Choose a Sponsor for your Dungeon Delve

A neat idea from the gamebook Battlepits of Krarth (Dave Morris, Oliver Johnson) is to make you start the adventure while choosing a sponsor as the first obligatory step before entering said battlepits. In pure gamebook fashion you can choose blindly and then of course you risk getting a bad one (one sponsor is actually a vampire who, guess what, is more interested in getting your blood than having champions to compete), or, you know, you could try to get some information first and make a better choice…

Those are « Sponsors » too but they’re a bit, huh, different?

Of course, a Choose Your Own Adventure has a limited scope and so there’s only three sponsors to choose from (others are mentionned but aren’t availaible). One good, one bad and one really bad (the aforementionned vampire). An interesting twist is that the good one, Magus Balthazar, is harder to get, he’s actually picky as to whom he chooses. It’s not like he wants the first boneheads to cross his door to represent him in this prestigious, yearly competion. No, no, no. You will be tested, and if your intelligence is found lacking, well… You’ll have to find another sponsor.

This asshole doesn’t care one bit if you die horribly…

With a Tabletop RPG, of course, you could have a lot more options to choose from, leading to interesting roleplaying opportunities.

But what’s the point of having a sponsor? Well, suppose you get one that’s interested in your prolonged well-being, a sponsor could ensure that your chances of success are a bit better, providing you with starting funds, equipment, henchmen and so on… And, depending on the style of play, maybe a kind of insurance against setbacks (healing services, or even resurrection).

In any case, there would have to be something to gain for the sponsor too. A share of the profits, first bid on precious stuff, etc. In a TTRPG, a sponsor wouldn’t be a simple employer, there’s a long-term relationship (or debt serving) to consider.

If I ever do something like a megadungeon campaign, you can be sure there’ll be sponsors around!

Lonely Vampyre

With my previous post you could think I don’t like The Ruins of Undermountain but that’s not the case, there’s a lot of clever stuff in its pages.

One location/encounter in particular reminded me how much I like unlikely allies as a DM. I’m not talking about factions (which are nice too) but monsters or seemingly evil characters that, under certain circumstances, can bond with the PCs. I like it but I also know from experience that Players are absolutely thrilled by it!

But here’s the one I’m talking about here (1991’s spoiler I guess):

This vampyre was once a female human merchant of Waterdeep, Spadreera Omarkhont. She now appears as a slim, svelte, beautiful (but dirty) creature clad only in ash-covered tatters, her eyes glittering with red fire and much of her hair all burnt away.

Yeah, she’s a fire vampire.

Spadreera is lonely, more than anything else. She’d like to chat and gossip about Waterdeep regularly, with someone she could regard as a friend and will try to befriend any beings who survive her initial attack, and cease hostilities when she offers to. PCs who befriend Spadreera never need fear attack from her again. She will not accompany PCs out of the dungeon, and is reluctant even to leave her lair but she will meet PCs at agreed-upon places elsewhere on this level, and even aid them against encountered monsters. She does not appreciate being used, however PCs would be wise not to try to dupe her into fighting every other monster on this level. Spadreera will plead to any befriended creatures for visits as often as possible! In return, she can guard treasure for PCs, give them all the (sadly outdated) information she knows about the intrigues and secrets of Waterdeep, and give them advice on trade (she was a very shrewd merchant). Her lair can become a hideout and safe house for PCs, if they conduct themselves in the right manner.

She’s still a monster in some way but:

Spadreera’s alignment and tendencies are overruled by her loneliness; she will look for prey and opportunities to unleash her cruelty elsewhere, among the monsters that roam this level, and never harm PC friends. She will even nurse injured PCs faithfully back to health without attacking them!

What an interesting NPC!

Do you know of any other cool unlikely ally?

Megadungeon: Dungeon Ecology, Gloutons et Dragons

Il y a, je crois, quelque chose de fascinant à voir le donjon comme un ennemi à vaincre, un puzzle à surmonter; en gérant intelligemment les multiples ressources d’un groupe et en faisant preuve de prudence et d’astuce.

À  partir du moment que l’on accepte le donjon comme élément que l’on retrouve dans sa campagne de rpg, on peut l’accepter tout de go, sans y voir autre chose qu’un motif pour s’amuser, et dans ce cas on peut aller jusqu’au Funhouse, une ménagerie de monstres et d’obstacles qui défient toute logique ou, à l’autre extrême, on peut tenir mordicus à la cohérence (dans un univers fantaisiste, on s’entend) du donjon.

Et voilà, ce préambule m’amène à vous parler du manga Danjon Meshi, Gloutons et Dragons en français, de Ryoko Kui.

Dungeon_Meshi_cover

Très légers spoilers:

Un groupe d’aventuriers explore un vaste donjon, fruit d’une malédiction: un château sous la terre. Les premières pages nous plongent dans un combat contre un dragon rouge, la magicienne Falyn se fait dévorer mais parvient dans un ultime effort à téléporter ses compagnons à la surface. Cette terrible épreuve incite deux membres du groupe à le quitter. Les trois derniers veulent à tout prix sauver Falyn, c’est en effet possible de la faire revenir à la vie, à condition qu’elle ne soit pas entièrement digérée, et donc il faut faire vite!

Le groupe a perdu provisions et argent, le seul moyen de se rendre à temps est de manger ce qu’ils peuvent en route: les monstres. Heureusement, ils font la rencontre fortuite d’un expert en la matière, le nain Senshi.

 

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L’attention aux détails est assez incroyable (trop?) pour ce qui à trait aux recettes mais également (les deux vont de paires dans ce manga), pour l’écologie du donjon.

DungeonMeshi Slime Anatomy

Bon appétit!