In 1977 I started running my first game as a Dungeon Master, that game was Palace of the Vampire Queen by Pete and Judy Kerestan (I still own the original copy I purchased at the Military Shoppe in the Lakewood Mall).
I’ve run this adventure in every edition of the rules. After the first time I began adding nuances and plot twists not originally part of the adventure and each iteration has been unique.
Currently I am running a version of this adventure on these forums using the Pathfinder rules. The players in that game are great. The adventure has a convoluted plot twist involving curses and missing treasures, and the party is advancing in levels a bit faster than I might be able to manage (causing me to alter some of the encounters in the dungeon to keep them challenging).
This time I will run the adventure using the 5e rules (with a lot of House Rules) and I intend to absolutely make no changes of any kind to the dungeon. We will play it as is!
Let’s see how that will work, shall we?
Things that come up often that the players might want to know
The first page of this adventure contained a post made by an NPC by the name of Waglinde. This story is important to the overall theme of this adventure
Your character has journeyed from the town of Cipenny to the Black Village (once called Apple Grove Village) a ruin that lies at the base of the mountain, some twenty-five-hundred feet below the entrance to the Palace of the Vampire Queen. The Black Village is an abandoned ruin of some twenty or so buildings. Almost all of the buildings have been badly burned, with only a few scatterings of partial walls standing here and there. The village once had a small temple, and the stone foundation of this ruin can easily be found. It is common knowledge that the village was established too close to the entrance to the Palace of the Vampire Queen and even though the residents made many valiant attempts to defend the village, and rebuild it after attacks, eventually the constant harassment by goblins and undead hordes was too much for the people of the village and it was abandoned permanently. However, underneath the village is a Kobold Hovel, Loamstone Hollow, which can be a welcome place to rest and recuperate from expeditions into the Palace of the Vampire Queen
Kobolds on the Island of Baylor, and About Loamstone Hollow:
Kobolds are not considered monsters on the Island of Baylor, and a history of cooperation and harmony exists between the Dwarven people and the Kobolds.
Kobolds are normally found in caves, not too deep within the ground. They are considered expert miners, competent smiths and have a strong magical tradition (their villages are often lead by a group of Cavern Druids). It is said that the Kobolds speak to the departed spirits of Dragons (and each community of Kobolds is dedicated to one such spirit, the Kobolds speak of this spirit not in terms of worship, but more in terms of a guarding, guiding watchful “head of the family”). The only real trouble associated with Kobolds is their complete lack of a serious nature, and they are often described as “far out,” “lost in their own imaginations,” or simply, “kooky.” They can be difficult to deal with, but are always willing to trade (they delight in dried fruits, sweet candies, and cakes, as these are difficult to come by in their natural environments). Kobolds can fashion masterwork weapons and armor (of the finest metals) but are turned off by the idea of working with wood, this tends to make the weapons they do manufacture a bit heavier than normal (all Kobold made weapons are 25% heavier than the listed weight).
It is considered rude, to Kobold culture, to be a guest of a Kobold Hovel and not partake in a meal, this is often another place where relations are awkward, as Kobold food, though not bad tasting, is usually heavily spiced, and served extremely hot.
Loamstone Hollow is a Kobold Hovel, or Warren, but not the kind you might expect. It is a dry, warm, and comfortable community below the ruins of the Black Village. It is said that before the village was ruined a dwarven woman named Volanda Oglevolk hired Benny’s grandfather to excavate a cellar. Nigel Loamstone excavated the cellar below what was to become a tavern and inn in Apple Grove Village (The Black Village). The main entrance to the Hovel is still the cellar door in the ruin of Volanda’s tavern, where most days Benny stands guard at the door above ground, and Mortie guards the inside of the door below ground. The room that you first enter when entering the Hovel is much like a Viking Hall, with a fire place built into one wall, a place for children to sit and hear stories, tables for travelers to get hot soup and plentiful drinks, and from this chamber the kobolds can take you to other cellars in the village that are still intact, where you can rest for the night. Close to the hovel is a place called Copper Hole, an old copper mine in the hills northwest of the Hovel, and to the east and north east even stranger things. For more information read Lorelei’s post here Lorelei talks about Loamstone Hovel
Coins of the Realm:
The Coins of the Realm
1) The Copper Piece (worth 1/100th of a gold piece) this coin weighs 3 grams
2) The Copper Three-penny (worth 3 copper pieces) this coin weighs 10 grams
3) The Silver Penny (worth 1/100th of a gold piece) this coin weighs .5 grams, and is a very small silver coin
4) The Silver (Ten) Piece (worth 1/10th of a gold piece) this coin weighs 5 grams
5) The Silver Twenty Piece (worth 1/5th of a gold piece) this coin weighs 10 grams
6) The Silver “Half-Crown” (worth 1/2 of a gold piece) this coin weighs 23 grams
7) The Gold Piece (worth 1 gp) this coin weighs 10 grams
8) The Gold King’s Coin (worth 10 gp) this coin weighs 100 grams
The Dwarven Calendar:
The Dwarven calendar has twelve months (What a coincidence!), but the first month of the year would be our April, and New Year’s is celebrated after the Spring Equinox, which occurs in Mergunum. The first day of the year is sort of a floating holiday that occurs in either Mergunum or Aukonum, on the day after the first Full Moon of Laurathia (the larger of the world’s three moons) that occurs on or after the spring equinox, placing it anywhere from Mergunum 21st to Aukonum 16th. Whichever month the celebration of the New Year occurs, Aukonum is always considered the first month of the year.
There are eleven Gods in this Pantheon in two families (aligned along Lawful/Chaotic lines, but all are good). The dwarven deities are associated with celestial bodies. Abburdun and Wyuddenllwyn are associated with planets (stars in the sky that change their relative positions in the night sky), while Mevboll, Yerina, and Lofene are associated with the three moons of this world.
Abburdun Silver Heart (Moradin) – The God of Fatherhood (Work, Devotion, Protection, Animal Husbandry)
Lofene Iron Fist (Low-feen)- Lord of Iron - Lawful Neutral
- Lofene is the dwarven god of Iron and warfare, the first to shape the metal to his whim. He took the iron and revolutionized combat by making weapons from it. He is a stubborn and unyielding dwarf. Followers of his take exception when iron is used in tools with purposes other than warfare. Shields, swords, and even bits used in catapults and fortresses are all acceptable, but an iron cooking pot or iron hinges on a civilian’s door are considered inappropriate uses of the metal
Wyuddenllwyn Copper Eyes (Berronar) – Motherhood/Marriage
– The Goddess of Motherhood and Marriage, the Keeper of the Home
– Patience, Faithfulness, Suffering, Fertility, and Hope
– She is not associated with any form of Dance
Mevbolla Golden Hand (Sharindlar) – Independence/Mysteries
– She is the Goddess of young people seeking adventure, women who have not passed through Wallundoff typically pray to her for protection
– She is the twin sister of Yerina)
– She is often associated with Natural Beauty
– Impetuousness, Lust, Renewal (resurrection/rebirth), Retribution, and Revelry
– She is associated with Participation Dance
Yerina Silver Hand
– She is the Goddess of mature people looking to settle down in life and begin raising a family, women who have passed through Wallundoff often pray to her for guidance
– She is the twin sister of Mevboll
– She is often associated with Artistic Beauty
– Planning, Romantic Love, Healing (growth/restoration), Mercy, and Courtship
– She is associated with Performance Dance
The Life Expectancy of Various Races (Dwarves, Elves, and Gnomes):
Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes, DO NOT live to be hundreds of years old. I've never been able to make this work in any campaign setting I've used. Elves and Dwarves live a little longer than the average human, to 125 to as old as 140, and this leads to the myth that they live for "generations." Gnomes live to about 100, also slightly longer than the average human, but not enough to rate the kinds of legends told about the other races.
Dwarves live to be as old as 140 years old in this campaign setting, and not hundreds of years as is described in the Player’s Handbook. This long life (compared to human and halfling lives) tends to lead to the “myth” that Dwarves live exceeding long lives. Dwarves reach emotional maturity, and are considered old enough to leave home without their parent’s permission, by the time they are thirty years old. Typically a Dwarf will marry in their late forties or early fifties (it is well understood that Dwarven women do not reach child bearing age until they have crossed through “Wallundoff” a physiological change that occurs when a Dwarven woman is in her forties). Sexual maturity (the desire to seek out a partner, or partners for experiencing the act of physical love) begins when Dwarves are in their mid to late twenties. A male Dwarf can father children at this age, but a female dwarf is unlikely to become pregnant until she has gone through Wallundoff, which is characterized by a growth and thickening of the hair on the head, and a widening of the hips.
Doors in the Palace:
Within the Palace of the Vampire Queen, almost every Door you encounter (unless it is mentioned as otherwise) is made of Limestone, and would normally be very heavy. The Doors themselves are each nearly five feet wide (some are as wide as ten feet each!) and eight feet high, and typically one foot thick. The doors are balanced in such a way that they can be opened by shoving, or prying, and will swing in both directions. They do not have a “latching” mechanism, nor can they be locked shut. The doors can be spiked, and a single spike wedge under a door will keep the door from moving at all under most circumstances. – A 5-foot Door can be opened by a single character with a Strength of 10+, and a 10-foot door can be opened by a single character with a strength of 15+, or two characters working together with a combined Strength of 15+
It is common knowledge, no roll required, that Silvered* weapons are particularly effective in fighting some types of monsters.
*an Intelligence Ability Skill Check roll of 10+ will allow your character to recall one fact about a Silvered weapon, and for each number rolled >10 one additional fact is known, up to six facts
Silvered Weapons Facts, 10+ = Silvered weapons are made of the finest steel, and then inlaid or coated with fine silver, 11+ Silvered Weapons are effective in dealing damage to monsters of the “were” family, 12+ Silvered Weapons are difficult to find, as the special skill required to bond the Silver to the steel is not widely known, 13+ kobolds know the secret of making Silvered weapons, 14+ some undead monsters are said to be afraid of Silvered weapons, even when they are not particularly harmed by them, 15+ it is rumored that Vampires do not heal wounds caused by Silvered Weapons
Note: Knowing these “facts” should not be taken to mean that what you know is the truth.
Hit Points - please give your characters Maximum HP at level 1, after this we will roll for HP, and always reroll and "1"
Check for the possibility of a Wandering Monster Encounter every 6th turn: roll a d12 if the party is not already engaged in an encounter. If the party is taking a Short Rest apply a -1 modifier to the roll. If the party is taking a Long Rest apply Disadvantage to the roll.
A Wandering Monster Encounter may occur if:
The Party is in a Passageway not connected to a Secret Door on a roll of 1-3 on a d12
The party is in a Room on a roll of 1-2
The Party is in a Passageway connected to a Secret Door on the roll of a 1.
When a Wandering Monster encounter is indicated, roll (d6+4) x10 (feet) to determine how far from the party the Monster is when the first opportunity to detect the Monster’s presence can be checked. If the total is 60’+ allow the Monster(s) a Stealth Check, and compare this to the Character’s Passive Perception Score immediately. If the Monster’s roll is 10-, the Monster(s) is not trying to hide, the Monster(s) is detected if any character’s passive Perception is 10+ (after applying the -5 penalty for Disadvantage to Perception Checks if that applies).
Secret Doors, Perception and Investigation:
Normally you cannot find a Secret Door with a Passive Perception Check. If your character wants to "Search for a Secret Door," I feel that there are two options; Spotting or Searching
Spotting (Perception) - Your character scans an area quickly, trying to take in any abnormality, the DC will typically be 10+DL (where DL is the Dungeon level), and little to no time will be deducted from the adventure. This sort of check can be applied to anything up to a 40 foot by 40 foot area. A Success indicates you identify a particular section of wall that looks suspicious, but you do not find exactly where a Secret Door is or how to open it.
Searching (Investigation) - Your character selects a specific area of wall, floor, or ceiling and examines it in detail. This takes ten minutes (1 Turn) for an area up to 100 square feet (a 10 foot x 10 foot section of wall, floor, or ceiling). The DC to find a Secret Door or other hidden object using this method is 10+DL.
Exception: Elves and Half-Elves, Elves and Half-Elves can detect the presence of a Secret (or concealed) Door by merely passing near one. If an Elf or Half-Elf has a Passive Perception score that is >1/2 the DC to Spot a Secret Door for the current Dungeon level, roll a d6, on a roll of 1 or 2, the Character detects the presence of the Secret Door.
A Dwarf Using Investigation to search for Secret Doors in Stone Walls may add double her proficiency bonus to the check.
Vision and Determining Surprise:
The Dungeon is in Darkness (Heavily Obscured) and occasionally is filled with Fog (roll d6 after any Long Rest, on a roll of 3+ the Dungeon is filled with Fog). This makes the Dungeon an area that is Heavily Obscured from two different conditions. Characters with Darkvision can see as if the Dungeon were Lightly Obscured to the range of their Darkvision, as long as there is no Fog. Since Darkvision mitigates the Darkness category of Illumination, but does not have any effect in fog, I would like to use this house rule.
House Rule: Darkvision range is reduced to half in Fog that creates the Heavily Obscured Condition.
Characters without Darkvision who are not using a light source will suffer the Blinded Condition while in the Dungeon (from both Darkness and at times Fog), and characters with Darkvision are subjected to Disadvantage on Perception Checks that rely on sight (due to Darkness) and may at times have their Darkvision range reduced
A -5 modifier to your Passive Perception Score will be applied to any situation where Surprise must be determined and characters must rely on sight to avoid being Surprised, unless you are using a Light Source. Most monsters must be seen in order to avoid being Surprised by them, however special allowances will be made for unusually odorous or noisy monsters.
Abstracted Combat Rounds!:
Each round of combat will be made up of ten “segments” of six seconds each. In this regard you can think of Segments as the standard combat round, but here is how I will be running it. Over the course of one minute your character moves around, attacks, parries, feints, threatens, and defends, and at some point over this round you have one good chance to do some damage to your opponent (if you are using a weapon). When you make your attack roll it represents this one opportunity. If you cast a spell during the round, it is assumed that you are also, threatening, moving about, sizing up the enemy, and waiting until the right moment to make the spell do what you want it to (we can even imagine that the magical energy is circling around your hands, or some other theatrical image that suits you) and your spell “goes off” in the segment that you rolled initiative, or any segment after that. Spell durations that will be adversely affected by this change will be reworked to be compatible with this House Rule
Time will be tracked in ten minute “Turns.” The DM’s post will include a reference to the “current turn” a number between 1 and 144 (there are 144 turns in one 24 hour day)
Combat Maps (Revised 4/16/2015):
There will be no combat maps. The only dungeon maps that will be available will be ones the players choose to create and share with each other. All combat will be “approximated” and shown on a general area map with tokens representing the characters and monsters. There will not be a grid and questions or disputes about position will be negotiated. If I can find the time, I will create overland maps, of the island and the town, to help you “feel” the game world
When combat occurs I will roll one d10 for the monsters and one d10 for the players Each Round!. The die that scores lowest will win Initiative for that round, and this will be the “segment” (one of ten, six second periods during a Combat Turn) that the combat is resolved. When a Character is not “Surprised” (a Reflex Check), and has lost Initiative, that Character can apply their Dexterity Modifier to the Initiative Roll, as a Negative Modifier, bringing that Character’s Initiative down to but not below monster Initiative. Spell Casting Times will still be counted in six second periods, called Segments.
Dying (Revised, for clarity, 5/7/2015):
There will not be Death Saves. Characters reduced to 0 hit points are conscious and stable. Damage that reduces a Character’s Hit Points below 0, renders the Character unconscious, and the character is considered to be Dying. Constitution Checks must be made each Combat Round (one minute period) to stabilize whenever a Character is at a negative Hit Point total. The DC of this Constitution Check will be 10+ (the absolute value of the character’s current hit points) but in no case will ever be greater than 28. Any character attending to a Dying Character with the Medicine Skill grants the Dying character Advantage to the Constitution Check roll. Use of the Medicine Skill while engaged in a Combat Encounter will require a successful Medicine Skill Check roll of 10+, a -5 modifier applies to this roll if there is an enemy within 5 feet of the Dying character that you can see. Failure of the Constitution Check means the character losses one hit point, and is still dying. Death occurs at a Hit Point total equal to your Constitution Score expressed as a negative number. A Character that is at a negative Hit Point total and succeeds at the Constitution Check is stable but unconscious and can take no actions until Hit Points are recovered bringing the total to 0+
There will not be Opportunity Attacks. If your Character has a Special Ability that can only be used as part of an Opportunity Attack, that ability can still be used, just remember to ask the DM if a situation (one that would normally trigger the ability) warrants the use of the ability
A Short Rest is treated as normal. A Long Rest DOES NOT recover all Hit Points, but does recover all Hit Dice (which can be used immediately, or saved for later). A rest of 24 hours, recovers One Hit Dice worth of Hit Points at maximum roll, in addition to the benefits of a Long Rest.
Experience awarded for monsters defeated will be based upon First Edition Values (a Goblin is worth 10 experience points + 1 point per hit point, so a 5e Goblin with 7 hp is worth 17 experience points for example).
When your Character has Inspiration, you can use that Inspiration, as described in the Player’s Handbook, or you may use your Inspiration to gain a Bonus Slot (Spell or Ki) that can be used immediately, or saved for later use (if you receive Inspiration again, while a Bonus Slot is active, you can use the Bonus Slot Immediately to cast a spell or use a Ki Power, and then receive the Inspiration as normal, however you cannot save the Bonus Slot and use the New Inspiration to receive another Bonus Slot or use it to gain advantage while you have a Bonus Slot in reserve). The Bonus Slot can be any Slot available to you equal to the highest Slot you can have minus one (to a minimum of a Level One Bonus Slot).