The Wizard of Bald Mountain

By Ken Goudsward
Dimensionfold Games
Entry Level

Our adventurers are commissioned by the Jarl of Connaught to investigate strange weather phenomenon at Bald Mountain. The Jarl also sends his personal mage to accompany them.

I don’t even know where to start on this one.

This 24 page adventure details a short overland journey to a ruined keep on top of a mountain with a wizard in it. The keep has ten rooms and has two monsters: the wizard and his fighter buddy. Single column, sparse, and yet with 24 pages … there’s just nothing here. Condensing this to a one page dungeon would still leave ¾ of a page to spare.

The jarl charges you with getting to the bottom of the weird weather coming from the top of the mountain. He gives you a sword and some armor. He sends his mage with you. (Ug. NPC with the party means betrary by him and/or DM pet. And in this case it’s a party betrayal.) You wander up a mountain for a day, find a ruined keep that is mostly empty, and fight a wizard. Everything here is more than little off.

Take the overland. The mountain is eight hours away, walking. Each hour you have an encounter on the wandering animal table. “Woah!” I thought, way too much. Foolish me. The encounters involve flies, mosquitos, crows, grouse, rabbits, deer, geese, a falcon, etc. I was then surprised there was no wandering rock table.

Once again, the adventure should concentrate on player interactivity. The mundane has little place. Wanna set the mood, or foreshadow? Great, no problem. Roll on table 12 each hour to see what kind of gravel the road is made of that hour? No. This is a caricature of D&D and, much like the rest of this adventure, reminds me of fantasy heartbreakers. Someone’s got a bug up their ass about how things should be.

“The team will need to gain entry into the keep. The keep can be entered easily from the east, north, or west.” *sigh* And does the sun rise today also?

The keep, proper, has two levels and ten rooms. “R3: (Servants quarters) (dark-empty torch sconce) 3 beds, only 1 with blankets; 1 dresser with shabby clothes” Fucking wonderful. My life is now complete. I never knew what I was missing. This is adventure? This is value? This is supposed to help you run a good game for your players? Yeah, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it also doesn’t DO anything. Room after room is like this. Well, at least all ten rooms, that is.

The adventure ends on page ten, after starting on page four, with the Boss Fight. It’s labeled The Boss Fight. It’s one page long, with TOO much whitespace, and full of tactics for the evil bad guy wizard. The rest of the page count is monster stats, tables, etc. Any EVERYTHING is in single column “i wrote this in word and printed in PDF” format.

There’s just nothing here. It would make, at best, a quarter to half a page of a one page dungeon. I get “slow burn”, but this is a little silly.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a current suggested price of $3. The preview shows you the entire adventure. Enjoy, in particular, the boss fight on page ten. Or maybe the adventure design on pages two and three.

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7 Responses to The Wizard of Bald Mountain

  1. Dave R says:

    I like the basic premise, a wizard sending out harmful weather from his mountaintop lair just because he can. That’s cool. It needs to be more obvious and more specific, like individual big dark clouds sent out from the mountain in an otherwise clear and sunny sky. And very obvious effects, one that’s continually zapping lightning, one that’s dropping rainbow colored hail, one that’s dropping snow in the middle of summer, [more]. This way there’s no need for an npc questgiver to tell the players there’s evil bad weather afoot, they can either get pasted themselves once, or watch some farmer’s wheat crop get ruined before harvest.

    Then if they go to the mountain they’ll likely have to pass through those storms. Say the wizard sends them out at random usually, or according to some spiteful schedule only he knows, but when he sees someone getting close he tries to drive them off. In fairness the original adventure nods this way with the ice wraiths and the cold weather effects, but this way they’re foreshadowed more and they’re more directly meaningful.

    I need a complication of some kind once they reach the mountain, so I’ll steal from the classics and say the wizard pulled a Koschei and buried his heart somewhere to achieve immortality. Stab him all you want, he doesn’t die. But return his heart to him and he’ll feel remorse again and quit his evil ways – or, if the players insist, be vulnerable to stabbing. I don’t want to make this some long distance quest, so I see two ways to go on where it’s hidden. Could be buried it in the valley below, only a few miles distant. It’s under the one field clouds never touch, where the locals have taken to holding weddings and feasts. Of course that means powering through the storms again, so if that’s too repetitive you could place it on the mountaintop itself, with a beam of sunshine marking the one spot where the wizard himself will never stand, lest he feel sorrow again.

    I feel like I need a combat encounter too, or at least a potential one, but I don’t want it to be too deadly or players won’t even consider settling for a repentant wizard, they’ll be certain to kill him. So give the wizard a goopy mud golem that only deals subdual damage, and drags trespassers down off the mountain if it wins a fight.

    Any good wizard’s tower needs a few puzzles, traps or illusions which I’m skipping over, and a full writeup would need clues to the heart’s location. Maybe some lengthy backstory to trigger Bryce, like the wizard was rejected as a young suitor by a local maiden who married another, which prompted him to bury his heart and take revenge on the whole valley. Still, I declare “adventure fixed.” I could even see running my version some day. Sadly I don’t need the original to do it, I’m better off with my own notes.

  2. I desperately need to make a wandering rock table!

  3. Cynidician says:

    Since there was considerable interest, I made this for all the DMs who might not have time to prep!

    Wandering Rock Table

    Roll 1d6 and consult the following chart:

    1 1d400 pebbles. They do not move.

    2 1d200 non-descript minerals. They wait for your party to act.

    3 1d100 rocks of a grayish but almost blueish nature. They have no special properties.

    4 1d50 cobbles. They appear damp but as your party approaches you feel relieved to see they are actually dry. (Say this out loud, to the players)

    5 1d20 stones. This small pile of largish stones marks the exact general area where two mighty rivers merged together into an even bigger and mightier river. The rivers are long gone. The rivers did not even have names because there was no one around to name them. Where the rivers disappeared to is not a mystery because no one ever saw them. But they probably went at least 50’ underground.

    6 1d2 boulders. They are too big to be moved, even by an entire party working together. Some people say it/they were carved by the gods. From bigger boulders. But those people are long dead. Now, people mostly just walk or ride by without paying much attention to the boulder(s). If your party’s thief walks around behind the boulder carefully, she or he will notice the branch of a tree. There are no trees nearby but if anyone in the party is an elf or a ranger they will know the branch is pine. (Feel free to substitute your preference of plant type!) Or, this could lead to another quest, should the party be without an elf and ranger. They might wish to seek out a scholar or herbalist to help identify the plant. Continuing the adventure—if your party seeks out an herbalist somewhere on the edge of the next town, they will receive 13xp and hear a story about how the herbalist isn’t allowed to sell her wares in town anymore because some of the local youths were using them for “non-medicinal purposes.” Be sure to have practiced your herbalist voice before this, in case you rolled a 1 for the number of boulders. If you rolled a 2 for the number of boulders then the branch is not present.

    • The Middle Finger of Vecna says:

      7 1 rolling stone. A stone about the size of a softball rolls down the path towards the party. If not stopped, the stone keeps on rolling until it’s out of sight. It also follows the path but seems to have no direction home. If stopped, the party notices that it has no moss. It appears to be made of flint. It is a complete unknown. If placed back on the ground it rolls away, again, until out of sight.

    • Chibi says:

      I feel like we’re gonna need a custom Reaction table for the rocks. The normal one just doesn’t cut it.

      • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

        8 Weird shaped rock with what looks like claws. When PCs get closer they realize that it’s not a rock but a rock lobster. It begins to sing…

        This is a magic item highly sought after by performers and bards

  4. The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

    9 A sack in the middle of the path containing several fist-sized rocks. At that moment, small bipedal creature with a white sheet over it comes running out of the brush on the side of the path. Curiously, the sheet has many circular holes cut in it. This weird fake ghost-like creature grabs the bag, reaches in, pulls out a rock, and states, “I got a rock” and then scampers back into the brush

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