Play Report: Lurkers in the Library


I’m back. It’s always difficult to get back to writing after having taken a break. It’s even harder when you haven’t been playing much D&D. We have been playing a lot more Magic: The Gathering recently. In some ways it has become a bit of an obsession with me at times. Look to see some posts on M:TG in the future!

I’ve started a new “campaign” with my boys a few months ago, in a campaign I’m calling, “It’s Wizard Time“. To go along with my blogging writer’s block, I’ve had some DM’s block as well. I just wasn’t feeling up to getting a coherent campaign together. I just want to run whatever old adventures that I want to run, in whatever order I want, with no interlocking story lines. Pretty much just playing in a “Adventure of the Week” format.

My rules for this “It’s Wizard Time” game are pretty much me picking an adventure, and letting my players know what level range characters will be needed. They will wake up in some sort of stasis chamber, and some odd-looking wizard (see above) will say “Ah, good. You are awake. I have need of you.” Tell them the mission, and the characters will be teleported to the adventure location. The characters will know each other, but not sure from exactly where, and will trust to adventure with each other. After the mission they will be teleported back to the stasis chamber, and the quest giver wizard will say, “Ah, good. You have returned. Here is your reward.”, and hand out whatever reward the quest giver from the adventure would have given. Experience points will be given out, and the players divide their loot, level up as needed, and go back into stasis.

Adventures will jump around in levels a bit from one session to the next. Any “It’s Wizard Time” character can be played in any adventure that it falls in the level range. For our first several sessions, this will require rolling up several new characters of different levels. We’ve also agreed that as time goes on, there could be a good collection of characters, and they can be shared.

So if I say “We need 5th-7th level characters for our next session”, they can pick one of their own, make a new one, use a pre-generated character from some other source, or play one of the characters that another player made, but is not playing for that session. This will allow them to have some variety in what they play and to explore different character concepts without worry of being stuck with one. We can jump from low-level to high-level play if we want, and given the catalog of characters that may become available, will allow for drop in players to join for a session without messing with the narrative, since I’m not planning on one.

I ran a bunch of adventures from Dungeon Magazine once upon a time, so I’m going back thru them and going to run a combination of my favorites as well as ones I never got to run. Probably will mix in some other classic TSR adventures, or ones I pick of from the DMs Guild. Whatever I feel like running at the moment. For my first, I went for a short session, and ran The Lurkers in the Library, by P. N. Elrond, from Dungeon Magazine #9, January/February 1988, one if the first issues I picked up.

The adventure itself isn’t much. More of a side quest type of thing, but one good for a short session and to see if my idea would work. There was a whole lot of location and NPC backstory stuff that in most cases won’t see play, but that’s a common fault of a lot of these early Dungeons. I had usually edited them down and made them fit my own campaign anyway.

I told my two sons to make 3rd level characters, anything goes. I have collected numerous homebrew races, subclasses, and such, and want to let them take as many as they want for a spin.

For this session we have:

3rd level red dragonborn monk,

3rd level air genasi rouge thief.

They woke up in a plain white room. The light seemed to come from the very walls and floor itself, but indistinct. It was hard to tell where the walls and floor joined together, they just flowed into each other. The ceiling, though, appeared as a night sky. Stars, and even planets and galaxies visible.

An old woman, dressed in white with an elaborate headdress said, “Ah, good. You are awake. I have need of you. Strange things are afoot at the library in Farrantio. Please investigate”. The characters felt themselves rise up into the night sky, accelerating until the stars became streams of light, until they came upon the outskirts of a mountain village. Like this, but without the cars.


They find their way to the library, and there is a crowd gathered outside. Some sort of commotion is going on inside. They notice the large library is filled with shelves, but the shelves are far from filled. Portia, the head librarian, is arguing with professors from the college of Farratio. A woozy looking halfling lays on the front desk, a wet cloth on his forehead.

Seems that Julius, the halfling, was taking some supplies to Nardo, the assistant librarian, in the basement. He heard a loud crashing come from door in the restricted section. Nardo came running out of a cloud of dust and saw what he thought was a tentacle grab Nardo and pull him back.

Ok…this has been sitting in my drafts folder for awhile. Like months and months. At this point I forget the details of the game we played (or even the characters names). We did have fun with the characters exploring the maze of long forgotten books that librarians had hidden away during an orc invasion of Farrantio. They fought a small band of orcs (the leader of which wielded a whip, the “tentacle” they heard about above). They followed a cave through an old secret pass to the other side of the mountain, that this band of orcs had discovered the other side of and discovered the library.

Portia is overjoyed at this discovery of lost lore. After receiving the praise of the locals, the characters felt themselves rise up into the sky, accelerating until the clouds and then the stars became streams of light, until they came back to the strange glowing room and the strange wizard that had sent them on their quest. “Ah, good. You have returned. Here is your reward.” I award XP and the white light encompasses everything, until only nothingness remains. The characters are back in stasis.

Lurkers in the Library would be better served as a Side Trek than a full on adventure. Way more backstory and details on NPCs than would probably ever be used or discovered by the players. A couple pages of “wall of text” that would pretty much bore everyone, unless you planned on using Farrantio again. Even the orc band gets an extensive write-up. I ignored most of it and just ran it as a quick one-shot side trek type adventure.

I wasn’t looking for a long session, more of a “proof of concept” for the It’s Wizard Time campaign. For the three of us, it worked. I have 12 year old twin boys. They really don’t care much for character history, backstory, interactions, ect. They like the mechanical fiddly bits of the characters and like fights and to solve puzzles and riddles. This let them make some characters, play a game, and file the characters away if they ever want to use them again. If they don’t, that’s fine too. Roll up something new!

I have yet to decide if these It’s Wizard Time will be in any way connected or it I will even re-use any of the strange wizard quest givers.

With the games and campaigns I have run with them so far, the farthest they’ve advanced a character was to 8th level. They expressed some interest higher level play, so for our next session I told them we’d need 15th level characters, the pair of which I planned on taking thru the Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb, but that is a tale for another time.

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One comment

  1. Lurkers in te Library is one of my favorite low level scenarios. I constructed my 3E campaign setting by cobbling together all the unused Dungeon Magazine adventures I had on hand (mostly urban) to build a solid swashbuckler politics urban adventure setting, and the Ferrantino library was a key part. This was really the only way to make the massive backstory in each of those early Dungeon articles useful – build the campaign around them, tweaking as I went.

    If you’re interested, the Lurkers in the library part starts here.


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