Friday, August 19, 2016

Getting my players into the Maze of the Blue Medusa

I got the Maze of the Blue Medusa about two weeks ago, and wanted to run it as an adventure- but the requirements to get into the maze are nearly impossible for players to "accidentally" do.  So here's the setup.

PS, this is way more written out than the notes I took on my notebook.  You don't need to be nearly this verbose in your prep.  Bullet points are fine:

Thrush Hill
  • Goods: City Prices
  • Obvious Features:
    • Cathedral Clock Tower
    • Frequent rains
    • Sewage stench from abandoned quarry (E)

Thrush Hill

There's a town called Thrush Hill.  It's well populated with a rigorous economy.  It has all the usual things you expect of towns, but a few things stand out to anyone there.  There's a big cathedral to The Lady Temperence with a mechanical clock tower, a point of pride for the town that can be seen from just about anywhere.  It rains frequently, which lends the town a slightly morose atmosphere.  The rains are both blessing and curse, as they cleanse the air of the sewage stench that rises out of an abandoned quarry east of town... and the dampness always causes the smell to return stronger just after.

Thrush Hill has a good trading relationship with Aldwyn Keep a few miles down the road, and a number of its craftsman find regular employ at special orders from Lady Orphone, a wealthy matron who lives on a secluded estate to the south.

Humphrey Bostock

Everyone who meets Humphrey comes away remembering three things about him.  Firstly, he fusses constantly with his elaborate powdered wig, which he often adorns with jewelry.  Secondly, he considers himself (at length, loudly) a great collector of art, though- like all who consider themselves a great anything- he's probably more interested appearing a great collector of art.  Thirdly, he is suspicious of everyone- doubly so of his servants, and quadruply so where money is concerned.

One of his servants, you see, has gone missing.  A quiet man named Oliver Poff, who served Bostock for the last 12 years.  The man seemed quite interested in a new painting Humphrey had hung on the north wall of his study- "A Lady In Chains"- across the room from the imposing red and black "Pater Familias".  Humphrey repeats a number of times that Poff made multiple inquiries regarding the painting, its origins, and the figure depicted within it.  He doesn't particularly remember what exactly was asked, but it was far too much for his liking.

And so, this morning, with Poff nowhere to be found, Humphrey has had want ads tacked up all over town-


Thieves and rapscallions abound in Thresh Hill, and this gentle son of her noble breast will not stand idly by while her treasures are secreted out from under her languid gaze!  Humphrey Bostock offers simple lodging and accommodations for trustworthy guards seeking a one month contract.  Experience with thieves and passing familiarity with one Oliver Poff preferred!

Generous payment of 60 silver pieces to be rendered at the successful completion of duties.



Of course, as soon as the PCs begin their watch in the evening, moonlight fills the study and the "Lady in Chains" begins to move....


  1. A gorgeous book that I hope to order soon. Which system are you using for this?

    1. Lamentations of the Flame Princess!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I just purchased Lamentations of the Flame Princess, keen to give it ago.
      You've really inspired me to give OSR a shot.

  2. If I read your setup correctly, are you ignoring the criteria that the painting need be stolen before the moonlight then activates the portal into the painting?

    Also, when you say you wanted to run this as an adventure do you mean that it's not meant to be run as a multi-session series but rather as a one-shot? If one wanted to run this as a series would you recommend hand-waving how PCs survive between sessions or how new PCs would enter and join the party (assuming original PCs will die)?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. The painting has to be stolen... but it doesn't specify by whom ;)

      The backstory includes that this nobleman acquired the painting through illicit methods. However, the full list of conditions for getting into the maze is (as you notice) super restrictive! I streamlined some of it in order to just start running the dungeon.

      It's a multi-session series, all focused on running this dungeon. I actually gave the players four "back up adventurers" who were also assigned to guard the house- when four of them died, we rolled to see who would take control of which back up adventurer. I'll probably streamline getting future adventurers into the dungeon similarly.

    2. I see, so the back-up adventurers would suddenly enter the painting and appear with the party as each player's linked PC died? Or would the back-up adventurer then need to find the party in the maze?

      Obviously there's no "right" way to do this, but I too found the entrance conditions a bit too restrictive and wanted to start the story with the PCs noticing the moving figure in the painting and jumping in. I like your setup, though I'm not sure if session transitions should be seamless (pick up immediately where the left off last session) or if the party should start in the first room each session as they delve deeper and get to know the NPCs more each time they venture further into the maze.

      If I understand correctly, should the PCs let the lady in chains free and allow her to exit the painting she will then steal the painting for herself, trapping the adventurers until some later date when she then sends in her own crew for her own agenda. If, however, she is not set free or allowed to exit and trap the PCs then theoretically the PCs could return to the starting room and exit the painting willingly, yes? This could provide an option for a multi-session series that could allow PCs to enter/exit as desired, similar to "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." Not sure why a PC would ever choose to re-enter after escaping such a crazy place(!) but I'm sure there are reasons that could be created.

      Thanks for sharing and talking through these ideas!


    3. Through discussion on google+, someone had a neat and simple idea that future PCs could simply be statues in the maze suddenly re-animated! Their former adventuring party long gone or dead, the newly animated PC would then join the existing party.