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Castle Animus

by Rodger Burns

Castle Animus a D&D Rules Cyclopedia adventure for 5-8 PCs of Level 6-9

Castle Animus: The (In)Frequently Asked Questions

So what is Castle Animus, anyway?
Castle Animus is an RC D&D adventure intended for a party of 6th-9th level characters. It's set in Floating Ar, in Alphatia, pre-WotI. The module writeup has 35 pages, including maps.

Why'd you write it?
I've been meaning for awhile now to write an RC D&D module for Worldwide Adventure Writing Month 2009, a challenge to write an entire 32-page adventure module only during the period July 1 - July 31. I tried to participate in WoAdWrMo 2007 and 2008; both times I ran out of steam about 20 pages in and never really finished. So the fact that WoAdWrMo 2009 didn't technically happen this year just made me get even more stubborn.

How'd you come up with Castle Animus?
Short answer: My creative process is a twisty and fickle-minded beast.

Longer answer: The ball actually started rolling with a look at Thorf's reproduction of the Alphatian mainland map. I noticed that eastern Ar had a bunch of towns clustered around the Crystal Lake, accessible to the sea only through a long northward sale though Ambur. Why, I wondered, didn't anyone dig a canal from the southeast corner of the lake, so that ships from Bettellyn and Foresthome could cut ~600 miles off their trip?

Because, said the twisty part of my brain, someone tried to dig a canal. And the project failed spectacularly.

How did it fail? Well, Floating Ar has floating islands. Maybe one of them fell. And maybe it had something interesting on it when it fell.

And from there, things kinda just snowballed into their current form.

Is this anything like Castle Amber?
Only coincidentally. They're both castles, they were both built by wizards, they're both stomping grounds for mid-Expert parties, their names both start with 'A'. Other than that, I don't think there's any intentional connection; I certainly didn't set out to write a sequel or companion to Castle Amber, and I expect Tom Moldvay was about ten times the module writer I'll ever be.

I like what you've written... but I'm not sure I can use it. My group doesn't adventure in Alphatia.
Not a problem. Feel free to just read through, find an encounter or idea that you like, and steal it for your own adventure writeup. I consider Alphatia to be one of those places where you can throw ten pounds of weirdness into a five pound bag and justify it with "they're all wizards, they LIKE it that way". So stripping out two-thirds of the content and using the rest in a more sane adventure somewhere else is fine by me.

I like it, but I think that Section X is unbalanced/explained poorly/misleading/just plain dull. I think you should change it.
Okay, here's the thing. I appreciate constructive feedback on my work... but I've been living with this particular project for a month straight now, and I intend to spend the next few weeks at least thinking about something else. So I will not be responding to criticism or revision suggestions right away. Not that you can't critique; just don't expect me to respond right away.

I like it, but I don't play RC D&D. Can you convert it to 3E/4E/my choice of edition?
Sorry, probably not, for two reasons. First, time crunch; I still intend to spend the next few weeks thinking about something besides Castle Animus. Second, because this is a module very much in the older tradition of play - encounters based on what I find interesting to write about, not based on carefully-engineered Challenge Rating for a group of appropriately-levelled PCs. If you want to stat up a conversion, more power to you and I can probably take a look at the finished product if you want me to, but there's going to have to be a lot of work done under the hood to make it suitable for 3E or 4E D&D.

How'd you make the maps? How'd you lay out the module text?
The wilderness map was done in Hexographer, which is nifty and entertaining and should be visited by every Piazza regular at least once. Most of the dungeon maps were laid out in GIMP; the Caecilia Tunnels and Dungeon Level 4 were hand-drawn, scanned into .png format, then edited in GIMP to add the graph background and other elements.