Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

40th Anniversary...

Basic Set advertisement from 1977-78 T$R catalog.
It was 40 years ago today that Dr. John, whose X-mas lies 2 days yet post from his birthday, received a combo birthday/X-mas present of the John Eric Holme's Basic Set to The World's Most-Popular Role-Playing Game.

Winter break mid-8th grade, I believe the first week of January Dr. John introduced to the game myself, Sumerled, The Boy with the Bark, and Bark & Dr. John's cousin Cathie. (Perhaps the last week of December, I would have to check an old school calendar for when break ended - I know we played solid for at least a week to 10 days or so...) No dungeons to start with, only Dungeon Geomorphs Set 1 and Monster and Treasure Assortment: Levels One to Three, but that was enough to put things in motion for our little suburban clan.

I haven't recently asked the good doctor from whom he received this wonderful present. He probably told me back in the day, but I had forgotten.

The twenty-sider I bought back then in the set of plastic dice had been rolled so many times that by maybe the mid-late 1980's it crumbled into pieces that I put back together with JB Weld. Ha, it is still in the dice set I gifted to our middlin' son. What a journey to begin from a simple gift.

Happy days.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Night of the Walking Wet...

"Night of the Walking Wet" at DunDraCon
Here is my "official" dungeon entry to run at DunDraCon #42 over President's Day weekend in 2018. The adventure is 40 years old, from an D&D fan 'zine "The Dungeoneer" back in 1977 that I updated to my particular flavor of modern, D20 rules.

The challenge is trying to find the sweet-spot for player character's level.

I've seen this recommended as written for OD&D (or "reloaded" for AD&D) at 6th-7th level parties, but I have found that the d20 editions (3, 3.5, 5) characters tend to run a little hotter in terms of damage per round. I wanted to set the level at 4th also because folks invariably bring in some PC slightly higher level than requested.

In the end as I was going through the encounters, I thought, "What the heck," gave the PC's a bit of a higher margin at 5th level. The main difference being how often the party has an opportunity to rest up. (Heh, heh, heh...)

This also seems to be the year of the "Walking Wet" as North Texas RPG Association for 2017 published a special "Dungeoneer Revisited" version of the adventure with a new forward by the author, Jennell Jaquays, to raise money to cover some health expenses for one of that convention's co-founders.

By the way, Jennell authored for Judges Guild two of the most iconic third party stand-alone D&D modules, Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia. Her environments were intriguing to me as they often involved 3-dimensional interactions between encounter areas rather the typical strung-together, isolated flat pancake levels, one on top of the other and of denizens ne'er the twain shall meet.
Dark Tower, dungeon side view...
In Dark Tower, only the tops of the opposed temples presented at the surface. Adventuring was down through one and up through the other. Night of the Walking Wet also utilizes interesting vertical setting.

My long-running 1979-80 paladin, Lord Richard the Saintly, cavorted around in artifacts from Dark Tower's Temple of Mitra: Mitra's Eye (an amulet), Mitra's Favor (ring), Girding of Mitra (belt), and The Heart of Law (magical glowing gem)...
Lord Richard the Saintly
Ok, so if you're at DunDraCon February 16 and 17, 2018 look me up. 😁

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gateway Outside the Circles of Time

The party ponders the strange, red-metal vehicle as red lights flash splash on and off to the south from the uniformed men around the southern corner up the street west. Soon the adventurers hear the engines of vehicles and sounds as if the uniformed men are driving away.

Man-with-no-name moves to take a closer peek through the car door Grady had unlocked, looking at the undulating, pearly image within the gem-like crusted frame only to have an sudden bare eyeball peer from the opposite side. Momentarily startled, the man leans back as blackened, smoky tentacles reach out and grasp the man's head and shoulders with painful barbs.
Mirror Eye
Man-with-no-name's face is drawn toward the orifice, he glimpses a desolate, fiery landscape where several robed personages appear to be congregating or cavorting with some demonic, aberrational creature. The adventurer feels himself be drowning down through a portal...
Vision of Cultists
In a lurch the half-orc barbarian, Groug, kicks vehicle's door closed on the blackened tentacles, chopping off their tips as the ends disappear in smoky tendrils freeing Man-with-no-name. As the smoke clears the party sees McQueef the half-orc barbarian has returned.

As the party pauses and unmarked white van approaches through the darkness. As everyone dives to either side of the street, the van passes and various tubes and equipment at viewed inside.
Unmarked Ambulance
The van continues on to the and of the street and turns to the back of the university library. The group in front of a library entrance notice the door is ajar. Man-with-no-name sees the key fob Grady left in the car door has a differently-shaped key from that of the vehicle and surmises that the fishy-folk may have entered through this entrance. Trying the key on the open door the key is discovered to fit perfectly.

During the meanwhile, elven thief-mage followed the white van down to the rear of the library and spies 2 humans, a man and a woman dressed in business attire, exit the van to remove a rolling gurney, then enter a back door of the university library. Elf chooses to stake out the van while the rest of the party (Man-with-no-name, McQueef, Groug, Lizard-cleric, and paladin) enters the library through the unlocked door on the street.

The heroes inside see the two human agents walk past down a hall and follow them to a set of mechanical, sliding doors. Inside the doors was a small box-like room with several buttons on the wall, and one button at the very bottom with a key-hole in it. Man-with-no-name tries the library key and it fits. The mechanical doors close and the room is felt to descend.

Mechanical doors open to a darkened, large basement seeming filled with rows of crates or tables. As the party moves to investigate, growls are heard and smokey apparitions resolve into hound-like creatures with blue-metallic hides, thin canine bodies, and bat-like faces exhaling steamy mist. Lizard-cleric realizes a similarity to the metallic hounds that appear as the blue marble counts down and, pulling the marble from his belt-pouch, see the counter is perhaps going to signal dimensional shift. As Lizard-cleric moves off green glowing orb rises claiming "I am the sum of all evil..." as the blue marble flies from Lizard-cleric's hand into the orb! The party is momentarily stunned.
Hounds from Nowhere and Orb
During the meanwhile, Elf hears squeaky wheels and views agent-looking man and woman moving some rolling table draped in a large, white, bloodies sheet. The agents move around back of van and Elf lies in wait toward the front, listening as the van doors open and close. The agents move off around the building corner as elf follows when... AMBUSH! The agent are waiting and grapple Elf.

Retreating from the basement up the elevator, the adventurers decide to move on down the hall to see whether agents have returned to the van. Exiting the library building, gasping grunts from Elf manifest and heroes attack - arrows and swords merely passing through agents without causing harm. But McQueef strikes with his invulnerable gauntlet knocking the male agent off of Elf. Surprised, the two agents then scamper like bugs, spider-climbing up the side of the library several stories to the roof.

Permitting for a moment for the agents to bugger off, Man-with-no-name opens the rear of the van. Inside is a large, worm-like creature with a human face, beaten and lifeless. In the Man-with-no-name's minds comes a thought, "... the Librarian."
The Librarian
The party decides action must be taken. First they open the doors to the red-metal vehicle and simultaneously run the gurney into the vehicle along with the worm creature, attracting the tentacles, then explode it by focusing their alien-tech laser weapons on the vehicle to heat the craft until it explodes in a fiery ball. Satisfied, the adventurers relax when Paladin glances up toward the heavens. Unfortunately, a gargantuan amoeba-looking monster peers through many red eyes back down. Adventurers once more retreat, running southward away from this new terror.
New Terror
Run, run the heroes move, out beyond a gate and paved street. They spy a lone, humanoid figure standing in doorway beneath sign reading "Toad Lounge" when to surprise they move in surrounding the hapless commoner. Startled, it is a young man who says "Hey, I'm Juan. I only work here..."

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Page After Page After Page After ...

(D&D Bloat)
An almost 10-year-old, but still interesting, chart from Chris Tregenza at the 6D6 blog indicating D&D - History and Growth from its inception in 1974 up through the introduction of 4e in 2008.

The chart shows the number of pages of rules published each year as well as the average pages of rules over an edition's lifespan.

Says Chris, "What is clear is that between the 1st and 2nd edition, there was a huge jump in the number of rule books produced and that the general trend is for large systems with shorter life spans."

Ha, our group used AD&D 1st ed. from 1978 until 2005 (28 years), v.3.5 from 2005-2011 (6 years), and our 1e/3.5 hybrid from 2012-2017 (5 years and counting).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Agent of Shield

(Judges Guild Judges Shield, Front/Players' View)

(Judges Guild Judges Shield, Back/Judge's View)
Whence I reminisced on another post/another blog there was occasion pulling out some really old stuff from waaaaay back. This is a copy of the Judges Guild Judges Shield where mine had the crap used out of it for long past its life-span which expired late 1979/early 1980 when the screen was much supplanted with the T$R Dungeon Master's Screen.

I purchased this probably sometime between March and June 1978. Didn't bother me a bit that the tables were all OD&D and became virtually useless for AD&D once Gygax's Dungeon Master's Guide came out the following year. This was the staple screen for all my games, and during it's heyday was friggin' slick. Every inch of this six-panel screen was covered with useful material.

The only knock is that one had to tape the sections together which invariably failed eventually, requiring re-taping and gradual erosion of the cardstock. The only thing that saved this particular beast from total obliteration is that I somehow misplaced the shield for a few decades and only fairly recently a few years ago discovered it in with a bunch of my bro's gaming crud.

Fun Fact: If you peer very closely at the "Monsters" sections you'll see an entry for "Hobbits."

(My actual screen today, quite more thrashed than whatever scan I found for above.)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Non-Circulating Special Collection...

Silver Tower
Having broken through the line of the metal, sentinel guards, adventurers spy the mysterious tower gleaming in a forest clearing against the hazy sky of mid-day sun. A strangle rectangular radiance shimmers at the base of the tower, and within the shimmering a giant-sized dark mass moves about. Through the forest canopy, flying medusa monkeys are seen swarming above the tower area.

Much to the party's astonishment, a circular drow hovership floats by overhead, pausing to collect the flying monkeys. The hovership then moves off to the east.

From nowhere the man-mountain-techno-barbarian rejoins the group. Grady looks over to determine the tower is their target and says, "Let's go."

Creeping closer reveals the immensity of the slender tower ~ 240' high with a 75' base tapering down to a narrow 25' width. The tower stands on a hillock in the center of a roughly 250' clearing with tall grasses. Endeavoring to approach, the drow ranger (newly appeared from her mysterious travels in the Lands of Nether...) spies a motion beneath the grasses, almost as if a kitten were crawling about beneath a carpet. Suddenly long tentacles attack, snatching the drow and lifting her on high!

"Now is where things get interesting..."
Battle ensues where the party gains victory after when Grouge, the half-breed orc barbarian, takes a respite. A beer-can-sized being appears adjacent Grouge, "Now is where things get interesting..."

Grouge leaps to his feet and bounds at his full 1,600'+ per minute run across the grassy meadow and up the hillock to the silver tower.

Inspecting his surroundings, Grouge sees that the shimmering field and black blob have vanished. The tower, he finds, stands upon three large pilings. Centered beneath the base of the tower extends down a square shaft exposing a single set of double-doors, albeit with no door handle.

The adventures cross in multiples being shuttled across by the faster members until all are present beneath the tower.

The doors slide open upon a touch disclosing a mirrored inside seemingly of polished steel. Once inside the more physically attuned to their surroundings feel the sensation of being lifted up, up, and up. One, two... three minutes pass which from what the barbarian senses as speed must have taken the party hundreds and hundreds of feet skyward. Preparing to blast their way out of the chamber, the polished room stops and the sliding double doors part. Our heroes exit into a lit chamber. Once the last person exits the doors slide shut.

Egg-shape Domed Chamber
 Finding themselves under a somewhat egg-shaped, domed chamber that is immense ~ 250' in diameter and nearly 300' to the ceiling. Obviously much, much too large a chamber to fit within the slender tower.

But how???

The chamber floor is a park-like setting, with trees, shrubs, and ponds. 200' up a catwalk is attached to the chamber wall, circling with groups of mirrored-glass windows overlooking the scene. A similar walkway exists at the highest point in the chamber. Light seems to emanate from the walls.

The elevator shaft extends up through the chamber into the ceiling, and there are no other visible doors or means to escape the chamber.

Then, a raspy-sounding disembodied voice, seeming to come from nowhere and everywhere, and vaguely oriental, offers up to the adventurers, "Welcome. Here you may rest and heal for as long as you wish. Then to your task." Man-with-no-name remembers a name 'Matsuhara Yotsuya' completely void of context.

Party rests, recovering health and spells. After what seems a couple of days, the elevator doors open. Anxious to remove themselves from this strange, tesseractian tower, the party enters the elevator where once again the more physically attuned to their surroundings feel the sensation of being transported, down, down, and down this time, hundreds and hundreds of feet.

Stopping and opening to a dark and raining stony-edifaced street. Upon exiting a haughty voice calls out "Give us what you came for."

Turning behind the elevator has vanished and nine straw-hatted men stand back in the night rain.

Three Tsunami of Storm Spirits
"I don't know what you are talking about," responds the man-with-no-name. The nine men attack flying through the air and throwing wicked, curved blades.

The spirits of this storm individually use thunder, lightning, and rain magic as weapons, proving cunning and deadly opponents with their fly-by attacks. Thunder exclaims an earthshaking roar entering battle, which causes drow ranger to panic. She flees down the paved roadway into the darkness.

Eventually, though taking many deadly hits and nearly slaying the elf mage-thief, all the storms are defeated. Including one thunder spirit who expires in a concussive blast.

The man-with-no-name traces drow ranger, finds her several blocks away before a vast granite building with many tall windows staring down at them. "See there behind that streetlamp," the drow indicates in the direction of the building. "One of those windows down at the bottom is broken." The drown ranger points to the grassy landscaping, "and these fresh footprints lead straight there."

Footprints in the Rain...
Drow ranger and man-with-no-name move up to investigate as elf mage-thief and lizard-cleric move in behind. The barbarians Grady and Grouge stand an imposing guard streetside.

Looking within the building, drow ranger sees dim light emanating from an ajar door some distance down a long hall.

What are these strange folk searching for?
Drow, man, elf, and lizard drop through broken window into the hall, and silently to the open door. Inside a room barely lit by light from an illuminated display, several red-flannelled humanoids smash and sift through cases as if searching for something.

Even in the dim light the men's skin seems grayish-green, eyes bug-eyed and bulging, and mouths unnaturally wide almost to their ears...

Fishy People
Fishy people, who all pull out .45 revolvers and begin unloading them in the direction of our heroes. Huge battle ensues with lizard-cleric and man-with-no-name taking pot shots into the darkened room while the two barbarians join the fray, felling fishy folk with their heavy blades. Elf mage-thief unleashes a barrage of fireballs. Alarms sound, sprinklers activate.

Drow ranger, acting as lookout at the broken window, hears sirens in the distance... coming closer. "Hey," she yells, "We're going to have company!"

"They were searching for something," remarks lizard-cleric, and the group begins picking through the room. Crumpled, and fortunately unburned, in one fishy hand is a piece of paper depicting a green blob and some writing...

Lizard-cleric elects to cast Detect Magic and begins scanning the room. Nothing. The sirens grow louder almost upon them. The rest of the party run further north up the hall finding a doorway that leads to a descending stairway. Lizard-cleric and drow ranger turn invisible as a dozen uniformed men spill down the hallway to the room of the fishy people encounter. "We got a blood bath in here!" shouts one. Uniformed men fan out, trying to get lights on and search for intruders.

Lizard-cleric is not detecting any magic at all in the building when, as he approaches the descending staircase at the north end of the hall, at the most extreme limits of his detection, magic! But outside the building. Lizard-cleric boosts the drow up to open a street-level window, crawl through and take a look. Outside, in the direction lizard-cleric indicates, drow ranger discerns through the dark and rain a shiny, bright-red, horseless carriage the likes of which she has never encountered.

Looks like time to ramble on...
After hearing drow's whispered description, lizard-cleric makes to the staircase and informs the rest. Grady smiles and holds up his hand displaying spoil from looting fishy bodies, "I have the keys."

Thinking quickly on how the adventurers can avoid gendarmes, man-with-no-name conjures a Shadow Walk, shifting the party through a path along the border between material and shadow. The Shadow Walk deposits the group slightly around the corner, in full view of several uniformed men about a hundred yards away, but fortunately no one notices the strange party.

Lizard-cleric follows his detection straight up to the shiny red carriage. His detection indicates, sitting in plain view on the front bench seat, an oval artifact with a frame of multi-hued encrusted gems, and a center of swirling, milky evanescence. Lizard-cleric's detection reveals intense conjuration magic...

What the heck is that?!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Dark and Stormy Knight...

Given that snake-mystic and her dog-naga vanished almost as suddenly as she appeared, it was perhaps not unreasonable drow priestess and posse off away in hover ship. However, the ship unexpectedly bore east rather than southwest to suspected drow enclave.

Our heroes followed the drow hover ship's path as a steady rain began to fall. After a full day's march west, and needing to rest for health and spells, adventurers pitched a cramped tent for the night, setting order of the watch. During half-orc barbarian's turn hearing soft thud, three winged monkeys peering in... with Medusa heads!

Flying Medusa Monkeys

These beasts and four more of their brethren violently attacked wielding glowing, magical scimitars and a horrific stoning ability (barbarian within hair of petrification), but elfin thief-wizard's fireball succinctly repels - unfortunately destroying party's only shelter from the storm.

Thief-wizard envisions terrific plan, reducing the barbarian to fine-size, where man-with-no-name can send barbarian aloft with arrow from his longbow. 500' above the treetops barbarian can spy for signs of light... civilization... then gently to earth by way of feather fall ring..

Plan comes to fruition with barbarian sighting ten miles east a bright glowing fire-light above the treetops - perchance a tower in the forest! Also barbarian see'd against the moonslight masses more flying Medusa monkeys scattering toward the east.

Barbarian's view from an arrow
Man-with-no-name experiences consternation realizing path of the hover ship led nearly back to where they escaped Orcus merely a day prior, two miles south of said dungeon. They had backtracked as far as their prior day's traveling!

Being without shelter from rain for thief-mage to study, and as barbarian peeked some low lying sharpened hills directly south, the band ventured there hoping for some craggy overhang shield to the elements. Striking through the night up wooded hills to promising outcrop, mesmerizing bird-song echoed unil suddenly the trees above reveal evil half-bird enchanters!

Harpy Archer
Three harpy's challenge using frosty bow-shots from above, but gradually succumb to thief-mage's fireball's, blasters from Paladin and reptile-priest, and return arrow volleys from man-with-no-name. Resulting damage required more urgent rest even than spells, so group sleeps rest of night and half-day 'neath the stony crag.

Reptile-priest's search for the harpy's nest found naught, they march through afternoon sun twelve miles in the direction of lit tower from night afore. Along way strange dwarf in crystal armor and fiery elfin hybrid join yet again the party. And fiery elf drifts up above forest tress to inspect if tower is visible. Lo, while fiery elf does spot a tower-like apparition, he also takes note of many, many flying Medusa monkeys circling the construct in clockwise pattern out about 300 yards radius.

Moving closer, the now-larger assembly saw arrayed out about the purported tower, a number of metal men, motionless at attention bearing blasters and swords.

Metal Men
As adventurers debate, metal men attack with blasters. Crystal dwarf charges lancing the metal men as he passes, where spell casters pepper with fireballs and ranged fighters with tech blasters. As the metal men are destroyed each self-disrupts in a 60' diameter concussive force which wounds crystal dwarf nearby. Gradually metal men in the vicinity are defeated, but adventurers expect more soon at hand, and what of Medusa monkeys overhead...?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


DunDraCon Game #102 - Cyberhell
Friday, February 17, at 6 PM in 163 for 8 hours, Room Map
GM: Matrox Lusch
System: Dungeons & Dragons 1st/3rd Hybrid
Players: 8, Players provide their own characters
Power Level: 10th-15th
Variations: Will accomidate 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th Ed chars
Rules Knowledge: Useful
Game Content: Mainstream

Sigil, center of the Multiverse, has vanished.
The Astral Plane has become Evil-aligned and corrosive, literally dissolving the Mutiverse where connections open at points in Outer Planes or Prime Material. Rumors abound the Arch-Fiend Lucifer, Prince of Darkness and Evil, is free from his icy, Inferno prison.
A band of heroes magically appears before an odd-looking, robed person who whispers,

'You must go DIRECTLY to Hell...'

       Cyberhell is inspired and skinned over portions of Geoffry O. Dale's 'Journey through Malebolge' which is, in turn, Dale's modern imagining of his old 1980 Judges Guild product, 'Inferno' - believed deadlier even than the original 'Tomb of Horrors!' My 'skin' of Cyberhell is loosely based on a home brewed scenario from the mid-1990s by my good friend Sick Rick and his pal Deangul Bunsen Burner.
       I will run the adventure with my own blended 1e/3e hybrid rules which, in general, utilizes d6 'party' initiative, and de-emphesizes skill checks in favor of race and class abilities. Otherwise, the saving throws, magic, and combat rules are essentially 3rd/3.5 edition.
       There is no need to update your character sheet into a new rules version. In this game I'll mostly translate where necessary on the fly into my hybrid rules. However, I will accommodate 3rd Ed. and 5th Ed. skills where appropriate, as well as potential 1st/2nd Ed. saving throws and abilities. The goal being to give adventurers best possible chances versus an EXTREMELY deadly environment. 
       Situationally, if you can pull an imaginative idea from any set of rules that might save the party, we'll roll with it!
       That said, please make sure yours is a high-level character you yourself have run, from 1st level to whatever. It may be that the character has collected dust, but we'd like as least some memories as to the limits of what your character can do existing somewhere in the old noggin.
       Also, please bring whatever rule books you use to run your character including Players Handbook and DM's Guide. I will bring my old 1st Ed. AD&D books, my 1e/3.5 Hybrid rules, and the 5th Ed. Basic Rules for my own reference.
       Lastly, please bring your own set of dice. A character miniature would be cool, but not required.