Some general thoughts on Waysoftheearth's modules

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Post by The Red Baron » Mon Oct 17, 2022 3:53 am

Some general thoughts on Waysoftheearth's modules

This isn't a comprehensive review, rather a few general ideas about the modules "Tarrent and Nogrod", "The Ruination of Tenamen", "Secrets of the Od City", " DD V1 Sample Dungeon", "V5 Referee Quick Starter" taken in aggregate.

These dungeons are all designed to be introductory or example offerings for low-level "normal" play. They focus on "meat and potatoes" (to use melan's phrase) content: monsters, mainly humanoids. I assume this is to highlight DD's rules for "normal combat". There are clearly NPCs and factions which offer negotiating/politicking opportunities, and an occasional cockatrice or ogre providing occasions where discretion is probably the better part of valor; nevertheless, these modules are all strongly of the "hack and slash" variety.

Tricks and traps are rare and tend to be of the mundane variety. "This was once a kitchen", "kobolds drop rocks through murder holes", "the orcs lower a portcullis to prevent escape" (those aren't quotes from modules, just an attempt to show the gist of what I mean here). Writing is terse, clean, straightforward, readable, quickly absorbable.

The biggest strength of these modules is that they are flexible, customizable, easily adaptable, like b1 and b2. There are also some great names within: "Mabyagzeurg" the spider, "Jitterhex" the sword, "Guzaag" the orc, but these are interspersed with weaker names. Nothing within is hacky or weak content. The distribution of monsters, treasure, and empty space feels right.

My biggest suggestion is: These all have a very "greyhawk level 1" feel, but are missing the slow descent into unnerving weirdness of gary's modules. Good d&d for me is pools, fountains, traps, statues, paintings, one-way doors, climbing down ropes, and puzzles, but really really good d&d for me is having funhouse rooms skillfully cloaked in "versimilitude" and "mythic underworldness" so that they aren't jarring, but give the fear of the unknown mixed with the engagement of discovery. B1 has the room of pools and Zelligar's lab. Zenopus tower has the brass head, the rotating statue, and the "dancing" dagger. B2 has the very spooky shrine of evil chaos. A few "tricks", "unknowns", and "interactables" would make these modules shine.

I love the covers for the DD starter kit modules Ways, it makes me want to run a spider cult temple! :D
[f=4]Mero the Fighter (M 9", AC 2/4, hp 7/7, FC Man+1, L) plate+helm, spear+shield[/f]

Just don't panic because your life is in the hands of someone named Dopey

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Post by waysoftheearth » Mon Oct 17, 2022 11:15 am

Re: Some general thoughts on Waysoftheearth's modules

Thanks for the comment, redbaron. Some neat observations there :)

You're spot on that all these are all intended as "introductory" modules. To (somewhat) explain the similar frequency of room, monster, and treasure types, and traps, T&N and the last two were rolled from the DD dungeon tables. The others were at least built around an awareness of the OD&D dungeon generation rules (I don't recall precisely how I built them back whenever), so I'm not surprised that they have that similar feel across them. This is the ratio of monsters to treasures to empty rooms that D&D prescribes, and I wanted these to broadly illustrate that. And hey, I have pools and statues and fountains too ;) But your observation re mysterious "interactables" is well acknowledged.

Looking back, I surmise that a lot of my effort has been put into helping folks to "get started" with DD through these intro scenarios. With the quick starters now adding to the pile (is five a pile yet?), I'm thinking I have more-or-less shown the shape of it now. Hopefully others can run with that, and I can look at working on other stuff from my daunting backlog in the future.

p.s. "Pignag" is not a weaker name! I enjoyed that one immensely :D
[f=32]Golgildir the Elf Medium (MV 12", AC 9, HD 1, hp 1/1, AL N) great cloak, lantern; spells: color spray; scrolls: sleep, sleep, charm person
Hirelings: Georges; torch[/f]

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Post by waysoftheearth » Wed Oct 19, 2022 11:01 pm

Re: Some general thoughts on Waysoftheearth's modules

This topic caused me to take a browse thru those older adventures... some fun stuff there.

I feel there was more emphasis on the "story" in the earlier works (Old City and Tenamen), and more emphasis on the dungeon generation tables in the latter ones (V1 Sample and Ref's QS). FWIW, I noticed that in addition to those "alarm" type of traps, there are also plenty of others including poison needle, poisoned apple, gas, the classic pit trap, scorpion stings, rot grubs, chutes. I saw a few "interactables" in there, including: the statue-controller-one-door-open-at-time room, the bricked in werewolf cell, the spaceship-escape pod door, the enchanted sleep inducing fountain... but I agree most of these could have been more developed.

Anways. Re-reading these, it is tempting to think about revising the remaining three scenarios for V5 to make the full set. On the other hand, I could spend that time/effort finishing up any number of other half-baked projects. Given your own interests @The Red Baron, what flavour of adventure and/or other supporting material do you think DD ideally needs to see next?
[f=32]Golgildir the Elf Medium (MV 12", AC 9, HD 1, hp 1/1, AL N) great cloak, lantern; spells: color spray; scrolls: sleep, sleep, charm person
Hirelings: Georges; torch[/f]

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Post by The Red Baron » Sun Oct 30, 2022 3:54 am

Re: Some general thoughts on Waysoftheearth's modules

The main draw in any DD supporting materials would be the DD flavor, and hearing your voice as a writer (in the same way that the big draw of Supplement 1 Greyhawk, MM, PHB, and DMG is the Gygax's writing therein which strongly informs the feel of the game, rather than the rules themselves which I find less "tight" than the original 3LBBs).
[f=4]Mero the Fighter (M 9", AC 2/4, hp 7/7, FC Man+1, L) plate+helm, spear+shield[/f]

Just don't panic because your life is in the hands of someone named Dopey

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