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[Let's Read] Module B2 - Keep on the Borderlands

DenadaDenada Registered User regular
edited June 2012 in Critical Failures
Let's Read:
Keep on the Borderlands

Module B2 for Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set


In Which I Explain Why This Thread Exists

I've never read or played Keep on the Borderlands, one of the most iconic (or so I've been told) D&D modules ever created. It's been the introductory adventure for D&D for many, many years. As such, it (or rather, a portion of it) was chosen as the included adventure in the public playtest packet for the next edition of D&D.

I've read Caves of Chaos, the so-called 5E remake for the playtest. It sucks. Like, a lot.

I've been informed that the original Keep on the Borderlands is seriously so much better. Let's see if I agree.

Denada on


  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Section I
    Judging a Book by its Cover

    Dear god, this cover. I don't remember this one specifically, but I remember others from that era, and I remember thinking they were awesome. I'm going to crop out the picture so that we can look at it again without the eye-stabbing sea of pure magenta surrounding it. Now look at it again. LOOK AT IT.


    Ignoring the lack of a Keep or borderlands, we'll focus on the strange floating figures placed haphazardly on top of some brown lumps. The giant archer figure's foot is being attacked by some kind of flying tree, causing him to forget that his right arm ends just below his deformed elbow. Luckily, he appears to have psychic powers and has lodged a miniature arrow in the chest of the floating monster that decided to bring only a shield to a giant-archer-fight. I don't like to blame the victim, but that monster kind of had it coming.

    Moving on, we see a spear-wielding person fighting a deformed monster who forgot the bow that goes with his quiver of arrows, and has resorted to using a hammer the wrong way. It's probably the difficulty of having his feet on the wrong legs that keeps him from entering these battles properly equipped.

    Spearman's be-sandaled ally seems to have skipped the Put The Shield In Front Of You lesson at adventurer school, and is about to pay the price. He probably should have noticed that Dog-Legs McMonster is wielding a spear with a head about as long as his entire torso, but in his defense Dog-Legs' daring tactic of gluing his shield strap to the back of his hand instead of holding it is really distracting.

    What they don't show you in this picture is how in just a second, all of these combatants are going to notice that none of them are actually standing on anything or casting any shadows, and that's when they'll realize it's all a dream.

    I've done some research, and I've discovered what happened to all of these figures after they woke up from their shared nightmare:

    After the dream, Giant Archer Guy was relieved to find that he still had both hands. He hung up his bow and arrows and went on to become one of the most successful giant hand models of his generation.

    Shaken by his experience, Spearman dropped out of adventuring school and enrolled in the reconstructive medicine program at Bixby University. He now spends his time helping disabled monsters at the Spearman Foot Replacement Foundation.

    Unfortunately, Monster von Wrongfeet never found out about the Spearman Foot Replacement Foundation. A life of constantly falling over, combined with an overpowering fear of forgetting his bow, drove von Wrongfeet to a crippling pixie dust addiction. He spent ten years in and out of monster rehab before dying of complications from having jacked up legs.

    Sandals Jockstrap went on to be captain of the football team at Adventurer High. He got his girlfriend pregnant on fantasy prom night, was kicked out of the house by his parents, and spent the rest of his life supporting his family as a mildly successful used wagon salesman. He never got the chance to learn about proper shield placement.

    Unable to forget about the horrific violence in the dream, Dog-Legs McMonster left his family's business of pillaging and being evil. He enrolled in an experimental student exchange program with a halfling from Derbyshire, but the program was terminated after the halfling was eaten and Dog-Legs was brutally murdered by Dirk Goodlaw, Paladin of the Silver Star.

    Jumpy Justshields decided to drastically change things after the dream showed him the ineffectiveness of his favorite combat strategy, and started using two shields instead of just one. He was killed two months later by a magic missile.

    The Flying Tree woke from its dream with a new perspective on life. It was a tree though, and couldn’t actually fly, so it didn’t really do anything about it.

    - - - - -

    I'll dive into the first few pages of the module in our next installment: Of Owlbears and Introductions.

    Denada on
  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    This is a fantastic beginning. KotB was one of the first modules I ever owned. Hell, I think I might even still have it laying around somewhere at home.

    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
  • JohnnyToxxicJohnnyToxxic Registered User regular
    I got this as a birthday present in middle school. I never got to read it. Some bastard stole it the very same day. :(

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  • JohnnyToxxicJohnnyToxxic Registered User regular
    jdarksun wrote: »
    It's a little known fact that all (...rpg) art in the early 80s was terrible.
    Except E. Otus' stuff in the Deities and Demigods that had the Cthulhu mythos stuff in it. That stuff was great.

    The rest: just awful.

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  • wildwoodwildwood Registered User regular
    This art is also confusing, from the module's perspective, because it has monsters out in the open. If only these had learned to stay in their cave!

  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    Yeah, old art is really bad. I'm choosing to believe that they didn't pay for any of it because of child labor laws or something.

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    hehehe, you actually are probably comparing the cover art for B2 to stuff from the 90s. Keep on the Borderlands is from 1979. Not that the art is good, but I don't think it was any worse than other stuff from the late 70s / early 80s.






    aaaaan so forth

    I can almost garuntee the kind of art you are thinking of is from 2nd ed (and especially later era 2nd ed) which came out in 1989 - 10 years after Keep on the Borderlands.

    Attacked by tweeeeeeees!
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    I think you're right, Riemann. But OH MY GOD, that White Plume Mountain cover. Someone send that to the Artists' Corner and tell them to just go to town.

  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Section II
    Of Owlbears and Introductions

    Welcome to Dungeons & Dragons, where mutant furries and fantasy cosplayers dance on giant discs of pure light.

    I want to start this section with a quote directly from the module:
    B2 wrote:
    Welcome to the land of imagination. You are about to begin a journey into worlds where magic and monsters are the order of the day, where law and chaos are forever at odds, where adventure and heroism are the meat and drink of all who would seek their fortunes in uncommon pursuits. This is the realm of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® Adventure Game.

    Doesn’t this sound great? Imagination, magic, monsters, adventure, and heroism? That’s a set of fake measurements away from being one of those lame recipe speeches that high school valedictorians and PTA members always reach for when they realize that they have nothing meaningful to say. But damn, give me two cups of adventure, a tablespoon of magic, and a dash of monsters! Mix that up with a can of imagination and 8 ounces of heroism! Bake in the oven of imagination for 3 hours and serve with a side of uncommon pursuits! Okay Keep on the Borderlands Introduction Section, you’ve got me hungry! What does this delicious module of fun-cake taste like?

    If you’re a player, the cake tastes like whatever the DM says it tastes like. Stop reading the module, you wretched human.

    But if you’re the DM, you get to learn what an amazing, god-like figure you are. Sure, your players are fighters, thieves, or the two important classes. But YOU, oh great DM, are EVEN BETTER. You are the "Shaper of the Cosmos." You "breathe life into the stillness." You also give purpose and meaning to "all the actions which are to follow," which is good, because if my reading of Caves of Chaos for 5E is any indication, this module sure as hell doesn’t.

    So, assuming that you’re the almighty Dungeon Master, the introduction goes on to inform you that this module is for 6 to 9 players and some hired henchmen, that character death is permanent, that you should probably go ahead and give your players a chance at winning, and that only D&D experts adventure in the wilderness. It also explains the "convenient" shorthand they use for monster statblocks so that you can understand what "Taverner (AC 9, LVL 0, hp 6, #AT 1, D 1-6, ML 8)" means.
    Shirtless Wonder should never have stolen those sandals.

    I want to comment on the crazy algorithm you have to go through to figure out if you hit something or not, but someone else can cover that. It involves adding some numbers together, rolling dice, adding (or subtracting, possibly) some modifiers, then checking for special cases that might make all of your previous steps irrelevant. I hope the Player’s Handbook or whatever the Basic equivalent was took more time to explain this, because the paragraph here is like a word problem written by a math student who understands neither math nor word problems.

    With all that pesky number stuff out of the way, the introduction gets back to telling you how awesome you are. But this time, they pull an Uncle Ben on you and start talking about all the great and heavy responsibilities that come with your god-hood, like pretending to be stupid, making animal noises, or inventing words like "chitteringly". Most of it is actually fairly sound advice, so I’m not going to spend any time making fun of it. The introduction section also repeats itself a lot, so I’m just going to move on to the titular Keep in Section III.

    Denada on
  • AntimatterAntimatter Devo Was Right Gates of SteelRegistered User regular

  • SteelhawkSteelhawk Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    I love this module. I got it, and the old school blue cover boxed set as a young'n used and dinged from my cousin, and it blew my mind. I've loved D&D ever since.

    The map!!! That cover map spawned countless imitations. Reams of reams of graph paper were used, pencils worn down to nubs, coming up with dungeons just like it. My eight year old self didn't even know how to play the damn game yet, but everything was awesome.

    I still have that orginal copy. Good times. Good times.

    Steelhawk on
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    Section III
    All Your Keep Are … I'm not going to finish that.

    Although there isn't any solid indication of this fact, the Background section is where the module actually starts. I have to try very hard to say "module" instead of "adventure" because back in ancient times, every single session was considered an adventure. Keep on the Borderlands really just seems to provide some areas with some things in them, and then you and your players get to figure out what happens (and why, if you're into that sort of thing).

    Of course this is D&D, so what really happens is that you craft an interesting story with multiple plot arcs and a deep and interesting cast of characters, and then your players ignore all of it and make you spend the rest of the session making everything up because they wanted to go west instead of south.

    Anyway, since I'm reading this module I guess I'm the de facto DM, so let me set the scene for you:
    B2 wrote:
    Ahead, up the winding road, atop a sheer-walled mount of stone, looms the great KEEP. Here, at one of civilization’s strongholds between good lands and bad, you will base yourselves and equip for forays against the wicked monsters who lurk in the wilds. Somewhere nearby, amidst the dark forests and tangled fens, are the Caves of Chaos where fell creatures lie in wait. All this you know, but before you dare adventure into such regions you must become acquainted with the other members of your group, for each life will depend upon the ability of the others to cooperate against the common foe. Now, before you enter the grim fortress, is the time for introductions and an exchange of information, for fate seems to have decreed that you are to become an adventurous band who must pass through many harrowing experiences together on the path which leads towards greatness.

    Since we're on a forum, I'll give you the TL;DR. Since we're on a gaming forum, I'll give it the nostalgic text-based adventure treatment:

    You're near a KEEP. PEOPLE are inside. The CAVES OF CHAOS are nearby.

    Assuming that you do as you're told and GO to the KEEP, I can read you the next section:
    B2 wrote:
    You have travelled for many days, leaving the Realm and entering into the wilder area of the Borderlands. Farms and towns have become less frequent and travelers few. The road has climbed higher as you enter the forested and mountainous country.

    You now move up a narrow, rocky track. A sheer wall of natural stone is on your left, the path falling away to a steep cliff on the right. There is a small widening ahead, where the main gate to the KEEP is. The blue-clad men-at-arms* who guard the entrance shout at you to give your names and state your business. All along the wall you see curious faces peering down at you - eager to welcome new champions of Law, but ready with crossbow and pole arm* to give another sort of welcome to enemies.

    Did you notice those asterisks? Those are there because this was a time when people didn't know what men-at-arms or pole arms were. Men-at-arms are guys that only become manly in their arms, having spent their entire lives doing millions of barbell curls. Pole arms are the opposite, having little, stick-like arms because of all the time they spent not getting ripped in the gym.

    Also the welcome they give to enemies isn't really welcoming. They try to shoot them with their crossbows. That probably wasn't clear.

    After the bit where I'm informed that if any of you dirty players try anything funny the guards will instantly attack and kill you, and there's no way for you to sneak into the Keep because I said so - which is kind of pointless since I want you to go inside the keep anyway, but let's not forget who's shaping the cosmos here, mmkay? – we get to the part about rumors. Actually first we get to the part about the crappy siege weapons the keep has, then we get to the rumors.

    Rather than thinking about what an NPC might logically know or be interested in, I'm supposed to roll a d20 and consult a table to figure out what random text box an NPC will give you when you click on it. If your spin on the Wheel O' Rumors is poor, you might get a false rumor. If fate decrees it so, you might get something really useful like "An elf once disappeared across the marshes." Sweet, thanks Timmy. Now my players are going to think they're supposed to go to the marshes that I have to make up now because they're not in the module. If only I could have just decided that you heard a rumor about the Caves of Chaos instead of rolling randomly! Cruel cosmos, why could I not shape you so?

    Okay, so we know what people will do to enemies at the gates, we know what people will have a chance to say when PCs click on them, and we know that there's something called an inner bailey* which PCs can get access to if they're awesome and kiss up to someone called the Castellan. I'm not going to look up that asterisk for you, because if I were actually running this module I would just call it the inner courtyard like a normal human being. Let's move on.

    On the next page we are finally introduced to the individual areas of the Keep, starting with the Main Gate. Rather than spend a lot of time describing the descriptions of each area, I'll just give you this handy annotated map:


    Sadly, you're missing out on all the juicy details of the areas, like the traps mixed in with the bank's safe deposit boxes, the tavern's menu, and spawn rates for NPCs in the tavern. But most of that isn't going to be important unless your PCs are dicks, so, you should probably study it intently.

    That about does it for the Keep. We'll venture back outside in our next installment.

  • tzeentchlingtzeentchling Doctor of Rocks OaklandRegistered User regular
    They really did go into a lot of details about the places in the keep. Thoroughness, I suppose.

  • LochielLochiel Registered User regular
    Best thread that I have subscribed to in a long time.

  • Super NamicchiSuper Namicchi Registered User regular
    definitely subscribed, denada's wit is impeccable

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    that map is awesome

    also Denada:
    The rumor about the elf dissapearing in the marshes does actually lead somewhere. Past the marshes is a stand of trees with giant spiders. The elfs corpse (and his magic shield) can be obtained there

    RiemannLives on
    Attacked by tweeeeeeees!
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    Yeah Riemann I came across that as I started writing section 4. For some reason I just didn't connect "fen" and "marshes." My mistake will be corrected (hopefully in a humorous fashion) in the next installment.

  • VanguardVanguard But now the dream is over. And the insect is awake.Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited June 2012
    I printed off my own copy to convert for DCC RPG. I too have never played this.

    Vanguard on
  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    No. The original writers and artists were incredibly prohpetic.

    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    Oh, I'm sure. Just caused me a double take the first time I read it. :P

    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    The notes on the map are mine. I'll also be doing the "area map" for section 4, but today is my birthday so it will have to wait.

  • BaidolBaidol I will hold him off Escape while you canRegistered User regular
    I maintain the great tower is not all that great.

    Steam Overwatch: Baidol#1957
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Baidol wrote: »
    I maintain the great tower is not all that great.

    It's good though, surely we can agree on that much.
    Good, but not quite great.

  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    So do you beat Keep on the Borderlands by walking in, hanging around until the captain is asleep, looting his cups, and then leaving the next day and asking the DM what module is next?

    Though I suppose he'd notice that they were missing, and lock down the keep as soon as possible. I suppose it depends heavily on when he notices relative to when the gates are scheduled to open. You'd have to get well beyond the range that the guards can turn you into pincushions, and even then there would probably be people sent to hunt you down.

    I suppose that you could make a break for the nearest dungeon. With that much loot in hand, it shouldn't be that difficult to bribe the denizens to protect you, while you work out a way to safely sneak out of the region.

  • wildwoodwildwood Registered User regular
    Are you saying that the true objective of Keep on the Borderlands is to unite the monsters against the keep? Because that would be glorious. :)

  • JohnnyToxxicJohnnyToxxic Registered User regular
    wildwood wrote: »
    Are you saying that the true objective of Keep on the Borderlands is to unite the monsters against the keep? Because that would be glorious. :)

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  • Majestic GoatMajestic Goat Registered User
    wildwood wrote: »
    Are you saying that the true objective of Keep on the Borderlands is to unite the monsters against the keep? Because that would be glorious. :)
    Just like Castle Ravenloft, Temple of Elemental Evil, or Tomb of Horror. You play these modules to destroy the evil lurks within those place.
    So... What's this module's name again? Keep on the Borderland?

  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    Section IV
    A New Hope

    Now that you've gotten through the always awkward and rarely necessary Let's Have Our Characters Meet Each Other And Come Up With A Reason To Adventure Together session and spent some time not pillaging the keep because it's protected by magical alarms that will summon a small army of guards to your location, you should be ready to get the hell out of KEEP and go adventuring outside. But where will you go? Let this map (and the arbitrary boundaries spelled out in the module) be your guide:


    Although the notes I've so generously provided should tell you all you need to know, I'm still going to spend some time talking about all the wondrous and exciting adventures you can have outside of the keep.

    Camping in Beautiful THE WILDERNESS
    Have you ever dreamed of sleeping outside? Of being too afraid of wandering monsters to go hunting for your own food? How about dreaming of rotating shifts so that you don't get ambushed while you sleep? If this sounds like something that needs to be played out in detail instead of just handled with narrative because it isn't really that important, then have I got a deal for you! For only 1 hour of searching you can traverse one square of the area map. If you feel like picking up the pace, you can walk for 1 hour and traverse a whopping 3 squares! But be careful! The forest slows you down to 2 squares, and the fen slows you down to 1 square.

    Assuming you still want to go camping, make sure you get within 6 squares of one of the marked sites, otherwise nothing will happen, and who the hell wants to arrange the schedules of 7 to 10 people so that they can sit around a table and pretend to not do anything? However, if you decide to be some kind of adventurer and adventure yourself right to the edge of the map, be prepared for an NPC/invisible wall combo that will turn you back on the right path:
    B2 wrote:
    If the party attempts to move off the map, have a sign, a wandering stranger, a friendly talking magpie, or some other “helper” tell them that they are moving in the wrong direction.

    Please, keep your hands and feet inside the module at all times.

    Climbing the MOUND OF THE LIZARD MEN
    Don't be fooled by the fact that these lizard men don't bother anyone from the Keep, don't bother anyone outside of their home territory, and will only bother you inside their territory if you walk on top of their house. They are EXCEPTIONALLY EVIL. Otherwise, choosing to invade their den, slaughter their wives and children, and steal their life savings might be in bad taste. But they're evil, so it's fine.

    Invading the SPIDER'S LAIR
    The large stand of trees south of the fen, teeming with all sorts of wildlife, supports a whopping two spiders. If you decide that those spiders don't deserve to live in peace, far away from any sort of civilization, where they pose no danger to anyone except stupid adventurers that wander into a dangerous forest, you can kill them. For your trouble you get to find out that elves have pointy ear-bones, because you're somehow able to tell that the skeleton here is an elf (So that's where that rumor came from! Oh Timmy you got me again you little scamp!).

    Old ear-bones has a magic shield too, but getting it dirty apparently deactivates the magic, so make sure you head back to the keep and buy some towels.

    See a Real Live RAIDER CAMP
    There's a camp of raiders several hours away if you're interested in seeing just how little money being a chaotic fighter can get you. If you combined all of the money in the entire camp, it would be worth less than one of the guard captain's cups. I don't know if chaotic fighting just has a lot of overhead, or if these guys are really terrible at raiding, or if their leader just picked a bad strategy by targeting an impregnable fortress that has a second impregnable fortress inside it. (Note: the raiders don't actually target anything. They don't seem to exist at all unless your PCs go to that square on the map. That's probably another reason they're so poor.)

    All of those theories are good and probably true if your DM wants them to be, but I think the real story here is much more tragic. See, these 10 people were former adventurers, but they were kicked out of the keep because they mouthed off to the Castellan (this is something that can actually happen) and now they have to just sit outside in the forest staring longingly at their quest hub, because those crazy road signs and talking magpies at the edge of the map won't let them leave. Sure, they could venture into the Caves of Chaos and do something great that might get them back into the keep, but they're all Fighters, so we know that's not going to happen.

    Visit the MAD HERMIT
    Crazy Hermit's prices are SO LOW, he'll stab you and feed you to his mountain lion!

    In the northern forest there's a wild and crazy guy (SNL reference!) who is dangerous for no reason at all since he never bothers anyone unless they bother him first. Since you're dealing with PCs, they will undoubtedly bother him if they happen upon his square of the map, so he's super dangerous. He also has a pet mountain lion for some reason.

    Now, suppose your players do the unthinkable and just leave him alone. The module makes the helpful suggestion that you have the hermit pretend to be a friendly druid before literally stabbing the party in the back. Why? Because he's crazy.

    Fail to Perceive the CAVES OF THE UNKNOWN
    B2 wrote:
    The Caves of the Unknown area is left for you to use as a place to devise your own cavern complex or dungeon maze. You may also wish to expand on the other encounter areas, designing camps, lairs or lost ruins to permit more adventuring. If you do not wish to undertake this at first, simply DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PLAYERS TO LOCATE IT EVEN IF THEY THOROUGHLY SEARCH THE VERY SPACE IT IS IN. (It was hidden by a magical illusion so as to be undetectable . . .)


    That about covers the hot spots of the borderlands, except of course for the Caves of Chaos, which take up the lion's share of the rest of the module. We'll begin exploring them in the next installment.

  • tzeentchlingtzeentchling Doctor of Rocks OaklandRegistered User regular
    I do like the drawing of the hermit. Gets that blend of wild and crazy just right.

  • GrogGrog My sword is only steel in a useful shape.Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    For a second I thought that last quote said
    It was hidden by a magical illusion so as to be undetectable : )
    Be dickish to the players by all means, but don't use smilies.

    Grog on
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Oh My God I Think I Just Figured This Out

    I'm going to take a little detour here (inspired by the comments) before I move on to the caves. The more of this module I read, the more the "keep = villains" thing starts making sense. Think about this:
    • The "monsters" mostly keep to themselves. They don't even bother people that are out camping. The module specifically states that the PCs won't be bothered while they're camping unless they get too close to a lair, and even then there's only a chance they'll be bothered.
    • The keep controls all trade through the region (presumably from "the Realm" to some other Realm), even to the point of seizing all cargo until traders are allowed to leave.
    • The keep is better defended and protected than anything else in the borderlands and has nothing to fear from any of the inhabitants.
    • There's some kind of magic spell that prevents people from leaving the area unless they visit the keep first and do a quest for them.
    • Every quest the keep sends you on involves murdering the inhabitants of the borderlands and taking their belongings back to the keep.
    • The people inside the keep are filthy rich, particularly the Castellan, who has literally thousands of gold pieces, and is one of probably a half dozen people that have magic weapons and/or armor.

    The real story here is of a plucky band of monsters (kobolds or goblins) that leave their homes - which are holes dug into the sides of hills - to band together with some of the other monsters (seven happens to be in the range for recommended party size) to unite the disparate tribes of the borderlands in an assault against the terrible fortress of the Castellan, a powerful warrior with a magic ring, all the while trying to avoid being found and killed by a group of nine servants sent out from the keep. Maybe they'll get help from some lizard men from the south, some nomadic humans that have been turned away by their own people, and a crazy old man that is more powerful than anyone realizes.

    I'm pretty sure Keep on the Borderlands is basically reverse Lord of the Rings.

    And that sounds awesome.

    Denada on
  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    ... I'd play it.

    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    Section V
    There Goes the Neighborhood

    Now that the PCs have found and murdered everything they can in the wilderness, it's time to head on into the Caves of Chaos, perhaps one of the most vicious, deadly, and densely-packed areas in the entire borderlands (or at least the part of the borderlands that the magpies will allow you to explore). But don't take my word for it. Let the read-aloud text take you there:
    B2 wrote:
    The forest you have been passing through has been getting more dense, tangled, and gloomier than before. The thick, twisted tree trunks, unnaturally misshapen limbs, writhing roots, clutching and grasping thorns and briars all seem to warn and ward you off, but you have forced and hacked your way through regardless. Now the strange growth has suddenly ended - you have stepped out of the thicket into a ravine-like area. The walls rise rather steeply to either side to a height of about 100’ or so - dark, streaked rock mingled with earth. Clumps of trees grow here and there, both on the floor of the ravine and up the sloping walls of the canyon. The opening you stand in is about 200’ wide. The ravine runs at least 400’ west (actually 440’) to where the western end rises in a steep slope. Here and there, at varying heights on all sides of the ravine, you can see the black mouths of cave-like openings in the rock walls. The sunlight is dim, the air dank, there is an oppressive feeling here -as if something evil is watching and waiting to pounce upon you. There are bare, dead trees here and there, and upon one a vulture perches and gazes hungrily at you. A flock of ravens rise croaking from the ground, the beat of their wings and their cries magnified by the terrain to sound loud and horrible. Amongst the litter of rubble, boulders, and dead wood scattered about on the ravine floor, you can see bits of gleaming ivory and white - closer inspection reveals that these are bones and skulls of men, animals, and other things …

    You know that you have certainly discovered the Caves of Chaos.

    The short version of that lumbering behemoth of a description is that you've passed through a dark forest to reach an evil ravine that's about 400 feet long, and there are caves all up and down the walls of the canyon. You know what's in those caves? Chaos, my friend. Or the chaos might be outside of the caves. It's chaos, so it's kind of unpredictable. Or is it? CHAOS.

    Before we head into the caves, let's take a look at the map:


    Alright, now that we've got our bearings, let's say hi to the residents of the Caves of Chaos Planned Development Community. We'll be doing this through a series of zoomed in maps, starting with scenic Cave A in the next installment.

  • wildwoodwildwood Registered User regular
    Isn't there a secret tunnel from the keep to somewhere south of the river? If a small party could find that and sneak in, while a larger force approaches from the road, to keep the Castellan distracted...

    Of course, they'd have to brave all the hazards south of the river - the barrow-mounds of the lizard men, the dark, primeval lair of the spiders. And all with that crazy hermit following them.

  • dresdenphiledresdenphile Watch out for snakes!Registered User regular
    I do like the drawing of the hermit. Gets that blend of wild and crazy just right.

    Yeah, he has a real Weeping Angels quality about him.

    Don't blink.

  • wildwoodwildwood Registered User regular
    I do like the drawing of the hermit. Gets that blend of wild and crazy just right.

    Yeah, he has a real Weeping Angels quality about him.

    Don't blink.

    The bad news is, his pet cat is behind you...

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Denada is my new hero.

  • DenadaDenada Registered User regular
    Section VI
    My First Dungeon: Apple Through Giraffe

    In this installment we'll be taking a look at some of the families living in the Caves of Chaos. They don't take good care of the public spaces, and they seem to have a lot of trouble cleaning up after barbecues, but some people think that just adds to the local flavor.

    And just in case you forgot, that flavor is a mixture of cumin, pepper, salt, paprika, and a distinct aftertaste of EVIL.

    The Kobolds of Cave A

    The Orcs of Cave B

    The Other Orcs of Cave C

    The Goblins of Cave D

    The Ogre of Cave E

    The Hobgoblins of Cave F

    The Shunned Cavern, a.k.a Cave G

    That's enough for one post, I think. We'll keep exploring this wondrous complex of wealth inequality and sexism in the next installment.

  • tzeentchlingtzeentchling Doctor of Rocks OaklandRegistered User regular
    oh man, these are amazing. it is kind of disturbing how often they have you killing the younglings of each monster group.

  • BaidolBaidol I will hold him off Escape while you canRegistered User regular
    Giving the kids bootstraps would be too expensive.

    Steam Overwatch: Baidol#1957
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