I always wanted to write my own “Death-Trap Meat-Grinder” dungeon adventure after growing up on a steady diet of things like Tomb of Horrors, so while I was in the midst of creating Fatemaster I took a little detour and wrote up a little something I call Castle Farkinwald.
The spiritual father of this module is something called Buffalo Castle, an old single-player adventure in the Tunnels & Trolls system that I played when I was a kid. My love of Choose Your Own Adventure books translated readily into the single-player dungeon format. It was an easy way to get an RPG fix when you couldn’t scare up enough friends for a D&D session. Buffalo Castle really is a rather absurd adventure (yes, there are actual buffalo in it) but it still makes me smile to this day. I wanted Farkinwald to embrace a little of that absurdity and to revel in the many classic tropes established by those old Total Party Kill dungeons from TSR.
To start things off, I sent out an e-mail to my gaming buddies asking them for “deadly dungeon” ideas. The response I received help to plant the seed for what became a huge, random-gen dungeon; kind of like a Pen & Paper version of Dragon’s Lair, Castle Farkinwald changes layout every time you play it. You draw from two decks of cards to choose rooms on the fly and stitch them together with generic dungeon hallways. Once I got rolling on this it came together pretty fast. I did manage to run it afterward and it performed pretty much as I hoped (hint: don’t try to camp inside the dungeon).
Here it is!