Sequel to Mad God's Key?


Dungeon Magazine General Discussion


I know its about 3 and a half years to late...But I just got my hands on, and am reading Dungeon #114.
Thats the first issue that changed the way the magazine was laid out and its the one where it comes with the Isle of Dread map.

Better late than never I say.

There is a 1st level adventure written by Jason Bulmahn called "Mad God's Key".
Its fantastic!!!
The city of Greyhawk itself is in it and the dungeon is full of fountains of blood (literally).
For 1st level theres some cool, out-there stuff you dont expect to see so early in a game.

Anyway it ends in an open-ended way and says that the sequel to Mad God's Key is called "Key to the Grave" and its an RPGA Living Greyhawk adventure.

So my questions are:
A - Did Key to the Grave ever appear in an issue of Dungeon?
B - Is it still possible to get my hands on this adventure? (I know nothing about RPGA stuff and really dont want to join unless its the only way to get the adventure for home games)
C - Did Jason Bulmahn write Key to the Grave as well?
D - Is there a 3rd or 4th part to this or is it just a 2-part story?
E - Why does the main villiam carry a wand of magic missles since hes a 3rd level cleric with no ranks in use magic device? :)

Thanks for any help.

Scarab Sages

Jason Grubiak wrote:

So my questions are:

A - Did Key to the Grave ever appear in an issue of Dungeon?
B - Is it still possible to get my hands on this adventure? (I know nothing about RPGA stuff and really dont want to join unless its the only way to get the adventure for home games)
C - Did Jason Bulmahn write Key to the Grave as well?
D - Is there a 3rd or 4th part to this or is it just a 2-part story?
E - Why does the main villiam carry a wand of magic missles since hes a 3rd level cleric with no ranks in use magic device? :)

Thanks for any help.

I can help you with a couple of these...

A. No, it was RPGA exclusive.
B. Probably not in any non-piratical way, although someone better versed in the RPGA could probably give you a better explanation of process.
C. Yes he did. Here's the write-up of it COR4-12 Key to the Grave by Jason Bulmahn
A poor innkeep has a ghastly problem on his hands. A strange man staying at the inn was found dead in his room, but when the guard arrived to claim the body, it was missing. More troubling though is his possessions and the holy Symbol of an evil god found under his bed. Part Two of the "Key to Greyhawk" series, the first part of which is the "Mad God's Key" found in Dungeon Magazine #114. Playing part one is recommended but not required. APLs 2-6.

D. No it was a 2 parter, IIRC (which I may not).

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Jason Grubiak wrote:

I know its about 3 and a half years to late...But I just got my hands on, and am reading Dungeon #114.

Thats the first issue that changed the way the magazine was laid out and its the one where it comes with the Isle of Dread map.

Better late than never I say.

There is a 1st level adventure written by Jason Bulmahn called "Mad God's Key".
Its fantastic!!!
The city of Greyhawk itself is in it and the dungeon is full of fountains of blood (literally).
For 1st level theres some cool, out-there stuff you dont expect to see so early in a game.

Anyway it ends in an open-ended way and says that the sequel to Mad God's Key is called "Key to the Grave" and its an RPGA Living Greyhawk adventure.

So my questions are:
A - Did Key to the Grave ever appear in an issue of Dungeon?
B - Is it still possible to get my hands on this adventure? (I know nothing about RPGA stuff and really dont want to join unless its the only way to get the adventure for home games)
C - Did Jason Bulmahn write Key to the Grave as well?
D - Is there a 3rd or 4th part to this or is it just a 2-part story?
E - Why does the main villiam carry a wand of magic missles since hes a 3rd level cleric with no ranks in use magic device? :)

Thanks for any help.

Hi there,

Mad God's Key was my first published adventure and I am glad you liked it. As for your questions... I did write a sequel. It is no longer in RPGA circulation. Since they paid me for it, I am afraid I do not own the rights to it, but I have been meaning to investigate that. I meant to write four parts to this story line, but alas, I got hired by Paizo and got a bit too busy to finish it off. Ah well... I might post up my notes to it one of these days.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Scarab Sages

I used this as the prelude to the Age of Worms AP. It is still my favorite 3ed Dungeon adventure.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ehb1022 wrote:
I used this as the prelude to the Age of Worms AP.

So did I, it needed a little tweaking to make a perfect fit.

Dark Archive

Im curious what kind of tweaking was needed. I could see this being the perfect way for the pc's to head to Diamond Lake and investigate the Ebon Triad.I guess they would need some sort of incentive to begin exploring the whispering carrin.

Dark Archive

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hi there,

Mad God's Key was my first published adventure and I am glad you liked it. As for your questions... I did write a sequel. It is no longer in RPGA circulation. Since they paid me for it, I am afraid I do not own the rights to it, but I have been meaning to investigate that. I meant to write four parts to this story line, but alas, I got hired by Paizo and got a bit too busy to finish it off. Ah well... I might post up my notes to it one of these days.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Jason, I'm converting it to FR as one of the first adventures in my PF playtesting campaign starting in June (I'm probably going to add some monsters and bump up the levels of NPCs). The plot is really great and well-written, and all NPCs have logical motives for their actions. I loved how the mystery (and the identity of the BBEGs) slowly unravel.

And I liked the maps, too, which is always important for me! :)

So, in short: IMO it's one of the best 3E modules out there. Great work, Jason! :)

Any chance that you could write a sequel to it for PF? I mean, you could change the NPCs, locations and events so that it would not be actually connected to the original module (e.g. the artifact could be called "Lhabmun's Key" ;)

Scarab Sages

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Mad God's Key was my first published adventure and I am glad you liked it.

That was a great adventure, I still remember running it for my current group. It was their 2nd adventure (following Box of Flumph), and as they never returned the key due to being pulled through a gate I'm planning for them to use it as part of their transition to Golarion. Now if I could only get them to remember that they still have the key without outright telling them ;p


Gavgoyle wrote:
A. No, it was RPGA exclusive.

What a shame. A great adventure got a sequel... that almost nobody played.

A terrible, terrible waste.


Savage_ScreenMonkey wrote:
Im curious what kind of tweaking was needed. I could see this being the perfect way for the pc's to head to Diamond Lake and investigate the Ebon Triad.I guess they would need some sort of incentive to begin exploring the whispering carrin.

I ran Mad God's Key as well as its sequel as a "prequel" to Age of Worms. Originally, I hadn't planned on running AoW at all, so when I decided to, towards the end of the sequel to Mad God's Key, all I needed to do was plant some notes in the cultist's lair which detailed conversations with other cultists in a place called Diamond Lake, mentioning the Whispering Cairn and wondering what part that had to play in their plans. It never mentioned where the cultists were except Diamond Lake, and the Whispering Cairn reference was actually a red herring, but it worked nicely in terms of leading the PC's to investigating the cairn and (eventually) uncovering the cultists. I simply beefed up the Whispering Cairn a little bit as per the guidelines - for 5x3rd level PC's, that worked out well and was still quite challenging.


Arnwyn wrote:
Gavgoyle wrote:
A. No, it was RPGA exclusive.

What a shame. A great adventure got a sequel... that almost nobody played.

A terrible, terrible waste.

Indeed! The Living Greyhawk games tend to be available for about a year or two at most, and the sequel (COR4-12, Key to the Grave) was published about four years ago, so it's been retired for about two years now - I got hold of my copy about three years ago as I've been a member of the RPGA for about four years now. Unfortunately, the Living Greyhawk guys have never been keen on allowing even out of print materials to be made available (I asked them about getting hold of a really old one once, and they said no). As has been said above, if you really want the old Living Greyhawk pdf's, I beleive it's still possible to find them, just not through any legally published means.

While it could have done with a better layout and edit, Key to the Grave is actually one of the best little city-based investigation adventures I know of. It's got some interesting encounters, with an open sequence of events that take place in a little part of the city, depending on what the PC's do and where they are at certain times. With a little preparation, it was pretty easy to run and let the players do what they wanted to try and investigate, with key events here and there helping keep them from getting stuck or bogged down - eventually they can find the bad-guy or he finds them. Certainly a good change of pace from the traditional linear adventure, but not really so open or vague that it required a lot of DM work. We all quite liked it.

It's still fondly remembered by my players for a particular scene where a gnome ghoul scored a critical hit on the party's dwarven fighter - on the spur of the moment I ruled it had bitten him in the 'groin', shall we say... quite an enduring mental image...


I ordered Key to the Grave for my home group specifically so we could continue the adventure from Mad God's Key.

If it makes anyone feel any better, I could find no connection what-so-ever between the two adventures other than them taking place in Greyhawk. I wound up cancelling the session because it just didn't meet the expectations we'd set up with the idea that this was the sequal.

So while I have you here, Jason, what was the connection between the two? What elements in Key to the Grave did I miss that would've tied them together?


The direct tie-in is explained at the beginning - Theldrat asks the PC's to investigate a local "murder mystery".

More broadly speaking, there are various thematic tie-ins, i.e. it's in the same city, with the same kind of enemy to be uncovered (i.e. evil cultists). It's pretty heavily hinted at that these cults are, in fact, related, and in fact there's even more left somewhere once the 2nd adventure is finished (a cult of Vecna, as I read it). That's how I moved my players from these two to the Age of Worms - more cultists to find.

Other than that, it's the same author writing another cool city-based adventure. Good city-based adventures are, in my experience, hard to find, especially ones that don't just play out like another dungeon crawl (while both Mad God's Key and Key to the Grave both have mini-dungeons of a sort, these are only a small part of the overall adventures).

p.s. there was only one lame part to this adventure - Yrsana the Herbalist (druid) - the name didn't mean anything to me, but one player knew it was the name of some pharmaceutical company (as far as I recall - it was a long time ago). Luckily, Greyhawk has a history of such lame jokes on names...


Fletch wrote:
So while I have you here, Jason, what was the connection between the two? What elements in Key to the Grave did I miss that would've tied them together?

Really?

I assumed the sequel would deal with the cultists of Vecna trying to use the information found in that book now that they have it open using the key and the PCs need to stop them.

Dark Archive

Jason Grubiak wrote:
Fletch wrote:
So while I have you here, Jason, what was the connection between the two? What elements in Key to the Grave did I miss that would've tied them together?

Really?

I assumed the sequel would deal with the cultists of Vecna trying to use the information found in that book now that they have it open using the key and the PCs need to stop them.

I too assumed this was the case.

At any rate this was an excellent adventure that I got to first play in and then later run for another group. I think that if I ever decided to run an Age of Worms campaign I would start it with this and lead on with the rest of the AP. I think it would give the players more of a reason to investigate and interact with the people and places of Diamond Lake a little more.


Hastur wrote:
The direct tie-in is explained at the beginning - Theldrat asks the PC's to investigate a local "murder mystery".

More accurately, Theldrat (from Mad God's Key) introduces the PCs to the guy who asks them to investigate the murder. The introduction for those characters who haven't played MGK is to meet that contact directly without being introduced by Theldrat.

Maybe the ties would've made more sense with the 3rd or 4th adventure he was talking about, but it's hardly a sequal as it stands. Saying it's thematically linked because they both take place in Greyhawk is like saying Chimes at Midnight is the sequal to Steel Shadows because they both take place in Sharn.

I ain't saying it's not a good adventure, I'm just saying it's not a sequal and DMs without access to Key to the Grave shouldn't feel cheated.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Well, since everyone here has read Mad God's Key, I guess I can give up the beans about the sequel. In Key to the Grave, the PCs are asked by Theldrat to look into a series of murders in one small corner of Greyhawk. Basically, what has been going on is this... One of the cultists from Mad God's Key has started experimenting with pages from the book and turned himself into a vampire. The murders are his first victims. This may not have been clear in the adventure, because in the RPGA, I could not assume that people had played Mad God's Key first and did not want to give away the overall plot.

The grand scheme here, btw, involved the cult using the pages from the book for something truly terrible... but I will save that for some other post... (here's a hint.. it starts with an "LLL" noise and ends with an "Itch"... )

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


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Savage_ScreenMonkey wrote:
Im curious what kind of tweaking was needed. I could see this being the perfect way for the pc's to head to Diamond Lake and investigate the Ebon Triad.I guess they would need some sort of incentive to begin exploring the whispering carrin.

OK, you asked for it. I warn you though, I tend to ramble on somewhat at times... The short answer is, not much tweaking at all was required.

WARNING!!! SPOILERS FOR AGE OF WORMS AP & MAD GOD'S KEY... & BEASTS OF AULBESMIL!!!

I ended up using Mad God's Key as a prequel for Age of Worms too, though my players don't know it yet and may never make the connection. MGK was the first adventure in the campaign I run, and we all had a great time with it. Then we ran through Unfamiliar Territory, Final Resting Place, and part of the Beasts of Aulbesmil (they had gotten infected by death's head trees and some rot fiends (both from Dragon #339) that had been poaching the tree's intended victims, while returning to GH from Final Resting Place, despite having been warned to stay on the path and not wander into the forest... to pay for Remove Disease spells they helped Ranger Ghini rescue some nobleman's foolish son from his orcish kidnappers - the party did not stick around long enough to discover the town's lycanthropy problems). There may even have been another adventure in there somewhere. By this time, the Age of Worms had come along (the AP, not the Age itself, of course) and I decided to turn my campaign down that (adventure) path if the players were willing, and I eventually discovered there were some Vecna worshipping cultists dabbling with something to do with some sort of Apostolic Scrolls... I figured, hmm. Vecna. One of the Vecna-worshipping cultists from Mad God's Key was already gone with the pages torn from the Evil Book before the PC's got to the Tomb of Blood Everflowing, and there was never any indication of what became of the missing pages. Why not assume those missing pages were in fact a rare copy of the Apostolic Scrolls? That way, the PC's have been fighting to prevent the Age of Worms since long before they ever heard about the Whispering Cairn or the unkillable zombies marauding in the Cairn Hills! Makes me look like much more of a super campaign-customizing Dungeon Master-mind than the lazy Dungeon mag user that I actually am. The way I got the party to Diamond Lake was to have Iquander suggest they consult with Allustan about some mysterious personal business one of my players' PC's had in his background that has nothing to do with the published adventures.

We're now knee-deep in the Champion's Games adventure where the PC's may have a chance to recover (or at least catch a glimpse of) the Scrolls. They may or may not ever make the connection between these ripped out pages and the evil book they recovered for Iquander the Librarian. I'll probably give them a chance to recognize the layout/calligraphy/etc. from MGK's evil book if they bother to examine them closely, though I doubt they will - they tend to hand everything like this off directly to Allustan or Eligos for fear of getting cursed or what have you. But I know the truth, and if they do capture the Scrolls and turn them over to the authorities so as to further condemn Raknian, and if they don't happen to remember their connection to an evil book with missing pages from way back at the start of their adventuring careers, maybe I'll have Iquander come and find them at the end of the adventure to thank them for recovering the rest of the pages for him and give them some minor reward. They should get a kick out of that blast from the past.

Kang


I did a very similar thing over the first half of my campaign - every now and then, bits of that missing book would appear, or at least cultists who were linked in to that original adventure. As you say, it's very easy to create those links as you go along.


I love the look of Mad God's Key, and plan to run it as an intro into my Pathfinder Savage Tide campaign. I just finished doing the last of the adaptations for NPCs and monsters earlier this afternoon.

... I do find myself wondering, though, whether any PCs ever decided to hammer in some pitons near the top of the Tomb of Blood Everflowing's central chamber and simply rappel down a hundred and twenty feet or so, rather than go around the perimeter. Of course, though that bypasses a trap, some zombies and the corpse rat swarm, it also drops them right in the middle of a skeleton-filled pool of blood (of indeterminate depth, hehe).

Liberty's Edge

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Well, since everyone here has read Mad God's Key, I guess I can give up the beans about the sequel. In Key to the Grave, the PCs are asked by Theldrat to look into a series of murders in one small corner of Greyhawk. Basically, what has been going on is this... One of the cultists from Mad God's Key has started experimenting with pages from the book and turned himself into a vampire. The murders are his first victims. This may not have been clear in the adventure, because in the RPGA, I could not assume that people had played Mad God's Key first and did not want to give away the overall plot.

The grand scheme here, btw, involved the cult using the pages from the book for something truly terrible... but I will save that for some other post... (here's a hint.. it starts with an "LLL" noise and ends with an "Itch"... )

Hi, im searching for a sequel to Key to the Grave. In my table Kolta fleed and the players have interest in chase him. Any ideas?

Sergio :-)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

(here's a hint.. it starts with an "LLL" noise and ends with an "Itch"... )

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Missed that post and I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that everyone else did. Shouldn't that begin with LLL and end with "Eash"?

Heeheeheeheehee!!!!


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
I did write a sequel. It is no longer in RPGA circulation. Since they paid me for it, I am afraid I do not own the rights to it, but I have been meaning to investigate that.

Jason,

Did the RPGA contract the adventure from you (i.e. were you simply hired as a contract writer) or did you write the adventure independent of them and they paid you to allow them to publish it?

If the latter, you might still own the copyright, though you may have ceded them exclusive publishing rights or license. OTOH, they might have bought the copyright from you and now effectively own the adventure (this is something Hollywood studios love to do with spec. scripts).

FWIW,

Rez


How much time do the characters spend in Greyhawk in the adventure?


Jason Bulmahn wrote:

I might post up my notes to it one of these days.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Loved Mad God's Key, I was lucky enough to get the RPGA sequel as well but would love to see your notes for the other two you had planned. Sounds like a perfect blog post...right after your post lamenting the traitor Bret Favre... ;)


Dennis Harry wrote:
How much time do the characters spend in Greyhawk in the adventure?

Just run it in my AOW campaign. The adventure would only take a week or two maximum in Greyhawk but after the showdown with the Green Daggers there isn't a real timescale or urgency.

My group stuffed the Iron Tusk section and just stood there like mushrooms watching him run off...


Recently entered this as my vote for best D&D adventure ever, only then noticed this thread here. It is a lovely piece of work! And it basically works as a set-up for any campaign, because of how it ends.

My play was in Sasserine, in the spin-off campaign from Savage Tide. We just didn't feel like we were done with the burg.

Sovereign Court

Can anyone suggest another adventure that could be used as a sequel to MGK? I don't have the RPGA sequel and would like to find a published adventure from Dungeon or other sources. Any suggestions?


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PDiddy wrote:
Can anyone suggest another adventure that could be used as a sequel to MGK? I don't have the RPGA sequel and would like to find a published adventure from Dungeon or other sources. Any suggestions?

abit late but....

The Stink (4th level/Dungeon #105 by Monte Lin) is a good fit.
Mad God's Key was awesome, I ran it for my group back in the days.

My favorite 3 campaign starter modules from Dungeon magazine...

Mad God's Key
There is No Honor (STAP starter, James Jacobs)
The Whispering Cairn (AoW starter, Erik Mona)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber
Sunderstone wrote:

My favorite 3 campaign starter modules from Dungeon magazine...

Mad God's Key
There is No Honor (STAP starter, James Jacobs)
The Whispering Cairn (AoW starter, Erik Mona)

Interesting that the three authors nowadays work for a certain RPG company...


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Stebehil wrote:
Interesting that the three authors nowadays work for a certain RPG company...

Thats why Im still here :)

My above examples are from experience as well (not just from reading through), I DM'ed all 3 at various points in the 3.5 glory days. They really are top notch starters.

If I ever ran MGK again (using PF medium advancement track), Id combine it with Whispering Cairn. Maybe have the acolytes discover the entrance to Cairn below their level. I could also change Greyhawk to Sasserine and possibly merge all 3. Probably making the thieves (forgot their name atm) in MGK part of Rowyn's Lotus Dragons in There is no honor.
:)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
PDiddy wrote:
Can anyone suggest another adventure that could be used as a sequel to MGK? I don't have the RPGA sequel and would like to find a published adventure from Dungeon or other sources. Any suggestions?

"Shut-In" (Dungeon 128) is a creepy, little "Cask of Amontillado"-like adventure for 4x L2 characters in an urban location. By Mssrs. Schneider and Sutter.

"Cradle of Madness" (Dungeon 87) is another creepy one which starts in the city but ends in the Cairn Hills, and involves some evil cultists. Written by Robert Lee, it is a 3.0 adventure for 4x L6 characters.


Sunderstone wrote:

If I ever ran MGK again (using PF medium advancement track), Id combine it with Whispering Cairn. Maybe have the acolytes discover the entrance to Cairn below their level. I could also change Greyhawk to Sasserine and possibly merge all 3. Probably making the thieves (forgot their name atm) in MGK part of Rowyn's Lotus Dragons in There is no honor.

:)

I mixed "there is no honor" & MGK in my ST campaign.

- PCs retrieved a ring for Lavinia by chasing Irontusk.
- I replaced the Lotus Dragon's hide out with the MGK's thiefs hideout (I mainly used the map).
- finally, I placed the Tomb of Blood Everflowing near Kraken's Cove (as cultists' & Vacros' hideout & gave it a more serpent, undead & demonic feel (necrophidius, vargouille, undead (flying) snakes,...)

Hagor


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I made use of the Mad God's Key by putting it into my SCAP campaign - right after rescuing the orphans (basically they bribed Kazmojen to let them buy them back) I realised that they needed some extra XP before moving onto the next section, so I threw it in. It is probably the best adventure I've run in years, needing only minor modifications to squeeze it into my campaign world, and I've made use of the Vecna cult throughout the rest of SCAP, with one of their members becoming 'the Faceless One' for AOW. The city section fitted well into Cauldron, and it wasn't too hard to put the tomb in the wilderness near the city.

Reggie.


So I ran Mad God's Key when I bought that Dungeon Magazine at the only gaming store near college because it had a sweet cover and there was a free map inside. Started out as a one shot adventure and turned into my first campaign. So an epoch later and I'm running wherever that campaign left off because the old crew is getting back together after being scattered to the four winds.

Totally realized that they just crammed that book back in the library and completely forgot about it oh so many levels ago. I would love to use the cool investigation stuff I've heard about in Key to the Grave, even if they are slightly higher level, they like asking NPCs things.

So four years since the last post in this thread... anyone have that sequel...?

Jason...?

...

notes...?


I have recently been searching for the Key to the Grave sequel with no success. I found the Dungeon Magazine at Drive Thru RPG with Mad God's Key, but they don't have the sequel. Looked it up as it was on another thread as a good 1st level adventure and am kind of disappointed that WotC has the sequel under lock and key and won't give it up (pun intended).

If anyone has a copy that they would be willing to part with for a few silver pieces I would be interested.

Otherwise, if someone could point me in the direction of a good undead module or adventure path I might go that route instead. Sure would beat having to build it all from scratch, which is the alternative.


I, too, am looking for a copy of Key to the Grave. Anyone have an old pdf lying around?

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