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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Fear of a Black Dragon podcast: Tower of Zenopus


Fear of a Black Dragon is a long-running podcast covering FRPG adventures and settings, with a focus on both the old school and the modern. The latest episode is dedicated to none other than the Tower of Zenopus, aka the Sample Dungeon from the Holmes Basic rulebook. Find it here:

Fear of a Black Dragon: The Tower of Zenopus

I've listened to the episode & enjoyed it; they do a great job covering why the adventure has remained a fan favorite among old school D&D enthusiasts. The second half is directed to what elements to include in a sample adventure in a RPG rulebook, so may be of more general interest.

The Zenopus Archives itself gets a shout-out near the end of the show as "weirdly obsessively fascinating", which suggests I am doing something right thing here. In that vein, I left two comments on the page for the episode, and I will add a few more here:

  • The podcast mentions that Gygax toned down the spider in the dungeon in the 1978 version of the rulebook (which is the 2nd edition). While this is true, it happened only after an initial ratcheting up of the spider's lethality. In Holmes' manuscript, the giant spider has but a single HD, which was changed to 6 HD (!) for the first publication in July 1977. The revised version in 1978 scales this back to 4+4 HD, in line with the Monster Manual, which had come out in the intervening year. You can read about this in more detail in Part 49 of the Holmes Manuscript series. 

  • The podcast also mentions the dagger hidden in the abdomen of the spider. This is not in Holmes' manuscript, so was added to the published version, presumably by Gygax, who was fond of concealed treasures.

You can find other recordings of interest, mostly audio but a few video, on the Zenopus Archives site here.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! I had no idea this podcast was still going on (although…I think…I stopped checking it after being disenchanted concerning the ‘casters’ actual level of knowledge).

    I’ll have to check it out…it’s been years!