Continuing the discussion from What's on your gaming table?:
It all started with my original idea of maybe doing a longform stay frosty game of Ravenloft and homaging Apocalypse Now with it as we plunge the Ravenloft Nebula for renegade Star Colonel Strahd.
But as things progressed, I realised I need a more casual game in my life than another long campaign, so I thought about expanding this Ravenloft Nebula, D&D references in space, thing to just general dungeon crawling in space! The more I thought about the game the more and more things aligned.
I ran a sample crawl with some mates just to make sure this idea’s juice is worth the squeeze and it was!
Running with this Ravenloft Nebula joke, I decided the outfit would be the 5th Expeditionary Corps (The 5E) and I knew they needed a homebase, a ship of sorts. So I thought it’d be funny if I referenced the Keep from B2 so I named their ship The Borderlands. The ship’s onboard computer is “THAC0” which provides them printouts and analysis of missions. These mission details were mostly redacted, giving the game a funny 3:16/Paranoia kinda bit of the game. In fact I thought I’d lean into that stuff so it isn’t just like “Terra Good.”
In fact I decided, like 3:16, the 5E is a “crusade” of sorts with the prior 4 expeditionary forces having gone and done this job in the past many many years ago which got me thinking about the lore of so many corps that came before.
The 3rd Expeditionary Force had synthetic forces to help map and explore. “Pathfinders” were their original purpose. A civil war between themselves and their Synthetic (Robot) Forces ensued as the synths apparently went beserk. The rammifications of this strife is that no more full synths in the Corps and they’re not to be trusted when encountered.
The 4th Expeditionary Force was successful but betrayed by Colonel Strahd who, with their traitorous forces, fled into the Ravenloft Nebula. Apparently something changed this rising star from a true believer to a hater.
So my D&D edition references started sowing seeds for potential enemies I could input into my adventures but I needed more!
Traitor Corps - aka the 4e - are the remnants of Star Colonel Strahd’s forces.
One Religious Covenant - aka ORCs - are a conglomeration of alien species that follow the same xenosupremacist religion. They look for progenitor/ancient alien technology as signs of their god. Specifically they are hunting for a lost religious superweapon called “The Forge.” These lads are very much the covenant from HALO but also my stand in for Goblinoids and Orcs. Basic Goblins are my Grunts, and make hobgoblins, bugbears, and ogres bigger and increasingly badass as well.
Outer System Rebellion - aka The OSR - are an ecclectic confederation of terrorists, pirates, and rebels against Terra. Anytime I need pirates, smugglers, or the like, I can always decide if they’re a part of this faction.
Occult Genetics Labs - aka OGL. Megacorps and government blacksites for research into metadimensional energies. These always blow up in their faces and unleash demons and worse! Requring cleanup by the 5E.
Ok so how do I prep and convert a dungeon into something for stay frosty? Well all I gotta really do is reinvent the premise of the original dungeon and reskin the monsters.The rest of the rennovations is just streamlining the dungeon’s many rooms into the “core dungeon experience” of that module.
So with T1 open on one screen, I got to jotting down what “The Moathouse” would look like as a core experience.
Whenever possible I try and salvage the core background of the module. In the moathouse it’s an old fort that belonged to the defeated Elemental Evil. Something I struggled with this time with this adventure was “what exactly IS the moathouse?” Is it an old OSR fort? What was the evil?
And then I realised the best evil would be “the enemies of the ancient aliens” and whatever my HALO’s The Flood enemy equivalent is, that’d more or less stand in as my cult. With that there, now I still gotta figure out what the hell kinda base this is? And then, with a roll on a starforged oracle table, it hit me – this is a ruined spacewreck from long, long ago! In fact, the whole moathouse is an ORC spacewreck carrying artifacts/relics that protect against this ancient foe… now being counterpurposed to reawaken them by Lareth and his cult of both ORCs and Humans.
The animals of the moathouse I basically either reskin or leave as-is. Terrifying Flora and Fauna is extremely common in this kinda fiction so that’s easy enough. The bandits of the place would just be OSR pockets. Weird undead I tend to think of as either synth robots, ancient alien experiments, and stuff like that. in this case I was going with “experiments by lareth in trying to unlock his god”
I reimagine the rooms and zones of the moathouse into aspects of this ship wreckage and how it’s been reclaimed by the jungle planet of Hommlett Prime.
And then it hit me that I should make the scope of this whole thing bigger and turn this into an Invasion of Hommlet Prime! The 5E are retaking this star system for Terra as a metastory going on. I can clue other adventures onto Hommlet Prime and this invasion so there’s stand alone value but also slight continuity the way comics would do it.
So the reason for this adventure will be extracting some high value asset who was taken prisoner in the moathouse – recovering the merchants from the prison is a classic hook for the original moathouse afterall.
So to put in some extra spice, I had the group start with the invasion of hommlet prime and landing on the beaches in an APC before they break off onto their special extraction mission.