I started to run Red Hand of Doom using old school D&D rules last month because I had fond memories of the adventure. If you’re reading along as Zak S. bashes the module on his blog you will know of all the weaknesses this module has. It’s true! It’s verbose. There is a lot of useless info. There are “interesting” fights with waves of mixed enemies, but these waves are also staged, fixed, a railroad you need to adapt. So here’s what I’m trying to do:
So, last session I noted that the hobgoblins should have added nearly 6000 gold pieces to the treasure of Vraath keep. Well, as I ran the module today, I forgot all about it. It didn’t matter much.
One player decided to abandon her elf character and pulled a fighter named Sirius from the stack of old characters. It turns out he’s third level where as the others all hover around fifth level (20k XP is what we started the adventure with).
The party lures the manticore away from Vraath keep using phantasmal force to imitate the sorcerer and bribes it using jewelry worth 800 gold. I decide that it works and the manticore goes to fight the hobgoblins. I let the kids roll dice for manticore and minotaur and the manticore won, with 7 hit-points left. The real sorceror then showed up and cast lightning bolt to kill the manticore. The party realizes how powerful the bugbear sorceror is and attack him using hold person (he saves), a poisoned needle (he saves), and a melee attack which finally kills him before he can cast another lightning bolt. Yay!
They find all the treasure as written.
At the beginning of the session I mentioned rumors of a hydra along the main road (which they had avoided the last session). As their thoughts turned towards home and splitting up treasure, I said that they weren’t home yet. Which way did they want to take? Along the main road, of course.
“You see a six-headed hydra raising her head as you march across the wooden walk way.” “I’m not there.” “I’m in the back.” “I’m not there.” “I’m not there either.” “Uh, the hydra raises here head as at least one of you is there. So, any volunteers? Who’s first?” “I am.” “Anybody with him?” “I’m there as well.” “Ok.” “I shoot the hydra with my crossbow!”
In the end, the new fighter loses a leg due to the Death and Dismemberment table! As he survives, I tell them that if having a wooden leg is worthy of a pirate, then you can still fight with a wooden leg. Everybody nods.
Each character gains 476 XP due to the defeat of monsters and 940 XP due to treasure, plus a lot of magic loot.
On the mailing list for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2013, one of the judges asked me to go through the process again. I’ve used my reply to write this blog post.
The first thing to remember is that people can revise their submission until the very end. That’s why I personally don’t read them until the end of April.
The output of the process is a list of nominations from each of the judges. They can nominate as many or as few as they like. In the past, judges have nominated somewhere between 10 and 20 entries. Every judge determines their own criteria. There is no agreed upon checklist.
My own list of criteria will look very similar to what I wrote on 2010-02-05 Quality Dungeons. I find that having the checklist helps me score the dungeons.
I will compile all the nominations into a big spreadsheet and produce a list of winners. I’ll try to have at least three nominations from every judge on the list (ie. we are six judges and thus I expect there to be around 18 winners). I’ll also try to invent a category for each of the winners. It would be very cool if your list of nominations contained a suggested category. That is optional, however.
Last year, I wrote about the entries I nominated and the made-up categories I nominated them for, if you’d like to see an example of how I personally went about this.
Sometimes judges will then comment on the final list and propose to add a particular entry because of some very specific qualities they want to highlight and thus we might end up more winners.
Once we have announced the winners, they are invited to send me three picks from the prize list. Again, the data goes into a spreadsheet and I try to figure out a way to give every winner at least one thing that they are wishing for. Against all intuition, this seems to have worked so far! When in doubt, I’ll go back to the big spreadsheet with all the nominations on it and give precedence to those winners that received the most nominations.
This last element of the process is not entirely transparent. I wrote a blog post trying to defend the lack of transparency two years ago. I hope that it’s not a big problem.