In Quest of the Hand of Vecna?
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Post Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:23 pm 
 

[quote="nano"]You mean the man that has dedicated his life to working with the disabled?
quote]

Birds of a feather?
I believe everyone looked similar to the individuals in the picture during that time period. Corduroy, weird hairdos..............


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Post Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:01 pm 
 

Deadlord39 wrote:Corduroy, weird hairdos..............

Corduroy is timeless, Deadlord.  Brushed corduroy is sooo soft.

And velour is luxuriously soft.  I got rid of my velour shirts last year and now wish I hadn't.  :(

  

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Post Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:51 pm 
 

JohnGaunt wrote:Corduroy is timeless, Deadlord.  Brushed corduroy is sooo soft.

And velour is luxuriously soft.  I got rid of my velour shirts last year and now wish I hadn't.  :(


Too bad, the ladies LOVE the velour shirt.... 8O

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Post Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:31 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:Too bad, the ladies LOVE the velour shirt.... 8O

I bow before the master.  :)

I woke up too early yesterday, didn't get enough caffeine (headache when I woke up), and now I am making off-topic posts.  I lost my fashion sense decades ago, and common sense has finally followed.  :)

  


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 3:45 pm 
 

Carl just sent me an email with a lot of detail about the Hand module, some real world background and some game background as it tied into our World of Greyhawk setting.

John Barnes

Here it is:

Be careful what you ask, 'cause you might get an answer. A long answer.
Some seemed to want real-world background info on how this came to be,
other seemed to want some game-world info on it. Here's some of both.

For those wondering why such a high level module was written...
Not too surprisingly, it is because the party that was going through it
was in that level range. Not only that, but the magic item situation had
gotten rather out of hand (so to speak).

Prior to this the party had gone through, amongst other things, the 3 G
series modules, including going through the fire giant a second time after
a break where the PCs didn't really go adventuring but did other things,
like creating new spells, making magic items or having them made, and such.
After they found Glenn's character and cured him of being a wight (due to
the cursed item(s) in the lowest level of the fire giant's place), I ran
them through a somewhat restocked G3, and then the D series, plus a home
brew that I had to make because they decided to go off the main trail and
into one of the side areas shown on the map. That little side adventure
ended up being one of the few occasions when the party actually ran away
from something because they were afraid the entire party might be wiped
out. (Remember the Krugrok, Glenn? Known as "the wall creature" at that
time.) Anyhow, after the Vault we proceeded to Q1, Queen of the Demonweb
Pits. They did manage to get through the thing and kill Lolth (more or
less - technically she probably isn't really dead since she was not on
her home plane at the time). Q1 is where I got the general idea for
altering spells and magic items for parts of a module set on another
plane (the plane of shadows, in the case of the Hand/Serpent module).

If you've ever played the G/D/Q series of modules then you may have noticed
that a lot of magic items can be acquired by the party, including some fairly
powerful ones, as well as a very large amount of money. This lead to escalating
magic item power levels since not only did the group have a lot of magic items,
they could afford to have some high powered items custom made for them (or
afford the lab and ingredients to make them, for those that could). The more
extreme examples of this didn't happen until after this adventure, but it was
already happening. I'm sure the vast quantities of treasure they got from this
adventure didn't help - but by then it was pretty much the standard, and
much too late to worry about how much treasure was being handed out.

Then we hit the dilemma of what the party could do next - there were no more
official modules of suitable level to run the same party through. What with
the escalating magic item situation, various players wanted to go after
artifacts. I have no idea how he managed it, but Glenn convinced them to go
after the Hand first. (The chaotic evil MU, who became a lich shortly before
this point, has the whole group out adventuring to get him the Hand of Vecna -
there is pretty much no possibility that this is a good thing for anybody,
including the other members of the party and probably himself).

So I came up with the adventure in question. Many of the details have been
forgotten, but I think the group I ran through it was 7 PCs who probably
averaged something close to 17th level. This included a cleric who could
cast 7th level spells, and I'm pretty sure both MUs could cast 9th level
spells, but maybe one of them could only manage 8th. John's dwarven
fighter was one of the lower level characters in the group, probably about
15th level (exceeding the normal level limit for a dwarf via extraordinary
means) - although there was probably a character lower level than his,
maybe two.

I think the version as published was actually toned down a little in a few
spots from the way it was originally run, and Serpent was adjusted a bit more
(Drelgs a bit easier to do damage to in the Serpent than in this version of
the Hand, or the version as I ran it, for example). The end of both the Hand
and the Serpent versions is certainly different from what I did originally -
I had "the box", which Glenn mentioned, that contained three large extra
dimensional places (or perhaps small alternate prime material planes).

That last line of Glenn's post ("I knew we should have kept Carl locked in his room
another day or two") is pretty funny since at the time it was more like
"hurry up and get it done". They wanted it by some specific date which
would allow it to be entered into the computer, have a proofreading done
and corrections entered, and printed out by some other date. I expect that
date was the date of the convention shown in the picture.

Given the amount of time I took to finish it and then the amount of time it
actually took to enter it all (a lot longer than had been anticipated, as I
recall), the Hand version evidently never had a complete set of corrections
done - the version that started this topic is missing some information,
including some of the plane of shadows related MU spell alterations, as well
as all of the illusionist spell alterations and magic item alterations. It
also includes more monsters that are not actually in the module than the
Serpent does (which has only one). It was corrected and revised to change
the artifact from the hand of Vecna to the Serpent of Me'Tal after that
(in hopes of avoiding any potential problems with TSR's copyrights and/or
trademarks on anything Vecna related), and all the introductory and
background material made it in as well. In the Hand there is at least
one reference to introductory information that is not present.
Specifically, the reference to Brolf in room 18. Another important
improvement was the addition of the interior art and the new cover art,
which was done for what I now know to be a ridiculously low price by
a friend of John's (we aren't sure how much it was, but we are guessing
that it may have been as little as $25 for all of it, the only art in
the Serpent she didn't do is the back cover and the diagrams in the
"supplement"). In the Serpent, and on the maps, the errors in room
numbering were corrected so that there are no repeats - this resulted
in the later room numbers being increased by 3, which was noted earlier
in the thread.

If our memories are not too far gone, the cover for the Hand was an 11x17
photocopy of an original that consisted of a copy (hopefully not the original,
but it could have been) of the art plus lettering and a couple of ornaments
from those peel-off sheets of letters you can get at various places - this
is why the letters are not completely even: they were stuck on the master
copy one by one by hand. Actually, I'm somewhat surprised by how even they
turned out on both covers - I think that was Bob's mother's doing. The master
copy of the cover of the Serpent was created in the same way, but it was not
photocopied. For the Serpent we had 100 copies printed at an actual print shop
in black and red ink on 11x17 grey light card stock. I'm pretty sure this ate
the vast majority of our budget, and we got a very good deal (John thinks the
print shop may have been owned by the father of someone we went to school with;
as I recall, Bob promised something along the lines that any additional copies
of this and any future products we produced would go through them). It has
the maps on the inside of the cover in black with the label for each map in red.
(The disclaimer on the back relating to TSR has a typo, "TRS", which is why the
title page has a disclaimer to the disclaimer across the top.) Theoretically,
some print shop in Toledo could still have the plates used to print the cover.

The interiors for the Hand were apparently all printed individually on a dot
matrix printer, probably at the "normal" quality setting, except for the maps
and the supplementary diagrams which were photocopies of the original hand
drawn versions. It is apparently all single sided sheets. The bulk of the
interior of the Serpent was double sided photocopies of a dot matrix printout
done on the high, or "near letter quality", setting. The illustrations (or,
hopefully, copies of them) were attached to the printout in spaces left for them.
It is also in a smaller font size. The title page was a mix of typewriter for
most of the text, individual letters from a sheet letter as for the covers, and
an illustration all combined and photocopied to a single sided page. The supplement
was revised, with the images being shrunk by about a factor of two (a few being
discarded as they were not really needed) and pasted to a page with some text
from a typewriter, resulting in photocopies with one double sided and one single
sided page. We are guessing that all the original art and the pasted up covers
and pages are in the same place as the extra covers, wherever that is.

I don't think I ever actually specified which hex on the map the part on
the prime material plane was in - the group certainly had the means to travel
anywhere without much effort, so it didn't really matter. The general location
may have been in the northwestern parts of the setting, in or near the old
Baklunish Empire's territories.

Some of the background material for the module is vaguely related to the
Baklunish empire - the deity that imprisoned the various beings in the dungeon,
and put the box with the hand/serpent here as well - was fairly well known in the
ancient Baklunish empire, and to a lesser degree in the Suel lands, in my setting.
He was imprisoned a few centuries before the Baklunish empire was wiped out by
the Suel and did the same, only more so, in return. Some of the monsters have
certain design elements that are quasi-Persian and/or vaguely Indian, much like
the ancient Baklunish and their descendants. Vistoral, the deity, was a "greater
god" and the head of a moderatly sized pantheon. (My multiverse didn't have just
one pantheon - it had most of them.) Most of his panthon lived on the plane of
shadows, at least some of the time, but Vistoral didn't just live there - he was
the emperor of the plane of shadows. That's why most of this module takes place
there. He "re-purposed" an old secret temple of one of his rivals for the part
on the prime material plane, and linked together various bits and pieces of some
other things on the plane of shadows with some suitable modifications for the rest.
The various beings imprisoned in it were involved in a plot to overthrow Vistoral,
although not all of them were aware that they were involved. They were pretty
much sacrificed in an early stage of a convoluted plan, although loosing
the artifact was an unintended setback. The rest of the plan took something like
another 200 years to reach the end point, which was supposed to result in
Vistoral's destruction but ended up with him imprisoned inside a demigod (in
the relatively literal sense - one parent a god, the other not) that was being
born at that time, alost certinaly due to a bit of interference on the part of
one or more of Vistoral's brothers. This demigod was the Krugrok mentioned earlier,
met in the little thrown together side adventure when the party was going through
the D series. Ultimately, for that story line, the Krugrok was defeated (twice)
and Vistoral released.

At the time this was made there was not a lot of information available on
Greyhawk or the world it was in. There was even less back when we started playing.
Because of this, my version of Greyhawk is rather unlike the official version
that eventually came out. A lot of the general history of my version was "warped
to fit" the basic Greyhawk timeline once I got hold of the World of Greyhawk
folio, which would have probably been in 1981. As for the city of Greyhawk,
mine was actually the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Also, although
I didn't ever really need to use it as only a few of the characters ever went
there and then only briefly, my version of Rauxes (capital of the Great Kingdom)
was the City State of the World Emperor, once that came out. The history of
the world was somewhat different as well. All those famous magic users who
had spells named after them (Mordenkainen, Tenser, Bigby, etc.) in the PHB
were long dead - and if any weren't, they certainly were not running Greyhawk.
The time when Vecna lost his hand and eye was many centuries before the end of
the Baklunish and Suloise empires, unlike the now "official" version which
apparently has him around and about both before and after that pair of events.

This was not the end of our group's adventures. There were a few relatively
small things and then one last large scale adventure. Since it happened
after this, it is for even higher level characters. That was a quest for
the Orb of the Eternal Grand Dragon. It's level of difficulty was high.
Very high. The entire party was nearly wiped out by accident before they
even got to the hard part. That was during an encounter with a cloud dragon
that I had assumed would be only a minor inconvenience, there just for
a bit of background flavor. After we played it, we were going to publish
it with the artifact changed to "the Dragonstone", but never did.
"In Quest of the Hand of Vecna!"/"The Serpent of Me'Tal" was the
only thing ever published by High Level Adventures.

  


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm 
 

Ah yes.  Its all coming back to me now.  Thanks Carl!

...

(stupid Krugrok)

  


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:52 pm 
 

What a wonderful thread! Sitting here in Melbourne, Australia, I have just read through this over my morning coffee. Thanks nano and shadowfx - I hope you become regular members here. It is discussions like this that make The Acaeum such a great place for us old RPG'ophiles.  :)

  


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:48 pm 
 

HermitFromPluto wrote:What a wonderful thread! Sitting here in Melbourne, Australia, I have just read through this over my morning coffee. Thanks nano and shadowfx - I hope you become regular members here. It is discussions like this that make The Acaeum such a great place for us old RPG'ophiles.  :)


Hi HermitFromPluto,

Glad you are enjoying this thread!  This whole thing came as quite a surprise.  I think I will continue to hang out here.  There is a lot of what interests me here.  Mostly in the Judges Guild sub section, but I'm also interested in World of Greyhawk and nano had collected the whole set of modules that were produced for the basic game.  Then they had flooding in their basement and he lost them all!  He thinks he may get back to collecting them again someday.

Shadowfx

  


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:01 pm 
 

I guess I was wrong when I said we probably aren't going to get more information on this  :P  Now I think I can say that again after that message from Carl via John.

Thanks again for everyone's help in here (grodog, Rakeesh, Deadlord39, Mars, etc)...without you guys, I doubt if I would've had much more information than Carl D. Perkins, High Level Adventures, In Quest of the Hand of Vecna!, and one of the original guys' address in Toledo. A very special thanks out to Mars since without him, and his attention to detail via The Serpent of Me'Tal, I'd have been back on Step 1 of figuring out what this was.

Let me second Hermit's thoughts as this is the kind of discussion that makes this such a great place!

GreyM

  


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Post Posted: Sat May 10, 2008 9:18 pm 
 

Wow, great story! Thanks for sharing.

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Post Posted: Sat Sep 26, 2020 3:01 pm 
 

For those of you who may have missed this thread, I just happened to read through it and I highly recommend you do ... great story ... even though it is 12 years old now  8O

I believe that Gary Gygax would have thoroughly enjoyed knowing about this ... as a 'little side adventure' from his G-series of modules spawned all of this.


"Okay, we turn the corner and see a Purple 'WHAT' !?!" . . (the DM rolls a 20 or so he says) . . It all went black right after that.

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Post Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:24 am 
 

PM-Knight wrote in In Quest of the Hand of Vecna?:For those of you who may have missed this thread, I just happened to read through it and I highly recommend you do ... great story ... even though it is 12 years old now  8O

I believe that Gary Gygax would have thoroughly enjoyed knowing about this ... as a 'little side adventure' from his G-series of modules spawned all of this.


how wonderful. I have just read through and loved it.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:45 am 
 

I have regrets not buying (or rather trading for) this when I had the chance.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:48 am 
 

Mars wrote in In Quest of the Hand of Vecna?:I have regrets not buying (or rather trading for) this when I had the chance.


If only because this has become folkloric for the forum! Maybe it'll come up again someday.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:42 am 
 

Mars wrote in In Quest of the Hand of Vecna?:I have regrets not buying (or rather trading for) this when I had the chance.

Although I assume you're the only one who's read it?


This week I've been mostly eating . . . chicken and wild rice soup.

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Post Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 6:13 am 
 

Nice to see people still enjoying this story!

  
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