Dave Noonan & Mike Mearls
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Don't just read about D&D's latest news and announcements--listen to them as well! And where better to find inside information than from the very halls of Wizards of the Coast? Presenting Episode 9: Dungeons! In this podcast, Dave Noonan and Mike Mearls walk each 5ft section of dungeon passage with the help of R&D’s Chris Thomasson and Chris Perkins.
- Both Chris Thomasson and Chris Perkins served as editors-in-chief of (appropriately enough) Dungeon Magazine. Chris T. currently works as Designer and Editor within WotC RPG R&D, while Chris P. functions as Design Lead.
- Numerous dungeons are delved this podcast, including the famed 1st edition “S” series: S1: Tomb of Horrors, S2: White Plume Mountain, S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.
- In recent years, Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain have been updated to 3.5 gameplay, while Lost Caverns is currently in the works. 3.5 material for Barrier Peaks has also been presented in a d20 web article.
- The chamber in Lost Caverns with the carvings and the gems? Here is the original description:
After descending the long flight of steps, you pass north about 20’ into a natural chamber some 70’ wide and 50’ deep. You have ignored a narrow passageway to your left (west) in order to enter this area, for your light has glinted off something on the far wall of the place. Now you see that there are weird faces carved in bas-relief around the walls of this cavern.
There are, in fact, six such visages hewn from the rock itself. Each face is by the side of one of six tunnels leading off in one direction or another from the cavern to unknown. Although each face is slightly different from its fellows, all are strange and doleful looking: one has dog- like ears, another protruding tusks, a third drooping wattles, etc. There seems to be no relationship between the size of the passageway and the stony visage beside it. Nothing else in the chamber seems remarkable. There are a few stalactites on the ceiling above, a few fallen to the floor amid a handful of stalagmites.
Each of these bas-relief carvings has an animated mouth with a permanent magic mouth spell cast upon it. When any party member comes within three feet of one of these faces, the mouth will move and it will say with a bass, mournfully dire tone: “TURN BACK... THIS IS NOT THE WAY!” This will be repeated endlessly each time the same or another individual comes within three feet. If any member watches the stone mouth, he or she will note that it has something glittering within it.
Each mouth has a gem in it. The colors are, from left to right, amber, purple (amethyst), pale blue (aquamarine), deep red (garnet), olive green (peridot), and dark pink (tourmaline). Regardless of which is taken first, the first gem is worth 1,000 gp. The others, although just as large, are flawed and worth but 100 gp each. The stone of these faces is very hard and nearly impossible to break. Each mouth will bite for ld10+2 points of damage if anyone attempts to take the gem within. A command spell or a demand for the gem will not avail. However, if any character simply asks the face to stick out its tongue, or open its mouth and Stick out its tongue, or any similar request, the face will obey. The mouth will open, the sound “AAAHHH”will be heard, and the gem will be on the tongue
If characters attempt to speak with a visage, it will only repeat its deep- voiced warning. However, if the word “truth” is used in any question or demand, then each face will lie and state majestically: “MY WAY IS THE RlGHT WAY.” Only the visage in the far southeast, beside the 2’ wide passageway south, will say anything different. That mouth will speak as follows: “I WATCH THE ONLY WAY!”
- Ever play through the S series? Let’s see if you can identify some of the more famous rooms from these modules (answers below):
- As noted in the discussion, a few spells did have their descriptions changed between editions.
- 3.0 feather fall targeted “Any free-falling objects or creatures in a 10-ft. radius whose weight does not total more than 300 lb/level. Compare that with 3.5’s “One Medium or smaller free-falling object or creature/level, no two of which may be more than 20 ft. apart.”
- 1st edition’s phantasmal force read: “When this spell is cast, the magic-user creates a visual illusion which will affect all believing creatures which view the phantasmal force, even to the extent of suffering damage from phantasmal missiles or from falling into an illusory pit full of sharp spikes. Note that audial illusion is not a component of this spell.”
- This episode (looking at February’s Dungeonscape, as well as dungeon crafting and design in general), may very well be the counter to Episode 4: Cityscape. In that episode, Dave and Mike look for adventure outside of the dungeon, and the resulting challenges this entails.
- More information on dungeon crafting can also be found in Wolfgang Baur’s excellent series: Adventure Builder.
The answers to those dungeon rooms? Let's see how you did.
1. White Plume Mountain. Specifically, area #26: the inverted ziggurat originally filled with giant crayfish, giant scorpions, sea lions, and manticores.
2. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. While the Police HQ held several police bots, the real find came in the nearby store rooms—which held the module’s famed suit of power armor.
3. Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. If you could make it past all of the teleporting doors, you came to #20: The Inner Sphere… and the final showdown with the vampires Drelnza.
4. Tomb of Horrors. This seemingly nondescript chamber was actually #33: The Crypt of Acererak the Demi-Lich.
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