Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Black Pit

"All about them as they lay hung the darkness, hollow and immense, and they were oppressed by the loneliness and vastness of the dolven halls and endlessly branching stairs and passages. The wildest imaginings that dark rumour had ever suggested to the hobbits fell short of the actual dread and wonder of Moria."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I am a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings (as if you couldn't already guess from previous posts).  Without those books, I would probably not have grown to love world building and high fantasy as much as I do.  That being said, I am still relatively new when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons.  The entire game has given me more than I could've ever asked for in a game, and for that I am grateful.  However, I was familiar with RPG's before this.  I was given my first RPG about 10 years ago, and from there learned the joys of what an RPG could give.

My first RPG was, in fact, the Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game that was created and published through Decipher.

I remember diving into the box the day after my birthday, trying to figure out what exactly an RPG was.  The paper inserts did a good job of explaining all those things.  I then decided to delve into the adventure that game with the box set: Through the Mines of Moria.

There were also a number of post maps that came with it: the gates, a random room, Balin's Tomb, and the Bridge of Khazad-dum.

These maps can all be used in DnD (that's the great thing about finding poster maps from other systems).  However, what I found the most interesting re-reading the Through the Mines of Moria adventure is how that adventure could translate for DnD, and what a Moria adventure means to DnD players.

Let me explain.  I have found that most players tend to think that DnD encounters are made to be beaten.  There is no real danger in exploring/fighting, since they will always come out ahead (not so for those of us doing the DnDNext Playest).  My players seem to think that nothing bad will happen to them as they go into dungeon after dungeon.

Moria is no such dungeon.  In Lord of the Rings, everybody is scared of Moria.  The Fellowship sees Moria as a last resort.  They do not want to go in there.  Our DnD version of Moria needs to be the same kind of thing.

The Mines of Moria adventure really has three encounters, plus whatever random ones you happen to roll.  So, let's break these down into what they mean for our DnD Fellowship.

Encounter 1 - The Watcher in the Water
 This encounter has the Fellowship needing to get into Moria ASAP while the Watcher tries to snag and eat them.  For DnD, I would use Silt Horror monster (Dark Sun Creature Catalog) and give it some aquatic traits as well as a host of tentacles.  This is basically one big solo monster threat, with the party trying to make sure everyone escapes into Moria alive.

Encounter 2 - Balin's Tomb
This is my favorite encounter of the entire adventure.  It involves hoards and hoards of monsters, each arrive at the start of the turn, with the party having to run and fight in order to escape.  They also have to choose the correct door and then attempt to run through Moria.
In DnD terms, this should be an encounter with a tons of minions.  Throw 10 new minions at the part per round (or something like that).  Every once in a while, throw in a large monster that has hit points to track and is more dangerous than the minions.  I would suggest hook horrors, as they fit the underground theme of Moria.  Plus, you know somebody in your party will choose to say "They have a hook horror".

Surrounded on all sides
The goal of this encounter to force the party to expend resources and make them start to worry about how they will escape Moria alive.  Put some pressure on the group.  Make them roll knowledge checks to figure out the correct way to go.  Six doors leaves a lot of options.

Encounter 3 - The Bridge of Khazad-dum
 This encounter simply pits the party against a foe they cannot hope to defeat, unless through a major sacrifice by one of the player characters.  The goal here to is simple escape.  The party should feel as though they are over their heads, and that death may very well be imminent.

All in all, these encounters are to help shape the narrative.  Moria doesn't need countless random encounter after random encounter as the party flees the tomb to the bridge.  Skill checks and narrative descriptions do well to fill the void, and the group will already be weary from having to cut through all the minions.

I hope this gave some insight as I looked back at my first RPG, and things that I look forward to applying to my own games.  As always, be sure to leave comments below, and follow me on Twitter @artificeralf

On another side note, my first Dungeons and Dragons Insider article was published in Dungeon on Friday.  Court of the Stars: The Trinket Lord can be found here:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Monsters In Need

"Give it to me baby!" - Rick James

So here's the list of the Monster Manual monsters that still do not have updates.  Personally, there are some really cool monsters on these lists that I would like to see updated.  Maybe they would show up in more adventures that way.

I'll keep both of these blog posts/lists updated as I find more/people help me out finding more.


Monster Manual 1 Needs
Aboleth Lasher
Aboleth Slime Mage
Aboleth Overseer
Aboleth Servitor

Astral Stalker
Blood Fiend

Angel of Valor Cohort
Angel of Valor Legionnaire

Fire Archon Emberguard
Fire Archon Blazesteel
Fire Archon Ash Disciple
Ice Archon Rimehammer
Ice Archon Frostshaper

Azer Foot soldier
Azer Rager
Azer Taskmaster
Azer Beastlord


Banshrae Dartswarmer
Banshrae Warrior

Stone-Eye Basilisk

Fire Bat

Warthorn Battlebriar
Earthrage Battlebriar

Cave Bear

Fire Beetle
Tangler Beetle

Macetail Behemoth
Bloodspike Behemoth

Beholder Eye of Flame


Dire Boar
Thunderfury Boar

Bodak Skulk
Bodak Reaver


Cambion Hellsword
Cambion Hellfire Magus


Godforged Colossus

Visejaw Crocodile
Feymire Crocodile

Cyclops Warrior
Cyclops Impaler
Cyclops Battleweaver
Cyclops Storm Shaman

Dark Creeper
Dark Stalker

Death Knight (Human Fighter)
Death Knight (Dragonborn Paladin)

Evistro (Carnage Demon)

Destrachan Far Voice

Bearded Devil (Barbazu)
Bone Devil (Osyluth)
Legion Devil Grunt
Legion Devil Legionnaire
War Devil (Malebranche)

Spirit Devourer
Viscera Devourer
Soulspike Devourer

Doppelganger Assassin

Blackfire Dracolich
Runescribed Dracolich

Adult Black Dragon
Adult Blue Dragon
Ancient Blue Dragon
Adult Green Dragon
Ancient Green Dragon
Adult Red Dragon
Ancient Red Dragon
Adult White Dragon
Ancient White Dragon

Dragonborn Gladiator
Dragonborn Raider
Dragonborn Champion

Redspawn Firebelcher
Blackspawn Gloomweb
Bluespawn Godslayer

Spiretop Drake
Needlefang Drake Swarm

Drow Warrior
Drow Blademaster
Drow Priest

Briar Witch Dryad

Efreet Pyresinger
Efreet Karadijin


Bralani of Autumn Winds
Ghaele of Winter

Rockfire Dreadnought
Earthwind Ravager
Thunderblast Cyclone

Ettercap Fang Guard
Ettercap Webspinner

Ettin Spirit-Talker

Great Flameskull

Fomorian Warrior
Fomorian Painbringer

Galeb Duhr Earthbreaker
Galeb Duhr Rockcaller

Horde Ghoul
Abyssal Ghoul Myrmidon

Death Giant
Death Titan
Storm Giant
Storm Titan

Githyanki Gish

Githzerai Cenobite
Githzerai Zerth
Githzerai Mindmage

Gnoll Claw Fighter
Gnoll Marauder
Gnoll Demonic Scourge

Gnome Skulk
Gnome Arcanist

Bugbear Warrior
Bugbear Strangler
Goblin Cutter
Goblin Blackblade
Goblin Warrior
Goblin Sharpshooter
Goblin Hexer
Goblin Skullcleaver
Goblin Underboss
Hobgoblin Grunt
Hobgoblin Warrior
Hobgoblin Archer
Hobgoblin Soldier
Hobgoblin Warcaster
Hobgoblin Commander
Hobgoblin Hand of Bane

Iron Gorgon
Storm Gorgon

Grick Alpha

Shield Guardian
Battle Guardian

Howling Hag
Death Hag

Hafling Slinger
Halfling Stout
Halfling Prowler

Bloodfire Harpy

Helmed Horror
Greater Helmed Horror

Clay Scout
Iron Cobra

Hook Horror

Celestial Charger

Hell Hound
Shadow Hound
Wild Hunt Houd

Human Rabble
Human Lackey
Human Bandit
Human Guard
Human Berserker
Human Mage

Fen Hydra
Mordant Hydra
Primordial Hydra

Cacklefiend Hyena

Kobold Skirmisher
Kobold Slyblade

Kruthik Hatchling
Kruthik Young
Kruthik Adult
Kruthik Hive Lord


Larva Mage

Lich (Eladrin Wizard)
Lich Vestige

Greenscale Darter


Magma Claw
Magma Hurler
Magma Strider
Magma Brute


Marut Blademaster
Marut Concordant

Medusa Archer (Female)
Medusa Warrior (Male)
Medusa Shroud of Zehir (Female)

Mind Flayer Infiltrator
Mind Flayer Mastermind

Minotaur Warrior
Minotaur Cabalist
Savage Minotaur

Mummy Guardian
Mummy Lord (Human Cleric)
Giant Mummy

Ogre Savage
Ogre Skirmisher
Ogre Warhulk

Orc Drudge
Orc Warrior
Orc Raider
Orc Berserker
Orc Eye of Gruumsh
Orc Bloodrager
Orc Chieftain

Aspect of Orcus
Doresain, the Ghoul King
Deathpriest Hierophant
Crimson Acolyte

Fey Panther
Spectral Panther

Purple Worm
Elder Purple Worm

Quickling Runner
Quickling Zephyr

Rakshasa Assassin
Rakshasa Noble
Rakshasa Dread Knight

Giant Rat
Rat Swarm



Rot Harbinger
Rot Slinger

Salamander Lancer
Salamander Firetail
Salamander Archer
Salamander Noble

Stormclaw Scorpion
Hellstinger Scorpion

Shadar-Kai Chainfighter
Shadar-Kai Gloomblade
Shadar-Kai Witch
Shadar-Kai Warrior

Longtooth Hunter
Razorclaw Stalker

Boneshard Skeleton

Skull Lord

Slaad Tadpole
Gray Slaad (Rift Slaad)
Red Slaad (Blood Slaad)
Blue Slaad (Talon Slaad)
Green Slaad (Curse Slaad)
Black Slaad (Void Slaad)

Flame Snake
Shadow Snake

Sorrowsworn Reaper
Sorrowsworn Deathlord
Shadowraven Swarm

Voidsoul Specter


Blade Spider
Demonweb Terror

Stirge Swarm

Tiefling Heretic
Tiefling Darkblade

Troglodyte Warrior
Troglodyte Curse Chanter

War Troll
Fell Troll

Shadow Hulk

Dusk Unicorn

Vampire Lord (Human Rogue)
Vampire Spawn Fleshripper

Vine Horror
Vine Horror spellfiend

Warforged Soldier
Warforged Captain

Sword Wraith
Dread Wraith

Yuan-ti Malison Disciple of Zehir
Yuan-ti Anathema
Snaketongue Initiate
Snaketongue Zealot
Snaketongue Warrior
Snaketongue Assassin
Snaketongue Celebrant

Zombie Rotter
Corruption Corpse
Rotwing Zombie
Chillborn Zombie
Zombie Hulk

Monster Manual 2 Needs
Angel of Authority
Angel of Retrieval
Angel of Light

Ankheg Broodling

Hive Worker
Hive Warrior
Hive Soldier
Winged Drone
Hive Queen

Earth Archon Seismic Striker
Storm Archon Squallshield
Storm Archon Lightning Walker
Storm Archon Tempest Weaver
Water Archon Shoal Reaver
Water Archon Tide Strider
Water Archon Waveshaper

Barghest Savager
Barghest Battle Lord

Behir Bolter Whelp
Behir Stormsteed

Beholder Eye of Frost
Beholder Eye of Chaos
Beholder Ultimate Tyrant

Bullywug Twitcher
Bullywug Mud Lord

Centaur Hunter
Centaur Ravager
Centaur Mystic
Centaur Fey Charger
Centaur Campaigner

Centipede Swarm
Centipede Scuttler

Storm Shard
Death Shard
Flame Shard
Prismatic Shard


Primordial Colossus

Couatl Cloud Serpent
Couatl Star Serpent

Cyclops Feyblade

Darkmantle Enveloper

Aspect of Demogorgon
Abyssal Marauder
Berserker Prelate of Demogorgon
Doom Flayer
Shrieking Cultist of Demogorgon

Abyssal Rotfiend
Bloodseep Demon
Gnaw Demon
Needle Demon
Pod Demon
Runespiral Demon
Arctide Runespiral Demon
Rupture Demon

Deva Knight-Errant
Deva Zealot
Deva Fallen Star

Assassin Devil
Gorechain Devil
Infernal Armor Animus
Misfortune Devil
Shocktroop Devil
Withering Devil

Dimensional Marauder

Direguard Deathbringer
Direguard Assassin

Djinn Thunderer
Djinn Windbow
Djinn Stormsword
Djinn Skylord

Young Adamantine Dragon
Elder Adamantine Dragon
Ancient Adamantine Dragon
Young Copper Dragon
Adult Copper Dragon
Elder Copper Dragon
Ancient Copper Dragon
Young Gold Dragon
Adult Gold Dragon
Elder Gold Dragon
Ancient Gold Dragon
Young Iron Dragon
Elder Iron Dragon
Ancient Iron Dragon
Young Silver Dragon
Adult Silver Dragon
Elder Silver Dragon
Ancient Silver Dragon

Horned Drake
Scytheclaw Drake
Fang Titan Drake

Drakkoth Ambusher
Drakkoth Rager
Drakkoth Venomshot

Duergar Theurge
Duergar Shock Trooper
Duergar Fleshtearer
Duergar Hellcaller
Duergar Blackguard
Duergar Blasphemer

Eladrin Arcane Archer
Eladrin Bladesinger
Coure of Mischief and Strife

Chillfire Destroyer
Dust Devil
Mud Lasher
Rockfist Smasher
Shardstorm Vortex
Windfiend Fury

Fell Taint Lasher
Fell Taint Pulsar
Fell Taint Thought Eater
Fell Taint Warp Wender

Lingerer Knight
Fey-Knight Vestige
Lingerer Fell Incanter
Fey-Incanter Vestige

Firbolg Hounder
Firbolg Hunter
Firbolg Moon Seer
Firbolg Bloodbear
Firbolg Ghostraven
Firbolg Master of the Wild Hunt

Fomorian Ghost Shaman
Fomorian Cackler
Fomorian Totemist
Fomorian Blinder
Fomorian Butcher

Genasi Elemental Dervish
Genasi Fireblade
Genasi Hydromancer
Genasi Skyspy
Genasi Stoneshield

Ghost Legionnaire

Eldritch Giant
Eldritch Titan
Stone Giant Runecarver
Stone Titan

Gnome Mistwalker
Gnome Wolverine

Bugbear Wardancer
Goblin Acolyte of Maglubiyet
Lolthbound Goblin Slave
Hobgoblin Fleshcarver

Bone Golem
Chain Golem
Clay Golem
Iron Golem Juggernaut

Goliath Sunspeaker
Goliath Guardian

Gray Render

Half-Elf Captain
Half-Elf Con Artist
Half-Elf Baleful Thaumaturge

Half-Orc Hunter
Half-Orc Death Mage
Half-Orc Scarthane

Blood Hawk
Frost Hawk

Stonefist Defender

Human Cavalier
Human Diabolist
Human Dire Beast Hunter
Human Dread Assassin
Human Gladiator
Human Hexer
Human Insane Noble
Human Javelin Dancer
Human Knife Fighter
Human Mystagogue
Human Noble
Human Pirate
Human Pirate Captain

Razor Hydra
Heroslayer Hydra
Chaos Hydra

Kenku Ruffian
Kenku Warrior
Kenku Ringleader
Kenku Sneak
Kenku Wing Mage
Kenku Assassin

Krenshar Blood Slayer

Poisonscale Magus
Poisonscale Slitherer
Poisonscale Savage
Poisonscale Collector
Poisoncale Myrmidon

Werewolf Lord

Marut Castigator
Marut Prosecutor
Marut Executioner

Myconid Rotpriest
Myconid Sovereign
Myconid Guard

Neogi Slaver
Neogi Spawn Swarm
Neogi Great Old Master

Nothic Cackler
Nothic Eye of Vecna

Oni Devourer
Oni Overlord
Oni Thunderer

Abolethic Skum
Gray Ooze

Phoelarch Mage
Phoelarch Warrior


Dweomer Eater

Shadar-Kai Blacksoul
Shadar-Kai Gloom Lord
Shadar-Kai Painbearer

Fleshtearer Shark

Bonecrusher Skeleton
Skeletal Steed

Flux Slaad
Slaad Spawn
Slaad Spawner

Slaughterstone Hammerer
Slaughterstone Slicer

Spinx Myster

Bristle Spider
Phase Spider
Tomb Spider
Tomb Spider Broodswarm

Spriggan Giantsoul
Spriggan Powrie
Spriggan Thorn
Spriggan Witherer

Umbral Sprite Swarm

Herald of Hadar
Maw of Acamar
Scion of Gibbeth

Steel Predator

Dire Tiger

Troglodyte Deepscourge
Torglodyte Temple Champion

Ice Troll
Troll Vinespeaker

Ambush Vine
Ambush Vine Shoot
Bloodthorn Vine
Greenvise Vine

Warforged Resounder
Warforged Savage
Warforged Anvilpriest
Warforged Titan


Rime Hound
Son of the Spirit Wolf

Witherling Death Shrieker
Witherling Horned Terror
Witherling Rabble

Wood Woad