Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unfocused Thoughts on Castle Drakenstein

"No!  You musn't go!  We People of the Mountains believe fucked up shit happens at the castle."

Tunnels & Trolls is a game that fascinates me.  I've run a session or two using the quickstart -- which I don't seem to be able to find at the moment -- and I remember having mixed feelings.  However, Scott Driver's love of the game combined with its lighthearted tone have made me want to revisit it at various points.  I think, for example, it would make a kickass system for the Land of Ooo.

One thing I particularly like is the idea of a dungeon "proprietor."  I especially liked Scott's making his a messed up parody of himself.  So I decided to see what I could come up with for myself.  Thus was born Castle Drakenstein.

Note: this is another one of those settings I'm not likely to run.  This is especially true because the overlap with Nightwick Abbey is pretty heavy.  However, I'd like to have something if I ever decide to give T&T a second chance.

  • The general theme would be horror movies of various sorts, particularly the Universal and Hammer ones, with a smattering of 50s sci fi, horror literature, swords & sorcery, ufology, and metal stuff thrown in willy nilly.  It might be best described as "the kind of castle a horror host would live in."
  • The proprietor, Baron Edric van Drakenstein, is a capricious and melodramatic lich who has a habit of dressing like the above picture.  He is usually sulking in his chambers beneath the castle, playing an enormous pipe organ.  When he's in a manic state, however, he will often appear to badger the delvers with terrible puns, horrible monsters, and incoherent whining.  This is all done with an excessive amount of gesticulation.
  • Dungeon levels/sublevels will have themes based on various types of movies.  For example there would be a Frankenstein lab (this would also include things like Mu-tants), a Dracula crypt, a cavern that looks suspiciously like the forest from The Wolfman, etc.
  • Monsters will include Wolfmen, Wolfwomen, Mu-tants, Frankensteins, Draculas, Draculaensteins, Skeletons (a la Jason and the Argonauts), Orcs with Halloween masks on, Froguloids*, Creatures from Various Lagoons, Gorgons (complete with purple back lighting), CHUDs, Morlocks, Zombies (both flesh eating and voodoo varieties), Flatwoods Monsters, Igors, Jersey Devils, Swamp Monsters, and a lot more.  I'm too lazy to think of more now, but that took me like a minute so whatever.
  • Sections of the dungeon will disappear based on the good baron's mercurial moods.  If somehow the delvers were to integrate Edric on this point, he would declare "the map was ugly!" and complain about how hard running a dungeon is.
  • The Baron is just the most recent in a long line of fucked up liches in the van Drakenstein family.  They all look eerily similar, but that's easy when your face is a skull.
  • The castle is on a high mountain and only appears at night.  A village lies at the foot of the mountain, and the peasants have various nonsensical excuses for why they don't move.
  • Various magic items and/or technological gizmos would only work on the levels whose genre matches their theme.  So the ray gun you found on the Devil Planet level doesn't work in the Tomb of the Mummpire. 
  • SFX provided by Ray Harryhausen.
  • There will be a lot more lighting than in most of my dungeon complexes.  In this case it will appear like the various psychedelic lighting tricks used to make Hammer movies so lurid.
  • I like the idea of the more traditional fantasy monsters in the dungeon thinking all this horror movie stuff is stupid and complaining.  They stick around because they get a hot meal and a place to sleep.
  • The system would obviously be T&T, but I'm not sure what edition I would use.  I only really have experience with the quick start.
  • I suppose there would probably be some TOS Star Trek references in there.
  • One of the Draculas, or perhaps the Baron himself, would have a gallery of busts of himself in different extravagant hats.
Ok, I feel like I'm reaching now, so that's it until I get more inspiration.


  1. That all sounds pretty excellent. I like his drama, and the clock-punching monsters.

  2. I love that idea. It reminds me of that French "Donjon" comic about the lives of the monsters and the keeper of a dungeon. I think I might well have to make my own version.

    What would be really cool, I think, is to have an occasional "reverse dungeon" game on G+, using the Monsters! Monsters! supplement, or something. The players are all dungeons denizens, having to deal with assorted workplace drama, environmental hazards, and the incursions of murderhobos from Outside.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. The system would obviously be T&T

    "Obviously"? I wouldn't be so sure; this also seems like a perfect fit for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay!

  5. I suppose there would probably be some TOS Star Trek references in there.

    • A bickering wizard couple who claim the castle is really theirs.

    • A giant paper-maché snake head who demands food and obeisance.

    • One level is inhabited by an unusually petulant dandy who claims to know the adventurers and demands everyone play with him.