Showing posts sorted by relevance for query tsojcanth. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query tsojcanth. Sort by date Show all posts

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.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Adventures in Hyperborea

Hat tip to Jason Vey for sharing these with me.

So if I know ANYTHING at all about Conan, likely it came from Jason Vey. In addition to being a top rate game designer, he is a Master's level scholar on Robert E. Howard.  So when he shares something related to Conan, or Howard or realted topics, I pay attention.

This week he shared this with me, Adventures of the Hyborian Age. This is an older site with adventures for the Mongoose d20 Conan game.  Jason is using this material for his OD&D-based Conan game which sounds fantastic.

He shared with me something he knew I would love. A Conan-flavored conversion of one of my favorite adventures of all time, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

The new adventure has a more Hyborian feel to it and draws heavily from Conan lore, in particular, Red Nails.

HS4 The Lost Caverns of Acheron

The adventure is, at it's heart, the same as S4.  Save now it has been reskinned for the Hyborian Age and all the background has been changed.

Now maybe I have been reading a lot of Eric Fabiaschi of late (or always really) but this sounds like a PERFECT adventure for  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea!

Eric has had a LOT to say about AS&SH (most of his blog) and S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  In fact he pulls in a lot of Jason Vey's own game, Amazing Adventures into the conversations too.

In fact, I am very curious to hear what Eric has to say about this adventure. (EDITED: I talked to Eric before this post went up. He has played it using AS&SH. He also pointed out my next point.)

Now AS&SH only takes us to level 12.  This adventure is right up against that level limit and might even be a bit more than a party can deal with. I would alter this by having a larger party to be honest or carefully scaling the encounters.

Outside of the Hyborian skin the biggest change is the Witch-Queen Xaltana.  She essentially combines the characters of Iggwilv and Drelzna into one.

So instead of this:


We get this:


It actually works out quite well. In fact, Xaltana is much more interesting than Drelzna ever was. (Sorry D!)

Appropriately the adventure takes on a more Clark Ashton Smith feel to it.  This plays so well into the sequel WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. Which could in like fashion be reskinned as The Forgotten Temple of Thasaidon. Hmm. Maybe that is something to try; borrowing heavily from The Tomb-Spawn.

She would make a great Witch Queen!  More on that later.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tharizdûn Link Round-up

Doing some more Tharizdûn related research.
I figure I can put this links in a document somewhere OR I could post them here for others to take advantage of and maybe even give some feedback.

From the D&D page at WotC
The Return of Elemental Evil
Monster Mythology
Zuggtmoy Demon Queen of Fungi

Greyhawk Grognard
Here are some other posts I consider "must read" on my goal to build this gigantic conspiracy of evil.
Grognardia 
Now gone longer than he was with us there are some good posts still to be found in James' output.


Power Score
No one does the deep dive like Sean does.
The History of Elemental Evil

YouTube: Dungeons and Dragons Lore: Gods of the Realms: Tharizdun (Video)

Interesting idea. Is Ravenloft the plane that imprisons Tharizdûn? Or was it caused by his dreams?

My own Tharizdûn label.

The Village of Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil
Links I am currently reading for "inspiration".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forgotten_Temple_of_Tharizdun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tharizdun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Ashton_Smith_deities#Thasaidon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghaunadaur#Ghaunadaur
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_Evils
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Tharizdun

EN World: 5e, Elder Elemental Eye,  Ghaunadaur, Tharizdun, and the Forgotten Realms.
EN World: 4e Stats
EN World: 3.5e stats
EN World: Theoparts of Tharizdun

Dragon Magazine #294, 3.0 stats for Tharizdun
Avatar of Tharizdun, 5e

http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=968

Giant in the Playground: Tharzidun

More soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Iggwilv, The Witch Queen of Perrenland

I have been doing some research on Iggwilv for my War of the Witch Queens adventure and as part of my prep for my kids finishing up "The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" (more on that tomorrow).

While working on these it occurred to me that what I really wanted was a "Power Score -like" treatise on Iggwilv as she has appeared in all editions of *D&D.  So I went to the source and to see what +Sean McG  had written on the subject.  The more I read and the more I thought about it the more it seemed like a good idea to collaborate with Sean and see what his touch would bring.  Sure enough, he did a bang up job.  You can read his post on Iggwilv today.

For my efforts, I want to do something I have wanted to do forever.  Convert Iggwilv to a Basic-Era style witch.   We know a lot about her and I am basing these stats mostly on her 3.x edition version from Dungeon Magazine #149.   In that she is a Chaotic Evil human Wizard 26 / Arch-mage 4 (30 total levels).  That grants her a lot of spells and powers.
For my version, I toning down her abilities (Int 38, Cha 28...fine for D&D 3.x, not Basic) but granting her the top level of witches I have, 36th level.  Truthfully I would have been happy with anything from 30 to 36, but I have not done a witch this high of level before here.

Iggwilv also has a number of unique spells.  These can be handled by adding them as Witch Rituals.  Which is really appropriate since is was the descriptions of the magic circles in the Demonomicon of Iggwilv from S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth that got me really thinking about doing a witch class.

Iggwilv, Witch Queen of Perrenland
36th level Witch, Daughter of Baba Yaga Tradition*
Female, Chaotic (Evil)

Strength 10
Intelligence 20
Wisdom 17
Dexterity 21
Constitution 19
Charisma 22

Saving Throws
Death Ray/Poison 2
Magic Wands 2
Paralysis, Polymorph 2
Dragon Breath 2
Rods, Staffs, Spells 2
+2 to all saves via Tastchti's Mark
+5 to all saves via Ring of Protection
+2 for Wisdom

Hit Points: 66
AC: -10
(leather armor +5, Bracers of Defense +3, Ring of Protection +5, Dex 21 -4, Tastchti's Mark -2)

THAC0: 6
(I know, THAC0 was not used in Basic D&D. You know what this means)

Occult Powers

Lesser: Familiar (Quasit, "Black Comet")
Minor: Kitchen Witchery
Medial: Detect Bloodline
Greater: Curse
Major: Shape Change
Superior: Longevity

Other Powers
Arcane Diversity: As a Daughter of Baba Yaga, Iggwilv may learn other arcane spells (Wizard, Necromancer, Illusionist). She can replace 1 Ritual spell per spell level with an arcane spell she has learned.  These spells must be learned like other magic-users and recorded in her Book of Shadows ("Iggwilv's Nethertome").
This also help's explain why she was hanging out with the Circle of Eight.  She wanted to steal their spells.

Tastchti's Mark:  This magical tattoo on Iggwilv's was inscribed by the Lilitu Tastchti.  Provides a continuous +2 bonus to her saves and armor class as per the Bless spell.

Spells
Cantrips (7): Alarm Ward, Arcane Mark, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Summon Vermin
1st (9+3): Bad Luck, Black Fire, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Darkness, Endure Elements, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Minor Fighting Prowess, Protection from Spirits, Silver Tongue
2nd (9+3): Agony, Biting Blade, Discord, Enthrall, Evil Eye, Ghost Touch, Hold Person, Invisibility, Mind Obscure, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile, Tasha's Hideous Laughter (Ritual)
3rd (9+3): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Circle of Respite, Dispel Magic, Feral Spirit, Ghost Ward, Lethe's Curse, Lifeblood, Magic Circle Against Undead, Toad Mind, Witch Wail, Witch Writing
4th (9+3): Abomination, Analyze Magic, Arcane Eye, Charm Monster, Divination, Ethereal Projection, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee, Undead Enslavement, Withering Touch
5th (9+2): Baleful Polymorph, Blade Dance, Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Endless Sleep, Greater Command, Hold Monster, Magic Jar, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue
6th (9+1): Anchoring Rite, Anti-magic Shell, Break the Spirit, Death Blade, Eye Bite, Ethereal Banishment, Mass Agony, Mislead, True Seeing, Dismissal (Ritual)
7th (9): Death Aura, Draw Forth the Soul, Greater Arcane Eye, Greater Blindness, Insanity, Wave of Mutilation, Binding (Ritual), Exaction (Ritual), Gate (Ritual)
8th (9): Astral Projection, Destroy Life, Greater Mislead, Mystic Barrier, Pit, Trap the Soul, Ensnarement (Ritual), Iggwilv's Lightning Cage (Ritual), Imprisonment (Ritual)

New Ritual Spells
These ritual spells often require the use of the appropriate magical circle and often the witch's familiar, which acts as a conduit to the magical energies summoned.

Some of these spells appear in the "Demonomicon of Iggwilv". Others in her Book of Shadows "Iggwilv's Nethertome".

Dismissal
Level: Witch Ritual 6
Ritual Requirement: see below
Range: One creature
Duration: Special
This spell forces an extraplanar creature back to its proper plane if it fails a Spells save. If the spell is successful, the creature is instantly whisked away, but there is a 20% chance of actually sending the subject to a plane other than its own.
The witch needs her ritual items and a proper magical circle drawn around herself.  She much also cut herself since blood powers the ritual.

Ensnarement
Level: Witch Ritual 8
Ritual Requirement: see below
Range: One creature
Duration: Special
This ritual works much like a Gate spell, save the creature gated in is trapped in a magical circle.  The creature gets a saving throw vs. Spells to avoid the ensnarement.
The witch can then demand a service from the creature for it's release.  When the service is somplete the creature will return to their own plane.
The spell ends when the witch has struck a bargin with the creature or if sunlight touches the magical circle. In both cases the creature will return to their home plane.  If the creature is held indefinitely they will get a new save vs. spells at Midnight.

Exaction
Level: Witch Ritual 7
Ritual Requirement: see below
Range: One creature
Duration: Special
A witch using this spell confronts a creature from another plane and requires of it some duty or quest.
The spell will not affect creatures with alignments greatly opposed to the witch's i.e. good vs. evil, law vs. chaos. Note that a true (absolute) neutral witch is greatly opposed to all other alignments, for the purposes of this spell. A creature which can be affected receives no saving throw, nor will magic resistance protect it. However, this spell does not affect deities or divine beings.
If the creature has received a great favor in the past from a person of the witch's alignment, the witch can name this as a reason for service. This requires that the witch know the personal history of the creature. If no past service is known to the witch, he or she must pledge a valuable gift or favor to the creature in return for its service.
In all cases, the reward promised by the witch must be equivalent to the service required from the creature. The spell then forces the creature to perform the service agreed upon. If the creature fails to perform the mission, it will suffer the penalties of the spells geas and quest simultaneously, until the mission is completed. Creatures cannot be compelled to obey self-destructive or suicidal commands.
When the service demanded from the creature is performed, it is instantly teleported to the witch's location. The witch must then perform the service or grant the reward agreed upon. When the creature's reward is granted, it is immediately sent back to its own plane.
If the witch reneges on the agreement, the creature has two options to choose from. Each is a part of the original spell and does not require magical ability or spell casting from the creature. Should the agreement be broken, the creature can place the witch under exaction. The witch receives no saving throw against this effect.  Otherwise, the creature can attack the witch. Should it choose to do  this, it will be totally unaffected by any spells cast by the witch.
The material components of this spell are, the witch's ritual tools, matter from the home plane of the creature from whom an exaction is required, and knowledge of the creature's nature or past actions; written on a page of parchment which is burned to seal the bargain.

Iggwilv's Lightning Cage
Level: Witch Ritual 8
Ritual Requirement: see below
Range: 25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels
Duration: 1 Hour + 1 turn per level
This spell is a variant of the 7th-level wizard spell forcecage, and it is identical to that spell except as follows:
First, the “bars” of force energy which form the cage are electrified. Any creature, whether inside or outside, who makes contact with the electrified bars or touches them with an object composed of metal or other conductive material, must save vs. spells or suffer 10d6+10 hp damage. A successful save reduces this damage by half, but the lightning cage is not dispelled, nor are its electrical effects.
Second, the floor of the lightning cage is composed of a solid “sheet” of force energy equal to a wall of force, but it is charged only on its outside surface.
Third, unlike a forcecage, Iggwilv’s lightning cage cannot be altered to form a solid cube of electrified walls of force.
Finally, the lightning cage does not require the ritual drawing of a square with powdered diamond as is necessary with a forcecage, but it does require a material component. This material component consists of a “wand” of amber (worth 100 gp), tipped with a transparent  gemstone worth at least 1,000 gp.

Baba Yaga and the young Natasha/Iggwilv by Vania Zouravliov
Tasha's Hideous Laughter
Level: Witch Ritual 2
Ritual Requirement: see below
Range: 25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels
Duration: 1 round per level
This spell afflicts the subject with uncontrollable laughter. It collapses into gales of manic laughter, falling prone. The subject can take no actions while laughing, but is not considered helpless. After the spell ends, it can act normally.
A creature with an Intelligence score of 2 or lower is not affected. A creature whose type is different from the caster’s receives a +4 bonus on its saving throw, because humor doesn’t “translate” well.
Ritual Component: Tiny tarts that are thrown at the target and a feather that is waved in the air.

I am pretty pleased with this to be honest. Certainly not someone I would mess with.

* I considered making her a part of the Malefic Tradition, but wanted her to have the Arcane Diversity.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! W is for World of Greyhawk

W is for World of Greyhawk.

The WG or World of Greyhawk adventures take place, naturally, in the World of Greyhawk.  This was the default setting of most of the 1st Edition AD&D adventures, and explicitly so for T, A, G, D and Q.
The first named adventure was WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, which I covered briefly on "S" day.  But wait, if it is the first why is it numbered "WG4"?    Well according to the ole' Wikipedia "WG1 was earmarked for The Village of Hommlet (T1), and WG2 was earmarked for The Temple of Elemental Evil (T1-4). WG3 was to be Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4), a loosely tied prequel to WG4."  So they do make a series of sorts.

WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure is an interesting one and might just be one of the last adventures Gary wrote for AD&D1 and TSR.  It is a high-level dungeon crawl featuring a unique demon and lots and lots of hack n' slash action.  It does feel like one of the older modules (though it was out in 1984 so it is "old" as well).   I could fit in with the TAGDQ series somewhere I am sure.  It could even be another one of the alternate worlds in Q1.

I don't know much about WG6 Isle of the Ape, save that is was one of the first adventures for characters above 18th level.

I do know about WG7 Castle Greyhawk.  WG7 was supposed to be another Gygax penned adventure, but it didn't happen like that.  Instead, we got a "joke" module.  The idea was sound, the levels get harder and harder with all sorts of strange monsters.  But is was played a huge joke.  At the time (when I was 15) I thought it was funny, but even running it I knew it was bad.  In the history of D&D Castle Greyhawk was a significant part of Gary's original game. For years we were teased with Castle Greyhawk but never got one. Even today we don't have the real thing.  This makes WG7 all that much worse really.  It's too bad really. The authors of WG7 do read like a who's-who of mid 80s game designers.

Of the others, only WG12 Vale of the Mage interests me these days.  I think it is because I was looking for more information of Greyhawk and the Vale of the Mage (home of the Valley Elves. No, I am serious) was one of those places I wanted more detail on.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! T is for Temple of Elemental Evil

T is for Temple of Elemental Evil.

Confession time.  I have never run or played through The Temple of Elemental Evil.
I think I was in the Village of Hommlet (T1) once, but that was back in the early, early days of the game.

Since then there have been three more updates and expansions to the T series.
I have read all of these. Recently I also read the novelization of the Temple of Elemental Evil and played part of the old Atari PC Game.  T1-4 also made the top 30 D&D adventures of all time.

So I have to admit I really want to run it now.  Though I want to tie it into my current D&D5 game.

Trouble is that the characters are now already 8th level and near the very end of the Slave Lords.  I didn't want to start with T1 because for me it was more important to start with B1 and B2.

So I have the T1-4 supermodule on PDF, but there is a lot going on that I am not a fan of.  Not that it isn't good, it is, but not what I need or want.  Plus I am no fan linking Zuggtmoy to the temple.  Her powers are not elemental in nature.  Plus I always liked the idea that some remnant of Tharizdun especially in the guise of the Elder Elemental Eye.  Maybe this is an elemental themed patron for a warlock.  The idea is of course to play into the larger "Come Endless Darkness" plot line.  So yes this evil is related to the larger evil. Which might be Tharizdun. At least that is what I have always considered over the years.  Turns out that +Joseph Bloch agrees with me.  I already did S4 and WG4, so I guess I am going in reverse.

As usual I have an embarrassment of riches. Too much material actually.

I found some 5e Conversion notes that look really nice. And I have a lot of choices when it comes to plots, ideas and adventures.  Of course I will use T1 The Village of Hommlet and likely a good portion of T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil.  Given my particular desire to make an easy job far more difficult I am also going to look at versions for other editions.
I read through most of those last night.  T1 is easy, T2 will be a bit more work.  I think I am going to steal a lot of ideas from Return and Princes of the Apocalypse.

While doing some research, I discovered this blog post that talked about T2 The Temple of Elemental Evil as promised  back before T1-4 came out.  It is a very interesting read to be honest. That is where the image to the right came from.

Here are some other posts I consider "must read" on my goal to build this gigantic conspiracy of evil.
To me "Expert" level (as listed on the T2 cover) is 4 to 14.   When I first had this idea I was going to go with a parallel group, now I think I just want to up the threats and have it after the Queen of the Demon-web pits.   Make it 14th to 20th level.

So it is settled.  Zuggtmoy is out. Tharizdûn is in.  What is his plan?
Simple. He wants out.  He has convinced all these different evil factions to blot out the sun and deliver the essences of gods to him they think they are going to obtain godhood, but in truth they will be freeing him.  Maybe each has a Shard of the Elder Elemental Eye.  Lolth has Air, Orcus has Earth, Dagon/Hydra has Water and someone else has fire.  I kinda want it to be Asmodeus, but that is a whole other issue really.

But I am leaving out the mindflayers.  Why Air for Lolth when she is underground?  Air represents what she has lost. Plus I like tying her to the Queen of Air and Darkness.

I know there are places I can put the Elemental Shard of Air in Q1.  I am sure I can find places in the D series for the Elemental Shard of Water.  That leaves Earth and Fire.

That's what I love about all these old adventures.  So much you can do with them.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Temple of Elemental Evil

Confession time.  I have never run or played through The Temple of Elemental Evil.
I think I was in the Villiage of Hommlet once, but that was back in the early, early days of the game.

So I have to admit I really want to run it now.  Though I want to tie it in to my current D&D5 game.
Trouble is that the characters are now already 7th level and in the middle of the Slave Lords.  I didn't want to start with T1 because for me it was more important to start with B1 and B2.

So I have the T1-4 supermodule on PDF, but there is a lot going on that I am not a fan of.  Not that it isn't good, it is, but not what I need or want.  Plus I am no fan linking Zuggtmoy to the temple.  Her powers are not elemental in nature.  Plus I always liked the idea that some remnant of Tharizdun especially in the guise of the Elder Elemental Eye.  Maybe this is an elemental themed patron for a warlock.  The idea is of course to play into the larger "Come Endless Darkness" plot line.  So yes this evil is related to the larger evil. Which might be Tharizdun. At least that is what I have always considered over the years.  Turns out that +Joseph Bloch agrees with me.  I already did S4 and WG4, so I guess I am going in reverse.

As usual I have an embarrassment of riches. Too much material actually.

I found some 5e Conversion notes that look really nice.
And I have a lot of choices when it comes to plots, ideas and adventures.
Of course I will use T1 The Village of Hommlet and likely a good portion of T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil.  Given my particular desire to make an easy job far more difficult I am also going to look at versions for other editions.
I read through most of those last night.  T1 is easy, T2 will be a bit more work.  I think I am going to steal a lot of ideas from Return and Princes of the Apocalyspe.

While doing some research, I discovered this blog post, http://sagaworkstudios.blogspot.com/2014_08_01_archive.html that talked about T2 The Temple of Elemental Evil as promised  back before T1-4 came out.  It is a very interesting read to be honest. That is where the image above came from.

Here are some other posts I consider "must read" on my goal to build this gigantic conspiracy of evil.
To me "Expert" level (as listed on the T2 cover) is 4 to 14.  But I am more likely to do 4 to 8.  Then the characters of this adventure will then join the other characters of the Order of the Platinum Dragon to move on to GDQ.

So it is settled.  Zuggtmoy is out. Tharizdun is in.  What is his plan?

Simple. He wants out.  He has convinced all these different evil factions to blot out the sun and deliver the essences of gods to him they think they are going to obtain godhood, but in truth they will be freeing him.  Maybe each has a piece of the Elder Elemental Eye.  Lolth has Air, Orcus has Earth, Dagon/Hydra has Water and someone else has fire.  I kinda want it to be Asmodeus.  But I am leaving out the mindflayers.  Why Air for Lolth when she is underground?  Air represents what she has lost. Plus I like tying her to the Queen of Air and Darkness.

This will also let me try some of the new material coming out for 5e.  Like +Mark Craddock's Dhampir TK Monk!

What have your experiences been?  What should I watch out for?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Playing In Hyperborea

I have been wanting to run a campaign using Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea for some time now.

+Eric Fabiaschi over at "Swords & Stitchery - Old Time Sewing & Table Top Rpg Blog" has been doing a great set of Retro-Reviews of what I have been dubbing my "Second Campaign"

N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God
U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
U2 Danger At Dunwater
U3 The Final Enemy
C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

Now I just need some adventures for levels 7-12/13 (I like the idea of going to 13).

Originally I had a bunch of desert themed adventures, but they really never felt right to me to be honest.  Maybe I should be looking towards some of the newer OSR adventures like The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence to fill out the other levels.

I like the idea of some stygian cult. Something that was a cross between Lovecraft, Howard and Clark Ashton Smith.  I think it might be fun if this cult was a Demogorgon cult too, just because.

He also reviewed some adventures I have already run or used under different systems.

B1 In Search of the Unknown
B3 Palace of the Silver Princess
B4 The Lost City
X1 Ilse of Dread
X2 Castle Amber
S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

If you get a chance, stop by his blog and read the reviews.

Edited to Add: U3

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time

Been kinda of obsessed with lists lately.  But this one does have a point for me.  A while back (2004 in fact) the Pazio run of Dungeon Magazine listed their top 30 adventures of all time.

I have been going through what I call the "Classical Canon" of D&D.  Not just so I have the experience of running them all, but so my kids can also enjoy these great adventures.  I also am looking for what makes a truly great D&D adventure; something that people still talk about years later.

Anyway here is the list with my thoughts.

30. The Ghost Tower of Inverness, 1980 (C2)
This is great one, but an odd one to run with a party in an ongoing campaign.  So I used it in my Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space playtest and ran it as "The Ghost Tower of Inverness, Illinois".  I used this as the location of the "Ghost Tower" which is actually a malfunctioning Time Beacon.

29. The Assassin’s Knot, 1983 (L2)
Personally I prefer L1, Secret of Bone Hill, but this is a great sequel and I can see why many people like it more than Bone Hill.  Assassin's Knot works well as a murder mystery, but not great if your players are wanting to go in a bust skulls.

28. The Lost City, 1982 (B4)
I played this one in 8th Grade when it was new and had a blast.  I ran it again for my kids a few years back and still had a blast.  There were so many things in it I had forgotten and I spent most of the module smiling to myself in memory.  It is a Moldvay classic really and really has the feel of early 80s Basic D&D.

27. The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, 1981 (U1)
This was one I played back in the day but I have yet to run.  I have it all ready to go with my 3rd Ed. conversion notes.  Of course at the time I thought this was great because I was deep into my Anglophilia and I thought ANYTHING from England was perfect. Given that it was written (in part) by Don Turnbull then it was bound to be good.  If I remember right I played this one after Lost City.  I loved the tenor and mood of the module. It inspired an adventure I wrote in 88 called "Home by the Sea".  Parts of that adventure were then later used in my Ghosts of Albion adventure Blight, which took place in Ireland.  So it all came full circle.

26. City of Skulls, 1993 (WGR6)
This is an odd one. I never played it, never ran it and never really heard anything about it.  This was near the end of my Ravenloft games and very, very close to the time where I took a huge break from D&D.  I will check it out sometime, but doubt if I'll ever run it.

25. Dragons of Despair, 1984 (DL1)
I never played or ran any of the Dragonlance modules.  I enjoyed the books when they came out and I liked the idea that everyone playing was going through it all at the same time.  Hey, maybe someone should revive this for the next D&D Encounters!  I loved the idea and I loved the new design of the modules, but even then it felt a little railroady to me.  Plus I wanted to use my own characters.

24. City of the Spider Queen, 2002
I am not a good judge of this one. I don't like Drizzt. I don't like R.A. Salvatore. I never really cared for the Forgotten Realms till about 4th Edition.  I don't really know anything about this module. I suspect it was added to the list because there was a dearth of "modern" adventures and most of the others were "Greyhawk" related.

23. The Forgotten Temple of Tharzidun, 1982 (WG4)
Now this adventure...This one I can get behind.  I never played this one, but I have run it twice. It's a death dealer and a peak into what might have been coming as a narrative arc if Gygax had been into such things.  This module is one of out first peeks into the horror that is Tharzidun, a god that is part Cthulhu and part Satan in my game.  I am weaving material from this module into my larger campaign.

22. The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, 1982 (S4)
The same is true for this module. I remember buying it as soon as it came out and I begged my DM to run me through it.  I have run it myself twice since, the most recent time with my Dragonslayers group.  This is one of my most favorite modules. It has a vampire, Iggwilv, tons of new demons (many that later became part of the Monster Manual II) and just enough puzzles to keep the players on their toes. Running it this last time was a lot of fun.

21. Dark Tower, 1979 from Judge’s Guild (JG 0088)
While I would argue that this is an obligatory JG entry, this one is actually a lot of fun.  I never played it myself and it is so rare on eBay that it has been cost prohibative.  Thankfully we have PDFs of the Original and of the 3.5 update.

20. Scourge of the Slave Lords, 1986 (A1-4)
Another classic getting the reprint treatment.  I remember playing this one in 8th grade as well.  My DM at the time folded the Lost City into the A series to make a campaign out of them. Also he had a copy of Grimtooth's Traps which made everything deadlier. Or as he said "better".  I still have a thief stuck somewhere in a pit trap.

19. Against the Cult of the Reptile God, 1982 (N1)
I have never played or run this one.   I have though always wanted to use it as a start of a "Second" campaign,  After running the Classical Canon, I would start with a new campaign focusing on reptiles as the enemy.  Work in some modern "Reptoids" and have a go at it.  Maybe someday I will still do this.  But this is a fun adventure to read.

18. The Hidden Shrine of Tamochan, 1980 (C1)
Another great old module I never played, but read many times.  Like N1 I always hoped that I could use this one as part of a second campaign.  Though given some of the elements I would not be amiss using it in my "Come Endless Darkness" campaign.  I already have too many modules/adventures for the 5-7 level range.

17. Ruins of Undermountain, 1991
Ah. This is one that I have always known about but never really bothered with.  It was Forgotten Realms so I never gave it much thought.  Though I always thought this was more of a campaign expansion, ie part of the the whole Underdark deal so I never considered it an adventure.

16. Isle of Dread, 1980 (X1)
Oh the hours I spent pouring over this map.  This was Tom Moldvay's love letter to the pulp era and to such classic horror movies as King Kong. This also included the first full map of the Known World.  I ran it many times as a kid and it was one of the first modules I ran for my son.  He wanted to go an island of monsters, "like in Godzilla".  This did not disappoint him or me.  More so than any other adventure, the Dragonslayers were born here.

15. Castle Amber, 1981 (X2)
Another great. Again Moldvay's pulp horror influences are showing here, in particular his love for the works of Clark Ashton Smith. This time we enter an old house full of crazy characters and plenty of dangers.  This could have come off as a "fun house" dungeon, but something in the presentation is different.  Maybe it is the undertones of horror and dread.   My players in our 5e game are going through this one now. I have dropped the first hints of the "coming darkness" to them here.
This is one of my personal favorites. Certainly part of my top 5.

14. Dead Gods, 1997
Dead Gods is not an adventure I have ever run or been in, but it is one I have used quite a bit.  There are a number of elements in it that I use for my "Rise of Orcus" plot. Especially back in the 4e days and the rise of Orcus adventures.  Honestly there are enough adventures out there that you could build a universe (and edition) spanning mega campaign on nothing more than stopping the machinations of Orcus.  One day I should give that a try.

13. Dwellers of the Forbidden City, 1981 (I1)
This is a great adventure and part of my "Second Campaign" (AGGHHH too many adventures to play!) it is also at the 4th-7th level sweet spot.  This one is a key part of that idea since it introduced the Yuan-ti, a monster I have used repeatedly; often calling them Ophidians.   It has elements that would fit in nicely with my 5th edition group, but I have too many adventures for this level.

12. The Forge of Fury, 2000
So this is our obligatory 3e adventure I think.  I never played it or ran it, thought I have read it.  Personally I think The Sunless Citadel was better and should have been on this list.  It was the first and introduced a generation to Meepo.  Sure he was no Aleena, but you could also say that Aleena was no Meepo!

11. The Gates of Firestorm Peak, 1996
Ugh.  Sorry, but there is a lot about this module I just don't like.  I don't care for the shoehorn plot for starters and I hated the Skills & Powers books. Som much that it threw me off of D&D till 3e came out.  It was "Lovecraftian" and I did like that.  I suspect that is why it is on this list to be honest. Though many of the ideas in this module came into sharper focus during the 3e years.

10. Return to the Tomb of Horrors, 1998
You have to admit. This is a total cheat.  I have it, I enjoyed it and I like the idea that the Tomb is something that people can keep going back too (whatever the edition).  As a sequel there is a lot to like. As a stand alone and on it's own merits though it might be passable.

9. White Plume Mountain, 1979 (S2)
I am inordinately fond of the S series of modules.  This one is no different.  It of course makes 0 sense, but works great as an epic D&D adventure. Plus it gave us Wave, Whelm and Blackrazor.

8. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, 2001
In many ways I like this one better than the original. I like the idea of returning to the Temple I also like the idea of talking in game about adventures that came before.  Gives me a sense of continuity.   This is one of my favorite 3.x era modules to be honest.

7. The Keep on the Borderlands, 1979 (B1)
What can I honestly say about this one?  The Cave of Chaos were as well traveled as a local Mall in the 1980s.   When I think "Classic Canon" this is the first thing that comes to mind.

6. The Desert of Desolation, 1987 (I3-5)
Another total cheat this "super" module is made up of Pharoah (I3), Oasis of the White Palm (I4) and Lost Tomb of Martek (I5).   Though to be totally fair they are linked together. Another really great set of adventures I would LOVE to play or run (read them many times) but not likely to.  Maybe if I do my "Second Campaign".  There is a lot in these I have used elsewhere though.

5. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, 1980 (S3)
"You know what AD&D needs?  Freaking laser guns! Lasers and killer robots!"  Seriously. Has there ever been a module to encapsulate everything the late 70s and early 80s was all about more than this one?  It even has a karate instructor robot.  I am going to add in a break-dancing robot that moves to a funky Herbie Hancock beat when I run this next.  Which should be soon. I am going totally gonzo with it too. I am grabbing bits of Gamma World and Metamorphosis Alpha too.   In fact since the characters are higher level than the module requires I am doing a sort of "Return to the Barrier Peaks" spin on it. I am going to add some material from The Illithiad as well.

4. The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985 (T1-4)
Another of the classic canon. If you didn't start your adventure in the keep, then chances are you started it here.  I have always wanted to run this one and never have.  I have used pieces of it before.
I suppose if I do my "second campaign" I will start with this and change the temple a bit.

3. Tomb of Horrors, 1978 (S1)
We just finished this one and it was every bit the meat grinder it was rumored to be.  I had gone through back in the day, but running it was a completely different experience.  Now I might be branded as a heretic here but it is not really that good of an adventure.  Really it isn't. There are lot things in the adventure that don't make sense except in a D&D world.  That being said it is a rite of passage and everyone should try it at least once under their favorite edition or at least once under 1st ed as Gary intended it to be.

2. Ravenloft, 1983 (I6)
Here we go. This is my favorite module on the list. I just love it; warts and all.  Yeah there are some real leaps in logic in this one and there are plenty of reasons NOT to like it, but I don't care. I think it is great. It's a Hammer Horror film in D&D form right down to the small "Hammer Hamlet" village with terrified peasants.  There are vampires, gypsies, werewolves, really strong zombies, gargoyles. Even a huge pipe organ played by the vampire.  You can almost hear Toccata and Fugue in D minor while running it. I have played through this once and I have ran it three or four times.  I would love to try it sometime under the Ghosts of Albion rules.  I am going to take my 5e group through it when they complete Castle Amber.

1. Queen of Spiders, 1986 (G1-3, D1-3, Q1)
The first AD&D campaign arc.  We talk alot about being "plot free" in our adventures but when it get right down to it we love a good story arc and the GDQ was that.  I am not 100% sure that Q1 lived up the promise of the G and D series, but damn was it fun.
This super module was made up of:


Back in the day EVERYONE was going through this. It was the D&D Encounters of it's time.  The only problem was no one was doing it at exactly the same time or way.  So I know dozens of stories about how these turned out. I have dozens of my own.  Plus that Bill Willingham cover of the Giants is one of the most iconic covers of the age I think.

There you are. The 30 greatest adventures as ranked by Dungeon Magazine.
Do you agree or disagree?  What is missing?

Here are my honorable mentions.

In Search of the Unknown, 1978 (B1)
Every adventure starts somewhere. Mine usually start here.  This is my go to module for a quick a easy sandbox style dungeon crawl.  I have run it half a dozen times or more with new groups and it is always a thrill.

Palace of the Silver Princess, 1981 (B3)
Yes it is a rather silly adventure, but I really enjoy it.  Plus the backstory on it makes it a lot more fun.

Palace of the Vampire Queen, 1976 from WeeWarriors (V2)
The first ever published adventure or "DM's Kit" as it was called then.  What it lacks detail it makes up for in style.  I have ran this one twice now under various systems.  It works with everything to be honest; it is that sandboxy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Found my Gen Con Game

Every time I have taken my kids to Gen Con we have started a new adventure.
I like to pull from the classics no matter what it is I am playing.  So in the past we have done S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and B2 Keep on the Borderlands.

This year it is going to be L1 The Secret of Bone Hill!


I am rather fond of this adventure and have figured out some new tweeks to it to make it work great in my kids' AD&D game.  Plus I have a bunch of Len Lakofka's material from Dragon that I want to port into this.

Should be a blast!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Return to the Tomb! Part 2

Like I reported Friday I picked up the "new" Dungeons of Dread.



The format is the same as the new AD&D book reprints.  It is a reproduction of the S modules interior from the late 70s/early 80s.  Unlike the Realms of Horror, the 1987 compilation of the the S series, these are exact replicas.  The book has been re-paginated to accommodate the newer format.

The pages are a bit glossy and remind me of the newer D&D 4 books, like Tomb of Horrors below.



You might not be able to see this as well, but the print on the new book is darker and a little less clear.   The picture of the Aludemon was the worse example I could find.   It's not bad, just a little harder to see the details.


The portions of the modules that were "pull out" like maps, the visual guide to Tomb of Horrors and Expedition Beyond the Barrier Peaks and the new monsters and spells booklet for S4 are all bound in int he book.  The 87 Realms of Horror had it as a seperate booklet.

So what is the verdict?

Well it's mixed.  The S series were "my" modules.  These are the ones I ran in my group in High School and I recently had so much fun with them when I took my kids through White Plume Mountain and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  One day I will take them through the Tomb of Horrors, I have a copy for every edition of the game and certain the Barrier Peaks.  So yeah, I love these crazy ass adventures.
But this book is not the best way to the run them.
It's a great book for the 40+ year old geek that enjoys reading these things. I love that these books are getting made.  I also enjoyed the new introduction by  Lawrence Schick that gave some insight to the writing of the modules.

Honestly I think the best modern form of the old modules are the ones you can get from DnDClassics.com.
I can buy the PDF for cheap and print out what I need.  Often I print out player's maps and I usually print out a page per sheet (not a page per side) so I can write notes on the blank backsides of the pages.   I can then through the whole thing in a 3-Ring binder with any other material I need (such as monster page from the Tome of Horror).

Still though.  I am still considering getting the others.  I know the A series is up next.  I never owned copy of the original modules so I might get that.  I have not seen the GDQ modules on the products page, but I grabbed the PDFs.

Still though. Tomb of Horrors in it's original 1st deadliness.  That's gotta be worth something. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dragonslayers: An Epic Epic of Epicness

So after my Book of Vile Darkness enhanced version of S4:The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth, the characters all for the most part hit 20th level and frankly I don't want to stop.

So I am pouring over the Epic Level Handbook now.  This is not something I used back when I was play 3.x, and it has taken this long for the boys to get to this level.  I have some issues with it, for example the editing seems bad in places. But man this book is just full of great ideas.  Some of which would be great for Epic Level Play in D&D4 or 20+ level in D&D Bacic/BECMI.
Really it is kind of a fascinating book.  It takes the rules into places the original designers I don't think expected, but yet there is such an enthusiasm for it that it makes the reality of a 30-level D&D4 a no brainer.

They have not leveled up yet, they are still in the caves.  I am merging the 3.x rewrite of the LSotT with the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdûn.  I now have the temple far, far underground where the dengerate Norkers dwell and keep millennia old rituals alive to a God no one remembers.  There will be demons, monsters of pure chaos and all sorts of evil.  Maybe even a rogue Brain Collector.  Love those guys.

To keep the sense of evil, dread and most importantly fear, I am still going to use the Book of Vile Darkness (both the 3.0 and 4.0 versions) but I'll also include some elder scariness from the Epic Level Handbook too.

The idea here is to build to something big, apocalyptic even.  That is why I bought this thing.


The Mage Knight Apocalypse Dragon to stand in for the full Goddess form of Tiamat.  That is the 3.x era Aspect of Tiamat and the 4e Orcus.   I am not sure how powerful she is going to be, but I am expecting HP in the low 1000 area, at least 30-35 HD and enough magic the stomp a small city-state.  I want it to be so epic that the boys will tell their own kids one day.  Just like the time that my characters had to defeat Orcus in the original H4 Throne of Bloodstone back in that far off time of 1987 and that mystical land sages once spoke of, Southern Illinois.

But since I also want to make all the battles leading up to this one epic in feel I am also reading other's play experience with these two modules.

Beedo over at Dreams of the Lich House has a great post on his group's battle in the Temple of Tharizdun.  This is a great run down and shows that all in not quiet in this so-called Forgotten temple.  James of Grognardia gives us his retrospective as well.  What both bloggers offer me is something I already knew, but was glad to see it all spelled out again.  The Forgotten Temple is not a simple dungeon crawl. Sure it looks like one, but it isn't one. This is alien horror.  This is Lovecraft meets the Satan Pit.
There is no over ridding goal to this adventure.  This is uncovering a plot and then running the hell away. I'll give them chances to acquire some magic items, even face some ancient, eldritch evils.

If I ever do Tharizdûn it will have to be even bigger than the Tiamat battle.


Tharizdun. Now there is name.  You don't need to know anything else about this guy other than his name to know he is up to no good.

In Gygax's Oerth he is the next best (worst) thing to Satan.  He is the Source of All Evil, to borrow a page from Charmed.  He is the biggest baddie there is.  I'll take his "Satan" aspects and his "Thasaidon" aspects and maybe even pepper in a bit of Lovecraft for good measure.

Links I am currently reading for "inspiration".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forgotten_Temple_of_Tharizdun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tharizdun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Ashton_Smith_deities#Thasaidon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghaunadaur#Ghaunadaur
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_Evils
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Tharizdun
http://www.canonfire.com/wiki/index.php?title=Tharizdun
http://www.canonfire.com/wiki/index.php?title=Elder_Elemental_Eye
http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=968
http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/11/retrospective-forgotten-temple-of.html
http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2010/08/pulp-fantasy-library-dark-eidolon.html
http://ulmo.mux.net/greyhawk/tharizdun.html

Anyone else run an Epic level game?  Or take on the Temple of Tharizdun.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth, Finale

Last night the Dragonslayers (aka my kids) finished up the Greater Caverns to discover Iggwilv's greatest treasure and fight Drelnza.  I was considering to bring her back, but she was so completely destroyed that I just can't imagine how she would do it.


The boys did great really, I am very pleased how they played.  I was amazed how well my youngest did.  He figured out the secret of the central doors really fast and had a really good sense of direction.  We used minis of course, but not for the entire dungeon, just the battles.  They got the Lanthorn, the Prison, and all her books of magic.  Everyone leveled up one level.

Of course the boys had a  great time and we even got to play past bedtime. They woke up today and wanted to get right back into it.  That is the sign of a good adventure.

Now I need to figure out what the guys are going to do next.  I'd love to move on to the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, but I am anxious to get them to the big battle against Tiamat.

For that I am considering using the old H4 Throne of Bloodstone, but not sure yet.

Here are the previous posts in this series.



Tomorrow. Something special!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Dragonslayers and the Books of Vile Darkness

The Dragonslayers are currently wandering around the Greater Caverns of Iggwilv's lair (The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth).

They have been sent to recover the rumored "Golden Treasure of Iggwilv" which of course is Drelzna.  I am of course keeping all the treasure (Demonomicon, the 6 books, Prison and Lanthorn) but I am also throwing in a copy of the Book of Vile Drakness.

I have been using the 3.0 version to expand the monster choices in the dungeon, figuring Iggwilv would have bound some demonic creatures to her lair.  Plus, the original S4 introduced a lot of new demons to the 1st Ed Game and the BoVD added more to the 3rd ed game.

So I picked up the 4th Ed Book of Vile Darkness over the weekend to help buff up what would be in the game world version.

I have to admit, the 4e one does not compare to either the 3.0 version OR the 4e Demonomicon.
The 4e version is fine, don't get me wrong, but it lacks the gravitas the 3.0 version had.

It's not that the 3.0 is more graphic (graphic is not the same thing as useful or good) but it suffers from the basic fact that all the ideas that should be in have already appeared somewhere else.

I'll use the props that came with the 4e version, and I'll expand the 3.0 version to include the 4e (And really converting between the two systems is not that hard).  I'll use the monsters in the lower levels, espcially if I plan to add on the Thaizdun bits.

Plus the Dragonslayers need the book because it has a ritual to summon Tiamat.  They are all god characters, and the ritual requires the sacrifice of a "Rainbow Dragon" which at the moment they think is a Chaotic good faerie dragon.  Have not decided about that one yet.  They are just kids afterall.

Did I get my money's worth for the 4e book?  Yeah, I feel that I did. There are some very neat ideas and some cool things for a 4e game.  Not as much as I would have hoped for though.

Of course if I use the book in 3e, should I turn around and have it reappear in 4e or 5e?  No idea yet.  Let me get done with 3e first.

Oh. And my oldest son wants to go back to Mentzer Basic.  It figures really, I have tried to push Moldvay/Cook Basic D&D on him for so long that naturally he would only be interested in the one box I never really pull out.


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