Reading through the original white box set of Dungeons & Dragons, the idea of a plot outline for running the game seems silly. What D&D of this type calls for is a good mapped dungeon stocked with monsters and treasure, with character motivations being mainly “kill things and take their loot!”
For this game, I decided to have the players roll up characters at the start of the session, rather than pass out pregens. This is because the process is much faster and easier than in other games, and the lethality to PCs of original Dungeons and Dragons is legendary, so might as well give them practice at the beginning.
Original D&D is surprisingly lacking in published modules, most having been created for its successors: Advanced D&D and Basic D&D. With somewhat limited prep time for this game, but a strong desire to run a ‘real’ dungeon crawl by the books, I found a fan-made module online, that was built specifically for this edition, using the rules in the Underworld & Wilderness Adventures book. Thus, I present to you: Under Xylarthen’s Tower (An old fashioned dungeon crawl by Jeff Rients)
Once characters were created (see the PC page for details), off to the adventure we went. Arriving at the ruins with nothing but their equipment, wits, and a collection of randomly generated rumors, the fearless group arrived at the site of a destroyed wizard’s tower, and took the stairs down to the first level of the dark dungeon.
Arriving in the dungeon, and after making an immediate error with the map (which was mainly due to the DM having a terrible time giving directions after so many years of not bothering with maps, combined with the complete inability to tell left from right), the group headed west, and then south through the open corridor, checking for traps and treasure along the way. At the four way cross, they discovered a single copper piece on the ground, causing a considerable amount of consternation and checking for traps before Splorg the (apparently not so) Expendable pocketed the penny and they moved on towards the west.
Arriving in their first chamber (number 11 on the map), they were surprised to find a mostly empty room containing only a child’s doll, poked through with brass pins. Time and effort was spent carefully checking it for traps or magic, but in the end, it was determined to be harmless and worthless.
What weren’t harmless were the three snakes that slithered in due to a Wandering Monster check as Daerin was listening at the door. A brief battle ensued, wherein he was bitten by a snake, was poisoned and promptly died.
Luckily, Flaerin arrived a few minutes later to seamlessly take his semi-twin brother’s place in the party.
Passing through the door and up the corridor, the group peered in to Room 8, saw a ton of trash, and noted that it was moving and infested with rats. Deciding not being bitten by rats was the better part of valor, the group chucked a torch into the room to set the trash on fire and then did a 180 and went into room 10 instead.
Inside this room were two corpses: one of a human, and the other a mule. The mule is much more recently dead than the human, apparently bitten by rats, but otherwise both bodies were remarkably whole and dead for mysterious reasons. Franz and Splorg discovered a small crack in the floor near the bodies. Splorg attempted to widen the crack with his dagger before being forcibly stopped from doing so by Franz who detected danger. The group beat a quick retreat from the room without triggering the poison gas trap from the vent, despite Splorg’s best efforts to accidentally do so..
Back into room 8, the group saw the now enraged rats trying to decide wether they should leave the fire or attack. The group saw an opening and rushed up to room 9 and spiked its door shut against the rats.
Room 9 contained a broken bronze stature. A huge, naked manlike creature with fangs, horns and clawed feet stood pointing at the door – or would be had its hand not have gone missing. The adventurers poked at the stature, knocked it over, and generally fiddled with it before deciding that they should continue on and look for the hand to complete the statue and see if that did anything neat.
Finding no other way out of room 9, they decided to brave the rats and fire again and look for another way out through there. Luckily, the sharp eyes of the elf, Valathe, spotted the secret door on the southeast wall, and they beat feet into the new room.
Room 7 was empty, save for a recently discarded wineskin that was swiftly pocketed by Franz.
Moving on to Room 1, once again they found a pile of refuse, leading to the conclusion that this dungeon was obviously where the local teenagers of the village go to congregate out of sight of parental eyes and ditch their trash. Poking around in the trash pile for any leftover goodies, beer, pharmaceuticals, or magazines, Franz disturbed and was bitten by a snake.
Poison saves being what they are, and Franz having the hearty constitution of a newborn sparrow, the dwarf swiftly died. The snake was quickly defeated by the remaining PCs, who looted the silver and gold also present in the pile.
Opening the door to the south revealed that the party had circled around back to the entrance, which was convenient as it permitted Sweet James to tap dance his way down into the dungeon and join his new comrades, seamlessly replacing their hapless dwarf.
Heading back through the snake room and up north, the group discovered and dispatched a pair of giant weasels hiding in a barrel (conveniently holding 200 silver pieces as well as the weasel nest (room 3). And then on to Room 4, which was apparently empty until the sharp eyed elf discovered a secret door in the northeast wall. Opening that door revealed a long, dark ladder leading way down to…
In the longstanding tradition of D&D, the players found a way to skip over many levels of content and get right down to some of the crazy parts. Arriving at room 1 of Level 4, the adventurers disturbed a group of six white-furred apes. The grunting and excitable apes looked to fight the adventurers, but it seems that their leader held a magic sword, which imbued it with rudimentary intelligence and allowed the apes and the party to communicate.
In an unlikely turn of events involving negotiation, posturing and a ridiculous Charisma roll made by one of the least Charismatic members of the party, it was agreed that the party and the apes would, instead of fight, engage in a dance-off. If the party won, they would be free to go and would become the owners of the apes’ magic sword. If they lost, the apes would eat them.
Of course, the party won. Despite it being up to the apes to judge the contest. Sweet James, the tapdancing Fighting-Man was a force to be reckoned with on the dance floor.
Making a hasty retreat, they left through the south door before the apes could change their mind. Sweet James, having claimed the sword, began having conversations with it as it thanked him for getting it out of the hands of the damned dirty apes, and began attempts to convert him from Chaos to Neutrality.
Room 2 had more apes, most o which were sent back into room 1 to ‘talk’ to their leader, and the last of which was put to sleep via a spell. The door was spiked and the room abandoned for door to the west.
A little exploration to the west sent the brave adventurers into retreat as they entered room 6 and saw webs on the ceiling. No thank you, spiders!
The giant crossroads room 18 proved too empty to stay too long in, as did room 20. Room 21, however, proved most enlightening. A conversation with the highly evolved and articulate ape Klorbag went very well, and the adventurers told him that they would do their best to help him defeat and enact revenge upon his rival apes, whom they had just previously encountered. In return he would give them information on the dungeon level, including about the dragons lair located here.
Immediately ignoring their obligations to the ape, they headed to the large empty room to the south of Klorbag (25), peeked into the empty room to the east(27), discovering and ignoring a stairway back to level 3, and then back over to Room 22.
There were a lot of Egyptian-style sarcophagi in room 22, which were wisely avoided by the party. as they rushed over to room 10… and more sarcophagi. This second set were not so static as the first, and four mummies emerged to fight the hapless delvers. Luck and cowardice being their watchwords, they managed to beat feet back through to room 25 without much damage.
Heading south after spiking the doors shut, they arrived at location 26, which was a huge antechamber filled with pillars and smelling of brimstone, with two enormous doors in the west wall. Bracing themselves, they opened the doors, hoping to find the dragon’s treasure, one of the characters having heard a rumor that the actual dragon was dead.
Two young red dragons, eager for their mother’s return, greeted them in room 28 instead. Hoping that the adventurers were there as the food their mother promised she was going out for, they prepared to attack, only thwarted by the image of their mother being conjured up by the Magic-User Dumbledore and convincing them that their food was delivered to the north of this room, and was in the form of the white apes there.
The bluff worked, and the PCs stuffed their pockets, backpacks, and every available space with gold and gems.
We called the adventure at that point, Dungeons delved, and dragons defeated.