Sunday, May 10, 2009

Castle of the Mad Archmage May Release Now Available!

Sweet Suffering Gods of the Suel! It's only the 10th and I already have the May installment of Castle of the Mad Archmage ready for your consumption. How do I *do* it???

Truth to tell, this one was easier to write than it was to map, which is the opposite of how it usually goes. Since this one was the labyrinth, I spent a lot of time making the mazes and such a real nightmare for the PCs, especially those who engage in that pesky hobby known as mapping. But don't take my word for it, read the words of the designer on how this level should play out (I hear he's quite an insightful chap)...

This level is somewhat different from the others that have preceded it, in that it consists of large stretches of empty corridors without too many static encounters (those that do exist are primarily there as the lairs of the creatures met in various random encounters). It is possible, of course, for such a situation to lead to frustration on the part of both the game master and the players, as it might be thought that “corridors are boring”. In this level, the corridors are the main areas; it is essential that the game master roll for random encounters, as these represent the bulk of the threat to be found here. Effective use of random encounters will make or break this level. The inhabitants will be actively hunting the PCs, and the successful game master will be one who effectively conveys the sense of role-reversal, as the PCs are harried by the various inhabitants and find themselves stalked in the endless seemingly-identical passages. Snorts and snorts of pursuing minotaurs and were-boars in the distance, the setting of ambushes by creatures who inflict damage up front and then retreat back into the corridors they know instinctively to wear down their prey, and other tactics should be used to convey the sense that the PCs are in a place where they are not the ones who control when a battle occurs. Remember, those PCs who wish to conduct exhaustive mapping will be moving at 1/10th normal speed, thus increasing the frequency of random encounter checks by a factor of ten. This level also includes several creatures which are explicitly here to demonstrate the wisdom of running away from some encounters.
Add to that a couple of well-known encounters from the original campaign, and this level pretty much wrote itself. 77 pages and 13 MB (actually smaller than the previous installment, because a lot of the hand-drawn maps were replaced by Joe Bardales' classic blue maps, which are smaller in file-size).