OSR Experiments #6: From Haunted Keep to Dark Dungeon

Finally, with the characters from D&D B/X ready I can now start turning the fabled Haunted Keep into my own Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed. brew. How would it look in a different game? What would the difference in feel be? I'm quite excited to find out.

“A tribe of goblins has been raiding the countryside, and on their last raid they captured a dozen prisoners. And the prisoners are relatives of you, the heroes. They are your brothers, sisters, and friends. You have tracked the trail of the goblin raiders, and arrived at the Haunted Keep, a ruin that stands at the borderlands. It is built of granite blocks and was once proud and strong. Now it is an overgrown rubble. Faintly you remember that once it belonged to a powerful family, the Rodemuses. But they have disappeared many years ago. Dougal, you notice that the wooden door in the east tower may be easy to force down. One of the hinges has already rusted through.”

That's how your story might start out. Mine would probably start earlier as a true Dark Dungeon story, with the goblin raid being one of the starting scenes. That's how a movie would start, so that's how my adventure might too.

Dungeon Rooms vs Scenes
But D&D is more focused on the Dungeon, and a bit less on the story or the cinematics. No matter, as both have their charm and merit. Let's follow the D&D starting point for now.

Moldvay just sketched the map and stashed the dungeon with the use of the D&D tables. Or somebody else did so for him. D&D is quite specific with treasure types and monster types. Dark Dungeon is more sketchy in that respect, leaving more to the whim of the Game Master. D&D tends to think in Dungeon levels and rooms with content. Dark Dungeon thinks in scenes and what happens in them – combat, role play, exploration, a chase, an escape, a story twist, or something else. These are again quite different. As I try to turn the keep into something more like Dark Dungeon I am surprised at the difference.

But Rooms are also Scenes
But a room, or a set of rooms, or a level is also in a way a scene. It is also a time frame in which something happens. So, maybe the difference is less great than it seems. Let's again follow the D&D flow. I'll reproduce the Haunted Keep map here for reference, copyrights of course remaining at TSR and their heirs.

Room #1 is an empty bedroom with a clean floor.

Room #2 is the lair of a crab spider that clings to a tapestry on the wall.
Ah! A monster to translate into Dark Dungeon stats. It's a two hit dice monster, with a nasty 1-8 pts damage plus poison, and an armor class 7 in D&D.

Here I realize that I actually need some sort of table to have some sort of reference. Or actually a few tables. One for the monster level, another for the armor class, and a third for the weapon class.
I'll have a try here.

Conversion Tables D&D to DD2

Dark Dungeon combat skill would be a function of the D&D Hit Dice, like this.

D&D Hit Dice      DD Combat Skill

less than 1                0
1                               1
2                               2
3                               3
4                               4
5                               5
6                               6
7                               7
8                               8

That's simple eh? I would add or subtract one or two points for differences and surprise though. Maybe even three or four points more for a leader. And if hit dice are derived mostly from a monsters size, I'd actually subtract a few extra points.

Armor class in D&D actually translates into Dexterity and Armour class in Dark Dungeon. To keep it simple, use the monster speed rating for the Dexterity (and evasion!) score.

Speed in D&D       Dex in DD

60' or less                   0
90'                              1
120'                            2
150'                            3
180'+                          4

Again modify up or down if you feel it warranted in individual cases. Or if the monster is more thief-like and agile, such as a vampire. Dark Dungeon is much more about individual types than about hit dice. What did I say? Dark Dungeon has no hit dice!

D&D damage         DD weapon class

1-4 or less                  0
1-6                             1
1-8                             2
1-10 / 2-12                3
2-16 / 3-18                4
4-24                           5
6-36                           6

A less rough guideline. Scale up or down by a point if you feel that it fits better.

D&D                             DD Armour class

clothing or thin hide             0
tough hide                            1
leathery scale                       2
hardened scales                    3
old dragon scale                   4

Scale down by a point if the size of the monster is rather small, or up one to three points if the monster is rather large, huge or humongous.

There, this should do for the moment.
Let's finish up what the spider looks like:

Crab Spider, AC 7, HD 2, HP 10, MV 120', AT# 1, D 1-8 + poison, ML 8, AL Neutral

This would translate to:

Bite 2 (weapon class 2 + poison),
Dex 2
Leathery scale (armor class 1=2-1 for small size)

Morale 8 might translate into a Willpower of 2. But I don't think you'll need that. Just like you will not need alignment. I might add Stealth 3, as the spider can hide well.

And I would have to decide on the potency of the poison. It's deadly in D&D. At a rate of 45-65% as saving throws are in the range between 10 and 14 vs poison on d20. To make things simple, I'd say that the poison causes death unless the wounded hero roll 6+ on Constitution + 1d10. That's still a 50% chance of death for the average character, but less than 10% for someone with a Constitution of 5 (5 + 1d10 is always at least 6, so only a fumble will be fatal). If I want to be nasty, I could also say that you need a 9+ to avoid temporal paralysis and a Severe wound to the chest as the heart muscle and lungs are affected. Spiders can be bad. Especially big ones like these.

That's enough for tonight. Next issue we proceed with the other rooms.

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