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Running White Plume Mountain

by Mike on 6 May 2013

Wizards of the Coast recently released a collector's edition of four of the most memorable 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Modules in a package called the Dungeons of Dread. These adventures include:

A few months ago I had the opportunity to run White Plume Mountain using the D&D Next playtest. Today we're going to take a look at some ideas for running White Plume Mountain using the latest D&D Next Playtest packet. Please note, I received a free review copy of the Dungeons of Dread before writing this article.

White Plume Mountain: Blackrazor

Converting White Plume Mountain to D&D Next

Converting White Plume Mountain to D&D Next is very easy to do. The speed of combat in D&D Next matches very well with the speed of combat in 1st edition AD&D so the overall pace of White Plume Mountain will remain the same when you convert it to D&D Next. You shouldn't even need to write anything down to convert it. The most recent version of the D&D Next playtest includes conversions of all the monsters in all four adventures in the Dungeons of Dread book.

You'll have to wing the damage on traps and skill checks but this can be easily done by looking at the D&D Next difficulty ladder and the damage you'd typically find on an appropriate level monster.

Tie Characters to the Dungeon

If you're running White Plume Mountain as a single adventure, you'll want to ensure your characters are tied to the main storyline of the adventure. Consider arranging three kingdoms nearby to the mountain, dwarf, elf, and human. The humans are seafaring fisherfolk whose lord held the powerful trident, Wavecrasher. The dwarves dug deep using the great power of Whelm. The elves hid and protected a dark blade from another world known as Blackrazor. Now all three kingdoms have lost these weapons and a note from a wizard long considered dead is all that lies in their places.

Tying the PCs to each of these kingdoms helps build in a motivation for them to recover the weapons from the ancient dungeon. A set of fiasco style relationships can do this job very well.

You might use a tip from Dungeon World and ask your group some leading questions once they have picked an alliance with each of the three cities:

You can add your own questions as ideas come to you from reading through the adventure.

A Three Part Quest

White Plume Mountain runs very well as three independent adventures, one for each of the three main wings. Let your players choose the path they want to take and give them opportunities to leave, recover, and return to the dungeon. You might consider running the dungeon as a more dynamic environment, with factions that move throughout the dungeon and change the environment from visit to visit. Use the three wings of White Plume Mountain and three treasures contained within them as the main quests that keep your players involved in the adventure.

Don't Force Combat

White Plume Mountain contains numerous situations that could fall easily into combat but don't have to. Don't force your players to engage in any battle when the might be able to think their way through. Perhaps they can negotiate with the band of brigands near the floating waterway. Maybe they can find a way past all of the monsters in the inverted ziggurat. Reward your players for inginuity instead of forcing them into a fight they might have avoided.

I, Keraptis

White Plume Mountain lacks a clear storyline describing how Keraptis stole the weapons and why he would bother to lead adventurers into the lair. You might convert the entire dungeon of White Plume Mountain to the inner workings of a lich. The entire dungeon IS Keraptis, and he amuses himself with the torment of mortals like lab rats. You could take an idea from the more recent iterations of Tomb of Horrors by making the entire mountain a channel of negative energy. The dungeon seeks to devour the hopes, dreams, and lives of those who enter and feeds off of the energy they provide.

However you choose to incorporate Keraptis, it is up to you to make him a key part of the story and the villain. The adventure itself does not do as suitable a job on its own. However you run it, you and your group are sure to enjoy this fantastic adventure.

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This work includes material taken from by Michael E. Shea available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

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