A blog about games, gamers, and various and sundry geek culture-related ephemera and paraphernalia.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Scanning Project: Watcher of the Horned Tower

As I promised last week in my Horned Tower post, here is the record sheet for the four-armed "Watcher of The Horned Tower." Skulking on the second level of the Tower, the Watcher is a truly terrifying adversary. (Although it may not look it based on the crude illustration found on its record sheet. It wasn't one of my more successful artistic endeavors - sorry!)

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Scanning Project: The Necromancer's Tower

Here's another quickie: a necromancer and his decrepit abode. The "necromancer" in question, Averhaz, is from 1995, and was apparently created using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. (The non-weapon proficiencies are a dead giveaway.) If you've been looking for a random evil fiend and his lair for your game, look no further:

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Scanning Project: The Hamlet of Bensham and The Haunted Temple

Between Web servers behaving badly, ordering systems being taken offline for inventory, and a database server being struck by lightning (and taking down a Web site along with it), I'm a little busier than usual today.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to make my readers suffer! Here's another location for you: The Hamlet of Bensham. A quiet farming community in the middle of nowhere, Bensham's the perfect spot for new characters to begin their careers as adventurers. There's even a nearby ruined temple, once dedicated to an evil god but now fallen into decay - and rumored to be haunted!

The Hamlet of Bensham and The Haunted Temple are unkeyed locations, so they can be used with basically any fantasy game. They're just waiting for you to drop in your own custom encounters.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scanning Project: The Accursed Castle

While trying to decide what to post today, I think I was somewhat influenced by Lord Kilgore's "Tower and Dungeon" map, posted earlier this week.

This location was something I drew up shortly after seeing The Last Unicorn for the first time (on video, probably in early 1983). I recall really liking the idea of the old king haunted by his past, and drew a lot of inspiration from the concept of a seaside castle fallen under a Wuthering Heights-esque pall of doom and gloom.

So, moved by the Muse, I immediately set to work with my mechanical pencil, compass, and graph paper. The result is The Accursed Castle, an immense structure whose foundations are carved deep into the rocky cliffs of the Cold Sea, and whose handful of spires reach high into the gray sky above. It's an "empty" location - that is, aside from room labels, the castle maps are not keyed. Anybody wishing to use this has a blank slate on which to work.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scanning Project: A Very Old Map

Not much time for posting today, so here's an old map for you. I don't recall for certain when this was made, but judging from the style (such as it is) and the technical paper on which it's drawn, it dates from the era of my earliest maps (1982, most likely). I couldn't find a key for this one - I don't know if I ever even made one. We'll call this one Nameless Old Map Number One:

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oooohhhoooohhh! Me want!

I just discovered (thanks to the Adventure Game News blog) that the German board game Der Hexer von Salem is being translated into English and released later this year by Mayfair Games as Witch of Salem. I've been drooling over this game since I stumbled across it on BoardGameGeek a few months ago. I was even (briefly) tempted to buy the German-language version; now, thankfully, I won't have to.

All I have to dois wait for the actual release from Mayfair... [Drumming fingers on desk]

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Just a Quickie

I'm rebuilding my PC, so I'm extremely busy at the moment. But here's a little something to keep things rolling: a 3D render I found while prepping for the hard drive swap on which I'm now laboring. I whipped this up around 1999 or so, IIRC. It's not a dungeon, or a character sheet, or even anything similarly as interesting or useful - sorry!

Hopefully, regular posting will resume in a day or two.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Scanning Project: Another Stormbringer Location

...now with even more Saturday-morning cartoon content!

I mentioned before that my Stormbringer campaign was less like Moorcock's works and more like Pirates of Dark Water. (Throw in liberal amounts of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts for good measure.) Turns out, Dark Water wasn't the only Saturday-morning cartoon to play a feature role in the game: so too did Aaahh! Real Monsters.

I wasn't personally a big fan of the show; being a true horror afficionado, I only saw wasted potential amidst a silly pastiche of weird characters and gross-out humor. (For a horror-related cartoon fix, my go-to show was usually Real Ghostbusters, which may have been goofy more often than not, but was generally watchable and at least occasionally tripped over some really good ideas.) Regardless of this, several of the Mattel toys for the show had made their way into my household. For the most part, these toys served only to sit on a shelf and collect dust.

However, when looking for inspiration for games - especially Stormbringer games, which I ran in a very off-the-cuff manner - my eye tended to wander around my study. Thus, when in dire need of a key monster for an upcoming game session, the little guy to the right ignited the creative spark. Minus the secondary monster-in-the-mouth, this creature made an appearance in The Horned Tower of Pan Tang as the guardian of an imprisoned "scribe of law" (read as: know-it-all mad scientist).

In his quest to recover a lost item of power, Drovis Longstem (my friend Terry's character) was led to the nation of Pan Tang, in search of said scribe. After making his way through the ground-floor maze of catwalks over bubbling pools of acid, Drovis ascended to the second floor, where he came face-to-whatever with this four-armed abomination (which wasn't a cute little creature, but a 12' tall nightmare).

In the ensuing battle, the beastie proved to be too much even for the mighty Drovis - who was swallowed whole. Of course, Drovis - not one to give up so easily - handled things in true heroic fashion: he sliced his way through the rear of the beast's maw and exited via its backside. (In other words, Terry's dice, as usual, contributed to the story and saw to it that he ended up in a very dire situation; then, as usual, his dice became smoking hot and saved Drovis' rosy cheeks. As I recall, those dice never failed to make things interesting in our games.)

Anyway, that's the story behind The Horned Tower and its four-armed guardian. Here's the map of the tower (I have yet to scan the beast's sheet, but after I have I'll be sure to post it here):

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fear The Joe Goodman, For He Is Mighty And Knows Stuff

I won't descend into the latest teacup tempest, since I generally try to avoid that sort of thing here in Rust Monster-land. But Alzrius' deleted ENWorld post, thankfully reposted by JoetheLawyer at his Wondrous Imaginings blog, pretty much echoes my own thoughts on the topic. (And in such a wonderfully sarcastic tone!) If you've been following this topic on Teh Interwebs, you should go read it. (Hey, it garnered a Sunday post from me - that alone should tell you something. /wink)

Go forth, and fear The Joe Goodman!
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Scanning Project: Where It All Began

As we trundle into the weekend, I thought I'd share something that has no other value than as fuel for my own personal nostalgia: my first role playing game character.

First, a little back story: I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but I more or less "backed into" Dungeons & Dragons. You see, by the end of the 70's, I was familiar with the game - probably from having seen it in KayBee Toys - and that was the extent of my knowledge of it. I was curious, but not enough to spend my hard(ly)-earned allowance on it. (That privilege was reserved for Star Wars merchandise, Micronauts, etc.) And I was cool with that.

For some reason I'll never fully comprehend, my demeanor toward the game changed drastically around 1980. With the simple discovery that a good friend's older brother played the game, I suddenly found my interest in the game blossoming. I imagine this was partially fueled by media hype surrounding D&D (the new "fad" was - it seemed - forever appearing in various news outlets back in the day), by the ever-growing line of products for the game, by the growing buzz surrounding the fantasy genre - and probably more than a little by my Hobbit-loving 8th-grade English teacher.

I'll cover all of this in more depth in my next "Growing Up Geeky" post, because there was an awful lot going on back in those days - and covering it all in detail is far beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say, my interest in the game reached a zenith sometime during 1980 or 1981.

My first D&D product was not a set of rules, but a module: A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. This wasn't something I bought for myself - heck, it wasn't even something someone else bought for me. No, it was something my mother bought as a present for aforementioned friend's impending birthday. Knowing nothing about the game, neither of us knew what to purchase first. She brought the shrink-wrapped module home, and before wrapping it up she asked my nephew and I if we'd like to open it and see what it looked like inside.

Would we like to open it? Well, duh! Of course we would - and that's just what we did.

Again, I'll get to the details in a later post, but my friend never got that particular birthday present. We got him something else, and Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords became my gateway into D&D. Later, I would add Grenadier's "Specialists" boxed set of miniatures to my collection. More of the Grenadier sets would follow. And, on Christmas morning, 1981, I would finally own the game proper in the form of the Moldvay Basic set.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I did a lot of thinking about D&D before ever getting to actually play the game. I had some serious preconceptions as a result. I knew, for instance, just what the fantastic world of the game was like (driven by artwork I'd seen adorning covers of various D&D products, such as B1: In Search of the Unknown and Eldritch Wizardry. (I had a pretty solid mental picture of the world, so it was a good thing that D&D didn't come with a an in-built world setting - that may have turned out to be a deal-breaker.)

I also knew who my first character was: an elf prince by the name of "Moordow."

Inspired by the paladin in the "Specialists" set ("What the heck's a paladin? That's how my elf should look though.") Moordow was alive in my mind months before I pulled out my six-sider that day in late December of '81. And I swear, his stats were rolled as written. (Go ahead - prove I'm not telling the truth.)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Scanning Project: More Stormbringer Goodness

An interested reader commented on yesterday's post (re: The Spire of Woes) that it would have been nice to see the BRP (as in Basic Role Playing - Chaosium's awesome house system) stats for the residents of the Spire. Not being one to disappoint his readership, I spent some time scanning my early 90's Stormbringer material last night.

Up first is the sheet detailing the original NPC's to be encountered within the Spire:

I also scanned the Young Kingdoms map we used to track the adventures of Drovis Longstem (my friend Terry's character). Drovis had a long, illustrious career, befriending myriad people and creatures, allying himself with chaos demons, and running afoul of demons, demigods, and their cults. (You'll note a couple of references to Dagon in the map notes; I made liberal use of my Call of Cthulhu books in my Stormbringer campaign, and this Dagon is none other than Father Dagon. Drovis is probably the only character crazy enough to attack Dagon with nothing more than a dagger - albeit a magical one.)

(In case you're wondering, the skull-and-bones on the map don't indicate character deaths. They represent sunken ships from Drovis' merchant fleet. Seems he was forever losing ships...)
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Scanning Project, Plus: The Spire of Woes

Here's a bit of a spin on the scanning project: an old map, with a new key.

This map for The Spire of Woes was created in the early 90's as a quick location for a session in my Stormbringer (fourth edition, with that awesome Whelan cover) campaign. The campaign ran for something like fourteen or fifteen sessions, most of them head-to-head games with my friend Terry. My gaming style at the time was very loose and flexible. Instead of set-piece adventures, I liked to throw together locations and NPC's on the fly. The flow of the campaign was almost entirely driven by the actions of Terry's character, Drovis, who through his own Conan-like determination and lust for power quickly rose from impoverished sailor to Sea King.

To this day, the characters and events of that campaign are some of the most memorable.

Admittedly, I wasn't so much playing in Moorcock's world as I was in one of my own devising that just happened to share the names of a few places and peoples. I was somewhat inspired by the television cartoon The Pirates of Darkwater, which originally aired around the same time as our campaign. But I was also heavily inspired by the artwork of a number of fantasy artists (Boris, Frazetta, Whelan, Kelly, etc.). I had trading cards depicting these artists' works, and used them to inspire me to create characters and locations with which to populate my world. The end result was a binder full of people and places I could draw from as the need arose, something that was indispensible to - perhaps even responsible for - my on-the-fly style of running these games.

The Spire of Woes is one such location: a Pan Tangian prison, drawn up after Drovis and crew's unintentional landfall on the isle of Pan Tang and subsequent capture and arrest there. At the time, there was no real key to this "dungeon," since I ran it as most of my other games of Stormbringer: I had the location, the characters and creatures likely to be found therein, a sense of what was going on within its walls, and the set-up for the game. Everything else was played off the cuff.

When applying a few years ago for a staff position with a game company, I resurrected the concept of the The Spire of Woes and embellished upon it. I didn't get the position (oh well) but I was left with a bit of data that had no use in my own games. I've taken some of that new text and applied it to the old map. (Not all of it - it was intended for a greatly expanded location, so there's a lot there, more than really befits this map.)

So, here's my almost-20-year-old map of The Spire of Woes, along with a brand new key (using B/X Dungeons & Dragons stats). Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scanning Project: Yet Another Nameless Dungeon

I think it says a lot about a dungeon when you don't even bother to name the thing.

You see, when you give a dungeon a nifty name, like "Undercrypts of the God-whore," or "Deepest Deeps of the Lord of the Deep," you're already at the very least implying that there's a story of which the dungeon is a larger part. This may not even be true, but the implication is there.

On the other hand, when the dungeon has no name, you're declaring: I have no preconceptions about this dungeon and how it will fit into my campaign. There's no over-arching storyline here, no Big Bad that somehow fits into the campaign in a meaningful way, no artifact specifically intended to end up in the players' greasy little hands. No, a nameless dungeon generally says one thing, and one thing only: this place is full of monsters, and its sole purpose for existing is for you (the players) to pillage and loot the place - or die trying.

And there is - in my opinion - absolutely nothing wrong with that sort of declaration.

Of course, this is just so much blather. It's really nothing more than my attempt at an interesting introduction for the latest dungeon from my scanning project: Yet Another Nameless Dungeon.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh, Look: Another One-page Dungeon

I bet you thought I was out of one-page dungeons to post, huh?

Well, perish the thought. I'm sure I've got many more of these lurking in my game folders. And since I still haven't gotten the Underlord of Cold Mountain setting notes scanned, today's post features yet another of these creations.

This 1PD from my scanning project is something I apparently made for use with the Warhammer Quest Roleplay rules - which would probably make its creation date somewhere between 1997 to '99. I've mentioned WHQ Roleplay before (and even posted a character sheet for use with it), but for those of you not in the know: Warhammer Quest is - IMHO - one of the best games to ever come out of the dark realm that is Games Workshop. It is almost certainly one of the best dungeon-crawling board games ever, if not the best. (The fact that it's a cooperative, GM-less dungeon-crawler is what really puts it over the top.)

WHQ can be played as a straight-up board-and-miniatures game, but its main book also includes rules to adapt the game to role playing. In this capacity, its roots as a board game definitely show, but it looks a lot like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Lite.

The dungeon we have here is called Quest for the Chaos Idol. It's a straight-forward smash and grab, with the PC's attempting to retrieve the Mcguffin du Jour from a lizardman-infested burial mound sitting deep in a swamp:

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Is It They Say About Best-Laid Plans and Rodents?

Today's post was supposed to be notes covering the Underlord of Cold Mountain campaign setting. Note how I said "was supposed to be."

As it turns out, I don't have these scanned yet, so they won't be getting posted today. On the upside, however, I just happened to have this puppy on deck. While waiting to be posted, it's been jumping all over me, yipping and drooling; I'll be glad to be rid of it. (Okay, admittedly I may be carrying the "puppy" metaphor a bit far there.)

This dungeon's simply called Lair of the Warlock. It was created to serve as an introductory adventure for starting PC's. Like Dungeon of the Dragon Lord, this one lacks the stats for the Big Bad (a magic-user by the name of "Maczaar"), but any third- or fourth-level M-U NPC should do.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Don't Forget the Monster Fodder - er, I Mean the Hireling!

If you're like me, you're always forgetting and or misplacing your NPC's. It seems like the only easier thing to forget about in combat is your magic-user's familiar. (Or, if you're like some players I know - who like to "think with their swords," as I like to say - your magic-user's spells.)

That's why we had these sheets floating around the table back in the day. If you are, indeed, like me (woe unto you), you'll find this extremely useful:

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Scanning Project: Underlord of Cold Mountain, Pt. III

Underlord of Cold Mountain consists of a one-page map representing 50+ rooms (although there is only one dungeon "level"), a diagram of "Cold Mountain," a 13-page room key (covering the four discrete sections of the dungeon), and several pages of various monster and special location descriptions. Here are the last two components, "Section D" and miscellany:

Coming up: notes on the campaign setting in which UoCM resides.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Scanning Project: Underlord of Cold Mountain, Pt. II

Underlord of Cold Mountain consists of a one-page map representing 50+ rooms (although there is only one dungeon "level"), a diagram of "Cold Mountain," a 13-page room key (covering the four discrete sections of the dungeon), and several pages of various monster and special location descriptions. Yesterday, I posted the maps and "Section A." Here are "Section B" and "Section C":

Coming tomorrow: "Section D" and dungeon key miscellany (wandering monster tables, special monsters, etc.).
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Monday, June 8, 2009

Scanning Project: Underlord of Cold Mountain, Pt. I

Now that I've (mostly) run out of one-page dungeons to share, how about something from the other end of the spectrum? You know: something in the megadungeon range.

Underlord of Cold Mountain is, in my mind, in that range. I like to think of it as a mini-megadungeon, as self-contradictory as that term may seem.

I created UoCM some time in the mid-90's, but I'm fairly certain the map predates that by a few years - at least. It may be even older than that; I seem to recall drawing the first section of the map shortly after purchasing the Moria supplement for ICE's Middle-earth Role Playing game - which would put it somewhere around 1985, I think. So, if I have the history of this dungeon correct: the map was first drawn in the mid-80's; more sections were appended in the late-80's; and the key was created in the mid-90's.

UoCM served as the lair of the Big Bad of my campaign setting of that time period. As such, there are references in the dungeon's key to people and places specific to that setting. Later this week, I'll post some of my notes so that these references will have a little more meaning to you.

The dungeon itself consists of a one-page map representing 50+ rooms (although there is only one dungeon "level"), a diagram of "Cold Mountain," a 13-page room key (covering the four discrete sections of the dungeon), and several pages of various monster and special location descriptions.

I'll be posting the components of the dungeon today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, I'll post some of the background notes I have regarding the campaign setting in which UoCM resides.

Up first: the maps and "Section A" of the dungeon:

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Care For Another Magic Mushroom? They're Wafer Thin...

Our week-long journey down One-page Dungeon Lane concludes today with this: my entry into the "One Page Dungeon Contest."

Although recently updated to meet the OPDC requirements (everything on one page, edition-neutral), I originally scribbled the map for this dungeon in the early 90's on a piece of notepad paper (during a boring college lecture). I later expanded it by adding another section, and even later created a three- or four-page key to the dungeon.

But I don't think it ever got played. It just sat there in my game folder, staring up at me with those sad, puppy-dog eyes every time I went looking for a dungeon to mangle my players with - er, I mean run my players through.

Anyway, when the OPDC was announced, I really had no intention of entering. But when I was looking over this forgotten gem for possible inclusion in my scanning project, it struck me just how neat it would be to turn it into a one-pager. I'll let you decide if I was right or wrong.

For your enjoyment, allow me to present The Gray Goblin Warrens:

(BTW: You can find a list of the OPDC entrants here, along with links to many of the other entries. From what I've seen so far, my little dungeon is in very good company - and facing some serious competition.)
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Scanning Project: Look - It's a Two-Fer!

Today's post on the topic of one-page dungeons takes us outside the dungeon, to a pair of maps intended to be used as wilderness-based adventure locations for spur-of-the-moment encounters or brief interludes in the normal game.

These two locations are very similar - both showcasing a troll's lair and its immediate environs. The first was created for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, but later had stats added for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons:

The second map shows more of the area surrounding the cave, and includes a couple more potential adventure sites. It was created to serve as an introduction to new PC's in Warhammer Quest Roleplay, as reflected by the stat table:

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

So... Where Were We?

Ah, yes - taking a look at some one-page dungeons from my scanning project.

Well here's another dungeon - I use that term very loosely here - from the 90's. The reason I use the term so loosely is that this isn't a dungeon in the gamer's standard sense of that term (and definitely not in the true definition of the word). It's really a lair - for a nasty old dragon (with a very uninspired name).

(BTW: The second set of stats is for Warhammer Quest Roleplay. I love WHQ, and I'm still a bit smitten with the idea of doing a WHQ Roleplay campaign. Maybe someday...)
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Scanning Project: Another One-Page Dungeon

As I promised in yesterday's post, this week's posts are all going to be dedicated to the one-page dungeon. In keeping with that theme, here's another one.

I drew up this "dungeon" during a brief flirtation with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I only managed to pull off a few sessions (all of them head-to-head with my good friend, Terry) before moving on to something else. I liked a lot about the game, and the sessions we had were a total blast, but ultimately it was just too crunchy for my taste. Each of our sessions were centered around/resulting from this dungeon, a skaven (WFRP's Chaos-tainted rat-men) lair, which came to be known between us as Skavenloft.

Since this dungeon's all about skaven, you won't find any Dungeons & Dragons stats here - this one is pure Warhammer.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

I Got Yer One-Page Dungeons Right Here

No, really: I have a bunch of one-page dungeons to post as part of my scanning project.

These first two (I'll post the others later this week) were created sometime in the early 90's. They were both originally intended for use with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, as you'll be able to tell by the game stat tables.

First up is a generic underground lair of a generic evil cult:

Next up is Gordur, the Orc Stronghold, a fortified hill. Although this only ever saw use in a 1E Advanced Dungeons & Dragons session, it doesn't actually include the AD&D stats for the dungeon denizens. But I'm, sure you'll be able to fill in the blanks yourself:

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