[No-Artpunk] #14 Stirring of the Slumbering God

Stirring of the Slumbering God
Ethan B.
OSE
Lvl 3 – 5
28 pages

Just today, as I returned from a relaxing weekend at the local spa, I speculated on tenfootpole that from a strategic point of view the best move for people fighting for the legitimacy of Artpunk DnD would be to compete under a pseudonym, win, and then reveal the deception afterward if so desired. Likewise, for my purposes, which are to shift the focus back to adventuring fundamentals, this is also the most advantageous. Last year we had two promising aspirants, and they conducted themselves worthily, but these were relative newcomers.

This year is a different year.

Stirring of the Slumbering God is a advanced level entry with a certain distinctive style, rooted firmly in Artpunk DnD, yet adhering to solid dungeon design principles that raises strong suspicions as to its mysterious author. I will not be so uncouth as to speculate on the identity of the author, but I think an observant reader might be able to puzzle it out for themselves. Let us begin.

Clue #1: An evil cult attempts to unearth a buried Titan that will bring great malice if unleashed

Reminiscent of Swordthrust, another clue? Rumor table is intricate, with partial truths, each prompting exploration of some area. Misdirection, if prompted, tends to be more in the way of a complete red herring, rather then prompting erroneous strategies or actions. Plot hooks are baroque vignettes, impregnated with atmospheric flourishes, conveyed in paragraphs that fire the imagination but also have about them a certain sloppiness.

This adventure spares no effort. A vaguely orientalist cult steered by the predictions of opioid visions and horoscopes scrambles to unearth the buried godling, seeking to displace its spirit with one of their own. The titan Filthscreamer has five phases of awakening, three of which I believe can be prompted by the players only. Starlight makes food rot. The dead begin to rise. At first touch the Titan stirs, and part of the dungeon collapses (indicated on the map GREAT GREAT GREAT). At phase V the Titan will free itself in 24 hours, and walk the earth once more, a behemoth from the time before heaven and earth, raising the dead, bleeding Aqua Regia from his wounds.

The Black Lotus Society is tastefully described in a paragraph flat, and responds differently every week depending on the roll of a d12, symbolizing the casting of a horoscope. A d6 weather table, at first d4, indicates weather, folds into supernatural weather, rains of blood, which affect the Witchburner cave later on, meaning it is flooded on some of these rainy days.

An Overland portion


It was around the hex area that I began to get my suspicions it was you, Brother. Or if not you, then a man who bears the twin of your soul, the Omegon to your Alpharius, and as such I might as well address you for you are him and he is you. The starting town, with simple population figures, prices for the head cleric, Zechordiabola, for you always had a gift for names, and just enough notes for the shopkeeper to make him stand out.

It is the way the hex encounters, which are a compliment to the dungeon locations proper, are described, are given flesh and made distinct. 20 hobgoblins on high ground, dressed in silk brocade worth 100 gp each, or this one below. The way you can evoke an image even with well-worn building blocks, and the way you omitted the crucial details in a stray editing pass for you are a creature of image and quantifiables do not come easy to you, although you have done well here overall. Take also, a herd of mastodons, with a chance of having one ridden by a wizard, its spells carved into its tusks, its hide painted with woad chevrons. More then a match for any party of level 3-5, but this was never a problem in second wave OSR.

Then there was the map. The main dungeon has multiple entry points, via either the lodge at the top, a clear landmark with a narrow entrance, and even via another cavern, the Witchdrowner cave. The drowned Witch, you have used her before, in encounter #21. But this could still be some other one, someone who is from your camp but was merely inspired.

You were never a mapper and yet these maps are excellent which implies you have learned to map for this contest alone. You studied the old ways from the masters. You must have known that only a crushing victory would be good enough for you so you spared no effort. This map floods with the coming of the blood rain. In Entrance C, an insane megatherium with phosphorescent Algae and two man-sized young, with steel shod claws, has burst into this cavern. This was almost enough but I needed to be sure.

The random encounters in Witchdrowner cave, these show your hand as well. The poppy goblins, the gnomes in the caverns brewing moonshine once used to appease the dragon, this could indicate some trip to Yoon-Suin, some lingering echo of its presence, but it was this, your unique entry, which you have appropriated in addition to the Titan, which raised my suspicions yet further.

3 of these against a party of levels 3-5 is potentially crippling. You did not have time to playtest and your feel for these mathematical balance is not as sharp but you rely on understanding and natural elan to win the day and you are perhaps right to do so. But it is the Caecilia, an obscure form of salamander, that revealed your hand in this. For who but you has such an extensive knowledge of obscure fauna, who else is so fascinated by them?

The encounters in this are good, so much so that I knew then that you would be one of the Anointed. Who would consider dressing ghouls in burlesque and lace, and have them lure adventurers, or have them be the brides of a mad antibishop Excuarius of Dagon, whom you have given tactics and an order of battle. This is a recurring element. Intelligent foes have tactics that rely on more then simply hammering it out. Monster selection will offend some because you have converted entries from Fiend Folio, the Monster manual II and even the Creature Catalog. You have used every advantage that was alloted to you. Your individual use of them is sublime, but so was it ever. You foreshadow, or you set the hook with tasty bait. Now, two encounters in a row that reveal your hand yet again, brother.

This one is simply too brilliant to be ignored. Is there an amateur out there that would combine this descriptive richness with the extra gameplay caveat, who is experienced, yet not so conditioned by prior knowledge he would point out this is not how reincarnation works in DnD, and would balk at the mere imagining of it?

And here! You neglected to specify the amount of wasps in the nest, which I would imagine is nonzero, though you put them on the random encounter table and specify they drag people to the nest. But it was that last sentence, a zombified god emperor of gnomes. You are no stranger to the 41st millenium brother, nor am I. It is over this that we quarrelled, so long ago now.

The Lodge overland, is where you show the most growth. Guard schedules, clever use of ingame mechanics, a wizard perpetually invisible. There is no prohibition against such a working in OSE. Invisible coins too. A drum of panic when an attack takes place, and an elevator platform going down.

It is in this cavern that you achieved apotheosis. There are few forms and tricks that elude you now. You waste no time on alert statuses and other organized defences but in truth you have no need of them here, even if this entire complex is dug out by The Black Lotus Society. You create the impression of a type of eco-system, and do so in a way that comes across as natural. The cult, its Quaggoth slaves, its pool of human laborers, pseudo-dragon spies, escaped Dopplegangers of some protection. Again the statts of an important Black Lotus society member have been omitted, an oversight.

Consider the set piece of 3 and 12, where you reveal a tiny but of light shining through a slit, and if the PCs approach halfway, the door is kicked open and the ballista inside is discharged by the guards. I note this because it is so inimical to your usual visually rich style. You considered it in terms of interesting gameplay first! Add notes for a password next time, for clever players will interrogate those above, or perhaps steal their secrets with ESP. You have an even more fiendish room, with a lever, a room that decants dopplegangers, and a sliding wall. Your dungeon exists somewhere between White Plume Mountain and more naturalistic ones like G2.

There are traprooms that evoke White Plume Mountain or any other set piece, but who would conceive of a concept, of scales that weigh alignment. Who else would make that synaesthetic leap? Or did they merely recall the myth of Anubis and do I rant at ghosts, for there is a pyramid of red stone in this selfsame place. But there was one before, in your first attempt!

Consider in this level a Book of Vile Darkness, down spiralling stairwells of bones, their eyes set with Gemstones, and the terrible power that is unleashed by merely touching it without saying a cryptic phrase. And yet who would make the simple mistake of Raise Dead for Animate Dead? Knowledge of the dungeon can be learned, this is crucial. The vaults of the cult can be plundered of the offering they use to bribe the Green Dragon in the cavern system nearby, and if the time elapses she will rampage through the dungeon and kill all organic life within. The green dragon, who is formidable, but not so formidable it should have over 100.000 gp in treasure. And then there is an odd stinginess with handing out consumable items, there are somes scrolls but where are the potions, there is not a single one in this adventure? The way treasure is always compartimentalized a bit too much, someone unused to rolling on random treasure tables.

There are other elements that are fascinating. The presence of explosives, quite plausible given the mining affair, can be used to potentially destroy the awakening titan, or be used as a trap. And even prisoners to free, albeit it in strange fashion, the Knight Sir Plumcor, trapped in a mirror of life stealing. Speaking of traps, invisible beartraps are particularly inspired, and used sparingly. In this, I think you have some way to go. The Vault of the Black Lotus Society is not guarded. This can happen at times, the muse comes and goes and so we must rely on procedure and foundation. Is this not the very raison de etre of this Crusade? And you made this, of which I am proud, for the doom that is about to befall should at least be discernable to a good player.

Actually level 2

Your second level is…weaker. It does not fit together quite so well. The traps get more obscure, sometimes nonsensical. The veneer of naturalism and higher reality begins to wear thin, and you did not stat the enchanted blades that are embedded in Filthscreamer’s head, serving as a lure for characters to awaken him. There is a hint of faction play here with a disgruntled cult member who might be allured, and several chameleons and devices of horror, but it feels vaguely anticlimactic. One would expect defences around the dig site to be at their heaviest, defences elsewhere to be more relaxed. Two strange devices that can be messed with here, in a place that is already redolent with weirdness to interact with, there is a face-stealing device that seems out of place, is it connected with the dopplegangers? It is hard to say.


Who writes like this if not you? Who has mastery of the written word combined with high intermediate level dungeon-writing craft? Yet not supreme mastery. The errors and omissions are forgiveable, but the treasure amounts, the encounters that are occasionally unwieldy or too strong and at times not strong enough, in this there is room for improvement. The naturalistic and the artificial, they are not yet a seamless whole. The ebb and flow, the intelligence, the organization, in this there is room for improvement also. But what grand ambition! There are two methods that I can see to kill the Titan as it rises!

Why did you come here, in your suit of fossilized chitin, with visor closed, thinking I would not suspect the hand that wields the sword? Or is this some deception, and are you merely an impostor, or some other Artpunkman? If you are you are a grand one, and the knights in all the OSR who could match you could be counted on two hands, but not four. Did you seek glory? You have it. Or did you seek to humble us? You have only exalted us with your performance, as you have exalted yourself.

In all likelihood I will pick this for the collection, but if I do not, if there are stronger entries yet to come, not giving it a second editing pass and putting out elsewhere would be a criminal waste.

UPDATE: Lest more idle speculation occur, the contestant has confirmed he is not Patrick Stuart. A new challenger has entered the field, and what an entry indeed!








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42 thoughts on “[No-Artpunk] #14 Stirring of the Slumbering God

  1. I hope it is him, a new era of forgiving, healing and unity could dawn in this new age of King Charles! Whoever it is, he or she at least wanted to provide/leave enough hints as to point to the One who Writes about fiery salamanders, has researched to write about traps and keeps coming back to slumbering Titans. I am feeling good vibes, the age of Aquarius might be upon us!

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  2. Oh, I thought he was hinting this is Noisms. Seems to be a lack of animal-men, though.

    Does fit a bit with the most recent blog post at M&M.
    ; )

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    1. Noisms is neutral ground for all parties and just seems to be an all-around good guy, never heard of him arguing with Prince, at least at M&M. He’s also just published a ‘zine with some very usability-focused adventures, one of mine own a minor part.

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      1. Cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller?

        @ Prince:

        Just to be clear, I did not think you had problems with Noisms or Patrick. And your review did not come off as something hinting past antagonism.

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  3. Even if it is picked I don’t see why it couldn’t be painted yellow and magenta, given Scrap Princess art, and released at a later point. This is the first thing out of the Artpunk since Deep Carbon Observatory that I could see myself buying to run, some neat stuff in here. Well done Ethan B.

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    1. Veins was very good in places but as a setting book for underdark campaigns, which is laudably ambitious, it fails. I’m trying to think of other post DCO artpunk that is tolerable. Slumbering Ursine Dunes and Gardens of Ynn are very good but those predate it. UDG is good but not really artpunk. Hot springs maybe? System neutral? Night land? It’s all this aery faery gibberish, no stout dungeon you can cut your teeth on among them.

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      1. Would Operation Unfathomable count as Artpunk? Probably not to me, but maybe to some. I’d probably classify it as Classic Gonzo, more along the lines of ASE. UO is FINALLY completish with the recent release of a beta of the Odious Uplands to backers. I quite like it.

        Speaking of High Artpunk, Patrick S just came out with a new entry: Demon-Bone Sarcophagus. It’s very interesting, and I daresay good until Prince tears it apart and shows me why I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as DCO, but it I’d compare it to Maze of the Blue Medusa With Many Lessons Learned. One thing it has going for it is strong faction play.

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      2. @ Edge:

        I would not call Operation Unfathomable “ArtPunk.” It is high concept, but very functional as D&D.

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      3. @Edgewise

        Operation Unfathomable is gonzo the same way as Anomalous Subsurface Environment, but no artpunk. It would be a damn fine DCC RPG adventure, though.

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  4. Stirring of the “Slumbering God.” A “buried godling,” an enormous “behemoth from the time before heaven and earth,” will awaken from its centuries long sleep to “walk the earth once more…raising the dead, bleeding Aqua Regia from its wounds.” Truly apocalyptic, End Times stuff.

    For levels 3 to 5. After which time you…what? Retire? Go back to fighting bugbears?

    Say your players level up to 6 after this…you’re going to run G1 for them? No…they’ll be slaughtered.

    *sigh*

    This entry exhibits creativity and evocative writing. It also exhibits a misunderstanding of basic fundamental concepts. That’s kind of (in my opinion) what the whole “No ArtPunk” thing is about: saying, “Hey, there’s a way I can craft a solid, creative, entertaining adventure for characters of a particular level withOUT resorting to gimmicky themes and passing it off as awesomeness by coating it with the veneer of style.”

    Fighting gods is not not a shiny novelty. It’s a travesty.

    [and no, I don’t think “appropriate” adventures for low-mid level PCs need be anything so banal as finding a year’s supply of grain for the local starving village. Let’s nip *that* trash in the bud]

    Ravenloft, properly keyed, is an appropriate adventure for B/X parties of levels 3-5. UK2-3 are quite good. Both DL1 and DL2 have some distinct possibilities if one files off the rails and heavy story elements. Even the early N modules (N1 and N2) have potential. Probably there are others that I’m forgetting (Uk1, Beyond the Crystal Cave is meant for higher level parties, but is forgiving enough that a smart group of lesser experienced characters could make a go). All have interesting and magical bits to them that can delight and astound and challenge without resorting to the hackneyed melodrama of apocalypse cults and lumbering kaiju.

    Yes, I hear the cries of protest. “But all that shit is BORING. Why can’t we fight gargantuan god-monsters and save the world? Why must we wait for 10th level to encounter a demon? Our campaigns never last that long!”

    Clearly, your campaigns never last that long because you blow your wad by level five. Because YOU, sir (or madam) DM, are failing at structuring a campaign worth playing till 10th level.

    Sorry…this one’s a bit of a train wreck for me.

    RE Caecilia (“hellbent” or otherwise)

    This is a standard monster in the Cook/Marsh expert set, so I assume it’s standard to OSE. As such, there doesn’t appear to have been any violation of the “unique entry” stipulation (the titan thus being, presumably, the only new creature).

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    1. Kek, the Caecilia is totally in OSE lmao. Massive oversight on that one. Never used the Caecilia, although now I certainly will.

      I was going to remark on you not complaining with Shrine of the Small god but you actually had complained 😛

      This is a Titan, so its not quite divine, but it should be treated as analogous to a demon or Lich. 22 HD, 4500 xp. It is currently dormant, so the players do not have to get bows and shoot it, they must simply keep it from awakening, via the helpful medium of explosives, poison or possibly something else. If it escapes it essentially overruns the valley, controling it for 3 miles, certainly not the world. I agree if such a device is overused, and in the OSR it absolutely is, it quickly becomes old hat. But is such a conceit against the spirit of the Appendix N and thus the TRVSR?

      I would say, what of the Kull story ‘The Striking of the Gong’, or the various adventures of Elric or ‘The Call of Cthulhu.’ Notice that each takes place at a different level of ability. For a party of adventurers of levels 3 – 5, to prevent some buried menace, be it demon, spirit or elder thing from rising and laying waste the region is hardly more egregious then pitting a party of levels 4-6 against some centuries-old undead directly. There is a natural curve that must be followed, and there are situations when it is permissible to deviate from that curve.

      To add a bit of additional defence, well, the thing is that this adventure does not rely on its gimmick. There are weak elements, the treasure is too high in places, the challenge curve is rickety (a Banshee? instant death sentence), it is not quite certain why certain traps exist as they are, these are points that deserve remarking, and I have done so.
      Its cavern portion and upper dungeon level work quite well by themselves, there are interesting environmental features, the challenges are varied, interesting and mostly fair, and I like the map. There are good interactive elements, as well as a good set up between the gnomes in the cave, the order in the dungeon and the dragon in the cavern, and the way this can be disrupted.

      I think you will enjoy my next idea for NAP. Also your entry is up. I shall look forward to a nice, restrained, level-appropriate adventure, that doesn’t rely on the incipient destruction of the multiverse ;P

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      1. I’m a big fan of a situation that’s open-ended enough that it can challenge multiple types of adventures of different levels – the level 1-3 party has to be sneaky and cautious and rescue or steal the macguffin without triggering an overwhelming response; the level 4-8 party prevents the ancient evil from being released by putting all of its low-level followers to the sword before they can complete their macguffin ritual; the level 9-12 party is like bring on the ancient evil and we’ll send it back to hell (and presumably the level 13+ party doesn’t wait around and proactively takes the fight to the ancient evil in hell). There are few if any published D&D adventures that work like this by default (though some of the more open-ended ones can be drifted that way – the G and D series definitely have the potential to play out differently depending on how badass the PCs are and whether they prioritize stealth or mass slaughter) but it is something you can see in something like RuneQuest’s Snakepipe Hollow or some of the Judges Guild stuff, from before the tournament mindset irrevocably took over.

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      2. Okay, I’m an idiot: I have no idea what this TRVSR acronym stands for. Traditional Reversed Value or something?

        Whether or not these adventures violate “the spirit of Appendix N?” Um…I don’t know. They certainly seem to violate the basic concepts of Dungeons & Dragons. Of the authors that “helped shape the form of the game,” Gygax lists “de Camp, REH, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, HPL, and A. Merritt” as the “most immediate influences upon AD&D.” This seems to crucially and criminally disregard Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock (considering the sheer amount of their influence on game systems)…but regardless, it is quite clear to me that all these authors were borrowed from in piecemeal fashion. Which is to say, each contributed a bit of this and a bit of that with the game being a synthesis of many parts (and caulking between the joints being provided by Gygax and Arneson). I would hesitate to use any particular source as a paradigm to emulate…no, not even with regard to Howard or Leiber for various reasons (although Leiber is probably the closest of all).

        RE Specific Examples:

        I have not read The Striking of the Gong, but I have read a synopsis of the story and I’m not sure it applies. Elric’s many multiversal adventures definitely fits the mold of confrontation with the divine…they also fit the mold of “high level play,” rather than adventures suitable for the levels listed here.

        The Cthulhu writings of H.P. Lovecraft belong to a different genre from D&D, even if they provide an inspiration for weird horror and creatures from other dimensions. I would not list them in the same category of “heroic fantasy” from which the D&D authors took their paradigm.

        RE The Next NAP:

        I look forward to every version of NAP. As I’ve said (here and elsewhere) I think you’re doing good work with this little contest of yours.

        RE My Entry:

        I will try to be as hard on myself as I am on the other entrants; I trust you will do the same.
        ; )

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      3. EVERYONE HOLD HIM DOWN SO I CAN DO A PILEDRIVER.

        @Becker
        TRVSR stands for Tires, Rims, Visor, Speedometer and Racing-Stripes and is the latest thing in the fast-paced world of Tokyo’s underground street racing scene.

        @App N
        I think it’s a good shorthand for a thought experiment. Can you imagine an S&S protagonist preventing a cult of vaguely prophetic mystics from inadvertently awakening a slumbering titan from the dawn of the world. That sounds S&S to me.

        @Specifics
        I fucked up. It’s not the striking of the gong, it’s the Skull of Silence, where the protagonists inadvertently almost free a malevolent elemental force known as the Silence, imprisoned by a legend known as Raama, and said to destroy all sound in the universe if freed. Kull drives it back only with the aid of an enchanted jade gong.

        The thing is that the heroic fantasy from which D&D takes its paradigm comes from the tradition of weird fiction that was established by the likes of Howard, Lovecraft and Smith and there is considerable influence from it.

        @level range
        Think of it this way. If it is acceptable to have direct confrontations with the demi-goddess lolth at levels 9-12, then the bracket below is one where the party must avoid, or indirectly fight her, perhaps through some artifice or design banish her back temporarily. The bracket before that could encompass attempts to prevent her from manifesting on the material plane. I might agree with Kent that killing the Titan outright, even via means normally outside the regular scope of adventure, might hamper campaign progression, but there is always the option of collapsing the tunnels and reburying it, which now that I think of it would have been an interesting solution to consider.

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      4. RE TRVSR

        Okay, now it makes sense. I’ve never seen even the smallest snipped of those Fast & Furious films, let alone sat through one (apologies to fellow D&D player Vin Diesel). Clearly my education is lacking.

        RE S&S

        Is this the whole “I know porn when I see it” thing? One problem is this regard is that the genre has been diluted by decades of pastiche, knock-off, parody, and general tail-swallowing (much like anything related to D&D). At this point it is *probably* a false idol at which to lay one’s offerings. But that is quite a different discussion for quite a different post (another interesting debate looms!).

        Regardless, it’s not the “S&Sy-ness” of the adventure that captures my interest/focus…it is the assumptions of play and flow of the game (of this *particular* game, i.e. D&D) that concerns/infuriates me about this. The adventure may be very “S&S” (yay! me likey, too!) but I’m trying NOT to get caught up/enamored in the stylishness of the thing. What does an adventure like this do to one’s campaign? How does it shape assumptions/expectations for the participants at the table (players and DMs)?

        RE Level Brackets

        I’ve discussed (briefly) some of the variety of interactions that I feel are fair and appropriate between PCs of various levels using TSR examples:

        http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com/2021/05/killing-gods-part-3.html

        However, I could definitely have been clearer and more defined/specific with my stance. There IS room for confrontation with hostile divinities at all (most?) levels of D&D, though the frequency of such instances is debatable. Perhaps THAT should be your next NAP contest: write an adventure featuring some sort of encounter with a lesser divinity/maga-monster type appropriate for the level range of the adventure? That would be fun.
        ; )

        One Last Thing:

        I confess to being at a severe disadvantage of not having the text of Slumbering God in front of me. Quite possibly I am making mountains out of molehills and crying foul where there is none; quite possibly I am the ass-clown here and, if so, I will wear that mantle as necessary (wouldn’t be he first time!). But let me be clear that I am not trying to accuse or indict…or hurt…Ethan B. in particular with these comments. There’s lots of good on display in this adventure.

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    2. I have to disagree with you on two counts. First, I personally don’t have any objection to encounters with “gods.” In the context of Appendix N, a lot of different things end up with that label, with a great variation of power and scope. I’ve always had an affection for “little gods” of ambiguous divinity.

      But more germane to this discussion is the fact that this is not a universal truth of TSR D&D. I mean, you mention UK1, which includes an encounter with the Green Man, who is definitely identified as a god. Let’s not forget Q1 or T2-4. AD&D gets a bit obsessive with its need to explicitly map out the metaphysics of the planes, as well as categorizing and statting out gods—I personally think that is a bit of a mistake. But old D&D obviously includes B/X as well as 0e, and even in AD&D, there is room for such things as the premise of this adventure.

      Also, everything that Prince said.

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      1. @ Edgewise:

        The Green Man of UK1 is, indeed, a god, but not a threat to the PCs…certainly not an immanent one that needs be dealt with in order to avoid a disaster of epic proportions.

        I do not deny confrontations with gods (at least of the lesser, demi-, and semi- variety) isn’t the purview of D&D play; I only state that it is for higher levels. Q1 was written for characters of levels 10th-14th. The Temple of Elemental Evil is something of a train wreck itself, but encounters with Zuggtmoy are not happening with the low level invaders of the T1 moathouse…that’s going to be PCs above 7th and 8th level (and if they’ve failed to diminish the demoness through various methods, they’re likely to be destroyed).

        “Appendix N” gets dragged out somewhat frequently when I start voicing my distaste for this subject. I’ve already addressed why the (few) stories in that series fail to justify this type of adventure writing for low level characters. I’m busy cooking a meatloaf at the moment or I’d post the links.

        Sorry. I have a tendency to kick back.
        ; )

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      2. @Becker

        Re: kicking back, no need to apologize. A bit of friendly debate is very healthy for the hobby and the mind.

        Re: Appendix N, I fully admit that this is pure justification on my part. The bottom line for me is that I don’t find these tropes to be objectionable, and I’m only mentioning Appendix N and TSR to justify their inclusion in a contest like this. For me, these traditions are incidental, and I’m fine with it on its own merits.

        Also, I’m forced to admit that if every adventure becomes about stopping an unholy menace from wrecking the world, it becomes as monotonous as cheese wheel fetch quests or guarding caravans from goblins. But I think that something with lowkey themes would be a welcome palate cleanser after an adventure like this, not a letdown, and hopefully the DM knows how to keep things fresh.

        As others have said, I don’t think the level-appropriateness is an issue here, because you’re not going head-to-head against this thing.

        Finally, I referenced T2-4, explicitly leaving out T1. It seems petty to mention it, so I apologize for that, but I do take some pride in being exact about my references. And yeah, it was a bit of a clusterfuck.

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      3. ‘“Appendix N” gets dragged out somewhat frequently when I start voicing my distaste for this subject. ‘ Yeah, most of the appendix N is single heroes with great skill and experience, so they’re not exactly analogous to a group of low level schmucks. What level was Conan in tower of the Elephant?

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      4. Invoking Appendix N is a tricky proposition because it is true that the structure of S&S stories do not conform to that of DnD with its large, well-equipped parties with henchmen. However, many of the concepts of DnD are taken from this body of literature and so too is its spirit. Its influence is undeniable, the consequence of abandoning it entire, subtly catastrophic. Thinking of things in the context of Appendix N is a shorthand for the ethos that underpinned the old D&D, but it is true this is more art or feeling then reasoned proposition.

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    3. A level 5 party will not defeat Filthscreamer without extremely dirty tactics. My inspirations for him were the stories The Shunned House and Guyal of Sfere where a few wimps have to use science to take care of the horror before it becomes an actual problem but they also have the option to GTFO.

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      1. ==My inspirations for him were the stories The Shunned House and Guyal of Sfere.

        Having read the two stories is one thing tying them together another. Nice.

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      2. ==A level 5 party will not defeat Filthscreamer without extremely dirty tactics.

        This Filthscreamer should be undefeatable by a party of 5th lvl characters, outside of stories. because it will cramp the sense of growth in a campaign. But escaping alive with experience and knowledge is a success.

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  5. == the Titan stirs, and part of the dungeon collapses [as indicated on map lvl 1]

    This is a good idea and perhaps could have been used in a form more graduated across time or events than five, there could be a dozen collapses across time for each stir of the Titan, either random or predictable (a dwarf if you have ’em). Flourish the red pen. And, intuitively, I like the topology of maps lvl 0 & lvl 1, design flair is more important than gorgeousness and tedious nostalgic pencil scratches have no flair. There is an art to creating a map of a place which doesn’t exist because you are creating the place itself at the same time as the map.

    Drums of Panic. This reminds me that when it comes to magic I love individually named items *only*. Magic instruments are individually named because they are all artifacts which unveil themselves to possessors power, straight-from-Tolkien. I managed low level play by allowing superior craftsmanship/technology/civilisation to cover +1 +2 armour and weapons.

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    1. This reminds me, probably minor excorication is warranted for the presence of a Sword of Sharpness, a weapon unsuitable for characters of level 3-5, as well as the Drums of Panic.

      I would try to customize even +1 items with minor aesthethic differences, hinting at their disparate origins. In DnD it is not inconceivable to have some greater age where some mighty nation calls up all its wizards to toil for years on end, and by the end, reveal all but an armory of ensorcelled weapons. Any explanation will do as long as it is not reliably reproducable, i.e., you cannot purchase +1 weaponry at the +1 weapon store. That way lies madness.

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    2. Yes, +1 +2 arms are prestigious weapons and costly, historical and distant from the hurly-burly of provincial warfare. The purpose though was to elevate magic, in weapons and armour minimally +3.

      I can’t conceive of MUs as factory workers even on compulsion. In mentality MUs are points of light in a population and I break with Gygax in requiring high Int 16+ for MUs, and you are not going far with 16 or 17. Gygax did get right the need for great experience before the manufacture of magic items, this is Tolkien’s idea really.

      Given the high seriousness of MUs who can create magic items I believe they would consolidate magic into an item much like the smartphone. I came to this conclusion in the 1980s. The idea of single purpose frivolous magic items belongs more to faerie or inhuman magic in my opinion.

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      1. I had envisoned it as the product of grand ordeals, analogous to a Space Program or grand religious rite. In order to effect some grand undertaking, the Empire in question empties its coffers and commisions all the high priests, archwizards, artisans and master craftsmen under its sway, and each contributes some gift or craft to the undertaking. Wether an undertaking such as this is ‘worth it’ in the long run is another matter but I could envision it being tried.

        >Ipods
        An Aleph, a tiny sphere or marble, almost indestructable, floating under its own power and attuned to the wizard’s thoughts, and having incorporated in its structure the wizard’s spellbook, his collection of enchanted objects, rings, staffs, wands etc. and given sentience by the incorporation of the familiar, as per a magic jar. Minimum level 20.

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  6. Just to note that the possibly awakening titan has been used in a couple of other adventures as well: Plague from the Past in White Dwarf 69; In the Shadow of the City-God (Istvan Boldog-Bernad).
    In OSE, you remain invisible until you attack or cast any spell; you need to get the order right when casting defensive spells. Not much fun in being a wizard if you never cast a spell.
    Is it possible to cut diamonds into fractal hexagons? (Magic I guess.)
    Sounds intriguing.

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  7. This sounds awesome, and even if it weren’t included, I would buy it. The idea of the dungeon environment changing depending on the PC’s actions is interesting and gives the whole environment a living feel that I dig. This definitely seems super creative

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  8. “I speculated on tenfootpole that from a strategic point of view the best move for people fighting for the legitimacy of Artpunk DnD would be to compete under a pseudonym, win, and then reveal the deception afterward if so desired”

    Imagine the victor of a NoArtPunk contest turning out to be Zack. How devastating that would be?

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    1. I consider it thusly: The antipathy is driven by people who talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. The moment they walk the walk the conflict is resolved immediately, by force, the best way.

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