In setting up this session, I started looking through some Dungeon Crawl Classics and settled upon The Dreaming Caverns of the Duergar. I made some notes to modify, mainly taking out the dragons (Ariana decided not to include them as part of our world) and put in the Remnants, the original inhabitants of this world. I printed out four pieces of grid paper, fired up the laminator, and then used packing tape to affix the four together into one large foldable map. Printed out a hex map as well to plan the overworld and I had all the pieces together.
The story hook involved our PC, Ella Pips the Halfling Mage, discovering a wounded Psionic Dwarf from the planet Odrion on her family’s shipwhale ranch. Because of the remote location of the ranch, Ella’s father had to ride his tapir into town for the local doctor. The wounded Dwarf, Groobor spoke through a fevered haze and told Ella his companions were trapped in an old cavern to the South of the ranch. He emphasized that his friends only had a limited time before something terrible happened to them. Ella checked the shipwhale she was in the process of midwife-ing, Belle, and saw she was still 36 hours away from birthing. So, Ella and her brother Griffo set off the caves in the South.
Once they were deep in the tunnels a cave-in occurred and left them seeking an alternate way out. As they ventured further they found dwarves that looked corrupted by some unknown sickness or entity. Some of them had been driven mad but it was apparent these inhabitants had been here for awhile and were not the friends of Groobor. On the second floor, Ella and Griffo encountered Sorethin, a Lizardfolk being held captive by these twisted dwarves. Our hero successfully discovered a trap door that allowed the trio to pass into a deeper portion of the cave where Remnant ruins were found, particularly those related to the worship of long-forgotten deities. They shut down a massive drill machine one of the dwarves was piloting and became pinned down on a narrow bridge by crazed dwarves sniping with crossbows.
Sorethin made a run for it, abandoning Ella and her brother. She suddenly realized she had heard of this Lizardfolk before on trips into town with her pop. He was a mercenary from the native Lizardfolk population that had killed two diplomats from the Kaphis colony. Apparently he decided to hide out in the cave and became the prisoner of these mad dwarves. The merc takes one poisonous arrow too many and falls as Ella and Griffo make there way to the next level of the caves. They also discover hundreds of wooden crates containing high quality swords and daggers, enough to arm a military force.
In this humid portion of the cave Ella discovers mushroom and fungus forests as well as the Vegepygmy tribe that harvests and lives off these resources. They are very non-confrontational and run when approached, seeking reinforcements. Ella and Griffo decide to skip that confrontation but she ends up sprayed with spores from a poisonous flower whose roots take up an entire chamber. Not sure of the long-term effects, she pushes on until they find the full ruins of a lost Remnant civilization as well as…a living Remnant! They fail to defeat the powerful being and when Ella wakes up she is in the clutches of Jernum, the leader of these twisted Psionic Dwarves who has plans for her and Griffo.
It was definitely a session about getting comfortable with the OSR style of play after years of Powered By the Apocalypse. Though I did use the Fronts mechanic from Dungeon World as it is pretty much system agnostic. I’m also looking to incorporate pieces of The Perilous Wilds into our overworld gameplay and world-building. All in all, I am looking forward to seeing where this story goes. For now, I will be cannibalizing pre-made modules and as I become more comfortable maybe writing up my own adventures.