30 June 2018

Fantastic Fortress: Dangers of the World

Before considering how a fortress may optimize its defense in a fantasy kingdom, it's necessary to first look at all the possible threats present in the fantasy setting. I'm dividing threats based on Air, Overland, and Underground origins. I posted a thread on Dragonsfoot and ENworld for ideas on what other possible threats might be present in a fantasy setting.

We already looked at airborne threats in the last post. It occurred to me that the auditory detection system might not be effective against most fantasy flyers. I doubt even dragons make the kind of noise small prop aircraft do, so maybe a detection system based on sight alone might be better. I'll have to think on that one. One thing I didn't consider was breath weapon or area effect attacks, particularly form dragons. These could include fire, gas, poison, etc. So the aerial defense would have to also take into account a way to mitigate damage from breath attacks and not just the flyers themselves.

There are only a few possible underground threats and they all have a similar effect. These threats would include Humanoid diggers, whether they are other human armies,goblins, orcs, etc; they could all be countered according to traditional methods from historical warfare. Other Underground threats would involve unintelligent burrowers such as purple worms, and creatures or magic that cause earthquakes or otherwise threaten the integrity of the foundation of a fortress such as stone to mud spells. All these underground threats have a similar effect, the undermining of the foundation of castle walls or the bypass of them by digging under. The best defense would not be a strategy made for each individual threat, but some way of shoring up the foundation so such threats will rarely be effective.

There are number of land based threats. These include Giants and other Huge monsters which could destroy walls due their sheer size. Also creatures which can climb sheer walls such as aranea, footpad lizards and such make traditional castle walls obsolete. And finally there are the tiny creatures, such as brownies, that could slip past normal castle defenses with impunity.

There are a few other threats which I won't be taking an in depth look at because I think the best defense against them would be magical and not structural in nature. There are creatures a spells which may ignore the physical entirely by becoming ethereal or teleporting. There are creatures with gaze attacks, which might be feasibly defended against without magic, but I don't see such creatures as being so common as to threaten an entire fortress; they tend to be rare solitary creatures. Then there are creatures that have charm effects which negate whatever defenses you might have, the only reliable defense against a charm is another spell.

02 June 2018

D&D Story 2: B1 In Search of the Unknown, Part 2

continuation of the interview on B1

Lance: Ok, so let's talk about when you ran it for us. How many times have you run this module that you remember?

Bruce: Five

Five, so you ran it the first time and then?

And then I didn’t run it again till i had some friends that decided they wanted to do it with us and that was after we moved to Clairmont. And they actually did quite well;  they were cautious where they should be, they were bold where they should’ve been, they actually played it the way it was supposed to have been played, and I really appreciated that, so I didn't mess anything up. I kept it as true to the module as possible. And then the next time I played it was with you kids. Just you kids and I leaned it down quite a bit, so that you kids could play and have fun doing it. You were technically old enough to hear and understand what was going on on that trip. The next time I played Jared was at that stage and then we played one more time and that was at the new house in citrus heights.

And that was the time with the white dragon and Galron?


Ok so when we played it with Galron and the white dragon, where was the dungeon? Because in the blue Expert book there’s a map and it places it northeast of Luln.

Yes, that’s where i put it.

So let’s talk about the time with galron because that defines my Known World going forward. Before we met the white dragon I remember the talking mouths but that's about it.

You guys turned right after you killed the guards and separated one going into the dining hall [room 3] and one going down the passageway. You guys turned to the right someone went here someone went down here and the ones that went down here [east of room 4] had to come back and assist the ones that were in here [room 34]. And one of you almost died, you had to use all the healing potions you guys had at the time. And all the spells that the cleric had memorized for that purpose, and you guys had to hold up there [room 33].

Ok, so what are all these numbers and letters here? Are those saying the treasure and monsters?


Did you use that code only once?

I used that code quite a bit. There are a couple of things I would change; leave the number on there, but change it for that adventure. With Galron a lot of this was changed.

Let's see, I remember the pools, but I can't remember what we did there the first time we went in there. I remember we got the drinking water one.

Yes you did, you also got the healing one . You guys were very suspicious of all the pools; someone dipped their sword in the acid, and then the next place they stuck their sword in was the green slime which worked real good on the green slime. Then someone figured it out and started throwing acid at the green slime. You guys actually defeated the green slime with acid, rather than any other means. Your magic wasn't working too good because you guys were such low level.

That's pretty cool. Was there anything else on the first level that we did?

Oh, the chambers the bedchambers; you guys got carried away with the bedchambers. Some of you slept. This wasn’t the first adventure that the new crew with Galron had been on. The one with the carrion crawler was first. Between the carrion crawler dungeon and this one, and you guys spending so much time in the bedrooms, that’s when I decided there were dust bunnies [room 24].

But you only made the stats for dust bunnies a few years later, there wasn't any stats at that time?

Right it was afterwards.

I don't know how i lost that piece of paper

It’s a bedroom, what are you gonna do? Look for dust bunnies?

Did we get lost in the mazes and stuff?

Twice once in this one [around room 37] and once in that one [room 20] but only  once. Because you guys were mapping and mapping quite well, you were able to figure out where you were.

Did we have trouble with the teleporting rooms [room 15 and 16]?

Yes you did, but only once. Cause you had someone stand outside the door.

That was the first level, before we go to the second level, do you remember who was on that adventure?

Oh the name of the characters, no.

But wasn't cassie's character with the black dragon armor [Jelarin]  there?

Yes and one of cassie's friends, Guinevere

Ok, Guinevere, she had her heartbow already, that’s  bridget's character. Heidi was with us, she had her mage character; she played that one most often.

This is about when she was losing interest

I think she was named Seanna or something.

It might have been Gabriel for Jared

Maybe it was his halfling?

What was the halflings name?

I can’t remember, see he made a halfling when I ran games too, so I always mix them up. His first halfling was Dmitri?

It might have been Dmitri, I’m not really sure.

Cause for the longest time Jared only had those two characters. Was Gabriel Jareds first character?


Because he's a fighter. So then it was probably Gabriel cause this was one of the earlier adventures, and Jared was younger then, and if Heidi was still in middle school that means Jared was 4 or 5.


Ok, so it was probably Gabriel [ I called Jared and he confirmed it was Gabriel].


And one of cassies frineds


Do you remember which character?

No, cause they never came back again, I think they decided to be a bard.

We dont have bards.

Yeah, they wanted to be a bard

Maybe it was Mir, she does things like that.

Yeah, I  told her, “ok, you can be a fighter who does a lot of singing” I think that's what I did.

That's pretty much what I tell everyone who’s said they wanted to be a bard. There’s so many different versions of the bard. The bard is like the kobold basically. The kobold has changed more than once every edition, and the bards did the same thing. So I tell people if you wanna be the fighting version of the bard just be a fighter and have a musical instrument, if you wanna be the thief version of the bard be a thief and have a musical instrument . . .

Right, and that’s basically what I did with her. She wanted to be a fighter.

Ok, so how did we get to the lower level?

It was one of the pit traps.

Ok was it the one you made up down in room 20 or was it the pit trap that’s already up there by room 36 or something else?

Well what happened was this; there were two different entrances, two different times you went down to the lower level one time was into the pool of water and you guys almost died [by room 36], the other time was you found this hole in the floor. You had absolutely no idea what it was for and you decided to roll someone down on a length of rope because there was a spit with a crank over the hole.

Lol, we actually did that?

Yes, it took two of you to be able to lower one person down.

I thought Cassie was the smart one, and she stopped us from doing things like that?

Not on that one, and you had not found the stairs because that time you went to the left instead of the right

So which way which one was first?

I think it was the pool of water first.

What did we do there?

You went out into the cave of bats and stuff, and were able to make it outta there

But the white dragon?

No white dragon at that time

Ok but we came here a second time?

That’s when the white dragon was there

And we fell down this other hole in room 20?

Right and you explored all of here [level 2] and finally made it into where the white dragon was

I remember you described it as being really cold, and there was something blocking the passageway. It looked like a giant hill in the middle of the passageway, like right at the entrance that  we were going in.

That was the dragon

Were we coming in from the south or the west?

From the south

Ok describe that, you probably remember it better than me.

That’s a hard one to remember. When I was rolling the dice for reaction rolls, you guys were getting spectacular rolls, and it was frustrating because I was’t getting a realistic roll from you guys.

You’re talking about before we met the dragon?

Yeah, and everything you did when I’d roll you got it; whatever you wanted. When it came time for that [the dragon] I just rolled the dice and didn’t worry about it. I developed a story with the white dragon to keep you guys interested.

Well, the dragon killed all of us; it froze everyone except Galron. But yeah, we woke up the dragon, and he breathed on us, and Galron had like one hitpoint or something. But you had already planned for that dragon to be there before we even went into the dungeon?

Yes, now the other thing was I can’t remember if it was the blue dragon or the white dragon, but one of the dragons you met was so amused by you guys that he liked you.

That was the white dragon, because it was me trying to be social when I was like, I don’t know ten, or however old i was. It was probably the first time I had to actually roleplay instead of just roll dice.

Yeah, and he couldn’t get out of the room because he had been kept in there for so long. Now I don't remember what you guys did, but there was something you did where it caused it so he could leave the room and he was eternally grateful.

What I remember was, he breathed on us and I was the only one that was still conscious. I think you were nice and had them all frozen instead of  dead. That's probably what you did and then I couldn't say anything because I didn't know what to say, and the dragon started laughing. After it decided it liked me because I was so speech impedimented, through the coaching of Cassie mostly, and some of the other kids too I was able to get it to take everyone else to the room of pools. To the healing pool, and then after that I'm not sure . . .

But the thing is he had to do something though to be able to become small enough to make it through the passageways; now that’s the part I don’t remember.

Was he a normal sized white dragon

Yeah, he was a normal sized white dragon. Yeah, anyway I think it was a teleport spell cause the dragon did have some spell capabilities, so that might have been it. I don't remember.

Ok and so so after everyone was healed, did we just leave?

Yeah, you talked to the dragon and told him that the dungeon was totally empty. That you guys cleared it out and there's no reason for him to be here anymore because he doesn't have any treasure to guard.

Ok wait, he didn't have treasure in the bat room?

Nope, he had food. Adventurers would keep coming in and that was his food. And the treasure you get from adventurers was the only treasure that was there, and it really wasn’t worth his while.

No, ok so where did he go?

I think you guys were the one to influence him. One of you did the teleport spell, and you stayed an extra day and teleported him out of the dungeon and freed him. You guys met him later several times.

If he were in this other room [room 55] he would have been able to get out.

Yeah no problem, but that's where they originally put him to guard the back door, and then he kept wandering around down there and one time he wandered and couldn't get back in because it had caved in. That was his excuse.

Ok, so I remember we came back later and he wasn't there specifically, but there was white dragon eggs and they were his eggs with another female white dragon. And it was in the same room we first found him. That’s pretty much all I remember about that.


That's where we got the other six dragons, I know that much.

And when you left the room you went out this exit here and he was there to meet you. You were tasked with protecting the eggs and letting the dragons be raised, and the white dragon was there on behalf of the dragon council.

Right that was way later.

Yeah and one of them got drunk and turned green

24 May 2018

D&D Story 2: B1 In Search of the Unknown, Part 1

This interview took place on May 9th. I'm splitting this into 2 parts. This details my father's first encounter with B1, next will be about when he ran it for us at the beginning of the adventures that led to the Dragon City. This has been severely edited, taking out all the inttereuptions, repetitions and irrelevant chatter, so no audio file this time.

Lance: Ok, so the first module you ran was B1: In Search of the Unknown?

Bruce: Correct.

And this was given to you?

This was the first module given to me by Dwayne Hansen.

Ok, then you never saw the monochrome version?

What is monochrome?

The older one that has just one color on it.

Oh yes.

This is the one that came out with the 81 basic set, so that gives us a timeline cause the monochrome is the one that came out sooner. Lets run through it the first time that you ran it.

Oh I spent an entire two weeks reading, and all I did was breeze though it; I didn’t read for thorough understanding. I numbered what monsters were in what room on a sheet of paper so that I wouldn’t have to roll them up. Some of the numbers there's a chance of monster and there’s a no chance of monster and stuff like that, so the ones where there’s a chance and you have to roll it up I prerolled it for this game. Dwayne and Mark Eads and Susy Butlers husband, I don’t remember his name, and one other guy we were all playing in our home in Escondido, or our apartment in Escondido, Linda saw how much fun we were having and wanted to play at the time, and then didn’t want to play anymore after she played one game.

Do you know how many sessions this dungeon lasted?

Seven, because there were so many things in each room.

Yeah especially the first level; the first level is a maze.

Yeah and also the guys were taking forever to do anything they did an awful lot of discussing before they moved on to the next room or whatever. It almost felt like they wanted me to give them experience points every time they did something. So they would level up faster I guess. I didn’t figure that out until later, that’s when I started telling everybody that played with me, “you don’t get to level up until one of two things happen; you complete the task, the dungeon, whatever, or you have to end for the night. Whichever comes first.” And then I would calculate it out in between time.

What are all these pencil markings?

I put in secret doors here and there.

Cause these are like blocking off passages and stuff

Yes they are; it was another maze.

Ok, so you just made it more maze-like, but when did you do that?

That was for you kids.

Ok, so before we get on to the adventure you did with us, let’s go through this. Was there anything memorable the first time you ran it?

The entrance, you know the voices. Because they were in the mode of discussing everything, the voices kept saying the same thing over and over again. And I was getting tired of having to say it over and over again, that then i put anew line in there that wasn’t in the script. And it was to insult them for not being very decisive. I don’t remember what it was, but i know they all started laughing

What are the voices supposed to say the voices are supposed to say “Who dares enter this place and intrude on the sanctuary of its inhabitants? Only a group of foolhardy explorers doomed to certain death. Woe to any who pass this place - the wrath of Zelligar and Rogahn will be upon them!” and you said something else cause they were just standing there?

They were just standing there talking, talking, talking, and I repeated the whole thing again, and they still stood there, and talked, and talked, and talked, and so I said- I can’t remember the exact words, but something to the effect of, “there must be tourists because only tourists wouldn’t adventure or leave.”

That’s great, so in that same room there’s 5 bodies. Do you remember anything about those?


 Did they do anything in the kitchen?

They ate. They sat down to eat; some of the food was still good.

There's a dining room.

Yep, and there was a monster in there that I added at the spur of the moment.

Do you remember anything else that happened?

Oh they loved the room with the pools. They tried every single pool.

Well yeah, There’s a pool that’s poison, isn’t there?


Did you play that by the book, and that it killed them instantly?

No. They could tell that they had been poisoned, and their cleric then healed them and staved off the poison long enough that they could get anti-poison, there’s a pool that’s anti-poison.

ok, so there’s a pool of healing, an acid pool, a pool of sickness, green slime pool, drinking pool pool of wine, one that’s dry,

They actually took the drinking pool and the pool of wine first. Because they took the pool of wine, and this is aged wine, they all started acting very funny. They played their parts quite well; they were all drunk.

There’s a hot pool, an aura pool, a pool of sleep, a fish pool, an ice pool, a treasure pool, and a pool of muting. Did you keep them all the same?

I did and they tried every single pool.

And so the one that was hurting them, which one was that?

That was the pool of poison

Well there’s sickness, acid, and green slime

It was the acid

Ok, so then they would just get to the pool of healing

Right, they kept going back to the pool of healing quite often. That was the third pool that they found after the wine. They also kept going back to the pool of wine though.

Well yeah was there anything else on that adventure specifically memorable?

I can’t think of anything spectacular

Well there's zelligar’s closet. There's several books, did they do anything with the books?

They read the covers and if the cover was interesting they would then put it in their stash to read later

I remember one of the times we went through this, maybe it wasn’t this one, but we found some books and we touched them and they crumbled away. Was it here?

No, it wasn't. It was the other one with the carrion crawlers

And there's the wizards workroom which has a whole bunch of ingredients, do you remember anything about that?

They tried putting the ingredients together, but it was all so old and decayed that it had no more power. Now I think it says that some of these have power, but I was just tired of them, so I just told them that they're labeled and don’t work.

Number 12 is the library, did they do anything with that?

Same with the books; if the books were interesting they kept them

Ok let’s see, teleportation rooms! 15 and 16. It's meant to confuse them, did they get confused with the map?

They got confused with the map yes

How long did it take them to figure out their mistake?

About 20 minutes

That's pretty good

Cause they kept going back and forth

20 is a dead end room, that's just a maze?

Right thats why I put more walls and secret doors

I'm not sure what this says; I think the bottom word is map?

Lower map

Cause you had it drop down

Well, there's another pit but this was different

Yeah but you didn't have that the first time you ran it?


In the Trophy room there is a dragonskin on the wall

First time I ran it as that was fake dragon skin, it was just alligator

That's interesting

 Because real dragon skin is valuable

Right, and you wouldn't just put it on the wall; it's not like bearskin.


Oh lets see, advisor’s chamber- there's a desk, some magic items in there

Kept that one pretty much as written

Ok so room 36, or north of room 36 there's some false steps that are supposed to confuse them what did they do when they were in that area?

They spent an awful lot of time in that area. Kept going to these rooms and then kept getting turned around and going back in here and falling into a pit trap. They fell into that pit trap at least twice. Thing is, the pit trap opens up into one of these rooms down here

Let me read it real quick, it opens into the pool of cold water

Right, but the thing is no matter what there was always at least one person still up there. They would shoot a rope up to him or he would drop a rope down to them, and they would come back that way and still explore this area and get all messed up with the maze and everything. Cause they weren’t mapping

They were not mapping, but they still figured out the teleportation room and this maze?

Because they had all played this before

Oh, because they gave you the module

Yes, and they couldn't remember everything

So thats the first level, and the second level is where you fill things in. And you had a piece of paper saying what was there, so when you wrote stuff down for what was on each level, did you have a piece of paper summarizing the first level too?

Not really because most of it is in the module

But in the second level you had a piece of paper where you wrote down what was in each room?

Yep, and whether there was a trap, or what type of trap was it, something that would make them disoriented, one of the rooms has gas in it; it upset their equilibrium and they couldn't figure out which way they were going.

Ok, the grand cavern of the bats?

Yes, which became the grand cavern of the white dragon who had been fed there for so long he couldn't get out

That was the first time you ran it?

No, that was the time i ran it with you kids

Ok, so that big cavern was bats originally and you ran it with the bats your first adventure with them ?