Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Slave Pits of the Prepuberty Undercity

I received A1 - Slave Pits of the Undercity last week as a prize in a G+ PbP campaign(Mike Davison's Jousting Faire at Normandie).  Also B2 - The Keep on the Borderlands - another whole post on that thing, let me tell you what, Master Baggins.

I love the A1 thing; If I recall correctly it was the very first module I ever owned.  Obviously, I was lost like a babe in the woods at the age of 8 and I only tried to push it past my gaming group a handful of times and never ran it, even in my early 20's.  But It marks my conception of AD&D and D&D indelibly, along with a bunch of other Basic D&D stuff, and the G and D series, and The Dwellers of the Forbidden City.  I never had the rest of the A series until much, much later - not even the compendium they put out.

So, a burned out wreck of a temple, rife with humanoid and human slavers, a couple of wild monsters, and enough undead and monstrous creatures to put you through your paces.  Also! the traps!  Only a slaver would put so many traps in... but anyways, since you guys dig the bulleted format with pseudo random tables etc.

roll d12 for your SPOILER OF CHOICE:

1) Man, this thing is tough! You need 6-8 level 4 and up characters, and these are hardened heroes that already cleared out an evil cult (presumably)
2) Part of the tournament experience is short and sweet and brutal, and starts at a boulder that covers the trapdoor in a blasted ruin.  In the non-tournament experience, that trapdoor has a whole actual temple above it, with a feisty platemail cleric and her three orcish warriors who are ready to whip your ass before you even get into THE DUNGEON part
3) There's maybe a boobie being touched by a semi-sentient carnivorous plant, if you're into boobies.
4) SO many traps.  And lots of drowning!  This is 1ed, so there's no burning any fru fru Luck points, and the Hobit don't share 'em out.  Your 2ed rope-work is very likely to come in handy, but not if you came from Kara-Tur, since we don't care about Honor or Calligraphy, here, if you please (unless you're buying forgery slaves).  HAve some Nekode handy, gozaimas
5) Relatively low treasure density - this is not a solely XP for gold game.  Those orcs are going to go down in 1 hit and just to piss a guy off I might change the silver holy symbols down to SP instead of GP since, Jesus, there's like a whole wall full of 'em
6) Pretty deadly random encounters (notably, there is an admonition to keep track of certain available levels of e.g. ghouls and some of the tougher hominid-types)
7) I think maybe the best treasure is (easy to find since it's all in BOLD) - maybe Gauntlets of Dexterity?  A Stone of Diminution (got a Troll on top of it, fuck that's a spoiler, sorry).  A Ring of Shooting Stars (always wanted one of these, myself)
8) The insect men remind me of the Gamma World equivalent, and I bet when people under-estimated them back in the day they really took you to town.  I think this module probably set a good tone for BE CAREFUL and led to many TPKs (probably some friendship breaking ones)
9) None of the NPCs are identified by name.  Brilliant.  Looking back, I think that B2 does this, also
10) A giant flame-thrower on a cart, with some very clever orcs manning it.  Throw your molotov over this way.  Its use is debatable, since the Orky engineers wot thought it up have a general Orky understanding that your typical medieval peasant-turned murderhobo cannot muster
11) This is the module that A) started my close and long-standing love of Kayen Telva and B) ruined me for all other Elfs (except maybe Melf)
12)  Fuck I think my heater is about to explode.  ROLL AGAIN

This kind of perversion teaches kids bad values.
Anyway, it's a pretty mediocre thing, now that I read it again with growed-up eyes ...( PSEUDOFREUDIAN ASIDE:  I think it may also have been that particular booby with the sundew tentacle that prompted my sexual awakening and that's why I only think of sticky plants in the shape of piles of rags when I do it but I digress, and then I have to wash myself with vinegar or strong wine)... and the rest of the Slaver's Series is notable for stressing that THE NPCs (and even the monsters in the dungeon, especially the ogre-lead orcs in the sewers) are not to be trifled with.  The orcs are mooks for sure, but they have a strong sense of self-preservation and are prone to NOT advancing and instead hanging back and crossbowing the PCs to smithereens.  It really does go a long way to making one think about charging head-first willy-nilly into combat, and how no adventurer worth their salt would be so bold and reckless, I mean, shit you wouldn't even get through the door if the slaver orcs didn't know you were legit Bandit-Slavers and they could smell alignment like nobody's business and them's not slaves, they're half-orcs and you are SOOOO busted, MF goody goody!

I see some other objections that it was a little rail-roady; I think it kind of represents a poor design of go-for-the-throat with some on-the-rails problems, and yeah, I mean, that was maybe a way to do it back then but I don't think most of the dudes/ladies I do this with these days would bite that hook.  They dig some agency or maybe the illusion of it, to hang their dice rolls around.  I mean, Dwellers of the Forbidden City is a relative masterwork of "Go Forth and Fuck Around!"

No beer.  I been without beer for a couple of days and just dying to get my hands on some of that Shock Top Pseudo-Kentucky Bourbon barrel stuff.  O man.  I'd gank a dwarf for one of those right now.

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