Enter the Caves of Utter Chaos

May 3rd, 2017
Caves of Utter Chaos, Conventions, Gary Con, The WEGS Fray

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.

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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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