Old School Cool
I love making up my own maps, keying them out, imagining ahead of time what the player characters are going to do, and then watching them tear it to shreds. Sometimes, of course, I need an adventure quickly, or I want to throw them a bit of a curve. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there for old-school games now to choose from. Here are some of my favorites. You should be able to use all of these with Gods & Monsters, and most of them can be easily re-skinned for your own game world.
- Fight On!
- Fight On! has some definite cool. It’s looking a lot like early Dragons; some of the Gods & Monsters-compatible adventures and kernels I’ve bookmarked for later use include:
- Issue 3: The Fifth Circle of Hell (special)
- Issue 4: House of the Ax (levels 4-10) and Mysterious Crystal Hemisphere (levels 2-4)
- Issue 6: The Lower Caves (levels 2-5), Welcome to Slimy Lake (any levels), and Hell-Grave of the Tveirbró∂ur (levels 1-3)
- Issue 7: The Temple of the Sea-Demon (level 3) and Song of Tranquility (levels 3-5)
- Issue 8: I Thirst (levels 3-5), Post-apocalyptic Stormfront Table (special), and The Howling Emptiness (levels 6+).
- Issue 9: Khosura (special), River Walk (levels 4-7), Caverns of the Beast Mistress (levels 3-6; this is a sublevel for the Caverns of Thracia!).
- Issue 9: Khosura (special), City of the Ancients (levels 5-10?)
- Issue 11: The Barbarian King (4-6), Caverns of the Sea Hag (levels 3-5?), The Palace of Eternal Illusion (levels 4-8?).
- Issue 12: The City State of Dusal Dagodli (special), The Deep Caves (special), The Siren Temple (levels 4-8?), Pigdivot (special).
- Issue 13: The Mysterious Laboratory of Xoth-Ragar (levels 5-7?), Fruiting Towers (levels 3-5?), Fungus Forest and Mold Falls (levels 6-9?).
- Castle of the Mad Archmage
- The Greyhawk Grognard’s Castle is now complete at twelve and a half levels. It is uniquely old-school and the maps are beautiful. Technically, it isn’t the castle, it’s the dungeon of the castle. It’s designed to go underneath a castle of your own design, but there’s also a very nice top level by Richard Graves, The Mad Demigod’s Castle. You can find it on…
- Dragonsfoot’s archive contains both adventures and a sporadic e-zine, Footprints. Footprints #1 came out in early 2004; it’s now up to issue 17. Like Gods & Monsters, Dragonsfoot was old-school before it was cool, and the site design and general esthetic of the place reflects that. Plus, they now have Len Lakofka continuing Lendore Isle! They have separate sections for Original D&D, AD&D, etc., but you can mix and match easily. The adventures I have marked for future reference are:
- DF14: Goblins Tooth I: Moonless Night by Lorne Marshall, for 6-10 characters of level 1-3
- DF18: Where the Fallen Jarls Sleep, by John A. Turcotte, for characters level 3-5
- L4: Devilspawn, by Len Lakofka, for characters level 3-5
- DF21: Beneath Black Towen, by John A. Turcotte, for characters level 4-6
- DFT2: Battle for Gib Rus, by Michael Haskell, for 6 characters of level 5-7
- Lamentations of the Flame Princess
- Green Devil Face is a fun zine, but Raggi’s adventures really shine. Death Frost Doom is a very cool combination of Lovecraft and Raimi, and Grinding Gear and Three Brides also look very good. Hammers of the God is awesome, and trivially easy to use with Gods & Monsters.
- Stonehell Dungeon: Down Night-Haunted Halls
- Very much in the Judges Guild style, Michael Curtis combines that with the one-page Dungeon style. There’s a complete overview of each section of the dungeon on two facing pages; then a two-page map and key also on facing pages. This makes it very easy to get acquainted with a new dungeon level very quickly. Which is good, because this is a huge dungeon with some cool backstory.
If you can find them, the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM archive is a great source, too. Two of my favorite adventures—Michael Malone’s The Wandering Trees and Larry DiTillio’s Chagmat—are available only on the archive or in the original issues (57 and 63 respectively). Karl Merris’s Fell Pass from issue 32 is a lot of fun also, and was the inspiration for my own Fabrica Solis. None of them are really worth the multi-hundred-dollar price I’m seeing on Amazon and eBay for the CD archive, but you can find at least the latter two at Amazon for reasonable prices. It’s really a lot of fun re-skinning these adventures. My re-skin documents for Chagmat and Fell Pass were almost as much fun to make as my own adventures.
Another place to look, if you can find it, are old issues of the Judges Guild magazines Pegasus, Dungeoneer, and Judges Guild Journal. It’s a blast going through those pioneering magazines. Another one of my favorite adventures, which I haven’t yet had a chance to use, is from the Dungeoneer issue 2, Merle Davenport’s The Fabled Garden of Merlin. The actual issue 2 is hard to find and expensive, but you can also see it in the compendium of issues 1 through 6 which can be found for under ten dollars.
Steven Brandt’s Mythos of Har, with its spectral rivers, might be an interesting adventure, too. I’ve never run it but I have bookmarked it.
In the sky of Har stands but one star of significance, the star Nordus. From this star flowed the power of magic which Har absorbed. This energy then flowed from Har as a river of color and liquid light and from here men obtained their power.
Beneath this river lived many creatures. Each creature had two serpent-like heads, one red-gold, the other white. Where the two necks joined there was a single green eye. Its body was pink-gold with flaming poisonous wings. Each head could spit, the reddish head spit lava, and the white spit storms of ice.
You can find The Mythos of Har in Judges Guild Journal 17.
But even if you don’t haunt used bookstores like I do, you can find great adventures online from the many partisans of the old-school renaissance. It’s a great time to be a doughty RPGer!