The WEGS Fray

The Winterworn Keep (Caves of Utter Chaos, Part 4)

The Caves of Utter Chaos dungeon crawl adventure started out as a fun riff on Gary Gygax’s Keep on the Borderlands; something that would fit neatly into a three-hour event slot at Gary Con…

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May 12, 2017 We are currently updating our store and sprucing up bits of our website. Our store is completely offline for this reason. You will also note some of…

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Roswell 51: Out Of This World!

Backer Update #35: It’s Out Of This World! Big news, Roswellians! The production prototype arrived and it is OUT OF THIS WORLD! I was blown away by how all the components look:…

The Winterworn Keep (Caves of Utter Chaos, Part 4)

June 5th, 2017

The Caves of Utter Chaos dungeon crawl adventure started out as a fun riff on Gary Gygax’s Keep on the Borderlands; something that would fit neatly into a three-hour event slot at Gary Con IX. After a week of fleshing out the dungeon and its monsters, I decided to leave the dungeon for a bit and take a stab at the base of operations for the adventurers. That’s when the Winterworn Keep came into view. (Click to see all prior Caves of Utter Chaos thread posts.)

Perched above the valley where the Skewered Mountain squats is the imposing Winterworn Keep. Those within this stronghold maintain a careful watch over the chaos bubbling below. It is a half day’s march down a treacherous cliff-side trail to the valley o’ chaos, and then another full day’s trek to the Skewered Mountain. The winding trail down is patrolled and fortified for defense against enemy forces (who might attempt to use the trail to assail the keep). The keep’s escalated positioning is so very strong that only an insane army would mount such an assault. But, then again, that’s exactly the type of enemies dwelling in the Caves of Utter Chaos.

A Cool Old Castle Litho

Is that an ogre swinging from the gibbet?

The Winterworn Keep is the spearhead for the Thundervold, a stepped plateau that gradually descends to the civilized lands of the Wegswyrld. The plateau itself is sandwiched between two very angry mountain ranges known for their thunderous outbursts that shake the mountains to their very root. Just as sailors who take to the open sea, those who live in the Vold are certain of their courage.

The Thundervold plateau contains eight small kingdoms. Winterworn Keep is located in Hrootdurn, the northernmost and, in winter, coldest kingdom. Together the eight kingdoms are known as the Thunder Lords and they are allied as one to protect the Vold. Each kingdom dedicates a strength of warriors to the Winterworn, as that stronghold is the Vold’s wall against a chasm of chaos.

I noted in Part II: Monsters that, once created, the Caves of Utter Chaos dungeon started filling up with monsters, seemingly on its own volition. The same was now occurring at the Winterworn Keep, as a beacon for its stalwart inhabitants. Once again, the module was expanding beyond its needs – and a large unexplored swath of the Wegswyrld map was coming to life. My mind kept opening doors that one need not open for an intro crawler. Just who was in charge of this dungeon outing?!?

While the Winterworn Keep was becoming a pretty cool place to start the adventure, there was that half-a-day trek down the trail and another full day hike unto the Skewered Mountain. All this before the adventure even started! Might as well just add a tea-party beforehand and call it “There and Back Again”.

No… I needed a base camp closer to the Skewered Mountain and Caves of Utter Chaos.

Welcome to Yown Town, folks!

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The Skewered Mountain (Caves of Utter Chaos, Part 3)

May 17th, 2017

As revealed in the prior post (found here), the Caves of Uttter Chaos were taking shape. Once word got out, all sorts of monsters began lining up to grab their share of space in its dark underbelly. As they fought their way for top billing on my monster list, I turned my gaze on the lands surrounding the eponymous caves. And that’s when the Skewered Mountain came into view.

blog-Schwyz1548-Chronik Stumpf

Johann Stumpf, 1548 or so…

Now, I was no stranger to the Skewered Mountain. I had been there once before, the prior summer. It was the mountain where my adventure 99 Low Level Orks and Friends took place (a 24 player WEGS Old Skool event held at Gen Con 2016). In fact, the Caves of Utter Chaos were already mentioned there, as shown in my original module notes:

“Delm’s Heap sits deep below the Skewered Mountain and its Caves of Utter Chaos. The whole of the mountain is riddled with tunnels, passageways, and cave complexes filled with all sorts of nefarious bands of creature; pig-faced orks are just one of its horrid inhabitants. Plenty of other horrors dwell in the darkness there, too. One must navigate many dangers to arrive at Delm’s Heap. Few parties ever make it down to that cavern. Fewer make it back. This was all part of Delm’s design; he hated visitors.”

I believe this was the first mention ever of the Caves of Utter Chaos. I had no idea what they were at that time and the name was just thrown down to give the dungeon some righteous over-the-top flavor. Delm’s Heap was below this badass dungeon complex, which meant Delm’s Heap must be the ultimate.dungeon.encounter.ever. Right?!?

It wasn’t until months later, when I sat down to create my Gary Con IX events, that those caves reared their ugly head and demanded my attention. And now I had monsters lining up to fill its bowels… The adventure was afoot!

Next week… the Winterworn Keep appears…

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Website & Store Update

May 12th, 2017

Promo_3D_ROSWELL51May 12, 2017

We are currently updating our store and sprucing up bits of our website. Our store is completely offline for this reason. You will also note some of our sidebar elements have vanished. So, yes… some pages look pretty funky for now. We will let you know when this phoenix arises from the flames!

–The Management–

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Caves of Utter Chaos-Part 2: Monsters!

May 10th, 2017

Part II – How The Chaos Began…

As explained in Part 1 of this tale, the original Keep on the Borderlands module and its Caves of Chaos has been my dungeon of choice for years. This classic module has a series of caves lettered A through K – and I used that as the launching point for my Caves of Utter Chaos design. I expanded the encounters from A through Z, then, for fun, decided to key each cave’s monster with that cave’s letter. For example, Cave P = Pig Faced Orks. And that is where the chaos began…

Blog-600-COUC-1Chaos is good, though. It’s part of the module title – and not just chaos, utter chaos. To this end, I planned to use a Random Encounter Chart to generate every step of the dungeon. A percentile dice roll would determine the entry point to the dungeon. When that encounter was complete, another roll on the table would determine the next encounter (completed encounter results are ignored). But… but… but… what sort of tunnels/caves/halls connected all these various places together? How would something like this be mapped?!? Good questions. Answers coming in a later post.

Back to the monsters… I came up with 26 encounters for the table, syncing the inhabitants with the cave’s letter. This might seem a bit wonky, but I found this little exercise sent my brain off on an unexpected design journey. First, I had to wrack my brain and think of a monster that fit the letter. If nothing came to mind, I needed to create a monster or encounter that did fit. Sometimes I had multiple monsters that could work, so kept both in play until I circled back to weed them out. As each monster was added, I assessed how it fit in with all the other denizens on the list. Why was this monster here? What was its backstory? Is there some evil Sauron-like overlord who has drawn them all here for a diabolic reason?

“I’ll just make something up come con-time if I have to…” was my initial patch. Remember, I was under the gun to get this done in time for a playtest at Gary Con IX.

TWEGS-COUC-REC-V1he monster list was rough, fun, and good enough for its first pass. As I started slapping percentile ranges against these entries, I realized the table needed results for Wicked Success and Wicked Failure rolls (a core aspect of the WEGS system). Rolling 01, 02, 03 would trigger something good for the adventurers, whereas rolling 97 or more triggered something bad. For wicked successes, I knew Treasure and Secret Passages would add great flavor, as would Traps and Surprise Attacks for the bottom of the chart. I also decided that any encounter in the 90-96 range would trigger the dungeon’s most dangerous encounters. All these assignments tied in nicely with those mad designs I had in store for that aforementioned dungeon map.

Back to the monsters… as each monster was added, a reason formed as to why they were there. Some were just “bad ass monsters in a cave”, but some started building a whole backstory for their existence. The dungeon began to take shape around its alphabetized denizens. And, suddenly, a question popped up: Where exactly is this dungeon?

And that’s when the Skewered Mountain came into view…

Stay tuned for the Caves of Utter Chaos, Part III.

GG-Banner-PlayWEGS-77

WEGS, the Wickedly Errant Game System, is designed for over-the-top dungeon crawl fun. A system inspired by the earliest editions of Dungeons & Dragons, character creation is a breeze and the heroic action is epic. Dice take their rightful place at the table as the tumbling blocks of fate, causing  lots of fun and chaos as they roll. A system best shaken, not stirred. WEGS, the Wickedly Errant Game System. Yup.
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Roswell 51: Out Of This World!

May 8th, 2017

Backer Update #35: It’s Out Of This World!

Big news, Roswellians! The production prototype arrived and it is OUT OF THIS WORLD! I was blown away by how all the components look: the box, the tokens, the over-sized newspaper rulebook, our Shuffling Horror Shuffle Board, even the interior box platform… just WOW! It was a looong road to Roswell – but the stops along the way and extras we added were worth it… (See more pics and read full backer update here.)

UP35-5-R51MD

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Enter the Caves of Utter Chaos

May 3rd, 2017

Part I – How The Chaos Began…

This year at Gary Con IX I introduced a new adventure called The Caves of Utter Chaos. If you’ve been knocking around dungeons for a while, you probably already guessed that the title is a spin on Gary Gygax’s Caves of Chaos, found in the classic dungeon module, The Keep on the Borderlands - and you would be correct. Collect 200 experience points!

The Caves of Chaos was my entry point into the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons. My first foray there found my heroic Elf failing to blast his magic missile spell and then being consumed by a pack of giant rats (that was all within my first half hour of exploring the first cave in this sprawling underground rollercoaster ride of doom). It was then time to roll-up another character. I went in with a Dwarf who lasted a little longer (he was bit by a poisonous centipede that was hiding under a bucket). The next character… You get the picture.

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A few months prior to Gary Con is event submission. For this con, I like running events that make the old school heart thump hard. Give the con’s attendees something familiar and something fun. For this reason, the orig Caves of Chaos has been my module of choice for years; but this year I wanted to go off the grid a bit. My initial plan was to simply expand on that seminal dungeon, adding a whole new level of chaos below. A dungeon jam-packed with an assortment of new monsters, unexpected traps, and fabulous treasures, all in the Gygaxian style.  As I worked on it though, it polymorphed into an entirely different beast.

One reason for this unexpected change was due to my style of running the game (DM-ing for those who roll). I like to keep things a bit freewheeling, so that the adventure can spin on its own. I’m not prone to having players “map” every step of the dungeon – especially not when you are up against a three or four hour play slot. “Get into that dungeon quickly and have at it!” is my free DM convention advice for today.

Back to the caves… The orig Caves of Chaos includes a series of caves lettered A through K. So, I began in this same fashion, fleshing out a series of possible encounters. Except, I decided to go A through Z. Then, for fun I guess, I decided to key the cave’s main monster with the letter. For example, Cave P = Pig Faced Orks. When completed, this list would then be turned into a Random Encounter Chart (REC for those who need things acronyminized).

And that is where the descent into chaos began…

Stay tuned for the Caves of Utter Chaos, Part II, wherein I divulge how converting the monster list into a table led to some unexpected hidden passages. Updates every Wednesday is the plan.

GG-Banner-PlayWEGS-77

WEGS, the Wickedly Errant Game System, is designed for over-the-top dungeon crawl fun. A system inspired by the earliest editions of Dungeons & Dragons, character creation is a breeze and the heroic action is epic. Dice take their rightful place at the table as the tumbling blocks of fate, causing  lots of fun and chaos as they roll. A system best shaken, not stirred. WEGS, the Wickedly Errant Game System. Yup.
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Roswell 51: All Revved Up…

April 30th, 2017

Backer Update #34: All Revved Up!

The Roswell 51 pre-production prototype should arrive from the manufacturer this week. The new production date is now set for the week of May 8th. Once I receive the prototype and… (Read full backer update here.)

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WOSF!

April 24th, 2017

Just dropping this here, Old Skoolers… We owe you some details of all the fun we had at Gary Con Gaming Convention last month, and share some secrets on all of the new stuff we introduced – there was a VORPAL HARE that tore apart the party… AND… our unveiling of a new basic module THE CAVES OF UTTER CHAOS… AND… a vicious first run thru of the TOMB OF UTTER HORRORS… AND… that spiffy new character sheet you see peeking out from under the great WANDERING MINSTREL EYE (some of you might have met the WME at Gen Con 2016; he was the big baddy in our 99 LOW LEVEL ORCS event).

blog-WOSF

So, yeah… WOSF!

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