My World of Greyhawk campaign has been interrupted of late by other matters, but we returned to it this week with a classic dungeon crawl. After the past two sessions of a city-based adventure, which had not gone as well as I’d wished, I felt it was time to return to a dungeon.
Ah, but which dungeon? There are several megadungeons in my version of the world: Castle Greyhawk, Rappan Athuk, and the Caverns of the Oracle. However, none were near where the characters were, and I felt like giving them a single-session dungeon. Thus, I invented an old Suloise research facility, now ruined and buried, and let the players learn through the local lord.
Lord Geoffrey, it appears, is a student of history. In particular, his family’s history, as they participated in the attack that tore down the original facility. There’s nothing like inventing details for NPCs when the plot demands it! I knew that Martin’s character, a priest of Boccob, was interested in finding magic items, and so the dungeon was designed to enable that.
One of the fun things about this campaign is that I’m happy to draw inspiration and rules mechanics from anywhere. So, when Greg asked about hiring some teamsters to bring his spinet along, I handed him the hireling list from the first-edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide. I then told him it was a stupid idea and stopped him from doing it. However, he was now aware of the hirelings available. And that leads into other possibilities down the track.
The travel to the site took about a week, which we hand-waved away. Not every travel needs encounters! Once there, they had to search for where the ruins were – after hundreds of years, little remained. Eventually they discovered the outline of the ruins, with little remaining save stones. However, it was possible a cellar yet remained, and so they’d have to dig. Did anyone have any shovels?
Apparently not, and so another two days were spent travelling to a nearby town, buying shovels, then returning to begin the excavation.
An opening was discovered, and Glen’s monk – not waiting for the others – dropped down inside to scout. The underground cellar was choked with roots and weeds, and, apparently, two shambling mounds! One engulfed the monk and carried him away before the others could lower a rope and assist. The monk was dead before they slew the shambling mounds – three blight spells expended in the process! Martin cast a revivify spell on the monk, and they began to explore.
Several corridors branched out from the central chamber. One door was blocked by a collapse in the room beyond. Another led to a library or experimentation lab. The devices in it were rusted and useless, but brittle scrolls and manuscripts remained. Some were destroyed as the party attempted to recover them, but one manuscript, which described the processes to create magical staves, was preserved. It wouldn’t be able to survive a long journey, however. They’d need to copy it; a time-consuming process that they didn’t have the materials for yet. This led to a search of spell lists for anything to copy texts (I described the write spell from first-edition AD&D to them), but nothing came to hand. Greg’s sorcerer would likely scribe it, aided by a helm of comprehending languages the group had picked up earlier.
The next chamber was an old wine-cellar, with racks and racks of spoiled wine bottles – and a lurking bodak. This encounter went more in the players’ favour, with Greg’s ability to ignore fire resistance being key.
The final room contained the treasure they’d sought, but also a gauth that had drained all its magic! The gauth was relatively easily defeated, but not so the two assassin vines in the chamber. One grabbed and slew Greg’s sorcerer as she stood in one corner of the room. The other grappled Adam’s paladin, but he was freed before he died. Rich’s wizard was frustrated by their fire resistance; Greg’s sorcerer would have been more effective, but he was dead! After the combat ended, Martin cast his revivify spell again, and Greg’s sorcerer was restored.
Their reward was a few jewelled trinkets. Far more interesting was the manuscript, which contained instructions for creating a staff of defense and a staff of healing. Exactly what the process for creating those staves is something I’ll have to consider. I’ll probably require a period of downtime, an expenditure of gold, the equipping of a lab, and the procurement of rare components – the last of which require more expeditions into dungeons and the wilderness!
Greg also was interested by the hiring of an alchemist described the old DMG, which would allow him to brew magical potions. Yes, I would allow more than just potions of healing to be created! However, the formula for each potion would have to be researched separately.
So are set seeds for further adventures. The group is about 8th level now, and they’ve settled down in the town of Brusington. So, let’s see what world-building stuff they can do through territory acquisition, hiring followers, making magic items, and other parts of the game that we’d like to explore!