Dungeon23 - Delving the Black Maw - 10 Jan AAR

It was an awesome start to the Dungeon23 campaign, complete with strange wandering monsters, half-crazed starving prisoners, blood-spattered rooms, grotesque statues with gems for eyes!

 The dungeon revealed so far:

Five adventurers - or rather convicted prisoners - found themselves deposited on a rocky beach with their gear and left to serve out their year sentence on the Island of the Black Maw. With nothing around but a path winding through steep, barren hills and cliffs, the PCs set off. (4)

Our band of GUILTY felons includes:
  • Pontus, the human cleric with a kind heart
  • Brog, the tough halfling (littleling) who talks with a growl and a "tough guy" attitude
  • Bora, the cautious fighting man
  • Erwin, the flamboyant fighting man who kissed a princess, a prince and merchants on Flail street and did most the talking. 
  • Caius, the mage, who had a glass of wine with him and plenty of coin hidden in his robes!
Pontus, Bora, Erwin and Caius.. Brog don't do photos, dammit!

With no civilization in sight, they followed the path till it ended at an old archway built into the side of a hill, with a black opening leading inside. Several skulls on pikes were set out front and a warning painted on the ancient stone sill: "STAY THE F*** OUT!"

C'mon in!

Within was a small landing and stairs within a tunnel leading down into the darkness. Graffiti, crude portraits of genitalia and other messages were scrawled on the walls: "Trell was here!", "Don't trust anyone!", "Don't touch anything!", "If you need crap, go to Oily Messe and see Jerrygreg!". 

So, the party ventured down the stairs...

They found a pair of crazed, starving, raggedly dressed men - Dirk and Kev - in the chamber at the bottom of the stairs. The two fought tooth and nail between each other over a single ration offered by the party, but were quickly separated. (1) 

The two spoke in disjointed fashion about the darkness being alive, horrible creatures and not able to buy anything in town (Oily Messe) because "they just want coin and there's none to find!" The party were curious about town, but decided to stay in the dungeon.

But what to do about these two yahoos? Brog, being the big little tough guy, pushed them to agree to watch the entrance and tell the party what they saw when the party returned. Then, they pushed on into the dark passage. A bit further on, they came to an intersection. 

On one side, there was an archway leading into a room with blood-spattered walls and skeletons lying on the ground, bits of flesh still on the bones. A door beckoned on the other side of the room. There was a general consensus of "Oh hell no!" on entering the room. 

What could go wrong?

On the other side was a small dead-end with a strange, grotesque statue of many arms, misshapen head and four gems for eyes! The statue was part of a pedestal which was also part of the floor, although made of different material. Fearing a trap, the party left it alone (for now!) and pushed on ahead out of the intersection.

The sound of wooden wheels greeted them around a 45 degree bend further down. It was a cart pushed by a strange, one-eyed man with a hook for a hand and a peg-leg! (2) He spoke in what was described as a "bad drunk Scottish accent" but much to the party's surprise, he had items for sale! The party didn't want to purchase anything at the moment, but Caius did pay a gold piece for a bit of advice. 

Bodb, the traveling merchant, thought about it for a minute and then warned the party "Don't drink the water!" He continued on, humming, leaving the party to ponder what he meant. (3)

The party continued forward down the passage and came to a slanting T intersection with a door. After a quick listen, the door opened without too much effort and the party beheld a large circular room with what appeared to be a pool of dark liquid in the center.

Bodb did say "Don't drink the water!"

And that ended our first session!

The Black Maw is open for business!

(1) Not all monsters attack at first sight. I am a big fan of the reaction roll: 2-5 negative, 6-8 neutral/cautious, 9-12 positive. Depending on what the players do will drive further reaction rolls. In this case, these two, crazed with hunger, were more than willing to allow a larger group to pass by without trouble.

And I'll keep track of them and what they're up to as the game progresses. My wandering monster tables can be adapted and change as the game progresses.

(2) Turns pass in one of two ways - if there's an activity/action that mechanically requires passage of time, or if ten actual minutes pass with just exploration/discussion/etc. Every so often, I do a wandering monster check. Bodb was an intentional entry on the roster. There's a good reason why there's a wandering merchant down in the dungeon and why he walks around unconcerned and unmolested, selling to all who have coin. 

(3) I'm not saying the 2004 Bards Tale was inspiration for Bodb but... OK, yea, it was. Totally.

(4) Morrowind was totally my inspiration for this. As was Star Trek VI, the arrival at Rura-Penthe. I tried to give a shortened version of the warden's speech. It's an awesome way to dump PCs into a dungeon!


  1. Fun was that, that's a win!

    I *love* that image you found of the entrance gateway.

    Of course there's a peddler in the dungeon! How would you else get the stuff you need for your delve? I've heard he might give you a discount if you encounter him at the inn, further down the tunnels...

    1. See, you get Bodb! Although (checks notes) no Inn, yet... there are a few places with water though.

      I'm very psyched for future games, these guys fell into playing OD&D right away without any effort.

  2. Bora stood on the shore of the island prison and smelled the air. The sky was grey, the air was cool, the morning was celebrated by the distant cheer of shore birds, and Bora was at the end of his life. He was sentenced to a year on the Black Maw Island, but he knew the chances of him living that long was slim. As the boat that brought him to shore rowed away, and he finished binding the last buckle on his gear, he regarded his fellow convicts, a surly halfling and three humans with apprehension. These may very well be the last companions of his life, and he missed his wife, and his mistress, even more.

    Bora and his companions chose to seek shelter in the Black Maw itself. Bora figured that they collectively decided to dive in head first and face the threat of the island head on. The entered, walked past decades of graffiti, and into root clogged passageways. They encountered two destitute and hungry madmen. They found shrines devoted to evil gods, rooms filled with skeletons, and a subterranean merchant selling his wares from a hand pushed cart.

    And they were only down there for an hour.


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