Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Humbling Look Back

Sometimes it's good to look at my early stuff just to see that there has been improvement. In my case (at least in my own humble opinion), the improvement is noticeable and monumental. Before I really got started writing for D&D, I was like a lot of other people in that writing was something I had wanted to do for a very long time, but I didn't keep in practice and I didn't take advantage of the opportunities that were available to submit material to various publications. Even though I wanted to be a writer, I wasn't persistent in my pursuit of success, and I'm really not even sure I was particularly good at it.

Back around August of 2000, when 3rd edition D&D was brand new, I submitted the following proposal for a Dungeon magazine adventure. At the time Chris Perkins was the editor in Chief, and he had shot down every adventure proposal I had sent him prior to this. As luck would have it, this one was not accepted, but he did give me the opportunity to resubmit after making some changes. In looking back on it now, the writing style was awkward and the adventure needed a little more something to make it more interesting. That said, it wasn't a total waste. I could probably rework it now, remove the items that are strictly Wizards IP, get rid of the elements that contribute nothing to the adventure, fix the writing and actually have an adventure that might be kind of cool.

Once I started getting some professional writing gigs, things never really slowed down, and this proposal was lost in the pile. So, for your amusement and mine, here's the unedited proposal for a Dungeon adventure that I never wrote. Don't feel bad if you find it gagworthy, I do too.

The working title of this adventure would be “Conflagration in spring.” It is for 4-6 characters levels 7-9 or 48 total levels. It will be helpful but not necessary for one of the party members to be a ranger. At the center of this adventure is a unique monster, magically created, called a flamespawn. Though similar in appearance to a deepspawn, except made of magma, it has a completely different host of abilities. The creature’s primary ability is to enchant other creatures. Creatures enchanted are converted to evil while under the influence (5 miles) of the flamespawn and given a low-grade breath weapon of fire (1d10 points of damage at will unlimited times per day). These creatures are not under the direct control of the flamespawn, but wander around as agents of chaos. The only creature the flamespawn is able to produce (like the deepspawn) are Burning man golems (from Monstrous Compendium Annual Vol. 2) at a rate of 1 every week. Instead of mouths and eyes attached to the creature it has tentacles of fire. Instead of being a genius its intelligence is merely 8.

The flamespawn was originally contained in a pit in the first layer of Baator (this part can be easily modified if it doesn’t fit with 3rd edition). The creature that created this was a devil of greater power who intended to use this as a weapon of chaos against cold-based demons in the Blood Wars. The author is aware of the fact that Baatezu are lawful, yet this is a weapon designed more to randomly hit less fortified areas of Baator. It was released into the forest here on the prime material plane through a series of events: A party was adventuring through Baator on an unrelated quest. They killed the fiend that kept this monster, but did not encounter the flamespawn itself. They did pick up a scroll, which they had yet to identify. The scroll was designed to be used by lesser Baatezu on missions in the Blood War, and therefore was not difficult to read. The party returned to the prime material plane and was on their way to the next major city to learn more about it when they were unknowingly pick pocketed by a killmoulis (Brownie). The killmoulis was curious and not nearly cautious enough when he read the scroll releasing the flamespawn.

The adventure begins in early spring (or late winter depending on when it would be the easiest for the DM to place it into their campaign) in a forest when the party comes across a group of druids who have just finished fighting off a fire. There is a ½ acre area of burned trees with a stag lying dead at the center of it. The area is still smoking and the druids look extremely weary. The party will undoubtedly stop to ask them what happened here, and the druids will explain to them that they have been fighting more and more unseasonable small fires in this forest for the past month. Worse yet, many of the animals have seemed to be possessed. They’ve been breathing fire at the druids and starting blazes like the one they just finished putting out. So far they’ve been able to contain the blazes but they’ve been increasing in frequency. They have no idea what is causing this, and they will ask for the party’s help in this matter. The only clue they will have in this matter is the location of a killmoulis burrow not far away. Normally they don’t think much of the killmoulis, but recently it seems to have been abandoned.

The killmoulis burrows have in fact been abandoned, as the party will discover upon investigating it. Unfortunately there will also be 2 burning man golems protecting this area. Also present will be 2 possessed cave bears. Since this was the emerging point of the flamespawn, it returns here often. The party will have to defend themselves against the golems and the bears. After clearing the area the party will find a used scroll. A faint trace of ash leaves faint marks where the letters once were (the scroll used to summon the flamespawn). On the outskirts of the area they will find a killmoulis that has been hiding since its village was rampaged by the flamespawn. It will tell them the story of how a big round thing made of fire appeared in their midst and started attacking them. Most were able to escape, but not all.

There will be a very faint trail of ash left by the flamespawn that has been undetectable to the druids. The party can use to track it back to its current lair provided that they either have a ranger present or have other similar tracking skills. There will be several other encounters planned with possessed animals, and a couple possessed monsters along the way. They will also encounter a newly set fire close to the path. The druids have not yet shown up to battle the blaze, so it will be up to the party to stop this one. They can put it out any number of ways – this would be expanded upon in the body of the text.

Upon nearing the lair of the flamespawn they will have a chance of seeing a killmoulis that has been possessed. If it is not stopped it will run into the lair alerting the flamespawn that there are people coming. The lair itself is a small series of caves that belongs to a tribe of orcs. In their present state they should be treated as red neo-orogs (Monstrous compendium annual 3) with the additional breath weapon mentioned above. There will be 23 of these in the lair along with 2 more of the Burning man Golems. The party will have to fight their way through these to get to the flamespawn.

Once the party reaches the chamber with the flamespawn, it will be protected by 1 Burning man Golem, and 5 neo-orogs. The flamespawn will try to possess the members of the party. This should be a pretty tough battle for characters of this level. This will need to be play tested to fine-tune the exact number of monsters in this area prior to publication. Upon the death of the flamespawn, the enchanted creatures and any affected orcs will be released from their enchantment. Life in the forest will return to normal, and the PC’s will have the gratitude of the druids, who will thankfully be able to get back to tending the forest. The party will be rewarded with an offering by the druids of 5000 gp.

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