16 February 2020

Renovating the Monastery - Recasting the Classic DMG Dungeon in Greyhawk - Part 1

Wichita Greyhawk Campaigning
Wichita Greyhawk Campaigning

I ran the unnamed sample monastery dungeon from the Dungeon Masters Guide for my eldest son's after-school AD&D group a few years ago, and I've repurposed it as one of the starting points for the new Wichita Greyhawk campaign that kicked off last month.  

I've compiled the bits and pieces about it that I've discussed over at the Knights & Knaves Alehouse forum and Scott Gregg's Doomsday Games forum:
  1. Background
  2. Maps - Wilderness Environs 
  3. Maps - Dungeon Levels
  4. Keys
I'm detailing #1 and #2 in this post, with more info to follow on the updated, revised, and expanded dungeon maps and keys later. 

Below I dig into plenty of spoilers for the sample dungeon, so if you are currently playing through it, you should stop reading now. 

*** SPOILERS  ***












*** SPOILERS ***



I've decided to leverage my continued interest in the sects and cults of Wee Jas for my background to the DMG Monastery dungeon in the Wicihta campaign.  This necessitates some changes to the original sketchy background from the DMG:

  • The slain abbot becomes an abbess
  • The fire opal becomes a holy relic of Wee Jas, perhaps in part reflecting her vanity
  • The lower level needs a new rationale from how I'd originally conceived it, and I'm thinking it may be tied to the Plane of Shadow now, but am still noodling on that:  perhaps the shadow influences are what, in part, lead to the near-total destruction of the monastery, and if so, it seems likely that the destruction was meted out by other, more-orthodox sects within her faith (this aligns well with my depiction of the relationship between the primary and heretical sects in my Castle Greyhawk level)

Some other changes are related to the broader picture of the historical record of Greyhawk, too:

  • The fen that surrounds the monastery was caused by the subsistence of the ground due to the deleterious effects of the cult of Elemental Evil a decade ago
  • The EE cult's origins will tie back more closely to Dyvers and Wild Coast (as hinted in T1), but the DMG Monastery will not be a significant part of that network as I've previously used it (it will however still have some ties to there, via the brigands)
  • I think I'm going to insert an octych piece in the dungeon somewhere as well....

Wilderness Environs Maps


I've been sketching out the larger campaign environment on and off for awhile now, and spent some time over the past few weeks building it out further.

I began with the larger regional level for mapping out roads, smaller-sized settlements that don't appear on the Darlene Greyhawk map, etc.:

Kron Hills, Gnarley Forest, and Welkwood environs
Kron Hills, Gnarley Forest, and Welkwood environs -
map by grodog

On the above map, each large hex is a single Darlene Greyhawk hex, so 30 miles each. The smaller hexes within each are 5 miles each. 

The hex with the DMG monastery dungeon is one hex north of Narwell, in hex # I4-93 on the Darlene map grid location system.  Then I use our single-hex sheets to drill down into each campaign hex; the single hex sheets have three layers of hexes, which break out like this in scale:
  • Layer 1 = large campaign hex = 30 miles
  • Layer 2 (6 medium hexes per large hex) = 5 miles
  • Layer 3 (6 small hexes per medium hex) = 5/6 miles = 1466 2/3 yards/4400 feet

Greyhawk hex I4-93 - detail map by grodog
Greyhawk hex I4-93 -
detail map by grodog

I haven't started to color the above map yet, so it's probably a bit faint....  

Then I drill down to a detail view using the 5 mile hex as the large scale on the same hex sheet template:
  • Layer 1 = 1 large campaign hex = 5 miles = 1 medium campaign hex (layer 2 above)
  • Layer 2 (6 medium hexes per large hex) = 5/6 mile
  • Layer 3 (6 small hexes per medium hex) = 244.4 yards = 733 1/3 feet

Detail within Greyhawk hex I4-93 -
map by grodog

The small hex that the monastery ruins are part of is now 244 yards across, and sited on a hilltop that measures about two full hexes in area (the smallest hexes), which feels about right for the complex size as I envision it.  

The small-scale (colored) hex map shows the subsided fen round the monastery hill (which I've not decided whether to color in part with forest or to leave "cleared"), and some other forested areas on higher-ground in its immediate vicinity.

Next up:  the ruins of the monastery site, as well as the dungeon levels and keys.


03 February 2020

Mega-Dungeon Mondays - Hitting the Monsters Hard and Book-Keeping in the Dada Dungeon

Henry and I played in his "Dada Dungeon" again on Saturday.  We explored less, and hit two big targets after our previous mapping rereconnoiters:  a young white dragon (blissfully asleep on its treasures) and two ogres.  The dragon we had discovered in the previous session, but we found the ogres only after exploring further in the vicinity of the dragon's lair.  

The updated map; our play focused in the NE and E zones of the level:

Henry's Daddy-Dungeon - Level 2 Player Map by Allan Grohe
Henry's Dada-Dungeon -
Level 2 Player Map by Allan Grohe

Based on our previous session activities, we had befriended the (normal-sized) badger family in the dungeon (they're located in the top-center in the oddly shaped room with the sloping northern wall), and the druid PC was a bit concerned that the dragon might decide that they'd make a good meal one day, given their relative proximity.  So after some prep and consulting among the characters (which didn't take too long, since Henry and I are playing this game just the two of us ;) ), and warning the badgers about our plans (in case we TPK'd...), we attacked the sleeping white dragon and killed it in the first first round of surprise attacks.  Even level 1 PCs attacking with the benefits of bless, faerie fire, and a charge bonus against a sleeping dragon is no guarantee for victory, since two of the four attacking PCs missed (one with a natural "1" which didn't result in losing his weapon).  The dragon's hoard included:

  • 1200 cp
  • 684 gp
  • 5 potions:  animal control (reptiles, fish, and amphibeans), extra healing (2 doses), fire resistance (2 doses), polymorph self (2 doses), and speed
  • and a ring of invisibility that we found in its stomach!

Quite the nice haul!

The two ogres were equally profitable but substantially less lucrative.  We surprised them as well, but only for one round, and the PCs all missed.  The second round the MU/thief successfully slept one of the two ogres, and we killed the first one in the third round of battle.  They only netted 500 cp and 80 gp in coin, but they also had a suit of chainmail +1 (don't know its size yet), and another potion (of hill giant strength).

At that point we called it quits and exited the dungeon.  The rest of the session was spent tallying up monster and treasure XP gained since 17 August 2019, so we didn't return to play in the afternoon (and, in fact, didn't complete the calculus either given the need for previously-postponed homework to be completed as well ;) ). 

A fun time.  My hunch is that at least a few of the PCs will level up, and we'll need to sell some of the more-powerful magic items that we've found in order to pay for training costs.  Whether that'll end up being the gem of seeing, or some of the spell scrolls, or the chainmail +1 or the shirt of protection +2 remains to be seen....


02 February 2020

Greyhawk - Setting the Wichita Campaign in Motion

Last Sunday, 26 January 2020, we created characters (some both of two, some just one of two since they had create PCs at TsunamiCon in October) and began to adventure in our local Wichita Greyhawk campaign

The players created the following first-level characters---two each, since I wanted them to have backups in case PCs are turned to stone, killed, or otherwise out-of-action for awhile:

  • Brad - one new PC:  Verdure, a female half-elf druid; 2nd PC TBD
  • Brian - one new PC:  Varis, a half-elf mercenary for hire (assassin), who is being played in preference to Melisor, a human magic-user (who delved my Castle Greyhawk at TsunamiCon)
  • Henry - one PC:  Vilador, male human magic-user, who also delved Castle Greyhawk at TsunamiCon; 2nd PC TBD after I figure out if we're doing children in the game or not (I'm leaning toward yes)
  • Jeff - one new PC:  Hagrid, male dwarf fighter/thief; 2nd PC is Oberon Canorbe, human cleric of St. Cuthbert; Hagrid and Verdure split the costs for Fang, a wardog
  • Jon - two new PCs:  Danger Ranger II, male human ranger; 2nd PC is Slim Bandicoot, human thief
  • Vince - one new PC:  Lugh, male human ranger; 2nd PC is Seriat, human cleric of Obah-Hai

Several other players participated in the TsunamiCon events, but weren't able to attend on Sunday's kickoff, so I'm still waiting to see where the mix of regular and semi-players settles out.

After creating PCs, the players opted to explore through the ruined monastery dungeons from the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, which I've set on the southern verge of the western side of the Gnarley Forest:

Darlene's Greyhawk map from the 1980 Greyhawk Folio
Darlene's Greyhawk map
from the 1980 Greyhawk Folio

The PCs began in Ellorn, a small mining thorp north of Narwell, on 26 Fireseek 576 Common Year (CY).  (I'm using Clay Luther's Greyhawk calendar, if you're curious).  They heard rumor of the old monastery of Wee Jas, with its fabled fire opal never discovered during the siege that laid the site low in ages past.  More-recently, the lands around the monastery were caught up in some of the elemental chaos from the Cathedral of Elemental Evil on the western side of the Gnarley---some of the land around the monastery subsided, and a fen now surrounds much of the tor that the monastery ruins sit atop. 

With the help of a local guide, A'zor'an (a Balklunish hunter/trapper/furrier), the PCs found the ruins.  While advancing across the fen on the raised causeway, Hagrid the dwarf slipped and fell into a pool sufficiently deep to submerge him completely as an edge of the track crumbled; this also attracted the attention of a fast-moving fen spider, that rushed the PCs in an attempt to find its next meal.  They were not surprised, but were somewhat divided between those above on the causeway, and Danger Ranger and the guide below attempting to help pull the dwarf from the mire.  The characters were able to wound the spider and drive it off without it causing any significant harm to them, although they were a bit surprised at its ability to skim quickly across the water's surface, as well as when it dove underwater and swim away out of sight. 

After driving off the spider, the party began to explore, finding a pair of intact structures in the center of the pile:  a well-building, partially open to the elements (in its construction, not due to it being ruined), with a large stone well-cover intact atop the well-shaft.  Lowering Hagrid the dwarf into the shaft via ropes revealed that it a strongly-flowing stream about 40-50' below, rushing with cold water and no significant space for breathable air to allow PCs follow its course.  The players returned the cap to the well, and marked it carefully with chalk to show whether anyone else moved it in the future.

The other building contained a stairwell down into the dungeons below.  Lhou the ranger determined that tracks showed some booted traffic going in and out of the second building, and Verdure the druidess employed speak with animals to learn from a mouse on site that other "giants" would move into/out of the ruins with some regularity. 

Dusk fell, and while preparing to camp, the PCs saw a large group of figures moving across the fen, along its edge and parallel to the ruins.  Hiding themselves, they were able to observe a large body of humans (more than 50), from which a smaller group of 10-20 split off and crossed the causeway.  They marched right up to the ruins, and met with a group that emerged from the stairwell building; the leaders of the two groups conferred for several minutes while 8 of the motley crew (seemingly bandits) went below and did not return.  The characters were not able to overhear much of the conversation, and chose not to engage either group, given the larger force just across the causeway.  

And that is where play concluded for the day.   The next session should be next week!