Paka (paka) wrote in roleplayers,
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I figure I'll amuse myself and possibly y'all by talking about Dungeon magazine.

Now out of the mists of dim proto-gaming history, long before anyone ever thought "hey! Wouldn't it be cool to be vampires and werewolves instead of just killing them?" there was a brilliantly Gygaxian module called The Tomb of Horrors. This thing had Total Player Kill written all over it. There are whole platoons of M1A1 Abrams tanks that would be less deadly than most rooms in the Tomb of Horrors. After you expended a batch of resurrection and wish spells getting your party members back to life from the myriad traps, you could finally fight the Tomb's central figure - the demilich Acerecak (sp?), now a floating skull which ate souls without barely any saving throw.

I mention the Tomb of Horrors because that's credited in Dungeon 138 as the inspiration behind The Mud Sorceror's Tomb. It's definitely appropriate.


Every room in this dungeon is trapped, unless something nasty and brutal is living there, and typically even if there is something living there, there's also a trap! I'm not kidding!

This looks like it'd be a good adventure to run in two different circumstances;

  • You and your buds are all fans of first edition styled action. You've got lots of pop and maybe pizza and you're ready for a marathon gaming session. So you want the fun of doing that, and don't care too much about the way this is really goofy and likely to be fatal to all your player characters, possibly several times in one night. Good times, good times.

  • You are a pathological sadist who enjoys wrecking characters, and you want your players to never game with you again.


Just to suggest how Gygaxian and badassed this thing is, I'll tell you just the traps that I remember off the top of my head;

  • Stone face. There's a serene featured stone face in the wall. Reach into the ears and if you're lucky, you get a key to a (trapped) secret room. If you're not lucky, you've just sealed off the room with a spiked gate, and triggered the stone face to direct hurricane force winds at medium and smaller creatures, blowing them against the gate.

  • Gigantic tombs! If you carefully work the mortar off these sarcophagi, and open them up in search of treasure, you automatically release the mummies inside. Mummies aren't that bad, right? Well, they're hill giant mummies. Hill giant mummies with several levels of monk.

  • The corpse trap. If you inspect this corpse, it'll reach out and grab onto your arm, and also it'll trigger an illusion of the walls suddenly advancing towards you. Don't bother trying to sever the corpse's arm, you can't. The idea of the illusion is to convince player characters to run right into a comparatively mundane pit trap which you can't climb out of nonmagically without taking major damage from the razor sharp sides.

  • The elephant statue. Cool, a statue of an elephant headed man, that can't possibly have BAD written all over it in Elder Futhark, can it? Well, if you're lucky when you try prying off tusks, you get the one that's a key. If you're not lucky, the thing grabs you with a high level Bigby's Hand spell and releases a Cloudkill spell right into your face.

  • The pit within a pit trap. Basic 40' drop or so with no chance of climbing out without magical means. That's straightforward, right? But did I mention that if you fall into this thing, it automatically seals, and creates an illusion of a false floor, so that if your fellow players manage to get the trapdoor open, they find an empty pit? (Unless they guess that it's an illusion. They might assume you've been disintegrated or teleported to a different location, there are traps that do that in this dungeon after all.)

  • The impassible room. You can't get through this room at all unless you pour water on the floor. Doing so creates three mud golems, but don't worry, if you manage to kill two of 'em, the third will serve you.

  • The good ol' Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity. I mention this not because it's really a trap, but because it's the most first edition of all first edition items. Rather than introducing the elaborate world of gender dysphoria issues to the game, this is there so that players can be jerks to the unfortunate player. Or if you're the GM, and a pathological sadist, you can always assign the victim a slight penalty to all their actions because of clothes or armor fitting improperly.

  • Tapestry of bugs and snakes. I forget what else is in this chamber, I think daggers spring out of the floor or something, but there's a big silk wall hanging, and as soon as characters wander into the room, bits of the silk flake off, become a swarm of insects, and attack (as per the Insect Plague spell). Most people confronted by this will try and destroy the tapestry, right? If you touch the thing as part of the attempt, it'll become an amphisbaena snake and attack you.

  • The symbol of insanity. This is pretty mild, really. But did I mention that this is right under an orb in a coffin? And that you need to lift the orb, and probably get stuck seeing the symbol of insanity, if you want to get to the main burial, the big goal of your character wandering into this dungeon?
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