“I just ran a 4 character party through Stone Hell, and they loved it. Players exclaimed it had a real classic feel, and tread very carefully through its halls.”And
“The format presented is very easy to use and leaves enough to improve… Love it. Love it. Love it!”Whether these comments were intended to get me back to work on the next section in time for this coming week’s game session, I refuse to speculate. In any case, I did go back to work and have uploaded the next section, Level 1B: The Quiet Halls, for public consumption. You can get it here if you so desire.
Since my thoughts are posed in this direction anyway, I wanted to elaborate on two of the monster-types that show up in the corridors and chambers of Stonehell. I’ve not gotten a chance to write up a general introduction to the dungeon for potential referees, but there’s something I should mention in light of the fact that people are currently exploring its halls (A fact that gives me a heck of a lot of girlish glee). Whether or not the referee wants to take this into account is up to him or her.
The Kobolds: The various bands of kobolds that currently occupy Stonehell are the direct descendents of the tribe that was imprisoned there as part of one of the vizier’s “adjustments” to his grand experiment (as mentioned in the history). The only reason these kobolds managed to survive in such a hostile environment is that they quickly identified and occupied an open position in the prison’s social hierarchy. The kobolds became the custodians and general menial workers of the prison, a role that they still maintain to the current day. The kobolds are responsible for resetting sprung traps and cleaning up the carcasses that the various oozes, slimes, and other members of the “cleanup crew” haven’t devoured, as well as repairing dungeon features and performing general upkeep of the place.
After the prison was liberated, the kobolds have stayed on in this capacity. When bands of fiercer humanoids moved in, the kobolds kept themselves from being wiped out by demonstrating their usefulness to their stronger fellow residents. In fact, the kobolds have expanded their duties to include serving as messengers for the other humanoid tribes, as well as operating as traders and provisioners to the separate groups throughout the dungeon levels.
It should be noted that this function hasn’t turned them into goody-two-shoes or bumbling comic relief (unless that’s the way you want to play them), but the kobolds of Stonehell are more likely to be fearful and subservient to any potential threat they encounter, rather than chucking javelins first and asking questions later. They understand that in order to survive as a species they must appear to maintain an aura of servility and neutrality. Neutrality most of all, because if any tribe of humanoids thinks that the kobolds have taken sides with an enemy, they’d most likely be slaughtered for this perceived betrayal. As such, the kobolds are very careful as to what information they divulge about Stonehell and its residents. They can be bribed, threatened, or cowed into submission, but will always attempt to preserve their neutral status in the eyes of their fellow dungeon denizens.
And since it’s bound to come up sooner or later, each band of kobolds in only familiar with certain small sections of the dungeon, being whatever area they serve and maintain on a regular basis. So charming one kobold is not the key to learning the location of every single trap, secret door, and waiting enemy in the entire place. As a rule of thumb, the kobolds are familiar with the layout and occupants of whatever quadrant they are encountered in, but have sketchy knowledge of anywhere else in the dungeon. Unless of course, the referee decides otherwise.
The Berserkers: Although they’re listed in the dungeon key as “Berserkers”, one shouldn’t consider them frothing at the mouth, Scandinavian warriors. The berserkers of Stonehell are the degenerate descendents of the prison’s original inhabitants. Hirsute, unkempt, and raised on a cannibalistic diet, they equip themselves with the cast-off weapons and armor of the other denizens of Stonehell and prowl the corridors looking for their next meal. Their bonus to hit and willingness to fight unto death comes from the madness and hunger that affects all of their kind.
I hope to finish up Level 1C over the weekend, weather and personal matters providing. If I do, I'll have it up on Monday. So until then, keep them from going south, Jim!