Posts Tagged ‘ dungeon crawls ’

The Amphitheater of the Continuum

If you’ve still not checked out Dyson Logos’s excellent maps, you owe it to yourself to do so. For example, check this one out.

Doesn’t that just scream awesome? Doesn’t it make you want to use it for a game? The answer to both questions is, “Yes. Yes, it does.”

In keeping with the second affirmative, I cobbled together a short, one-page Swords & Wizardry adventure based on Dyson’s Smith chart map. You can download it as a PDF by clicking on the picture that accompanies these words. Perhaps “adventure” is too big a word for what I’ve done, but it could at least be a part of a larger adventure.

By the way, if you dig Dyson’s work, check out his goodies over at Lulu and RPGNow.

November 25th, 2013  in RPG No Comments »

Day 11: Favorite Adventure I’ve Run

Again, I’m not quite sure I’m a reflective enough gamer to complete the 30-Day D&D Challenge in its literal intent. I’ve run so many adventures for just about every version of D&D that I’m not sure I can pick a favorite one. I can, however, at least pick out one adventure that I’ve enjoyed, specifically The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. I’ve run this delightful module three different times that I remember. I’ve never had a party of adventurers complete the module with what could be called rousing success. Two parties failed; the third survived but unleashed a horrible evil.

The first time I ran Lost Caverns was in high school. I don’t remember everyone who played. Fred was there, probably running Blake. Big Greg was there, and he definitely ran a cleric of Poseidon. (Why Poseidon was a deity in the World of Greyhawk is a mystery.) There were other players, perhaps Little Greg, the other Mark, and Ben. Someone was playing a cleric of Thor.

Regardless, the adventure proceeded apace through the lesser caverns until the party reached the gorgimera cavern. Aside from the gorgimera, there were stairs leading from this cavern down to the greater caverns. I described how the gorgimera took wing as the party entered, maneuvering to attack. For some reason I’ve forgotten, the players sort of panicked, especially Big Greg. The cleric of Poseidon had a necklace of prayer beads that included the bead of summoning. So, Big Greg, thinking that the party needed direct divine assistance against the fearsome gorgimera, used this bead to call forth Poseidon himself.

I described how Poseidon appeared in all his divine majesty. How the stones shook. How the cavern grew larger to accommodate his awesome stature. How Poseidon casually swatted the gorgimera from the air, killing it, and then asked, “For what great purpose have you summoned me?”

This was not what Big Greg expected to happen, and Poseidon was displeased to have been summoned for so trivial as task of slaying a mere gorgimera. In tribute, he demanded one magic item from each party member. The cleric of Thor balked. Poseidon reminded his cleric (Big Greg’s PC) that “[n]o cleric [of a Greek mythos deity] may have dealings with clerics of other sects for any reason (on non-hostile terms) as this is considered a minor transgression by their deity and punishable by the stripping away of the third and higher levels of spells for a lunar month” (1E Deities & Demigods). Poseidon demanded his cleric teach the cleric of Thor a lesson in manners to avoid this punishment. This resulted in a cleric versus cleric smackdown which Big Greg’s cleric won. Poseidon took as many magic items as he wanted from the defeated cleric of Thor.

Then, just before leaving, Poseidon used his prerogatives as the god of natural disasters to have an earthquake strike the caverns, collapsing the paths back out of the lesser caverns to the surface and leaving the party no choice but to head down to the greater caverns despite their weakened state.

The party continued on. They eventually faced Drelzna, and the survivors managed to return to the surface, but poorer and perhaps wiser than when they went in. Lost Caverns tore through their resources, and I think the cleric of Thor was dead by the end of the adventure.

The second time I ran Lost Caverns I was stationed at either Fort Bragg, North Carolina, or Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I don’t remember who the players were, which might mean I wasn’t running the adventure for my regular gaming groups at those duty stations. (That would be either the group with Wayne Royals or with Lewis Pulsipher at Fort Bragg, or the group with Ron Chance [no relation] at Schofield.)

Anyhoo, what I do remember transpired in the greater caverns, so I’m guessing the group did okay in the lesser caverns. I think it was during the fight against the demonic bar-lguras that one of the PCs died. The party retreated and, by accident, ended up in the cave with the chasme demons. Since the party had just suffered a defeat, I decided the chasme would be more conversational than confrontational.

For some reason, the players decided to trust the demonic fly monsters. I mean, what could go wrong? Right?

Turns out, plenty went wrong. The adventurers lamented the loss of their party member, and asked if the chasmes could help. One of them assured the PCs that, yes, it could restore the dead to life, but the process took a little time. The party agreed, and so the chasme rammed its proboscis into the corpse’s chest and pumped in a load of demonological goo. (By this time, I was just making stuff up as I went along.) The chasme told the adventurers to take the corpse with them, and after a while he would revive.

So, the adventurers took the corpse with them, and after a while the cadaver exploded, releasing several more chasme that had spawned from the demonological goo. At this time, the other chasme and the bar-lgura ambushed the party. During the resulting slaughter of PCs, two of the adventurers fled in terror, desperately hoping to find some safe haven. They found it by blundering into the magical cavern which teleported them into an alternate dimension valley populated by centaurs. Without the means to return to the cavern, and with the rest of the party dead, that particular foray into the caverns came to a screeching halt.

The last time I ran Lost Caverns was after I converted the module to 3E/3.5E for Man Day. The adventure became part of the campaign’s metaplot that pitted the PCs against a gradually revealed plot by forces loyal to Nerull, Erythnul, and Hextor to conquer a large swath of the World of Greyhawk. I replaced Drelzna with a monster called the Abyssal Mind, which turned out to be a fiendish vampiric intellect devourer.

This last group was the most successful, completing the modified module with no PC deaths (as far as I can remember). Unfortunately, they did fail to defeat the Abyssal Mind, and that horrible monster escaped its prison in the greater caverns to spread its evil on the surface. This was sort of recurring motif in that particular campaign. The PCs would defeat the forces of badness, but some element of badness would escape in order to cause trouble later on, such as when the adventurers were manipulated into freeing the Deathless One, a lich in service to Nerull.

But that’s another story.

August 11th, 2013  in Man-Day Adventures, RPG 2 Comments »

Uncovered Treasures

Well, summer time is here, and I’m off until mid-August. I enjoy not working and still getting a paycheck (even though that’s not quite true since I do have curricula to write/update, professional development books to read, a few meetings to attend, et cetera, but you get the idea). The wife decided that my son Giant Boy and I needed to reorganize the library. Over at my Facebook page, there’re a few pictures of the progress. (Feel free to like me while you’re there.)

During the stacking, hauling, and sorting, I came across the map shown in the picture to the above right. (Click to embiggen if that’s what you’re into.) Years ago, somewhere around the 6th-7th grade (around 35 years ago), my friend Fred and I found this map in a desk at school along with a raggedy copy of the OD&D blue book. I have no idea where the blue book went, but I still have the map, which I refound during the library project.

Fred and I started gaming shortly thereafter. We lured a number of friends into gaming as well. If nothing else, it kept us from the running streets (well, not kept from entirely, but moreso than otherwise). Those gaming buddies — Little Greg, Big Greg, Other Mark, Ben, Dan, Fred’s father Big Fred, et cetera — are pretty much all gone now. Big Fred was killed by speeding city truck in the late 80s. Little Greg, Big Greg, and Ben seem to have just dropped off the face of the earth. Dan lives out of town and can’t travel, but I’m not sure why that keeps me from driving up to visit him. I think Other Mark lives in Austin, Texas. Fred died suddenly of an aneurysm several years ago.

It’s that last loss that weighs most heavily. Fred was my brother, and his mom (also deceased a short time after Fred) was my other mother. There’s not a day goes by I don’t wish he were still with us. Reorganizing the library was a bittersweet job. Nearly every gamebook, every character sheet, every folder has some connection to Fred.

The reorganization is mostly done. I ended up tossing a lot of paper: old notes about adventures, old characters sheets that I’ll never use again, photocopies of player handouts, et cetera. Along the way, I found some forgotten treasures, like the map in this blogpost.

It’s fitting, in a way. Most gaming involves getting the treasure. More gold, better armor, a sword with one more plus, and so forth. Those imaginary treasures aren’t quite metaphors, but, then again, maybe they are. There’re memories attached to those tabletop adventures and, as age increases, those memories gradually become most of what we have left of old friends and old times.

June 22nd, 2013  in RPG No Comments »

Trekking to the Side

What follows is one of the villains from my most recent Quid Novi? mini-adventure, The Coming Storm. In related news, I’ve re-edited the last two Quid Novi? mini-adventures (the aforementioned one and The Ruined Fort) into a single PDF, which is now available for sale at DriveThruRPG and Paizo. The links are in the sidebar on the left side of your screen.

Orc Leader
CR 6; XP 2,400
Orc bard 5/red dragon disciple 2
CE Medium humanoid (orc)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +10
Weakness light sensitivity

DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +2 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 natural)
hp 58 (5d8+15 plus 2d12+4)
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +5
Defensive Abilities countersong, ferocity, well-versed (+4 saves vs. bardic performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects)

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +6 (1d4+2) and bite +6 (1d6+3), or
Melee +1 longspear +7 (1d8+4/x3)
Ranged javelin +6 (1d6+2)
Reach 10 ft. (with longspear)
Special Attacks bardic performance (14 rounds/day), bloodline arcana, claws and dragon bite (5 rounds/day), fascinate (Will 14), inspire competence +2, inspire courage +2
Spells Known (CL 6th; concentration +8)
2nd (4/day) – blistering invective (Ref 14), boiling blood (Fort 14), cure moderate wounds, gallant inspiration
1st (5/day) – cure light wounds, saving finale, touch of gracelessness (Fort 13), vanish
0th – detect magic, ghost sound, mage hand, message, read magic, resistance

STATISTICS
Str 14, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 14
Base Atk +4; CMB +6; CMD 18
Feats Dodge, Harmonic Spell, Intimidating Prowess, Lingering Performance, Toughness (B)
Skills Intimidate +12, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Linguistics +8, Perform (sing) +10, Perception +10, Spellcraft +5, Use Magic Device +10; Armor Check Penalty -1
Languages Aklo, Common, Draconic, Giant, Goblin, Orc, Sylvan
SQ bardic knowledge, blood of dragons, versatile performance (Bluff, Sense Motive), weapon familiarity

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Bloodline Arcana: Whenever the orc leader casts a spell with the fire descriptor, that spell deals +1 point of damage per die rolled.

Claws and Dragon Bite (Su): The orc leader can grow claws and fangs as a free action. These are treated as natural weapons, allowing it to make two claw attacks and a bite attack as a full attack action using its full base attack bonus. The orc leader can use its claws for a number of 5 rounds per day. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Ferocity (Ex): An orc remains conscious and can continue fighting even if its hit point total is below 0. It is still staggered and loses 1 hit point each round. A creature with ferocity still dies when its hit point total reaches a negative amount equal to its Constitution score.

Lore Master (Ex): The orc leader is a master of lore and can take 10 on Knowledge (arcana) skill checks. It can choose not to take 10 and can instead roll normally. In addition, once per day, the orc leader can take 20 on any Knowledge skill check as a standard action.

GEAR
+1 longspear, divine scroll (tar ball [CL 3rd], lily pad stride [CL 5th]), potion of aid, masterwork chainshirt, key to strongbox, 2 javelins, plus 175 gp of personal items

August 6th, 2012  in RPG, Spes Magna News No Comments »

I Love Dave’s Mapper!

I love Dave’s Mapper. If I weren’t already very happily married until death do we part, I’d marry Dave’s Mapper. Well, I’d least ask, and if rejected, I’d write romantic fanfic and post it to a blog bordered by broken hearts.

If you don’t know Dave’s Mapper, you need to, especially if you’re a GM who likes dungeon crawls. Here’s how Dave’s Mapper works:

First, go to the site. I put a convenient link in the first paragraph above. Notice the two frames. The left side of your screen has some helpful buttons, such as the big New Map button. Click it. Click it again. Notice that the map changes each time. Excellent.

Scroll your eyes down the leftmost frame, and you’ll see a list of contributing artists (including yours truly, but I don’t have too many geomorphs uploaded. Yet.) If you click an artist who’s already checked, it unchecks that artist and removes that artist’s geomorphs from those randomly selected for your map. Clicking an artist without a check reverses the process.

Now look at the rightmost, bigger frame that holds the map. There are several buttons along the top. These let you export maps as PNGs, change the map size and arrange of geomorphs, add or remove a grid, and switch from different types of geomorphs (to include a smaller selection of city geomorphs great for generating a neighborhood or two).

Thanks to Dave’s Mapper, you never have an excuse for not having a dungeon map again.

July 5th, 2011  in RPG 1 Comment »