10 March 2016

The Sea Cave

I have received the PDF of the RuneQuest Old School Source Pack from the RuneQuest Classic edition kickstarter. It is a collection of all the very early RQ supplements, incl. The Sea Cave, which is an original unfinished and unpublished adventure by Greg Stafford. The Sea Cave is rather in the style of the quite lethal old school adventures of the time. Here are a few salient points I enjoyed whilst reading it [WARNING– MAJOR SPOILERS]:

“When adventurers are slaughtered or run screaming, the Monsters get experience rolls too.” I guess this is to make the adventure tougher should the PCs return to it. This sentence has a nice Monsters! Monsters! flavour to it which, being a huge T&T fan, I have really enjoyed reading.

At the beginning of the scenario, there is a section dedicated to tides in Glorantha, and to how the exact day the characters start the adventure may influence its outcome.

The text makes a difference between Denizens (remain in the same area) and Inhabitants (move from one area to the other) of the Sea Cave. The referee must decide where the latter will start off at the beginning of the scenario. This is decision is a mix of referee agency and of a random die roll influenced by the tide.

Rather than wandering monsters, the referee has a table to roll up random items in the various locations. The items go from the mundane (a shark tooth that was part of a necklace) to the hazardous (a magical skull that attacks the PCs) or the magical (an aluminium whistle). They are globally Gloranthan-themed, and contribute to making the adventure more than an average dungeon crawl.

The monsters themselves depart from the tedious monster-in-a-room-guarding-a-treasure design philosophy (or lack thereof) typical of the 1970s/1980s. The Trolls have family ties, know how to read and write, and do not get along well with the Sea Wyrm. The Mermaid also opposes the Wyrm. It is an interesting little monstrous ecosystem.

There is also a faux boss, which is a clever little twist. The PCs will think they have killed the boss,  collect the reward... but then the villagers who have hired them will still be plagued by mystery attacks at sea... possibly prompting a second foray into the Sea Cave, and making this adventure re-usable :)

Unfortunately, since this was an unfinished and unpublished adventure in the first place, the maps are quite terrible. Furthermore, a very short appendix at the end of the adventure explains that Greg had originally intended to add a temple to Cacodemon to the east of the cave complex; there are stats for the priest. Speaking of stats, they are handwritten on RQ monster/NPC sheets and are particularly difficult to decipher. I wish Chaosium had made the extra effort to print them rather than merely photocopying them.

All in all, it is a very decent adventure, possibly playable in a single session (depending on how long the PCs stay in the fishing village to investigate/hire a boat before heading to the cave).


  1. tu nous le feras jouer ? Si oui, je ne lirai pas cet article.

  2. Merci beaucoup for this small review. I was so curious about this scenario, and now my curiosity has been quenched a little.

  3. @Olivier --> à Bacharach ?

  4. “When adventurers are slaughtered or run screaming, the Monsters get experience rolls too.”

    Note que cette règle est présente aussi dans Balastor's Barracks.

  5. There seems to be a great potential in this unpublished adventure by Greg Stafford. It's a shame nobody thought about working on it. I'd really enjoy playing a revamped version of The Sea Cave.

  6. dans les soloquests aussi les monstres ont droit à leur expérience.