Scanning Project: Underdeeps of the Witchlord

So by now, I imagine many of my readers are asking: "Where's the old-school fantasy gone?"

Rest assured, I haven't forgotten the fantasy. I've recently dug more of my D&D materials out of storage and scanned some of the dungeons I created in the mid-90's. This one, Underdeeps of the Witchlord, was a cornerstone dungeon of my campaign of that time. Created by Truan the Witchlord, advisor to the High King of Arisillon and one of the most powerful elf sorcerers to have ever lived, by the PCs' time the Underdeeps had been abandoned and almost forgotten since the Witchlord disappeared over a generation ago while looking for a long-lost family member. (I have a lot of notes regarding the recent - as in last 300 years or so - history of the lands of that campaign world: timelines, historical and mythical stories, bloodlines, etc. Perhaps someday I will compile these into a single document for downloading...)

Most of the dungeons I made during this time were mapped using the random dungeon generation tables in the appendices of the first-edition Dungeon Master's Guide, and stocked using the dungeon-stocking rules of the Moldvay Basic D&D book and the monster encounter tables of the Rules Cyclopedia. They also - although being randomly stocked - usually displayed at least moderate levels of Gygaxian naturalism. Although I haven't closely examined this dungeon recently, I believe Underdeeps is a prime example of this style of creation.

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  1. One of the great things about old dungeon maps is that they can be reused regardless of which D&D system you're playing now. I never throw out or destroy any of my maps. Most were labours of love and I can't bring myself to part with them. Half the fun is populating the dungeon with monster and treasure. An old map lets you revisit a previous campaign idea and make it new again. What's even better is if your players recognize the map. It will give them a false sense of confidence because they "know" that the next two rooms are completely empty.

  2. I always kept my dungeons in notebooks along with all the other game info. A couple of years ago I dragged out the couple of dozen books. At that point I was thinking I might be done with gaming, and tossed out most of the notebooks, keeping only a coupe that had important world info in case I ran again.

    So many of my old dungeons and locations will need to be redone if they are revisited in my current campaign. The players are on their way to an old dungeon of mine, but in redoing it I can consider it a bit of a retcon.

  3. This is very cool. I can easily see myself running the dungeon from these notes.

    Thanks for sharing these.

  4. that was the best thing I have seen in a long while.

  5. Very nice! How do you get the graph paper to scan so nicely? I've fought with my scanner but just can't get such clear results.

  6. @Ameron: I was a map-making fiend back in the day, and still have them all, regardless of skill level (as the scanning project has already illustrated). Many of them have made return appearances, so to speak.

    @Brunomac: I've discarded a lot of baggage over the years, but I could never come to dispose of any of my gaming notes, maps, etc. This, of course, makes moving a bit of a bear - what with all the heavy boxes full of folders, binders, and notebooks. Every time I move, I find myself wondering if I shouldn't have taken up stamp collecting as a hobby instead of gaming. :P

    @Superhero Necromancer & lokipan: Thanks! :D

    @Lord Kilgore: I didn't do anything special when scanning these - they were scanned using (I believe) the default settings of my Epson 3-in-1.

    This is very cool.

  8. I'll confess to using your three-map 'waterfall' complex -- the PCs only explored the first level, and then the island they were on decided to rejoin the mainland so they cut-short their expedition.

    I loved the bizarre layout of that one, and I learn a lot from looking at these others you've posted.

    Thanks! :D

  9. @Timeshadows: You're very welcome. :D

    I find it really amazing that people are getting play out of these. As I've mentioned before, I really only posted them as curiosities of nostalgia - I hadn't expected anybody to actually make use of them.

    So, wait... your PC's exited the dungeon and left Drakon to continue his nefarious deeds? How very mercenary of them. :P

  10. @ Christopher B.: I have no idea what would have awaited them on the lower levels, but by all accounts, it wouldn't have been very nice. I had two PC deaths in the 1st level, alone. :D

    You know, I think that it is the graph paper. I looked at those, saw the very crisp lines, saw a lovingly-drawn dungeon full of imagination, and it conjured-up some really positive gaming energy.

    Know that we are immensely enjoying your old creations. :)

  11. @Timeshadows: I'm really happy to have this old stuff inspire people. In your case, the fact that PC deaths were involved is just icing on the cake. :D


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