Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Caves of Threshold

As I have said many times before, my first real introduction to Dungeons and Dragons was through Frank Mentzer's version of the Basic Set in the iconic red box.

Who could forget that lone warrior, standing before a cave, when a goblin rushes out and attacks. Or encountering the fair Aleena, who heals your wounds and joins you on your quest, only to be struck down by the evil magic user named Bargle. Such a great introduction for the game.

One of my very first posts was about the origin of Aleena (See Iconic Basic Dungeons and Dragons Characters Part 1)

Later on, in the Basic Set, there is a choose your path style adventure that details another cave in the area. But the original area was never given a map in the tome, leaving the public to wonder what the cave system looked like. Did the cave with the snake and Aleena connect up to the cave with the statue and magic mouth trick?

Well, recently, Frank Mentzer started an ebay auction where he will personally draw the map that you never got to adventure to, as well as the part of the cave with Bargle and Aleena. As well as adding some unique touches and signing it.

eBay auction (ends 2014-07-25)
D D Red Box Intro Dungeon

This got me to thinking about what did that first cave system look like. I broke out my image editor and started trying to piece together the room descriptions. This is what I came up with. I am sure it is "not quite right". It is difficult to tell from the description what size the rooms are. There are a couple of instances where it says you "look around a corner". Did that mean the hallway make a 90 degree turn before going into the room? Hard to say.

So here is my interpretation of the map. It would be interesting to see how it ends up comparing to what Frank presents to the auction winner.

After putting together the map, it got me to thinking. How the hell did Aleena end up in the room where you first encounter her?

It doesn't outright state it, but you get the impression that Aleena and the fighter you play are exploring new territory as you go down the hall together. You encounter ghouls and she says to head back while you discuss what to do, as if she did not know the ghouls were there.

Then, after turning them, you both continue down the hall, and Aleena and the fighter examine the door. That implies that she did not know the ghouls or the door was there? I mean, if she had come from that direction, it would feel more natural if she said, "Hey, lets go down this corridor because I passed a door earlier".

Or, let us assume that the ghouls were not there and just moved into the hall. Would she not have said, "There is a corridor up ahead, but I came from that way." ???


  1. Its been awhile since I read through, but here goes.
    Aleena goes in first, sees signs of a large creature in the first room. She hustles into the next room where, perhaps realizing the snake has slithered in behind her, she opts to pray/meditate before venturing in further to this ominous dungeon. In any event the snake, thought giant, slithers into the room through a smaller than man-sized opening, perhaps in the ceiling. After all, we are talking about a pair of humans, with no infravsion here. who knows how many details they missed.

    1. I myself was trying to come up with different plausible explanations. I like the idea she came in the same way the fighter did, but I also thought it would be cool if Aleena was actually an agent of Bargle, and he is manipulating your anger in some way.