Monday, December 26, 2016

Frankengaming Adventure Construction 101 - Commentary On B2 The Keep On The Borderland & T1 The Village of Hommlet

Over the holidays has been a bit of an education & how the OSR's elements fit together, or not. First of all a DM's job is mediate, work through how the parts & pieces fit together. The real stars of the show are the players, they are both cast as well as the glue that holds the whole event that we call play is put together. But its knowing what fits into and how you set the whole adventure set up together.
You are your own old school revolution &  there's never been a perfect old school or new school role playing system or adventure. First of all decide on a base system for me over the last couple of years is an old school system such as B/X with touches of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition usual with overlays of an OSR system such as Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. This means as a  dungeon master I've got my system backed up for judgements, quick calls,etc. This is my method and your milage may vary & none of this is a perfect fit there's nothing seamless about this.

So let's take one of my all time favorites to use 'the Keep on The Borderlands' is one of the classics & proves a nice base for the PC's to start at to then advance over to the 'Village of Hommlet'. The PC's can base themselves there before investigating the series of caverns in the nearby hills teeming with monsters which can tie into the cult of elemental evil. With DCC & AD&D what I did was to merry the keep as a part of a funnel where the PC's are part of an attack on the keep but survived. The PC's late on ventured into the Caves of Chaos and dealt with the various tribes of  kobolds, orcs, goblins, ogres, hobgoblins, bugbears, gnolls, all being generated by various monster generators left over from from the cult's ancient activities. They've been started again by the forces of the Caverns of Chaos under orders from the Temple of Elemental evil. A long tunnel system connects the Caves of Chaos to the Moat House from the Village of Hommlet.

Another thing I did was to take the PC's into the  Moathouse dungeon  to strip the PC's of equipment, spells, torches, etc. which they had to return to the keep for provisions. The prices are outrageous there & then levy a tax on top of all of it because its wartime after all. By the time the PC's got to the Village of Hommlet they were penniless and desperate need of money & treasure but they were tough customers so it all worked out. By intersecting all of these old school ideas & adventures a small corner of a campaign world comes together quickly and easily. Once the PC's reached the Village they didn't go back to the keep but in fact they did once they cleaned house on the dungeons and environs with B2.

So one of the players who knew everything there was to know about B2 made a snide remark about one of the boss monsters from The Keep of The Borderlands. Well I've got the cure for that folks, my copy of the Lusus Naturae hardback by Rafael Chandler, best known  for the Teratic Tome and the wonderful artist Gennifer Bone  came out. Towards the back of the book is an appendix for generating unique, powerful, and weird monsters. Well given the nature of the elemental evil cult I put together a monster on the fly which the players weren't expecting at all guarding the Caves of Chaos.

Then I took the traditional orcs, gnolls, etc. and mixed in some other powers and abilities for some minor but very dangerous foes. This same style of tactic could easily work with Hubris or your own favorite OSR product. Let me turn this in another OSR direction, I took the exact same set up and twisted it around for a Dark Albion mini campaign. Here I added in more detail with Dark Albion's Cult's of Chaos.

The players wanted more details on the religions & practices of my version of the cult of elemental evil. I didn't have ton of time because of medical appointments and what not for my dad. So a quick series of rolls on several of the charts in Dark Albion & bang the background was filled in. Its worth noting several of the changes that happened between these two campaigns:
  • There was black powder weapons involved right from the get go. The set up was that the keep was on the German border. The players were involved as undercover inquisitors and the whole thing played out very well. 
  • One of the patrons of the adventurers was a Jon Dee style German magus of considerable talent. The idea of the lone Roman/Britannia outpost blends very well with B2. I used the Lamentations of the Flame Princess summon spell mini monster generator to add even more weird turns to the elemental 'demons' of Dark Albion's NPC's 
  • The damn adventure turned into a mini campaign because of the fact that the players got into it but the game broke up because of my father's health concerns.
The point is that with a simple flip of perspective these modules are classic and timeless in some respects because of how adaptive they are with a bit of imagination. Anything can be bleak or it can become quite nice depending upon how the DM and the players want to make them.

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