This is my crappy playtest map.
This adventure is clearly derivative the kind of lairs you see in B2 and the overall plot of G1. I mix in elements of stuff like Zork, too. The goal here is more to create a dynamic situation that has multiple outcomes and degrees of success. The main thing I want to nail down here is a sense of the monster’s behavior– they’re not just sitting in their rooms waiting to be killed. This post is based on my son’s campaign setting. The system used here is Heroes & Other Worlds, but there’s not a whole lot of system in this post.
Entrance — In keeping with tradition, there are multiple paths from the start– three different passages, not counting the main cave opening back out. There is a goblin guard here that will fall back to the river area at the first sign of player characters. If he makes his morale check, he will report a head count to his mates. (If his mates make a morale check then they will send a detachment to go harass the player characters, otherwise they will merely call for reinforcements and prepare an ambush at the river area.) Scouts, thieves, and point-men have a chance of noticing this guy trying to slip away.
If the players ask about the passages, then they notice that they have different characteristics. The left passage has kind of a rank smell. There is wind coming from the central passage. The right passage smells like sawdust and apples.
Mildew — This section is my punishment for the people that think they can “always go left” and get away with it. It is rank, humid, slippery, and there are pools of water here. Individual scouts will hear dripping sounds and have a chance (3/IQ) of noticing that something is amiss. If the party spends time searching this room, then they all get Cave Rot. If they only spend a brief time running through here, then they can resist it on 3/EN. If the players have alerted the guards and the guards have sent a detachment out to harass them, then they won’t come into this room. But they would love to cause the players to “hit the deck” and suck mildew, so the goblins would like to shoot them up by surprise as the players come into this area on their way out of this section.
Cave Locusts — This room is meant for teaching the players about a dirty trick that could come back to haunt them in a later adventure. As they come into this room first they notice mushrooms everywhere. Next they notice large Cave Locusts. If the bugs are disturbed in any way, then they make really loud chirping noises. There’s no real consequence in this adventure, but if there were wandering monsters about, this would surely get their attention. The mushrooms are edible if anyone takes the time to investigate them.
Sinkhole — There are some interesting crystalline rock formations here, but otherwise not much of interest. Each person that comes into this room has a 1-in-6 chance of falling down a sinkhole to level three. The fall uses up all EN automatically and does an additional 1d6+2 damage against ST. (Roll 4/Acrobatics to take half damage.) If the players work together quickly to tie a rope around someone and lower them into the sinkhole, then the lost player character can be fished back out. If that happens, he will report ominous sounds of large creatures stomping in his direction just as he was being rescued. Otherwise, he is never heard from again.
Ship’s Stores — Everything the goblin raiders need to supply their ships are here– barrels of apples, tar, turpentine, canvas, etc. There is a lever that opens a large trapdoor in the floor. This leads to a small underground lake that feeds back into the main river.
River Area — Depending on how alert the goblins are (see entrance), there are either five or twelve goblin guards here. They are on the other side of the river and keep rafts with them for ferrying people back and forth. These goblins are dug in and are equipped with gonzo energy weapons that are supplied to them by evil elves. They like to hide until the party comes up to the river edge– hopefully to argue about the best way to get across– and then open fire in surprise.
Intersection — There are double doors leading to the goblin king’s throneroom. There is a rough door leading to the goblin living quarters. There is an open passage leading east and another passage leading to the river area.
Goblin Living Area — If the goblin guards fail a morale check, then all the goblin women and children here will be alerted to flee as best as they can. They will go to the goblin equivalent of Helm’s Deep and hunker down to lick their wounds and replenish their numbers. The purpose of the commotion as these monsters exit in panic is to give the goblin king time to make an intelligent move while the player characters are distracted.
Bicycle Room — There is an exercise bicycle connected to a washing machine type of device. The goblin’s energy weapons are powered by 10-shot power cubes. Place an empty cube into the machine and ride the bike for two hours and the cube will be fully recharged. There are no intelligence or skill checks for solving this– the players just have to put two and two together here.
Locked Grate — There is a large locked grate across the floor here. (The key to the grate is around the goblin king’s neck.) Stepping on the grate cause it to clank. Spending any amount of time here beyond that first clank sound will cause a tentacled horror to reach through the grate and attack the players.
Guard Room — The king has three body guards here that will fire through arrow slits at anyone that comes into the intersection. These guys will not panic if the guards break and the women and children flee. They get a bonus to morale checks beyond that.
Goblin King’s Throne Room — This is where the king hangs out with his harem. He has the elaborate elven gate device… the whole crux of the adventure. Depending on his coolness under fire, he will either attempt to escape with it or (more likely) attempt to summon help from the evil elves. The machine takes time to operate, however… maybe ten turns or so. If this process is interrupted, then the king has been instructed to destroy the machine.
King’s Quarters — The usual loot and not much else! Enough stuff is here to get a B/X party of eight half way to level 2. There’s enough GURPS loot to score five character points for each player character. In H&OW, there is maybe 100 experience points for each player character. (If you track tick marks per successful skill check, you can use those to weight the final award.) This is the scenario objective, so this is the only place in the adventure that scores the players any kind of experience at all. If the players don’t get this far, but capture some of the goblin’s energy weapons, then they have a marginal achievement. The players are doing pretty good (+50% XP bonuses) if they figure out the bike. Total victory and a perfect score is possible only if the players have prevented the goblin king from summoning aid and kept him from destroying the machine. (They’ll have to figure out how to turn it off in that last case.) A perfect score earns triple XP.
Okay, that’s the basic thrust of the scenario. The key elements are intelligent monster tactics and optional puzzles that yield varying degrees of success. More stats are needed and the timing system has to be looked at, but this should be enough for a competent game master to run the adventure.