When I go to conventions, I love to DM; it’s a great way to meet new people. At Gary Con III, I’ll be spending just about all my time running an event called the Gary Con Terrain Challenge #1: Treasure Beneath the Brown Hills, about which the program book says:
Who will retrieve the most gold from the Temple of the Elder Elemental God and make it out alive? Terrain Challenge #1 is the first annual D&D competition using the fantastic miniatures terrain contributed to GaryCon by Pana. This year’s adventure imagines a roleplaying spin-off of Gary Gygax’s classic 1971 Chainmail scenario, Battle for the Brown Hills. Third level characters will be provided; all ages welcome.
Unfortunately, as the event drew near, the happy expansion of Pana’s family interfered with the creation of the terrain around which this event was supposed to be based. As a parent I fully understand & support spending more time with a newborn than with dollhouses for boys, but this did leave me wondering how I was going to make the show go on.
Enter Dwarven Forge to the rescue! Founder and chief sculptor Stefan Pokorny graciously had me over to his new studio in Brooklyn, where we used his personal collection to put together a layout to suit my needs. As I’d described it at the Gary Con forums, the idea for the scenario is as follows:
I started by thinking about the great Gygax modules and what elements of them we could pay tribute to. The idea of which monsters would make cool miniatures was in the back of my mind, as was choosing a module that wasn’t totally over-familiar. What this made me think of was Battle for the Brown Hills, a Chainmail scenario that Gary wrote in the pre-D&D days & Paul Stormberg ran at the last Gary Con. Although it’s a large-scale wargame battle, it has some very evocative elements that feel like a roleplaying game waiting to happen. The thing that caught my imagination is that the side that stomped my orcs spent a lot of time moving a wagon train behind those hills, which I believe held the army’s payroll. My idea is that this heavy wagon breaks through the ceiling of a dungeon in the hills. The human mercenaries are all topside, looking through this sudden sinkhole at a fortune in spilled gold…
Here’s a tableside perspective on the terrain Stefan helped me assemble:
And here’s the top-down view that I took to be sure I could re-assemble this in Lake Geneva, using the two Room and Passage sets and two Cavern Sets that Dwarven Forge president Jeff Martin arranged to have shipped to me at the convention (plus a couple of special pieces on loan from Stefan that I’ll be bringing in my luggage):
Because the event is short – two hours, including character generation – I think we’re going to start with the PCs having rappelled down to that central elevated structure, where the fallen treasure wagon has landed. The action of the game will involve them loading themselves up with as much gold as they want to risk carrying, searching for an exit from the dungeon, and trying to make it out alive!
Thanks to the generous support of Dwarven Forge, I will be running this event not only at Gary Con but also at this year’s Arneson Memorial Gameday in NYC (about which more soon) and probably at an upcoming Recess as well. I’m really looking forward to having the chance to play with so much awesome dungeon goodness!