caves of chaos


Let me take you back to March 15th-16th, 1980.
A nerdy 10 year old boy has his nerdy friends over for a “birthday weekend sleepover.” The boy’s mother, encouraging her (all the teachers said so!) bright young son to continue reading at an advanced level, knowing his passion for Tolkien, Alice, Narnia, Oz, Prydain and many other books of that ilk (the young man was well known at the local library, to be sure) got him this ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ game mostly because of the picture on the front. The boy and his friends stay up all Saturday night making characters and going over the rules, readying themselves for a Sunday afternoon full of make-believe adventure.

About 3 hours in, my very first D&D character ever, Bagbo Bilbins (a halfling, because in those days, you see, your race and your class were the same thing!), died in the stairs between rooms 17 and 23 of the Caves of Chaos.

I have hated goblins ever since…

The Magnificent Seven part 1

So my DnD group has done a few campaigns that are all set in the same universe. We started with the Caves of Chaos map and ran with a plot from there. At the time our party consisted of a human ranger, an elf sorcerer, an elf monk (me), a child elf barbarian, a half-elf rogue, a half-elf cleric, and a dragonborn fighter.  We called ourselves the Magnificent Seven. (And I give this background info because I do plan on sharing more stories from our campaign.)

So in this one cave, we met and captured the “Queen of Statues” (a medusa) and our dragonborn fighter was tasked with holding her with a bag over her head.

Dragonborn (ooc): So is she pretty for a medusa?

DM: I mean, yeah, besides the snake thing and the turn-you-into-stone with a glance thing, she’s pretty good looking.  Why?

Dragonborn: *leans in real close to the medusa’s ear, grinning* “…So, is there a KING of statues?”

Queen of Statues: *hair hisses*

Dragonborn: Ok, ok, I get it - bad time to ask.


Gender: Male
Pronouns: he/his
Height: ~175 cm
Weapon: Longsword/Katana
Gem Type: Aegirine
Likes: sunsets, music, exploring caves, chaos, fighting
Dislikes: company, being defeated
Hobbies: mostly wandering around, staring at the sky and sometimes creeping up on humans who make/listen to music
- body can sprout more gem shards/spikes for defensive purposes
- very agile and lots of stamina, but not very strong
- his sword can grow to different length and can grow even more spikes
Relationships: None
Personality: most of the times very silent, but when spoken to he acts very rude and often times just runs of to escape unnecessary conversations. When pissed off he’ll even draw his weapon.
Other Images: X X X
Fusion Preference: Only fuses with gems he thinks are useful

(this is more of an OC than a Sona fyi)

Lucrecia first appeared in optional scenes within the original game canon of FFVII. Only when Dirge of Cerberus was released in 2006 did fans get more background to her character. She is largely known in the context of other characters: mother of Sephiroth, implied lover of Vincent Valentine, and both wife of / fellow scientist on the Jenova Project with Professor Hojo.

In Dirge of Cerberus, not only is Lucrecia’s full name (Lucrecia Crescent) revealed and her July 22nd birthday, but further details on her own credentials as a doctor in her own right. 

Listed as a “Class A Biotechnologist” in the employ of the ShinRa company, Dr. Crescent worked as an assistant to Dr. Grimoire Valentine in the study of the Chaos and Omega Weapons. Scenes within Dirge of Cerberus suggest that the cave of Chaos’ origin (officially the Crystal Cave but informally known as "Lucrecia’s Cave”) was discovered by Dr. Valentine, but the specific study is indicated as being driven by Lucrecia in an effort to prove her thesis. The Protomateria and samples of tainted Mako are brought back from the cave for research, but the containment tube shatters and Dr. Valentine comes into contact with the raw material in an effort to push his mentee out of the way. He dies shortly after, and the project is scrapped.

The scientific reports by the combined team of Drs Valentine and Crescent can be found as extra content in Dirge of Cerberus, and have eight in total.

Lucrecia’s thesis paper, later revealed as being written under the title The Planet’s Pulse, was discarded as nonsense and never formally filed with ShinRa. It is only through a combination of the fragments Shalua Rui was able to gather and the files uploaded to the consciousness of the Tsviet Shelke the Transparent that a full picture begins to form.

Further light is shed on Lucrecia’s character through Shelke, as she has managed to absorb a portion of her consciousness along with the data, but much like Vincent’s memories, they have to be considered through the filter of bias both characters have.

Initial character design shown in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega says the plan was for Lucrecia to have been “on Vincent’s side” and drugged by Hojo, thus forced into the experimentation against her will. However, by the time she is presented in Compilation canon she is shown as a willing, if conflicted, participant and her feelings for Vincent are only implied as being returned as strongly as his for her.

While seen imprisoned within the Crystal Cave in both the original FFVII and in Dirge of Cerberus, it has been stated that Lucrecia is still alive, and that her imprisonment was self-imposed. There is indication that she is aware of the world beyond her, and continues to have visions, something she suffered from during her pregnancy with Sephiroth.

Lucrecia’s birthday, July 22nd, will be celebrated yearly on FF7 Central.

The Magnificent Seven part 2

Also in the Caves of Chaos, our group got involved with some orc politics.

DM: So in the dungeon, next to the elf sorcerer, you also see a rather small orc.

Half-elf Cleric (ooc): Is he a kid?

DM: No, you’re pretty sure he’s fully grown, just… small.

Half-elf Cleric: Ok so I go up to him and talk to him in orcish asking him who he is.

DM: He says he’s the brother of the orc chieftain.

(Everyone at the table gets a chuckle out of this)

Half-elf Cleric: Oh!  Can I call him Baby Chieftain?  And tell him we’ll help get him back to his brother.

DM: He doesn’t seem too happy with this, but you’re not sure if it’s the nickname or the fact that he’s being helped by a bunch of elves that bothers him MORE.

(The nickname actually stuck, considering his brother was very amused by it when we reunited them.)

Curious about running Keep on the Borderlands in 5e, using the original playtest document as a starting point. A lot has been written about 5e working as an OSR-style game, and the consensus appears to be that the game still works in that capacity with very little alteration of the rules. 

It feels like the biggest changes are mostly forward facing, rather than getting your hands dirty and changing significant rules around. 

Some important points seem to be:

  • Focus on resource management and bookkeeping. 
  • Have the players map out the dungeon themselves based on DM description. 
  • You don’t owe your players a “fair” encounter - it’s completely possible for them to wander into something out of their league, and for running to be the best option. Don’t get attached to your characters, and don’t be afraid of killing them.
  • Hirelings! 
  • “Story” doesn’t come from “plot” - it comes from experiencing the game. It’s much more about “That time we tricked the goblin chief into thinking the kobold chief trashed his lair.” 

These are just some top-of-my-head things, feel free to tell me that I’m an idiot. Has anyone run any OSR style campaigns using 5e? Any advice? Did you make any changes to the rules that didn’t significantly change how the system works? 

Let me know! 

What are the most iconic locations in old school fantasy gaming history?  You immediately notice visual references to Dave Trampier’s demon idol behind the big arch.  What else passes that test?

I’m thinking about specific dungeon rooms, distinctive large objects or architectural features, or particularly memorable traps from adventures or art, not just the generic archetypes like the 10′ corridor or the 10′ deep pit, nor entire maps like the valley of the Caves of Chaos.  What are the locales from any game that you would recognize as a nod to old school gaming if they reappeared in a homebrew dungeon, the background of a comic panel, or a movie?