The first step in creating a dungeon in both Mentzer and Moldavy’s versions of basic is selecting a scenario. Here we already see drift from OD&D and even Holmes. The idea of a scenario at all is absent from The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures which merely provides a sample dungeon. Holmes does not provide guidance directing a scenerio, but does discuss the background of its sample dungeon.
Mentzer provides several scenarios with a brief description:
- Recovering Ruins
- Exploring the Unknown
- Investigating an Enemy Outpost
- Destroying an Ancient Evil
- Visiting a Lost Shrine
- Fulfilling a Quest
- Escaping from Enemies
- Rescuing Prisoners
- Using a Magic Portal
- Finding a Lost Race
My natural inclination is to go with the destroying an ancient evil. The description reads
The ‘evil’ is a monster or NPC, but the exact type is not known. It may have been deeply buried and reawakeed by recent digging, exploring, and so forth.
But I’m wondering if natural inclination is just another phrase for laziness or lack of creativity. So let’s brainstorm some other options.
Rescuing prisoners sounds like it could be interesting:
Valuable or important persons are being held prisoner by an evil group (bandits, orcs, a magic-user with allies, etc). The party may be hired, or may simply be seeking an announced reward. The party may be the guards for a person negotiating the ransom demands
Yeah, I like that one. Still, ‘rescue the princess’ is a bit cliche so what variants can we do. I’m still down with beautiful women captives in a fine Burroughs tradition. Actually, why not twist it a little and use the most reviled sword and planet series for inspiration, Gor. I really like Trollsmyth’s Slaves of Shkeen last month. So, the captives to be rescued could be slaves. Given my bent they’ll have to be slave girls.
So, here’s the setup. The scenario will see the party learning of a large reward to rescue a group of five kidnapped women who were carried off by subhumans into the wastes to the south. The women are actually slave girls being brought from the pleasure cities of the east by a local merchant for a brothel he planned to open.