I thought I'd do an update of where I am in the preparation process. I've read over the module a couple of times, but will need to do so a few more so that I can better internalize the relationships between the different cave complexes.
The first thing I did was write up about 30 male names and 20 female names to use for the various unnamed NPCs in the keep. I plan on assigning them in play rather than doing it in advance. Most of these are names taken from the various crusade chronicles I've read in my academic career and therefore are medieval French in origin. I rather like the fact that the module doesn't name the NPCs as it allows an enterprising DM to better customize the names to fit his or her campaign.
I've also written up room descriptions to replace the Orcish common rooms in B and C. I won't be revealing what's inside until after the players have encountered it or until this whole thing is over, whichever comes first.
I'm working on a background for the Borderlands area that fleshes out the origins of the various dungeons and the Keep and also ties it into the World of Nightwick. I'll post it here when I'm finished.
I still need to label the different geographical features on the wilderness map. I'm not going to rename the Keep because I think people are generally unoriginal in their naming patterns and the Keep on the Borderlands might be as much of a name as such a structure could ever have. I also need to figure out which demon the Shrine of Evil Chaos is dedicated to.
I'm also going to put my largely unfinished homebrew dungeon in place of the Cave of the Unknown. I'm not very far in stocking it, but I may have more time to do so. I also need to figure out a background for the Cave of the Unknown to explain why it's filled with all the weird shit I'm going to put in it.
The wilderness map is by far my favorite part of the module. It really allows for the kind of exploration that I think is the heart of OSD&D. I do have some issues with the Caves of Chaos. They seem fairly deadly. They also are a bit too inhabited to really provide the kind of exploration that I feel is so necessary to a good D&D experience. I might be proved wrong once play commences, but it seems more like expeditions to the caves are guerrilla assaults on the forces of evil rather than exploring a location. Still, the Shrine of Evil Chaos is the kind of thing that fits very well into the World of Nightwick. I just wish there was a tad more weirdness and empty space.
My dungeon is going to largely be stocked along the lines of the Mentzer basic book and as such will have a bit more weird elements and empty space than the Caves do.