Thursday, May 31, 2012
Anthropocentric units are often more useful to humans than geocentric ones, but they should be based on some consistent scale rather than using different ratios between units. The metric system is inconvenient in anthropocentric terms, but is very convenient in being based consistently on a decimal system. But the decimal system is kind of boring, so this system based upon hexadecimal comes from a made-up culture that reveres squares. Different systems of measurement are good at measuring different things; this system is focused on representing human-scale walking travel times. For example, in one haach (of time), a person can walk about one hleeg (of distance).
The base unit is the hathom, which by astonishing coincidence is precisely 1.8 meters. This is six feet in metric (25-mm) inches, or about 5 feet 10 inches, roughly the average height of a human male. Sixteen hathoms are a lethron, which is 28.8 meters or about 94.5 feet. Sixteen lethrons are a hli, which is 460.8 meters or about 0.29 miles. Sixteen hlis are a hleeg, which is 7.372 kilometers, or about 4.58 miles.
Going smaller, one-sixteenth of a hathom is a lister, which is 112.5 millimeters or about 4.43 inches. A lister is further divided into sixteen units, each of which is each to about 7 millimeters or 0.28 inches.
The most practical unit of time is the day, one-sixteenth of which is a haach. This is an hour and a half long. The base unit of time, however, is the hecand, which is about 1.3 seconds. There are 65,536 hecands in a day.
There has to be a base unit of mass, to fill out the system; I'm just ripping off SI on this. The base unit of mass is the hemoth, equivalent to 5,832 kilograms. More commonly, people would use a huad, which weighs about 89 grams. Sixteen huads weigh about 1.42 kilograms.
Back in 2004 (in issue #116), /Dungeon/ magazine offered a list of the top 30 D&D adventures of all time. They're listed with some comment at RPG Geek and Grognardia. RPG Geek also has a composite ranking of the highest-rated adventures which may be more useful, as well as a list of highly-rated Dungeon adventures. Many such lists have similar items (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). For a long time, I've wondered how these old modules fit into their campaign worlds, where these dungeons are supposed to be, and how they fit together. So I've put together this little index to some classic modules, focusing on canonical geography, and jumping off from the 2004 Dungeon list.
This list is restricted to actual modules from TSR from about 1975-1985. So it doesn't include Judge's Guild modules like Dark Tower (1980), Caverns of Thracia (1980), or Tegel Manor (1977); later Gygaxian material like Necropolis (1992); other TSR modules like The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga; or Dungeon adventures like "The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb" (#37). Wolfgang Baur's "Kingdom of the Ghouls" (Dungeon #70, September 1998) is set in Greyhawk, starting from the town of Loftwick in the Yeomanry in Sheldomar Valley and traveling under the Crystalmist and Hellfurnace Mountains. Similarly, I'll skip a couple of later adventures from the Dungeon list: The Gates of Firestorm Peak (1996), The Forge of Fury (2000), Dead Gods (1997), Ruins of Undermountain (1991), City of the Spider Queen (2002), Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil by Monte Cook (2001), Return to the Tomb of Horrors by Bruce Cordell (1998), and WGR6: City of Skulls (1993).
Clearly, a campaign focusing on these adventures set in a canonical campaign world should be set in the Sheldomar Valley in Greyhawk: about three-quarters of these adventures have a canonical location in Greyhawk. Of these, about 38% are in or around the Sheldomar Valley, while about 24% are somewhere between the Free City of Greyhawk and the Pomarj. Nearly all of them could be put in and around the Sheldomar Valley with some slight geographical modifications. Paizo published a giant poster map of Greyhawk, although this map is more legible online, and this one has hexes for specific module locations. The Atlas of Greyhawk has some very detailed terrain maps. OTOH, most of the Mystara adventures are set (or retconned) to Karameikos.
Temple of the Frog (1975), by Dave Arneson, was the first module published for D&D, in the Blackmoor supplement. It was revised and expanded as DA2: Temple of the Frog in 1986, for characters of levels 10-14. Located in a deep swamp, it includes some science-fiction crossover elements. Blackmoor was included in northern regions of both Mystara and Greyhawk settings.
B1: In Search of the Unknown (1978), by Mike Carr, is a beginner's scenario intended to show how to create dungeons, for characters of levels 1-3. The Basic series modules were initially setting neutral. (W, Grognardia &c.)
B2: The Keep on the Borderlands (1979), by Gary Gygax, is a dungeon crawl for characters of levels 1-3. Originally setting-neutral, GAZ1: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos located the Keep in Karameikos in Mystara; the 1999 sequel Return to the Keep on the Borderlands placed the Keep in Greyhawk, in the Yeomanry in Sheldomar Valley, although it made reference to non-Greyhawk deities and some Mystara background information. Ranked #7 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
B3: Palace of the Silver Princess (1981), by Jean Wells, is a low-level dungeon crawl for characters of levels 1-3, intended for a single game session. It features a country frozen in time except for the royal palace, a white dragon, three-headed ubues, and a giant ruby. (W, Grognardia)
B4: The Lost City (1982), by Tom Moldvay, is a beginning adventure for characters of levels 1-3. It is set in the ruined city of Cynidicea, buried in a desert, mostly within a sunken step pyramid infested with cultists of Zargon at war with Cynidiceans who follow the city's ancient gods. The compilation B1-9: In Search of Adventure locates the dungeon in Mystara. Ranked #28 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
X1: Isle of Dread (1980), by David Cook and Tom Moldvay, is a wilderness exploration adventure for characters of levels 3-7. Adventurers sail to and explore the jungle island, inhabited by dinosaurs, kopru, aranea, rakasta, and phanaton. This module introduced the Known World that would become the Mystara setting. In Dungeon #114, it was relocated to Greyhawk, to the Densac Gulf west of Hepmonaland and east of the Amedio Jungle and the Hellfurnaces. Dungeon's Savage Tide adventure path had PCs sail from Sasserine and visit the Isle of Dread via Tamoachan. Ranked #16 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
X2: Castle Amber (1981), by Tom Moldvay, is a weird adventure for characters of levels 3-7. The PCs are traveling to the magocracy of Glantri in Mystara, but are drawn into the castle and must travel through a portal to Averoigne to reach an interdimensional tomb. Ranked #15 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
S1: Tomb of Horrors (1978), by Gary Gygax, is a fiendish dungeon for characters of levels 10-14, the tomb of the demilich Acererak. The dungeon itself is located on some lost and lonely hill in Greyhawk, in the Vast Swamp south of Sunndi. Ranked #3 by Dungeon in 2004. Return to the Tomb of Horrors introduces Skull City built over the tomb. (W, Grognardia, Atlas)
S2: White Plume Mountain (1979), by Lawrence Schick, is a puzzle dungeon crawl for characters of levels 5-10, which revolves around a quest to retrieve an intelligent trident, warhammer, and sword from the eponymous volcano in Greyhawk. White Plume Mountain is located south of the Great Swamp, in the Shield Lands just south of the Rift Canyon and north of the great lake Nyr Dyv. There's a revision for 3.5e for 7th-level characters. Ranked #9 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia, Atlas)
S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1980), by Gary Gygax, is a dungeon crawl for characters of levels 8-12, in which adventurers explore a crashed space ship. It is located in Greyhawk, unsurprisingly in the Barrier Peaks north of Geoff and east of the Crystalmist Mountains. Ranked #5 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (1982), by Gary Gygax, is a monster-filled labyrinth for characters of levels 6-10, in which adventurers delve for the treasure of Iggwilv. Set in Greyhawk, the dungeon is located in the Yatil Mountains south of Perrenland. WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun is a loosely connected sequel to this. Ranked #22 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharzidun (1982), by Gary Gygax, is a Lovecraftian wilderness and dungeon adventure for characters of levels 5-10. Set in Greyhawk, it is a loosely connected sequel to S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, and has the PCs follow rampaging norkers from the Caverns to the Temple. Ranked #23 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
WG5: Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure (1984), by Rob Kuntz and Gary Gygax, is a dungeon crawl for characters of levels 9-12. Set in Greyhawk, it is located at Maure Castle, just east of Greyhawk city. This adventure was revised and expanded as "Maure Castle" in Dungeon #112, #124, and #139. (W, Grognardia, Atlas)
C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980), by Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason, is a tournament module for characters of levels 5-7. The adventure was set in Greyhawk at a ruined Olman city in the Amedio Jungle. Ranked #18 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness (1979), by Allen Hammack, is a competition module for characters of levels 5-7. Set in Greyhawk, the tower is located in the southern Abbor-Alz Hills north of the Bright Desert. Ranked #30 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia, Atlas)
N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God (1982), by Douglas Niles, is a town, wilderness, and dungeon adventure for characters of levels 1-3. Set in Greyhawk, it is located between the Gran March and the Kingdom of Keoland in the Sheldomar Valley. Ranked #19 by Dungeon in 2004. (W)
DL1: Dragons of Despair (1984), by Tracy Hickman, is an introductory adventure for characters of levels 4-6. Set in Krynn, it begins in the elven town of Solace and travels to the jungle-covered ruins of the city of Xak Tsaroth. Ranked #25 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (1981), by Dave J. Browne with Don Turnbull, is for characters of levels 1-3, with a ghostly ship and a spooky mansion in the eponymous town. Located in Greyhawk, Saltmarsh is in the Hold of the Sea Princes in the southern Sheldomar Valley. Ranked #27 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
UK1: Beyond the Crystal Cave (1983), by Dave Browne, Tom Kirby, and Graeme Morris, is an adventure for characters of levels 4-7, in which the adventurers travel to a enchanted garden of eternal summer in a pocket dimension. Set in Greyhawk, it's on Sybarate Isle in the Hold of the Sea Princes in the southern Sheldomar Valley. (W, Grognardia)
L2: The Assassin’s Knot (1983), by Len Lakofka, is a murder mystery for characters of levels 2-4. A sequel to L1: The Secret of Bone Hill, it is set in the same community. Ranked #29 by Dungeon in 2004. (W)
I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1981), by David Cook, is an adventure for characters of levels 4-7, in which PCs travel to a jungle city overrun by yuan-ti and tasloi. Characters can intrigue with the bugbears, bullywugs, or mongrelmen of the city, and the module also introduced aboleths and yellow musk creepers. Set in Greyhawk, it is located in Hepmonaland. Ranked #13 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
I3-5: The Desert of Desolation (1983), by Tracy and Laura Hickman, is a compilation of three Egyptian-themed modules, for characters of levels 5-7: I3: Pharaoh, I4: Oasis of the White Palm, and I5: Lost Tomb of Martek. Set in a desert, the compilation was retconned into Raurin in the Forgotten Realms. Ranked #6 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
I6: Ravenloft (1983), by Tracy and Laura Hickman, is a horror adventure for characters of levels 5-7, in which adventurers oppose the famous vampire. It is set at Castle Ravenloft in Barovia, which later evolved into the Ravenloft setting. Ranked #2 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985), by Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer, includes T1: The Village of Hommlet within the T1-4 module, for characters of levels 1-8. Set in Greyhawk, the adventure starts at the village of Hommlet near the city-state of Verbobonc, then travels to the nearby village of Nulb and the Temple. Ranked #4 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia &c., Atlas)
A1-4: Scourge of the Slave Lords (1986), by David Cook, Allen Hammack, Harold Johnson, Tom Moldvay, Lawrence Schick, and Edward Carmien, is a compilation of modules for characters of levels 7-11, which includes A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity, A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade, A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, and A4: In the Dungeon of the Slave Lords. Set in Greyhawk, the adventure begins in the city of Highport in the Pomarj, then travels for a hundred miles or more through the Drachensgrab Hills to the hidden city of Suderham, on an island in a volcanic crater. Ranked #20 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia, Atlas)
G1-3: Against the Giants (1981), by Gary Gygax, is a compilation of three dungeon crawls, for characters of levels 8-12: G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, G2: Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King. Set in Greyhawk, G1 begins in Istivin in the Sheldomar Valley; the PCs travel overland to the hill giants' steading, from where they are magically transported to the frost giants' glacier in the Crystalmists, from where they are magically transported to the fire giants' hall in the Hellfurnaces. As part of GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1986), this was ranked #1 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)
D1-3: Descent into the Depths of the Earth (1978), by Gary Gygax, is a compilation of three dungeon crawls, for characters of levels 9-14: D1: Descent into the Depths of the Earth, D2: Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, and D3: Vault of the Drow. Set in Greyhawk, the PCs follow a tunnel down from the fire giants' hall in G3 through the Underdark to the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu. As part of GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1986), this was ranked #1 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia 1 2 3)
Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1980), by David Sutherland with Gary Gygax, is an adventure for characters of levels 10-14. Set in Greyhawk, the adventurers travel through a planar gate in the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu to the 66th layer of the Abyss to confront the demon goddess Lolth. As part of GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1986), this was ranked #1 by Dungeon in 2004. (W, Grognardia)