Archie, The King Of The Downhill Kayak Racers

…he might have been even better if the kayak had been in some water

Fantasy Gaming Stuff

The first ongoing AD&D campaign I ever ran was The Maze Of Xask, a mostly above ground dungeon that was, as the name indicates, a maze created by the wizard Xask. The backstory was that Xask, in his nearly 400 years of being a great wizard, had amassed a huge amount of loot that he stashed in several buildings (and less obvisous places) on his estate. To make it hard for thieves to get at his stuff (as if several dozen enchantments, a shitload of mundane tricks & traps and many roaming creatures weren’t enough), Xask built a great 6 sided wall around the whole place and then set about creating the eponymous maze.

Sadly, just as the great wizard was finishing things up, he was betrayed and slain by his former apprentice, Shandar Khan. With his dying breath, Xask cursed the traitor and then managed to move his own life force into the maze. Shandar Khan escaped, but the curse (that he should always be betrayed just as victory was in his grasp) followed him to the end of his days.

Xask’s life force, now linked with the maze, caused it to disappear from the material world, seemingly forever. The reality was that keeping the maze on some other plane of existence was beyond Xask’s powers. Every 20 years or so, Xask would tire and the maze would reappear someplace in the world of the living. And that’s when things get interesting.

Since he would be stuck in the world for anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks, Xask made up a game to pass the time. He would, shortly before emerging back onto the material plane, send a telepathic message to a great many wizards and lesser magic users, telling them when and where the maze was going to appear. He would also tell them that the six gates into the maze would open only for groups of 4 people or less, and then only if they brought a magical item of some power with them. Only the first qualifying group at each gate would get in.

Once inside, each group would give up the magical item, then be allowed to explore and loot as much as they wanted…within a few simple rules.

1: You cannot leave by the same gate you entered.
2: Only one group can leave via a given gate. If three groups reach Gate 4 at the same time, first group through the gate escapes.
3: Wishes won’t work inside the maze.
4: Horses and pack animals cannot enter the maze.
5: You can take out whatever you can carry.
6: Xask will give one warning 3 hours before the maze vanishes again, then another at the 1 hour, 30 minute and 15 minute marks.
7: If you are not out of the maze when it vanishes, you are trapped for 20 years AND run a great risk of being transformed into…something else.
8: Don’t even think about flying, tunneling, teleporting, gating or otherwise leaving the maze. You walk (or run) in, you walk (or more likely, run like hell) out.

Over the past several decades, many brave adventurers have entered the maze. Only about 1 in 10 ever make it out. Those that do are usually set for life, wealthwise. Of course, some have to spend much of their wealth on curse removals or limb regrowing or memory eradication, but they often have plenty left.

In my first series, the PC’s (who had just made second level) were hired by a wizard named Ool Mandragar to enter the Maze. Ool offered to split the take 25/75 with the group, plus he’d supply them with all of the equipment they would need and a suitable magic item to offer up to the maze. They agreed and the series started up. The sessions went like this.

Session 1: Primarily spent dealing with Ool and buying some equipment.
Session 2: Checking out what other groups would be trying to get into the maze. There were only 4, since Xask only gave a 24 hour warning.
Session 3: The mad dash to the maze and a pitched battle with three dwarves who wanted to go in the same gate. The PC’s barely won.
Sessions 4-10: The first 6 days of 7 are spent looting, fighting monsters, freeing a trapped Fairy Princess, healing up (lots of healing up) and running hither & yon.
Sessions 11-12: Trying to locate a gate out, finally finding one that was “only guarded by two iron golems”, escaping and splitting the loot with Ool (who, as it turned out, mostly wanted the Fairy Princess, since she was an old flame of his).

Once I had this series under my belt, I ran a few shorter (3-4 session) series for the group before we launched into the (estimated) 180+ session League Of Wizards series.

But that is another story.

Sal Schwemp, Septic Tank Cleaner To The Stars

…another semi-famous Schwemp family member

Old Skool/New Hotness

In a rare alignment of the planets and at the whim of Coyote, I find myself running an OSRIC/AD&D 1st edition game on the same Sundays that I’ll be playing in a D&D 4th edition game.

Funny ol’ world, innit?