LAYERS OF THE LAMB: Simple Re-skins of a Dynamic Module

I think one of the best starting adventure modules right now is Arnold K's Lair of the Lamb. And not just me, even the curmudgeonly Bryce Lynch rates it a "Best" and the calcified comrades at Bones of Contention also gave it high marks.

In my own review, I said this about it:

The Lair of the Lamb, I think, is a new classic in old-school gaming. It is based on a universal fear of being hunted in the dark by a monster, yet in the context of a highly interactable swords & sorcery setting which yields strong, strange rewards for players who take a risk! The module demonstrates, through play, how much players can do, and have fun, with 1d6 HP, a knife, a background, and a goal: escape. The dungeon revitalized.

Given Lamb is based on such a universal concept and that the module itself is rather bare bones, I think has an inherent flexibility to be re-skinned beyond its eldritch swords & sorcery feel. And this is a strength of the module and I think what Lamb shares with oft-mentioned TSR classics like The Village of Hommlett (in particular the Ruined Moathouse) and The Keep on the Borderlands.

Each one can be adapted to whatever setting the DM feels is best for their players or setting. So here are some suggestions for ways to make the Lamb fit different types of settings that might be at your table.

A Lair of the Lamb Re-skin:

Lair of the Lamb Classic DnD Fairy Tale Modern Horror
The "Lamb" (big mindless monster) Headless Troll Ogre Hulking Slasher
White Temple Cult (opposition) (P)orcs Flying Monkeys Religious Camp Counselors
Cult Leader (BBEG) Chaotic Cleric Wicked Witch Charismatic Camp Head
Former Sacrifice (aid) Prisoner Nice Flying Monkey Old Janitor
Ghouls (opportunists) Brigands Foxes Townie Addicts/Drunks
Prisoners (0-level funnel PCs) 1st Level PCs Lost Children "Troubled Youth" Campers

NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People Session 44


Previously on Nightwick

The party returns in a joyful mood having successfully, as far as they know, rid the Lady Ilg of her burden or at least put things in motion to have that happen.

Blossom (Rogue 4)
Sotar (Cleric 4)
Cherwe (Cleric 3)
Liminal Space (Changeling 3)
Mayfly (Magic-User 3)
Mechtild (Fighter 2)
Verinka (Changling 2)
Yevgeniy the Coward (Cleric 1)

At the Medusa's Head...

The party is excited about delving back down into the Abbey. They've been on a nice streak so far and feel reward close at hand. Mayfly throws out that Halfdan has demanded another example of the bizarre metal coil the party pulled out of the dungeon. The party discusses one alternative which would be to explore areas that have yet been charted, but agree a goal is often safer in the dungeon.

(PC NOTE: Elsewhere it has been pointed out by our other players that the group seems to have a pattern: crawl, hit an interesting room, retreat, delve again, target an interesting room, and remove the gold. Then start over again.)

...down in Nightwick Abbey...

WEST TOWER: Using the map of Level 1, the party charts a four-room route to the set of stairs that lead us to Level 2 (PC NOTE: Mapping works kids!). Halfway there, the party encounters a group of cultists who quickly run at the sight of the party. Cowards! The stairs to LEVEL 2 without incident.

LEVEL 2: As always, the descent is full of twists and turns and just before 70% of the party vomits, the party arrives on LEVEL 2. Mayfly casts ESP and beings a sweep of the north, south, and east doors. To the north, a very strange mind is detected- akin to a singular mind checking various other smaller minds. To the south, the common mental echos of the undead. To the east, where the party wants to go-- nothing.

COIL LAB & ACTING!: The party travels east then south and come to a door where they here both a faint buzzing and muted human/animal noises-- manimals! Sotar tries to pry open the door, but fails, causing the door, in the fashion of the Abbey, to spay slime everywhere. However, since Sotar had cast Protection from Evil earlier, the slime hits a sorta invisible shield and sprays all over the party members behind him. 

The voices grow more muffled, but now seem to be focused on the party's attempts to break the door down. After another attempt, the door gives way and the PCs are faced with five manimals ("Lost Souls" in Nightwick parlance). "Who are you?" says one with a crab claw for a hand.

Stepping forward Mayfly shouts, "You ignoramuses! It is I, the Master, returned in a borrowed body! Now which one of you has absconded with my mortal form?!"

There is some dissension and a dog-headed creature steps forward to mention something about how "Builder has stolen the skeleton and anointed themselves The Rulesmaster." But, he questions the Master's new form. Mayfly holds up the gold skull of the actual Master to reinforce his authority: "Fools! I told you I was back in a borrowed body! Now, seize this coward!". 

Rolls are made. The manimals seize the dog-faced one and Mayfly tells him to fetch the rest of his bones like a "good boy" or he'll get his throat slit. Then dismisses the rest of them with a wave of his hand.

(PC NOTE: And this is what I love about RPGs, the ability to do a bit of talky-talky to flip situations in your favor and avoid (hopefully) violent, character-killing conflict)

The PCs realize that the 5 coils here might match the 5 switches that were found on Level 2 in a previous delve in a room back west. When they were first found, the party was a little apprehensive about playing around with them too much- concerned they might release something dangerous. "Should we split the party? One set in the control room and one set here with the coils?" 

"Noooooope." Chrewe says firmly (PC NOTE: Player is also a veteran of a few Nightwick games). 

CONTROL ROOM: So the party, as one, arrives back to the Control Room and with a few pokes and prods presses what they think will turn off the power to the coils. Also, they turn off something labeled with a picture of a brain. Hmm. Wonder what that does.

COIL LAB: The party returns and begins making preparations to steal the shit out of one of the coils. The MU hireling Gerung cast Floating Disk (PC NOTE: Disk always seems like a stupid spell until you are trying to escape with heavy treasure-- so put heavy treasure in your games DMs). The PCs load up the coil and DM rolls for encounters on the way out. Nothing happen so the party was able to hide the coil at the top of the WEST TOWER. This will be a valuable sell to Halfdan (1000sp)

 (PC NOTE: Decision time: we have a few hours of daylight left which matters because once the sun does down in the Dark Country, Nightwick gets much worse. No additional Floating Disk spells, so the party elects to chart out a course to unexplored areas on Level 1. Again maps come in handy.)

WEST TOWER (RETURN): The PCs travel down the stairs and turn westward. Since a path was charted, the DM again rolls to see if the party encounters anything on the way to our goal-- no interruptions. 

THE CRYING LADY: This entity is new to Mayfly who was not with the party when they previously encountered it. There was a lot of discussion about how to get closer to her as she is apparently walled off. But eventually, it was decided her sorta "spectral claws" should not be messed with. The party turns south into another unexplored portion of Level 1.

THE BARRACKS & CAGE: The party moves south and bumps into another group of manimals (Lost Souls). Once again Mayfly steps forward with the soon-to-be-classic-Mayfly-"I-am-the-Master"-shtick. And again there are disbelievers among the manimals. 

Mayfly commands, "Bring the non-believer forward!" The manimal group shoves one of them forward. This one is kinda cute. The creature then pleads its case to its brethren to convince them against following Mayfly. As this creature's speech reaches its most damning evidence, Mayfly fires a crossbow bolt at its head! And... a miss! (PC NOTE: A miss at a +3 to-hit! Curse the stars above!)

Verinka saves the day by casting Sleep quickly. It drops the dissenting voice and one other devoted follower. To the others, Mayfly commands, "Slit their throats and then leave us! Spread the word...THE MASTER HAS RETURNED!" They scurry off into the bowls of the Abbey.

COLLUMED GRAND HALLWAY: Pushing south, the PC's who can see keenly in the dark spy a group of robed humans frantically painting several columns. As the PCs move into the hallway, the figures throw off their mortal disguise and adopt the twisted visage of cadaverites! The PC are quick to form ranks as two floating horrors engage the front-rank clerics. Mayfly is able to blind one monster who is further back with Light. The battle is tough as attack after attack is avoided by the undead horrors, but eventually, the party prevails! During a post-battle investigation, the party finds a sack full of coins (250sp) . With that done, the party decides to get out!

...Back to the Medusa's Head.

The surprisingly small area
that occupied our explorations

DUNGEON 23: Week 5 The Four Towers


PROGRESS: Click here to see this evolving #dungeon23


Okay, I love the notebook but I am creating a lot of work for myself with it because I am drawing these geomorphs in Dungeon Scrawl, then drawing them again in the notebook, writing the entries, and then re-writing the entries in Google Drive. Too much! So, I think I'm just gonna make these things digitally and write them digitally.


  • I like this geomoph because it has multiple discrete areas, but also is very interconnected. I am starting to think its somewhat important that a 'morph allows PCs to traverse from almost any one door to any one of the others.
  • Rules are also made to be broken too. So it is good to have a few areas that are not connected to any other part of the 'morph because that can create interesting pathways, workarounds, and deadends.
  • I really hope to have some sorta unified idea after doing #dungeon23.
  • With my Week 3 and 4 effort, I realized I created two morphs that are most easily traversed by skirting the parameter which is fine. However, it means the players don't have to contend with anything in the morph. This can be good if being chased because you know the direction to go and its easy to avoid detection, however, it also might be boring to explore at first.
  • These towers are also closer to the large "follies" I envision for the dungeon. I want structures that can have multiple functions and provide multiple vantage points. Towers work well for that.
  • Its also fun to finally introduce the troll and a big pile a treasure.

NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People Session 43


We are back in (hex crawling) action in the Dark Country. The party is on a mission to Lychgate to save the good name of Lady Ilg:

Ilg, the lady of Nightwick (wife of Lord Eckhard) has indeed recently given birth to a healthy baby boy who now stands to be heir of the village's manor. However, the midwives reported to Roderick that mere hours after giving birth she seemingly began showing signs of pregnancy again. Roderick fears that this child might be a changeling or, even worse, a devil-man. 

Now certainly the good Lady would not find herself in this situation due to a lapse in judgment, so it must be an affliction brought by close proximity to the fiendish Nightwick Abbey. 

The cleric Sotar will no doubt recount the details of the party's wondering here at Mycelium Mischef, but I think there is one encounter from Mayfly's perspective worth telling.


After moving on from helping a group of van Toad froglings break camp, the party's scout Blossom* almost runs right into an old woman by the forest edge. The woman is described as very crone-like, tall, and has a feel of something odd about her. Surprised pleasantries are exchanged. And quickly the conversation toward trading.

Mayfly is brought into the conversation when the subject of soul stones is brought up:

"Do you have stones?" the witch says now drawing herself up to her full height and adopting more vulture-like features.

"Yes. Do you have instructions on the production of conflagrations as distances (aka Fireball scroll)?" asks Mayfly.

Rummaging through her bag, "Ah right here. And do you have 5 stones?"

"Right here. But is that truely the scroll I want?"

"Of course. You can trust me."

"Then, yes, this bag has the 5 stones you want." Mayfly lies. There are only 3.

An exchange is made. Mayfly greedily glances at the scroll's contents. A cry from the witch, "Oh you think you can cheat Goodgallows? You'll pay for that soon enough!" And at that, the witch jumps in a coffin hidden in the tall grass a flies off.

The very next thing the party encounters is a band of the Bishop's men, fully plated, but dead and all of them have had their genitals ripped off. A misfortune often associate with the witch Mayfly just cheated.

The consequences are for another day. The party scavenges enough plate to make 2 sets (2000sp!)

And continues to Lytchgate.


(PC NOTE) I almost asked just for Web instead of Fireball because I knew a lower-level spell would be easier to obtain and therefore safer. But (1) Mayfly again has high INT (+2) but low WIS (-1). He is too focused on gaining power to really weigh the consequences. So shooting low and safe feels out of character for the almost level 4 MU (9000/10,000 XP).

And in terms of being a player, where is the fun of playing it safe? Classic-play really hits its stride in calculated risk. I think OSR play will be boring if players don't engage in such risk-taking at frequent points during their play.

It usually does precede a hilarious death, but I think also fist-pumping reward as well. The line between "Oh fuck!" and "Fuck yeah!". And often both are linked. Either way, these are the high points of campaigns that make them memorable to the player. It's the counterbalance to the careful weighing of which direction to go, the checking of arches before walking under them, and/or the looking but not touching the statue, before touching the statue, and the attention to encumbrance and party ranks. All the stuff OSR play gets dinged for.

And another thing about Mayfly's exchange with the Witch, it was a combination of player action and player equipment (those stones were gained all the way back in session 12) There was no skill roll. No dice were involved in this fun exchange. There was also no diplomacy mechanism employed other than the DM and player knowing how to make a deal with stated and unstated (but obvious) conditions.

* Blossom is THE OG of the group having survived since the 1st session.