“With each brave deed you grow more worthy” – Dungeon Master
This is part 2 of Adapting the D&D cartoon into a campaign. For the basics and part 1 “In Search of Dungeon Master” see my blog post:
Episode 7 features a pretty straightforward plot and some fun encounters. I’ll post the video link down below. This adaptation is edition agnostic, no stats are provided.
Here is an overall map of the area and encounters, with great thanks to Andrew Bator
Scene 1: Mist-Enshrouded Mountains
The party is lost in a sort of misty wasteland. The episode script reads “these are old mountains, not unlike the Appalachians, except the trees on the slopes grow in contorted, vaguely demonic shapes” and “we hear the distant sounds of hammers pounding rocks, and baleful moaning.” Dungeon Master pays them a visit and provides the first clue/riddle: “When the dragon’s heart is in the right place, it may show you the way home” and then DM disappears. The fog gets so thick they can’t see where they’re going and they fall down over a ledge into….
Scene 2: The Vale of Mists.
The valley (more like a big crater, which the script describes as “reminiscent of the Devil’s Punchbowl in the Mojave”) harbors an (inexplicably *not* foggy) gnome village. There are two immense stone warrior statues poised like sentries, and the walls of the crater are filled with “Mystic Gems.” The gnomes are all busy on various scaffolding, mining gems from the rock under the watchful eye of their slavemasters, the orcs. In the center of the village is a large stone statue of a dragon with a hand-sized hole in the center of its chest — where it’s heart would be. One of the pitiful gnomes falls off a scaffolding. He is tired and hurt! A merciless, evil orc comes to whip him – this is the heroes’ cue to come to the gnomes defense. This is our first combat encounter.
This is not a terribly challenging fight for the heroes. Once it’s over, the gnome (he isn’t given a name in the show, let’s call him Orson) explains that his people cannot leave the valley because of Venger’s spell. In the script it says “the gnomes cannot leave unless summoned by Venger — or else they die!” Orson explains “only our wizard Lukyon might break the spell. His magic protected our valley for centuries” and “No one can find Lukyon. When he refused to tell Venger the secret of the dragon’s heart, Venger imprisoned him in the Swamp of Sorrows.” Orson also tells them that the swamp is South, beyond the forest.
Scene 3: The Swamp of Sorrows
Any battle map will do for this encounter – here’s a nice one from DiceGrimorium
The heroes slosh knee-deep through the dismal swamp, overgrown with vines. Sunlight barely penetrates, and insects are everywhere.
Dungeon Master appears and provides the second clue/riddle: Lukyon dwells in a prison without walls.
Immediately after DM vanishes, the heroes are attacked by violet fungi. In the middle of the fight, a shambling mound appears. It frees them (rather violently) from the grip of the fungi, and then it lurches menacingly towards the heroes – Eric gets stuck in the creature and is seemingly almost sucked inside it. After taking a few hits from the heroes, the monster retreats back into the foliage.
Swamp Part 2.
The heroes continue searching in the swamp, being eaten alive by mosquitos. Dungeon Master appears and give them another clue: “You will know Lukyon by what he says without speaking” He adds “find him quickly, young ones. Tomorrow, during the crossing of the four suns, is the only time Lukyon can help you.”
Scene 4: The Cursed Dwelling
The kids come across a rotting house. The script describes it as “the ruins of a dwelling on a small patch of moist, grassy land. The roof is rotting. The walls are partially caved-in. Drippy, slimy gobs of moss hang like curtains from the rotting timber supports” However, a more welcoming description would invite the PCs to use this location to rest – perhaps this is the only solid ground they’ve come across for hours of wandering in the dark. You also might describe the dwelling with some or all of the walls missing, as if this might be the “prison without walls.”
This encounter must happen in the evening or at night, after some time has passed since Dungeon Master reminded them that the crossing of the four suns happens the next day. For a battle map, try searching “swamp hut shack battle map” on your search engine of choice.
There’s a bed on the porch. When the kids enter the shack they are attacked by zombies who are very possessive of their house and start grappling with the party. The party is overwhelmed! But, the shambling mound returns, scares off the zombies, and demolishes the house with a tree trunk.
The kids realize that the monster is Lukyon because it’s saved them twice.
Scene 5: Breaking the Spell
Lukyon brings the heroes to a tree where the cursed gnome has stashed his magic items, as well as the Dragon heart – a large violet gem about 5 or 6 inches across that pulsates – like the beat of a heart!
Lukyon shows Presto (more or less) how to break Venger’s spell by using Lukyon’s spellbook and magic wand, and Lukyon reverts to the form of an elderly gnome wizard. There’s a brief chitchat, and then…
Scene 6: Climactic Wizard Battle
With a wave of Lukyon’s wand, the group is teleported back to the Veil of Mists and the gnome village where, just in time for the four suns to converge, he puts the dragon’s heart back into the dragon (using the Mage Hand spell, no doubt). The entire crater lights up with glowing gems, with a lattice of glimmering lasers pointing between them. Lukyon explains that each point of light is a gateway to another world. Just at that moment, Venger appears on his nightmare, releases the orcs and activates/animates the two giant statues which start crushing the gnome houses with their tremendous feet, and attack the PCs (as do the orcs).
The kids defeat the colossi while Venger and Lukyon have a battle of magic. Venger keeps far overhead out of range of the kids. During the battle, one of Venger’s energy blasts ricochets and destroys an area of the gem cliffs, specifically the portal back to Earth. Venger is ‘banished’ by Lukyon. The kids are cheated out of their way home and must adventure on.
Of course, there are countless gateways to other worlds through the gems while the solar conjunction is happening, should the group and DM want to explore that option. Otherwise, the conjunction ends and the gateways close. On to the next adventure!
As usual, there are a few decisions the kids in the cartoon make that allow this adventure to play out the way it does, which could be a challenge for the Dungeon Master if their players make different decisions.
In the Vale of Mists, the entire group falls down into the crater because of the fog. This means in game terms that every single group fails their saving throw and falls several feet. Probably the best way to handle this is through narration, avoiding any dice rolls.
Clever players may try to avoid falling by using a pole or something as a cane to check the ground as they move through the fog. Feel free to simply have the ledge crumble and bring the kids down. Whether or not you require saving throws or dexterity checks to avoid taking a small amount of damage from the fall is up to you. I personally would avoid damage but might have a character stunned from the fall and more easily grabbed by an orc.
The scene with the gnome getting whipped by the orc is a good one for story, flavor and characterization if you can keep it in. Combat with the orcs is likely even if the PCs don’t go charging in – you can simply have an orc spot them and sound the alarm. The orcs should not be an overwhelming challenge for the PCs – play them dumb and with low morale, and arm them only with swords and whips, with leather armor at best. Quick to run away, but they will return in greater numbers later, after Orson gives the PCs the vital directions for where to look for Lukyon. The interior of the cave is not detailed here, but it can be a simple barracks for the orc slavemaster and soldiers, should the PCs want to investigate.
The shambling mound/Lukyon is more tricky. In the cartoon, Lukyon is initially viewed a threat by the kids because he is scary, bumbling, and dangerous simply due to his size and the composition of his body. If your players realize that he is the gnome “in the prison without walls” during this encounter then the second swamp encounter with the zombie house will likely be skipped.
In the zombie house, you might add a “boss zombie” to make things more interesting.
Using Presto to break Venger’s enchantment on Lukyon is a very particular character/plot device that might prove difficult to adapt, depending on the classes and abilities of the player characters. If all that is needed is for a character to wave Lukyon’s wand over his spellbook and read aloud some magic words, that’s great. But if it relies on a skill or class ability, and that fails, then the plot grinds to a halt. Take a look at your player characters and see how you might be able to handle this conundrum.
Once Lukyon is restored, make sure you give the PCs time to rest and heal before the final encounter, where they will be dealing with the stone titans and a contingent of orc warriors. You can easily say that there are a full 8 hours before the conjunction of the four suns.
The giant statues in the Vale are described as stone golems in the script, but the rules have stone golems as size Large. These statues are what I would call colossal or gargantuan. You might base your monster on the Walking Statue of Waterdeep, but prepare to play it fast and loose with the numbers, because two of those could wipe out the party quickly and easily. If a golem hits, rather than do massive damage, have it grab the victim and hold them fast in its hand. Make them slow and nigh-invulnerable so that the PCs will have to think of some ingenious way to disable them, such as the marbles that Presto used.
In the episode, we the audience see Shadow Demon. You might permit the PCs to make some kind of perception check to detect his presence, it could add an interesting element to the story, even just seeing him skulk away.