I ran a party through the Monastery Dungeon Wednesday night. It started out pretty much like the DMG story. The spider landed on the cleric in the first room. He threw it and smashed it. They found the coins and the gem in the rubbish under the spiders' nest. They ignored the rotting sacks. Good thing too, since I rolled that the last one would have contained yellow mold. Next they went to the water room. They didn't find the skeleton in the water though. From there they moved east. Fought some bandits and fire beetles. Then the ran into some goblins, and got beat up pretty bad because my nephew, the cleric, "forgot" to cast a CLW on one of the main fighters. Both fighters and the cleric ended up unconscious. The M-U and the NPC thief, the weak characters, were the only characters left standing. They picked one fighter and retreated back to town.
It was pretty fun, but my nephew and cousin have still not learned that running away is sometimes the best option, and they're usually good for one very big mistake per session (like forgetting to cast the cure spells).
More fatalities in the Monastery Dungeon. My son Gavin and some NPCs entered the dungeon. Fought a large spide in the entry chamber, and then got killed by a yellow mold spore cloud while searching a pile of old sacks.
If you were going to assign a deity, or deities, that the monastery was dedicated to, who would make good candidates? The location would steer me towards the evil side. Who else would decide to build a monastery in the middle of a bleak bog? Any thoughts?
When I first read this Sample Dungeon, many years ago, I assumed that the monastery was originally populated by peaceful worshippers who had separated themselves from mainstream society in order to focus on their prayers and meditations, similar perhaps to Benedictines. I also assumed those who had besieged them and ruined the place were bad guys like a bandit army or roving Viking horde, who sacked and moved on, leaving the monastery ruined and silent for many years. It is only in recent months that rumours of something strange and terrible lurking there have begun to circulate...
I had no reasons to make these assumptions. But I like the idea of making the ruined monastery different from the T1 moathouse in this way. Going with this theme, I'd suggest a deity more suited to meditation, like Rao. The evil cleric and humanoids who are there now are subsequent invaders of the ruins -- who have come to despoil a former holy place. The "strange and terrible" part is the evil cleric turning the dead bodies of the formerly peaceful monks into undead.
Last Edit: May 21, 2012 17:22:21 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
When I read it now, and look for any clues as the alignment of the monks, I have to say it is quite ambivalent. The "general bleakness of the bog" at the end of a "seldom used road" is about as close at it comes to giving a somewhat foreboding feel of the location of the monastery. But that's still vague. I think it is only the association of other such dungeons as "Temple of the Frog" and the moathouse that it might seem to imply an evil location.
The descriptive text certainly doesn't lay it on thick like it did in B2 Caves of Chaos with the twisted tree trunks and unnaturally misshapen limbs. Now you knew that was an evil area!
By comparison, the fen around the ruined moathouse might be a sportsman's paradise in early autumn Wisconsin, with its wetlands and tamaracks, larches and ducks.
It's one of those chicken or the egg things. Is it an association with the Temple of the Frog and the Moathouse, or is the location just a natural spot for evil to work its mischief without the eyes of good noticing? Another question. Where would you place it?
I think it works for just about anywhere you want to start a campaign. I have placed it at the edge of the marshes southeast of Greyhawk City and north of Narwell at the edge of the Gnarley Forest in the Wild Coast (which you did as well, if I remember correctly, from a game you started at someone's house in Mount Washington).
I guess if you wanted to get technical, the tamarack references should put it in a latitude equal to Northern U.S. or Canada, i.e., the Burneal Forest, Cold Marshes, Blackmoor, northern Bandit Kingdoms, Tenh, Troll Fens, or areas further north.
Last Edit: May 23, 2012 16:03:37 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
For the longest time, I focused on the Greyhawk, Wild Coast, Gnarley/Welkwood area, and I usually place it in the northeast of the Gnarley. More recently I’ve been tossing around the Highfolk and Vesve area. I think a campaign starting shortly after Iuz’s release, and playing through his growing power and intrusion into the forest, and then hopefully a big victory for the PCs at the end would make a great long term campaign. I'd probably start with something like the monastery, placing it somewhere in the southern Vesve.
It's funny that you should mention that, because I had very similar thoughts. I've written game notes based on the timeline of events from that old " From the Sorcerer's Scoll" article in The Dragon Magazine to use as a backdrop for a campaign (CY 575-579). I had the idea that a PC (like your m-u Talivar, for example) could possibly get a freehold on the Furyondy borderlands, and I started a region hex map in the Vesve north of Crockport. That was my idea for where high-level characters could end up, if they were good-aligned and became notable for helping the realm. Of course, it's not really so much a reward as it is a challenge.
Last Edit: May 24, 2012 12:44:00 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
Well, I was planning on taking a break from DMing soon. I'd like to get some playing time in. I was hoping somebody else would be willing to jump in and run something for a bit. And it would be great if I got to play one of my older PCs. But I'd also be happy to start a new character. You should try running it.