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Ruins of the Undercity

A few months ago I picked up Ruins of the Undercity, a solo adventuring book for Labyrinth Lord. At heart, it’s a variant of the random dungeon system from the classic first edition DMG, wrapped up in a system to handle going back to town to buy stuff, along with some new monsters and other fun bits. I immediately wanted to hack it to suit my own random megadungeons instead of the Undercity, but figured I should try it out as given first.
The implied setting is very similar to that of the second part of Diablo II – a slightly arabesque city with deep sewers under the city that progress down into deeper ruins and strange areas that the ancient liches and undead thieves built.

So, to run through the Ruins of the Undercity, my girlfriend and I rolled up six characters and set them loose… This is her first time playing Labyrinth Lord / AEC (she’s played Dungeons & Dragons in both B/X and 3.5 flavours, but not this particular 1e-esque combination), and this is my first experience running AEC characters myself (although I’ve run a few AEC campaigns from the DM side of the screen).

Our initial party ended up:
  • Lizzie – Elven leader of our party, an incredible colelction of stats and abilities that the rest of us have no choice but to bow down to.
  • Leonardo – Halfling swashbuckler with style and flair.
  • Gerome not a Gnome! – Dwarven Fighter/Cleric
  • Zanven Wolfswift – Half-Orc Cleric/Assassin (thank goodness that LL clerics get spells at level 1, since assassins don’t get thief abilities until level 3, this character could have been pretty useless – as it is, chaotic & evil clerics have a pretty harsh spell list when only using the LL spells without the AEC spells)
  • Brother Malevar the Haunted – Human Cleric (dedicated to the church of law, but not really very good at it with his very low charisma and neutral alignment)
  • Xyrthrena – Human Monk (a highly unpleasant young lady with a love for large pointy things)

Our first expedition into the undercity underscored both the similarities and differences between the AD&D and Ruins random dungeon generators.

The first difference, which I immediately switched, is that while chambers remain larger than rooms, chambers use doors as exits and rooms use halls – the opposite from the original version. But that’s really more of a personal preference thing. The other big difference is the lighting table to determine how well/poorly lit the halls are (it adds an interesting feel to the game to suddenly find a single lantern hanging at an intersection).

Expedition 1 to the Undercity

Expedition 1 to the Undercity

The party found an entrance into the old city sewers and linked catacombs under the fishmonger district – an old sewer gate that lead under the city. The first chunk of exploration was exactly that – exploring empty rooms, sunken hallways, and then running into a very trapped hallway (slow gas trap followed by a turn illuminated by a brass lantern that also acts as the focus of a lightning bolt trap that the monk found).

One of the two rooms we had found in the undercity appeared to have some religious significance – a pair of braziers full of charcoal were set on each side of the only door leaving the room. Beyond it was a network of cracked and crumbling passages and a chamber containing 20 giant rats. 20 rats is a lot of rats for six adventurers to deal with – and fortunately they broke and ran when they had been reduced to 10, without any actual fatalities among the adventurers. Hidden amongst the various detritus of the rat lair were a set of stone-lidded containers built into the wall and floor – most containing old spoiled foodstuffs, but some containing a lot of copper (5,000 cp), and three pieces of jewelry (worth 10, 20 and 1,500 gp – quite the final find in the midst of the garbage).

A hasty retreat to the surface ensued where a bit of healing and shopping was undertaken – however the only armour shop in town, while well within our budget now, had no plate mail in stock (cool part about the town is that you roll to see how much of each stock item is available when you go shopping, and the armourer only stocks d4-2 suits of plate mail each time you visit town). Every day you are in town you also roll for random encounters, and in addition each character can choose to have one special event occur (which requires a roll on a different table of good and bad events).

A good and promising start to our adventures in the ruins of the undercity – enough to whet the adventurer’s appetites to find more treasure, more adventure… in the Ruins of the Undercity.