Monday, September 10, 2012

Crayfish and Abbots: More Fodder in the case of the Sample Dungeon vs. Hommlet

Back when I did my big DMG Sample Dungeon vs. T1 comparison last winter, I did not look very closely at the Giant Crayfish encounter in room 13 of the Dungeon level of the Moathouse.  Perhaps because I considered the crayfish encounter to be a monster encounter, I never made a connection between it and the water room in the Sample Dungeon, even though both feature... water.  But on closer inspection, there does seem to be something of note going on.  Not with monsters, obviously, as there is no evidence of a giant crustacean loitering around the abbot's old bones, [EDIT: Actually, there are crayfish hanging out near the abbot's bones, check this out from the description of the pool: "There are a score or so of small, white blind fish in it, and under the rocks are some cave crayfish, similarly blind and white.  Thanks to my fact checker over at Zenopus Archives for catching this one.] but check out the treasure description for each encounter:

"The limed-over skeleton of the abbot is in the pool of water... If the remains are disturbed in any way, a cylindrical object will be noticed, the thing being dislodged from where it lay by the skeleton, and the current of the stream carrying it south at 6" speed.  To retrieve it, a character must be in the stream and score "to hit" as if it were AC 4 in order to catch it. It is a watertight ivory tube with a bone map of the whole level inside."
"in the water on a ledge is a platinum pin set with a ruby (2,000 g.p. value) and a bone tube. The pin is under a skull (human) and the the tube under some bones.  Unless searchers use their hands, their is a 50% chance that either or both treasures will slip off the ledge and be lost below.  The tube is water-tight and contains a scroll of magic user spells (push, stinking cloud, fly)"

Sure, one's an MU scroll and one's  a map, but c'mon, two watertight scroll tubes hidden amidst bones with a chance of dislodging and losing said item to the PC's eternal dismay?!  It should be noted that in monastery, the moving scroll tube has only about 10-20' of stream to go before it flows through the outlet tunnel at the south end of the room and is lost forever.

Also of note: the ruby pin under the human skull, though much more valuable, is somewhat reminiscent of the garnet in the goblin skull in room 1 of the Sample Dungeon.  Red gemstones hidden in skulls; what would Freud say about that? 

To be sure, this is not jaw-dropping evidence that these two dungeons are derived from a similar progenitor.  But, given the vast amount of other forensic evidence, it certainly enhances the argument.


Zenopus Archives said...

Another good find! And a nice follow-up to your series. I hope at some point you put it all together in one document.

grodog said...

I concur, on both points :D


Jim said...

Me three! Thanks for this interesting article!

Timrod said...

Thanks fellow Hommlet junkies. I'd need to feel pretty confident that I've uncovered everything Gygax has to offer on the topic before I put together such a compendium. I fear that it'd feel like shutting a door. Maybe I need to look at B2 some more...

Zenopus Archives said...

I went and looked over the two rooms in question last night and noticed two other small details in common. In each case, the area is described as being a natural area that was enlarged.

Sample Dungeon: "This natural cavern was roughly worked to enlarge it".

T1: "When the dungeons were dug a natural pool of water was found, and as it was considerably below floor leve, the area was dug lower and the entrance to the pool enlarged".

Also, the Sample Dungeon ends by mentioning the pool has some blind and white cave crayfish. I guess one of them grew larger in T1.

Timrod said...

@Z.A.: !!! Holy Craptastic!!! That makes everything a lot more meaningful. I'm gonna' have to edit my post to include this new info.