Wednesday, May 12, 2010

x1 Isle of Dread

One of the few regrets I have about my early D&D experience, is the total lack of experience with modules; when I had bought my Metzner basic, it didn't come with an introductory module (except for the small sample dungeon in the books). My own experience was using that  small sample as my model of what an adventure should be, and then designing castle and dungeons on my own (with far too many encounters if I remember correctly)
   That's why X1 Isle of Dread is so important to me, it was the first and only module I had ever owned as a youth;  but what a module!  Now back then I had no idea who Moldvay was, or the extent of his design genius; all I knew was that this module rocked. It had it all: sea exploration, dark mysterious islands, pirates, and especially.......dinosaurs, forget the alien kopru....for me the highlight was definately the dinosaurs...well them and the feline warrior society (I remember one of my players took a real liking to owning a pair of the claw weapon they used.

  Unfortunately; in part due to my own young age or inexperience, I never took full advantage of Isle of Dread's possibilities as a module. I did treat it a little too much like an adventure that the player's had to solve; as opposed to a springboard for many adventuring ideas. However even then we were able to create some role play interactions, and side treks...I seem to remember something about the pirates conflicting with the natives on the island.
   I think at the time it disturbed me a little that there was no end goal to the module...I'm not sure if I realized at the time the purpose of, or even had an understanding of, a completly open ended adventure. Still, we loved that module, and played it for days on end.  From the time I had a sea hydra attack their vessel in the ocean, to the moment the PC's defeated the evil Kopru in those hot muddy geysers on the plateau this module proved to be a joy to play.
Isle of Dread stretched both our playing skills, and our understanding of what a great D&D adventure can be. Because of that I have to say that the module TSR actually provided for FREE with its Expert Set still remains,in my mind, one of the best adventures ever written.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Borderlands sessions 3

 The group were last left at the bottom of a pit trap and had fought off a group of bow wielding goblins. Fortunately Stickles the thief came back from the keep and followed their trail through the fort. He managed to get some rope down to the group, and help them out of the pit. After discovering that the trapped door was in fact a fake, the frustrated group doubled back down through the fortress to investigate a side of the building still left blank on their map.
 During their explorations, they met up with an adventuring elf by the name of Moonbeam (I know) who had been attracted to the rumours of the richess in Quasqueton. The group decided to allow her to join them as they continued on through the halls of the fortress..
Narrowly avoiding a confrontation with a group of dangerous looking blue tattooed Northmen, and getting lost in one of Zelligar's Mazes of Confusion, the PC's eventually came upon Zelligar's garden room, which had become overrun with all manner of strange plants and fungi. After going about halfway in, the PC's soon found themselves bombarded by a loud shrieking sound emanating from some large orange mushroom shaped plant. Just as the PC's were getting ready to destroy the screaming fungus, they were attacked by some creepy crawlies, and enraged orcs who attention had been attracted by the loud wails.
 Again it was Erin the farm-boy who proved himself in combat; severing the head of one of the orcs in a single blow, and fatally wounding another. No sooner had they finished off this first attack, when the still shrieking mushroom attracted even more creatures. This time the group found themselves surrounded by three large underground reptilian creatures (troglodytes). The PC's thinking they wouldn't be able handle this new threat, decided to try and bluff their way using intimidation. Opting for savage brutality, they stuck the severed orc heads on swords and spears and shook them violently in front of the troglodytes. Fearing for their lives in front of the this new powerful foe, the creatures bowed in deference to the PC's who seeing an opening fed the orc bodies to the reptiles, and made a quick getaway out of the garden. Using their map to back track, they soon found themselves in the eastern half of the fortress again, and made their way to what turned out to be a room belonging to Rogahn's mistress Melissa, while there they made two important discoveries; a supposed treasure map to the lower level, and a secret passage connecting Melissa's room directly to Roghan's.

Editorial:  Two more players joined in for this session but one of the other guys couldn't make it so that gave a total of three players. It made for more discussion as to plans on what to do, as well as a lot more out of game banter..but thats what its all about right. Moonbeam doesn't exactly get named until session 4, but I thought I'd break it too you I've had a Moonbeam, Dale the killing machine, and from the first session and only session my wife participated in...Head Honcho....

             I found the mapping difficult in this one (actually I should say the player's did, b/c I don't do their mapping). It became an extra challenge during the maze part; however they get a kick out of when one hallway somehow intersects another. I'm thinking of using white board so i can make an outline first then let them do the mapping on their grid paper.
I also saw a lot of encounter avoidance this time. The party took great pains to try and find what was in a room before going there (even using mirrors under doors), and then leaving if it appeared anyone was inside; they seemed especially concerned over the northerners bearing blue tattoos. Still I liked where the group was headed, and how easily they fell into what we call old school adventuring. I'll post 4 and 5 soon. as some interesting town and wilderness events are starting to well as some....PLOT..oh no!!!!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wilderness encounters

So the group is going to be searching through the forest for a group of bandits (I have yet to post sessions 3/4 to explain why). Now while I've created an encampment for the Bandits, I also decided to create a few encounters for the wilderness. I wanted to create a sense of supernatural strangeness to the forest, so I decided on some encounters that go beyond just regular wandering monsters (what a strange statement to make.......regular wandering monsters). Anyway, here it is I'd like to know what others think:
Roll a D8

1.....feel dripping from above and snapping branches.....find a frozen, partially eaten corpse in a tree that comes crashing to the ground.....

2.....See a run down abandoned cabin (chance 50% day/ 50% night)....if the party is in or near the cabin at night they will see a pale luminous women in a white night dress staring out the window with a gaping wound in her chest (only noticeable if she is somehow turned away from the window). She will not respond in any way unless touched, at which point she will turn and chant ---"come back to me my love" over and over. at this point all male characters from right to left must save vs spells, the first to fail will be drawn to the figure's embrace where they will age 10 +1d4 years per round until rescued.

3.....An Orgre and a ___(undetermined sorry)___are sharpening tools and preparing a fire next to them tied to a tree is an unarmed person (level 1 magic user) with an extremely despondent look on his face.

4.....The party comes across a petrified tree with a vaguely humanoid figure and what appears to be a face twisted in extreme agony...if the figure is touched, the mouth begins oozing a dark reddish viscous liquid.

5.....Hear a horrible buzzing which seems to be getting closer and closer.......suddenly the the buzzing stops only to have the party immediately become attacked by a swarm of flying insects.

6....Come across a clearing with a ring of 7 white roses with a stone in the center, bearing some sort of faded inscription.  If they decide to read try to read the inscription roll a dice to see who can make it out (1 in 6 chance) the first to succeed is handed a note saying " "Y'salgoth's roses bloom in the dusk of life".....if anyone else asks about this paper or the inscription you must read this quote out loud".Once read aloud 7 zombies will crawl out of the ground from under the roses.

7...The PC's come across a Cairn made of skulls each one with a single jagged hole in the forehead

8...Undetermined yet

so there's the list. Looking back i notice a few hings:
#1 not all have a supernatural or strange bent, which gives different possibilities a different feel.

#2 Not all would have any game effect  (many have no combat) and with the idea being locating a group of bandits, is creating a strange supernatural mood really necessary...I don't know...

Well there are the ideas so far let me know what you think....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Probability Madness

Did you know you have the same probability of rolling a 6,6,6 as you do of rolling eaxctly 4,5,2......(1/216)......I just blew your mind didn't I?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Retro modules

So lately I've pretty much finished my collection of the old TSR stuff, both in paper and pdf (actually I may be missing a large swath of Dragon magazines). My eyes have now turned to the new quality products that have been put for the retro clones.
My purchase have so far included James Raggi's Death Frost Doom, Alphonso Warden's The People of The Pit, Goodman Game's Saga of the Rat King, Micheal Curtis's Dungeon Alphabet, and James Maliszewski's Cursed Chateau. I'd like to eventually give my thoughts on all of these products, but to be honest I've only fully read 3 of them so far (and those were quick reads too). I do know that I'd already like to put DFD and People of the Pit into my campaign...which isn't fair because there are so many of the old modules I want to take a stab at too. Damn that doesn't even include the free modules that people have published online.....Dragonsfoot........
My question to others is are there any new old school modules that you feel are worth a purchase? I know I've put a few on my shopping list at rpgnow, but I'm curious as to what others have to say.