My Favorite AdventuresPosted: March 13, 2011
Planet Algol is asking for reader’s favorite adventure recommendations, but, speaking as someone who has enjoyed making up my own adventures almost as much as running them, I thought I would describe a few of the favorite adventures that I made up in broad strokes.
(at right, my illustration of one of the encounters in my megadungeon, “Mines of Khunmar”)
1) Mines of Khunmar: One of the advantages of making up your own is that you can be a lot more cavalier about the details since you will usually know what you mean and the briefest of notes will usually be sufficient. Years and years ago I created a ‘megadungeon’ in the old mode (like the dungeons of Castles Greyhawk and Blackmoor). Even after I stopped playing D&D, every once in a while I would look this thing over, sometimes adding a little more. It’s been decades since I have hosted an adventure in Khunmar (an outline version is floating round the internet). Khunmar has seven or eight main levels, many sub and side levels, etc., and consists of 30 to 40 maps, each with an average of 25 or so numbered locations. My rational was that Khunmar, like Tolkien’s Moria, was originally a dwarven mine/fortress which was subsequently abandoned and overrun by humanoids after the dwarves ‘delved too deep.’ The upper levels have areas controlled by goblins, kobolds, orcs, undead, etc., and nastier creatures lurk below.
Geoffrey (occassional reader of this blog) took scans of all of my handwritten notes and typed them up and I keep telling myself that I will use that to create a finished product; the only question is when.
2) Gastan’s Gold Mine: I created Gastan’s Gold Mine for my players back in the early 80s. The gold mine was accessible from 2 points: either down a well on an abandoned farm or through a cave occupied by a cave troll and over an underground chasm. The mine was infested by the animate bodies of dead miners, dead adventurers and dead goblins who were all infested by a black mold that animated them like zombies. If you were struck by a zombie, it was likely that you would be infested too (and eventually become a black mold zombie). Since the zombies were animated by mold, they could not be turned by a cleric (although I suppose a ‘control plants’ spell might work; the players never tried that). The zombies couldn’t cross the chasm or climb out of the well, so the mold zombies could not infest the surrounding countryside, but the body count from the mine (and the troll) was very high indeed. Large numbers of valuable gold nuggets could be looted from the mine but I think only 1/2 or less of the players made it out alive. The victims joined the other ‘mold zombies’ in the mine.
3) Marshville: I always liked the Lovecraft story, “Shadow Over Innsmouth,” and created my own ‘deep one hybrid’ community for D&D I called Marshville. The players arrived in town and found the locals ugly, stand-offish and unfriendly. The towns resident drunk drops some ominous warnings before the locals slip him a mickey to shut him up and they make contact with a local old wise woman (one of the few pure humans left in town) who warns them to ‘get out while they can.’ They eventually got into a fracas with the locals and discovered that some of the towns older residents were more and more ‘fishlike’ and the residents of some of the older residents are equipped with bath tubs that the locals use as ‘beds.’ Eventually, the deep one hybrids turn pure fishman and retreat beneath the waves (I placed a temple underwater but never got around to designing that part of it but the players never went there anyway) There are tunnels and chapels to a perverted sea god under the town that the players explored and they employed hit-and-run tactics against the locals until finally having to leave town via a teleport spell since all of the residents (full fishman and still able to pass as human) were after them.
One of the peculiarities of the adventure is that the players left town with an unusually large number of magic tridents.
4) The Haunted Monastery: In my own homebrew world, I have a religion I call “The Allfather.” The Allfather’s followers are somewhat like the medieval Catholic Church; basically lawful but inclined to an excess of zeal and dogma. When local authorities make it possible, the Allfatherians persecute or forcibly convert non believers and some races (like elves) are declared an ‘abomination’ while others (like dwarves) are tolerated as second-class citizens who can never attain ‘grace’ through the church. The Allfatherians seek to form a theocracy with their clergy as rulers. The players happened upon an apparently abandoned Allfather Monastery high in the frozen mountains while attempting to lead a group of human slaves liberated from an underground village of goblins to safety. The monastery appeared empty and the slaves were freezing because they lacked food and clothing, so they took shelter there. A single monk, apparently mad, committed suicide by jumping out a window. The players discovered that there was an ancient crypt deep beneath the deepest cellar of the monastery that the monks had discovered and the monks were all gone because they had released a plague of undead as they sought to expand their beer cellar. The most powerful ghost was one that could freeze anyone who stood in proximity to it and drive people mad with his babbling. While there, one of the players picked up a cursed mace and then secretly began murdering the rescued prisoners (the other players had no idea that this was going on and assumed that the ghosts/zombies/ghouls were doing the killing).