A few years ago, I wrote a few articles about the original Castle Greyhawk. That's one of the first D&D dungeons, the place where Gary Gygax playtested the D&D rules. It is in the dungeons underneath Castle Greyhawk that heroes like Tenser, Otiluke, and Robilar ran around and became legends.
I'd wanted to run a Castle Greyhawk campaign for many years, loosely basing it on Gary's dungeon.
Recently, I was able to get this campaign going on the greyhawk channel. We play every Thursday at 1 PM EST.
- (Doug) Gusamon - a fungus-obsessed dwarf.
- (Kikka) Lytria - A wood elf ranger who is trying to find her real parents.
- (Dylan) Gundar - An evil dwarf covered in tattoos.
- (Chloe) Aurora - A paladin with an angelic lineage.
Level 4 is the undead level, using material from the Barrowmaze, a fantastic undead-themed dungeon made by Greg Gillespie. The dungeon has this pit in it that is spewing forth undead. The heroes need to bring a magic orb called the Fount of Law and toss it into the pit to destroy it.
The Mirror: Looking at what was left, I thought we might get to the final area of the Barrowmaze today. We didn't, primarily because of the mirror.
The room goes like this. If you look in this magic mirror, you are teleported to a quasi-realm where you have to fight an undead version of yourself. If you destroy it, you return to the dungeon.
The group were cautious and ultimately decided to all look at the mirror at the same time. It was literally explained to me that they wanted to "engage with the dungeon", which amused me greatly.
So, all 4 heroes appeared in the quasi-realm and had to fight their undead counterparts. Aurora turned two, using her gauntlet of palantis (a very cool item she'd found in the previous session). Gusamon got hit a few times, but the heroes weren't having too much trouble with the remaining zombies.
The group has a bunch of hirelings and sidekicks. Most of the names of the hirelings have names that are anagrams derived from the names of my players from years past:
- Tumtut Brazen - A tall, athletic woman.
- Ratty Lens - A pretty resourceful dude with a hunchback.
- Jackie Moonshoe - A glamorous dame who lost her nerve a few rooms into the dungeon, and now spends her time shivering and smoking.
- A dwarf the group rescued from a pit.
- 3 mummy cats - new monsters from the adventure, called Nebanekhets.
The heroes survived and returned to the room whence they came. Then, they did what heroes do. They tried to take the mirror and bring it with them.
That was another split-second decision for me. I knew that it would "ruin" some encounters, and my best bet is to say yes, but then spend a week thinking through the limitations so that they could get good use out of it without flattening the adventure completely.
They were excited about it and I figured, "ah, what the heck" and went along for the ride.
They soon came to an area where there were 8 cockatrices nearby (chickens that can turn you to stone). The heroes used their bat familiars to get the cockatrices to turn the corner and run right toward the mirror.
Poof. The cockatrices went into the mirror realm. I quickly made some rolls to see how many cockatrices defeated their undead selves. A round or two later, 4 emerged victorious. The group took down the rest.
So now I have a week to mull this over. What can I do with this thing?
- I could have it break. I don't want to go out of my way to break it. If it happens, it happens.
- There could be some kind of overlord int he realm who doesn't like all of the activity.
- Maybe entities on the other side start popping out at an inopportune time.
- If the group traps some undead in here, maybe their living selves can be reborn?
One thing that I am wary of is that the final room is teeming with monsters - skeletons, zombies, etc. I don't want the mirror to nullify it. I'll need to figure out a way for the mirror to add to it rather than detract from it in a way that is satisfactory for everyone involved.
Magic Items: This dungeon is old school, and part of old school means tons of magic items. I embraced it to a degree, and the players seem to enjoy getting all these cool, weird items.
Aurora, the paladin, has a 20 AC. I don't see many campaigns where magic armor comes into play. Imagine a paladin with +3 plate and a +2 shield? That's a 25 AC! That seems like it might cause problems.
So we got to a point where the heroes found the remains of a paladin, and there's a helm +1. It's got wings on it. I had to make a split-second decision. Do I want the paladin to have a 21 AC? Am I giving out helms that boost armor class?
I decided to go with it, mostly because a winged helmet is very old school and fun. I am worried about her AC, but there are other ways to affect a hero - saving throws, spells, status effects, etc.
You can check this episode out right here:
Watch Secrets of Castle Greyhawk Ep. 15 - The Mirror Realm from thegreyhawkchannel on www.twitch.tv