The Alexandrian

The Hall of the Mountain King

WORST. PLAN. EVAH.

Dwarves: Oh no! All the gold in our mountain has been cursed!

Dwarven God: That sounds sucky. Here’s a magical artifact to remove the curse.

Dwarf 1: Think we should use it?

Dwarf 2: Nope. Let’s lock all the dwarves afflicted by the curse into the lower vaults.

Dwarf 1: And then use it?

Dwarf 2: Nope. Let’s evacuate the mountain.

Dwarf 1: And then we’ll use it?

Dwarf 2: Nope. We’ll hide the magical artifact in the depths of the mountain.

Dwarf 1: And… then use it?

Dwarf 2: Nope. We’ll create clockwork bodies for ourselves and inscribe the secret of how to find the artifact on the gears and cogs.

Dwarf 1: And… wait, what?

Dwarf 2: Then we’ll go senile. And centuries from now the grandchildren of our disciples will “con” a small group of adventurers into retrieving and using the magical artifact.

Dwarf 1: What the hell are you talking about?

I guess this is what happens when you write adventure modules by committee. (I really wish I was exaggerating this, but I’m not. Although they technically didn’t plan to go senile, this is, in fact, the background used in the module.)

THE SIMPLE FIX

The artifact wasn’t ready-to-use out of the box. The Secret Masters of the dwarves collected the tears of the Hundred Widows who had lost their husbands to the corruption of the curse. The fist-sized teardrop of gold they forged from the cursed gold needed to bathe for a hundred years in the widows’ tears before it could cleanse the mountain itself.

Unfortunately, long before the teardrop was ready, the dwarves had been forced to abandon the fortress. Or perhaps the Secret Masters arranged for the evacuation, planning to return a century later. Whatever the case may be, things didn’t go according to plan: A hundred years passed and, deep in the bowels of the mountain, the Golden Teardrop was completed. But the dwarves were never able to return to the Golden Citadel, and so the teardrop lay forgotten…

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One Response to “The Halls of the Mountain King”

  1. Justin Alexander says:

    ARCHIVE OF HALOSCAN COMMENTS

    Ben

    Out of curiosity, which project are you a patron of now– or if you were a patron of that project, why not speak up during the design process and implement the fix then? You could have brought it up during the brainstorming phase or the playtest phase and it’s the sort of logic hole which would have been quickly (and appreciatively!) handled. (I do see a patron on the list who *could* be you, but I’d rather not presume.)

    One of the things the community at Open Design prides itself on (which you know, as a member, but for the benefit of your readership), is the conversational and cooperative environment–but I’m not sure calling the adventure written “by committee” is terribly accurate and it certainly casts the process in a somewhat negative light. The overarching plotline in this case brainstormed by the patrons, individual sections were pitched by patrons and contributors, and then those sections were written by individual designers who posted weekly updates of their material for further review. Regardless, if this had been noted, I’m absolutely certain it would have been addressed.

    However, I really do want to thank you for pointing it out. Sometimes, in a larger project like Halls, you lose sight of some of the plotline details, especially when you’ve got multiple designers collaborating.

    *Vague Spoiler Ahead*

    I’d note, reading through the background, that the artifact which you’re referring to here doesn’t enter the story until after everything else you’ve mentioned has occurred. It’s not as if this artifact exists at the moment things turn south, but rather appears after the exodus, after the imprisonment and slaughter, which– while not negating your fix, does make the fix (somewhat) unnecessary. The artifact was held in reserve for just such an occasion as presented in the adventure, namely the resurgence of the curse. Could it have been used when first presented? Possibly, but with the Exodus already complete one couldn’t be sure that the curse would be cured and it already appeared contained. In that case, why not hold the artifact in reserve?

    thanks,

    -Ben.
    Saturday, May 22, 2010, 11:18:06 PM

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