Wednesday, February 2, 2022

OSR Commentary On Dave Hargrave's Arduin Dungeon Caliban #1 For Your Old School Campaigns

 Working my way back through Hargravian history with Vaults of the Weaver, its interesting to see the way that Caliban the flying Dutchman of dungeons has had on my dungeon design asthetic. What is Caliban and when did it appear; "Caliban (also known as Arduin Dungeon Number One) was a standalone short story and gaming module written in 1979 by David A. Hargrave and published by Grimoire Games. It was based upon Hargrave's gaming system known as Arduin."  Caliban was once a living planar dungeon that challenged the very esssence of Arduin until the gods ripped its evil sentience from it! 

Caliban is far from inactive though because its evil still seeps from it and attracts other monsters with its influence on Arduin. Or at least that's how it is in my head cannon for Arduin. 

So what kicked all of this off?! Reading through the Direbane blog with its introduction to Caliban of all things here. But let me give credit where credit is due; "Unfortunately the entire dungeon, with three more levels, is not presently available (commercially at least, other than $50-$75 used copies), however, posting the entire dungeon will certainly be too much if the copyright holders complain.

What I have done is annotated this portion of the scenario with all the particular monster, spells, and magik items descriptions that one would otherwise need to have the Arduin rulebooks to supply.

My hope is that folks can gain a bit of appreciation for the type of extreme dangers and rewards inherent to an Arduin game. If one focuses on the magic items first, it is like "Holy Toledo!" but I counted about half of the monsters with life level draining abilities. Ouch!"
Note that this blog entry was written in 2018 long before Emperor's Choice came back on the scene in 2021. And Caliban along with other of Dave Hargrave's dungeons appears in the Vault of the Weaver reprint available here. 
Caliban is deadly & still retains its plane traveling abilities so with the right ritual it could appear in in any campaign. There's something very Jack Vance or Michael Moorcock about that little bit of writing on Hargrave's part.  The fact is that Caliban is a high level & nasty dungeon whose influence would in point of fact colour a campaign from the get go. And it might also be supplying monsters to a world in turn. 
Dungeon locations are not static adventure elements & they have to be maintained. And there's got to be a whole evil cult & mechanism in place to do labor & maintence on these locations. And Caliban is no exception. Power attracts power & the evil aura of Caliban is going to go a long way towards hooking a sizable evil cult or create one. Are there still portions of Caliban that are living and can the dungeon itself generate its own monsters able to maintain the coheision of the living organs of the dungeon?! 
And what about the gods themselves of your campaign have they written of Caliban as nothing more then a forgotten relic of a time of war?!  
There are far more questions that I have with Caliban then answers & this I believe is one of the main strengths of the dungeon & adventure location that drags my imagination back again & again. 

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