If you enjoy this post, please retweet it.
I know you’re all sick of hearing about my new house, but hear me out. This is a D&D post. During my move, I found some things I had lost. Sort of. I have the original Word and PDF versions, but I found the bounded hard copies. First, some context.
Luddite Vic and I ran a gaming club called the Gamers’ Syndicate, and ran a convention about a decade ago called synDCon, playing off the association with the Syndicate. It took place in the DC area (Rockville, MD, to be precise); hence, the odd capitalization in the convention’s name.
The current edition of D&D at the time was 4th, and one of the marketing efforts for that edition was the “dungeon delve.” These were 30-45 minute (if I recall correctly) collections of three or four combat-only scenarios. They were great at conventions for giving gamers something to do if their adventures ran over. In many cases, there were minor prizes for completing the delves, which wasn’t always easy.
Well, I took that idea and ran with it for synDCon II. It was my pet project because I was able to combine a couple of ideas to make it worth my trouble. I created delves based on iconic encounters in 1st Edition AD&D adventures, added in pregens created by Galen, and named the event synDClash (shut up). Here’s the rundown:
- Return to the Borderlands (easy): The Mad Hermit, the Owlbear, and the Minotaur, all based on Keep on the Borderlands.
- Giant Problems (easy): The kitchen encounter from Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, the frozen tomb from Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, and the children’s barracks from Hall of the Fire Giant King (they were actually “Fire Giant Tweens”).
- The Ruins at Inverness (medium): The chessmen, the medusa and “strange apes,” and the fire giant from my favorite D&D adventure, Ghost Tower of Inverness, which I’ve converted to 4e and 5e (only characters were published).
- Erelhei-Cinlu Rises (difficult): A troglodyte, wyverns, and piercers in a cavern from Descent into the Depths of the Earth; the statute of Blibdoolpoolp and some kuo-toa from from Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, and the married couple Belgos and Silussa (the succubus) from Vault of the Drow.
- The Great Metal Dungeon (difficult): The mind flayer and vegepygmies, the combat-based robots, and the bulette from second favorite D&D adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.
- The Pit of the Queen (very difficult, by which I meant impossible): The demonweb maze populated by various giant arachnids, the two drow clerics sitting on towers, and Lolth herself from Queen of the Demonweb Pits.
We also allowed DMs to run the Fool’s Grove Delve, which was published by WotC. For synDClash (shut up), it was medium difficulty.
As you might guess, the Pit of the Queen was completely unfair. For those of you that have knowledge of 4e, here are three features that stand out for the final encounter with Lolth. First, the encounter begins with a lot of space between the PCs and Lolth, but with spider swarms near the PCs. The swarms have a close blast 3 basic attack(!). That is, if one PC provoked, the spider would execute a blast that could affect multiple PCs, and considering the cramped space and the range of the attack, there were always multiple targets. Oh, and of course that attack went off the moment the swarm was destroyed. Second, she had some animated statutes that kept PCs prone. Third, Lolth had a power that made her appear as “artillery.” However, the moment more than one PC at a time was adjacent to her, it became clear she was a “soldier.” No one saw that coming. They thought that once they got nearby, they’d have her, but that didn’t happen. There’s no way PCs could win this encounter if the DM played it as written, but that didn’t stop PCs from trying.
Josie, if you’re reading this, you’re credited on one of these as a playtester under the name, Jamie Morgan. I have no idea how that happened. 🙂
I was happy to see how popular synDClash (shut up) was. There were some people playing multiple delves for an entire slot, and not because there weren’t seats available at regular games. They enjoyed the nostalgia as well. If we had run a third synDCon, my next plan was to make a bunch of delves based on fairy tales, but it wasn’t meant to be.
One of these days, I’d like to run these again, and having hard copies for the adventures and the pre-generated characters makes that easy.
Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)