The Horrible House of the Mad Doctor Area 1

Mad Science has always been a fascinating aesthetic to me.  The tesla coils, the stitched-together monstrosities, the white lab coats have always intrigued me.  I think it is a way of dealing with the very real fear of being made something other than myself.  The idea that a person could surgically alter you to become a monster in appearance while your untouched mind screams against the utter defilement and horror of what is totally sacred, is terrifying to me.  Throw that is with symbols of childhood and you have a soup of deep-seeded nightmare fuel.

And so we come to this cartoon:

What does this little gem give us?  It gives us a cherished childhood character being threatened with surgical hybridization.  It gives us Mickey Mouse battling against elusive and mocking symbols of mortality.  It gives us a dang good dungeon.

The whole set up is perfect for a dungeon, especially as a diversion from the main story.  Now you might be thinking, "Ok we just make it in color and take out all the cartoony elements and we have an interesting and spooky dungeon crawl."  If you are thinking this, you would be completely missing the point.

The point is that this is really quite scary and fascinating as it is.  If you have a serious campaign this would be completely out of place and maybe that would be good every once in a while.  Players get bored of seriousness.  If you have found a party that doesn't bore within thirty minutes of completely serious play, you have found a miracle and I beg you to let me GM for your group sometime.

We leave it in black and white.  We leave it as a cartoon.  We change the PCs.  If you have ever played a Kingdom Hearts game, you know how cool it can be for Sora to get a new costume for the Nightmare Before Christmas setting or get shrunk down for an Alice in Wonderland stage.  There is something about changing not just the environment but being changed by it that makes one feel that they have truly been brought to another world.

First, we give the players a door.  A simple door but strange.  It would be black and white and cartoonish but the PCs ought to have no context for this so describe it in terms of it looking artificial or inflated.  This door leads them to a dark tunnel that leads up and out of a coffin into a world of shades of gray.  They arrive into a graveyard that is going to take the place of the nondescript forest from the beginning of the cartoon.  A storm is raging.  White lightning flashes in a pitch black sky as the dead trees bend wildly and unrealistically in the gale.  The PCs will notice that they have become black and white caricatures of themselves.

It is at this point you are going to have to find something that the PCs value, preferably something living.  I took a sheep from the party, the Sheep for which this blog is titled.  More on that later.

The Mad Scientist in his black cloak grabs the helpless pet or companion and runs into the front door of his castle.  The adventure begins.

Since we are transforming the PCs into black and white cartoons of themselves, we need a mechanic to represent the new cartoon abilities of the PCs:

Spoopy Deed of Toons: If the PC describes their actions as though they were a character in a Mickey Mouse or a Looney Toons show, roll a d6 and add it to your d20 rolls.  On a 4+ the PC is automatically successful in their endeavor and may gain an additional akin to the Mighty Deed of Arms mechanic in DCC but cartoon themed.  On a 1 this action cartoonishly fails to hilarious effect.

We are also going to throw out Initiative.  If there is some question of who needs to go first, just go around the table.  This is to just give the freedom we want to have to parallel the free-flowing nature of cartoons.

Feel free to use the pictures here to show your players, in fact, I'd encourage it.

Area 1: Outside the Castle

Area 1A: Graveyard
You exit the darkness to enter into a world drained of color.  Everything is in shades of gray including you. The sky is covered in menacing gray clouds and white lightning flashes through it.  Dead trees bend wildly and unnaturally in the gale.  Everything is just a little too rounded, too exaggerated. Looking at yourselves, you can see that your eyes and hands have inflated and that you have become bizarre caricatures of yourselves.  You have just emerged from an open coffin and now stand in a graveyard.  A plank bridge stretches from a cliff over foaming black and white water to a tall castle on top of a mountain in the shape of a skull.

It is at this point that the black cloaked arm of the Mad Doctor should emerge from behind a gravestone and catch the friendly animal companion.  He will run over the bridge just like in the short with Pluto and let himself in the front door by pulling on the lever.  PCs shouldn't be able to see how he gets in the door from where they stand and this sets up the trap we have in area 1C.  The PCs ought to give chase but the Mad Doctor should be able to get back inside his tower before the PCs are able to react.

Area 1B: The Bridge
The Bridge requires little description.  It is just a white plank bridge without any guard ropes.  The bridge will start to fall behind the first person to step on it.  This will happen very quietly so the PC/s will have to make a DC:12 Reflex Save or fall into the water below into Area 1D.

Area 1C: The Door

It is far easier to just show this picture to the players than to describe it in words.  Using the lever will just open the door to 2A which we will discuss in another post.  Using the knocker will drag the PC inside and throw them against a column inside taking 1 damage and then they must make a Reflex Saving Throw DC: 11 or take 1d6 damage and be decapitated by the knives that the impact knocks loose.  This will not mean the death of the character, rather, in the style of cartoons they will be perfectly alive just their head will be separate from their body until they can be magically healed or until they leave this dimension carrying their head.

Area 1D: The Moat:
After falling in the water a PC can see that a rickety old dock attached to a wooden stair that goes up back to the top of the cliff or they can swim to the base of the mountain where there is an arched cobblestone entrance to a stair leading to Area 4A.

That will be all for now.  I will be posting the whole adventure in pieces but probably not all in a row.  So keep an eye on this blog for the rest!  Leave a comment if you have a better description for the PCs' first arrival in the world.  I had a hard time doing it justice and I am still not happy with it.


  1. I really, really, REALLY want to hear more about this. Where is this future post whereof you wrote?


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