Showing posts sorted by relevance for query White Plume Mountain. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query White Plume Mountain. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, March 24, 2011

White Plume Mountain, I challenge you to do this!

So.  Been a really busy week for me.  Work. School. Family.

I took a mental health break from it all last night around 8:00pm and was looking through all my material for the White Plume Mountain and I realized something.

Edition wars are fundamentally bullshit.

The concept of an "edition war" is based on the idea that one edition of a game is better/worse than another.
My running of White Plume Mountain flies in the face of this.

Here are the materials I am using:

Rule base: D&D 3.0 (not 3.5, just 3.0).
Module: White Plume Mountain, 1st Ed AD&D, with 3rd Ed D&D updates and an extension, Dragotha's Lair, written for 2nd Ed. AD&D.
Characters: A Pathfinder Ranger, a 3.5 ed Paladin that is a 4e race (Dragonborn), a 3.0 witch, a couple of converted elemental sorcerers (were M&M 2ed, now Pathfinder), and a Star Wars revised ed bounty hunter.
Dragotha (Big Bad 1): D&D 4e stats from the Draconomicon.
Keraptis (Big Bad 2): BASIC D&D Witch that I am playtesting.
Plus I am using D&D 4e fortune cards.
Also maps released under GSL and minis from at least 5 or 6 different sources (which are all of course edition-free).

Everything so far has run nice and smooth and everyone is having a blast.

So.  Either I am some Mad Scientist, Super-Genius-level DM that can make all these conversions on the fly  OR there is just not as many differences between these systems as some people think.

You may not like a particular edition, but that doesn't actually devalue it nor change it's worth to others.

Anyone else out there do this kind of D&D freestyle mixing of editions?  What were your experiences?  Did it work? Did it fail miserably?  If none of the above would you be interested in trying it out?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

White Plume Mountain at DriveThruRPG

One of the all-time greatest classic modules is now available at DriveThruRPG.

S2 White Plume Mountain

I had an absolute blast playing this with my kids.  They STILL talk about how they got Blackrazor.

DriveThru has a number of great files to go with this too.
White Plume Mountain Dungeon Tiles (lots of fun!)
White Plume Mountain Revised (3.5)

The PDF is the older mono-chrome cover, but I love this Jeff Dee one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review: White Plume Mountain Dungeon Tiles

White Plume Mountain 3D Dungeon Tiles

I love the old-school modules, I love the new school systems. The trouble is that one of the things I enjoy about the newer systems is the use of minis. I love mins, my kids love minis. But I don't have enough dungeon tiles to always run these classic adventures or the time to make my own. That is where Red Pub Games comes in. I was searching for some material on White Plume Mountain, which I plan on running soon, and to my pleasure I found this product.

At 37 pages and 50 cents this will save me hours of either looking for the right dungeon tile or trying to make my own. I just print them out. IF I need to write on them, no problem, I can print out a new one later.
I am quite pleased with this product and want more.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! S is for Special Series.

S is for Special Series.

Ah! The "S" modules.  No series of modules have been as divisive, controversial or as fun (to me) as these.  Originally just four adventures, it has one "honorary" member in my mind and two more unnumbered members.  I have played in these and run them; some (like S4) many times over. These are some of my favorite adventures of all time.

Where to begin?

Well here are the modules/adventures I want to discuss.
These adventures have all been featured here many, many times.
Also, the first four have been collected into a single volume not once, but twice.  Many of the adventures have also been updated for other versions of D&D.

S1: Tomb of Horrors
Depending on who you ask, this is either one of the best adventures for D&D or the worst.  I enjoy this module, but it is not one I plan on running again. I ran it for my kids and they survived, but I think there are better adventures out there.  It is one of those adventures that everyone talks about; often about how horribly they or someone else died in it.   In the picture above, the book on the right with devil with his mouth open?  Yeah. More than one idiotcharacter put their hand in there only to loose said hand.  The big bad is that jeweled skull on the cover of the middle book.
Tomb of Horrors is often described as a meat grinder.  This is true, but it is also a fun challenge and if I can be so bold, a rite of passage of the D&D gamer.  You can't really call yourself a D&D gamer until you go through this.
Love it or hate it, it's place in history is solid and unmoving.

S2: White Plume Mountain
In many ways White Plume Mountain is one of my favorite adventures.  It's a crazy dungeon filled with traps, monsters a few legendary weapons of vast power, all dropped into a semi-active volcano.   I ran it for my kids a while back.  Back then I ran it under 3rd Edition, using a 1st Edition rule base, Basic Edition characters, and some 4th edition add-ons.  It was such a classic though that it all worked.  My kids loved it.

S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
This was one of the first adventures I ever bought for myself.  The characters (in a quasi-medieval Europe) find an ancient crashed star-ship and all the crazy alien life forms still trapped inside.  Based a bit on the game Metamorphosis Alpha.   I ran this for my kids a while back.  My youngest LOVED it, but my oldest didn't. Which is a bit odd I thought, because he began playing with the Star Wars d20 RPG.
Still though, I personally think this is a great module.

S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth 
The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and it's near sequel WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun are two of my favorite modules ever.  I bought S4 my freshman year in high school and read it cover to cover.  One of my favorite bits was the "sneak peak" at some of the monsters that would later appear in the Monster Manual II hardcover.  It was also a rather deadly adventure. The nearby Forgotten Temple of Tharizidun then opens up a new threat of the ancient imprisoned god Tharizdun.  This ties it in to the T1-4 Supermodule The Temple of Elemental Evil.  But I think what I liked about it was the information on Greyhawk.  We are introduced to the witch Iggwilv here. She would later become an important figure in the history of Greyhawk and D&D.
The boys loved this adventure.  Combining it with WG4 and some additional material from the web it took us about 6 months to complete.  Still, it was a great time.

Two other modules were later added to the "Special" Series but never had, to my knowledge, an "S" designation.

S5: The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga
Baba Yaga is one of those characters that we keep coming back to in D&D.  There are at least 3 or 4 versions of The Dancing Hut adventure out there now and even for the Pathfinder game (a game very much like D&D) has her as the main bad guy for a whole series of adventures.
I am going to feature her and this adventure in my own "War of the Witch Queens" campaign that I run next.

S6: Labyrinth of Madness
Of all the "S" modules, this is the only one I know nothing about.
From what I can tell it is sort of a tribute to the kinds of dungeons we saw in the S-series.  It looks like a lot of fun though.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 1

Sunday was cold and rainy, so the perfect day to recover some stolen magical artifacts in a volcano!

The Dragonslayers (my kids' 3.x game) ventured into the classic module White Plume Mountain.  I changed the set up a bit, they have been hired by one of my more infamous NPCs, Crazy Omar, to recover Whelm, which he claims is owned by his family.  He tells them of Wave and Blackrazor and that representatives of their owners (which of course are already dead now).

I spent a couple days cutting out and taping the the White Plume Mountain Dungeon tiles I reviewed a while back, and the boys loved them!  They liked being able to see the doors and being able to write on the maps themselves.  BTW i figured if I printed the map out and connected all the tiles they would be about 7 feet by 5 feet.

Astute readers will recognize Fire and Ice back there as well (they are quasi NPCs in this game). Our minis are an eclectic lot of D&D minis, Heroclix, Darksword, and Heroscape. More astute OSR players will recognize this as room 10. 

My sons' ranger/arcane archer found the deeper pool and they made short work of Sea Hag and her pet, even with me boosting the Hag using some of my new rules on the witch (all hags in my game can take levels in Witch).

We had to cut short the adventure, diner was ready, but we will be getting back to it very soon.  I think my youngest wants Blackrazor, my oldest, who plays the Dragonborn Paladin, wants nothing to do with it.

I am dropping some of the Cthulhu-ish ideas I had earlier in favor of running it "straight", but there is something I just can't pass up.  A totally throw-away by Erol Otis I am sure, but the picture has always intrigued me. 

My boys after all are the "Dargonslayers" and Dragotha has to be one of the most powerful dracolich around. I figure he is a ancient (1,000+ years) red dragon lich.  I'll have him breath "black fire".  Give the boys something to really remember.  Maybe even put Kerapis on top of him, a lich of course.  Make them both pretty difficult to beat. 

Spoke too soon!  I found this online,  Sweet.  And given that he is in 4th Edition, I might let him escape to plague the characters when we move over to 4e.  Plus, his stats are pretty much custom made for my son Liam!  Red dragon, dracolich, breaths cold blue necrotic fire, I am a bit surprised he never pointed this dragon out to me before in fact.  He does own all the Draconomicons.

To fit it into themythology of the game, Dragotha was once the red dragon consort of Tiamat.  Like all her consorts though he did something to offend the great Queen of Dragons and she killed him.  Of course Dragotha and Kerapis had already struck up a deal.  Kerapis, already a lich himself, turned the great dragon into a demi-lich and has been in Kerapis' service ever since.   If the players kill Kerapis first then Dragotha is free and he will use that freedom to lay waste to Kerapis' lair; ignoring the characters (till another time!).  The Dragonslayers only need his tooth to complete their own ritual to create a portal to Tiamat's lair.

This will be fun!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Next up: At the White Plume Mountains of Madness

The next adventure for the Dragonslayers (my kids' group) is to go to the White Plume Mountain.  They know they need to recover another relic of the Cult of Tiamat, this time the tooth of the largest red dragon that ever lived.  They have heard rumors that what they seek is in a volcano.

The idea of this adventure was to go to a mountain in snowy area.  So I using the 3.x conversion of S2 White Plume Mountain (and the original) and I am going to set it in a near Arctic area.  I am also going to fill it full of Lovecraftian Horrors since my boys both know who Cthulhu is.  Meld the two together a bit for some good old fashioned dungeon crawl of horror fun.

The adventure is actually very short; shorter than I remembered it.  Plus my youngest has been asking about the most powerful swords in D&D so I think it is time he sees Blackrazor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This is why I enjoy reading blogs

James at GROGNARDIA has posted a bit on his thoughts on White Plume Mountain. As many of you know I am currently running my kids through WPM as part of their Dragonslayers campaign.

Well reading the comments I see that there is another add-on for this called Outside the Mountain. Which has another legacy weapon, Frostrazor (don't like that name though).
It doesn't add a lot to what I already have, it's list Dragotha as a Black Dragon Dracolich rather than the Red Dragon Dracolich as everywhere else, but it is still fun to have.

I suppose one day I could run "Return to White Plume Mountain" but I think that when the Dragonslayers are done here then the old volcano will fade back into the mists and the local will not speak of the horrors of the mountain, but of the brave adventurers that conquered it.

Now if work would just let up I can get back to finishing this with my boys.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 2

We continued on with White Plume Mountain.

The Dragon Slayers made their way through and fought the giant crab protector of Wave.  They got the idea really fast about not poking the semi-solid membrane and they even remembered to shut all the doors in case it did break.

They are now in the inverted ziggurat room they defeated the first water layer and the dessert layer.  Then pizza came and the combat was held for another day.  I have mentioned that there are other groups of adventures here also looking for the other items, Blackrazor and Wave (they are supposed to get Whelm for Omar), but I have not pulled them out yet.   I think I will do that next session.

Also the final battle will be with Keraptis and Dragotha.  Dragotha will swoop down and grab the PC holding one of the items and carry them off to the Cave of Bones.  Cheesy I know, but it works.

I have the 3.5 update for WPM and while it is nice to have the stats for the monsters handy I don't care for how the weapons have been re-done as legacy weapons.  Even with everything that you need to do to get the powers up and going they seem less interesting than they did under 1st Ed.  I am thinking of just using the 1st ed stats to be honest, not even really upping them.

Might get some more in tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 1b

So I picked up my 4e Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons and read up on Dragotha.

Cool stuff really.  What they have there is largely compatible with what I want to do in my adventure.  Dragotha was Tiamat's consort, he was betrayed and left for dead.  In the Draconomicon he was "aided" by Kyuss.  I think I might not use that part or just not bring it up.

Course now is the big question.  Will Dragotha help the PCs or try to fight them?  I am going to have him under Kerapis' thrall, so as long as Keraptis is alive, then Dragotha will attack.  Would Dragotha know of the PC's quest?  They have not been secret about it to be sure.

So till next session, I'll hit the research.  Certainly I could "just make stuff" up, but I like the feeling of my little game being part of a larger world.  Plus one day, maybe one day soon, my boys will be searching for this stuff online too and I want them to be able to say "yes! I Was there, I did that."

What have I learned?

  • Keraptis was a contemporary of Acererak.
  • He delved into Necromancy, pretty deeply in fact.  He may have been one of Greyhawk's premier necromancers.
  • He is most certainly a lich now; if not dead.
  • The magical items are each connected to the elements, Whelm-Earth, Blackrazor-Fire, Wave-Water and a fourth, Seeker, an elven arrow for Air.  
  • White Plume Mountain is a place of ancient magics.

To be sure, this is a lot of background for a guy that is essentially the Level 20 Boss.  But a well developed villain is a good villain.

I might change Seeker to a bow and my other son has been looking for a sword called "The Dragon Blade" that he is certain has to exist. I'd give it pluses for killing evil dragons and allow the wielder to be looked apon favorably by good dragons.  He is not interested in Blackrazor at all.  It might end up in Omar's shop!

I even found a place for the final battle, the Cave of Bones.


Friday, July 24, 2020

Silver Anniversary Time

Wednesday was my 25th Wedding Anniversary!  We had plans to be in Jamaica this year, but given how Americans are been told to stay in their own damn plague country, we settled for carry-out at our favorite seafood restaurant (Bob Chinn's FYI) and a nice walk (been walking 5k+ every night since COVID hit).

My wife and I are at an age where we don't really want a lot of things. For me, it was better to spend time with her, our favorite restaurant, and plate of sea scallops.  Besides we are also at an age where if there is something we need or want we just go get it. I didn't bust my ass in grad school for nothing.

BUT.  That doesn't mean I am not going to treat ourselves.
While my wife is going to get a new garden shed for her hobby.  I went to my FLGS and grabbed something I have been wanting for 20 years. Consequently, it is also a 25 year anniversary item.

My FLGS has had the D&D 25th Anniversary edition boxed set in their "glass" case for some time.

It is a premium item and likely cost WAY more than it should have (and more than I should have spent) but it is something I have wanted, it was my anniversary and I had promised I was only going to buy local once everything had opened back up.

I got it and I am very pleased.

I knew of the contents of course, but it was so nice to have them in front of me.

While they are all reprints I didn't actually own the separate G series modules and my copy of S2 White Plume Mountain walked years ago.  All I have is a printed PDF.  So those are "new" to me.

The copy of Ravenloft is nice and a little different from my 1983 original.

The "new" material for me was the history book and Len Lakofka's L3 Deep Dwarven Delve.

With L3 in hand, I now have the complete Lendore Isle's Trilogy. (Yes, I DO know there are more on Dragonsfoot.)

The set is very nice and there is a lot of room inside for more.  But not everything belongs inside to be honest.   But I figure my Silver Anniversary Return to the Keep on the Borderlands would be fine.

I just need a good copy of Return to White Plume Mountain as well. (ETA I see there is a POD version up at DriveThruRPG!)

BTW Return to the Keep is seriously under-rated. I use it now whenever I want to run a Keep adventure. I just typicall show everyone the B2 module so they think they are getting the full "orginal D&D experience."

This set is a nice companion piece to my Arts & Arcana for D&D history.

So happy 25th anniversary to me, my wife and D&D (just 20 years late on that last one).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

I have been wanting to stat up some of the classic witches of the D&D game and one of the ones I had forgotten about was Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens, from Return to White Plume Mountain for 2nd ed and Outside the Moutain for 3rd ed.

For 2nd ed she is depicted as a 12 HD hag.  For 3rd Ed she is a CR 12 green hag wizard.

But we all know what class she should be.

I want to try out her out using my Basic Witch class, but I also think I really need to also stat her out as one of +Jonathan Becker 's The Complete B/X Adventurer Witches (his blog IS B/X Blackrazor afterall) and Sage of Greyhawk, +Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep Darker Paths Witch class.

All will do a good job in representing this sort of witch.

According to the 2nd Edition "Return to White Plume Mountain" she is:

AC -2 (natural hide and Dex bonus); Mv 12, swim 12; HD 12; hp 80; THACO 9 (3 with Wave and Str bonus); #AT 3/2 (Wave); Dmg ld10+9; MR 25%; SZ M (5’ tall); ML fanatic (17); Str 18/00, Dex 17, Con 19, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 12; AL NE; XP 7,000.

Special Abilities: full movement rate through quicksand and swamp; brew any potion.
Spell-like Abilities (at 12th level): l/day-animate dead, call lightning, control weather, curse, dream, forcecage, mind blank, polymorph other, polymorph self, veil, vision.
Special Equipment: five potions of extra-healing, potion of gaseous form, potion of super-heroism.

These stats also assume she has Wave.

I think for the sake of building and good comparison, I am going to make her a 13th level witch in all cases.  Also in each case I am going to swap what her highest ability should be. So for my witch it will be Charisma.  Wisdom for the Darker Paths Witch. Intelligence and Wisdom are the primes for the Complete B/X Adventurer Witch, but I think I'll give her the higher Intelligence here to balance it out.

Of course in the original, she is a hag.  So in these versions I will keep that by keeping her really high physical stats.

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

Basic Era Witch
13th Level Hag (Faerie) Tradition

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 12
Charisma 15

hp: 63
THAC0: 16

Death Ray: 9
Magic Wands: 10
Paralysis, Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs, Spells: 11

Occult Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Potions
Lesser: Speak with Animals/Plants
Minor: Fey Shape

Cantrips: (4) Alarm Ward, False Glamour, Mote of Light, Object Reading
First: (4+2) Blight Growth, Burning Hands, Detect Invisible, Endure Elements, Hold Winds, Sour Stomach
Second: (4+1) Discord, Evil Eye, Fever, Nausea, Scare
Third: (3) Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Toad Mind
Forth: (3) Confusion, Polymorph, Vomit
Fifth: (2) Animate Dead, Dream
Sixth: (2) Control Weather, True Seeing
Seventh: (1) Greater Arcane Eye

Darker Paths 2: The Witch by +Joseph Bloch
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 15
Charisma 12

hp: 72
THAC0: 12

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons
Bell, Book and Candle
Create Magic Items

First: (5) Charm Person, Predict Weather, Taunt, Witch Shot, Wither
Second: (5) Blight Field, Change Self, Charm Monster, Misfortune, Precipitation
Third: (4) Bestow Curse, Control Winds, Fear, Insect Swarm
Forth: (4) Jealousy, Polymorph Self, Prophecy, Sleep
Fifth: (4) Breath Poison, Control Weather, Polymorph Other, Season of the Witch
Sixth: (3) Blink, Cackle, Magic Cauldron
Seventh*: (3) Call Lightning, Death Curse, Great Rite

*Ok, she should not get seventh level spells due to her wisdom, but hey, my character.

The Complete B/X Adventurer by +Jonathan Becker
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 14
Charisma 12

hp: 65

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons and magical Potions
Bind Wounds
Book of Shadows

First: Hex, Light, Resist Elements, Speak with Animals
Second: Dreams, Fog, Locate Object
Third: Call Animals, Hoodoo, Object Reading, Quagmire
Forth: Mind Jab, Polymorph Others, Polymorph Self, Tarantella
Fifth: Control Weather, Greater Hoodoo, Insect Plague, Visions

I am hard pressed to say which witch I like better for her.  All three have something essentially "Thingizzard" about her.  Each witch has some spells that are particularly nice for her.

I will have to come back to this and see about doing 5e version once Tales from the Yawning Portal is released next month.

Bonus Question: How do you pronounce her name? I am partial to "Thing-iz-zard" myself, but "Thin Gizzard" also has a nice swampy feel to it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 3

Today was a good day for adventurers.

The Dragonslayers continued on their mission into the White Plume Mountain.  The defeated the monsters of the inverted ziggurat and immediately distrusted the hooka smoking halfling to recover Blackrazor.  The boys were also extremely distrustful of the black blade and hid it away in a bag of holding.

They made it down the last hall and confronted the vampire Ctenmiir.  The Dragonborn Paladin of Bahmut had a few choice words with the vampire and the characters had made it out with Whelm as well!
Of course, there was more to be done.  The weapons in had they rushed out of the volcano only to have their wizard (with the bag of holding with Blackrazor) snatched up in claws of a undead dragon flying north.
The hunt for Dragotha has begun!

The boys did really great today.  They were able to solve the Prime number riddle with no problem and the sphinx riddle only slowed them down a little.  There is still the effrit to deal with though and of course one of the party has been kidnapped to be taken back to Dragotha's Lair where the final battle will begin.

I have been playing down the guardians of the weapons to lull the boys into a false sense of security. Dragotha and Keraptis are different matters all together.

I am also going to start planting the seeds for my 4th Ed game.  The boys will defeat Keraptis, this is a foregone conclusion, even if it is Dragotha killing him himself.  But as he dies he is going to utter "beware, the shadows".

During the next couple of adventures there will be other clues dealing with shadows.  I'll talk more about that later on, but I am very excited with the prospect of it all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 4 Final

I was feeling a little sick over the weekend.  Caught whatever my son had caught and only ate crackers for lunch.  So my boys asked if we could finish WPM.  I had a bunch of material worked out for the final part, combining the 2nd Ed. Adventure Dragotha's Lair and the WMP Web Enhancement Outside the Mountain.  Since I wasn't feeling well I reduced Dragotha's Lair to a smaller area and removed many of the (redundant) undead.

They battled the Effrit on their way out of the mountain and he was quickly dispatched by couple of cones of cold.  Dragotha did carry off the wizard, but a well rolled concentration check and a quick teleport spell the wizard was safe.

I kept the Hag, Thingazzard and had her using my own 3.0 rules for witches and she provided a good hazard on the way to Cave of Bones.

The Dragonslayers fought Dragotha in the end, taking some pretty serious damage almost loosing one of their elemental sorcerers. But in the end they triumphed. They collected the next part they needed, the Red Dragon tooth, and there are odd notes in Thingazzard's Book of Shadows about the Horn of Iggwilv and an item that might be what they need.

All in all the boys did good despite my general lack of energy.  They may have gotten off a touch easier than they should have, so to compensate the amount of magic is not as great.  Everyone managed to go up a level so next time we will decide what those levels will be.  Liam wants his wizard to take a level of fighter so he can use the cool new flaming sword he found.  I also suggested Bard.

Next up, into the deeps as the Dragonslayers enter the gnome vale and find The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kickstarter Roundup

Here are some of the Kickstarters I have been keeping an eye on.  Most of these are funded now so it is about the stretch goals. Most of these are also ending soon.

Tome of Horrors Complete - 28mm Heroic Scale Miniatures
For 200 bucks you can get close to 50 minis.  They are white metal, like the old days, but not (as far as I can tell) painted. They look awesome, but even in my 3e game I am moving away from minis.
Still though these are very nice.

Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
This one should be well known to all in the OSR crowd.  900+ monsters in a format that should be easy to translate to any old-school game.
The more backer's this one gets the more art it gets.  See to me this is how to do a Kickstarter.
Joesph delivered on all his promises for his last Kickstarter and even got them in early.  The next book in the series he didn't even need a Kickstarter for.  So Bloch is quietly building his game, delivering quality books and supplements and generally just getting it done.  So backing this one is the right thing to do.  Really he kind of is the model of what you should do in a Kickstarter.

Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3
Loved Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2, so this one is a no-brainer for me.

Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition
This one is just crazy.  First off it needs $60k for the book.  They go on to get close to half a million bucks!
I liked Exalted 2nd ed but I never got a chance to play it. 

Jeff Dee: Re-Creating AD&D Module Cover Paintings Part 1
This one has not met it's funding yet.  Some reproductions of some of Jeff Dee's module work. Featured are images from:
T1 Village of Hommlet (Back Cover) 
D3 Vault of the Drow (Back Cover) 
X1 Isle of Dread (Front Cover) 
S2 White Plume Mountain (Front Cover)
I'd love to see this one get funded too.

Adventure Maximus!
From Eden's George Vasilakos.  Funded, but still looks like a lot of fun.

And yesterday's newest one, Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed.

I was asked if I am going to back this one. I am not.  It's not that I don't like CoC, I love it. But to me this is not what a Kickstarter should be about.
CoC7 is funded. I like to fund Kickstarters though that look like they NEED my help. The ones that won't see the light of day without my input. Makes me feel like I am accomplishing something really.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Classic Adventures Revisited: S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

One of my all-time favorite adventures is S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

A solid two-level dungeon crawl, filled with new monsters, dangers, and the promise of great treasures. Additionally, there are rumors of an ancient witch/archmage and her battles with demons and even the threat that some of those demons are still around. There is plenty of wilderness area as well. A wide expanse with a gnome community nearby and a raging blue dragon.

With its "Booklet 2" filled with new spells, magic circles, and demons it made me think that a witch class with ritual magic could be something that would work for D&D. 

There is so much great stuff in and around this adventure it is hard to know where to begin.  So let's start with the adventure itself.

S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

The adventure, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, was published back in 1982 by TSR. It was written by none other than Gary Gygax himself. It is listed as "S4" and was the last of the labeled "S series" or Special modules.  This includes some of the most popular adventures ever written; S1 Tomb of HorrorsS2 White Plume Mountain, and S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

The adventure itself is comprised of two 32 page booklets. The first book is the adventure itself, which I will get into detail in a bit.  The second booklet covers all sorts of new magic, monsters, and more. 

Book 1: The Adventure

The adventure is of the classic sort; the rumor of treasure and a vague threat coming from an area of the map known as Iggwilv's Horn.  The adventure is designed for characters level 6 to 10.   I have found over the last 40 years that it can be adapted to a variety of levels, though higher levels are better. Though the original tournament adventure featured slightly lower levels. Likely due to the addition of the wilderness adventure. 

The wilderness adventure is actually well put together and not the older crazy random monster encounters.  The encounters make sense for the area. Among the encounters are the Hermit, and I could not help make this the same hermit from Keep on the Borderlands (also a Gygax creation) and the Blue Dragon.  The Blue Dragon, in particular, became so much a hit the first time I ran this that in future runnings of this I changed the dragon to Korbundar from CM2 Death's Ride to have a reoccurring villain.   A lot of adventure is packed into 12 pages.

The second part of the adventure covers the Lost Caverns themselves, which includes the Lesser and  Greater caverns. This features a large variety of new monsters, some living here, some just wandering around. Even encounters such as "The Garden of One Thousand Earthly Delights" have a good (enough) reason to be there. 

The final encounter is in the center of the Greater Caverns and it is not for Iggwilv's Treasure, but rather against Iggwilv's Treasure; the vampire Drelnza.  She is a bit more powerful than your average vampire and she has magic to help her out.  Eventually, she will succumb to heroes and the treasure will be found including the infamous Demonomicon of Iggwilv, Daoud's Wonderous Lanthorn, and the Prison of Zagig.

Book 2: Monsters and Magic

This second booklet, as I have mentioned, grabbed my attention as much as the first, if not more.  Listed inside were new monsters, only some appeared in the adventure, including new demons and demon lords. There were the mysterious Xag-ya and Xeg-yi, the Derro and the awkwardly named (for the early 80s) Valley Elf. All these creatures would later be reprinted in the Monster Manual II for 1st Edition. This is fitting since the original tournament adventure introduced monsters that would become part of the first Monster Manual.  There are some magic items including some wonderful artifacts mentioned above.  Of these The Demonomicon of Iggwilv capture not just my imagination, but that of hundreds of others. The Demonomicon became a feature in Dragon Magazine and even a 4e book of the same name. Iggwilv went from a "long-dead archmage" to "The Mother of Witches" and the premiere demonologist in D&D.   This little booklet also contains plenty of new spells.  

This was classic AD&D at the end of its 1st Golden Age.

The adventure is extremely playable and I have adapted it over the years for AD&D 2nd ed, D&D 3rd, and 5th Editions as well.

If you want to play it for 5th Edition D&D then the team over at Classic Modules Today has made a 5e conversion

There are also maps you can print out with DM's notes.

And other realistic maps also for printing

The Sequels

The first true sequel to this adventure was WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (though no WG1-3 were made*). This was published the same year and dealt with a Temple of Tharizdun. It was designed to be played right after S4 and used the same wilderness map.  The adventure fits in well enough. I justified in my games by saying that Iggwilv, like Tsojcanth before her, chose this area due to its arcane and eldritch properties.  The adventure also has a wealth of information on the World of Greyhawk and Tharizdun.  All of these will be explored later in Gary Gygax's novel series about Gord the Rogue

S4 and WG4 would also get a review in White Dwarf #44 and both get 9/10 from Jim Bambra. He calls them the last of the Golden Age adventures.

*The rumor is that WG1 was Village of Hommlet, WG2 Temple of Elemental Evil and WG3 was The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, or Tsojconth in the original.

Another sequel of sorts was The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga. Published much later in 1995 for 2nd Ed AD&D and written by Lisa Smedman, this adventure was labeled "S5" but it never appears in any of the classic reprints of the S Series adventures.  While the connection is little more than any of the other "S" series, there is the connection of Iggwilv, then Tasha as the adopted daughter of Baba Yaga.  Lisa Smedman would also work on Ravenloft and ShadowRun. Some Ravenloft monsters make their way into this adventure.

Yet again another sequel, this time for 3.5 D&D, was published in 2007.  Iggwilv's Legacy was published in Dungeon Magazine in October 2007 and appeared for free on Wizard's of the Coast website well into the 4e era. Sadly no longer available, it added another level to the caverns to explore, The Hollow of the Horn, the areas left behind by Tsojancth himself with the implication that even Iggwilv was afraid of these areas. The adventure and the additions were converted and updated to 3rd Edition.  I ran this version for my family at their first Gen Con in 2009.  Here we meet the half-demon  archmage Tsojcanth and his vile witch mother Vilhara.

The Reprints

As part of the much-loved S-series, the Lost Caverns of Tsojanth has been reprinted twice.  Both times bundled with the other three S-series adventures.

The first reprint was called Realms of Horror and it was all the S-series adventures combined into a loosely tied together "Super Module" that was all the rage in the late 80s.  All the maps were reprinted in a small booklet and personally, I found them harder to read.

The second reprint was the more faithful reprint from Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons of Dread, in 2013. 

The Original Tournament Adventure

The original tournament adventure, the Lost Caverns of Tsojconth (note the spelling) appeared at the Wintercon V game convention in 1976.  This would have been akin to a playtest version of AD&D.  Also Iggwilv is described as being dead, and male.

While the adventure does not feature the wilderness areas, the caverns seem to have a more mystical bent to them, with the center "nexus" described as the connection point between worlds to help explain all the new and weird monsters in it.  It would make sense, to be honest, and help explain why Tsojcanth and later Iggwilv possessed it. 

Paleologos at the OSR Grimoire talks a lot about the original Lost Caverns of Tsojconth.

The era of 1976-1978 was an interesting time and lead to some interesting styles of play.  We had the Holmes Basic Set and the B1 In Search of the Unknown (1978) adventure out and we had the AD&D Monster Manual.  This Holmes + Monster Manual actually became the game of choice for many.  I would later play this same hybrid of D&D/AD&D in 1979.
Likely as a way to replicate that Demos Sachlas/Paleologos over at the Vaults of Pandius recreated the original tournament adventure, along with some descriptions from the full 1982 S4 adventure and reformated it to fit the style of B1 to give us a "Holmes version of the Lost Caverns of Tsojconth."  This adventure is a tight 16 pages with two more pages for maps.  It feels like a late 70s offering.  Reading through it I do get the feeling that B1 and S4 could be bookends of a classic 70s adventure series.  All it is missing a nice monochrome cover.  I might need to mock one up someday.

Greyhawk Online has a side-by-side comparison of the 1976 Tsojconth and the 1982 Tsojcanth.

If you want to buy your own Noble Knight Games has one on sale for only $7,195.50. If you are worried that is overpriced it does come with the original zip-lock bag. 

Playing in Hyperborea

Normally at this point in my Revisted posts I would talk about using this adventure with other games.  But instead, I think I just want to focus purely on Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

A while back I posted about HS4 The Lost Caverns of Acheron, a Hyborian Age reskinning of S4 from the Hyborian Age site dedicated to the d20 Conan RPG.  They have a lot of adventures including some reskinned ones on their Adventures in the Hyborian Age page.  But it is S4 that interests me today.

Combining this idea with the Holmes flavored Tsojconth above you could have a perfect game for AS&SH.  The idea came to me while reading Eric Fabiaschi's Swords & Stitchery blog.   He even pointed to me that he had done exactly this. 

The pulp sensibilities of Gygax's adventures comes through in S4 with vampires in lost temples, ancient eldritch forces, and strange creatures from beyond.  Pairing this with AS&SH and the Lost Caverns of Acheron turns it up to 11 as it were. 

With its history of magic, archmages, witch queens, vampires, and demons it is no wonder that this is one of my favorite adventures. Like B1, it is one I like to come back to again and again. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! D is for Descent into the Depths of the Earth

D is for Descent into the Depths of the Earth

Growing up in the 80s it was not uncommon to have multiple, independent groups of people playing D&D.  I have fairly vivid recollections of different groups talking about this adventure or some other book.  But the epic of the time was GDQ series and everyone was playing it.  I'll talk about the Giants series on "G" day and Queen of the Demonweb pits on "Q" day.  But today I want to talk about the "D" series, Descent into the Depths of the Earth and Vault of the Drow.

Once upon a time, back in the days of Walkmen, MTV, and Rubik's Cubes, the Drow were not what we think of them today.  This was the Pre-Drizzt Do'Urden days.

For those that didn't live this at the time the Drow are dark elves, cursed to live underground and worship the demoness Lolth.  Elves were good, and fair and full of light.  Drow...not so much.  The big reveal of the Drow as the main enemies of the GDQ series of adventures is akin to the Classic Star Trek episode "The Balance of Terror" that introduces the Romulans as a big bad. Not just as another race, but an offshoot of the Vulcans.  Evil Vulcans if you will.  The drow were everything the elves are not and they are also the cause of the giants and the kuo-toa raids.

These two (originally three) adventures are the action sequences to the big plot build up, though even the drow are just pawns in a larger threat.

I have such great memories of these adventures. I started playing them, but like so many others I never finished them.  They are the next adventures for my kids and I in our "Come Endless Darkness" campaign.

The one thing I have struggled with though is we live in a post-Drizzt world now.  Drow are no longer the scary dark-elf threat of the unknown.  Today they are potential heroes and a viable race option.

I want to take the drow back to the days where they were a mostly unknown threat.  Also I have proposed a number of other changes to them as well.  Making them more blue in skin tone like the Morlocks of the Time Machine movie.

These days the drow you are most likely to run into are not so much evil, but more emo or goth elves.
I covered some of this a while back in my post "Drow should be Lawful Evil, among other things."  So instead of covering that ground again I will let that stand and move forward.

The nice thing about running these adventures so many years after the fact is there is a wealth of information about them out there.  I have read reviews, play-by-plays and even read the novelization by Paul Kidd.  The book was actually kind of fun and the characters, introduced in the earlier White Plume Mountain, are likable.   I am thinking of introducing Evelyn, the half-pixie ranger as my own homage to the novel.  She would be the daughter of the two main characters Escalla and The Justicar.

One of the best things about these adventures and the G series before and the Q after, is the number of really cool NPCs.  Top of that list has to be Eclavdra, drow priestess.  She has been described as being a priestess to Lolth, an attaché to Grazzt and even a convert to the worship of the Elder Elemental Eye, who in my game is another name for Tharizdûn.   This fits in so nicely with my plans that I feel the need to detail her more.

We know she is a drow and an exceptionally beautiful drow at that. She is introduced in the module G2.  Here is what is said about her there:

Eclavdra (10th level cleric/fighter; H.P.: 60, Wisdom 17, Dexterity 18, Constitution 10, Charisma 18; Armor Class -8 = +3 shield, +5 chainmail, and +4 dexterity bonus), the one who fomented all of the trouble.

The Vault of the Drow (D3) features her on the cover (see above) and describes her as a 10th/4th cleric/fighter.  These are of course AD&D 1 stats.  I am going to use here under D&D 5.   Also, I want to emphasize her "conversion" to Tharizdun more.   I am going to make her a 10th level Cleric/4th level Warlock with a Pact of the Blade and Tharizdûn as her patron.

To prepare I have also been buying up Drow minis.

Really, really looking forward to running these.


Friday, September 17, 2021

#FollowFriday Pauli Kidd and 'Lace and Steel'

It's another #FollowFriday!   Today I'd like to draw your attention a new RPG review site from a great "D&D" author.   

Pauli Kidd gave us the great Greyhawk novels White Plume MountainDescent into the Depths of the Earth, and Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

Pauli is still writing, but now she has a YouTube Review channel, Lace and Steel.

Lace and Steel

In particular, she has done some great sci-fi reviews.

Great stuff really.   And I am looking forward to more.

You can find Pauli online at:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sorry, I was OUTSIDE!

Yeah it's springtime in Chicagoland, which means it is just as cold as winter, but we have a few more hours of daylight.   I wanted to do some more White Plume Mountain today, but yardwork calls.

Though while cleaning out gutters today I did think of how first contact happened between the dwarves and human of my world.  Much better than the first contact between dwarves and elves.

Going out to fertilize the lawn now.  Who knows what I'll come up with then.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth

Today the boys wanted to play some D&D for Father's Day.  Really, how could I say no?

So we wrapped up the last bits of the return from White Plume mountain.  The boys went and visited Crazy Omar to collect their reward.  Omar got Whelm, as he wanted.  They traded Blackrazor for an equally notorious weapon from my world, the crossbow "Bessie Mauler" (yes, yes stolen from the Riftwar Cycle, but to be fair I stole it from my old DM and I had no idea he had stolen from somewhere else).

I also wanted to point out that they now had a crowd following them wherever they went.  After all they were the heroes that freed the Silver Princes and defeated Dragotha.  They are a long way from The Caves of the Stinky Goblin (the first adventure of the Dragonslayers).  I wanted them to feel like heroes.

Of course now they are a day's ride to the Horn of Iggwilv.  Omar has told them that great treasure awaits them in Iggwilv's lair.  They are free to keep the spell books, but Omar has his sight on "Iggwilv's Greatest Treasure" something so precious that she "wrapped in in gold".   Well Omar, or the boys yet, don't know that the rumors of the greatest treasure are referring to Drelzna and she is wrapped in gold.  Gold armor to be exact.

The made it up into the mountains.  They know there is a Gnome kingdom located in the mountains and they have just been abused by a group of Stone Giants tossing boulders at them.

I have had S4 forever and it is great to finally get a chance to run it.  I am using the original AD&D 1st ed version of this, along with the Iggwilv's Legacy update from WotC from 2007 (no longer online) and will include the Lost Temple of Tharizdun IF it seems like a good idea.  This adventure should take us well into Gen Con.

There is a blue dragon in this adventure and one in the next one I am planning, Death's Ride.  I am going to make them the same blue dragon.  It would be good to give them a reoccurring enemy.  And who better for the Dragonslayers than the Huge Blue Dragon Korbundar?

I am not planning on having them run into Iggwilv just yet.  Mostly I am torn on whether or not to make into a witch (one of my versions) or make her into a wizard.  She did study with the Circle of Eight and she does seem to be in every respect a wizard.  The easiest thing to do is cheat and wait till I am running 4e and just make her into a Warlock/Wizard multiclass.  A person of such history would be great to have in my games.  Wilva though is not a do-er, she is a manipulator. She has pawns.  I think this pic sums her up best.

I still have my Big PlanTM in motion for 4e and Iggwilv is a part of that.  So she is manipulating the Dragonslayers now to get them in place for her take over of the Abyss.  Turns out it will be their kids, but she can wait.

I just don't know if I can!  I want to play this all now!