Monday, August 23, 2021

Unearthing a Dwarven Civilization

 I was thinking of playing around with How To Host A Dungeon this evening, and thought I'd put together an index of my HTHAD posts. (Click here for Index of How To Host A Dungeon articles.) In gathering those articles up, I realized, I've actually posted to this blog less than half of my HTHAD maps over the years.

So let's unearth one. This is, I believe, the first one I ever did on the computer. I have a few older paper maps floating around my gaming room somewhere, but this is the first digital one. It was sort of a proof-of-concept to see if it was worth trying to do them digitally. It was. And as it turns out, I took notes while I played, so I can paste those in here to go with the maps. The notes will be rough, as they date back to roughly 2014. It's from the 1st Edition of How To Host A Dungeon.

Light-colored circles with a large "T" on them are treasures. Darker circles with other letters on them are the population tokens of various races, such as "D" for Dwarf. The numbers on the edges of the first map were used as coordinates for placing things randomly.

Primordial Age:
Sorquoorm the Ancient Wyrm, w/ Treasure: “The Root of the World” - P2, steals Treasure.
Imps (Itinerant Wizard Wandering Monsters) w/ Treasures - The Trilogy of Immortality

Dwarven Age:
Year 1:
Year 2:  Workshops built.  One imp moves north.
Year 3: Great Hall with Dormsturl, the Gong of Endless Charisma
Year 4:  Exploratory Shaft
Year 5: Expansions to the Great Hall
Year 6: Hall of Records with Dromrune, The Codex of Magma Aura
Year 7: Founding of the City of Himboldihr, most of population moves into it. Create an amazing drilling tool, Nagundond. Imps move a bunch, and two of them join together
Year 8: Treasure Chamber. Nisbrund The Device of Transform Gold.  Visgund Gear of Control Gold.

Age of Monsters:
Brancheley Keep Humans
Yarplikk Molenn - Derro (Delvers, Law)
Grobgash - Cave Giants (Breeders, Chaos, x2 Strength)
Cadro Bazius the Devourer - Dragon (Alpha, Chaos, +2 Strength, Doesn’t spend Treasure)

Year 1:
Dimensional Gate opens in Himboldihr. 2 Djinn arrive. One carries Doomed Box. Other carries Dreamer’s Lamp.
Sorquoorm eats an Imp and steals one third of the Trilogy of Immortality.
Other imps stay put.
Grobgash loot the Gong.
Yarplikk Molenn expanded down the hall.
Cadro Bazius attacks the Giants, and they bribe him off with normal treasure.

Year 2:
Mimick appears in the Treasure Vault.
Sorquoom eats an Imp, but can’t take its treasure because the other imp survives.
Imp tries to run and hide, but chooses a poor direction.
Yarplikk expand to surface. Build a tower and a wall.
Grobgash Giants bribe Cadro with the Gong. This is bad for them because it's Cadro Bazius attacks the Yarplikk Molenn, and they drive him off. He moves his lair down to the huge old dwarven mine level. He leaves behind the mundane treasures the cave giants had given him, but take the gong, his talisman, and his own cash.
Djinn and Mimick stay put.

Year 3:
Adalod’s Mining Company (Human Miners)
Sarquoom eats the last Imp. Steals a chapter of the Trilogy of Immortality. Reveals that the imps had been protecting the Statue of the All-Seeing Eye.
Yarplikk expands out and captures a farm.
Giants kills a mimic, don’t lose any. Population stays stable.
Cadro Bazius eats a Djinn.
Other Djinn chases the Dragon, and dies. It’s like a food and treasure delivery service.
Adalod’s company starts exploring a mine

Year 4:
Wandering Monsters - Duldrok, Kroddrock, and Shuzdrok. Sorquoom drives them out of his lair, and then dies from the wounds they inflicted.
Brancheley Keep builds a farm.
Yarplikk expands into Cave Giants, loses the war, loses their last treasure, and abandons the colony.
Grobgash siezes mimick treasure. They give that treasure to Cadro Bazius, so it is bribed and doesn’t attack them.

Age of Villainy:
Cadro Bazius becomes the Villain. He expands his lair a bit, builds a temple of chaos, and a hoard, and four defensive works.

Villainy Year 1:
Cadro Bazius digs into old Dwarven Vault, kills mimick, claims all three treasures (including Nisbrund and Visgund). Goes foraging, and finds Dromrune.
Surface Humans reclaim the Farm the Derro had taken before.
Grobgash expands, outgrows its resources, and splits. The new clan is Grobghug, which expands into a cave on the far side of Cadro’s territory. Then Grobgash tries to bribe Cadro Bazius again, and fail. They fight him, and the dragon devours them.
Trolls stay put.
Grobghug expands a short distance from their starting cave.
Adventuring Party of 6 enters via the unexplored earthquake shaft. They side-step the mimick. They slaughter Grobghug. They discover Secret Stairs to the old Dwarven Vault. That’s how the Giants of Grobghug made the journey around the Dragon’s lair.
Adventuring Party heads to the trolls. Kills them around their Cauldron of Bones.
Adventuring Party encounters Adalod’s Mining Company, who hires them to kill the mimick. They do so, and are rewarded with the first chapter of the Trilogy of Immortality.
Adventuring Party finds the rest of Sarquoom’s treasures in the Halls of Decay. Then they attack Cadro Bazius, breaking in via the Temple of Chaos gate. He kills all but one of them, who escapes with most of the treasure, including all three parts of the Trilogy of Immortality. So he’s still alive somewhere.
Cadro Bazius finds the Root of the World among the bodies of the Adventurers.

Ready for Year 2 of the Age of Villainy.

T1: The Root of the World  (Sorquoorm)
T2-4: Trilogy of Immortality (Imps)
T5: Dormsturl, the Gong of Endless Charisma
T6: Dromrune, the Codex of Magma Aura
T7: Nagundond, the Eternal Tool of Gold Gush
T8: Nisbrund, the Device of Transform Gold
T9: Visgund, the Gear of Control Gold
T10: The Thinker’s Talisman
T11: The Dreamer’s Lamp
T12: The Doomed Box

That's where my notes end, and it's the last picture I saved. So it kind of looks like I never finished the map. It's also possible that the first roll of the 2nd Turn of the Age of Villain brought it all to an end and I just wrapped up without making a note of the result. The game does tend to end suddenly. 

Looking back on this map, one thing I will comment on is the blue areas. They're not flooded or anything, I think I was just marking civilizations or territory controlled by the initial Dwarven civilization, or the later Derro monster group. I then reverted them to the tan/orange color for empty passageways that were no longer under the control of those groups... though I'm not sure whey the secret stairs were in blue, since the Dwarves should have been long-dead at that point, or why the Derro areas are still blue-ish when they don't have any population tokens left on the map. I was probably just being sloppy because I had no idea that future me would blog this stuff 7 years later.


Seelie said...

Thanks for the report. Do you prefer 1st edition? I've heard it's superior to the 2nd ed. in some ways

rbbergstrom said...

For the most part, I prefer second edition. Second edition is MUCH better in the first third of the game, and probably not quite as good as 1st Ed in the last third of the game.

In first edition, the initial civilization was really pre-programmed. Once you'd done one Dwarven Civilization, you basically knew how every Dwarven Civilization was going to play out. It was pretty rare that something on the map was going to make a significant difference in the civilization phase. In second ed, that part of the game is a lot more exciting, and feels like more of a game. In first edition, it could be a bit of a slog to play a subsequent game with a civilization you'd played before. As a result, your 4th game wasn't going to be as fun as the first three, unless you dipped into homebrew content. That's all fixed in 2nd Ed, and since it's the first third of each game session, it's a very welcome change.

There are some weird things in 2nd Ed though, that I could see someone not liking as much as first edition. Mainly the lack of a guaranteed Surface Kingdom. If you only draw subterranean monster groups, you're kind of left feeling like the top 15% of your map was wasted space. So I'd be inclined to house-rule one mandatory Surface-dwelling group into my next game.

Other than that, the only complaint I have about 2nd Edition is that maybe the individual monster cards could have used another editing pass, possibly with a blind playtest and public comment collection period to fuel that edit. The general idea of how the cards and monster groups work in 2nd Edition is excellent, but a few of them have some rough interactions that can sometimes fall flat.

2nd Ed could also use more Villainy variety. There's just the two versions in the file, not 4 like in 1st Edition.

I feel like the improvements to the Civilization phase and Strata system in 2nd Ed are far more important than the weakness of its late game, but not everyone will necessarily agree with me on that.