Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You are standing in a field...

Otherness: Session 12 was held this last Sunday at the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center, which is a really great place to game. The staff was friendly and accommodating, and someone actually took a picture of Will's whitebox and LBBs, along with my copies of Greyhawk and Gods, Demigods, & Heroes---they claimed their friends wouldn't believe that someone was still playing with these rules. :) Carl was, unfortunately, working there, but he was at least able to catch some of what was going on.

So, I had a last minute inspiration and started the group out "standing in a field, west of a white house." Those of you as old as me may well remember those opening lines to Zork, the venerable text adventure game from Infocom. I think Will was the only one who picked up on it right away, but it was worth it. I didn't stick slavishly to all the details, but the main stuff was in there (D&Dized, of course) as noted on the map above. Once they opened the trap door in the living room, it led, not into the Great Underground Empire, but instead the somewhat less-whimsical Long Tombs.

I created the map for the Long Tombs using this random dungeon generator. AFAIC, it's the best out there. And, we decided to give up on mapping, so I just plunked it down on the table, showed them where they were, and they chose where they wanted to go. I noticed no angst.

As for characters, Will played Aldmore, 3rd lvl MU; Susan played Sydney, 1st lvl Fighting Girl (or Battle Maiden, as we started referring to her); Jesse, returning to game with us again after an absence, played Treehorn the 1st lvl MU; Trevor played his 2nd lvl MU Narpet, as well as running Ashley's cast-off FG (whose name is currently escaping me), and Max played a 2nd lvl three-headed dog named, of course, Rex.

Some Highlights

  • The mailbox contained a mummified hand holding a piece of parchment that read, "Go not into the Long Tombs."
  • The characters found a brass lanthorn that, once polished, produced a warm, golden light that seemed to be the only thing that dispelled the oppressive darkness in the attic---all other light sources guttered out as the steps were mounted.
  • Trevor's FG was attacked by something in the darkness of the attic. A Grue? 
  • Sydney claimed a sword from the living room display case with old Elvish writing on the blade stating, Strike Once Slay Thrice.
  • In the Long Tombs, they ran into a hideous, giant, scarlet amoeba with three glaring eyes and a fanged sphinctermouth. This was rolled up using Geoffrey McKinney's excellent supplement Carcosa. I've been itching to use the random Spawn of Shub-Niggurath generator for some time now... Even at 7 HD, they managed to kill it AND take its eyeballs...
  • At the very end of our adventuring time, they ran into four dwarves, possibly another party of adventurers. Jesse decided to roll the Black Die of Fate (otherwise known as as 30-sided die given to me on my last birthday.) All were informed that a roll of one would be horrendous, and a roll of 30 would be wondrous. He rolled a 9, and another dwarf came around the corner, carrying a crossbow. He panicked at the sight of Rex, and fired. The bolt missed Rex; however, Treehorn was standing right behind him, and was hit for maximum damage (right between the eyes!), killing him instantly. Fate is indeed a fickle mistress...
  • Jesse has introduced four characters to Otherness in two sessions, and three of them have died. That's oldskool, baby!


  1. It was actually Jesse's white box. He got it from the aforementioned Geoffrey McKinney, as a matter of fact. Small world.

    And there was one more character you forgot: Joe Generic (who you almost immediately started calling Josephus Genericus). He was a fighter I rolled up so we'd have more muscle; there were already three magic-users.

    All in all, a pretty good session. A little light on the loot, but hey -- these things happen. I'm sure there's more in there.

    And as far as the map goes, it was too small for my aging eyes (even with the bifocals). Other than that, it worked.

  2. AH, yes---how could I forget Josephus!

    Yeah, it was a bit small. I might try to enlarge it for next time...

  3. I can't tell you how many times I've considered making a campaign set in the Great Underground Empire. I think it has win written all over it, but my knowledge of Zork lore has gotten a little frayed over the years, especially since they kept publishing games, and all I ever played was Zork I-III and the Enchanter series.

  4. Well, the IntraWeb possesses great amounts of info. There's even a couple of Zork novels out there (I've read them both), and four Zork choose-your-own-adventure-style books.

    I don't think you'd need any more exposure than even Zork 1-3, really, to put a setting together.

    And I agree: Win written ALL over it. :)

  5. I really think I might have to mine bits of it for a setting megadungeon someday (assuming I get a round to it; the "tuits" I keep getting have too many corners). What I fear is that my friend who would likely be playing is also a former text adventure/interactive fiction aficionado, and would find the whole thing a little hokey once he recognized some elements from those games.

    VW: "quess" - when it's a lot more than a suggestion, but just a little less than a quest.

  6. I have attempted to draw that particular map more than once in my life.

  7. Hah. I wish I could take credit for the one pictured. It's a detail from this:

    Way back, the one year I taught 7th grade, I scavenged a bunch of computers and we did a whole unit on interactive fiction. To start it off, the students formed teams and played through Zork, competing for the most points. They also had to make maps, so at one point there were a solid dozen scattered about the classroom...

  8. @Restless: Well, you know what they said in Dune: "Fear is the mind-killer..." :)

    I would think your friend (not knowing him, of course) might instead be overcome with the sweet nectar of nostalgic enjoyment, especially if you really dig into the setting.

  9. thanks for the kind acronym,
    regarding the dungeon generator.

  10. @drow: My pleasure! Your work is great, and I totally appreciate the fact that it's available for free use.

    I'll be spreading the word... :)