Friday, March 13, 2009

Stonehell: Hothouse Flowers

“It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.” – That episode of “What’s Happening?” where Rerun joins a cult that worships a head of lettuce.

The second quadrant of Stonehell, Level 3C: Hothouse Flowers, is available for download here.

It started simple enough. I wanted to feature a section of dungeon with a monstrous vegetation theme. The problem was that there’s not a heck of a lot of plant monsters in either Labyrinth Lord or Moldvay/Cook – at least, not ones suitable for use underground. Even looking through some of the Mentzer era supplements didn’t turn up a decent variety to use. A lot of them were plant monsters that had their *ahem* roots deep in modules and were tied in with the backgrounds or settings of those published adventures. I considered creating a half-dozen new monsters but I realized that by going that route I’d fill up a lot of the limited space of my two-page layout.

Then I remembered Mutant Future. There was bound to be a few funky plant monsters in there I could steal and they’d already be compatible with Labyrinth Lord. I flipped open my copy of Mutant Future and started looking.

Sweet Mordenkainen’s codpiece, were there ever plant monsters in there!

The result is that there are a lot of monsters in this section that require a copy of Mutant Future to run as written. If the .pdf wasn’t free, I’d probably have settled on some other theme for this quadrant but it is, so I didn’t. Introducing Mutant Future to the mix opened up some pretty big flood gates too. With so much high weirdness already on the page, it was a small matter to start thinking in new, crazy directions. The Hypnotoads and the mutant dryad soon followed. Rounding out the mix are the Spellspiders whose resemblance to the aranea is 100% intentional.

I think I officially pushed the two-page layout to the absolute limits on this section. I doubt I could cram any more information within the confines of the template without shrinking the font down to microscopic size. This is a good thing, however. One of the reasons I've been using the template is to get an idea where exactly the wheels come off of it and where I need to work on getting as much information as I can in as brief a form as possible. The file's a bit bigger than normal; partly because of the sheer amount of text and partly because I went with a full-color map on this one. You'll see why I had to once you get a look at it.

The gist of this dungeon section is that, once upon a time, a radical Nature cult settled in the area to pursue their heretical form of worship. The cult started messing around with forces better left alone and, before too long, something went kablooey, making a big dent in the layout of this area. Most of the cultist were killed in the either the explosion or by the rampant mutant plant life that started eating their former caretakers. This dungeon section is now mostly under the control of the plants, a race of fungoid caretakers, and a mutant dryad who may or may not be the original object of veneration by the cult. A group of spellspiders lurks in the area, studying both the effects of the explosion and waiting to try and gain control of what’s occurring in sections 3B & 3D, which we’ll get to in the weeks to come.

See? It all makes sense when you look at it that way. Who says megadungeons are unrealistic?

9 comments:

taichara said...

Oh, I like this a lot. Lovely work!

Things with killer plants are always a pleasant change, and wonderful for unnerving players on occasion ...

Jeff Rients said...

Awesome. I may have to add a spidergoat in somewhere, at least on the wandering monster chart or something. I can't use MF without at least one spidergoat.

WV: dicin, which I immediately read as Dicin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

Feral Bull said...

A very cool little level, and I absolutely love the idea of bringing in some Mutant Future variety. I have to remember that myself.

One thought - with the dryad being named Urushiol, shouldn't she have had some sort of poison ivy effect of touched? Or as a touch attack, or somesuch? Nice job!

Derek said...

Two things:

0: I've really loved the posts and the PDFs. Thanks for sharing the fruits of your labor.
1: One thing I've really wished for as I've read the PDFs is a third page that gives the background and elaboration that go with the posts. If/when I run again, I'll have the PDFs, but not necessarily the posts to remind of the atmosphere and theme of the section.

Food for thought.

Amityville Mike said...

Awesome. I may have to add a spidergoat in somewhere, at least on the wandering monster chart or something. I can't use MF without at least one spidergoat.

At the risk of commiting MF heresy, the spidergoat doesn't get me like it does some people. I think it's some sort of character defect I possess. But goat it up, Jeff!

Amityville Mike said...

One thought - with the dryad being named Urushiol, shouldn't she have had some sort of poison ivy effect of touched? Or as a touch attack, or somesuch? Nice job!

I didn't expect many people to catch the reference. I had to look it up myself. I meant the poison ivy easter egg more as a nod to Poison Ivy from Batman, rather than the actual plant. Good eye though!

Amityville Mike said...

1: One thing I've really wished for as I've read the PDFs is a third page that gives the background and elaboration that go with the posts. If/when I run again, I'll have the PDFs, but not necessarily the posts to remind of the atmosphere and theme of the section.

This has been on my mind. The One-Page Dungeon idea was done with the intent to give the DM the bare bones he needs to run an adventure through that section of dungeon. I've already broken that original plan by running into Two-Pages.

I do try to mention any background in the posts related to each section, just the give the referee something to work with. I've been thinking about other ways to make this information accessible during play and a few possibilities have presented themselves. I'm not sure which is going to win at this point.

But thanks for the feedback. I assure you it's under consideration.

jdh417 said...

Your work on your dungeon has been awe inspiring. Thank you.

Did you really rule out the Castle Amber plant monsters, like Grab Grass and Vampire Thorns? How about Vegepygmies from Barrier Peaks? I'm sure there were some other plant monsters in there.

Amityville Mike said...

Did you really rule out the Castle Amber plant monsters, like Grab Grass and Vampire Thorns? How about Vegepygmies from Barrier Peaks? I'm sure there were some other plant monsters in there.

I did. The reason for them not making the cut was because, to my mind, they're just too iconic of those modules. I can't not run into vampire roses and not think of Castle Amber. When I saw the sheer amount of plant life in Mjtant Future, it became a moot point.

As for the vegipygmies, while I don't have any problem convertering AD&D monsters over for use within the LL and B/X rules when I want or need to, I'm trying to limit myself to creatures either presented in those books or entirely new monsters. It's not a hard rule, but one I do pay lip servive to.