Cats Have No Lord

The Best of the Door D&D Door Jamb Jam

I recently hosted the Door D&D Door Jamb Jam over on in part as a joke about the typology of tabletop roleplaying games that Brad Kerr made over on the Between Two Cairns Podcast and in part as a genuine celebration of the type of game Brad was talking about—a game focused on exploring and discovering new and weird things, as exemplified by the act of opening doors in a dungeoncrawl.

To celebrate the 22 amazing submissions to the jam, I've assembled a panel of Door D&D experts to talk about about a submission they liked and what was cool about it. This is not a ranking, and we unfortunately can't include every entry. But I'd encourage you to go and look at everything that came in because there's some really good stuff in there.

Best Weird Little Freak - The Monty Haul Problem

Reviewed By Luke Simonds (Cats Have No Lord)

Weird little freaks to meet in the dungeon are a staple of Door D&D, and most of the jam entries had some good ones, but my absolute favorite is Monty the Moleman Gamesmaster. While some freaks are freaky because of how how they talk, look, or act, Monty is freaky because of what he’s choosing to do with his time and the fruitful void of the intentional lack of any solid description of him apart from the silly little game he’s running.

You can read up on the Monty Hall Problem yourself to understand the game, and I’ll just note here that in this version you’re playing for magical curses or treasure, both of which are written up with no shortage of punch, flavor, and potential to make some wild things happen in your game.

Monty the Moleman, on the other hand, is an enigma. We only know a few facts about him: 1) he’s a moleman, 2) he’s the hero of his own story, 3) he’s living a comfortable life running this game, 4) he has a magic shovel. The rest of it, such as what he was doing in his own story or why he’s choosing to run this game, are completely up to the Warden. Where did he get the treasure? What’s he doing in this particular dungeon? Where did he get the curses? What about that shovel?

Personally, my imagination is running wild filling in the gaps with Monty for how I’d use him in my own game. He’s obviously a retired adventurer who gathered some significant treasure in his time, and probably did some good deeds along the way, but he himself got cursed multiple times, and the only way out of it is to try to offload those curses onto other adventurers. But, he feels bad about it and likes to mix in some treasure and built the game around it all to make himself feel less responsible for it.

Honestly, there’s probably a 50/50 chance of your players groaning at the puns and the silliness of it all if you put this in your dungeon, but I personally love this scenario and the weird little freak at the heart of it.

Most Centred Text You'll See in an Adventure - J'adore La Door

Reviewed By Ramanan (Save vs. Total Party Kill)

J’adore La Door is 10 random rooms (and the doors to go with them), with the loosest conceit tying them all together: this is the weird magical home of a famous adventurer. Players will end up experiencing a subset of these rooms in a random sequence, resulting in a linear 5 room dungeon. This module isn’t about exploration, it’s about interacting with weirdos. People as puzzles. Most of the rooms are unusual social encounters. Players may find themselves trying to help sibling giant spiders split a meal fairly, or having tea with a monstrous ogre. It’s all quite gonzo. Likely perfect for players that want to ham it up with NPCs. You could blow this whole module up and use it to stock rooms in a bigger more traditional dungeon: turning this adventure into a d10 table of “special” rooms. This is a charming little adventure. Danny has done all the writing, art and layout. I love it when things are aggressively DIY.

Most Inspired by Only Murders In The Building - Night at the Old Dave

Reviewed by Nova (Playful Void)

Night in the Old Dave is a module for Electric Bastionland. This is basically unpolished notes for the authors’ home campaign, but I love it. It’s weird and idiosyncratic and leans into the unique anachronicity of Electric Bastionland as a setting. As structure, basically you’re trapped in an apartment block, with nothing to do but chat to the other tenants while an unknown villain kidnaps them one by one. Will the players solve the mystery before they become the next victim? It’s terribly laid out, illustrated in (maybe?) MS Paint, and written like notes for your home campaign, which should make me hate it, but I don’t. It’s weirdly compelling. I would definitely run this. I love the slapdash character descriptions, with interjections on how it might be fun to kill this character and dress up in their skin, or the lady who is dead but that isn’t mentioned until week into her description. It’s amateurish and refreshing and fun, and clearly inspired by the heavily middle-aged Only Murders in the Building. Enough doom metal inspired properties, we need more things inspired by solid middle of the road vanilla properties. I’d love to see it polished up and illustrated, but if you have a murder-loving Electric Bastionland table, this is gonna be right up your alley.

Best Use of an Art History Degree - The Art Lover

Reviewed by Zedeck Siew

How do you interpret the act of exploring a dungeon full of treasure?

“Settler-colonial tomb robbing” is one way. The standard D&D setup of adventurers plundering a supposedly barbaric wilderness certainly bears out this reading.

“The poor robbing the rich” is another. I prefer this kind of fantasy, personally. Mystic towers, grand temples, Strahd’s castle—only specific kinds of people can afford to build such places. A fantasy of class warfare. The traditional TTRPG dungeon as a museum heist.

The Art Lover’s implied setting is post-apocalyptic; the adventure location itself is a bunker built by a billionaire. (The kind of luxury bolthole billionaires are building IRL to wait out the coming apocalypse they caused, BTW).

This rich dude was wealthy enough to stuff his private bunker with iconic paintings. The paintings are doors—they lead into VR-ish worlds were the visuals of the painting are made real; you need to navigate the Tower of Babel, or brave De Chirico loneliness, if you want to get at Nolan, the weirdo CEO sitting in his puppetmaster’s lair / goon chamber. (Nolan is statblocked as a magic user, making this a literal wizard’s tower.)

A clean, concise adventure, with nice art and a neat map (I love =the cameo sketches of the locations) and a well-Jacquaysed dungeon design (it is dedicated to Jennell). I love the serving droids that populate the complex (there’s a handy personality table for them).

I wish the painting-worlds had more bespoke mechanic effects—ie: how exactly does your flesh turning into impasto change the way you act in the world? But the fact a two-page adventure is evocative enough to make me wish it was longer is a good thing!

Freakiest Villain and Loveliest Map - Lair of the Alchemist

Reviewed by Nate Treme (Highland Paranormal Society)

The Lair of The Alchemist is a compact dungeon for old school influenced games, specifically Durf and Cairn. It begins with a smuggler’s cave where the PCs and their smuggler allies are storing loot and contraband. The PCs arrive to find their allies missing and a trail of blood leading to a hidden entrance of an underground compound. This compound is the lair and laboratory of a mutated dwarf alchemist.

This is all around a solid dungeon. There is plenty of interactivity, cool treasure, and freaky creatures. The map is beautifully illustrated with lots of detail and good interconnectivity.

One of my favorite things in rpg adventures is the Nasty Little Freak, aka The Freaky Little Guy. This adventure has plenty of them! As described by the author, this dungeon is influenced by the Island Of Doctor Moreau, so we get some gross mutant hybrids and they all have GREAT illustrated portraits. It is hard to pick a favorite (probably Batface) but maybe the nastiest is the big bad himself, Morelius. He is a great NPC because he’s not just a grotesque weirdo trying to kill anyone who gets in the way of his experiments. He invites the PCs to take part! This can lead to physical enhancements for the players. I imagine this would be a blast as a player, getting a scorpion tail, or gorilla arms, or armadillo armor fused to your body. It opens up some great free form character customization that would be fun to figure out at the table. If you like good dungeons and nasty little freaks then you need to pick this up right now, even if it’s just to see a lovely mustachioed bat mutant.

Most likely to Appear in an Actual Play Podcast - Otherworldly Flesh

Reviewed by Grant and Jenny (Gamemaster Monday)

We are happy to feature Otherworldly Flesh on our podcast Game Master Monday! This game has everything we love esthetically (weird nature, spooky stuff, weird nature and spooky stuff IN SPACE) on top of just being a riveting and well thought out dungeon crawl. It's not every day you run into a TRULY system agnostic adventure that not only can plug and play into just about anything we could think of, but also has limitless potential that isn't DEPENDENT on system. We can't wait to make our way to the Giant Kidney Stones!

An episode featuring Otherworldy Flesh will air on Gamemaster Monday on August 19, 2024.