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

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Classic Adventures Revisited: Palace of the Vampire Queen

In this new series of posts, I want to look back at some of my favorite classic adventures both from TSR and others.  I'll give a review, though most everyone knows what is in these adventures by now, I'll also talk about how I have used them in the past and I'll also talk about what other games I have used them with or would like too.  So there is a little bit of Plays Well With Others in this too.

Why do classic adventures? Easy, I love these adventures.  I have written hundreds of my own adventures, some I have even published, but these are the adventures that everyone knows and we all have a history with them.

So to start off this series, what better adventure than the one that started it all?


Palace of the Vampire Queen

In the beginning, there was a belief that all DMs would naturally create all their own adventures and there was no market for pre-written ones.  The only printed adventure out at this time was "Temple of the Frog" in Blackmoor.  Seeing a need, the Palace of the Vampire Queen was written by Pete and Judy Kerestan. Yes, the very first adventure was co-written by a woman.
The first edition was self-published, followed by a second and third edition by Wee Warriors (1976 and 1977) and distributed exclusively by TSR.

The "Dungeon Master's Kit" (module was not being used yet) presented a simple adventure with a singular goal; defeat the Vampire Queen.  The plot, such as it is, is very thin even by the standards of what would later be the norm.  The maps are fantastic, but the descriptions are little more than that; what's in the room in terms of monster and treasure.  We get a background, the missing princess of the Dwarf King Arman of Baylor. Vampire Queen herself remains nameless.


The adventure itself is fairly straight forward.  Go to the Palace, defeat the monsters and the Vampire Queen and save the Dwarven Princess.

Despite, or maybe because of, this limited background this adventure can be used anywhere with nearly every version of the game.   I became aware of this adventure many years ago and it immediately went on to my "must find" list. Around 10 years ago I was able to get a copy and I ran it for a group using Moldvay Basic/ Cook Expert (BX) D&D.  It was a lot of fun.  There was no indication on how many characters were needed or what levels.

The adventure reminds me a bit of the Dungeon! board game.  You walk the halls, kick in the door, kill the monster, take the treasure, repeat.  Of course, this adventure is the first of such adventures so it gets a huge pass on this.  There is a lot though here to keep any DM and party busy.

Since 1976 the adventure has had a few reprints.  The first ones were by Wee Warriors.  These prints regularly go for over $1,000.00 on eBay.   There were two such covers, the "black" cover with a castle in the background and the "queen" cover, featuring the vampire queen herself.


The covers were folders with a pocket for notes or other sheets.  I nice idea and one I have used myself. Many of the early prints were 8.5" x 11", some later prints were digest-sized, 5.5" x 8.5" same as the OD&D books.

The next major set of reprints was made by North Texas RPG Con and Pacesetter Games and Simulations who printed a fairly accurate representation of the original back cover in digest format and then later a letter-sized one with images from all the covers.


While they are not the originals, but the content is all there and these were much cheaper.

Now today, Precis Intermedia has a new cleaned up reprint of the adventure.



Daughters of Darkness: Sequels to the Vampire Queen
As can be imagined such a classic adventure has had a number of sequels and homages.

North Texas RPG Con
This is the reprint of the original.  It is a fairly faithful reproduction of the 1977 version of the black cover version.  The first digest-sized version was a fairly faithful reproduction save for the NTRPG Con watermark on every page.  The digest size makes it perfect for use with OD&D, S&W, OSE or other OSR games.


To my knowledge there are no more of this print available save for on eBay and other game auctions.

Pacesetter Games

The first round of reprints and sequels after Wee Warriors came from Pacesetter Games & Simulations.



V2 Palace of the Vampire Queen

This printing was more properly letter-sized, the same as the original and features many of the cover variations on the cover of this edition.
This edition also includes introductions from the author Peter Kerestan and Pacesetter's Bill Barsh. Here we learned that the very first edition was printed by Peter himself with a printing press!
Here we also get a fair reproduction of the original.  After the introductions and the adventure background, we get to the levels proper.  On the two pages are the original maps and descriptions and on the following pages are "updated" AD&D 1st ed stats. These new pages usually cover 3-4 more pages till the next map. This repeats for all five levels.  On the new pages, a little more explanation is given and there is new art.  This makes for a fuller product and detracts none of the original charms.

Print at Pacesetter.

V5 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Castle Blood
The first sequel to PotVQ is Castle Blood.  Now here we get more modern adventure designs and maps. There is more background here too to hook the players in,
The adventure is brief, but it is supposed to be, at just 16 pages. It can be run in an afternoon.  I actually felt this worked better as a prequel to the PotVQ.  You learn more about her history here. The eponymous castle is all detailed and above ground.  You can meet the Vampire Queen here, but killing her is not the goal of this adventure, but rather finding out what is going on.
PDF at DriveThruRPG and Print at Pacesetter.

V6 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Crypts of the Living
Crypts of the Living was written as an explicit sequel to the Palace of the Vampire Queen and makes more overt references to the first adventure.  The booklet, 16 pages worth, says it is designed for 5th Edition, but all the stats are for OSRIC/1st Edition.  No worries. Converting is easy.
There are references to both the Palace of the Vampire Queen and Castle Blood.  The other adventures are not 100% required to play this one, but it does help.
The adventure is a fairly straight forward exploration affair.  There are new monsters and new magic items so that is a nice bonus. Can be played in an afternoon or combined with the others for a longer campaign.
PDF at DriveThruRPG and Print at Pacesetter.

V7 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Cries of the Tormented
This one is not presently available and I don't seem to have a copy oddly enough.
Print at Pacesetter.


Precis Intermedia
Palace of the Vampire Queen
This version of the adventure also preserves much of what made the original a classic.  The PDF of this book has a "special feature" to show a reprint of the original NSFW art.  The print copy is all paper, with the cover made out of heavier weight paper (like résumé paper).
At 24 pages it might be the most faithful reproduction yet.  While the cover is new art, the interior looks like the classic.  No additions have been made to the text. The maps are cleaned up, darker ink and clearer to read.





Other Vampire Queens
Dark Wizard Games gave us the fantastic Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen. But I have talked about that adventure many places here. Most of my posts on this are captured below.

0one's Blueprints: Megadungeons - Palace of the Vampire Queen
This product is a pretty bare-bones affair, and that is exactly why you want to get it.  You get 7 pages of "Blue" maps and 7 pages of black and white maps covering over 210 rooms.  The rooms are labeled but that is all the description you get.  There are sheets for you to detail the rooms with monsters, occupants, and treasure.  This is perfect if you want to create a mega-palace for our mysterious Vampire Queen and stock it full of her undead minions.  At just under $2.00 it is a steal.

Other Games / Plays Well With Others

The strength of this adventure is how easy you can adapt it to nearly anything.  The adventure itself, regardless of which one you have, is so bare-bones it begs to be adapted and added too.  I have run this both for Basic, B/X D&D and for D&D 5th edition with no problems.  The level of characters can be adapted to easily with the challenges and the monsters you add.




Palace of the Vampire Queen and D&D5
Converting for D&D is easy. What might be more fun is to run something like Curse of Strahd, but replace the count with a Queen.


Palace of the Vampire Queen and Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
This is the easiest of all really.  AS&SH is close enough to AD&D with hints of Basic to make it possible to run this without any conversions at all.
How to run it?  Well all I can say is have you ever read the Conan stories "Red Nails" or "Hour of the Dragon".  The queen would make for a good stand-in for Akivasha.



Palace of the Vampire Queen and Blue Rose
Ah. Now this one has a bit more going on for it.  This is no simple dungeon crawl, to play this one the Vampire Queen is in a battle of wills or "chess game" with the Sovereign, Queen Jaellin. This style of adventure would play heavily on the investigation skills of the envoys/characters.   Our Vampire Queen might even be known as a vampire even, just as a new ruler of a previously unknown island (Baylor).  Of course, you have your suspicions and you are fairly sure there is a strong taint of shadow about the land.



Palace of the Vampire Queen and Buffy,  Ghosts of Albion or Leagues of Gothic Horror
Here is something fun.  A twist on the Dracula story.  The cast comes to an old palace in the mountains from their home.  Expecting an old Lord they are instead greeted by a woman, the Lady of the castle.  Here the horror begins.
Both game systems have plenty of creatures and elements to cover everything in the adventure.  What you as the game master will need to do is smooth out some "D&D" elements and add some gothic elements, but that is so easy that I can't decide which one would be more fun Unisystem or Ubiquity.
All three would be fun to try sometime.




One could get easily lost in the potential of this adventure.  I do hope that future reviews of classic adventures prove to be just as fruitful.

Links
Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_the_Vampire_Queen
The Acaeum, https://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/modpages/dmk.html

Links to Adventures
Links to my 'Vampire Queen' posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Darlessa the Vampire Queen

I have had a long and sorted history with the "Vampire Queen" in my games.

One of the first adventures I worked on for OSR publication was called "The Tomb of the Vampire Princess" or "Vampire Queen" or "Palace" depending on my mood at the time.

I essentially saw it as a sequel of sorts to the original Wee Warriors / Pacesetter Games "Palace of the Vampire Queen".  But a few things happened. First Mark Taormino published his own "Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen" which was AWESOME.  Then Bill Barsh of Pacesetter Games produced some sequels of his own with Castle Blood and Crypts of the Living.
So the need for my own sequel dwindled.

A couple years back Small Niche Games produced Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall. I had the pleasure of working on that product.  I submitted a character to be "Saint" in the game, Father Johan Werper, my very first D&D character ever.  When I got my copy I was so thrilled. Something I had wanted to happen for ages was going to happen, Johan was going to be a real saint in a "D&D" book! I opened it up and I was not disappointed at all!  Moreover the book's main author and designer Pete Spahn had added this section:
He died in a tragic tale that is recounted in the Hunt for the Dark Mistress, where he tracked down and slew Darlessa the Vampire Queen who had abducted his granddaughter.
Unfortunately, Johan was himself cursed by the taint of the vampire's blood. Rather than remain an undead abomination, he bid goodbye to his granddaughter and used the last of his strength to douse his body with oil and set himself alight.
Pete never contacted me about this and I could not have been happier!  Without knowing it he included things that happened in my game; Johan dying and leaving his granddaughter, Celene, behind (Celene was my first 2nd Ed character, and afraid of the dark.  Now I know why).  The use of holy oil in my games (does 1d8 damage to undead; more when lit) and of course giving a name to an enemy that had been lurking in the back of my mind ever since I first read about Elizabeth Bathory.

It was like throwing a deck of cards into the air and having them land in a perfect house of cards.

So modules V5 and V6 combined will cover a lot of similar territory to what I was going to do in my adventure. So I'll just drop that and keep the elements that are new.  The opening of the crypts.

I have a stack of various notes, maps, ideas and going through them all I think I have something pretty cool here.  I'll have to get it all together in time for my annual Halloween horror game.

Right now the working title is Descent into the Crypts of the Vampire Queen. It will be my homage to the great adventures of the Golden Era but also a nod to the two Vampire Queen adventures that brought me so much joy.

Here she is for Advanced Labyrinth Lord.

Darlessa, The Queen of Vampires
Female Vampire Witch, Demonic Tradition
No. Enc.: 1 (Unique)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
   Fly: 180’ (60’)
Armor Class: -5 (bracers of defense, amulet of protection, ring of protection)
Hit Dice: 13
Attacks: 1 (touch, see below) or spell
Damage: 1d10, drain 2 points of Constitution, witch Spells
Save: W13
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XXII
XP: 11,400

Str: 18 Int: 15 Wis: 14 Dex: 18 Con: (18) Cha: 22

In addition to the powers of a vampire, Darlessa has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts as a 13th level witch.

Spells by Level
Cantrip (3+5): Alarm Ward, Black Flame, Daze, Knot, Mend, Mote of Light, Object Reading, Spark
1st (4+3): Burning Hands, Cause Fear, Everlasting Candle, Hecate's Spiritual Dog, Minor Curse, Read Languages
2nd (4+3): Agony, Bewitch II, Burning Gaze, Enthrall, Ghost Touch, Produce Flame, Rite of Remote Seeing
3rd (3+2): Astral Sense, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Danse Macabre, Toad Mind, Tongues
4th (3+2): Arcane Eye, Bewitch IV, Elemental Armor, Moonlit Way, Phantom Lacerations
5th (2): Death Curse, Greater Command
6th (2): Death Blade
7th (1): Wave of Mutilation

Occult Powers
Familiar (Undead Raven)
Evil’s Touch
Devil’s Tongue

Magic Items
Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Amulet of Protection* (also prevents cleric turning), bracers of defense, ring of protection, ring spell storing.

Links to Adventures
Links to my 'Vampire Queen' posts


Monday, April 20, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: Vampire Queen

Something a little different today.   I want to talk about the Queen of the Vampires and her relationship with my gaming. BTW, there is a "Q" Vampire, but only one I have found. The Quaxates is a vampire from Mexico that makes women cry before they feed on them.  That is all I have been able to find.

Last year I did Witch Queen but there is a longer history of Vampire Queens in gaming.

The first Vampire Queen was also the very first published adventure for D&D back in the early, early days of 1976.  Palace of the Vampire Queen was written by Pete and Judy Kerestan.  I should also note that the very first published adventure was also co-written by woman; so yes women have always been a vital part of this hobby.
This adventure was always something of a holy grail for me.  I knew about it, but had only seen bits and pieces.  I didn't know much more than it was the first published adventure and it was really, really rare.  Sites like the Acaeum helped fill in the blanks.  Copies are still very rare, but I managed to score a couple of official reprints from Pacesetter.  As well as the sequels Crypts of the Living and Castle Blood.


I have run the original PotVQ before and it was great fun.   The adventure is so barebones by even the standards of the early 80s that it is easy to use anywhere.  The next two are more "story" driven.  I have run Castle Blood, but it didn't quite live up to the promise of the Vampire Queen.
Personally I would like to take all three and recraft them into something else.  Keep the Vampire Queen elements of course, but introduce some more background.

Hitting that nostalgia feeling hard is another adventure, The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen. This adventure, written by Mark Taormino might be an homage to the first Palace of the Vampire Queen adventure, but it is more likely an homage to those meat-grinder, total-party kill, fun-house dungeons of the late 70s early 80s.  There is a basic plot here, enough to get you in the door and moving along, but really this adventure is about killing things and avoiding getting killed.  Example, in one of your first encounters you have to run a gauntlet and get past a bunch of fire giants. Eight of them. And their hell hound pets.  This is "room 1".  It is downhill from there.  It has demons and other vampires in the wander monster table. Liches, demons, succubi, greater devils, nearly 50 vampires in total, tons of other monsters and of course the Queen herself, Lady Neeblack.
This is not an adventure to challenge the resolve of hardy role-players. This is an adventure to survive and leave a trail of bodies behind you.  It is old-school, but old-school through the eyes of 40-somethings looking back on their times as teens.
The adventure itself has a great lead in to get you interested, but that is just the carrot on a stick, most people buying and playing this module are going to want to jump right in.  Another example (this is not a spoiler), you are captured by Lady Neeblack and told you have to run through her crypts for her amusement.  The conceit is the characters will feel coerced into doing this, so they slide down a passage to the previously mentioned Fire Giants.  In truth my players wanted to jump in like they were doing a dive at the pool.
Though to claim people will play this for nostalgia reasons is completely unfair.  Mark did a great job of this. The rooms are detailed and what detail!  There are interesting encounters and Lady Neeblack herself should really move up the ranks as one of the more memorable NPCs ever.  In fact I am hoping that she comes back for a sequel sometime soon.  Just like a good Hammer villain she should find ways to come back from the dead.  +Mark Taormino, this needs to happen.
The text of the book is big, easy to read and despite the "old school" claims still has boxed text to read (screw you Grognards! I still like boxed text even when I don't use it.)  Each room is unique and feels like it belongs.  Plus the "Hanging Coffins" themselves are the coolest idea in vampire graves since the Lost Boys.
The proof of any adventure is not in the reading, but in the playing.  So I played it. It rocked.
Now the game is designed for OSRIC, but can played with 1st or 2nd Ed AD&D.   I played it with 5th Edition D&D.  I just replaced the monsters and made a character sheet for Lady Neeblack.   I ran the same group of people that I had taken through the original Palace of the Vampire Queen and we all treated it as an unofficial sequel.  I worked out well enough.  We all had fun, but if this module reads as a deathtrap on paper it's a killer in the playing. So make of that what you like.
Personally I would love to run it again using AD&D1.
In any case this is one of those adventures that will have your players talking for a long time.

One I would like to take all these and combine them in a longer campaign, or part of a campaign.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! V is for Vampire Adventures

V is for Vampire Adventures.

There is no "V" series of adventures.  Which is too bad really since the obvious choice is "Vampire".
While D&D has had some notable vampires show up over the years, Strahd and Drelzna in particular.  The very, very first D&D adventure ever sold was "Palace of the Vampire Queen".

Palace of the Vampire Queen was written by Pete and Judy Kerestan back in 1976.  I should also note that the very first published adventure was also co-written by woman; so yes women have always been a vital part of this hobby.  Interesting note. The adventure is called a "kit" and not a "module"; a name that would be later used.

This adventure was always something of a holy grail for me.  I knew about it, but had only seen bits and pieces of it online.  I didn't know much more than it was the first published adventure and it was really, really rare.  Sites like the Acaeum helped fill in the blanks in what I knew and I learned more from other blogs. Here is Grognardia's take and a bit from Jeff's Game Blog.

Original copies are still very rare, but I managed to score a couple of official reprints from Pacesetter.  As well as the sequels Crypts of the Living and Castle Blood.

I have run the original PotVQ before and it was great fun.   The adventure is so barebones by even the standards of the early 80s that it is easy to use anywhere.  The next two are more "story" driven.  I have run Castle Blood, but it didn't quite live up to the promise of the Vampire Queen.
Personally I would like to take all three and recraft them into something else.  Keep the Vampire Queen elements of course, but introduce some more background.

Hitting that nostalgia feeling hard is another adventure, The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.

This adventure, written by +Mark Taormino might be an homage to the first Palace of the Vampire Queen adventure, but it is more likely an homage to those meat-grinder, total-party kill, fun-house dungeons of the late 70s early 80s.  There is a basic plot here, enough to get you in the door and moving along, but really this adventure is about killing things and avoiding getting killed.  Example, in one of your first encounters you have to run a gauntlet and get past a bunch of fire giants. Eight of them. And their hell hound pets.  This is "room 1".  It is downhill from there.  It has demons and other vampires in the wander monster table. Liches, demons, succubi, greater devils, nearly 50 vampires in total, tons of other monsters and of course the Queen herself, Lady Neeblack.
This is not an adventure to challenge the resolve of hardy role-players. This is an adventure to survive and leave a trail of bodies behind you.  It is old-school, but old-school through the eyes of 40-somethings looking back on their times as teens.
The adventure itself has a great lead in to get you interested, but that is just the carrot on a stick, most people buying and playing this module are going to want to jump right in.  Another example (this is not a spoiler), you are captured by Lady Neeblack and told you have to run through her crypts for her amusement.  The conceit is the characters will feel coerced into doing this, so they slide down a passage to the previously mentioned Fire Giants.  In truth my players wanted to jump in like they were doing a dive at the pool.

Though to claim people will play this for nostalgia reasons is completely unfair.  Mark did a great job of this. The rooms are detailed and what detail!  There are interesting encounters and Lady Neeblack herself should really move up the ranks as one of the more memorable NPCs ever.  In fact I am hoping that she comes back for a sequel sometime soon.  Just like a good Hammer villain she should find ways to come back from the dead.  +Mark Taormino, this needs to happen.
The text of the book is big, easy to read and despite the "old school" claims still has boxed text to read (screw you Grognards! I still like boxed text even when I don't use it.)  Each room is unique and feels like it belongs.  Plus the "Hanging Coffins" themselves are the coolest idea in vampire graves since the Lost Boys.

The proof of any adventure is not in the reading, but in the playing.  So I played it. It rocked.
Now the game is designed for OSRIC, but can played with 1st or 2nd Ed AD&D.   I played it with 5th Edition D&D.  I just replaced the monsters and made a character sheet for Lady Neeblack.   I ran the same group of people that I had taken through the original Palace of the Vampire Queen and we all treated it as an unofficial sequel.  I worked out well enough.  We all had fun, but if this module reads as a deathtrap on paper it's a killer in the playing. So make of that what you like.
Personally I would love to run it again using AD&D1.


I have two perfect succubi from the recent Pathfinder demon sets that are perfect for  "Sin" and "Diabolica".   The Reaper Bones Female Vampire figure makes for a perfect Lady Neeblack.  The mini is listed as "Naomi" for the metal version. So the Vampire Queen must be Lady Naomi Neeblack!  Sure. Why not.

If I ever re-run this I will do it under AD&D1 as it was meant for.  I fear that D&D5 reduces the power levels of the characters a bit at the highest levels.  Though there is great flexibility in D&D 5.
For example in the adventure there are 8 Fire Giants waiting for you when you enter the pits.  They have 93 hp and do 5d6 damage per attack.  Their D&D 5 counterparts have 160 hp (iirc) and do a lot more damage.  Character can heal faster in D&D5 yes, but their starting hp is still not much better than their AD&D1 counterparts.  Rogues get a d8 vs Thieves d6.  So yeah. Meat Grinder.

I will say this.  If you enjoyed Tomb of Horrors then this will be right up your alley.
In any case this is one of those adventures that will have your players talking for a long time.

One I would like to take all these and combine them in a longer campaign, or part of a campaign.



I have also been seriously considering replacing the "vampire world" in Q1 with Hanging Coffins and make it my own Q2.  Queen of the Demonweb meet the Vampire Queen!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekend Gaming: Halloween Gaming, Return of the Vampire Queen

It was our weekend of Halloween gaming.  It's was also my oldest son's birthday weekend.
He ran games all night long and while he slept today I ran  "Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen" again, this time for my younger son and his group.



It was 2014 when I first ran this adventure for my oldest son, so I wanted to run it again this year for my youngest since they would have been the same ages.  Very different experiences!

I picked up this adventure back when +Mark Taormino kickstarted a few years back and it is one of my favorites. It's just so much fun.  I also combine it a lot with the classic Palace of the Vampire Queen and the sequels made by Bill Barsh at Pacesetter.

Combined they really make for a great full palace, dungeons, and vampire pits.

Today's group got much further.  I made some changes based on previous runnings and some advice from Mark.

Sin, the Queen on her throne, Diabolica, and the Queen ready to attack
Combined with mins from three different companies this represents one of the things I love the best about this hobby; everyone coming together to provide something new and exciting.
Standing Lady Neeblack is the Vampire from Reaper Minis.


Ok and a bunch of tombstones and coffins from Michaels.



Oh and an old D&D action figure Umber Hulk to represent a giant Umber Hulk.  Yeah, they were scared about that.



They managed to survive long enough to face the Succubi Sin and Diabolica and finally Lady Neeblack the Vampire Queen herself.

I can't say enough good things about these adventures.  It would not be Halloween without them.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The search for Q2

In August I will start the boys on the GDQ series.  Reading through all the material I can't help but wish there was something...more to the ending.

Back in April I mentioned that Q1 seemed lonely because it was all by itself and it does have quite a different feel to it than the G and D adventures.  I mused at the time a "Q2" would be a good addition.   I think I even talked a bit about a drow civil war.

I have been thinking a lot about what a Module Q2 might look like or be.  Since I am also strapped for time I thought a pre-made, published adventure might be my best bet.  I want it also to be something that challenges the characters and players.  Q1 was designed for characters levels 10-14. So I want something near to that.

Plus to make the "Q" in "Q2" mean something I wanted to stick to "Queen" adventures.  BUT not  ones that I might want to put into my "War of the Witch Queens" adventures.

So who are the contestants in my Q2 pageant?

First up is +Mark Taormino's Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.  This adventure has a lot going for it. There is the Queen connection, it's high level and there is a vampire realm briefly described in Q1 that would work for this. Also, I wanted more vampires in the end of the adventure too.
On the con side the module is a slaughter house.  Making it work with Q1 would take some work.  There is also so much going in this adventure that it really could be used on it's own.  I also like the idea of making this part of the old Palace of the Vampire Queen adventtures too.

+Monte Cook's Queen of Lies is another really good choice.  It's a good adventure (having been reprinted three different times), it fits the theme REALLY well, it is about the right level, has that Drow civil war thing going on and calling it "Q2 Queen of Lies" really, really appeals to me.  (Side note I had a rather infamous NPC back in the late 80s whose nickname was "Queen of Lies").   The basic plot though really takes the characters away from the big arc I have going on, but not so much I can't work with it.  It is for D&D 3.0, but I can make that work no problem.

+Wolfgang Baur and  Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel's Expedition to the Demonweb Pits for 3.5 is an honest to goodness sequel (of sorts) to Q1.  It also has a lot going for it. The issue I have is that Lolth is assumed to be alive when the module starts and there is no way I can guarantee that.  Yes it is unlikely she will get killed in Q1, but it is possible.  Again this one is big. I mean huge really. There is so much going on here that it is also it's own campaign.   Lots of good ideas to mine here though.

P2 Demon Queen's Enclave is for 4e, but it has the whole Drow and demon thing going for it too.  Also it was written in part by +Mike Mearls and +Robert Schwalb so I know it has potential.  It also ties in the whole thing nicely with Orcus.



First (Fantasy) World Problems I know.



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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Into the Lair of the Vampire Queen

Over the weekend my oldest son celebrated his birthday (which is today) and we went through The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.

We didn't get through it all, but we had a great time.

I ran this under Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules instead of 1st ed/OSRIC since that is the game of choice of my son now.  I think it worked out really well to be honest.

In the party we had:
- A Dragonborn Wizard (Necromancer), 15th level
- A Dragonborn Cleric of War, 14th level
- A half-elf rouge (assassin), 14th level
- A human rogue, 14th level
- A half-orc Ranger, 14th level
and a half-elf warlock (fey pact), 13th level.

My son, since he was turning 15 got the only 15th level character.

They managed to get through a few of the rooms, but the Fire-Giants gave them some issues.  After that the "Jelly" Cubes where pretty easy.

The adventure is crazy.  I am glad I am running it "outside of canon". The module is advertised as a party killer and that is no joke.  Within the first battle many of the characters were down to about half their HP.

We are planning to finish it sometime soon, but since we didn't get started till rather late my players were fading.

the Fearless Vampire Hunters
This is the same group, but not the same characters (though pretty close) that I ran the classic Palace of the Vampire Queen adventure.   Those were lower level characters using the B/X rules.  Given that we have been calling this group "the Fearless Vampire Hunters".    One day I will try to combine all the various "Vampire Queen" adventures together into a large campaign.

I did alter the beginning just a touch to accommodate the player's previous adventures a bit.  Not a big change really and I think it heightened the whole fear factor.


 We used minis cause they are fun and the boys like doing it.

I have two perfect succubi from the recent Pathfinder demon sets that are perfect for  "Sin" and "Diabolica".   The Reaper Bones Female Vampire figure makes for a perfect Lady Neeblack.  The mini is listed as "Naomi" for the metal version. So the Vampire Queen must be Lady Naomi Neeblack!  Sure. Why not.

If I ever re-run this I will do it under AD&D1 as it was meant for.  I fear that D&D5 reduces the power levels of the characters a bit at the highest levels.  Though there is great flexibility in D&D 5.
For example in the adventure there are 8 Fire Giants waiting for you when you enter the pits.  They have 93 hp and do 5d6 damage per attack.  Their D&D 5 counterparts have 160 hp (iirc) and do a lot more damage.  Character can heal faster in D&D5 yes, but their starting hp is still not much better than their AD&D1 counterparts.  Rogues get a d8 vs Thieves d6.  So yeah. Meat Grinder.

I will say this.  If you enjoyed running Tomb of Horrors then this will be right up your alley.

I will get a more proper review of the adventure up soon.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Boxing Day: The World of Mayhem Campaign

A couple of weeks ago I posted about getting my 7th adventure from Mark Taormino's Dark Wizard GamesDread Swamp of the Banshee.  It is a great bit of fun and I can't wait to run it.  

I also know exactly what I want to do with them.


The World of Mayhem Campaign and I am going to run it using B/X rules, likely OSE Advanced Rules

OSE Advanced gives me the B/X rules I adore along with some of the rules from the Advanced era I want AND some additional options that were not available to me in either.   


Organizing the adventures from the lowest level to the highest you get a great spread from levels 1 to 14, perfect B/X and OSE levels.


I have talked about this in the past with the first five adventures, but the newer three only support this plan even more.

Arranged like this:

It makes solid coverage of levels 1 to 14.  If anything an adventure for levels 2 to 5  might be good.

With the addition of their Monsters of Mayhem #1, it makes for a full campaign.

I know the feel of these adventures is very much in the spirit of 1st Edition AD&D as well as the OSRIC rule set.  But for me, my "gonzo" gaming years were with B/X.  The rules of B/X were much looser than Advanced and these adventures really need a lighter hand on the rules.

I am thinking of also adding some material from Pacesetter's B/X RPG rules, in particular some of the classes.  Plus the B/X RPG rules play well with OSE, so that is reason enough to use them.  Plus I enjoy combining Palace of the Vampire Queen: Castle Blood from Pacesetter with Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen for a full saga of the Vampire Queen.


I have now run Vampire Queen for Basic, 1st Edition, and 5th Edition versions of D&D.  I think Basic was my favorite experience. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Movie Reviews: The Lestat Movies

Double Feature weekend!

I watched, for the first time "Queen of the Damned" and rewatched after a long time "Interview with a Vampire". Both based on the first three books of Anne Rice's Vampire series.
I watched them in the same order I originally read the books way back when. I read "The Vampire Lestat" first then "Interview with a Vampire" next. It gave me a very different point of view of Lestat than others reading the same books at the time.
Let's be 100% honest here. If it was not for Anne Rice we would not have had "Vampire the Masquerade" and certainly she gave birth to the latest modern trend in vampires. More so that "Sookie Stackhouse", "Buffy" and even "Twilight". While Rice's vampires are appealing they are also monsters. Sometimes they struggle with that. So we have her to thank (or blame) for the Agnsty Emo Vampire in whole or in part.

Queen of the Damned (2002)
This film combines and shortens the tale found in the books "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen of the Damned". Lestat (Stuart Townsend this time) comes back after his self imposed exile/sleep to be a rock star (who sounds an awful lot like Korn). Hey in the books it worked. It comes off a bit rushed in the movie though. His songs, especially about the really old vampires wakes Akasha, Queen of the Vampires (played by the late Aaliyah).  Wackieness ensues. Vampires that don't want to be outted try to kill Lestat, Akasha wants to keep him alive.  Marius shows up.  The ancient vampires fight to stop Akasha.

To start out with, this is not an exact sequel to "IwaV", more of a separate interpretation of the same universe.  That being said lets look at the good and the bad.
Good.  The vampires here are very cool.  Their powers have a nice affect on screen and they are still bloodthirsty killers.  The movie itself is better than I had been lead to believe all these years, but if one compares it to the book then it fails.  Lestat does not come off as a spoiled brat in this one as he did in "IwaV" and the books.  More like a vampire that kinda wishes he was still human.  Which of course was NOT Lestat in the books.
Bad. The script is kind of a mess.  They are trying ram two very dense books into a movie footprint and don't do so well.  Granted, Rice's later books needed pruning, but that is the fine skill of an editor, this was the work of a guy with a chainsaw.  Characters have disappeared, entire plots lost and the resolution does not have the same impact in the film as it does in the books.

In the end I enjoyed the movie, but only as a vampire flick, not as something that I know belongs in a larger universe.

Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Everyone had such high hopes for this one.  On the tail of Bram Stoker's Dracula this was supposed to open up a new era of vampire films.  Maybe it did.  But the movie was a disappointment.
Based on the book of the same name, this one has an all star cast.  I mean really.  Brad Pitt as Louis, Tom Cruise as Lestat, Kristen Dunst as Claudia (long before she would kiss Spider-Man), Christian Slater (filling in for the recently late River Phoenix) as Daniel and Antonio Bandaras as Arman.  I mean wow.  Look at that.
Visually the movie is very appealing.  Pretty (and petty) vampires feeding on humans while Louis frets and mourns his lost humanity.  Yeah agnsty emo vamps.
Tom Cruise was great as Lestat, but in some ways not as good as Townsend.  Now, I'll be honest, I don't like Tom Cruise I think he is a nut-job with a lot of issues and belongs to a wacky cult.  But so do a lot of people.  But he certainly made me believe he was Lestat here.  I am going to come back to why in a bit.  Now Brad Pitt I do like, after his bit in "12 Monkeys" and "True Romance" he convinced me he was not some pretty boy actor.  Watching him "Snatch" confirmed that.  But here he is the pretty boy vampire and frankly the best line in the movie was Lestat's "Oh shut up Louis."
I really liked this movie when it came out, but now almost 10 years later I seen the cracks in the veneerer, the flaws.

Basically I have the EXACT same issue I have with the books.  I can't stand Lestat in "Interview" (book or movie) and I liked him in the Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned.

Anne Rice's vampires are creatures of their times.  Not meaning when they were turned, but when the books and movies were made.  Since then the entire sub-genre of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy has grown up in the soil she tilled.  Vampires are no longer monsters, they are potential date/S.O. material. To be fair, Rice's vampires are monsters.  They just whine about being monsters.

I am glad though I got to watch them both back to back like this.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Palace of the Vampire Queen

Next weekend my friend Greg is hosting a mini-con for his D&D group, the Streamwood Dungeoneers.  My son plays in his group every weekend, so I was asked to prep and run an Old School adventure.
Greg wanted to give his players, the Gen Con experience since none of us are going Gen Con or even Gary Con this year.

I had a bunch of ideas, but I wanted to play to my strengths.  At first I wanted to do Ravenloft, but that would take to long.  So instead I am going to run Palace of the Vampire Queen using Basic/Expert D&D and my Witch book.

I have been dying to run this since I first scored a copy about three years ago.
This is a classic adventure and has been talked about on various blog before. Here is Grognardia's take and a bit from Jeff's Game Blog.  To be able to run this in a Con like setting is going to be a real treat.

Since that 2010 post I have picked up another copy from Pacesetter (not sure if it is the same Pacesetter that did 1st Ed Chill).

The module is thin.  Not just in size but in terms of plot too.
I'll give the kids some background and I might develop the character of the vampire queen more using my Basic Vampire supplement (which is free by the way).  She is a self-styled vampire Queen in my mind.  So not Akasha or even Marceline.

But in truth it is going to be a simple dungeon crawl with lots of undead and a big bad at the end.
Just like like to old days!