. Titans in my world, are going to be similar to the Olympian gods. In fact, I may just use the Olympian gods--in which case I'll call them Olympians instead of Titans. Regardless, Titans are the most powerful group of creatures that actually play an role in the events of the campaign world, and most of the human population worships them as gods. Most of their priests, however, are normal men, with the higher ranking members as magic-users or fighters.

Clerics have nothing to do with the titans. They are members of a Zoroastrian-like religion, where the forces of Law and Chaos are locked in an unending battle for the universe.

I'm considering steeling the City State of Pelengos from my City State of the Emerald Eye PBP campaign. It is a decadent metropolis that functions are the focal point of the civilized world surrounded by a gibbering wilderness. Here's a short except from the campaign concerning the city's history:
The  "Tyrant" is the coloquial name for the  "Prince of the Emerald Eye", the autocrat that rules over the City State of the Emerald Eye. His grandfather, the first Tyrant, for was foreign conqueror from a civilized land and built Pelengos to rule over the newly captured territory. During the short reign of his son, his control over the surrounding land diminished and is now no more than the land within the walls of the City State.
Another major city is the legendary City of Brass, the city of the Efreeti, which will be located either in the desert region in a low valley or on a distant planet that can be accessed via a portal located in a lost desert ruin. Either is almost impossible to reach due to its distance from any oases, but the city filled with both great danger and great treasure. In my mind, the City of Brass is the pinocle of adventuring sites in terms of difficultly and potential pay off.

Alright, that's what I've got for now. More tomorrow, hopefully.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Favorite B/X/C Monsters

Tonight I read through B/X as well as the B/X Companion and wrote down all of the monsters I wanted to write into upcoming adventures. Some are common monsters that I've always been fond of, while others are monster's that caught my eye or a monster I've always wanted to try; some will need modifying to make them work in a lower level campaign, others will need a complete overhaul. Regardless, I'd like to keep this list around and I can't think of a better place to store it than here.


  • Centipede, Giant
  • Insect Swarm
  • Living Statue
  • Lizard, giant
  • Shrieker
  • Skeleton
  • Spiders
  • Sprite
  • Snakes
  • Yellow Mold
  • Cockatrice
  • Cyclops
  • Devil Swine (the monster that inspired me to write up this list)
  • Dinni, lesser
  • Efreeti, lesser
  • Elephant
  • Golem
  • Men, buccaneers
  • Men, devishes
  • Mermen
  • Mummy
  • Octopus, giant
  • Purple Worm
  • Sea Dragon
  • Scorpion, giant
  • Shark
  • Toad, giant
  • Water Termite
B/X Companion
  • Frog Folk
  • Djinni, greater
  • Efreeti, greater
  • Gorgon, greater
  • Luck Devourer
  • Hag
  • Jubjub Bird
  • Land Shark
  • Mummy, greater
  • Ogre Mage
  • Ponaturi
  • Phoenix
  • Rakshasa
  • Sewer Abomination
  • Sphinx
  • Swamp Shambler
  • Titans
  • Viper Moth

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Few Thoughts on B1

For the most part, I'm really enjoying readying through B1. It's nice to finally go through all of these modules with a fine tooth comb. I haven't gotten all the way through yet, but I'm going to go ahead and call it a night.

Most of these musing are campaign specific and subject to change, but since I've have broken several all time records for most blog visits these last few days, I'll take it that you guys are enjoying these posts.

- In my campaign Quasqueton hasn't just been abandoned for a few decades, but about two and a half centuries.

- Zelligar and Rogahn were heroes of the Ptolian Empire. Zelligar for creating the orcs (the module mentions orc slaves), which now inhabit the upper level of the cavern and Rogahn for leading the orcish army into battle. They lived before the corruption and fall of their beloved empire--in fact their action were directly related to to its decadence and later destruction.

- Zelligar is dead, but Rogahn yet lives. In his later days, Zelligar experimented much with immortality (the black cats that is seemingly dead and the fire beetles that have survived without substance). Rogahn was one of his only successful trials.

- The orcs that inhabit the Quasqueton are waring to keep control of the caverns with a local group of barbarians and the priests from B2, who are interested in Zelligar's research and information concerning the rise of the Ptolots. If they discover Rogahn lives in an immortal stasis, they'll want him as well.

- Zelligar's diary contains much information concerning the Ptolots and their rise in power.

- The library is not as useful and the module describes. It can be used to conduct magical research, so long as the magic-user possess the spell read magic. Base chance 35% for success plus 5% for ever magic-user level, minus 10% for each level of the spell being researched. Knowing the spell comprehend languages yields an additional 10% to the die roll.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Humanoids of B2

So I'm reconsidering messing with B2 all that much. The caves are difficult enough already; I don't think I need to add more rooms to the complex. Furthermore, I enjoyed scottsz's idea of having the caves be more of a temporary barracks than any sort of permanent living space. Instead, I think it's more beneficial to think of relationships between the caves and make each of the different humanoid types more distinct.

These are my first thoughts on the subject, suggestions welcome.

The Priests of Evil Chaos: The Caves of Chaos are built atop one of the many nods of power spread throughout the land. The anti-clerics have gathered here as a minor base of operations and have riled many of the nearby humanoid tribes to their cause, including an ogre and a minotaur (the original inhabitant, but they decided to leave him be). They are engaged in some sort of holy war, attempting to restore the power of now-fallen Ptolian Empire in the name of their demonic lord. Due to the all the infighting, between tribes, the priests of evil chaos have started reconsidering their shaky alliances with the human tribes and have instead begun creating an army of undead soldiers to take their place.

The Kobolds: The kobolds have joined the priests of evil chaos (who will hopefully be renamed in the near future) in order to find safety in numbers. Little did they know how much infighting would occur. Regardless, they're here now, just trying to be forgotten and left alone.

The Goblins: Like the rest of the humanoids of the caves, the goblin tribe was offered a nice sum of gold to come and preside there under the command of the anti-clerics. Being too weak to accomplish much on their own, they accepted and are now plotting to make off with the treasures of the orc tribe and escape the clerical authority. (They have yet to realize there is more than one tribe of orcs present.)

The Orcs: The two tribes of orcs have a great deal of rivalry between them. While they avoid outright war, they compete with each other to slay the greatest number of goblins and hobgoblins to instill their dominance.

The Hobgoblins: While scattered tribes, hobgoblins on a whole dream of empirical might. They are the only tribe that is truly backing the clerics cause--and even then they are considering supplanting them. Within the Caves of Chaos, the hobgoblins act as a cruel judicial authority between the different tribes--trying to keep them from fighting amongst each other and planning their empire-to-be. They have two ally tribes on the outside awaiting their command.

The Bugbears: While ruthless mercenaries in their own right, the bugbears think the whole thing is a joke. They're here to play their own brutal practical jokes on the other tribes. That, and to split puny human skulls, of course, while making some easy coin while at it.

The Gnoll: The gnolls just like killing, and laughing maniacally while doing so. All they need are a couple of spears and a direction to frolic, and a plethora of blood is soon to be on its way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Have You Done With The Caves of Chaos?

As much praise as B2: The Keep on the Borderland gets, it's actually my least favorite of the four modules I've selected. That's not saying there aren't caves I really like, such as the Shine of Evil Chaos and the Ogre's and Bugbears' lairs. But there are some that just don't have much character too them and need some spicing up, the gnoll caves in particular.

Aplus at People them with Monsters wrote a fantastic reworking of the Kobold caves--another that I don't find particularly compelling. You should really check it out.

The main thing Aplus has done is added an Abandoned Mine section to the kobold lair. Within the mine is a pool, in which there is a Amphibious Kobold Mutant. The main treasure in the lair is now a bundle of copper nuggets, but not only are they copper nuggets, but copper nuggets that mutate the their possessor. Nice, hu?

Yesterday, I took the time to copy out the Caves of Chaos onto a work processor. I haven't gotten around to modifying anything, and, honestly, I don't plan on changing all that much, mostly just adding a little more character to some of less interesting caves (the gnoll and orc caves in particular).

So here's what I want to know: what have you done to make the Caves of Chaos just a little more unsettling and/or interesting?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Palace of the Silver Princess + B1, B2, and B4

While I know there are many with mixes feelings concerning B3: Palace of the Silver Princess, it's one of my favorite old school modules, along with B4: The Lost City and X1: The Isle of Dread.

One of the key characteristics is that B3 does not try and create a world of typical medieval fantasy. Instead it just kinda does its own thing and has a very unique personality and feel because of it. There are werebear worshipping barbarians, insane adventurers, a cunning anti-cleric, and a whole host of atypical monsters, such as Digger, a unique creature that disguises itself as a marble pool, and Jupiter Blood Suckers, a host of vampiric plants.

Thus I have selected the Palace of the Silver Princess to be the basis of my upcoming campaign (assuming I get the whole thing off the ground at all). I'll be using the map on page 5 as the basis of the setting, adding in the Caves of Chaos (now in the mountains just north east of Thoruld), the Mad Hermit (woods south of the Palace of the Silver Princess), Mound of the Lizard Men (Misty Swamp), and the Raider's Camp (woods north west of Thoruld) from B2, Cynidicea from B4 will be relocated to the Misty Swamp, and the Caverns of Quasqueton from B1 will be placed in the mountains near the village of Mere.

The one thing I would like to add is a lawful wizard's tower somewhere between Thoruld and Gulluvia that the characters can go to for advice and/or expand their knowledge of magic. I'm thinking he will be a crazy, old astrologer obsessed with the fortune and prophecies that never seem to come to pass (...but one day...). More on him later.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brainstorming for a New Campaign

With the school year coming to close here at OSU coming, most of my players will be heading off home or will be away at prestigious internships for the summer. Me? I'll be acting.

Rather than continue the current campaign with only half the players, I thought I would try something completely different.

So here's the plan. Public gaming. Sitting in the Memorial Union lounge for a few hours each week playing D&D and welcoming interested passersby to sit down and join. It'll be super relaxed and hopefully attract a large group of fluctuating players.

For rules I'll be using Basic D&D, either the Holmes or Moldvay edited versions. A simple game for casual gameplay. right now I'm leaning towards Moldvay, but I'm not ready to make any commitments till I reread them both.

As for the setting, I'll be taking B1: In Search of the Unknown, B2: The Keep on the Borderlands, B3: Palace of the Silver Princess, and B4: The Lost City and turning them into a mini-sandbox. I plan on adding some hints of inter-connectedness between some of modules, redrawing the wilderness maps to include all three modules, and fleshing out the additional sites included in B2 and B3.

I've actually never played any of these modules, so I'm looking forward to a good time and adding my own spin to them.

How to Run a Pendragon Sandbox

Francisco asked a great question in the comments today, and I though it would take a full post to answer him, so here it is.

Maybe, you could give me a good answer to this question: Is Pendragon a good game for sandboxing? What is its behaviour? What kind of things should be considered? Thanks.

Pendragon is an interesting choice for sandbox gaming and I'm of two minds about it. Before I go into too much detail, I want to talk briefly about how a typical Pendragon campaign works, at least the ones that I've run.

I play the 3rd edition of Pendragon (not that it matters a whole lot, they're all pretty much 99% the same) and start every campaign with the mini-scenario found in the back of the book. Being away from my study, I cannot remember it's name. Regardless, the scenario begins with the character being knighted, having a joust, going on a hunt, encountering some bandits on the road, and finally being introduced to their Lord's court. It's a great scenario to introduce character into the game--which is why I use it-- and creats some interesting group dynamics (the winner of the joust becomes the leader of the hunt).

That's session 1. It's pretty railroady, but a fine introduction to both the mechanics and tone of the game (tone is important).

After that, I pick a starting year or event and grab Le Morte D'Arthur off the bookcase, usually Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. From there, the players can do whatever they want in your typically sandbox fashion. I usually try and make the player's original lord pretty lax. Making sure he doesn't ask them to do any specifically, but instead invites them to court, makes suggestions on potential adventures, lets them know what's going on in the world. Each year there an event from Le Morte D'Arthur that the players can choose to participate in or not (I usually have a couple D&D style, location-based adventures up my sleeve as well).

I do, however, run each battle on my own and play out most scenarios in my own time even if the players choose to ignore them. Why? Because the fun really begins when the story goes haywire: usually, when Arthur ending up dead.

To me this is wear the metaplot stops and the sandbox begins. Having run three year-long campaigns this way, each one completely different, I can say it feels very much like a sandbox, although not necessarily location-based exploration. My favorite involved one of the players killing Arthur and taking over his kingdom; another ended up like Robin Hood with the characters as ex-knights to a corrupt king. All three were tons of fun.

So, I hope this answered your question, Francisco. If not, I'd be more than happy to answer more of your (or anyone else's) questions in the comments or write a follow-up post.