Saturday, July 3, 2021

Morkendaine

"Morkendaine" is a 16-page dungeon for 1st and 2nd level characters by Jennell Jaquays, published in The Dungeoneer #9 (January-February, 1979).



"Morkendaine" by Jennell Jaquays, from The Dungeoner #9 (January-February, 1979)


An abandoned manor house and its cellars are described, as well as the two-level dungeon beneath.  A new monster, the shadow giant, is included.

The Lawful god Asura is loosely based on the Hyborian Age deity mentioned in Robert E. Howard's "The Hour of the Dragon" also appearing in Gods, Demigods & Heroes.

Many of Jaquays' classic design elements are apparent, with enough interesting material for several game sessions.



Illustration for "Morkendaine" by Jennell Jaquays, published in The Dungeoneer #11 (used for the cover of JG 93 "Under the Storm Giant's Castle")


AD&D:

The adventure was published after the AD&D 1e Monster Manual and Players Handbook were released, but before the AD&D 1e Dungeon Masters Guide was available.

Many of the monsters are drawn from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, and various spells are likewise taken from the AD&D 1e Players Handbook.

A base AC 10 and specific armor types from the AD&D 1e Players Handbook are used, in addition to the nine-point alignment system.


The Dungeoneer:

Jaquays also incorporated material from earlier issues of The Dungeoneer, including gremlins from The Dungeoneer #1, Circean non-magical potions from The Dungeoneer #2, and vorpal bunnies from The Dungeoneer #4.


Underworld Oracle:

Underworld Oracle was a short-lived D&D fanzine published in the UK.  Jaquays makes reference to "On the Rack" by Low Nisbet, an article published in Underworld Oracle #5, which provided mechanics for torture.

2 comments:

  1. I wonder if Jaquays was trying to reference Mordenkainen in the title. It's such an awkward name otherwise, and by simply transposing two letters and adding an 'n', one arrives at the name. Jaquays had to be aware of Gary's character, by this point. I couldn't find anything in the writeup to suggest a connection, though.

    In any case, this was a weird dungeon. I haven't flipped through it in decades until your post, but I do remember wondering why the tribe of kobolds (with their boars) didn't just wipe out the bandits on the ground floor of the manor. And I could never figure out the torturer, who was described as a "demented Human Dwarf." I always assumed he was meant to be a human with dwarfism (but then why were the racial descriptors capitalized?).

    I also cracked open my copy of All the World's Monsters Vol. 2 to cross-reference their Vorpal Bunny, and sure enough, it is Jaquay's version (it even references "DUN 4.") I never caught all the cross-pollination as a teen, but that's been the real joy of discovering the OSR is just how much the various designers interacted with each other's material.

    There was some fun stuff in here, and many great examples of how a simple little parenthetical aside can add so much depth to an encounter. I'm absolutely stealing the idea of the shadow giant room (if not the monster.)

    Definitely enjoying the dive through some old adventures I haven't thought about in ages! Judges Guild material was always such a mixed bag, but in hindsight, many of the things they produced really had an influence on my own dungeons and campaigns.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I'd pondered over the possible connection with "Mordenkainen" as well - would be a good question to ask her (she's been doing a lot of interviews, lately).

      Wow - I didn't realize that vorpal bunnies also showed up in All the World's Monsters! That magical period between 1976 (when D&D really took off) and 1978/9 (before the release of the DM's Guide) was magical, indeed.

      I agree with you, the shadow giant room is amazing, and can be plopped into any dungeon. An in-depth review of this adventure is still needed...I just wanted to raise awareness for how it fits in.

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