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[Game Mastering] Keep on the Borderlands & Beyond


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10 hours ago, Balgin Stondraeg said:


The purple box facsimile of the original.





Had that been a later module the owlbear and grey ooze would have been additional monsters that simply appeared without depleting the local monster population. This became lazy sloppy writing in later modules where the authors did not stop to think where these monsters were coming from. I like the fact that the monsters in B2 were finite and random numbers would deplete their population instead o somehow adding to it.



Therefore it's reasonable to assume that the wandering goblins must come from the common room otherwise where do these limitless magical extra goblins come from?


Another really nice thing about B2 was that the monsters had food supplies and living arrangements. A lot of later authors didn't bother to give their monsters bedrooms or larders and instead they were just encountered in often empty rooms in a rather uninspired, waiting to be killed, manner.

Ooooh, those!

I gotcha now.


I thought you meant the random encounter tables on the Reference Tables pages.


Yeah, that the dungeon felt lived-in was a great touch, definitely influenced how I approached dungeon/lair/etc later on. I'd find maps I thought I liked and then toss em because I realized nothing about it suggested creatures actually LIVED there.

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3 hours ago, Balgin Stondraeg said:


There was a novel?


Probably where a load of the npc's got their names from in the later iterations.


1482393320_Keep_on_the_Borderlands_(DD_novel).jpg.1c5d5775e2cf8cf0102c7e8df3a992bd.jpg Published around 2001, there were a BUNCH of these, based on the old Greyhawk modules, notably Against The Giants, Descent Into The Depths Of The Earth, and White Plume Mountain. There may have been others.

They all followed the same basic plot as the modules; this one opens with our heroes arriving at the Keep and aiding the local guards at fighting off ambushes on supply caravans. Our heroes later take the fight to the enemy, and guess where they find them...?

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Wow, it wasn't until I started reading Keep - I have played it enough that spoilers shouldn't matter - and I just now realized that Paizo borrowed the Mad Hermit for Kingmaker! :lol: Complete with companion.


It is VERY basic, but I think it is the perfect starting adventure. A base, a dungeon, and the wilderness between. With one more dungeon that is just a location, no details, to give the budding DM a place to play.


Grump put the ruins from Dragons Don't Share right there. The first hints that deviltry was afoot was in those ruins.


Into the Borderlands was a squandered opportunity.


It's okay, but only okay. And very pretty, pretty big, but. No but anything, just but.


It's sad that the original Keep part is the best adventure in the book.

On 7/31/2019 at 11:49 PM, BlazingTornado said:

The only D&D book I've read is Azure Bonds, which was all right aside from the unbearable Olive Rustkettle.


Jar Jar Binks levels of annoyance from that halfling.

Halflings in general are treated as the butt in most gaming fiction.


And DON'T get me started on Kender!


Worst thing about Kender is they are fun to play. So you become part of the problem.

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I almost wish they hadn't written a novel. Having canonical player characters in the player's heads could ruin things for future players if they'd read the book.


Fun little B2 KOTB story: I once created a Magic User, brand new, 1st level. This little wizard's apprentice was quite brainy and was fluent in a number of languages. I looked at the list, chose a few, and then I had one left over. "Kobold," I thought, "well I don't know what that is but it sounds interesting so I'll pick that as the last one."


Because we were playing Basic the only spell in my spellbook was Ventriloquism........



Guess who started a Kobold Civil War by casting Ventriloquism, speaking kobold, and making it sound as if the kobolds were insulting each other? That's right. It was a moment of sheer hilarity :).

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18 minutes ago, PaganMegan said:

Wow, I just realized that the D&D fiction line is now COMPLETELY gone.


They don't even have a page on the Wizards site, anymore. ::(:


This is why Bog gave us used bookstores.

Lot of the stuff is still in print... but I recently learned that much of it is long gone, and fairly collectible these days, notably the Dragonlance books with the original Larry Elmore covers. Those will run you ten bucks or more each in good condition on the collector market.

I also learned that Hickman and Weis rewrote the original Dragonlance saga into a series of children's novels! I'd had no idea! But the only way to find them is by haunting used bookstores....

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6 hours ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

Lot of the stuff is still in print... but I recently learned that much of it is long gone, and fairly collectible these days, notably the Dragonlance books with the original Larry Elmore covers. Those will run you ten bucks or more each in good condition on the collector market.


Really? I've only got the first nine. Chronicles, Legends, and Tales.

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As many other older grognards did, I received the Basic boxed set for Christmas of 1981 and ran it for my friends as a freshman in college. I eventually had the remains of the Caves of Chaos team up and attack the keep one night with siege weapons, and of course my players got to run around and helped defend, which they did pretty well.


I also ran my mom through one of the caves so she could see what the game was like. She was much more of a board gamer and didn't like how open ended it was, but at least she got to experience it.


Years later I ran my wife and kids through Kenzerco's Little Keep on the Borderlands. It was indeed a wonderfully fleshed out version of the Keep, and we spent a couple of winters just exploring the environs (along with a couple of additions I wrote for it). I am delighted to see it mentioned here, and heartily recommend it to anyone wanting to explore the keep a bit further. It's a pretty thick tome, far beyond the original 32 pages. The isometric maps Jolly Blackburn made for it are incredible, although they are available separately for free last time I checked.


One of those additions i called "Beyond the Caves of Choas", and it would have been the last adventure published for the original version of HackMaster. Too bad I didn't get off my butt and actually make it happen, despite the OK from Kenzerco, as it would have been cool just to see the illustrations provided for it by the Fraim brothers. Oh, well. I may still have it, if anyone cares, although it's only loosely tied into the caves and is really a standalone adventure.


If I'm not mistaken, HackMaster 5th edition has a version of the keep, although without the WotC license, there have to be significant differences.


I doubt I will play it again, simply because it's difficult to find anyone who plays older versions who hasn't already gone through it. That's a problem I'm currently having with my (on hold) Saltmarsh game. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a wonderful start to any gaming group's adventuring.

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