So. My players are wandering in Room 1 - the Forest of Dreams. Through methods that are a mystery even to myself, I managed to take the blurbs Anthony gives us in the book, combined with a few starter adventures or one-page dungeons, and turn them into several sessions of gaming and a whole overarching story with most of the trimmings.
It was tense for a bit when they first arrived, picked out a room and I thought "Well... Here we go!" I kept it together for the rest of the session and then had 2 weeks to come up with NPCs, factions, some backstory, and a few fully realized adventure locations!
I have been picking likely adventures out of my Trilemma Adventures Compendium (great for a time-crunched DM, but the adventures all need a bit of doctoring before play I find). I ran them through the old low-level Necromancer Games chestnut "The Crucible of Freya" but changed the monsters. Instead of orcs, it was demi-shadow needlemen (a sentence I never thought I'd type, but there you have it).
Here is my hexmap so far, I also use Cone of Negative Energy's hex set:
You can see the lake of fog up there, with the docks. On the left, the fog falls into a great 'ocean,' maybe there is something cool on the other side, I've no idea yet. Most of my decisions so far have been to give myself room to work if the players want to explore further, without doing TOO much work if they leave and never come back. The black&white areas are regions of perpetual night called "moonlit zones" where visitors may have their colour drained away, eventually leaving them shades like the other denizens. Of course there is some cool treasure in some of them too. I have towns full of shades under a strange curse, temples to forgotten gods, a sleeping princess & mad king - just good classic stuff mostly based on suggestions in the book. Everything is fallen-down and crumbling, for the visuals I am basically cribbing as hard as I can from Dark Souls (my favourite video game ever - too bad I lost my copy in the divorce). I could never do that in the 'normal world' of my game, so it is great to have these aesthetically distinct realms where a DM can really indulge himself in whatever wild thing is on his mind, without starting an entirely new campaign or turning his regular world into a completely mixed bag. Next session, the gang wants to press on to find the "Sage of Lune," (another Trilemma adventure) and hopefully they'll get some clues about the shadow-demons that plague the land. I'll have to deliver this info carefully though. They have a dangerous tendency to go after the first clue they hear about like a heatseeking missile, and they're only 1st-3rd level...
Some more love for NWI: https://princeofnothingblogs.wordpress.com/2023/03/28/review-night-wolf-inn-add-3pp-promised-land/
UPDATES: The group got their noses bloodied in Room I against a fortress full of Lunar Gnolls (they are like regular gnolls, but they have silver fur and are more hungry) and a Moon-Giant (like a regular giant but with a big moon for a head, you know how it is). The barbarian fried everyone with the Four Winds Bar pretty effectively in one session - like 2 PCs flat out into the negatives, used up everyone's healing magic, they barely escaped from that delve with their lives, limping or being carried out by the hirelings! A few of the characters have succumbed to the neurotic forces of Room I and will get -1 on initiative rolls. I am picturing this as a kind of fear effect that can only be removed by rest & time away from Room I, to counterbalance the awesome power of the 10-1 time dilation effects that my players love to use & abuse. Meanwhile, the first PC to join the Guild just got this in the mail: (I tired to copy the signature you used, but it just didn't look that good - it was obviously my handwriting, so I used a font) I am giving them the choice of going into Room IV where I have placed several modules: Isle of Dread, Guy Fullerton's Many Gates of the Gann, and a few others. Or slipping through the cracks of the Inn, and into a pocket dimension where I'll be running the death-metal attack of Princeofnothing's Palace of Unquiet Repose. In the meantime, I am planning a big party at the Inn for midsummer's day with contests, games of Evocation, prizes and other things to be won. Hopefully they will meet some NPCs and learn some more clues about the Inn. Today they adventure in town a little bit, and next session they go back into Room I for revenge against the Gnolls. We'll see how they do!
The Four Winds Bar is sometimes more trouble than it's worth!! The flight power is great, but today the Barbarian used the 'lightning burst' power and nearly killed the whole party! Two characters were brought to -1 right away, and their best NPC to exactly 0. The player immediately said: "Oh man.... I shouldn't be given magic items!" Heheheheheheh the checks & balances of AD&D are always there.
Wonderful. So appropriate that the Master would appear and retrace Suzy's steps. It really brings a smile that this thing I made when I was a kid is providing such experiences. Thanks for sharing.
This is what happens when some people miss game night - the short- handed group tries to "play it safe" and gets into a few sticky situations!
so this is the play report I put up for my own group: SESSION 26 THE FOUR WINDS BAR
12 Sunstrong, 4433
Gorr, ranger 5 Daqqa-Jin, barbarian 2 Cassia, fighter 1
Lost in the Cellars
The group was resting in the Night Wolf Inn after getting lost for a while [last session] when they were approached by an Amazon warrior, an aspiring champion of Athena who wished to join the company. Since Robert the Swift was in bad shape and his Mummy Rot wasn't getting any better, they were happy to have another pair of hands and welcomed Cassia to the group.
The party returned to the library and tried their hand at the clock again. Some more experimentation by Daqqa-Jin led to a solution - after each combination, a few minutes of waiting was necessary to produce the right effect! The clock produced a rotting stench, a peal of thunder, the smell of flowers, smoke, and freezing cold before sliding aside to reveal a narrow passage.
Daqqa-Jin proceeded in and found a gleaming chromium rod floating in a black void, securing it with his backpack. The group reluctantly followed when their friend was drawn into an extradimensional gateway! The group found themselves in a sealed room with magical frescoes of clouds swirling along the floor. Touching the chromium rod (called the Four Winds Bar) to each corner of this room opened a secret door and allowed them to escape in a flurry of mist, leaving behind the skeletons of less fortunate adventurers.
Finding themselves in burial chambers of a familiar style, the group searched for a way out. They passed through the "Family Halls," "Hall of Adventurers," "Hall of Thieves," "Hall of Knights" and "Hall of Wizards," discovering many oddities & dangers. In the Hall of Knights, the dead were stacked high up to the shadowy ceiling, covered in ancient & ornate armour. When Daqqa-Jin began searching the corpses for valuables, the group were assailed by insubstantial undead materializing out of nowhere. Daqqa-Jin fled in supernatural terror into the darkened tunnels, his friends in hot pursuit. They ended up in a high-ceilinged cavern where mobile stalactites occasionally launched downwards to impale the unwary. The barbarian's headlong flight had placed them all right in the center of danger! A few of the party were brought down to a handful of hit points and they escaped only with a careful plan and a bit of luck.
Cassia's player: "It's like a Metroid level!" Gorr's player: "We are all basically one Piercer attack away from death at any time." Daqqa-Jin's player: "Fuuuck, I shoulda rolled up an extra character..."
The passed through the Hall of Wizards where the skulls of the dead swivelled to follow their every move, skeletal hands rasping in anticipation. They found a golden door decorated with nymphs and satyrs and a passageway with an icy wind blowing, but decided to pass through the Hall of Slaves towards the exit. They were pursued by two large, pale, corpulent crawling creatures like bloated centipedes but decided not to engage with them, running at top speed towards the tavern stairs. Back up on safe ground, the group explored more of the Inn's strange & mysterious rooms. They attempted to open a secret panel of some kind in the cloakroom, but weren't able to. Found the kitchen, staffed by odd gray-skinned people. Explored the parlour and played with a few of the musical instruments there, and found a magical horn hidden in a secret compartment!
Upstairs they explored the smoking lounge, decorated with animal head trophies and paintings of diverse adventurers from around the world including Jeeves, Rain the elven bard and a Viridian named Rory. On the balcony they found an evil-looking amulet in a stone coffer and decided to leave it alone for now. Exploring from the library, they took a spiral staircase up through another "back passage" and ended up in the attic, emerging from a small, featureless black door. The ceiling lay close above and with no windows, everything was lit by little oil lamps. Many more guest rooms were up here, but the group descended the stairs to the 2nd floor.
In the art gallery, they saw something truly strange. Accompanied by a spectral singing, the translucent apparition of a little girl wandered past them, seemingly unaware of their presence. This ghost or illusion or whatever it was did not respond to their attempts at interaction. The group waved and asked questions eliciting no response, until Daqqa-Jin asked "Where are you?"
The ghostly child replied "Between starlight and hellfire," before vanishing.
The party barely had time to register this odd event before they had another strange visitation: a stooped, cloaked figure with its face obscured, clutching an ornately carved staff in one wizened hand. This odd and spooky being spoke to no-one, instead tracing the path that the ghostly girl had followed, looking around the room intently before vanishing as quickly & mysteriously as it came. After all these strange experiences the party needed some answers. They spoke with Mr. Everbleed and learned many strange facts about the Inn, about special combat training, the strange phenomena they've seen, the identity of the mysterious Guild Master - and that Rain once owned a magic item called a "Four Winds Bar" as well!
After some accelerated time in the Forest of Dreams, Eric Withakay was back up to full strength and able to use his clerical magic to heal the party and remove Robert the Swift's mummy rot - this also cured his curse of sleeplessness and he was able to get some rest for the first time in a while.
It got real dicey there for a while. They saw fit to fiddle with quite a few things. The 2nd level barbarian, 5th level ranger and 1st level fighter managed to escape the cellars with their lives, but if the rolls had gone even slightly differently it could easily have been a TPK. Full writeup forthcoming...
Definitely want to hear a writeup, @HD Atkinson ! :D
THEY HAVE THE FOUR WINDS BAR, Let's see if they make it out of the cellars alive!!!!
Who? The real Allan Grohe has been known to use spiritwrack for such nomenclature offenses ;)
More seriously, I do have a fondness for Tiamat (see http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=215), and will be happy for my namesake to die under the knives of your PCs =)
Complete Tangent, but "Allen" Grohe is now officially an NPC in the Silver Castle...A cultist of Tiamat!
Amazing! I've never had anyone solve the clock puzzle before.
Latest fun: The group has been out doing other things in the city & travelling around. Recently they returned and have heard more rumours about the Inn's secrets. They are only *now* starting to suspect that this place has much more to it than they thought.
They visited Room IV, where a random encounter with some mummies left the cleric dead and the fighter afflicted with mummy rot! They don't have the money now for a Remove Curse - the helpful clerics of Hextor offered to do it cheaper if the party would owe them a favour, but... everyone's a bit nervous about that idea, heheheh. They explored a bit of the cellars, but were driven off by the cider glows and came back to the tavern to sober up. They went through a Glimmer Door to room 303 and fought their mirror opposites (a close thing!) Last session they spent about 2 hours messing with the grandfather clock (I was so happy to see my players trying to solve puzzles). They are SO close to the solution, but we'll see what happens next. Since they want to solve the puzzle, they are taking an interest in the Inn's mysteries, who the characters are & what the story is - perfect!
One of the PCs was being sought by the Inquisition (for unrelated things, from back in session 1). When he finally turned himself in, the high inquisitor made it clear that he had dirt on the whole party, but wasn't interested in punishing them - he really wanted them as deniable assets! Since all their efforts to infiltrate the Inn have been slyly rebuffed by Jeeves, the party are now going to be Inquisition informants. We'll see how it goes, but hopefully this sends the party deeper into the Inn's mysteries.
amazing that they've spent all that time in one room!
More fun in the Forest of Dreams:
Building on the adventure seeds Anthony gives us in the book along with a few modules, and my own ideas, I now have a sort of cosmology and a structure for the antagonists & obstacles in the forest.
My players have been up to a few things:
1 - Defeated an undead wizard menacing a town of shades with his pack of shadow-mastiffs (I used The Crucible of Freya as the base for this, and changed a few things around) 2 - Explored a tower where prisoners were kept in time-stopped cells, freeing a knight from a lost age. This will come into play more & more as they search for the trapped princess they keep hearing rumours about.
3 - One of the clerics has been converted. He now follows Solaris, an ancient sun-god whose worship has obviously declined in past centuries, since daylight is not seen in the Forest of Dreams anymore. Whether the world can be changed enough to bring back day & night is anybody's guess (I haven't though this far ahead yet).
4 - They are now exploring The Enchantment of Vashundara, a short adventure from Melan's zine, Echoes from Fomalhaut issue #5. So far, really good.
This room has seen a lot of development! They have found a few clues (dead adventurers' journals, stuff like that) which they need to translate. Hopefully they will have the presence of mind to ask around the inn or show them to other guild members. Hopefully this will direct them to the library and other rooms, & get them looking at some of the Inn's mysteries. Next on the docket: to map & stock the "ruin of insubstantial shadow" where a shadow-demon dwells!
Yesss excellent!! This will provide tons of colour