Boppin’ and Blog Hoppin’: Day Three

First dungeon you explored as a player or ran as a DM?

All of these questions about “firsts” are likely to get DM answers when that’s an option, because I played DnD for about three years before the first time I was a PC, and even with that group I pretty quickly became the DM. There were other systems–Alternity, GURPS (blech!), Rift, Palladium, and Vampire: The Masquerade–where I was always the PC, but DnD largely stayed my wheelhouse.

As a DM, the first dungeon I ran was the site of the adventure I ran with my first adventuring party. This was a two man group, Tom and Aaron, and was actually being run as part of a school project. We were all in G.A.T.E., the gifted student program in middle school that mostly consisted of learning Bloom’s Taxonomy of critical though over and over. However, in sixth grade we were given an “independent project,” a choose-your-own-assignment sort of deal. I took this opportunity to rope my classmates into running an adventure in my first homebrew campaign world, which was basically “Norse Gods and Lots of Snow.” Despite which, the first adventure took place in a swamp.

Specifically, the daughter of a wealthy merchant had been kidnapped and dragged into this massive mansion that rose from the center of a nearby swamp once every 100 years. I’m talking deep mining of tropes here. The adventure had several NPCs and a fully mapped and statted town, with price lists and reaction tables for all of the nobles and a weird little rude guy who was secretly a lvl 1 Wizard with 25 Int and all the 1st-level spells in his spell books. Shocker…he was the villain! PCs had a chance to bump into him in town and even pick his pocket!

After fighting through the swamp, which provided an opportunity for the party to fight giant frogs because those are awesome, the PCs had to navigate a half-dozen floors of this rotting ghost mansion. It had rooms filled with puzzles, or “You can only open one of these doors”-style decisions. I distinctly recall that one room was entirely filled with gold. Just…floor covered in gold, gold piled up to elf-height. There were skeletons in the gold, and I was going for a “doomed by your own greed!” sort of thing.

The last boss (other than Stellerax the Evil Wizard, which I think was dude’s name meaning I stole it from Challenge of the Five Realms: Spellbound in the Realm of Nhagardia) was a bugbear. Having started gaming with the 1e Monstrous Manual, I held bugbears, kobolds, and gnolls in very high esteem due to the incredible illustrations they all got in that book. I think he had three hit dice and some chainmail, which provided a considerable threat to the party. This was exacerbated by the fact that one of the two PCs was triple-classed (half-elves seemed like the greatest thing in 2e) and thus had maybe two hit points. Still, the party prevailed and went on to many exciting adventures, like the time the cleric used Animal Friendship to charm a hydra.

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