Tell me about Keep On the Borderlands

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 18, 2018 - 9:51am
Back story: I'm running Keep on the Borderlands with my daughters on Saturday visitation. They are playing an elf and a halfling Basic D&D characters.

So Im curious how you all might have modified or embellished the module when you played it?



I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!
Comments:

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 18, 2018 - 10:12am
I told them they were accompanying Sir William, a noble (HD 3), to go look for Brother Gaxian who is missing and was last reported in the vicinity of the Keep on the Borderlands. Obstensibly they were sent by the temple of light in the capitol. When they came to a bend in the road where trees came down to the road and thus screened the road ahead and they heard a ruckus. The Halfling scouted through the trees spied a river with goblins who had roped a centaur and were poking it with weapons plannign to eat it. They debated leaving the centaur to its fate and going about their business but since they had to take the road right past the goblins and the goblins were likely to attack them they decided to save the centaur. Repeated high rolls ended the encounter rather quick with some archery and a few sword strokes.

The centaur doesn't speak common but is earnst in trying to talk to them and seems intent on following them so they fed him. He's doing the whole debt of honor I must repay for you saving my life thing and has become a travel companion for them to beef up the party.

At the keep the noble has decided he does not want to run around in the wilderness and is offering to pay the PCs to investigate the Caves in the small ravine to the northeast. He's going to go become friends with the curate of the chapel and a traitor later.

Borther Gaxian is a Cleric imprisoned somewhere in the caves. He's been investigating a growing evil and will help push the PCs along toward resolving the story line here and join the party as a healer.

Now I know the module says that the kobold, orc, goblin, hobgoblin, gnoll and bugbear losses cannot be made up but I'm planning a final blow out encounter for this module: a seige of the Keep.

To that end I'm comtemplating building a scale model of the keep where every square on the keep map is 1 inch square. What i really need is one of you to come over and physically restrain me and slap some sense into me before I start this project!

Now back in the day there was a guy running a D&D class at a community center and my mom offered to pay the $10 if I was interested in taking it- which was a big yes on my part and i got 2 friends to go too. basically he was running a AD&D game for about 20 of us for 6 weeks and we all paid $10 for it. He had a scale poster map of a castle that we moved miniatures around on. and were broken into two teams of defenders and attackers. Had a blast doing that. And I think the same thing will apply for a seige of the Keep and my daughters but especially with a 3D model on a wargaming table.

So here is how i plan to do it.
The forces of evil are marshalling to attack the keep and the PCs have found evidence in the caves concerning that attack and are bringing it to the head of the Keep who doesn't believe it's possible for an attack to succeed (because the keep is built of dwarven quarried blue granite that resists magic so no fear of transmute rock to mud spells) but during the interview a messenger comes in and says, "Hey, a giant is pushing a seige tower up the causeway followed by regiments of goblins, orcs etc. So PCs and castle leadership respond to threat.

But the threat is a from a triple axis:

1> Giant pushing seige tower plus cannon fodder troops to strom up it and onto the walls.

2> secret connection between the chapel and the Shrine of Evil in the caves allows 20 skeletons 20 zombies plus rats and fire beetles into the keep supported  by the curate, the minotaur (if not killed by the PCs), the ogre (if not killed by the PCs but if he's been killed by the PCs), and Sir William who thinks he'll be put in charge of the keep when this is over.

3> 3 pairs of harpies and a couple of gargoyles that surprise attack tower locations where the seige weapons are to neutralize them and prevent them from taking out the giant before he gets the seige tower rolled upto the gate.

So the PCs will need to decide which threat to neutralize first. I tend to think that killing the giant is a must and will hint at that for them. I'll also let them take charge of squads of soldiers and I'll fudge some wargame rules to work side by side with basic d&D rules.

The story will be that the evil power that has taken over the Monastery of St Kuthbert (Brother Gaxian's order) has sent reinforcements to make up for the monsters killed by the PCs. The monastery of ST. Kuthbert is a scale model I built 12 years ago for wargaming inspired by a spanish hill village. so that terrain piece will come into play down the road too.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 18, 2018 - 10:32am
Other options: for attacking the keep:

kobold squads riding in on a wyvern. wyvern will fly off after kobolds dismount.
if wyvern is shot down before it lands the kobolds are killed from fall.

this will be a target rich environment and a good bowman will shine in this seige. add to that both of my daughters are big fans of Legolas from LotR and the Hobbit movies so I'll probably seed the Caves of Chaos with a magic bow or two and earlier today I saw a wand of fireballs in a room description so I imagine the elf character will expend that to good use as well.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 18, 2018 - 10:32am
My entire D&D campaign is hinged on the KOTB.

I made a multi-level map of the keep instead of the basic one page map where you have to visualize the height differences of each section, i.e. the 10' difference between the inner and outer bailey versus all the ground levels on one page. Several of the outer bailey buildings have been detailed as well (such as the tavern, inn, guild house, and apartments): Multi-level Keep Map

Go through that site and you'll find other gems to support the game, such as a nearby Shire (where you can have the halfling character's origin if you opt) and the town of Riverglen built on the river bank near the Keep.

I also whipped up expansions for each of the wilderness encounters , the only one I've developed & hosted online is the Mad Hermit Lair.

One thing I have found that can be a low level life saver in the game is adding a rumor that should be a freebie to the players: "The caves higher up the ravine and farther from the main road are more dangerous than the ones at the bottom and closer the main road." This serves to prevent a group of 0XP noobs from wandering into the Shrine of Evil Chaos right away and puts them into the realm of "more evenly matched" kobald, goblin, & orc lairs.

Another key item to prevent the potential TPK that the module has notoriously earned a meat grinder title for: monsters communicate. B2 illustrates this better than any other module I've seen. Also utilize the monster reaction tables in Moldvay Basic page B24 accordingly. Since elves speak orcish (along with hobgoblin & gnoll) right out of the gate, their party already has that advantage to work with.

Retainers are a must, two characters versus the Caves of Chaos will be brief and unyielding unless you seriously fudge the dice rolls. If they lack sufficeient gold to hire (which most beginning characters do) then have some pregenerated NPCs that are anxious to join them for the adventure, such as a dwarf (they speak goblin & kobald), thief, and a cleric at the very least.

Be sure to stress the racial abilities to your daughters, i.e. the elf's improved chance at detecting secret doors and infravision and the halfling's ability to hide along with improved combat bonuses against giant sized opponents such as the ogre they'll go up against in the goblin lair to the south (not to mention the +1 missile weapon bonus against any opponent, in addition to any DEX bonuses).
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 19, 2018 - 11:46am
Something else I encourage (more so since I expanded them) is to have the new players cut their teeth ont he wilderness encounters before tackling the CoC. It gives them a little experience and a shot at some useful items that aren't readily available.

Here's my Giant Spider Lair expansion, where the final encounter is a wyvern (this would blend nicely with your scenario of the mounted wyvern, it could be the mate). However I tailored this wyvern to a more beginner friendly version...since the rules allow weakening/strengthening dragons I went the same route: the poison sting is downplayed from the usual lethality of poison. I also added a rumor at the Keep of a "dragon seen over the tamarack stand southeast of the Keep" which makes characters want to journey to the area rather than having it a chance encounter they'll probably never come across.


The exterior is as written, the elf skeleton with the crud covered magic shield and the spiders lurking in the treetops above. The cave entrance is hidden behind one of the trees perched on a rise. A quick low-down on the key:

1> Open pit, human skeleton in leather armor w/dagger in the back, short sword nearby and a broken crossbow. Small sack underneath w/86 silver & 16 gold.

2> 3 green slimes

3> Loud moaning noise originating from dead end that can be heard from around the corner/hallway leading out of room 2. The noise is magical and has no other purpose other than to intrigue players into wasting time.

4> empty room

5> empty room, pit trap. Deactivation studs can be found at each entrance into the room w/succesful find traps roll, otherwise 2 in 6 to trigger the pit for each character walking across. It will drop the triggering character and the first person both in front and behind him/her into the pit for 1-3 points of damage each.

6> 2 geckos one each on the south & east walls, debris in NW corner conceals a small box w/209sp, 14gp, and a 10gp value amethyst.

7> empty room

8> A shield w/crossed swords hangs on the south wall, if any of the items are disturbed the room begins to fill with toxic gas. Save vs poison or lose one hit point per 10 minute turn until dead or the character returns outside for fresh air. Lost hit points can be healed with the usual means afterwards.

9> (slope outside rises up to this room from the east, begin level 2 of the dungeon) A loud piercing noise sounds off as soon as anyone enters the room, this will attract a draco lizard that enters from the opposite side the party came from.

10> (slope outside rises up to this room from the north, begin level 2 of the dungeon) Five unkempt humans are sparring as the party enters, they are berserkers who will attack the party as soon as they are in the room. Each has 3d8cp in a belt pouch.

11> A statue of a human wearing a helmet & shield and wielding a spear engaged in a battle with a dragon is centered along the south wall. If anyone enters the room the dragon will speak in a loud booming vocie: "Beware the great wyrm, instigator of insanity!" There is nothing else in the room and the message will repeat anytime someone enters the room.

12> The Great Wyrm: this large room is home to a rare breed of wyvern. Anyone stung by its poison and failing the save (vs poison) will become inflicted with insanity in 2d4 turns. The insanity essentially transforms the person into a berserker, and this will be discovered in the first combat scenario after the poison takes effect (50% chance of attacking own party members instead of enemies). This can be remedied bya cleric with either cure disease or neutralize poison spells. The wyvern's treasure pile consists of 3378sp, 709gp, and sword +1, light 30'. The sword is intelligent (see Expert Rules) with a score of 7, Ego:8, and Willpower:16; it can detect orcs by glowing blue and goblins by glowing red if either are within 20' (it will glow purple if both are present). The sword is of Lawful alignment. The wide exit snakes for a few hundred yards south, eventually exiting a hillside.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 21, 2018 - 11:40am
Seems i cant post a pic from my phone. Here are some WIP pics of the keep on FB


https://m.facebook.com/jedion357/posts/pcb.1587015284739395/?photo_id=10213894499428737&mds=%2Fphotos%2Fviewer%2F%3Fphotoset_tok...
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 21, 2018 - 8:46pm
The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may be broken or expired, or you may not have permission to view this page

It shouldn't be the latter since we're FB friends...
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 22, 2018 - 7:58am
Shadow Shack wrote:
The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may be broken or expired, or you may not have permission to view this page

It shouldn't be the latter since we're FB friends...


Dunno, FB is acting funny and I'm slammed with work right now. its the FB group The Table Top Crafter's Guild
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 22, 2018 - 10:36am
Ah, well I'm not part of that group so there's the answer.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 23, 2018 - 6:00am

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 23, 2018 - 6:12am
Ok, got some pictures posted to this site, finally!

All tops of anything high remove for transport.
base is roughly 3 feet and a few inches by 5 feet and in two pieces for transport.
everything here is high density foam, foam core or card stock for light wt. and for transport

card stock 7/8 inch tiles will be glued everywhere inside the keep as they look like pavement when painted and facilitate measuring out a 1 inch grid and save on using a ruler or tape measure inside the fort. Thought I was going to heavily modify the keep but in reality it will look like what's in the module with the one embellishment of stairs leading up to the front door. the interior gate house is being modified for playability but will look like or maintain the spirit of whats in the module. the main gate house will need some fudging- I got carried away with building walls and what I made that goes on one side of the main gate is currently a problem but it will work out.

interior buildings will be the fiddly pain in the butt. I have a particular style of building construction for wargames that is "my style" but I'm considering ways to speed their construction and not let this get bogged down.

Interior of the keep will be playable while the interior of the towers will not.
Keep will have two levels and I'm considreing turning the picture from the back of the module into a tapestry hanginng on a wall on the first level of the keep. perhaps some other module cover artwork or even Basic rule book cover artwork as tapestries.

more photos to follow beginning of next week.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 23, 2018 - 6:22am
looking at modifying Star Grunt rules for the Seige. Star Grunt is an elegant rule system for managing squads of troops in miniature which will save on record keeping.  but maybe I'll use Fantasy Warrior rules which are for mass battles both are free downloads and I've read both previously and played Fantasy warrior once. I know D&D has a Battle System but I dont have that nor any familiarity with it.

I think things like the giant pushing the seige tower will have a pre-determined number of hits ie we'll track how many times he's hit by arrows and not bother to roll damage. perhaps something like assume an average of 3.5 points of damage for each arrow and divide into his hit points should give a rough number of times he can be hit. Seige crossbows on the towers will do two hits.

goblins and kobolds are taken off the board with one hit. orcs: hits? other things more
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 23, 2018 - 11:31am
Cool!

Don't forget everything behind that middle wall is at a higher elevation (the gatehouse has a ramp inside going up).


No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 23, 2018 - 6:20pm
There will be some changes. Not a perfect match but recogizable.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
February 27, 2018 - 8:29pm
Wow the Keep... a blast from the past. 
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 27, 2018 - 10:00pm
I have KOTB'd every game system I've played...I had the Keep as a watch center to keep an eye on the Mechanons on Volturnus, a terrorist hide out in Top Secret, a headquarters for events in Car Wars, and I even rendered it for my friends Traveller game.

I wish I could find some of those old maps...
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
February 28, 2018 - 4:37am
Coolon having the Keep in all your games.

 There is a dead city step pyramid from an old D&D module I was thinking of recycling... just have to decide how, modern sci-fi pyramid dead culture or ancient primitive culture one but no sign of who built it around.



 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 28, 2018 - 6:11am
Tchklinxa wrote:
Coolon having the Keep in all your games.

 There is a dead city step pyramid from an old D&D module I was thinking of recycling... just have to decide how, modern sci-fi pyramid dead culture or ancient primitive culture one but no sign of who built it around.





Did somebody say tetrarchs?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 28, 2018 - 9:36am
Tchklinxa wrote:
There is a dead city step pyramid from an old D&D module I was thinking of recycling

Penned by Tom Moldvay himself. Awesome module, it has the makings of its own campaign if you let it.
 

Image result for B4 the lost city
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
March 1, 2018 - 4:41am
Yep that’s the one if doing D&D absolutely so much potential to that one. If doing sci-fi setting still tons Of potential. Lots of reasons for civilization to go underground... we got a step style pyramid office building in my area... everyone calls it the great ziggurat. I just keep musing what if it was made out of future materials so super tuff and got buried mostly and it was the biggest building in a city... and everyone dug down instead of up for some reason... tadah that module with space age traps and then more primitive ones as society goes backwards. There is another one too... but basically archeology gone bad Adventure is sounding fun.
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 1, 2018 - 7:57am
Frankly, it would have made more sense if I had started with the manor house and tower in module B10 before doing something as big as the keep.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 1, 2018 - 11:37am
As much as everyone raves about B10 (I just acquired a copy recently), KOTB is by far both the first-played and most memorable by old school D&D players & DMs alike. When someone says "Naturally, my character fell into the pit at the Kobald entrance", practically EVERYONE knows what they're talking about. 

It would practically be a sin to start an unitiated group off with anything else. Wink
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 1, 2018 - 12:44pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
As much as everyone raves about B10 (I just acquired a copy recently), KOTB is by far both the first-played and most memorable by old school D&D players & DMs alike. When someone says "Naturally, my character fell into the pit at the Kobald entrance", practically EVERYONE knows what they're talking about. 

It would practically be a sin to start an unitiated group off with anything else. Wink

True. From a crafting perspective B10 would be easier than jumping into it with KotBs.

So the plan is to salt the caves of chaos with magic items aimed at the big finale: the seige. And magic bows are a no brainer. Any ideas on this? 

One of my daughters is playing a halfling and the other is playing an elf (Basic D&D). 

I encountered the deck of many things on the internet this morning- i dont think its what im looking for but it reminded me of the robe of many things- not the 5th ed one with bags of gold or gems in it. But then i got thinking about an elvish or even halfling version of this magic item: bundle of arrows (elven or halfling version), feast of fresh food w/taters (halfling), 5 silver arrows (both), filled &   lighted lantern (halfling),the 5th ed one has . 10x10 foot door but i was thinking around green halfling style door 5 foot diameter. Other ideas?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 2, 2018 - 4:13am
BTB magic bows are extremely rare in Moldvay/Cook B/X, and marginally less so in Mentzer/BECMI. The former is restricted to +1 (which is really all you need for Basic levels but pretty crappy at name level gaming) while the latter allows up to +5 with up to an additional +5 vs special targets (i.e. +5 bow, +10 vs dragons or such)...which is okay at the 20-30 level play such items are better suited for. BECMI also allows for other powers in the absence of additional plusses against specific foes, such as a +(X) bow of lightning or fire or speed etc. I have no qualms porting some of that Mentzer goodness over to B/X, "plussed" accordingly to player levels that is.

Anyways, I have no problem with a +1 bow/+2 or +3 vs undead or dragons or other type of target. I also permit intelligent weapons in my game, i.e. intelligent maces, axes, daggers, bows...you get the idea, not just swords only. A low intelligence/one power weapon is okay in my basic games (just no extraordinary powers or special purposes). Also noteworthy, I extend magic bows to include crossbows and ballistae (although for siege weapons a simple plus is more than sufficient). 

From a halfling's point of view, a heavy crossbow would be their equivalent of a ballista...fired every two to four rounds and the equivalent two to four halfling crew needed to operate it: Wink
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 2, 2018 - 8:20am
Sigh, no game this saturday, the youngest is competing in the Boston city wide science fair representing her school on the engineering side- solar powered back pack that will recharge her cell phone. Concieved and created herself.

Seems her future as an engineer is more important than playing D&D with her Dad.

I guess the older child and I will work on a dice tower and piant it.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
March 2, 2018 - 1:27pm
jedion357 wrote:
Concieved and created herself.

 ... her future as an engineer is more important than ...

A key trait I watch for in young engineering hopefuls.


-iggy

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 2, 2018 - 2:33pm
It's just more time & opportunity to flesh out the adventure. 
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 2, 2018 - 5:53pm
Im settling in on a +1 bow with flaming talent from the rules encyclopedia as per one suggestion (funny how many suggestions on Facebook couldnt be taken serious). 

And i like the idea of a halfling version of a cape of many items. 

A "normal" +1 bow or "the dancing daggers" one of them chose a halfling mini looking all bad to the bone with two daggers drawn. So dancing daggers are enchanted to let the weilder look all Bruce Lee in combat and a successfull hit lets the weilder roll a second melee attack that round and when weilding them because the character is moving so fast they have a +1 bonus to AC in addition to these daggers being +1. Some melee protection for the halfling and a chance to dish out 10 points of damage in one combat round. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 2, 2018 - 6:03pm
iggy wrote:
jedion357 wrote:
Concieved and created herself.

 ... her future as an engineer is more important than ...

A key trait I watch for in young engineering hopefuls.



Yep spirit of my grandfather in this child.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 2, 2018 - 10:53pm
A magic (short) bow becomes extremely effective in the hands of a halfling...they get a +1 bonus with missile weapons, an additional bonus when fighting "giant" size monsters, and then throw in any DEX bonuses.

Coupled with their 90% chance to hide in foliage/forest environments and you have the perfect sniper.


P.S. which facebook D&D group shot you down? I frequent this one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bxdnd/?fref=nf

It's strictly Moldvay/Cook B/X.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 4, 2018 - 6:47am
Shadow Shack wrote:
A magic (short) bow becomes extremely effective in the hands of a halfling...they get a +1 bonus with missile weapons, an additional bonus when fighting "giant" size monsters, and then throw in any DEX bonuses.

Coupled with their 90% chance to hide in foliage/forest environments and you have the perfect sniper.


P.S. which facebook D&D group shot you down? I frequent this one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bxdnd/?fref=nf

It's strictly Moldvay/Cook B/X.


I wasn't a shoot down just "helpful" individuals making suggestions that were not entirely helpful or realistic especially considering the levels involved. I think they were just enjoying hearing themselves type. However plenty did make constructive suggestions so it was just a matter of ignoring the chaff.

Edit I posted on the AD&D group and got some chaff but one poster suggested going to the BECMI group which I did. More chaff there but a suggestion lead to the Encyclopedia which was very helpful.

I'll check out the Moldvay group now.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!