This is the blog. Click here to go to the Zenopus Archives website.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Adding the DMG Sample Dungeon to B2

B2 Wilderness Map annotated to add a "seldom used road" to the ruined monastery

While reading Timrod's posts on the 1E DMG Sample Dungeon, and re-reading the original material (pg 94-100), I noticed some similarities to B2 that would make it easy to combine the two.

Timrod mentioned Gygax's description of the ruined monastery as being near the edge of a fen on a low mound connected by a causeway, and surrounded by "a few clumps of brush and tamarack here and there (probably on bits of higher ground)". This immediately brought to mind the B2 Wilderness Map, the lower half of which shows fens, which are home to the lizard man mound, and a tamarack stand, where the large spiders dwell. Tamarack is a type of larch, a conifer unusual in losing its needles in the winter, that grows in boggy areas in the northern central U.S. and Canada. And perhaps the Wisconsin wilderness that Gygax was familiar with?

In addition to the visible entrance to the ruined monastery, a "refuse-strewn flight of steep and worn stairs leading downward" to area 1, Gygax also mentions a "secret entrance/exit from the place" when describing the large-scale area map, which is not shown in the DMG. I suspect that the secret exit is hidden in the "fairly dense cluster of the same type of growth approximately a half mile beyond the abandoned place" that Gygax mentions without other reason (as Timrod notes). This exit must be some distance away if it is shown on the area map but not the map of the monastery grounds, which is another map mentioned but now shown in the DMG. I would also guess this exit connects to the stairs going up in area 39 of the crypts. These stairs go up only 20 feet, whereas the entrance stairs go down 30 feet, so they could lead to a tunnel 10' under the surface that leads further south. The entire crypt area is secret from the monastery cellars, so it would make sense if it had its own secret exit from the dungeon. The evil cleric and hobgoblins in area 35-37 may be using this secret exit to come and go from the dungeon, particularly since the secret door in area 3 seems difficult to traverse. Based on these assumptions, I'd place the approach to the monastery to the north, with the swamp and secret exit to the south. Gygax further described the approach as starting with a "two mile trek along a seldom used road".

To put all of this together with the B2 map, I've added a dashed line to indicate the disused road leading to the monastery. The squares on the B2 map are 100 yards, which means the dashed line shows a little over a mile, and the monastery is about another mile along the road on the northern edge of the fens to the north of the river. The "5" is simply to mark the direction to the new area on the map.

Gygax suggests starting the adventure in a village, with a villager (in reality a thief) telling the party of the monastery and guiding them there, but it would be easy enough to place this individual in the tavern of the Keep. Or even just placing rumor of the monastery in the list of rumors.

Gygax only briefly indicates the dwellers in the ruined monastery, but these include bandits in rooms 4-5 (monastery cellars) and a 3rd level evil cleric with hobgoblins in rooms 35-37 (in the hidden crypt section). The bandits' lair could be a base for the bandits spying on the keep (Area 2 on the B2 Wilderness Map). And the evil cleric associated with evil humanoids and undead immediately suggests a connection to the Shrine of Evil Chaos (Area K) of the Caves of Chaos.


  1. That is a nice addition. The default seems to be to use "B1: In Search of the Unknown" as the "Cave of the Unknown" on the B2 map. But that solution has always seemed like a bad fit to me. This one sounds like it does fit better.

    I'm been working on a sandbox B2 campaign ideas myself. One of my ideas is to replace the "mad monk" encounter with the module "The Vile Worm of the Eldritch Oak" (the Swords & Wizardry Whitebox version). Hmmm, I'm sensing a religious theme here. :)

  2. Very nice Z, I'll have to give this a spin one day. And yes Anthony, I too think the Eldritch Oak is a perfect fit.

  3. I like it Zen master! Although now I feel obligated to finish my Sample Dungeon series...

  4. Timrod, i have always been fascinated by the sample dungeons as well. How far has your project come? I remember, as a child in the '80s, i would thumb through the DMG & try to imagine a storyline that linked all those little B&W sketches together. Several of my favorites were pg 85, the skull & half buried sword on a desert dune, with some sort of cage? in the backdrop. I always pictured some horrific event, like a Barbary style slave trading post, or a prison where those who displeased the local tyrant were locked up in the scorching desert heat & left to die.

    Another is pg 221, "Lost in the Briars". Actually, that one i did use in a scenario i penciled on notebook paper & illustrated myself. How i wish now i still had that hand written adventure! :)

    Of course, on pg 68, the knife brandishing skeleton chasing the warrior through the flooded sewer as he desprratly attempts to open a sealed portal. Doesn't look he is going to make it. Sh why doesn't he just turn around & clobber the skeleton? I suspect he is being haunted, & everytime he destroys the skeleton it just reassembles & continues pursuing him.

    & of course... who hasn't wondered about this character, Emirikol the Chaotic on pg 193? :)

  5. It's a good idea, though I've read a well-reasoned page somewhere suggesting that the DMG sample dungeon is based on the dungeon from Village of Hommlet. Also, the community on Dragonsfoot got together and made a full module of this sample dungeon; they titled it "The Monastery of the Order of the Crimson Monks" (