DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord 1-5: The Long Hallway.

After the first 40′ it becomes apparent they are no longer in the dungeon they entered, but have walked through a portal into a densely forested realm. The sun is perpetually dimmed by cloud cover and there is some patchy fog around the trees in every direction. From behind, it just looks like the group kept going down the hallway. After the last PC steps in, a kodama spirit appears.

So far, it hasn’t been so bad.

The group will have to put in some effort to find these doors, but they aren’t as difficult because of their size. They are still covered in mud, but if the group takes a little time to excavate, these doors are gorgeous and telling.

Read aloud:

It took some effort, but you’ve uncovered two large, ornately carved, bronze bound doors. They are heavy and rounded at the top, probably to match the hallway beyond. You feel a slight chill go up your spine when you touch the door, as if touching the lid to an occupied coffin. The doors themselves give off a somber energy, as though one were taking their final walk after a life well lived. The two old, bronze rings are heavy with age and mud.

If the players clean the doors off, the left door has an ornate, lovingly carved picture of a wolf, standing on a cliff, howling. On the right door is a moon over a forest. The moon is faintly glowing. The doors are magically locked.

This was the Wolf Lord’s one last chance to howl at the moon. If the players read through the journal, it chronicles the Wolf Lord’s final journey to his resting place. The coven gave him one last chance to howl.

Unless the characters have a way to magically unlock the doors, they may howl at the moon and the doors will magically unlock. They are extremely heavy and require a DC 15 Strength Check to open.
Read aloud:

Your mighty howls seem to activate the magic in the lock and you pull the doors open with a stout heave. What lies beyond may not have been for mortal eyes. You see a painstakingly carved round stone hallway. There is a faint glow of magic in the doorway. The hall is round and tall, except for the floor, which is squeaky clean and flat. Magic globes faintly light the wall.

The Hallway seems normal for the first 20′ or so.

After the first 40′ it becomes apparent they are no longer in the dungeon they entered, but have walked through a portal into a densely forested realm. The sun is perpetually dimmed by cloud cover and there is some patchy fog around the trees in every direction. From behind, it just looks like the group kept going down the hallway. After the last PC steps in, a kodama spirit appears.

The diminutive creature rattles its head to sort of communicate. It walks among the PCs and checks them over. It stops and waves its arm. Suddenly 36 kodama appear and begin wandering through the party. They appear to be looking everyone over, but are harmless. If the group attempts to harm them, remind them that the little spirits are ethereal and mean no harm. They’re just studying the group for what comes next.

They will climb onto the PCs, inspect their gear, maybe even try to interact a little. The little spirits are trying to determine alignment. Check their alignments. This will determine which wolves they will face.

IF the group tries to turn around, all they see is forest and fog.
MAP:
Since the encounter takes place on the spiritual plane of The Happy Hunting Grounds, the Judge is free to produce any large forested area desired or throw down trees randomly. There should rarely be unbroken line of sight for more than 20′-30′ aside from the 20′ wide path the characters are travelling along.

The kodama scamper off after a few minutes except the first one. It motions them forward. As the group walks forward into the dense forest, wisps of fog surround them. It becomes readily apparent that they are not alone in the forest. Wolves are moving among the trees, yipping and growling.

There are three wolves per PC. The wolves are all the same pack, but each PC will be “tested” by the wolves matching their alignment.

The Lawful Spirit Wolves:
Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2); AC 14; HD 3d6 (18hp ea); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL L.

The Neutral Wolves:
Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 2d6 (12 hp ea.); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL N.

The Chaotic Dire Wolves:
Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2); AC 14; HD 3d6 (18 hp); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL C.

Tests:
The Lawful Wolves will approach and insist the characters follow. They will ask telepathically why the characters wish to see him. As long as the Lawful characters are pure of motive, no one will be attacked and they will be permitted to move on. It will be a pleasant conversation.

The Neutral Wolves will surround the group. They will circle cautiously and sniff out an alpha to challenge. Then, a Large wolf with a scar over its left eye will approach. It has AC 16 and 4d6 HD (24hp) and will only fight until significantly injured or the group’s alpha is injured.

The Chaotic Wolves will single out the Chaotic characters and fight to the near-death. They may even drag the weakest looking character off into the woods until the battle is decided.

The character who rescued the large tooth from Room 1-3 may show it, if he remembers and be automatically chosen as alpha/party leader/representative of the whole group as an emissary.

IF the group becomes frightened and attack anything but the Chaotic Wolves, ALL of the wolves in the encounter will work together to fight the group. They will surround, pull, and double team the group as much as they reasonably can. They will attack weak-looking characters, spellcasters, and Halflings first.

However, the wolves will not intentionally kill any of the party. The goal is to test the group’s resolve and pure intentions for wanting to see the Wolf Lord. If accidents happen the slain party member will discover they are already in the heavenly realm of The Happy Hunting Grounds. They may choose an afterlife destination or remain has ghosts where they are.

After the encounter, the group will be led, escorted, or dragged out into the long, sloping hallway that leads to Room 2-1.

DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord Room 1-4

This room may seem a little lackluster compared to the others once unearthed.

This room may seem a little lackluster compared to the others once unearthed.

Room 1-4: Much like the door to Room 1-3, this door is caked in mud and earth, taking considerable effort to find. However, once discovered, the door swings into Room 1-2 with considerable ease. It opens to a narrow hole in the packed mud about 3′ in diameter, about enough for one adventurer at a time.

Once a light is shone into the room, the walls and ceiling are caked with thick mud and packed earth. At least half of the room is completely filled in. The glint of gold can be seen a little over 10′ across from the opening on what remains of the stone floor. There is about 5′ of operable space from floor to ceiling within the dimensions indicated on the map. What is possibly a hilt of a weapon or the end of a staff covered in dirt can also be seen. There is also a mud covered goblet and a bowl of a brazier sticking out of the dirt farther into the room.

And then there was trouble!
Once an adventurer enters the room, they can see the corner of a chest buried in the mud next to the coins. If they try to extract the chest, the handle, the goblet or the brazier, or do anything that disturbs the room in any way (Yell, tap the walls floor or ceiling, swing a weapon, etc) a full collapse is triggered. DC 15 Ref Save to get clear in time. The room is filled with earth! Anyone in the room takes 1d8 damage and is buried in the dirt. Suffocation Fort DC 10+1 per round buried, 1d6 Sta damage per failed save. The characters not trapped in the dirt can be excavated from the wreckage. The GM can determine how difficult it will be to dig any given player out depending on how far into the room they are buried.

IF the group managed to befriend or play nice with the elementals, they can excavate trapped PCs with ease and will gladly do so. They won’t help with the treasure, but they will save the adventurers, who clearly don’t belong in their element.

Thanks for stopping in. Room 1-5 is on the horizon. I love old fashioned dungeon crawls.

Catacomb of the Wolf Lord: Room 1-3

Room 1-3 of Catacomb of the Wolf Lord. The group may have found treasure, but is it cursed?

The “Treasure” Room.

The entrance to the Treasure Room 1-3 is concealed under a thick layer of old mud and gravel. In the dim lighting and all of the mud, the door will be difficult to find. If the group “plays” with the elementals, more earth will be caked onto the old mud. Ask the players if/how they are searching.

If the group finds the door and excavates it, it opens into Room 1-2. Beyond the door, there is a 5’x5′ unlit hallway leading to another door. Across the way, is a wrought iron bound locked door. The lock is trapped and will drop a 1 ton granite block on the trap victim and blocking the hallway. (Detect Trap DC15.)
Pick Lock DC 18. 8d6 damage from the block + being pinned. Reflex Save for no damage.

If successful, the door opens into a magically lit 15′ x 15′ room, domed ceiling with a faint glowing light in it, with a magical circle drawn on the floor. Inside the circle are four items. The first is a dagger (athame) in an ornate wooden box. The second is a leather bound book with a lock and key. It looks to be very old. The third is a gray fur cloak with an ornate wolf’s head clasp. The fourth and final item is a wolf’s fang.

Once the first character fully enters the room, a ghostly wolf appears. It speaks clearly to the group. It points to each item with its nose and states, Cleric, the dagger; Wizard, the book; Thief, the cloak, and Fighter, the tooth. Read the following aloud:

The ghost stares at you, or possibly through you. It points to each item and states clearly a second time Cleric, the dagger; Wizard, the book; Thief, the cloak, and Fighter, the tooth. Choose wisely. You make only keep one. Bring it to my final resting place for your real reward if you are so worthy.The rest are cursed.

It sits and says, “I’m waiting for your answer. You may ask one question of each item if you wish. One I shed. One was my end. One was my life. One is my gift to you if you are worthy.”

The ghost, a spirit messenger of the Wolf Lord, will answer truthfully one question of each item within reason. Its answers will always be cryptic and vague. It won’t try to encourage or discourage the group from choosing any of the items. It might also answer a little more about itself.

The Wolf Lord wasn’t always a wolf. It lived for a while as a man to better understand men. He took an elven bride and had two children: Koga and Kei. Koga became feral and ran away at a young age to join a wolf pack. Kei grew up to be a refined elven lady. (Current whereabouts unknown.) The Wolf Lord eventually rejoined his spirit pack and left his mortal family behind.

After many centuries, the great animal lords were forgotten. In turn, each returned to a sacred place where a coven of followers put their bodies to rest and sealed them away from the mortal world.

*Note: If any of the cursed items have the curse removed, the item is rendered permanently inert.

A) The athame is a cursed dagger +1. It radiates strong magic. The wielder must feed it one hp per day or lose 1 Stamina each day the hp requirement is not met. The wielder may not give its own hp.

B) The Coven’s Spellbook: The Coven’s Spellbook is a cursed antithesis of all that is Lawful or Neutral. Any mage who opens it will automatically become Chaotic, and will turn more toward being un-dead with each page read. Any/all spells copied or cast from the book with automatically backfire. Any creatures summoned automatically turn on the caster. It was never meant for the world of the living.

C) The Cloak of the Gray Wolf: At first, this cloak appears to not be cursed. It offers a +1 Agility bonus to Stealth and +1 bonus to AC. Once per day it allows the wearer to shapeshift into a normal wolf. All items become part of the new form. Mental stats stay the same.

Wolf, common: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD
as wearer; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1;

The ability resets at sunrise.
But the cloak is cursed. At the first full moon after acquisition, the wearer transforms permanently into a wolf under the control of the GM until the curse can be lifted.

D) The tooth is a regular tooth. It is not cursed, nor is it terribly useful yet. However, it is the key to unlocking the real treasure in Room 2-2, the Wolf Lord’s burial chamber.

While the Wolf Lord is considered a demigod and will grant certain spells to his followers, this is clearly not the book to do it with. The Wolf Lord will be available as a Mage Patron and as a Demigod to be detailed elsewhere.

Once an item is chosen, the rest vanish along with the circle and the lights in the room. The eerie outline of the spirit can still be seen, but it will not interact after the choice is made.

That’s it for this room. It’s obvious the other party never made it to this room. The journal makes no reference to tests or treasure beyond a vague mention of some kind of treasure believed to be buried with the bones of the Wolf Lord himself.

Thanks for being here! I appreciate you. Can’t wait to see what happens in Room 1-4 and 1-5? Hang in there. They’re coming soon.

DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord Room 1-1

Over a century ago, the physical bones of the Wolf Lord were lay to rest. A sword of legend and other riches lay within the tomb.

This is the first room of my new dungeon.

Room 1-1 and the hallway leading to the dungeon. What mysteries lay within?

A couple of farm kids accidentally excavated an entrance to an ancient burial mound deep within the ground. It is perfect for adventurers who want to make a name for themselves exploring the tunnel and beyond.

The tunnel is long and unlit. The walls are mostly made of packed earth and stone with the occasional very old wooden brace. Those familiar with the earth may make a check to notice the grade of the floor. The long tunnel goes down about 3′ for every 5′ square. There are torches sunk into the walls every 30′ of the 120 foot tunnel.

The walls are old, but have held up exceptionally well over the years. The whole place smells earthy and musty. It is obvious no one has passed through here in many years.

Room 1-1: At the end of the long tunnel are 6 alcoves, 3 on each side of the wall with what at first may appear to be dirty old bronze or iron statues. Closer inspection reveals they are actually zombies that activate and attack!

6 Zombies: Init -4; Atk bite +3 melee (1d4); AC 9; HD 3d6; MV
20’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead; SV Fort +4, Ref -4, Will +2; AL C.

After the battle, the party will see two huge iron banded thick wooden doors. Both are locked. In front of the door are the corpses of what appear to be two dead adventurers. The bodies are very old, perhaps a century or more. There is little more than scraps of cloth and bones. Closer inspection will indicate the doors were closed by the adventurers before they succumbed to their wounds.

Loot: Rummaging through the deceased adventurers will yield a Silver Dagger, a pristine set of Thieves Tools, a scroll with the Level 1 Spell- Ropework, a solid staff, a Level 2 Enchanter’s (Neutral Wizard) spellbook with 7 First Level Spells, and a journal with entries regarding the Wolf Lord. (See Bevin’s Journal.)

The two large stone doors are locked. The lock is centered between the two doors. A large bronze carving of a wolf’s head is above each door. The lock is DC 15 with a Poison Needle trap within that triggers when the lock is opened with anything other than the proper key. Trap DC 15 to detect/disarm. The poison is the equivalent of Asp Poison Fort Save DC 20 1d3 Agi/1d6 Agi. Normal healing.

Once the doors are opened… To be continued.

“Old Grognard”

I don’t consider myself to be a grumpy old man gamer, aka “Old Grognard.” Rather, I’m an older, slightly more mature, experienced gamer.

I don’t find this term offensive. Do you?

Yes, I’ve been around a while. Back when I first started using the Internet, there was this thing called “Usenet News” that I got all of my RPG news and reviews on. It was a forum like any other. Many of the same truths and toxic attitudes still prevail today. Thus began my love-hate relationship with forums.

I love Instagram. Every community I’ve joined over there has been helpful, supportive, and fun. I love you guys. Keep up the good work.

My Facebook RPG experiences have been somewhat limited, as have my forays into Reddit and Pinterest. Really not much to comment on there. Is YouTube considered “Social Media?” If it is, I watch a lot of videos on there. Again, I like pretty much all of the content I consume, or I wouldn’t be watching it.

Then there’s Twitter. After the Ufology community showed its true, very ugly colors, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be deleting my account. So I started hanging out over on the #ttrpg side. Thus far, I have found it to be a warm, supportive, positive group of peers 98% of the time I interact with anyone. (Okay, I’ve had one less stellar experience, but it was mostly miscommunication.) I love all you beautiful people over there #ttrpgfamily. I’m grateful for all of my followers.

I’m not that old.

I mean, I’m 49. My roots go back to T$R Marvel and BECMI when it was new. I’ve been in the hobby for almost 40 years. Yes, there were good old days.

But that doesn’t mean I’m stuck there. Yeah, I know guys older than me who will never give up their lead minis and boardgames with cardboard chits. They’re reluctant or downright intragnizent when it comes to learning/playing anything new, even if it’s a reprint. Change is truly frightening for some folks. That’s before we start adding technology to the works. Yeesh.

D&D has plenty of throwbacks, and so do I.

Lately, I’ve been encouraged by a friend to get back into more rules-lite, Old School Roleplaying. I’m monkeying around with Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics (Goodman Games,) and Frontier Space (DwD Studios.) I really like that kind of old world BECMI, Gamma World, and Star Frontiers feeling.

That’s not to say I’m abandoning 5E D&D, Pathfinder 2E, or anything. Still tons of fun to be had with any game. If nothing else, playing older games makes me appreciate both eras of play and those play styles that much more.

RPGs have evolved over the years, and so have I.

Beer and pretzels was a style of play back when I started. We did some goofy things running around in dungeons just for the fun of it. We hacked and slashed our way to finding incredible treasures and fought freaky, sometimes bizarre monsters. Some of those dungeons made very little logical sense to begin with. I enjoyed those games as much as I imagine people do Critical Role now.

As the years progressed and we matured as people and as players, some games turned more dramatic. We still talk about those with the same affection and fondness as we do about the half-crazed dungeon romps. Characters and stories mean more nowadays. That’s cool. I think there’s room for both yet.

There’s room for all.

I don’t consider myself to be a grumpy old man gamer, aka “Old Grognard.” Rather, I’m an older, slightly more mature, experienced gamer. I’ll allow pretty much anyone at my table. I’m here to have fun however that comes about. I don’t hold any grudges, and I don’t begrudge any particular play style. Just enjoy the game. That’s what we’re there for. No worries as long as someone’s not ruining it for everyone else at the table.

Yes. I’m sure I’ll still get lumped in with the other old Grognards. I’ll still gladly play Man O War or whatever else they want to pull out when I’m hanging out with those friends, too. Likewise, if I’ve got a group of 20-something 5E players, we’re going to probably be a bit more character intensive.

On the other hand, I’ll offer up some Old School concepts to my younger audience. It’s fun to watch younger players racking their brains to come up with solutions to old school traps and puzzles as long as I don’t overwhelm anyone. There’s also some oldie-but-goodie treasure to be given out and even a few bizarre, somewhat goofy monsters to fight that may not appear anywhere in the newer books.

Lots more to come. I’m going to be putting out some add-ons to old school games that came to mind recently. I’ve also got a few newer projects I’ve been working on for fun that I’ll be putting up somewhere here eventually that are kind of old new school or new old school…however that’s supposed to work. (You know what I mean.) I’m still contemplating various aspects of FATE, Pathfinder 2E and Starfinder, too. The RPG world is never boring.

Next time, let’s talk a little about Hex Crawls. What are they and what do we do with them? Game on!

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