In the 1990s, I spent a lot of my spare time trying to design a very simple, universal roleplaying game. I was attempting to recapture the spirit of the games I started playing in the mid-1970s. I finally decided that the best way to recapture that feeling wasn’t to create an entire new game, but to just play the old games like really liked. FAST (Flexible Adventure System, Task-oriented) was one of my most successful attempts at a playable, very simple game. I’ve put it up on RetroRoleplaying just in case anyone finds it useful.
Gates & Glamours
As most of the commercial adventures designed for Original D&D were published by Judges Guild, I knew I was going to have to dig out my Judges Guild stuff sooner or later so I could list the better D&D adventures on RetroRoleplaying.com. After reading that Bob Bledsaw has terminal cancer on Dragonsfoot, I decided to do so sooner — as in yesterday.
Naturally, when I pulled out the box of Judges Guild stuff, the first things I looked at were the older magazines: The Dungeoneer and Judges Guild Journal. I remembered them being a very mixed bag and my memory was correct. There were some excellent rules ideas and mini-adventures, but there were also issues full of awful, boring “contest winner” dungeons. I’ve just started to go through these issues for the first time in years, so I can’t yet comment on which issues are worth trying to find if you don’t have copies.
You see, I got side-tracked. I had forgotten how many mini-adventures by Paul Jaquays were published in later issues of The Dungeoneer. They generally weren’t as long as his adventures in the early issues (those before Judges Guild took over publication), but they were still excellent.
Morkendaine Dungeon in The Dungeoneer #9 brought back a number of memories. This adventure centered around an old manor that had originally been built a Paladin on the site of a ruined temple of a lawful good deity. His descendants did not maintain the place and eventually lost the manor because they couldn’t pay the taxes. A mage finally bought the place and started building dungeons for this experiments under it. It was great sixteen page example of Paul’s great adventure designs.
Back in the day, I had dropped this adventure in the middle of the Park of Obscene Statues in the City-State of the Invincible Overlord. My version of the park was much larger than the version in the published city-state. What’s the use of having magic if some long lost great magic can’t make something bigger than the space it fits in?
From my description of the Park of Obscene Statues:
When the Park of Obscene Statues is measured from the outside it seems to be about 450 feet by 560 feet. However, when measured from inside the park is much larger, about 3840 feet by 4480 feet. According to legend, this is due to a great magical ritual cast by a great mage whose name has been carefully scratched off of early records.
For many years (roughly from 3078-4133 BCCC) the park was used as a worship area for the Temple of Red Desire. However, when the Great Fire destroyed the temple quarter of the city in 4132, the priests of the Temple of Red Desire were forced to sell the land to raise the money needed to rebuild their temple. The land was sold to Lord Morken, Earl of Morkendaine, for a huge sum. He built Morkendaine Manor (see a on the map) on the hilltop. The Mordendaine line died out in 4342 and the Overlord confiscated the manor for back taxes in 4360. It was sold the same year to a mage named Hostephris. It went to his son in 4397, but he came to a bad end in Flipping Frog Tavern in 4404. His son never appeared to claim the manor. It was confiscated by the present Overlord’s father 7 days before he died (in 4411) for back taxes. As the present Overlord did not enjoy wide popular support when he ascended to the throne, one of his first official acts was to make the land a public park.
Unfortunately, Hostephris’ son was a scumbag. He had bought all sorts of monsters in to occupy a dungeon laboratory he was constructing under the manor. With his death, the creatures had settled in wherever they wanted in the park. The Overlord found out how bad it actually was after he had publicly declared the land a park — which did not help his popularity.
You can see how I blended the material from Paul’s module into my version of the City-State. The manor was well-hidden and a dangerous place for low level adventures. Heck, just getting to the manor was dangerous — and a lot of fun. Ahh, memories.