The Slimy Subterrainian Sanctum of the Esoteric Order of G’ar’ii
Fiore Dei Gonzi
Lvl 2 – 4
??? Pages (Notepad.txt)
Foreword presented without commentary:
I WISH I HAD AN EDITOR
Preface: this version only contains the Dungeon itself.
I am planning on expanding upon this dungeon and releasing it
as a part of an adventure module. Also of note; While this dungeon
is written for OD&D, it makes use of material found in B/X and AD&D.
This is considered acceptable by the rules of the No Artpunk competition.
Also the room descriptions will be listed in bullet points (with a dash (-))
as I am a severe procrastinator and waited to the last moment in order to work on
this properly. Sorry Prince, no flowery descriptions for you to read so you can coom to the sound
of your own voice. :^(
Finally, like virtually any dungeon this one can be adapted to take place in any setting,
but the default assumption is that it takes place in The World of Huürt (my original setting I
am currently using for a weekly OD&D game)– More specifically, in the City of Gonzi
(Think Venice meets Las Vegas; a city on water with all manner of lights, glamor and crime).
Perhaps a reply to the editing comment is warranted, in an appropriately gravelly Karl Urban voice: “Well you’ve got one now.” A promising entry by an enthusiastic novice, presumably skirting perilously close to the deadline if I read the last couple of encounters properly. Slimy Sanctum is at its core a heist, with a small cult lair underneath. The concept is pretty solid but the implementation needs work. But that’s why we are here!
Okay, first off, premise is good! A Two Storey House once belonging to a merchant keeps getting bought and the owners keep turning up dead so people consider it haunted by the spirit of its former owner. It is called Albaregno’s Haunt. Scooby Doo style baby! The real culprits are of course an evil lovecraftian cult using its catacombs for their own nefarious ends. A burglarly that turns into a horrorshow midway through, almost Death Love Doom style, not bad!
Rumor table is provided and is actually decent. I mean decent as in, fully actualized, giving out not just hooks but also clues about the adventure that can alter how it is approached. AND THEN you throw in some red herrings and lies too, very good.
4- The previous owner had remodled one of the rooms and turned into his personal treasure trove (Partially True)
5- A nobleman’s daughter had an interest in purchasing the house recently but mysteriously
disapeared on the day of the showing (True)
6- There’s a magic sword hidden beneath the bed in the master bedroom (True)
Before that adventure commences in earnest, it discusses the possibility that the PCs might decide to get invited to a showing of the house by day so they can stake out the place. The proposed price of 500 gp is rather low considering some of the furnishings alone are worth more then that, but those things aside, this is a good thing to consider. By day there are carpenters and maids etc. present to shore up the place for potential buyers so the PCs might also consider getting hired as one of them to do further exploration. If the PCs buy the ludicrously cheap house they get ambushed in their sleep and will either have a tense fight with fanatical cultists in the middle of the night or they will wake up bound in a cell in the subterrenean level. We are doing good so far.
Module proper, 1st floor. A little illegible but I like the geometry and detail of it. Different methods of breaking and entering are briefly touched upon, up and to climbing up the cesspit filled with yellow mould, you poor fucking bastard.
Some notes before we move into the room keying proper. There is a room with a total of 6 guards, among them at least 1 spellcaster holed up in the servants quarters, along with a response if they hear a loud noise or a trap goes off, they will begin clearing each room. This is good, I am not sure if a 3 in 6 encounter chance per turn is the best way to model this behavior, given the fact the house is only about 7 rooms per floor, but 50% chance of running into them per turn might be about accurate, so disregard that. A note about one of them fleeing downstairs to get help from the rest of the cult, or what they do if they get captured might have been in order, but good job otherwise.
Some problems, this is about the only hostile encounter on these two floors. There is one more, which I will get to. Which means that once the guards are defeated (and 5-12 adventurers of levels 2-4 should not have much trouble), the well-stocked and valuable furnishings that are richly described so I can coom to the sound of my own voice are theirs for the stealing. Most of it is admittedly quite bulky, paintings, bronze statues, carpets etc. etc. and there is plenty of dinnerware and fine china to steal which rocks and it is also worth quite a penny. For levels 2-4 we might still be in the green zone, considering the party size, but the major point is that obtaining it is fairly easy. There is a sickfuck merman in the kitchen preparing a human fucking heart which is a great way to signal to everyone that things are very much NOT ALRIGHT in this place. Bonus points for including a deranged hermit in the Aquifer of the garden on the run from the Garda that can be befriended (possibly with the aid of food or booze) and fights using Caveman statts. I would have simply stated that if the reaction roll doesn’t work, bribing him with booze gets you his aid automatically but this is a taste thing.
-Investigating the wash basin reveals it is half full of tepid, murky water. Fishing
around in the water or pulling the plug and letting the water drain out reveals a severed
hand with a ring on the middle finger. taking and equiping the ring revealis it to be
a ring of delusion. Investigating the contents of the oven reveals a fermented human head
I think this section would have done better if the house was larger, there were guards at various points, maybe a dog or two, and multiple levels of protection that have to either be neutralized or bypassed, to get this up to full Heist mode. I am reminded of last year’s Tower of the Time Master as an example. This would also make staking out the place a bit more rewarding. It is interesting that once you are there, the subterranean lair of the cultists can be discovered by putting a gemstone in one area of the house into a strange, obviously out of place metal pedestal. Perhaps minor emphasis of the occult nature of the metallic stand would clue people into it better, but good job hinting at this again with a plaque that states “A beautiful eye, as hard as stone can open doors.” It has the hidden vault with the secret combination and a trap too, that is also good.
Second level I feel was in need of some further refinement. The description goes back from a generous two paragraphs: (overview) and then valuables to two sentences, valuables only. At this point I also have to remark that a single trap on the hidden vault is very restrained, particularly given the lack of guards and other forms of protection. The keying is also missing, and while I can infer what goes where, it’s a bit of a shame. Needs elaboration.
Now that I am on the subject, magic item placement is probably sort of on par. Arming the cultist spellcasters with scrolls of hold person is pretty brutal but it might mean some decent loot for once. Permanent magic items are low, appropriate for a party of levels 2-4. Maybe do more potions? Also you didn’t use your slot! Also I don’t quite grok how a Seer (a level 2 wizard) can cast Hold Person (a 3rd level wizard spell).
Subterranean level: Overal the strongest part of the adventure, even considering it is not finished. Good map, but I can barely read the keying and I have 20/20 vision. I like the pits, bottomless and otherwise, giving the place the feel of some sort of subterranean excavation, rather then a soulless collection of boxes. Once again, good job of considering factors like the alert being sounded having an impact on the random encounter frequency. The idea that the cultists will release their flailsnails if the alert is sounded is dope. Given the limited size of the subterranean complex, I would have considered adding notes limiting the total number of cultists that can be encountered, and adding some sort of barracks with a large central group, particularly since you have already provided them with a storeroom and 1 years worth of food (how much is that worth?). Also consider some sort of order of battle for the evil head priest and his followers, and maybe some sort of escape route if we are going full gygax.
Good idea here. An imprisoned noblewoman (have you considered putting the cell key on the person of the high priest or in his quarters), and if she is not rescued the next time the PCs come back she will have been turned into some sort of slug-like green-slime spitting abomination known as the Bride of Ga’ari. I am missing a bit of flavor for the cultists, it works as written but a few subtle details here and there, like the conche-whistles they blow on, or a description of their blasphemous sigil, would work wonders here. There is a mermaid ambush in a set pools (good!), but then no treasure (sad :(!)). Also, I would have expected the dungeon to be connected to some sort of underground river, or sewer, or some body of water, given their presence.
There’s further flourishes like a little ziggurat with statues and treasure piled atop of it and the statues animate. Or a room with a sword (intelligent AND cursed, -2, with many powers, very good) in a stone, and drawing it out of the stone seals off the room and starts pumping in poison gas. THAT’S what I like to see in a dungeon. There is a balance between realism and the adventurous that must be maintained. Very good! Very assholish trap with a dead end corridor and a Wight too at key 13, although a true bastard DM would have had the secret door open behind the PCs, trapping them between the Wight and a dead end. I would have probably given the Wight some treasure as a consolation prize, since levels WILL be drained. There’s a note on a chokepoint with some cultists soldiers, but its placement is unclear, and with fortified locations placement is critical.
Consider throwing in some weird magic to fuck with ah la the Dungeon dressing tips in OD&D. So a strange altar, tree of weird coral or other weird magic effect that does not neccessarily have an explanation. Much of the best DnD is all about a layer of versimilitude, a sort of magic realistic ecosystem, overlaid with a layer of the fantastic, the truly weird and inexplicable. It has to make some sense, but not perfect sense because you want that ambiguity, because it can make the dungeon appear much larger and possibly older then one that is in a way fully identified.
A promising entry, hampered most by the fact there are some rough edges that needed an extra layer of polish or two. The house is a little small for a burglary scenario, and I would consider adding multiple layers of protection (so guards stationed in several areas, maybe a dog, then the hidden vault with a trap etc.). Bottom level is pretty solid. Nice job.
4 thoughts on “[No-Artpunk] #20 Slimy Sanctum”
This sounds as though it has a lot of potential if tidied up. I agree with your comments about the subterranean level’s map and think that it would look great if redrawn more clearly. While I normally think of flailsnails as stupid monsters, they do kind of work here in the context of a pulpy S&S theme of not taking itself too seriously.
For the entries you select as winners are you intending to give their authors a chance to tidy up the rough edges?
I think so yes.
Very Lovecraftian entry…Call of Cthulhu in the style of D&D. I dig it, even though “horror adventure” isn’t my typical style/preference.
A lot of this sounds quite good, and appropriate for low level adventurers. Adjusting the excessive, easily obtained treasure is a must since any enterprising group will simply buy the house and haul all the valuable out in the light of day, making a tidy profit. “Cheap mansion with possibility of hidden valuables” should (I think) be more the order of the day: the furniture should be dilapidated, poor condition, falling apart, etc. The party’s investment gives them the right to knock holes in the walls, not host an estate sale!
[evidence from past treasure hunters…that mysteriously disappeared!…could also lead to ruined furnishings, etc.]
Nice encounters. Evil merfolk, flailsnails, slime creatures, cannibal cultists. Very creepy; very HPL. Seems level appropriate. Lack of moral ambiguity is always good for low level parties. Damsel in distress (that turns into hideous slime monster): classic.
Since the house is in fantasy Venice, the underground areas should probably have flooded areas and canal access. Would actually be unusual to have a NON-flooded cavern complex under the house (Venetians, if I recall correctly, tend to build UPwards, not down, due to perpetual sinking issues). Maybe the house is outside the city proper…but then, yes, you need waterways in the lair. Still, very rich possibilities here. ALSO: lots of ideas for hidden valuables squirreled away in a Venetian villa (trade Mecca and all that…could be stuff from all over the world).
I like this one a lot. For OD&D+? Would have probably done well with Holmes (or its major retroclone, Blueholmes). All the simplicity of OD&D plus the thief class, five point alignment, and salt-poisoned zombies…very good for low-level horror-hobo adventures.
Pretty good suggestions for improvement, very nice. As for the system, there is no specification on whether or not the supplements are used or no, but I can tell you there are no thieves in the adventure, so this would support your conclusion.