Duero's Tower, Chuck Monson's early 1970's Campaign and more...

Author: DHBoggs /

More from my discussion with Chuck Monson, in his own words:

"My D&D campaign of this time was known as Duero's Tower, a old keep off in the countryside used for a while by the not very amazing nor powerful wizard Duero which began some adventures.  
Duero was assumed by players to be absent (and an NPC legend) whose name was associated with a pile of cut rocks that had at some point in history been a strong point in the area.  No more than a room or two remained intact, perhaps a couple of broken stairs (wood) and such.  Evidently Duero may have left odd bits there which may have been abandoned or ignored by looters and sundry wanderers.  Only the daring, etc., approached the tower... Duero's story was more or less involved with nature magics, but not a druid, and by legend known to thwart any Evil upon the Land.  Then he seemed absent, then gone from the place, pehaps for a lifetime... 
As a storyteller, I was not giving away much in magic, goods or real stories.  Often just clues:  a broken piece of expensive looking crockery, an artsy styled clay vase fragment, and small wooden box with broken hinge... I liked clues useful to those with open eyes and open imaginations.  From those teasers the players more or less constructed the adventures themselves with some guidance from me.  

None of the player characters ever reconstructed the tower, or even rose to a status of wealth or social prominence, but they seemed to enjoy a lot of adventures during our couple of years of gaming.  

There was a later campaign around the legend of Bog Eye, a marvelous huge green gemstone with a flat surface that allowed visions of the goings on in the swampy lands of a barony.  The gem was in the possession of a dragon, of course, but coveted all the same.  
My players were mostly lower levels, 5-6, in this campaign, and understood the balance of things in the barony.  I required the players to be aligned neutral-good to neutral-evil, but compatible in attitudes, mostly.  No one was above larceny, no one was pure and Good.  And all seemed a bit dangerous in some way.  Fortunately, too, no one was truly Evil in nature. This was a time when Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard occupied my light reading hours.    

This campaign had small and remote dens of monsters (trolls or such), non-human PCs, and was commonly understood to have what I called 'treasured' riches.  I was more liberal as a storyteller and let the player characters gain minor magic items like gloves that enhanced dueling skills, +1 or +2 armor, a magic sword or two.  I also had fun with 'cursed' items.  

There was a power infrastructure: a bishop, a couple villages, towns run by tough, heroic types.

There was a Bishop's palace, a great house really, which was surrounded by a wide dry moat filled with life-sized statuary ... animals, men, and the occasional monster... the moat was an elaborate trap which transformed trespassers into stone.  Obvious to most, but not all... a warning of more to come if unwelcomed guests arrived... at this time I had not read Narnia, so no, no intention of duplication in that.

On occasion the Bishop feasted his guests. After a sumptuous repast, he would invite these select few to visit his treasure room.  Within the palace was a store room of legendary wealth... and he was amused to let his guests wander along a long, high roofed chamber which was piled with loose coins as tall as a man's height, with various oddities like wands, swords, armor, etc, some magic, some just very fine.  It was a greed trap.  "Take all that you can remove from my bounty," the Bishop would say with relish.  Then the chamber doors would close after the characters resolved to enter and accept the Bishop's favor.  He was a neutral-evil cleric. Of course the players would discover that not all that glitters was easily taken... being in some cases cursed and mixed in alignment.  Zaps, slashes, mind control challenges, etc., made it a bit of fun... and player ingenuity typically prevailed.  I was a kindly storyteller and did not roast or gut my players often, but vex them, yes, that was fun. And most of the coins were coppers, lol. 

One of the treasures taken out of the Bishop's chamber was a yellow died leather armor coat with some magical property.  The player in question put the armor on a frame and fired a crossbow bolt into it.  The bolt passed through the front of it.  When examined the exit hole in the back was perhaps the size of a fist.  Yes, the armor enhanced the wound damage.  An object lesson learned, it would seem.  What a gift to put upon an unsuspecting victim!  

Yes, I admit, it is fun to recollect these game adventures."   

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Game Archaeologist/Anthropologist, Scholar, Historic Preservation Analyst, and a rural American father of three.
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