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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.                    ...

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Draft Map

Draft Map. Click for a larger, clearer view that you can drag to your desktop

Above is my draft of a complete map for the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave adventure, showing entire complex, Areas 1-25. North is up, and each square is 10 feet. Area 16 is cut off at the bottom because the entire chamber is 300 feet in length, north to south. 

This map was made in Excel (it's a spreadsheet!), with a grid set to 10 squares per inch. I hope to make another version in Inkscape once I have some time to reacquaint myself with the program. But for the time being, I'm using this draft version to play test the dungeon, and hopefully it will be sufficient for anyone else to run it, should they wish. 

Click on the preview image above to see the larger image, which should be much clearer. You can drag that image to your desktop and print it out. When printing, set to "Print Entire Image" or 63%, which should scale it to fit on a single page.

Note that some of the descriptions in the areas may not match the map right now; I plan to go back and edit the room descriptions to match what is shown on the map.

Evening Update:

I've already updated the map twice since originally posting it. I've noticed a few errors, and added a few more features, a title & a compass, and made the numbers more prominent.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Scrum Con 2023 registration opens tomorrow!


Scrum Con returns this year on Saturday, April 8th, at the Civic Building in Silver Spring, Maryland, and registration, including both purchasing badges ($15 per person) and signing up for games, begins at noon EST tomorrow, Saturday 2/25/23.

For now, you can peruse the listing of games on Tabletop Events and pick out what you might be interested in signing up for. The selection includes an equal number of RPGs and miniatures wargames:

Scrum Con IV (2023) Schedule of Events

And as always, sign up with an email address on the mailing list at to stay on top of the latest announcements and updates.

For an idea of what the games are like, see my 2020 Post-Op or this post on Scrum in Miniature with over 400 photos.

Hope to see you there!

And please help us get the word out by sharing this with anyone who may be interested.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Blue Flame, Tiny Stars by Stephen Wendell


Arriving in the mail the day before yesterday was my comp copy of Blue Flame, Tiny Stars, a memoir of experiencing D&D for the first time by Stephen Wendell, who blogs over at Donjon Lands. In fact, this book started life as a series of posts over on that blog.

Get your copy here in PDF or POD:

Blue Flame, Tiny Stars at DrivethruRPG

Before publication, Stephen provided me with a copy of the compiled text for review, and here is the blurb that I provided him with after reading it:

“I greatly enjoyed Blue Flame, Tiny Stars, Stephen Wendell’s charming memoir of his discovery of Dungeons & Dragons in the early 1980s. It holds a particular fascination for me, as Stephen starts with the same version of the D&D Basic Set in the same year as myself. I recommend this book not just to fans of ‘Holmes Basic’ but to anyone who enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons. The author’s clear prose captures the excitement of those early, half-remembered adventures when everything about the game was new and awe-inspiring.”

Now that I have the final product in hand, I can see that the document that I read has been turned into a beautiful book featuring a homage cover to Sutherland's original cover art, and other illustrations within by Stephen. It is about 30 pages long and zine-sized, and I am looking forward to reading again in this format.

Friday, February 10, 2023

The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave #25: Crypt of the Arch Smugglers

This is an installment of a new adventure for Holmes Basic D&D. You can find the Introduction to the dungeon here: Area 1.

Each entry includes part of a "pointcrawl" map showing the area & any exits, which include links allowing you to navigate the dungeon:


Area 24

(H = ladder up)

25. CRYPT OF THE ARCH SMUGGLERS. This was the final resting place for the leaders of the smugglers. Major features include an entry ladder, a tunnel, a door, and a crypt chamber holding a sarcophagi.

Entrance. The only way in to Area 25 is via the ladder down from the hidden space in the central block in Area 24. The ladder consists of metal rungs anchored in stone. The vertical shaft is 3 feet wide, with the ladder on the west wall, and goes down 30 feet until it reaches the south end of a 10 foot wide tunnel. This tunnel extends north for 40 feet, with walls covered with the skulls of orcas and other toothed whale, each mounted in lime plaster. 

Whale Skull Door. At the north end of the tunnel is a stone door, on which is mounted the largest of the skulls, which is that of an enormous toothed whale. The walls adjacent to each side of the door are lined with orca skulls. 

The door is locked and heavy. Opening the lower jaw of the whale skull will reveal a stone trigger plate set in the middle of the door. However, pushing this trigger without first unlocking the door with the appropriate key (found in the desk in Area 25), will cause the jaws to snap shut, delivering 1d6 damage to anyone reaching in. 

The keyhole to unlock the door is within the mouth of the centermost orca skull to the right of the door. Keeping it unlocked requires holding it place once it is turned counterclockwise. 

Finally, pushing the door open will require a combined strength of 30. 

Thus, opening the door safely will require three or more individuals: one to hold the key in a turned position in the keyhole, one to push the trigger plate, and one or more others to add their strength in pushing the door open.

Crypt Chamber. Beyond the door is a room 30 feet wide and 60 feet long, with no other visible exits. Decorated bronze sarcophagi, each set upon a plinth, stand upright, anchored to the walls. There are 6 along the west wall, 3 along the north wall and 4 along the east wall. These run in order from oldest to the most recent arch smuggler, with the oldest being the southernmost one on the west wall, and the newest being the southernmost one on the east wall. This one contains the corpse of the most recently interred chief, Mot Daxor, who usurped Ness Sentra (see Area 13).

Sarcophagi. The front of each sarcophagus is tightly fitted to the body, but can be pried off with an iron spikes or crowbar.

Inside each stands a withered corpse, bound in place, and wearing decaying fine leather armor and a belt with a cutlass in a decorated scabbard. Nothing will happen unless the contents (corpse or cutlass) of a sarcophagus are disturbed, in which case a green smoke will begin issuing from the mouth of the corpse, coalescing in 2 rounds into a churning humanoid form that will advance on the nearest living creature in an attempt to drain its life force.

Corpse Fog (13): DX 9, AC 5, HD 3*, hp 8, AT 1 touch for 0 damage but energy drain (one level), SD immune to normal weapons, draining adds one HD; turning dependent on HD (3 HD = wight, 4 HD = wraith, etc). Successful turning will send the fog back into its corpse.

Each fog starts with two HD, but adds a HD for each level drained from a party member. Roll for the additional hit points gained. Destroying one will result in a blast of smoke that will do 1d6 damage to all in the chamber but will also restore any levels drained by that fog.

The corpses are otherwise safe to touch. Each scabbard and cutlass is worth at least 500 gp, and each cutlass has a 1 in 2 chance of being a magic weapon (roll again, 1-3 = +1, 4-5 = +2, 6 = +3).

If the Shade of Mot Daxor is defeated, and his remains replaced with those of Ness Sentra, the players will lift the curse and gain her treasure (Area 13). Sentra's ghost (a reinvigorating spirit) will appear here briefly and thank the players, restore up to four drained levels, and then fade away.

Chronologically on this blog, the previous installment described Area 24