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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut - "The Dancing Hut" Dragon Magazine #83

I've been branching out in my Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG World Tour game lately. The DCC RPG is great for running fantasy adventures of any system. I ran SlaughterGrid with it, and it worked great.

I have this shelf of D&D adventures I want to run some day. Some of the adventures on this shelf include:
The Dancing Hut
In that magazine is the original "Baba Yaga" adventure: "The Dancing Hut", by Roger Moore. I ran the 2nd edition version by Lisa Smedman, but people always say the original is the best, so I put it on my shelf.

I decided to run "The Dancing Hut" for my group. I sat down and began to prepare (I take handwritten notes to help me absorb and retain the details). As I got into it, I was shocked to see that tons of details are glossed over.

Basically, the hut is home to a sort of demi-god witch. On the outside, the hut looks tiny, but the inside is a massive extra-dimensional space (like the TARDIS from "Doctor Who"). There are 48 rooms in here, arranged like a tesseract.

A lot of these rooms contain trophies, monsters or people from many different dimensions. One room even has a soviet tank from Earth. This wacky stuff is part of the reason I felt this would fit perfectly with DCC RPG.

4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons to the Rescue

But I got to room 2 on page 39, where the are 6 glass statues that each have a different color. They have powers relating to the prismatic sphere spell. The details are not given. We have to look it up and figure it out on our own.

OK, well, no big deal. I can look that up. Then in Room 9, there's a fungus garden. There's a fountain. The adventure says: "Anyone who drinks from the fountain will suffer some strange effects from each drink; the DM can invent a random-roll table of peculiar effects..."

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I was appalled. It's an old adventure, so this kind of thing was more common back then. Now I think the prevailing mindset is that an adventure does not give you homework. The homework is done for you. That's the whole point of buying an adventure.

I knew what to do. There was a 4th edition version of this adventure published in Dungeon #196. I dug it up, and by gawd the author Craig Campbell filled in all the details. All that is needed is some slight game rules translation, which is no problem. The 4th edition fungus room has a giant table for the magic pool!

Even better, this adventure has full color maps by mighty Mike Schley (my favorite map guy) for every single room .

So basically, I am running the 1e version with details and maps stolen from 4e.

The Adventure Begins
We started this adventure last Monday night. We had a newb join us - the group is almost getting too big. I had to do some story stuff involving a cleric and androids before we started the hut. The end result was that the PCs got their hands on some blaster pistols, grenades and a rifle from Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

They also stole the bad guys' little spaceship/pod. I wanted this to happen, just to see what the PCs would do with it.

With that out of the way, I dropped the Hut hook on them. An evil double of a PC is an apprentice of Baba Yaga, blah blah blah. The hut is a few miles to the north of the PCs' home (the fortress from Sailors on the Starless Sea).

Outside Baba Yaga's Hut

The exterior of the Hut is a very elaborate encounter. There's a ton of details:
  • It is surrounded by a fence topped with 24 talking skulls that can shoot fireballs if the PCs jump the fence rather than using the gate.
  • The hut is on chicken legs and spins. The PCs must figure out how to make it stop spinning.
  • The hut has a mouth instead of a front door. The PCs must issue a passphrase to be allowed to cause a door to appear. The hut's mouth makes it a point to warn: "Spies and thieves will be eaten."
Since this is an RPG game, the PCs did something I didn't expect. They tried to fly their spaceship over the fence. Fireballs were launched, the ship exploded and our heroes barely survived. They had to rest and come back.

They made their way in to the hut (with the aid of a mysterious raven familiar that one PC acquired during Blades Against Death),

Room 1.

This is just a normal-looking hut interior. In here is a talking cat named Vladmir. The adventure kind of lets the DM use Vladmir in any way they wish. Vlad explained some things to the PCs and took a shine to the party cleric, who is a cat-man (thanks to a potion from The Emerald Enchanter).

Room 2. Entry Hall
This is a room with incredibly valuable tapestries made of gold, silver adamantite and platinum wire. Each is worth 40,000 gp. They are guarded by the six glass statues that each have a prismatic sphere power.

The party rogue tries to steal everything, but the heroes begged her to leave the tapestries alone.

Room 5. Recreation and Dance

The heroes took a left door and ended up in this weird room which has a lot of hobby-oriented stuff. There's a table for playing cards, there's sewing stuff, and in the middle is a performance area. There's a performer nervously practicing for a gig in here. Baba Yaga has told him that he must perform for her, and if it is not up to par, she's going to eat him.

I made him one of those guys with an accordian and a helper monkey who collects tips in his little hat. I did this mostly so I could do my bad Russian accent.

The group took a liking to the guy and convinced him to come along with them. They are going to try and help him escape the hut.

Not sure why the PCs wouldn't just go out the exit, drop him off at home, and come back. I also wonder what the skull-fence and the hut itself would think of this.

Room 4. Art Gallery

This is the art gallery with a lack of description. I placed art from my old D&D campaigns, references the players wouldn't get but I would. I do stuff like that just for me - I like having a continuity among my campaigns. They all exist in the same cosmos. Baba Yaga has appeared in many of my old games, so I included references to all the other times I used her.

I took an idea from the 4e version of this room, and had a medusa in here. She was veiled and acted like a pleasant museum guide. There were many statues of terrified adventurers in here.

The group immediately realized she was a medusa and panicked. Ekim's Mystical Mask was cast (it can aid against petrification attacks). Somehow, a PC ended up making out with the medusa with the mystic mask on, don't ask me how.

During this panic, two PCs fled through a door...

Room 3. Audience Chamber

Those two PCs stumbled right into Baba Yaga's audience chamber. The great witch was sitting on her ruby throne.

One PC, a chaotic wizard, was about to attack her but he saw the look on my face, meta-gamed, and backed down. I didn't mind... I mean, she'd kill them. I guess she could have just gave them a curse or something. In the 4e version, there's som detailed curses which are fantastic. Maybe I'll do that next week.

She has two hill giant skeletons in here and there's a trapper on the floor under their feet.

My intention here was to have Baba Yaga declare the whole gimmick I had in mind for this adventure:

Her new apprentice, an evil double of a wizard PC, asked her to lure the PCs to the hut and kill them. She decided that her apprentice would have to kill them himself, to prove he was worthy of being her apprentice at all.

So this adventure is meant to be a jaunt through the hut where the apprentice messes with the PCs and uses the rooms to try to kill them.

For example, when the PCs go into the prison room, I am going to have him free the hydra. When the PCs come to the trophy room, he's going to be in the tank and will fire the cannon at them.

We had to stop there. We'll do more next Monday.

So far I like the adventure. It's very much a "sandbox". I do not appreciate the lack of details in the original, but the 4e version solves that problem and then some.

Continue to the second session, where the heroes face off against a world war 2 tank.


Jon Bupp said...

I remember that adventure fondly. The first I had heard of Baba Yaga, and I ended up looking up some of the original folklore. We had a cranky old woman in our neighborhood that we started calling Baba Yaga about that time as well.

Never got to play or run it, though. I'll have to check out the 4e version.

Sean said...

Jon Bupp: I think not many people got to play the 1e version because it was so high level! I also think not many people used the 4E version because it came out when not too many people were playing 4e, in the waning days of the edition.

Michael Lewis said...

I'm thinking of using Dungeon Crawl Classics to run some of the classic AD%D modules. How has it worked for you?

Sean said...

Michael: 1e AD&D modules work great with DCC RPG. Obviously you'll have to change monster tats and the number of monsters appearing. It's not hard though, just use a DCC RPG module of your PCs level and use stats out of those. Remember that DCC RPG is lethal so err on the side of "too easy".