Scanning Project: Catacombs of the Dragon Master

Following on the heels of yesterday's post, we have here a reworking of that same dungeon.

The specific date of creation for this piece is January 26, 1996. I know this because, by this time, I was aware enough of my own need to be able to accurately place my creations on my personal timeline of gaming development so that I was more diligent about dating my creations. This made it easier to know to what era things belonged when I got swept up in the heat of nostalgia - which I was when I created this.

A little background: I moved from Moldvay Basic D&D (my introduction to this hobby) very quickly. I got the boxed set for Christmas of 1981; by the spring of '82, I was incorporating monsters from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual into the game; by the summer of '82, I was playing a mix of Basic D&D and AD&D (using my new Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide). I continued in this fashion until some time in 1983 or 1984, when I set aside D&D in favor of TSR's Top Secret.

Except for occasional one-off games, I didn't play D&D again until, IIRC, 1989 (immediately following a three-year period where I gave up RPG's altogether). During that renaissance, I played full-on AD&D - Moldvay Basic was a topic of derision in my new gaming group. ("Race as class? Hah! What a joke!") We played at least 14 or 15 AD&D games before the game was again shelved, this time in favor of embarking on the adventure of discovering many of the other role-playing games that I had previously overlooked, or that were just coming out.

I gamed quite regularly with that group, and we tried a lot of different games - and indulged in a long-running series of sessions of Beyond the Supernatural, followed by an even longer-running series of Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic sessions - but we didn't return to D&D for a very long time. However, this being my gaming heyday, I had a fairly large pool of players, and varying subsets of the group not only played at different times, but often different games. This was especially true where my good friend Terry was involved - we played many solo games, because we liked games most of the others didn't.

Terry also shared my penchant for indulging in bouts of nostalgia. This commonality resulted in a second D&D renaissance in the mid-90's. We wanted to go back to our roots, so we opted for Basic D&D - this time, though, the rules came in the form of the Rules Cyclopedia. During this period, I created a number of "dungeons" - some of my best, IMO - of which the following is an example.

Since I was in nostalgia mode, I spent a bit of time looking through my creations from the early '80's. In doing so, I got the idea to recreate the Dungeon of the Dragon Lord for our game. For your enjoyment, here is the end result:

As I mentioned in reply to a comment on my first dungeon ever, the location descriptions for this dungeon were written out on the same paper I used to map and describe my dungeons in the early '80's. This was done on purpose - to preserve the sense of nostalgia.

Also, should you wish to actually use this dungeon, you may want to scale back the treasure rewards a bit; Terry and I, being true to our "old school" roots, opted for over the top, Monty Hall play. You'll see this style reflected in the treasure rewards in this dungeon. (Our PC's could have easily destabilized the economy of the entire game world...)
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[Addendum: It just occurred to me that this year marks the 13th anniversary of the creation of this dungeon - which was created on the 13th anniversary of its forebear. It may just be necessary for me to revisit this dungeon in the coming months. Maybe the full treatment is in order: deeper dungeon background, environs, rumor tables, better maps, more levels - all in a product-level PDF. Hmmm...]
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  1. I love these maps.
    I have printed them out, and they look very crisp.
    Thanks so much for sharing these with us!

  2. @Timeshadows: Gald you like! Keep an eye out: there will be more maps in this vein coming along soon. :D


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